Top holiday light displays around Richmond

Festive Holiday Lights Guide 2021

Photo by: Tom Woodward
Neighbors come together to create amazing tacky light attractions.

Every year, dozens of neighborhoods and communities around the Richmond area come together to put on creative light displays for the holiday season. Many of the participating subdivisions go over the top for the annual tradition, making some of the locations highly traveled to attractions. With many areas joining in this year, there is no shortage of displays for individuals of all ages to enjoy.

CarMax Tacky Light Run

The Walton Park neighborhood in Midlothian takes holiday decorating so seriously that CarMax sponsors an annual Tacky Ligh Run through the neighborhood. With more than half of the homes decked out with thousands of colorful lights, inflatables and make-shift scenes, Walton Park is the perfect local destination to view amazing scenery.

The annual Walton Park Tacky Light Run sponsored by CarMax which took place this past Saturday, December 11. Runners from near and far gathered for the six-kilometer course early in the night to take part in the unique activity.  The event also included different houses handing out holiday beverages and treats that individuals can stop at along the way. The race is a treasured holiday tradition for local runners around the Richmond area.

“I ran the 6k last year and the lights around me were so beautiful. I did not realize how distracted I would get with everything happening around me though,” junior Kylie Bonser said.

Even if you missed the run, the Walton Park neighborhood’s impressive display of lights is enough to satisfy your Christmas light viewing desires.

“Christmas House” Display

One of the most impressive independent home light shows is the infamous “Christmas House” located at 2300 Wistar Court. The homeowner, Frank Hudak, has carried out the tradition of decorating every inch of his home, as well as filling his yard with illuminated figures, for over forty years. To complete the display, Hudak puts on a Santa outfit every year to bring holiday joy to all the light admirers. The house also sells hot chocolate and all the proceeds are donated to the Virginia Home for Boys and Girls. This jaw-dropping attraction is the perfect stop for a tacky light tour.

RVA Illuminates

Richmond’s City-wide tradition of RVA Illuminates is one of the mostly highly anticipated events of the season. During this time, the towers of downtown Richmond are all lit up simultaneously on December 3, 2021 at the Kanawha Plaza located on East Canal Street, creating a magical skyline. The event included performances by the Richmond City Police Department Band and D.J. Lonnie B, adding to the merriment as the switch was flipped at 6 P.M to light up the night. Though RVA Illuminates has passed, individuals can still take an evening trip into the City to take in the bright lights as they will stay up throughout the remainder of the holiday season.

Busch Gardens Christmas Town

The most well-known of the light Richmond light displays is those at Busch Garden Christmas Town. While not only a light viewing destination, Busch Gardens has holiday-themed performances, rides, food and more for the public to enjoy.

“My family would always go to Christmas town before the pandemic. We really enjoyed it, especially the performances and food,” junior Ava Brown said.

Regular tickets start at $39.99 with dining pass tickets starting at $69.99. Ticket prices may potentially increase as Christmas nears, so get them now in order to take part in all of the festivities that Christmas Town has to offer.

Illuminate Light Show 

The recent popularity of Doswell’s Illuminate Light Show has pulled hundreds of Richmond residents throughout the month of December to its sprawling light installation. The spectacle offers a drive-thru experience, so cars are surrounded by thousands of bright lights, most of which are in sync with a local radio station playing classic holiday hits. The whole light show is available to the public until January 2, 2022, giving individuals the chance to enjoy seasonal festivities post-Christmas. The experience is $25 dollars per car, so take a drive down to Doswell to take in the marvelous sights.

GardenFest of Lights 

The magic of Lews Ginter Botanical Gardens captivates Richmonders on a weekly basis throughout the year. However, the gardens are taken to the next level during the holiday season for the GardenFest of Lights sponsored by Dominion Energy. With warm hot chocolate in hand, groups are able to wander along the illuminated pathways featuring colorful lights, holiday decorations and even a large model train. Tickets must be purchased prior to arrival and will be available until January 9, 2022.

Tacky Light Tour

Each year, the Richmond Times-Dispatch curates an extensive list of the top tacky light destinations in the area. The route features homes of those most devoted to the season with over-the-top light installations. By following the guide, groups of friends and families are able to visit the most elaborate holiday displays from the comfort of their cars.

There are many opportunities this holiday season for both light sightseeing and taking part in fun-filled activities to get in the spirit.