With Turkey Day falling late this year, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas will flash by faster than marshmallows dissolve in boiling-hot chocolate. So you better enjoy your holly-jolly while it lasts.
Here are holiday events and activities not to miss throughout your River City revelry this 2013-2014 season:
RVA On Ice (Nov. 23 through Jan. 20; hours vary)—Feeling chilly? Then get your circulation going by ice skating downtown right at the corner of Broad and 6th Streets. Also catch s’mores, coco, holiday music and movies at the fire pit and snack shack. The City of Richmond Park, Recreation and Community Facilities’ Office of Cultural Art Programs will host free arts and craft sessions on Saturdays beginning Dec. 7. A season pass costs $20; general admission is $5, with seniors and military $4 and children 10 and under free when accompanied by an adult. More at www.rvaonice.net And we at Richmond.com wrote more about it here.
Tacky Lights (Nov. 28-Jan. 1)-- Richmond homes light up with over-the-top displays starting on Thanksgiving and running through New Year's Eve. You can visit houses yourself with our Tacky Lights mobile guide at www.tackyrichmond.com, book yourself a limo or even hop on a trolley to take in the lights. We highly recommend Monument Avenue (not tacky, just beautiful), the houses on Asbury Court, 9716 Wendhurst Avenue and 2300 Wistar Court. Find the definitive Tacky Lights Guide right here.
Bizarre Market Holiday Tiny Auction (Nov. 29-Dec. 24; 10 a.m.-4 p.m.)—All kinds of crafts will grace this month-long pop-up market that states off with a fundraiser auction for the Richmond Young Writers scholarship program. Come to Chop Suey Books for this free and public event.
Legendary Santa (Nov. 29 through Christmas Eve; hours vary)—If you have kiddies at home clamoring for good ol’ St. Nick, the Children’s Museum of Richmond is where to take them for photo sessions, as well as sunrise and sunset celebrations. Tea with Santa—a C-MoR event that takes place Dec. 8, 14, 15, 19, 21, 22 at Hilton Garden Inn—features seasonal beverages and snacks plus a sing along with Santa and the Singing Elf. Photos start at $8.95; Tea with Santa is $42 for members and $45 for non-members. More at www.c-mor.org/legendary-santa. Check out our complete Santa Guide—including Santa in Carytown—here.
Dominion Gardenfest of Lights (Nov. 29 through Jan. 13, except Dec. 24 & 25; 5-10 p.m.)—Christmas is supposed to be big, bright and sparkly, and, boy, does Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden ever get that right. This nightly affair boasts over half a million lights, botanical décor, trains and more. That even means various holiday dinners and family activities, like the New Year’s Eve Family Frolic. On this special day from 2 to 5 p.m., families may enjoy live music and arts and crafts. Tickets start at $11 for adults, $10 for seniors, $7 for children ages 3-12 and $6 for members, with varying prices for special events. More at www.lewisginter.org.
Music at Midday (Dec. 3, 4, 9, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 20, 30)—Join the Jefferson for a noon performance from one of the area’s “finest musical ensembles.” Call 804-649-4672 to make a reservation. More at www.jeffersonhotel.com.
The Bizarre Bazaar (Dec. 5-9; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday)—Now in its 38th year, The Bizarre Bazaar presents 500 juried exclusive exhibitors at the Richmond Raceway Complex. Get your craft and cottage industry fix here and cross just about everybody off your shopping list. If you can’t find it here, good luck. General admission is $7 and $1.50 for children ages 2-12. More at www.thebizarrebazaar.com.
Grand Illumination 2013 (Dec. 6, 5:55-7 p.m.)—Wander around the James Center this magical evening and you’ll swear you’re in the North Pole (minus the snow.) Show up on time and you’ll see all of the reindeer, trees and buildings light the night at once. Free. More at www.thejamescenter.com/grandill.html Check out our guide to tree lightings around town—including the Jefferson Hotel tree lighting—here.
Dominion Christmas Parade (Dec. 7; 10 a.m. to noon)—Watch our city transform West Broad Street into a winter wonderland with floats, marching bands, helium balloons, Santa Claus and other attractions pulling in an audience of more than 100,000. The fun kicks off at the Science Museum of Virginia. Free. More at www.richmondparade.com.
The Fan Holiday House Tour (Dec. 7 & 8; 1-6 p.m.)—See how one of the largest and best preserved historic townhouse districts in the South decks out for Christmas. Whether you’re into lights, trees, tinsel, or simply want it all, this house tour will keep you a look at Fan residents’ fine homes. Refreshments will be served at Retreat Doctors’ Hospital (2621 Grove Ave.) and HeartFields Assisted Living (501 N. Allen Ave.). Just remember to leave your high-heeled shoes at home! Tickets may be purchased in advance for $25 at any number of locations. More at www.fandistrict.org.
27th Annual Court End Christmas (Dec. 8; 12- p.m.)—Make your holiday celebration a historical one, with carriage rides, plus carolers, live music, crafting, etc. For a flat fee of $20 per person in advance or $25 the day of at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, you may visit Valentine Richmond History Center/Wickham House, the John Marshall House, St. John’s Church, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, The Museum and White House of the Confederacy, Monumental Church, the Egyptian Building, the Beers House, the Virginia State Capitol, and Virginia’s Executive Mansion. More at www.richmondhistorycenter.com.
Old-fashioned Christmas at Maymont (Dec. 8; 12-5 p.m.)—Many of our modern-day American Christmas traditions come by way of Victorian England trendsetters who inspired their antebellum cousins to do the holidays in grand style. Maymont Mansion takes you to those charming days with an impressive Christmas tree, period-decorated rooms and a round of games popular in the 1890s. House-drawn carriage rides, period music, a bonfire and, of course, a visit with St. Nick will make you long for yesteryear. Guided mansion tours are $5 per adult and $4 for members and children, with the same prices for carriage rides. Call to make a reservation. More at http://www.maymont.org/holidays for into on the full Maymont Christmas season.
Church Hill Holiday House Tour (Dec. 8; 12-5 p.m.)—Visit any one of the oldest Richmond neighborhood’s ten restored homes, all beautifully decorated for the holidays. Tickets may be purchased in advance for $20 per person online or $25 per person the day of at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church. The Annual Church Hill Association Holiday Party will be held the weekend after the House Tour at The Old City Bar on Dec. 14. More at www.churchhill.org.
Blessing of the Animals (Dec. 14; noon)—All animals, but especially those who serve as personal guides or community heroes, will be honored at the Morgan Fountain in Shockoe Slip.
Christmas on MacArthur (Dec. 14; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.)--Head to the Northside for the annual Christmas on MacArthur event with a Santa Parade. The parade features a marching band, a drum line, students of Holton Elementary School and Albert Hill Middle School, antique cars, trucks, and of course, Santa himself. Susan Greenbaum, The Janet Martin Band and The Taters will perform after the parade. 4000 block of MacArthur.
21st Annual James River Parade of Lights (Dec. 14; 4-8 p.m.)—The whole premise behind this event is that Christmas isn’t just for land; it’s for the water, too. And it’s a good attitude to have. Boat owners decorate their boats with lights and other holiday flair, and then steer the boats along the river. Parade viewing sites include Libby Hill Park, Osborne Park and Boat Landing, Dutch Gap Boat Landing and Henricus Historical Park. Each site has slightly different hours, so read the flyer carefully. Free. More here.
The Nutcracker (Dec. 14-Dec. 23)—Richmond Ballet performs Winslett and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker at CenterStage, with tickets starting at $20 per person. More at www.richmondballet.com.
Richmond Craft Mafia Handmade Holiday Craft Show 2013 (Dec. 14; 11 a.m.-5 p.m.)—Handmade crafts and designs by members of the Richmond Craft Mafia will wow you and your wallet at the Dogtown Dance Theatre in Manchester. Admission is free and open to the public. More at www.richmondhandmadeholiday.com.
Miracle of Christmas (Dec. 21, 22, 23; starts at 6:30 p.m. with a different schedule and line-up each night)—Metro Richmond Zoo hosts a 20-minute live nativity with a special musical performance before and after the performance. Though the event is free, attendees are encouraged to bring canned food donations for FeedMore. More at www.metrorichmondzoo.com.
Capital City Kwanzaa Festival (Dec. 28; 1-9 p.m.)—The Elegba Folklore Society hosts the city’s largest and most eclectic Kwanzaa event at The Showplace Exhibition Center, and promises an affair full of music, dance, spoken word and workshops for the whole family. Also check out the African Market for to whet your palette and fill up your shopping bag. Advance general admission is $6 ($7 at the door) and $5 for students and seniors ($6 door), with $5 group rates for parties of 10+. More at http://www.efsinc.org/#!vstc1=capital-city-kwanzaa-festival/vstc0=festivals.
The Richmond Nativity Pageant (Dec. 23; 7 p.m.)—Rain or shine, watch an interdenominational, interracial live nativity scene at the Carillion along with an expected audience of up to 3,000 people. Admission is free an open to the public. More at www.richmondnativitypageant.com.
Carytown New Year’s Eve (Dec. 31, 11:59 p.m.)—The Byrd Theatre typically hosts a giant ball atop their roof for New Year's Eve. The ball was created by Todd Schall-Vess, general manager of the Byrd. Last year, he told us that as long as he's at the Byrd, he'll be doing it. Over the course of two minutes, a ball comprised of 350 LED lights that change color rises along a 40-foot aluminum truss tower atop The Byrd to ring in the new year. Expect about 10,000 people to fill Cary Street for the ball rise. Free.
Happy holidays to you and all your loved ones! Find more fun stuff on our Holiday Guide. Now go off and make merry.
Christine Stoddard is a writer and filmmaker, as well as the editor of Quail Bell Magazine (www.quailbellmagazine.com). A native of Arlington, she lives in Richmond’s Bellevue neighborhood