As Virginia’s capital, Richmond is immersed in history, from the walkable downtown historic districts to the suburbs and beyond, and offers a wide variety of winter holiday events.
You will want to take time out of your schedule to visit some of the classy Richmond Christmas lights, as well as their famous tacky light displays.
Whether you spend the night surrounded by the marvelous Christmas decor at the Jefferson Hotel, or take a stroll through Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden’s GardenFest of Lights, you will surely add a little magic to your winter this holiday season.
No matter if you enjoy artistic professional light displays, good old-fashion lit homes, or want to get up and go on a bike ride, or simply sit on the train, a Christmas events in Richmond will help kick off your holiday entertainment.
Start your holiday with some new or old family traditions from our list. Many of the events are free and occur each year.
Table of Contents
- 1 Ashland Theatre Holiday Spectacular
- 2 CarMax Tacky Light Run
- 3 Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
- 4 Ghosts of Christmas Past
- 5 Glorious Bethlehem Nights
- 6 Holiday Biking Tours of Downtown
- 7 Holiday Lights and Music on the Riverfront
- 8 Illuminated Light Show
- 9 The Jefferson Hotel
- 10 Kings Dominion’s Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience
- 11 Legendary Santa
- 12 Light up the Tracks
- 13 The Richmond Ballet’s the Nutcracker
- 14 Santa’s Enchanted Workshop
- 15 Soul Santa
- 16 Taylor’s Snow Day Snowball Hunt
- 17 Walk the Holiday Lights Tour of Downtown Richmond
- 18 Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show
- 19 Keep it Tacky with Richmond Tacky Lights
- 20 Where to stay in Richmond, VA
- 21 Love it? Pin it!
Ashland Theatre Holiday Spectacular
- Address: 205 England St, Ashland, VA 23005
- Date: December 12, 2020 5:00 – 9:00 PM
The Ashland Theatre will present a virtual Holiday Spectacular featuring the Randolph Macon LUXE show choir, the “Don’t Ask Ned” band and “Hanover Idols”. Throughout the evening, you can even participate in a live auction. The kids will definitely want to watch too, so they don’t miss story time with Santa.
- 5:00 PM- Telethon and Performances
- 7:00 PM – “Don’t Ask Ned” band
- 8:00 PM – “Live” Auction
- 8:15 PM – “Don’t Ask Ned” band
- 9:00 PM – Silent Auction closes and Barrel of Booze Winner announced
CarMax Tacky Light Run
- Museum District
- Glen Allen
- Ash Creek Neighborhood
- Deer Run (Chesterfield)
- Walton Park (Chesterfield)
- Dates: December 11 – 13, 2020 5pm – 8pm
This year the CarMax Tacky Light Run, which has drawn more than 4,000 runners annually, is taking place at five locations in both Chesterfield County and around Richmond over three days.
Come out ready to walk or run in your favorite tacky holiday outfit. The tackier, the better, so add some lights, tinsel, or sparkle to your costume or the long-sleeved CarMax Tacky Light Run t-shirt to ensure everyone sees you.
Choose your course, choose your night, choose how tacky you can get, and choose to have a lot of fun.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
- Address: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave, Richmond, VA 23228
- Dates: November 23, 2020 – January 10, 2021, Nightly from 4pm-10pm
The GardenFest of Lights is an annual Richmond holiday tradition that offers visitors a chance to view 500,000 lights that light up this year’s theme, “Stories in Lights.” Watch the stories come to life through some classic folklore and fairy tales across various cultures bringing everyone together in the spirit of joy.
GardenFest is an all outdoor adventure includes not only those twinkling lights but family activities, hand-crafted decorations, indoor holiday dinners, and a chance to do some great shopping.
Make sure your kids don’t miss a chance to watch the model train chugs through the Children’s Garden too. Before going home, stop by the fire pits to nibble on a s’more and warm up with a hot chocolate.
Put on a comfortable pair of walking shoes and dress according to the weather, and enjoy strolling through the lights.
On Thursday, December 3, 2020, and Thursday, January 7, 2021, join other dog lovers and the Richmond SPCA, as you and your furry friend enjoy the lights during GardenFest for Fidos.
Ghosts of Christmas Past
- Address: Red Vein Escape, 108 Robinson Street, Ashland, VA 23005
- Dates: December 11, 12, 18, 19, 2020 from 7pm-8pm
Hit the streets of Ashland, VA on the private guided “Ghosts of Christmas Past” walking tour. Learn about 19th-century traditions through local Christmas ghost stories as you walk through downtown Ashland. The Victorian dressed guide will lead you through the cold nights on a 60-minute tour, so come dressed for the weather.
All tours during 2020 will be private tours with a minimum of 4 adults. They will offer a 10% discount for larger groups of up to nine people.
Glorious Bethlehem Nights
- Address: WEAG Church, 401 N. Parham Road, Richmond, VA 23229
- Dates: December 9 -11, 2020: 6pm-9pm, December 12 – 13, 2020 from 5pm to 9pm
Immerse yourself in the Glorious Bethlehem Nights Christmas musical “Under the Same Stars” as the characters tell the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. The outdoor production will feature stories, songs and dances.
Holiday Biking Tours of Downtown
- Address: 1301 E Cary St. Richmond, VA 23219
- Date: Daily through January 10, 2021, except December 24, 25, 31, and January 1
Take a seasonal ride with Basket and Bike on their Holiday Biking Tour of Downtown. For two and a half hours, you will peddle along the riverfront before heading into the historic Shockoe Slip area to see all the beautiful Christmas lights in Richmond.
Those who do not wish to peddle their bike can enjoy an evening adventure on a Wheels Pedego Electric Bike. On this 2 ½ hour trip, you will head to the hills before making your way to the Shockoe Slip to enjoy a drink of choice at the Urban Farmhouse.
Each rider will get a unique holiday ornament to take home to commemorate their trip.
Holiday Lights and Music on the Riverfront
- Address: Brown Island, Richmond, VA
- Dates: December 12 and 19, 2020 from 6pm-8pm
Venture Richmond is holding this free decorative light event. The Espresso-A-Go-Go vendor will be on-site along with a variety of holiday music, including:
- December 12: Music by Trombone Trio
- December 19: Music by Justin Paciocco
Illuminated Light Show
- Address: Meadow Event Park, 13191 Dawn Blvd., Doswell, VA 23047
- Dates: November 13, 2020 – January 3, 2021 nightly from 5:30pm- 10:30pm
The Illuminated Light Show in Doswell is the largest drive-through Christmas light show in Central Virginia.
This fun drive features a synchronized light show featuring more than a million lights and some of your favorite holiday songs. Enjoy the falling snowflakes, dancing snowmen, the twinkling 50-foot Christmas tree, and the 80-foot tunnel of lights as you sing along to the songs on your radio.
The drive-through will take you roughly 30 minutes.
The Jefferson Hotel
- Address: 101 West Franklin St. Richmond, Virginia 23220
- Dates: Through January 3, 2021
- Book your stay
Secure a reservation at The Jefferson Hotel to see it decked out in its holiday finest. Stepping into the hotel, poinsettias, wreaths, garland and twinkling lights will greet every visitor. The 30-foot Christmas tree features giant ornaments, sparkling lights and bows. As you ascend the Grand Staircase, take in the signature displays.
You must have either a room reservation, an Afternoon Tea, Salon Vivace, or a Lemaire reservation to view the decorations.
Unfortunately, visitors with no reservation cannot visit with current social distancing restrictions.
Need more holiday fun? Wander over to see the best Norfolk events!
Kings Dominion’s Taste of the Season: An Outdoor Holiday Experience
- Address: 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047
- Dates: December 12, 13, 18 – 27, 2020 from 2pm- 8pm
Start a new tradition by visiting Kings Dominion’s all-new Taste of the Season outdoor holiday adventure. Stroll around the park visiting the food tasting booths, and sample up to 25 seasonal favorites, including some of Santa’s specialty drinks.
Between samples, enjoy a seasonal show or two, hop on one of the 16 rides that will be open, do a little Christmas shopping, or just be dazzled by all the holiday décor throughout the park.
- Address: Children’s Museum of Richmond, 2626 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220
The Legendary Santa will be visiting the Children’s Museum of Richmond, where kids can slide down the chimney at Santa Land, see the Snow Queen before heading over to say hi to Santa. Take your group photo sitting on a bench in front of Santa.
While in the Lobby, view the Holiday Village and take part in the I-Spy experience while you wait for your chance to talk with Santa. Before you leave, drop your letter to Santa off in the mailbox.
Need to get out this winter? Check out our favorite Shenandoah Waterfalls!
Light up the Tracks
- Address: Downtown Ashland
- Date: Month of December through New Year’s Day
Take time to stroll through Downtown Ashland where the local businesses, Randolph Macon College and homes are festive with holiday decorations, lights and music along a one-mile stretch of road.
Come and experience an old-fashion Christmas in this small town where you can also browse the little shops and the historic Main Street Train Station along the way.
Throughout the month, Santa will visit, there will be family activities and crafts, plus dance and musical performances. The kids will love exploring the Gingerbread Trail, so make sure you plan enough time for your visit.
The Richmond Ballet’s the Nutcracker
- Dates: December 11 – 26, 2020
The Richmond Ballet is performing The Nutcracker virtually this year. This beloved production also includes some Behind the Scenes videos and some visits from the Kingdom of Sweets characters.
Watching The Nutcracker online in 2020 is an easy way to bring holiday magic into your home.
Santa’s Enchanted Workshop
- Address: The Sara Belle and Neil November Theatre, 114 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220
- Dates: December 12 – 20, 2020
The Virginia Repertory Theatre will be presenting Santa’s Enchanted Workshop. This festive holiday musical is the perfect show for children four and up. It lasts just under an hour and features Stanley and his little sister learning about Christmas on their adventure to the North Pole.
Social distancing will be in effect in the theatre, with capacity set at around 25%.
- Address: Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia, 122 W Leigh St, Richmond, VA 23220
- Date: first two Saturdays in December
Join the Soul Santa and his elf for his 20th trip to the Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia. The session includes a Christmas story time and a holiday craft project. Registered children will also receive a letter from Santa.
All visits will be virtual in 2020.
Taylor’s Snow Day Snowball Hunt
- Address: Poor Farm Park, 13400 Liberty School Rd, Ashland, VA 23005
- Date: December 12, 2020 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Kids from five through eleven will have a blast hunting snowballs at Taylor’s Snow Day Snowball Hunt, a fun outdoor event. The snowballs will be filled with prizes and candy and run like a traditional Easter Egg Hunt.
The Snowball Hunt is a free event, but all children need to pre-register for an age and time slot. Dress warm and have a ball!
Walk the Holiday Lights Tour of Downtown Richmond
- Address: 1301 E Cary St. Richmond, VA 23219
- Dates: Daily through January 10, 2021, except December 24, 25, 31, and January 1 from 6:00 – 7:30 PM
Spend 90 minutes strolling with friends and family through downtown Richmond telling festive stories as you take in the beauty of the season.
Put on your walking shoes, and dress appropriately for the evening temperature and Baskets & Bikes will supply hot cocoa from Urban Farmhouse and a delightful route to help you find the best lights in Richmond.
Still need a tree? Check out the best Christmas Tree Farms in Virginia!
Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show
- Address: Kings Dominion, 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell, VA 23047
- Date: December 10, 2020 7:00 – 8:00 PM
Watch the incredible Walmart Holiday Drone Light Show with 1,000 drones that will light up the sky over Kings Dominion. The drones will create seasonal images synchronized to music as you watch from your car.
Keep it Tacky with Richmond Tacky Lights
Join in one of the traditional Richmond Christmas light events by traveling around the area, visiting some of the roughly 50 houses with at least 40,000 lights that qualify them to be on the Keep it Tacky list. Some favorites when we want to see a million twinkling lights in the tacky lights tour, are:
Book a guided tour of the Richmond Tacky Lights
- Address: 9716 Wendhurst Drive, Glen Allen, VA 23060
In 2016, the Thompson’s won ABC’s The Great Christmas Light Fight when their house featured more than 170,000 lights.
- Address: 13389 Slayden Circle, Ashland, VA 23005
Tune into 93.9 FM and enjoy the holiday light show that will run through December 25. Come back after Christmas through the new year and watch the non-holiday display. This house features 106,000 lights, new exhibits and a brand new song line up.
Do you have a favorite holiday song? Check out woodsidelights.org and request your favorite.
- Address: 5613 Charter Oak Drive, Chesterfield, VA 23832
- Dates: through the first weekend in January
With 50,000 white lights, this house is brightly lit from top to bottom, along with the yard and porch. There are a variety of handmade decorations that include reindeer, sleigh, snowmen and Christmas trees.
- Address: 3631 Kiefer Road, Chester, VA 23831
- Dates: Lit through January 5, 2021
For those who need to feel the LOVE this holiday season, this house shouts it from the rooftop. It is also a great place to see all the cute inflatables.