It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Although those of you wishing for a white Christmas may be disappointed that Richmond rarely gets snow in December. However, Christmas in Richmond is still something truly magical!
There are plenty of events going on in and around the city so whether you’re looking for a family-friendly activity or a night on the town, RVA has everything you need to ring in the holiday season.
Check out some of these top Richmond Christmas events to start your holidays off on the right foot!
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Richmond Times-Dispatch Tacky Lights Tour
One of the most popular Christmas events in Richmond, Virginia is the Tacky Lights Tour. Every Christmas season, homeowners elaborately decorate their houses with holiday decor that is truly a sight to see!
Some of the most popular houses feature hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights, motion light displays that dance to the tune of their own radio station, and some homes feature Santa Claus himself! All of the locations for participating houses can be found online and there are numerous ways to enjoy the tour!
Of course you are free to drive around and explore the houses on your own, but one of the most popular methods of transportation for the tour is a limo or trolley rental, especially if you are planning a group outing.
Renting a limo or trolley gives everyone in your party the opportunity to enjoy the light displays equally as well as always having a designated driver. Yes, you can bring your own drinks along! A trolley ride adds to the magic of the evening with the option of standing on the trolley’s small open air platform for an up close and personal view of the displays.
The Tacky Lights Tour features a good mixture of drive through and “park and look” displays so you have the option to stay COVID safe in the comfort of your own vehicle if you prefer.
Illuminate Light Show at Meadow Event Park
You’ll have to head about 20 minutes north of the city of Richmond to catch this spectacular motion-activated light display at Meadow Event Park, but it’s worth the drive.
The attraction features hundreds of thousands of lights in their animated display which is synchronized with the music on their personal radio station. Prepare to be amazed as lights dance around you in tune with some of the most popular Christmas classics, as well as some new favorites!
Tickets for the event are $30 per family vehicle and can be purchased online in advance or at the gate prior to entry. The entire display takes about 30 minutes to explore, but lines for entry can be lengthy, especially on weekends, so make sure you plan accordingly. The event is family and pet friendly and takes place every night from mid- November through January 2nd.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Each winter, this popular botanical garden features a themed light show that takes place inside the garden grounds. Artists are commissioned to create lighted botanical sculptures with one million twinkling lights reflecting the year’s theme.
GardenFest is an outdoor event that requires a healthy amount of walking, so make sure you bundle up before heading out! If you find yourself needing something to warm you up, grab a cup of their hot chocolate to sip on as you make your way around the displays.
Don’t miss their indoor greenhouse to see their LIVE 25 foot tall Christmas tree and even more decorations like the Christmas cottage and model trains.
The event runs from Thanksgiving week through the second weekend in January, but is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day. This event requires pre-purchased tickets with timed entry which can be found on their website.
Tickets to the event start at just $14 for adults and $8 for children, which makes this the perfect family-friendly holiday tradition!
Ice Skating in Richmond
When I think of Christmas, I am instantly reminded of the quintessential holiday Hallmark movies featuring a couple reunited in love and enjoying a snowy ice skating session together. Although it doesn’t normally get cold enough in Virginia for real outdoor ice skating, there are a number of manmade ice skating rinks setup throughout the city during the winter months.
Whether you’re a professional or a first-timer, ice skating is sure to bring some fun and joy into your holiday season! Some of the most popular ice skating rinks in Richmond and the surrounding towns are The Rink at West Broad Village, RVA On Ice, and the outdoor ice skating rink at Stony Point Fashion Park.
Tickets range from $5-$10 for entry plus an additional fee for skate rental, so you won’t worry about breaking the bank for this family-friendly holiday activity!
The Bizarre Bazaar – Christmas Collection
If you’re looking for a unique, one of a kind Christmas gift that you can’t find anywhere else, check out the Bizarre Bazaar! This annual, weekend long craft show has been a holiday favorite for over 45 years and it’s easy to see why!
The Bizarre Bazaar features hundreds of exclusive vendors and exhibitors selling the best jewelry, clothing, food, home decor items, and more. You can find everything from homemade cherry salsa to handmade Christmas ornaments and everything in between from exhibitors from all over the country.
The event takes place inside the Richmond Raceway Complex and consists of three warehouses full of exhibit tents. Entry to the event requires a ticket, which can be purchased online for only $10 for adults.
This event only lasts December the first Thursday in December through the weekend, so make sure you plan accordingly!
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
There’s no holiday tradition better than a Christmas parade in my opinion! If you’re looking for an energetic, engaging holiday tradition, you have to check out RVA’s annual Christmas parade featuring colorful floats, costumed performers, local school marching bands, and of course Santa Claus himself!
Each year, spectators line the streets between the starting location at the Science Museum of Virginia and east down Broad Street to 7th Street to watch the parade go by.
The parade will takes place on on the first Saturday in December from 10:15am-12:00pm (check each year for date changes and times on their website) and you can grab a spot anywhere along the route to catch a glimpse of the magic as the parade passes by.
All of the roads along the parade route will be blocked off, so viewers can line up on sidewalks without any worry of passing cars.
This event is free and open to the public, but you will likely have to park and walk to designated viewing locations, so make sure you get there early! This an outdoor, family-friendly event so make sure you dress accordingly.
The Nutcracker Live Performance at the Richmond Ballet
Christmas is a time when some of everyone’s favorite holiday songs like The Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy seem almost inescapable. Although I’m sure we’ve all heard this song a time or two, it’s a truly unique experience to see it come to life like never before in a dazzling live ballet performance of the Nutcracker!
Each December, the Richmond Ballet performs a live showing of The Nutcracker featuring some of the top ballet dancers from around the world along with live music from the Richmond Symphony. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary for date night or even just an evening with friends, you don’t want to miss this live performance of one of the most popular Christmas favorites!
Tickets start at just $25, so an evening at the ballet won’t break the bank, but guests are encouraged to dress formally for shows. Performances start in mid-December and run through December 23rd and tickets are available online or at the Richmond Ballet box office.
Holly Jolly Lakeside
Holly Jolly Lakeside is a one night only annual event that takes place in the northside neighborhood each holiday season. This event features locally owned shops full of antiques and handmade items, so grab your friends and hit the shops to get a jumpstart on your Christmas shopping!
The Lakeside Farmers Market will be open late and has special deals on homemade goodies as well as booths selling hot chocolate and warm apple cider.
For a bit of added holiday flair, grab a ride on one of the trolleys decked out with Christmas lights to take you from shop to shop. This event requires walking and being outdoors, so make sure you check the weather and plan accordingly. If you’re lucky, you might be able to spot Santa Claus himself at this event!
Kings Dominion Winterfest
Kings Dominion is an amusement park located about 30 minutes north of the city of Richmond and every holiday season they host their annual Winterfest celebration! The park is open on select nights November 20-January 9 for patrons to enjoy all the magic of the holidays.
Some of the featured Winterfest attractions include an ice skating rink, horse drawn carriage rides, Santa’s workshop, a variety of Christmas shows, and of course thousands of twinkling light displays!
Tickets to Winterfest start at just $25 for adults and you’re guaranteed to have fun for the whole family! There are so many Christmas activities happening that you might not have time to squeeze in any roller coasters, but thrill rides are open during Winterfest depending on the weather.
Make sure you check their calendar for opening hours and bundle up for cold nights!
Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Each holiday season this theme park transforms into a magical winter wonderland! Busch Gardens is about an hour east of Richmond, but it’s definitely worth the drive to experience all of the holiday grandeur at Christmas Town.
Some of the most magical Christmas Town favorites include climbing aboard the Christmas Town Express, riding Nacht Tower for a “Santa-eye view” of the park, and taking in one of the many performances like Up on the Haustop, Scrooge No More!, and many more.
Christmas Town is the perfect place to do some shopping at some of the many Christmas shops within the park. The shops have a fantastic selection of high quality gifts like hand painted ornaments and other one of a kind items, so you’re sure to find something for everyone here.
Tickets to Christmas Town start at only $25 for adults, so check out their calendar and get started planning your trip today!