The Grand Illumination: what you need to know

Richmond is about to get a whole lot brighter after this evening. The 27th Grand Illumination will take place downtown at 6pm sharp this evening. We have all the details that you’ll need about the event and about how to make the most out of an excursion downtown.

Thousands of people will gather later this evening to watch the Grand Illumination downtown. Not only one of the most dazzling spectacles you’ll see in Richmond, the annual Illumination features activities, musical performances, and even the North Pole’s most famous bearded resident. We have everything that you need to know about tonight’s festivities and how to make it a lovely winter night on the town afterwards.

Run this by me again…so what’s going on exactly?

The Grand illumination begins at 6pm. Can’t stress this enough people: 6pm sharp. It’ll take place in between 10th and E. Cary streets up until the 17th Street Farmers Market.

Afterwards, Santa and the Varina High School marching band will head down to the turning basin to give a performance. At 7pm, Santa will take part in a historically-narrated canal cruise (the guy’s been around for ages, so we imagine he knows a thing or two about history).

Anything else going on downtown tonight?

Big Ray and the Kool Kats will perform a musical set at 6:30pm; other performances and appearances will include:

  • The Greater Richmond Children’s Choir
  • The Sugar Plum Fairy from the Richmond Ballet
  • Characters from the Nutcracker Cast

There will also be free horse and carriage rides in Shockoe Slip at the fountain at 13th and E. Cary streets between 6pm–10pm. It will feature a holiday decorated 12-passenger wagon that will circle the Shockoe area. Only one round trip per person! For more details, call Roger at 804.769.4010.

Venture Richmond will also be handing out free RVA bike flashers throughout the area, starting at 6:30pm while supplies last.

Yeah, but won’t it be colder than a witches’…you know?

While tonight looks to be free of rain, make sure you bring coats and gloves as our expected lows will get into the lower 30s.

What streets will be close?

The Richmond Police will close the following streets for tonight’s festivities:

  • No parking will be allowed on the south side of East Cary Street between Ninth and 12th streets.
  • Tenth Street will be closed between East Cary and Canal streets.
  • Expect traffic delays on East Cary Street from 9th to 12th streets from
  • 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. as pedestrians and motorists view the light display at the James Center.

So where do I park?

Street parking will be available. With so many people likely to attend, however, you may have to park several blocks away from your ideal destination. Remember: there are many lots downtown that charge a small fee (around $5).

Also, many restaurants will honor and vouch for parking. It may be a good idea to make a night out of being downtown and visit a new or favorite restaurant while you are there. It’s Friday night. Live a little!

Alright, you’ve sold me! So where can we go to eat afterwards?

Here are some downtown eats:

  • Arcadia (1700 E. Main Street)
  • Capital Ale House (621 E. Main Street)
  • LuLu’s (21 N. 17th Street)
  • Perly’s (111 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

  • error

    Report an error

There is 1 reader comment. Read it.