10 Festive Things to Do for Christmas in Richmond VA (2023)

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As longtime Harrisonburg residents, we love celebrating Christmas in Richmond VA to get into the holiday spirit!

Coming from the more rural Shenandoah Valley, we really appreciate Richmond VA’s stately old hotels, department stores, and big city charm during the Christmas holidays.

The beautiful city of Richmond seemingly transforms into a Hallmark movie set, with stunning lights, holiday parades, Christmas markets, and live music galore.

We’ll typically book a room at the grand Jefferson Hotel, choose a parade, Christmas light show, or Christmas tea, and spend several days exploring the enchanting city.

Read on for our in-depth guide to our favorite festive things to do in Richmond VA, including a zoo nativity, a stunning garden light show, a classic ballet, and a 300-foot Christmas tree.

READ MORE: 10 Great Places to Celebrate Christmas in Virginia

Christmas in Richmond VA Guide

(in alphabetical order)

  1. Christmas Through the Centuries
  2. Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
  3. Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights
  4. Holidays at the Jefferson
  5. Kings Dominion WinterFest
  6. Light Up the Tracks
  7. Maymont Merry Market
  8. The Miracle of Christmas Live at the Zoo
  9. The Nutcracker
  10. Windy Knoll Christmas Tree Farm

READ MORE: 10 Festive Things to Do in Shenandoah Valley VA for Christmas

Christmas events in Richmond VA - Christmas Through the Centuries, Henrico VA
Christmas Through the Centuries

1. Christmas Through the Centuries

251 Henricus Park Road, Chester VA • (804) 748-1611

Official Website

Want to travel back in time to experience an Old-World Yuletide? Visit Christmas Through the Centuries at Henricus Historical Park, but make sure you dress warmly for this dreamy Christmas event!

Located 17 miles south of Richmond, this park is a large living history museum depicting an English settlement in America, complete with recreated colonial buildings and period costumed interpreters.

From noon to 8PM on December 10, the park invites visitors to explore how Christmas in Virginia has changed from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

The evening will sparkle with Christmas nostalgia, with flickering candles in windows, fireplaces and bonfires providing warmth against the chill of winter, and a visit from Father Christmas himself.

Self-guided tours last 2 to 3 hours, and tickets are $12 for adults, $8 for children, and free for children ages 4 and under.

READ MORE: The 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Virginia to Visit

Christmas parades in Richmond VA - Dominion Energy Christmas Parade
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade

2. Dominion Energy Christmas Parade

Official Website

Richmond is one of the oldest major cities in America, and our favorite place to enjoy a big-time Christmas parade!

This year’s Dominion Energy Parade is celebrating 40 years of holiday fun on Saturday, December 2, with the Grinch himself as the Grand Marshal.

The annual Christmas parade in Richmond VA finds thousands of folks lining Broad Street to see giant helium balloons, colorful floats, marching bands, and the grand finale appearance by Santa Claus.

This parade starts at 10:15AM at the Science Museum of Virginia, and concludes by the Richmond Coliseum on 7th Street.

We love to wear festive Christmas sweaters, bring a thermos of hot cocoa, and enjoy the Richmond Christmas Parade as a family tradition.

READ MORE: The 5 Best Places for Snow Tubing in Virginia

Christmas events in Richmond Virginia - Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden
Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights, photo by Tom Hennessy

3. Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights

1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond VA • (804) 262-9897

Official Website

The Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens are a flower lover’s paradise in Spring and Summer. But during the holiday season, this is our go-to destination for Christmas lights in Richmond, Virginia.

With more than a million twinkling lights, the Dominion Energy GardenFest really lights up the holidays, with garden decorations, model trains, celebratory dinners, and warming bonfires.

From November 20 through January 7, this year’s theme (“Seeds of Light”) promises a sparkling walk-through experience in the Winter gardens.

Ticket prices vary by the night of the week and range from $17-$20 for adults and $8-$12 for children.

On select nights, you can even bring your beloved pets along to enjoy the lights at GardenFest for Fidos!

READ MORE: The 15 Best Virginia Music Festivals to Visit

Christmas tree in Richmond VA at The Jefferson Hotel
Holiday Tree, photo courtesy The Jefferson Hotel

4. Holidays at The Jefferson

101 West Franklin Street, Richmond VA • (804) 649-4750

Official Website

Since 1895, the grand Jefferson Hotel has been welcoming guests for unforgettable experiences. At Christmas time, the hotel is really dressed up in its finest, with poinsettias, twinkling lights, garlands, and wreaths.

The circular drive, lobby, and majestic staircase are all decorated to the nines, but the centerpiece is a 30-foot-tall Christmas tree in the rotunda.

The annual Jefferson Gingerbread Display will be available throughout the holidays, with this year’s theme unveiled on November 27.

Festive holiday brunches, memorable dinners, teas (including Chocolate Teas and the always-sold-out Santa Tea) are available in the Lamaire Restaurant and TJ’s Bar and Lounge.

The Jefferson Hotel is centrally located in the heart of downtown Richmond, offering easy access to all the Christmas events, shopping, and restaurants in this historic area.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Charlottesville VA

Christmas light show in Richmond Virginia - Kings Dominion WinterFest Richmond VA
Kings Dominion WinterFest 

5. Kings Dominion WinterFest

16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell VA • (804) 876-5000

Official Website

During the holidays, Kings Dominion Amusement Park is transformed into a Winter wonderland with millions of Christmas lights. Their 315-foot-tall Eiffel Tower becomes one of the biggest Christmas trees in Richmond!

Children will delight in seeing their favorite costumed holiday characters, while everyone will love live shows, including Four Drummers Drumming and the Cool Yule Christmas show at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

WinterFest guests can sample seasonal treats, such as smoked turkey and Virginia ham dinners, funnel cakes, a Hazelnut Old Fashioned for adults, and hot cocoa for the kids.

Up to 25 rides will operate daily (depending on the weather), including favorites like the Dominator roller coaster and the historic Carousel.

Kings Dominion WinterFest hours are from 5–10 PM on select days, from November 17 through December 31.

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places To See Christmas Lights in Virginia

Christmas lights in Richmond VA - Light Up the Tracks Ashland VA
Light Up the Tracks in Ashland VA

6. Light Up the Tracks

Official Website

Located 20 miles from Downtown Richmond in Ashland VA, Light Up the Tracks promises to be a thrill for train ride aficionados.

Starting November 18, Dominion Energy and the Downtown Ashland Association light up the trackside historic district with dazzling Christmas lights and decorations.

Opening night festivities kick off with a Christmas tree lighting, an Illuminated Costume Contest, and a holiday show. You can also walk, drive, or bicycle along their mile-long, train-inspired Christmas light display.

Trackside homes, businesses, and Randolph-Macon College all set a holiday picture postcard mood with colorful lights to enchant train passengers and downtown Ashland VA visitors.

Imagine a crisp evening spent sampling food from local restaurants and food trucks and Christmas shopping at the Holiday Bazaar while the Christmas lights and carolers fill the night with magic.

READ MORE: The 7 Best Train Rides for Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Christmas market in Richmond VA - Maymont Holiday Carriage House
Maymont Holiday Carriage House, photo courtesy of Maymont

7. Maymont Merry Market

1700 Hampton St, Richmond VA • (804) 525-9000

Official Website

The historic, 100-acre Maymont estate/park is a stunner all year-round. But for December’s Maymont Merry Market, the Carriage House Lawn is festooned with Christmas lights, evergreen garlands, and cozy fire pits.

Shoppers at this jolly Christmas market in Richmond VA can browse through curated items from 100+ local artisans.

There are hand-crafted gifts, fresh evergreen garlands, a craft tent for kids, and even a Christmas train ride around the Maymont lawn for small children.

Shoppers can pick up holiday treats from  food vendors, and the Pay Rent Brass Band and strolling bands of carolers will provide live music. Most importantly of all, Santa Claus will be there!

Maymont Merry Market hours for 2023 are 5PM-8PM on Dec 1 & 8, and noon-8PM on Dec 2 & 9.

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Staunton VA

Richmond Christmas - Miracle of Christmas at the Zoo Richmond VA
Miracle of Christmas at the Zoo in Richmond VA

8. The Miracle of Christmas Live at the Zoo

8300 Beaver Bridge Road, Moseley VA • (804) 739-5666

Official Website

The Metro Richmond Zoo’s 21st anniversary Miracle of Christmas live nativity takes place at the entrance to the attraction, which is decorated with thousands of Christmas lights.

Join them as they celebrate the birth of Jesus through a live telling of the Christmas story, featuring a cast of actors and zoo animals (including Bactrian camels, sheep, goats, and a donkey)!

The 20-minute pageant will be presented three times each evening, with musical performances by local churches and performing arts groups. After each performance, the cast and animals will be available for a short Meet & Greet.

Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly and come to the zoo on December 20, 21, or 22 for a 7 PM, 7:45 PM, or 8:30 PM show. Note that the rest of the zoo will be closed during these hours.

Admission and parking are free, and your purchase of donuts and/or hot chocolate will benefit local charities.

READ MORE: 20 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Christmas shows in Richmond VA - Richmond Ballet dancers in The Nutcracker
Richmond Ballet production of The Nutcracker, photo by Sarah Ferguson

9. The Nutcracker: Carpenter Theater at Dominion Energy Center 

600 East Grace Street, Richmond VA • (804) 592-3330

Official Website

The Richmond Ballet presents a beloved Christmas favorite, The Nutcracker, with 17 performances at the Carpenter Theater (part of the Dominion Energy Center).

With music performed by the Richmond Symphony, children and adults alike will be enchanted by the Christmas-themed story of young Clara and her magical Nutcracker Prince. 

Full of whimsical costumes, sparkling dancing, and gorgeous sets (including a Swan Sleigh), their journey to the magical kingdom of the Sugar Plum Fairy is guaranteed to create treasured Christmas memories.

Little ones love to get dressed in their Christmas finery for the show, and seeing The Nutcracker at the Carpenter Theater is one of our favorite Christmas traditions!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Harrisonburg VA & Rockingham County

Christmas tree farms in Richmond VA - Windy Knoll Tree Farm
Windy Knoll Tree Farm 

10. Windy Knoll Christmas Tree Farm

10094 Windy Knoll Drive, Mechanicsville VA • (804) 730-8733

Official Website

You won’t find any Christmas tree farms in Richmond VA. But fortunately the family-owned Windy Knoll Farm is only 15 miles north of the city.

Windy Knoll offers “you pick” berries, sunflowers, and pumpkins during Summer and Fall in Virginia.

But starting on November 24, 2023, the farm is open with a limited number of 6- to 8-foot-tall Scotch and White Pine trees for sale for $95 each.

The family’s decision to selectively cut trees is part of their mindful approach to farming. Once all their Christmas trees are sold, the farm will close for the season.

Visitors will take a nostalgic hayride to the field. There you can choose your tree, then cut it down with the hand saw provided by the farm. The smell of fresh pine is one of our favorite things about Christmas!  -by Heather Taylor & Jon Weaver


Leave No Trace logo

We encourage anyone who loves the Blue Ridge region to learn about the Leave No Trace principles of responsible environmental stewardship. 

Stay on marked trails, take only pictures, pack out your trash, and be considerate of others who share the trails and parks you explore. 

Remember that waterfalls and rocky summits can be dangerous. Never try to climb waterfalls or get close to a ledge to get a selfie.

When you're exploring the wilderness, it's better to be safe than to be a statistic!

The universities brought Jon and Heather to Harrisonburg Virginia in the 1980s and the beauty of the Shenandoah Valley has kept them there to this day. Heather has a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education and 10 years of experience as an editor and technical writer for online training sites. After college, Jon worked several years at a weekly newspaper before joining his family business which he ran until retirement. Jon and Heather enjoy traveling and sharing their stories with others. Locally, they love exploring the towns and mountains of the Blue Ridge near their hometown of Harrisonburg VA.