Holiday events and festivals

No matter what you celebrate this time of year, festivities abound!

Original — December 01, 2014

RVA on ice

Richmond’s best (only?) outdoor ice rink is BACK. Head over and partake in one of winter’s most graceful, yet occasionally comically disastrous, activities.

  • Through January 4th (various hours)
  • Broad and 6th streets
  • Tickets range from free to $5 (season passes are $20)

Bizarre Market

Walk (nay, sashay) into Chop Suey Books and pick up some snuggly, sparkly, repurposed crafts that’ll make your gift stand out (in a good way).

  • Through Dec. 24th • 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Chop Suey Books • 2913 W. Cary Street
  • FREE admission

Legendary Santa

Kris Kringle treks down from the North Pole to say hello to all the good girls and boys after descending the Children Museum’s Chimney. This is one of Richmond’s marquee holiday events. Here’s a nice little video about its making.

  • Through Dec. 24th (various hours)
  • Children’s Museum of Richmond • 2626 W. Broad Street
  • FREE


Over 500,000 lights will illuminate Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden at one of the most impressive sights you’ll see this holiday season. Maybe even all year.

  • Through Jan. 12th
  • Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden • 1800 Lakeside Avenue
  • Tickets are free to $12


Stroll through the shopping district like you’re in an old-timey dream with free carriage rides (we’re pretty sure the horses aren’t Uber drivers).

  • Nov. 29th • Dec. 13th • Dec. 20th
  • Carytown
  • FREE


Head to the hotel’s Palm Court and Rotunda for several concerts featuring the region’s best musical ensembles.

  • Dec. 2nd, 3rd, 8th, 11th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 19th, 22nd, 23rd, 29th, 30th
  • The Jefferson Hotel • 101 W. Franklin Street
  • FREE but make reservations ASAP by calling 804.649.4672


This thing has been going on for 39 years. We can safely say there is no — I repeat NO — event with as many gifts and Holiday crafts as this one.

  • Dec. 4th – 7th • 8:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Richmond Raceway Complex • 600 E. Laburnum Avenue
  • $7

Celebrate the Peace

Back in December 1914, German and British soldier laid down their rifles and came together for an unofficial cease fire prior to Christmas Eve, singing carols and even exchanging gifts. Come celebrate that brief moment of peace in the Shrine of Memory.

  • Friday, Dec. 5th • 5:00 – 7:00 PM
  • Virginia War Memorial • 621 S. Belvidere Street
  • FREE


The train station opens its doors to visitors and will screen The Polar Express  on a 40’ inflatable screen across the street. Snacks, children train rides, and more free fun will be available.

  • Friday, Dec. 5th • 5:00 – 9:00 PM
  • Main Street Station • 1500 E. Main Street
  • FREE

Grand Illumination

The free family event officially welcomes the holidays to town when the buildings at the James Center light up. Music, toy donations, and more make this a great way to spend a Friday evening.

  • Friday, Dec. 5th • 5:45 – 7:00 PM
  • James Center • between 9th – 12th & Cary streets
  • FREE

Fugly Sweater Party

Dust off your “so tacky it’s awesome” sweater, put it on, and drink some brewskies while helping out the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team. Best sweater contests, silent auction, live music, food trucks, and beer will make this a Grade A event.

  • Saturday, Dec. 6th • 4:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Center of the Universe Brewery • 11293 Air Park Road in Ashland
  • FREE


Krampus, the demon creature that came to life in the imaginations of Europeans centuries ago, visits Richmond to lead a fiendish walk that counters the holiday cheer (in the name of fun).

  • Saturday, Dec. 6th • 5:30 PM
  • Portrait House • 2907 W. Cary Street
  • FREE


50 of the best local, regional, and national indie artists and crafters convene at Hardywood to sell jewelry, art, chocolate, clothing, and a whole lot more.

  • Saturday, Dec. 6th • 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Hardywood Park Craft Brewery • 2408 Ownby Lane
  • FREE to attend

Dominion Christmas Parade

More than 100,000 people will line up along Broad Street as the city’s annual Christmas cavalcade brings massive helium balloons, floats, marching bands, and more.

  • Saturday, Dec. 6th • 10:00 AM
  • Stretches from the Science Museum to 7th Street
  • FREE


Hop into The DeLorean and travel back to the Victorian Era and meet the Dooleys and see how they celebrated Christmas in 1893.

  • Sunday, Dec. 7th • 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Maymont • 2201 Shields Lake Drive
  • $4 – $5 for tours and carriage rides

Church Hill Candlelight Walk and Caroling

Stroll down historic streets whilst caroling and holding candles as bagpipes and drummers lead the way.

  • Friday, Dec. 12th • 7:00 PM
  • St. John’s Church • 2401 E. Broad Street
  • FREE (donations accepted)


Over 2,400 toys were collected last year for Toys for Tots, and organizers hope to collect even more this year. Bring an unwrapped toy with you and enjoy vendors and a special appearance from some dude named Santa.

  • Saturday, Dec. 13th • 11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • 4000 Block of MacArthur Avenue
  • FREE

CarMax Tacky Light Run

Why take in the region’s tacky lights in the comfort of your climate-controlled car when you can be outside in the cold…running! The 6k course shows off dozens of Midlothian homes that take tacky lights up a notch and give you an excuse to gorge on holiday sweets.

  • Saturday, Dec. 13th
  • Midlothian
  • $35 – $50

James River Parade of Lights

Why should land dwellers get all the holiday fun? Boaters decorate their vessels and, come dusk, make the James twinkle. The parade begins in Richmond, just below the fall line, with boats cruising through Henrico and Chesterfield counties to the Varina-Enon Bridge.

  • Saturday, Dec. 13th • 4:00 – 8:00 PM
  • Along the James River
  • FREE

Fan Holiday House Tour

The 52nd annual holiday house tour gives you a peek inside 19th and 20th Century homes, representing one of the largest concentrations of Victorian townhouses in the country.

  • Dec. 13th & 14th • 1:00 – 6:00 PM
  • Across The Fan
  • $25


10 historic downtown sites open their days for a day of free admission and holiday fun, including carriage rides, carolers, live music, kid crafts, gift shops, and more.

  • Sunday, Dec. 14th • 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Various historic sites downtown
  • FREE


Ever wonder what Christmas was like in 1640 England, 1860 London, and 1942 Richmond? Agecroft Hall’s open house will give you characters and entertainment from various times in its past.

  • Sunday, Dec. 14 • 12:30 – 5:00 PM
  • Agecroft Hall • 4305 Sulgrave Road
  • FREE


The 50th anniversary event showcases the oldest community in Richmond with homes built as far back as the 1700s. Featuring Federal, Greek revival, and Victorian homes, the event is a great way to see Church Hill in a new light.

  • Sunday, Dec. 14th • 12:00 – 5:00 PM
  • Church Hill
  • $20 advance/$25 day of

The Nutcracker

Called “perfect” by the New York Times, The Nutcracker returns with the glory that is Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece. It’s a popular holiday classic, so get tickets ASAP.

  • Dec. 19th – 28th
  • Carpenter Theatre • 600 E. Grace Street
  • Tickets start at $30


Celebrate the holidays with friends, family, and wine. The local winery will have seasonal wines for sales, special craft vendors, and more.

  • Dec. 20th & 21st
  • James River Cellars • 11008 Washington Highway in Glen Allen
  • FREE

Miracle of Christmas

The Metro Richmond Zoo hosts a live re-enactment of the Christmas story and features animals from the zoo.

  • Dec. 21st, 22nd, and 23rd (7:00, 7:45, and 8:30 PM shows) and December 24th (9:00 PM)
  • Metro Richmond Zoo • 8300 Beaver Bridge Road
  • FREE  (attendees encouraged to bring canned goods for FeedMore)


Now in its 83rd year (!) the nativity pageant is performed annually at the Carillon in Byrd Park. With a cast of roughly 200, the interdenominational and inter-racial pageant is performed to about 3,000 people each year.

  • Tuesday, Dec. 23rd • 7:00 PM
  • The Carillon in Byrd Park
  • FREE


One of the city’s most popular walking tours, Monument Avenue After Dark takes history and combines it with holiday glitz. Good stuff.

  • Dec. 26th – 27th • 6:00 – 7:30 PM
  • 1801 Monument Avenue
  • $5 – $15


Boasting an African market, cuisine, dancers, drummers, masquerades and more, this year’s festival shows why it’s one of the largest Kwanzaa events on the East Coast.

  • Saturday, Dec. 28th • 1:00 – 9:00 PM
  • Hippodrome Theater • 528 N. 2nd Street
  • Tickets range from free – $7

RVA NYE 2014

Organizers of the first NYE ball drop in Carytown have taken things to Brown’s Island in what they hope will become a Richmond staple. Join 10,000 other Richmonders for a great way to end 2014 and welcome 2015.

  • Wednesday, Dec. 31st • starts at 7:00 PM
  • Brown’s Island
  • FREE

Photo by Will Fisher

  • error

    Report an error

Nathan Cushing

Nathan Cushing is a writer, journalist, and RVANews Editor.

There is 1 reader comment. Read it.