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Williamsburg Holiday Traditions

The holidays are in full swing, and you can bet that after the year we had last year, Williamsburg is going to make this year COUNT. Treasured Williamsburg holiday traditions were put on hold in 2020, but now they’re back, and we’ll never take them for granted again. 

Every culture is defined by its history and traditions, but have you ever wondered where or when certain holiday traditions started? Some of the customs we partake in today, like watching beloved Christmas movies, are relatively modern, and others, like hanging a wreath on your door, date all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman times! Fun fact: American colonists are credited with the idea of adding rum to eggnog! The history behind traditions are almost as fun as the traditions themselves, and when you’re in Williamsburg, Virginia, you get to experience it all!

So gather your friends and family, bundle up, and pack a bag—because Williamsburg has everything you need to make your holiday shine bright.

Ice Skating

Williamsburg’s spin on one of the oldest winter traditions is irresistible to new and seasoned skaters alike. Whether you’re solo, with a best friend, a date, or a whole crew of family members, Liberty Ice Pavilion is an absolute must this holiday season! Come on over to historic Duke of Gloucester St. and get ready for hours of fun on and around the ice (think hot chocolate and Christmas carols). The rink is open daily from November 19 through February 27, 2022 (see the full operating schedule here). Parking is available at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg, in the nearby hourly Merchants Square lots or in the paid parking garage on Henry Street. Merchants Square is also home to eight wonderful restaurants, so take your pick and make a whole night of it! 

Shopping

Williamsburg is home to endless shopping options—just take your pick! Merchants Square is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the ‘Burg, and for good reason. If you’re looking for one-of-a-kind gifts made with care, explore the Square’s boutiques and specialty shops. From fine jewelry and apparel to books and specialty foods and ingredients, Merchants Square will help you check off items for your favorite people on your shopping list. While you’re here, take a few turns on the ice at Liberty Ice Pavilion or get cozy in one of the Square’s delicious restaurants. If you needed another reason to shop here, know that your purchases support small businesses that made it to the other side of the pandemic. Now that’s something worth celebrating.

Christmas Town

Christmas Town is back at Busch Gardens, and it promises to be the best year ever! On select dates from November 12 to January 2, bring your family to see 10 million sparkling holiday lights, set against the backdrop of a truly magical holiday wonderland (no matter your age). Think ice skating shows, rides, beautiful Christmas carols, a magical Santa’s Workshop, and endless mugs of delicious hot chocolate! Get your tickets here.

Christmas Parade

The Williamsburg Christmas Parade is back! This year’s parade will be held on Sunday, December 5th at 5 p.m. This local tradition goes back to 1965, and is Williamsburg’s way of ushering in the holiday season with festive floats, live performances, and a special visit from Santa himself! This year’s theme is Joy to the World—to remind us that there are so many reasons to celebrate being part of a wonderful community. 

Grand Illumination

Join the Colonial Williamsburg community as it celebrates the holiday season with three Grand Illumination weekends: December 3-5, 10-12, and 17-19. Enjoy holiday traditions, old and new! On Friday evenings, join the new Procession of the Yule Log and hear holiday songs and stories on Market Square. Saturday evenings will include a dramatic presentation of an original holiday story, glorious music, and a joyful appearance by Father Christmas, culminating in simultaneous Grand Illumination fireworks displays over the Governor’s Palace and Capitol building.

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