Guide to Richmond’s most festive holiday events

Local holiday activities


Photo by: Chris Ainsworth

The city of Richmond, Virginia continues to hosts a number of their most well-known events during the 2020 holiday season despite COVID-19

Although this holiday season may look different than prior years, throughout the entirety of the month of December, the City of Richmond, Virginia is working to provide a number of festive outlets for the community, putting a sense of Christmas cheer in the air. Carrying out traditions through unique and innovative avenues, Richmond continues to host some of its most beloved events. Each of the holiday celebrations offers a familiar way for individuals to immerse themselves in the spirit of the season, while also taking necessary measures to ensure the safety of all who wish to participate given the current COVID-19 restrictions set in place by the state.

Dominion Energy Christmas Parade: Originally broadcast on Saturday, December 5, 2020, the pre-recorded 37th annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade remains available to watch on the WTVR CBS 6 Youtube channel and will air again on television Christmas Day. This year’s affair included appearances from several performance groups, Santa Clause, and Midlo’s very own senior Katherine Krievs as the 2020 Snow Queen to kick-start the holiday season.

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights: For those enthralled by the wondrous glow of Christmas lights, the GardenFest of Lights sponsored by Dominion Energy at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, last now until January 10, 2021, each night beginning at 4:00 p.m., featuring thousands of illuminating displays, model trains, hot chocolate, and various food options suitable for individuals of all ages. All guests must pre-purchase tickets in advance due to capacity limitations as a result of COVID-19 and to prevent over-crowding that may jeopardize the safety of attendees, tickets correspond with set arrival times. The GardenFest serves as a prized tradition to many, so with most nights selling out, make sure to place ticket orders now to ensure a spot.

Illuminate Light Show: Proudly acting as Central Virginia’s largest drive-thru Christmas light show, the Illuminate Light Show allows guests to surround themselves in the spirit of the holidays with an all synchronized to holiday music display. Open to the public nightly from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. ending on January 3, 2021, guests have the option to pre-purchase tickets prior to their arrival or obtain tickets at the gate. Located in Doswell County at the Meadow Event Park, the drive-through operation gives families and loved ones alike an opportunity to take in all of the magic that the holiday season has to offer from the safety, and warmth, of their vehicle.

Tacky Light Tour: With the Christmas season underway, the highly anticipated tacky light installments featured on the homes of those most devoted to the season make a return. Curated by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, a comprehensive list of the top locations to witness over-the-top lights for 2020 provides individuals a chance to tour the most elaborate holiday displays for themselves. Given the hardships accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, tacky lights take on a whole new meaning this season, representing a shining beacon of joy for many to look forward to during the uncertain times looming overhead.

Holiday Lights & Music on the Riverfront: Taking place on Saturday, December 19, 2020, Brown’s Island, in the heart of downtown Richmond, presents the Holiday Lights and Music on the Riverfront event from  6:00 to 8:00 p.m., free of charge to the public. Showcasing the beautiful banks of the James River in a new light, decorative displays transform the walkways into a breathtaking wonderland full of seasonal glow, incorporating vendors and holiday music from Justin Paciocco to set the tone for the evening. 

The Nutcracker: The Richmond Ballet’s busiest time of year comes with their annual production of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, drawing crowds of hundreds to the company’s awe-inspiring performances annually. However, in light of safety concerns, for the first time in history, Richmond Ballet released several recording packages of the show available for purchase. Giving audiences the chance to invite the performance into their homes, the timeless tradition ensures everlasting cherishable holiday memories.

The Richmond Symphony: Offering guests both an in-person and virtual experience, on Saturday, December 12, 2020, the renowned Richmond Symphony performs A Baroque Holiday hosted by the Dominion Energy Center. Under the direction of George Manahan, the ninety minute concert portrays a unique take on old-world melodies. For those unable to attend, the symphony’s Home for the Holidays subscription provides another option to make the most out of the holiday season by including all three holiday concerts, The Snowman, Let it Snow, and A Baroque Holiday, in a livestream format available to enjoy up until January 8, 2021.

Kings Dominion and Busch Gardens: Although located outside of the City of Richmond, two of Virginia’s most popular amusement parks have announced that their annual holiday events will go on as scheduled. Both the Kings Dominion Taste of the Season in Doswell and the Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration of Williamsburg permit guests an outdoor experience unlike any other. Each event features tasty seasonal food and beverage items, themed activities and signature rides, all adding a thrill to the holiday. Each park has devised an extensive re-opening plan sure to put holiday worries at ease.