Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).
With lush parks, gardens, and beaches, Virginia is beautiful even during the winter months. Especially after dusk when the waterfront walkways and shady gardens start to light up with colorful LEDs and get filled with laughter from kid-friendly festive events.
Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration, Williamsburg (Nov 13, 2020–Jan 3, 2021)
One of the most charming theme parks in the country, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, becomes especially festive during the holidays when it puts on a giant Christmas light display. Visitors can try various Christmas foods, do their holiday shopping, and watch heart-warming shows. One of the largest in the country, Busch Garden Christmas Town features over ten million lights. Enjoy walking across western Europe, starting near the golden glow of London's Big Ben. Also, don't miss Douglas O'Fir's Tree Lot and wonderful Twelve Days of Christmas display taking visitors to France. Ride Christmas Town Express or head to O'Tannenbaum to get a hearty meal and watch the show. Check out the Tree of Light at Italy Gardens and get inside a snow globe at the Polar Pathway.
Celebration in Lights at Newport News Park (November 26, 2020–January 1, 2021)
Celebration in Lights is a premier drive-through holiday light event in Newport News with several decades of history. Newport News Park transforms into a winter wonderland with over a million lights that create animated scenes. The light display extends to the Newport News Golf Course at Deer Run area and the Newport News arch. The festival features over 350 display pieces, more than 50 arches, and over three miles of rope lighting along the two-mile drive. Most displays use efficient LED lights.
Holidays at Norfolk Botanical Garden:
Dominion Energy Garden of Lights (November 13, 2020–January 2, 2021) Million Bulb Walk (postponed until 2021) The Botanical Garden in Norfolk has been voted one of the best botanical garden holiday lights in the country through USA Today's 10 Best contest. With over twenty-five years of history, it has become a favorite Christmas tradition in the area. Family holiday programs include visits with Santa, a Cookie Plate, holiday crafts, and tram rides. Children can build holiday cookie houses in the garden on select days. After the holiday activities, families are invited to drive through the Dominion Energy Garden of Lights display in their own car or on a tram. Typically, there is also the Million Bulb Walk, but in 2020 it has been canceled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The walking route is about a mile long and is accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, and mobility assistance devices.
BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach, Virginia Beach (November 13, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Virginia Beach Boardwalk becomes irresistible and dazzling during the BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach. One of the Hampton Roads' favorite traditions, it starts at 5:30 pm each night and continues until 10 pm from Sundays to Thursdays and until 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays throughout the Christmas season. The drive-through display consists of Holiday, Nautical, and Adventure Lands, where lights are synchronized to holiday music on your car radio. See the giant "Twelve Days of Christmas" display, elves, holiday fish, musical crabs, Santa, and a 40-ft (10-m) Christmas tree. Over 25,000 families visit this incredible light show every year. Make sure to purchase the tickets online in advance.
Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna (November 11, 2020–January 3, 2021)
The enchanting Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in the town of Vienna, Virginia, is a perfect holiday destination for the whole family. A magical half-mile walk of lights transforms the garden into a winter wonderland. Stroll by the animated Lakeside Lights and the Fountain of Lights, experience the Holiday Nature Walk and warm up by the fire, roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages. If you are looking for original Christmas gifts, check out festive light-up jewellery, hats, scarves, sabres, and wands at the Snowflake Shop. The beautifully illuminated garden receives about 80,000 visitors each year. The Gardens are only a half-hour drive from Washington, D.C.
Bull Run Festival of Lights, Centreville (November 6, 2020–January 10, 2021)
A magical experience at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia, is available from Thanksgiving untill after New Year’s Day. The Bull Run Festival of Lights is 2.5-mile (4-km) illuminated holiday light display featuring thousands of colorful shimmering lights. After enjoying the extravaganza guests can stop at the holiday village to try carnival rides, snacks and take photos with Santa Claus.
Illuminate Light Show & Santa's Village at Meadow Event Park, Doswell (November 13, 2020–January 3, 2021)
Meadow Event Park in Doswell, Caroline County, Virginia, hosts the dazzling Illuminate Light Show every holiday season. A magnificent drive-through journey starts by the tall purple-lit Christmas tree and continues through the amazing course illuminated by nearly a million LED lights synchronized to music from your car radio. This drive-thru Christmas light show is regarded as the largest in central Virginia. The tour usually takes 20-45 minutes. After the Light Show, visitors can stop by Santa's Village to take pictures with the Old Man, enjoy some tasty foods and sweet treats, and do some holiday shopping at craft stalls.
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Richmond (November 23, 2020–January 10, 2021)
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights is the annual holiday event at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond. The festive extravaganza features more than one million twinkling lights. Other attractions include handcrafted botanical decorations, model trains, a firepit to roast s’mores, and hot chocolate as well as nightly family entertainment, live music, and family fun craft activities. The magical garden showcases all things that fly—fireflies, flying pigs, spaceships, dragons, and unicorns. Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights is among the most popular family-friendly events in Richmond.
Christmas Lighting of the Tunnel at Natural Tunnel State Park, Duffield (canceled in 2020)
The Christmas Lighting of the Tunnel is a unique holiday experience at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia. The special event features thousands of lights lining the way to the mouth of the mysterious tunnel. There are mobile Christmas displays, hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows to warm you up. Kids' activities such as cookie decorating, Christmas karaoke, and ugly sweater night are also part of the program. And, of course, Santa and Christmas carols will be there to get everyone into the Christmas spirit.