December festivals: Capital City Kwanzaa Festival

It’s the last major festival of the year! That is, if you don’t count New Year’s Eve as one big stressful festival!

Original — December 03, 2015

Photo by: Fire At Will [Photography]

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Capital City Kwanzaa Festival

Performers! Workshops! Children’s activities! It’s a celebration of African culture centered around the African Spiritualist holiday of Kwanzaa and the notion of kujichagulia (self-determination).

  • Saturday, December 26th • 1:00 – 9:00 PM
  • Altria Theater, 6 N. Laurel Street
  • $6, $5 for students and seniors (buy in advance online)

Dominion GardenFest 2015: H2Whoa!

Whoa, Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Whoa. H2Whoa. You have really outdone yourself this year. Read our write-up of a–dare she say it–yes she went ahead and said it–magical time had at this kind of amazing Edisonmas masterpiece. An Edisonmasterpiece! Let’s all wish for Edisonmasterpeaceonearth! What are we even talking about anymore?

  • Through January 11th (closed December 24th and 25th) • 5:00 – 10:00 PM
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Avenue
  • $12 for adults, $8 for children, $7 for garden members, free for children under 3

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The Grand Illumination

Grand? More like mand(atory)! In that I have never actually been to this, but people seem to love it very hard. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen the effects and they are very festive (buildings outlined in lights, reindeer and a big tree, probably some wreaths in there somewhere), but I’ve never made it down to the Grand Illumination itself, which involves caroling by SPARC, an appearance by everyone’s favorite pep band, the VCU Peppas, and then Santa, Big Ray and the Kool Kats, the cast of Gypsy, the cast of the Nutcracker, the VCU Trombone Choir, the…well, the everything. You should probably just read the whole thing.

  • Friday, December 4th • 5:45 – 7:00 PM
  • James Center between 9th and 12th Streets on Cary Street
  • Free to attend ($3 parking at the deck on 10th and Canal Streets after 4:00 PM)

Illuminate Light Show & Santa’s Village

Christmastime has become the season of ELECTRICITY LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT! Let us rename it Edisonmas. This Edisonmas, you could pack up the car and bring your family to Meadow Event Park, where you can drive through all sorts of lights, skate on a rink, get pics with the Bearded One Who Is Not Thomas Edison, and pose in a life-size snow globe whence you may or may not return. There are some who say that it is worth the drive up to Doswell!

  • Through January 2nd • 5:30 – 10:00 PM
  • Meadow Event Park, 13191 Dawn Boulevard, Doswell
  • $25 per car (save $3 by picking up a ticket at Walgreens)

Dominion Christmas Parade

It’s good parade weather that day, says our office meteorologist! He’s a guy who makes it is business to look up the weather every day on the Internet, so we listen to him. Now’s your chance to see floats, bands, Santa, the Christmas Mother, and, of course, gargantuan balloons!

  • Saturday, December 5th • 10:00 AM
  • Departs from Science Museum and parades down Broad Street to 7th Street. Or watch on WTVR-CBS6!
  • Free to watch!

Handmade Holiday

So many crafters in one place! The cool, hip crafters that make artisanal leather goods and special soap and whatnot. You could get literally every single thing for every person on your list at this jam. And maybe also some jam!

  • Saturday, December 5th • 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, 2408 Ownby Lane
  • Free to attend!

Maymont’s Old-Fashioned Christmas

I’m a sucker for a sentence like this “Victorian ladies and gentlemen graciously welcome you into the Dooleys’ home to marvel at the grand Christmas tree and the beautifully decorated formal rooms.” Yes, I WILL marvel, thank you very much! And I will also marvel like whoa at the Maymont Christmas Fairy (which I now aspire to be) the roaring bonfire and horse-drawn carriage rides.

  • Sunday, December 6th • 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Maymont (Mansion and Carriage House Lawn), 1700 Hampton Street
  • Free to attend, $5 for mansion tours, $5 for carriage rides ($4 for kids 12 and under)

CarMax Tacky Light Run

Has tacky lights really made our city a holiday destination? I thought it was, like, history and all that, but listen, I’m willing to turn it over to the Clark Griswalds of the world. Absolutely. The CarMax Tacky Light Run is always a popular thing to do with those of you who enjoy a good Edisonmas but don’t want to see it done with class and grace. This run will bring you 6 full kilometers of Midlothian’s tackiest displays. Joke’s on you, Walton Park!

  • Saturday, December 12th • 6:00 PM
  • Midlothian Mines Park, Midlothian
  • $10 – $45

The Nutcracker

It’s a feast for the senses! It’s the Nutcracker! This is what every ballerina strives for throughout their whole career (and their enthusiasm never wanes, even night after night, year after year, RIGHT??). Do not miss this year, which features some costume upgrades, some Act 2 changes (gasp! do not alter my beloved Arabian Dance and stick a dancing bear in it!), and a new Swan Sleigh!

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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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