Celebrate The Holidays Past and Present
Colonial Williamsburg offers an immersive holiday experience unique in the world, where the best traditions of past and present meet and mingle in America’s most magical historic city. From fireworks like you’ve never experienced them to holiday parties in historic taverns to streets illuminated by candles and cressets, the true spirit of the season fills every block. Nowhere else can you walk into the 18th century warmed by hot cider and the flickering light of crackling fires, with caroling and other sounds of the season spilling out of the taverns and shops, each adorned with handmade wreaths and garlands.
If you want enduring memories of a special time with the ones you love, travel through the past and the present to experience the holidays at Colonial Williamsburg. Here’s what is happening this season:
Evening Illuminations: December’s Grand Illumination is a breathtaking holiday tradition. If you’ve never seen the fireworks launched from three locations on a crisp night, now is the time. What began in colonial times as the firing of guns and lighting of fireworks to celebrate major events has become a modern masterpiece combining music and the best holiday boom-boom in America. Be sure to arrive in time for the afternoon lighting of candles and cressets on Duke of Gloucester Street, a tradition since 1934. From 4-7:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3. Then, on evenings throughout the holidays, join Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades and world-famous Fifes & Drums for stirring torch-lit illuminations of candles and streetside cressets throughout the Historic Area, each with a patriotic musical accompaniment. No ticket required.
The Spirit of the Season at the Raleigh Tavern and A Raleigh Christmas Party: the Raleigh Tavern is where Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry and others met to discuss the forthcoming revolution, but during the holidays it’s a place to kick back and celebrate the season with music and dancing. During the day, guests are invited to take in preparation for the coming nights celebration and then, at night, to join the party themselves! The Spirit of the Season at the Raleigh Tavern is open to guests with Colonial Williamsburg admission, while a special evening program ticket is required for A Raleigh Christmas Party.
Christmas Decorations Walking Tour: Here’s a chance to gawk at a modern-day tradition developed after the opening of Colonial Williamsburg in 1932 and learn about the evolution of holiday decorating from the 18th Century to today. Check out the contest — of course, there’s a contest — and take home ideas for your readers. Each guide personalizes this one-hour walking tour with their own route (everyone has their own favorite decorations) and points of emphasis. Download some of the amazing photographs of the Colonial-style wreathes here. Offered multiple times daily; special program ticket required.
Cooking with Mother Goose: Discover the fairytale food world of Mother Goose. Join Old Mother Hubbard in the cupboard along with the Historic Foodways staff at the Governor’s Palace as dishes inspired by the 17th Century tales leap from the pages and land on your table. Enjoy porridge, bird pies, tarts, puddings, and more at this family event sure to inspire the imaginations of foodies ages five to 75. 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 9; included in Colonial Williamsburg admission.
Liberty’s Ice Pavilion: Join your fellow blade runners at Liberty’s Ice Pavilion for a family skate sponsored by Dominion Energy. To keep you in the spirit, there’s hot chocolate or hot cider from Chowning’s Tavern, regular performances from area musicians and singers and a strolling Father Christmas always willing to pose for pictures with children of all ages. This is an unforgettable experience sure to show up on your Instagram or Facebook feed. Open Nov. 17-Feb. 19: Sundays-Thursdays from noon-8 p.m.; Fridays from noon-10 p.m.; Saturdays and holidays 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and New Year’s Eve from 10 a.m.-1 a.m. Special ticket required: adults $12, youths ages 3-12 $10 and children under 3 free; skate rental $4.25.
Looking for more? Explore the 2017 Holiday Planner to see all of Colonial Williamsburg’s season programs and activities.