Updated for 2023
It’s time to deck the halls and trim those trees as we look for the best events and Christmas lights in Virginia Beach, VA, this holiday season. Whether you are looking for indoor fun, photo moments with the kids or simply want to take a stroll on the beach, this thriving beach town offers more than enough to fill a weekend in December (and even November!).
If you’ve ever wanted to experience where the sea meets Santa, this is the perfect destination. To find some festive, coastal cheer, we’ve got your list of things to do in Virginia Beach this holiday season.
Our Favorite Holiday Events And Christmas Lights In Virginia Beach, VA
Annual Holiday Lights at the Beach
- Address: 2nd Street and Virginia Beach Boardwalk
- Dates: Second weekend in November through December.
- Timed entries at 5:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m.
- Cost: Advanced-ticket purchase required. Cost depends on type of vehicle and start at $17 per standard car.
Drive your car along Virginia Beach’s boardwalk through a 600-foot LED tunnel past lighted swimming fish, musical crabs and jolly elves. Be on the lookout for Santa and the 40-foot Christmas tree right on the beach too. (Vehicles enter the Boardwalk through the Holiday Lights at the Beach main entrance on Atlantic Avenue at 2nd Street.)
Virginia Beach Town Center
- Address: 4535 Commerce St., Virginia Beach, VA 23462
- Dates: Thanksgiving Weekend through December 31st.
Virginia Beach Town Center gets into the holiday spirit with a whole host of festivities to ring in the season. A Dancing Northern Lights Tree “dances” nightly on the hour from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Stick around for the dancing ballerinas, elves, marching toy soldiers and musicians entertaining from inside life-size snow globes.
Santa’s Snow Globe offers kids a great way to share their wish lists in a safe environment in December via the “Candy Cane Communication” network in the Gingerbread Chalet, where they can see, talk, and take selfies with Santa from the safety of his snow globe.
Holiday Selfie Stations are strewn throughout Town Center, including a decorative ribbon display, holiday photo frame, St. Nicholas’s sleigh, a Christmas Wish Bridge and a Mistletoe Arch. Don’t miss the strolling sparkling ornament, Coeur de Noël (Heart of Christmas), a 503-pound enchanting piece with more than 11,000 LED lights.
Holi-Rays at the Virginia Aquarium
- Address: 717 General Booth Blvd., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Dates: first three weekends in December, doors open at 6pm
Grab your PJs and jump aboard the Aquarium Express, as you join the Virginia Aquarium staff the first three weekends in December (Saturdays and Sundays) for some after hours fun. Stroll through the winter wonderland of lights and under-the-sea holiday fun. Check out the holiday Aquarium train exhibit, grab selfies with Speckles and Sandy and wave hello to Santa. Best of all, you can bring your own stocking to fill with sweets and treats as you explore the aquarium.
Part of the Aquarium Express fun is the “Celebration Stations,” where you can learn about holiday traditions across the globe. Get your “train ticket” stamped at each station to earn a special gift at the end of your journey.
Pop in this winter for some Virginia Beach Whale Watching too!
Back Bay Brew House Farmhouse Holiday Events
- Address: 1805 Kempsville Rd., Virginia Beach, VA
Enjoy live music, pick up your Christmas tree and other holiday decorations at the annual Grand Illumination, a free event at the farmhouse. Explore the Christmas Tree at the Farmhouse for the weeks before Christmas, along with getting a photo with Santa.
Add to your Virginia Christmas with these Christmas Events in Norfolk, VA
Holiday Reveal at the Cavalier
- Address: 4200 Atlantic Ave., Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Date: November and December dates, check website for most recent dates and times.
Virginia Beach’s go-to destination for traditional holiday cheer, join in an array of festivities at the historic Cavalier Hotel (est. 1927). From the Grand Illumination of the hotel’s holiday décor to Breakfast with Santa (Saturdays in December) and Christmas Dinner, enjoy the best of the holiday season at this elegant, oceanfront spot.
- Cavalier Resort Grand Illumination
- Breakfast with Santa
- Christmas Dinner at Becca Restaurant & Garden
- Christmas Dinner at the Hunt Room
- New Year’s Eve at Cavalier Resort
Sage Kitchen Movies on the Terrace
- Address: 1925 Fisher Arch, Virginia Beach
- Date: late November, seating opens at 4:30pm
- Cost: FREE
Come out and enjoy an old fashion drive-In showing of Elf. Sage Kitchen in Virginia Beach will be open for dining and drinks before and during the movie. Blankets are welcome.
BayPort Credit Union Surf-n-Santa 5-miler
- Address: Virginia Beach, VA
- Dates: weekend before Christmas
Run off a few calories as you partake in the annual Surf-n-Santa 5-miler. Whether this year is virtual or in person with all of your running mates, you are sure to have a great time knowing you got in your miles this week… before eating more holiday cookies.
Holidays at Anderson’s Garden Center
- Address: 1925 Fisher Arch, Virginia Beach, VA 23456
Anderson’s On “Ice” in Virginia Beach Opens: Lace up your skates and slide around the synthetic “ice” rink, open for family skating. Fees cover skate rental and use of the rink.
Breakfast with Santa at Virginia Beach
If you want to have Breakfast with Santa, you need to make a reservation fast. This annual event at Sage Kitchen’s Holiday Breakfast Buffet is super popular, especially when you want photos with your kids and the big guy, Santa Claus. Gingerbread house kits are available for purchase so you can carry o on the fun at home too.
Holiday Lights at the Beach bike night
- Address: 2nd Street & The Boardwalk, 4500 Holland Office Park, Suite 318, , Virginia Beach, VA 23452
- Preview Night: Thursday before Thanksgiving
- January 1: Final night to bike the Holiday lights
Grab your bicycle and head to the Virginia Beach Boardwalk for a special free sneak preview of the BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach. Pedal through holiday, nautical, and adventure-themed light displays down the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. You will get to see this annual light display that locals and visitors look forward to each year BEFORE it opens to vehicle traffic.
You will get TWO chances to bike this light display- 7 days before Thanksgiving and before it closes on January 1.
Virginia Beach Christmas Market
- Address: Virginia Beach Convention Center, 1000 19th St, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Dates: Thanksgiving weekend
Enter the Virginia Beach Convention Center where you will find the original works of more than 175 artisans and crafters from more than 20 states. Find gifts for everyone on your list, and then indulge your tastebuds with a few specialty food items from the Taste of the Holidays collection.
Annual Gingerbread House Exhibit
- Address: The Historic de Witt Cottage, 1113 Atlantic Ave, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Dates: Thanksgiving weekend through December 30th (closed Dec. 24 – 26)
- Admission: FREE
Make your way to the gingerbread house exhibit featuring original designs by local businesses and residents in Virginia Beach. The event takes place in the Historic de Witt Cottage, the oldest remaining private structure at the Oceanfront and home to the Atlantic Wildfowl Heritage Museum, which you will be able to wander when you visit pop in to see these edible creations.
Small Business Saturday in the ViBe District
- Address: ViBe District, Virginia Beach, VA
- Dates: Saturday after Thanksgiving
The ViBe Creative District is made up of (mostly) small, locally-owned-and-operated businesses. It’s the perfect spot in Virginia Beach to shop small this holiday season, supporting 75 artisan and craft businesses.
The Founders Inn Annual Illumination
- Address: Regent University Campus, 5641 Indian River Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23464
- Dates: Sunday after Thanksgiving
Watch as the The Founders Inn Annual Illumination lights up the expansive English Garden. Enjoy magic shows, cultural dancers, Christmas choirs, pictures with Santa, strolling entertainment, face painting and balloon artistry, horse-drawn carriage rides and a live reading of holiday classic “The Christmas Story.”
Free and open to the public. You can make a reservation for the ticketed brunch and dinner buffets at the Swan Terrace Grill. Additional fee and reservations are encouraged.
More Christmas events at The Founders Inn and Spa
The Founders Inn and Spa Breakfast with Santa: Located in the Swan Terrace Grill, kids can get photos taken with Santa and the 32-foot tree in the hotel atrium. A balloon artist and face painter will be on hand. You must make a reservation to attend.
The Founders Inn and Spa Teddy Bear Tea: indulge in a Christmas afternoon tea while you listen to Christmas stories with your kids and their new commemorative teddy bear that is included with the price of your reservation. And yes, you must have a reservation to attend.
The Virginia Beach Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
- Address: Lynnhaven Inlet
- Dates: First Saturday in December
Head over to the Lynnhaven Inlet to watch decorated boats twinkle with holiday lights and themed decorations as they glide through the water. The event is in support of the Virginia Beach Rescue Squad Foundation, a local volunteer-based EMS organization.
Book a table at one of the restaurants on the waterway for a prime seat of the boat parade, similar to the Boat Parade on the Wharf during Christmas in Washington, D.C.
VIP viewing party tickets also are available for purchase.
Santa, S’mores & More at Hunt Club Farm
- Address: 2388 London Bridge Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23456
- Dates: Second weekend in December, 10am-2pm
From photos with Santa, and making an ornament with the elves, you and your kids will have a blast at the Hunt Club Farm this Christmas. If you need a little downtime, head over to the Petting Farm and TreeWalk Adventure, before you end your day roasting s’mores over the bonfire.
Reservations are required.
Holiday Tree Hunt at The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium
- Address: 801 General Booth Blvd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
- Dates: Second weekend in December through January 1
Go on the hunt for Santa’s elves in The Adventure Park at Virginia Aquarium. Explore the park’s system of 17 elevated trails and ziplines filled with holiday cheer and Christmas magic.
Cancelled Holiday Events in VA Beach
- Christmas on Mansion Cross
Additional reporting by Laura Gray
Headed to VA and need a hotel in Virginia Beach?
- Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront : free parking
- Hilton Garden Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront: Family rooms at affordable prices
- Residence Inn by Marriott Virginia Beach Oceanfront : oceanfront suites
- Hampton Inn Virginia Beach Oceanfront North: 2020 TripAdvisor Travelers Choice + free breakfast
- The Historic Cavalier Hotel & Beach Club: luxury a few blocks off the beach
Looking for more? Search for a great deal on Booking.com!
Need a Virginia Beach Airbnb? These are our favorites + more HERE.
- Oceanfront Penthouse
- Oceanfront/Boardwalk – VB Studio
- VB Oceanfront Studio Balcony,Beach,Boardwalk, Pool
- Beach Paradise Studio on the Boardwalk w/Pool
- Beach Quarters Resort – The Continental Suite
Need more? Search for a great deal on vacation rentals below.