The Grand Illumination: what you need to know

Santa will herald the holidays tonight by lighting up Downtown Richmond. Not only will there be some great visuals, but musical entertainment, and a few interesting (and free!) things to do.

One of the most impressive spectacles you’ll see all year kicks off tonight in dramatic fashion as thousands of lights will be switched on Downtown to welcome the holiday season. Not only that, but there will be entertainment, free carriage and boat rides, and a visit from the North Pole’s most famous resident.

Here’s what you need to know about tonight’s festivities, and how to turn it into a lovely night on the town.

So…What’s going on exactly?

At 6:00 PM sharp, Santa Claus will turn on lights lining Downtown office buildings, as well as the James Center’s Great Tree and Reindeer. Attendees will gather between 9th-12th streets, stretching down Cary Street to watch the city light up.

What else is happening downton tonight?

At 6:30 PM, Big Ray and the Kool Kats will perform an outdoor concert.

Other entertainment includes:

  • The Greater Richmond Children’s Choir
  • Varina High School Marching Band
  • The American Youth Harp Ensemble,
  • Characters from the Nutcracker cast

FREE horse and carriage rides will start and end in Shockoe Slip at 13th and E. Cary streets from 6:00 – 10:00 PM.

FREE Canal boat rides from 6:00 – 9:00 PM at the Turning Basin at 14th and Dock streets.

The Poe Museum will also illuminate its grounds and offer hot cider, a cash bar for adults, and a station for children to make Victorian Christmas cards.

Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) will collect toys for 170 Richmond-area children. You can bring unwrapped gifts for children ages 0-17 to the collection sleigh located in the Three James Center lobby.

What’s the weather going to be like?

It should be clear, but definitely chilly. Temperatures at 6:00 PM should be around the upper 30s.

Which streets will be closed?

  • No parking will be allowed on E. Cary Street between 9th and 12th streets.
  • 10th Street will be closed between E. Cary and Canal streets from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM.
  • Expect traffic delays on E. Cary Street from 9th to 12th streets from 5:00 – 9:00 PM as people view the light display.

Where should I park?

If you’re feeling lucky, you can try finding on-street parking. But those spaces will probably put you several blocks away from the festivities, so be prepared to do some walking.

$3.00 parking is available at the parking deck on the corner of 10th and Canal streets after 4:00 PM. There are other paid parking decks throughout the area that will likely be open too.

Great! But where can I eat afterwards?

Good question! As it so happens, Downtown offers several great restaurants:

  • Arcadia (1700 E. Main Street)
  • Capital Ale House (621 E. Main Street)
  • Pasture (416 E. Grace Street)
  • Lemaire (101 W. Franklin)
  • Morton’s The Steakhouse (111 Virginia Street)
  • Tio Pablo (1703 E. Franklin Street)
  • Perly’s (111 E. Grace Street)
  • Julep’s (1719 E. Franklin Street)
  • 525 at the Berry Burk (525 E. Grace Street)
  • Tobacco Company (1201 E. Cary Street)
  • Urban Farmhouse (1217 E. Cary Street)
  • Kobi Japanese Steak and Sushi (19 S. 13th Street)
  • Penny Lane Pub (421 E. Franklin Street)


Photo by George Deputee

  • error

    Report an error

There are no reader comments. Add yours.