The 10 Most Festive Christmas Towns in Virginia to Visit

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. All hosted affiliate links follow our editorial & privacy policies.

As much as we love the wildflowers of spring, lakes and swimming holes in summer, and the dazzling fall colors, Christmas is arguably our favorite time of year in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

The crowds are smaller, the weather is cooler, and the charming small towns seem to be filled with the welcoming spirit of the holiday season.

There are many wonderful Christmas towns in my home state of Virginia that I love to visit once the colorful lights and decorations are hung. 

These charming, often historic small towns host an array of Christmas events, from parties and parades to craft fairs, dazzling light shows, and all sorts of cultural offerings

Read on for our guide to the 10 most festive Christmas towns in Virginia to visit, with details on all the biggest holiday attractions and events to help you plan your trip. 

READ MORE: 10 Great Places to Celebrate Christmas in Virginia

Best Christmas Towns in Virginia Guide

  1. Williamsburg VA
  2. Fredericksburg VA
  3. Richmond VA
  4. Roanoke VA
  5. Alexandria VA
  6. Charlottesville VA
  7. Abingdon VA
  8. Bedford VA
  9. Marion VA
  10. Bristol VA

READ MORE: The 15 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in Virginia

Family riding carriage in Williamsburg VA, historical town in VA, Christmas town Williamsburg Virginia 
Photo Courtesy Visit Williamsburg

1. Williamsburg VA Christmas

Christmas in Williamsburg VA tops our list of the best Christmas towns in Virginia because of its long list of holiday activities and attractions.

Named one of the “Best Christmas Towns to Visit” by Country Living, Williamsburg is home to major Virginia tourism draws such as historic Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens.

Colonial Williamsburg offers daily Christmas events that use living history elements to transport visitors back in time to an 18th century holiday celebration.

Busch Gardens’ “Christmas Town” celebration features festive holiday markets, decorations, and much more.

Now in its 3rd year, the Williamsburg Christmas Market takes place over 4 weekends and offers 32 vendors, photo opps with Santa, live music, craft beer, and food from local restaurants

READ MORE: The 12 Best Places to See Christmas Lights in North Carolina

Christmas in Virginia - parade float in Fredericksburg VA, Christmas parade
Photo Courtesy City of Fredericksburg

2. Fredericksburg VA Christmas

One of the most historic towns in Virginia, Fredericksburg is best-known for its colonial and Civil War history, including 4 Civil War battlefields.

But the sparkling lights coming from the Fredericksburg Christmas Market and the ever-popular Fredericksburg Christmas Parade make this a great Christmas town in VA to add to your must-see list.

The holiday parade lights up the streets of Downtown Fredericksburg on Dec 3, welcoming the start of the Christmas season with local bands and floats spreading holiday cheer.

The town’s Holiday Craft Show (Dec 2-4) is packed full of festive arts and crafts from local vendors, making it the perfect place to shop for friends and family who make it on your “Nice” list.

If you want to see the Christmas lights in Fredericksburg, just hop on a trolley for a scenic tour of the season’s magic! 

READ MORE: The 10 Best Christmas Towns in Georgia to Visit

Christmas lights in Virginia Winterfest, Holiday Festival
Photo courtesy Visit Richmond

3. Richmond VA Christmas

Christmas in Richmond VA is both merry and bright, with twinkling Christmas lights and seasonal displays that illuminate the capital of Virginia.

The holiday season in Richmond is packed full of family-friendly activities.

The largest of these is the Kings Dominion Winterfest celebration (Nov 25-Jan 1), with more than 2 million dazzling lights, delicious food, and live perforamances throughout the amusement park.

At the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, Christmas light enthusiasts can enjoy the spectacular sights of the Dominion Energy Festival of Lights from Nov 21 to Jan 8.

Other popular Richmond Christmas attractions include the “Let It Snow!” concert by the Richmond Symphony at the Dominion Energy Center on Nov 27, which often includes a special visit from Santa Claus!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Virginia Wineries to Visit for Wine Tastings & Tours

Best towns in Virginia -Light forest, Christmas lights, light show in Roanoke
Photo Courtesy Visit Roanoke

4. Roanoke VA Christmas

The colorful lights in Roanoke VA are just one of the many reasons to visit Virginia this Christmas. The bustling Blue Ridge Mountain Town offers myriad places to celebrate the season.

Our favorites include Illuminights at Explore Park (Nov 19-Dec 30), Luminary Nights at Natural Bridge State Park, and the Roanoke County Christmas Tree Lighting, just to name a few.

The Roanoke Times‘ Dickens of a Christmas is one of the mountain town’s most popular Christmas traditions. The festival returns for its 40th annual celebration in 2022, with lots of free activities for all ages.

You can also visit the Roanoke Ballet theatre for the ever-popular Christmas show, The Nutcracker, or see the Mill Mountain Theatre’s Holiday Inn, which is based on the classic 1942 film.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Roanoke VA

Christmas small towns Alexandria VA at Christmas
Photo Courtesy Visit Alexandria

5. Alexandria VA Christmas

Located just south of Washington DC, the city of Alexandria VA was recently named one of the “Most Magical Christmas Towns Around the World,” by Oprah Daily.

Christmas in Alexandria VA truly lives up to this title, with festivities like the 51st Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade on Dec 3. The 22nd Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights takes place on the historic Potomac River that same night.

The 18th- and 19th-century buildings of Old Town Alexandria are filled with holiday cheer, with lights and decorations cascading throughout the historic town’s streets..

You can also visit Market Square to see a 40-foot Christmas tree decorated with over 40,000 lights, explore the myriad shops in the heart of Old Town, or reserve a table with a view at one of the heated outdoor restaurants in Alexandra. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in Lexington VA & Natural Bridge VA

Downtown area at Christmas, Christmas lights, holiday lights
Photo Courtesy Visit Charlottesville

6. Charlottesville VA Christmas

Charlottesville VA is a historic college town packed with loads of charm and holiday spirit.

The University of Virginia kicks off the holiday season with their 21st Annual Lighting of the Lawn, whose 2022 date remains TBD. This fun Christmas event draws thousands of people with its sparkling lights and orchestrated Christmas music.

Charlottesville will also be hosting two Christmas parades this year, with chances to see decorated floats and live music. They include the Barracks Road Holiday Parade on Dec 3, and the 14th annual Wells Fargo Holiday Heritage Parade.

Thomas Jefferson’s home, Monticello, hosts many holiday activities, including the 6th Annual Monticello Holiday Classic 5k, evening tours of the house (whose halls are decked with Christmas cheer), and wreath-making classes.

Located in the heart of downtown Charlottesville VA, the Paramount Theatre will also be showing an array of classic Christmas movies that are sure to brighten your holiday spirit!

READ MORE: The 10 Best Things to Do in Waynesboro VA (Augusta County)

Christmas in Abingdon VA, one of the best Christmas Towns in Virginia
Photo courtesy Visit SWVA

7. Abingdon VA Christmas

Virginia’s small town of Abingdon is full of history, character, and classic architecture. Christmas in Abingdon VA is nothing short of magical, with twinkling lights and myriad shops decorated for the festive season.

Visiting the Barter Theatre to see classic Christmas plays like It’s A Wonderful Life (Nov 12-Dec 28) is an annual holiday tradition, both because of the theatre’s historical significance and the festive feelings it leaves on guests.

Just across the street from the theatre, visitors can stay, enjoy a relaxing day, or even hear a few scary ghost stories at the Martha Washington Inn & Spa.

Downtown Abingdon is lined numerous critically acclaimed restaurants, including The Tavern (which was founded in 1779!), Rain Restaurant & Bar, and 128 Pecan.

The Abingdon Christmas Parade (Dec 3) is one of the area’s most popular holiday events, as the town is filled with Christmas carols and holiday spirit from floats and bands making their way down Main Street.

READ MORE: The 15 Best Things to Do in SWVA (Southwest Virginia)

best mountain towns in Virginia - Horse and carriage, Christmas parade
Photo courtesy Destination Bedford VA

8. Bedford VA Christmas

Christmas in Bedford VA is the perfect time for a romantic getaway in one of the small Virginia towns located near the Blue Ridge Parkway

The Festival of Trees at the Bedford Welcome Center will light up any Virginia visitor’s holiday season, while runners can get into the spirit of the season at the 43rd annual Peaks of Otter at 8:30AM on Dec 3.

Families will enjoy the annual Bedford Christmas  Parade at 11AM on Dec 3, as local schools and organizations ride ornate floats through the streets. Stick around for the lighting of the town’s Christmas Tree later that same night.

Bedford is also home to the world-renowned National D-Day Memorial, which honors America’s fallen heroes with The Flames of Memory on December 13-15.

It’s also a great time to check out their annual Christmas in Wartime celebration on December 14, where visitors can viewWWII camp displays, enjoy making traditional Christmas crafts, and visit with G.I. Santa. 

READ MORE: The 15 Best Blue Ridge Parkway Hotels & Cabin Rentals in NC & VA

cutest towns in Virginia - Christmas window shopping
Photo Courtesy Visit Smyth County VA

9. Marion VA Christmas

Widely considered one of the best mountain towns in Virginia, Marion VA is a perfect place for a Christmas getaway.

Held over the course of 4 days (Thursday to Sunday) in early December, “Merry Marion: A Holiday Destination” is a Christmas celebration that includes brilliant lights, live music, and seasonal events all across town.

There’s an indoor Christmas Craft Market held at the General Francis Marion Hotel, and local merchants typically offer later hours, holiday discounts, and open houses.

The festive weekend begins with the annual Marion Christmas Parade on Friday at 7PM, with Santa riding into town on a fire truck.  

And don’t miss the Marion MINI Christmas Market, which showcases 20+ vendors offering locally produced juried crafts and other handmade goods, plus food trucks and participating restaurants

READ MORE:The 10 Best Christmas Towns in North Carolina

Christmas town VA - Bristol Motor Speedway, Christmas Lights, Lightshow
Photo Courtesy Bristol Motor Speedway

10. Bristol VA Christmas

Bristol is a unique city that is in both Virginia and Tennessee, with the dividing line running right down the center of State Street

To kick off Christmas in Bristol VA, the downtown area hosts an open house for guests to visit the shops, see Santa, and enjoy the historic tradition of horse-drawn carriage rides.

On Dec 1, the annual Bristol TN/VA Christmas Parade finds local schools, dance groups, churches, and businesses spreading  holiday cheer along the parade route through this festive Christmas town.

If you do visit Bristol at Christmas, visit the Bristol Motor Speedway for Speedway in Lights (Nov 18-Jan 7), the area’s largest Christmas light festival.

There’s also a chance to go ice skating at a rink just outside the NASCAR hotspot’s entrance.  –by Molly Frazier; lead image via Canva

READ MORE: The 20 Best Places to Celebrate Christmas in Georgia


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!