If you want to celebrate a nice old-fashioned Christmas, why not do it in one of America’s oldest cities, Richmond, VA?
As the capital city of Virginia, Richmond is full of culture. Its St. John’s Church was the place where founding father Patrick Henry cried, “Give me liberty or give me death,” in 1775, a precursor to the Revolutionary War. It is also the site of the White House of the Confederacy, which is now a museum in Court End, a neighborhood known for its Federal style mansions.
The city’s old school feel makes it a terrific destination for a traditional Christmas. Here are some things you can do when you’re in the area.
Dominion Energy Gardenfest of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
The Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is a 50-acre garden that features a conservatory, a library café and a tea house restaurant. During the holiday season, it lights up with one million lights, hand crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners and family activities.
Each year the Gardenfest has a different theme. 2019’s was Magic in the Air inspired by things that fly. Fireflies, flying pigs, spaceships and unicorns took flight across the garden suspended on wings of light. Find out what the theme will be when you visit.
Holiday Merriment at Maymont
Maymont is a 100-acre historic estate and park. The farmland was originally acquired by James and Sallie Dooley and they used the property to build a Romanesque Revival style 12,000 square foot 33 room home.
Today you can visit to stroll the grounds and gardens, check out the farm and wildlife habitats, visit the Robins Nature Center and view the Carriage Collection exhibit.
The mansion itself is decked out for the holiday season featuring a 12-foot Christmas tree, an opulent dining room set for a feast, evergreen ornaments and gifts and games dating back to 1893.
Guests can enjoy visits with Santa and the Maymont Christmas Fairy, horse drawn carriage rides, seasonal refreshments, live music and special activities.
King’s Dominion Winter Fest
King’s Dominion is an amusement park located in Doswell, just 20 miles outside of Richmond. During Winterfest, the park transforms into a winter wonderland. Its decked out with over 2 million lights, a 300-foot tree and impressive displays. Live shows and strolling performers add to the excitement.
There are seasonal activities guests can partake in throughout the park and the restaurants serve holiday treats that boost the Christmas cheer.
Model Railroad Show at the Science Museum of Virginia
The Science Museum of Virginia is a great place to enjoy films, live demos and workshops that educate and entertain. Each year they host a model railroad show with model trains from across the state. Guests will lean how the trains work, they will conduct experiments and check out special demonstrations. They will meet Clydesdale horses, watch blacksmiths in action and have an opportunity to ride on the Teddy Bear Express.
Tis the Season Christmas Bar Takeover
This event takes place at Rappahannock Restaurant’s Rapp Session Bar. The place is decked out and the Rappahannock elves take over the area. You can sip on seasonal cocktails, order from a special holiday menu and listen to great holiday music. There is also a chance to win a 12 Days of Christmas raffle.
Annual Tree Lighting at the Jefferson Hotel
The Jefferson has been called Richmond’s grandest hotels and one of the finest in the United States. Its tree lighting event kicks off with holiday music performances. There are several holiday characters on hand and Santa arrives as the grand finale.
The event is free and guests are welcome into the Empire Ballroom after the ceremony to enjoy complimentary refreshments and to be the first to see the annual Gingerbread Display. Hundreds of pounds of gingerbread icing and candy are used to create this holiday scene which remains on display in the hotel lobby through the beginning of January.
The hotel itself is also decorated in a grand fashion with hundreds of poinsettias, yards of ribbon and garland, thousands of twinkling lights and dozens of toy soldiers.
The Bizarre Bazaar’s Christmas Collection
The Bizarre Bazaar takes place at the Richmond Raceway Complex. It features over 400 vendors selling unique items such as home décor, furniture, jewelry, arts and crafts and more. There is also live music entertainment and a café that’s great for getting a bite to eat.
The Bizarre Bazaar has been rated as the number three show in the country on the Sunshine Artists Magazine Top 200 Shows list. It’s the perfect destination for getting some holiday shopping done.
Annual Court End Christmas
As previously mentioned, Court End is a neighborhood full of historic sites and federal mansions. Every Christmas, the properties open their doors allowing the public to enjoy history, music, children’s activities, gifts shops, tours and more. A complimentary shuttle circulates between the sites making transportation easy.
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade runs along Broad St. from the Science Museum to 7th St. It features the Grand Marshall, holiday floats, marching bands, helium balloons and, of course, Santa.
RVA Illuminates at Kanawha Plaza
The Kanawha Plaza serves to connect Richmond’s central business district to the James River. It includes live music performances from local artists and groups. Past performers have included the No BS! Brass Band, a handbell choir from Miles James Elementary School and a performance from City Dance Theatre. Richmond deejays and news personalities host the event.
The mayor is on hand to flip a switch which outlines downtown office buildings in lights.
Richmond’s cultural spirit and historic vibe makes it the perfect place to celebrate Christmas. With a seemingly never-ending list of things to see and do, it is hopeful you will be able to cross most of these activities off your list. Which is your favorite of the bunch?