Richmond comes alive with holiday events | Richmond Free Press

Richmond will turn on the holiday lights this week and welcome Santa to Downtown to officially launch the celebration of the season.

A variety of in-person events will resume in the city, following more than 19 months of pandemic lockdown, offering family fun and joyful memories to people of all ages.

Many of the events can be found on the website of Venture Richmond, the Downtown booster organization, at

Here are several events:

RVA Illuminates/Shockoe Illuminates

Friday, Dec. 3, beginning around 5:45 p.m., the city Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities will host this year’s RVA Illuminates at Kanawha Plaza, 801 E. Canal St.

RVA Illuminates features performances from the Richmond Police Department Band and DJ Lonnie B.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney will flip the switch at 6 p.m., lighting up the Downtown skyline.

The event is free and a kickoff to the holiday.

From 5:30 to 8 p.m., Shockoe Illuminates takes place at the 17th Street Market, 100 N. 17th St. Patrons can begin holiday shopping, enjoy holiday carolers and watch the skyline lighting at 6 p.m.

The city Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities also will have roller skating at the market from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3; 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 4; and 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5. Rental skates are $10, or people can bring their own.

Details: or or (804) 646-5733.

Christmas Under the Clock Tower

Friday, Dec. 3, 7 p.m. at Main Street Station, 1500 E. Main St., local nonprofit organizations will show off their creativity by designing Christmas trees.

People can vote in person or online for their favorite holiday tree from Dec. 3 through 19.

Free event.


RVA First Friday

Friday, Dec. 3, 5 to 11 p.m., the Downtown Arts District along Broad Street will come alive with people and galleries, shops and restaurants open for exploration and business.

Free event.


Virginia Repertory Theatre

Friday, Dec. 3, through Sunday, Jan. 2 – Virginia Repertory Theatre presents “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” at the November Theatre, 114 W. Broad St. in Downtown.

The show is adapted by Joe Landry from the story “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Kurt Benjamin Smith and Anna da Costa are the radio actors who play George and Mary in the classic holiday story about George Bailey and the town of Bedford Falls.

Tickets range from $36 to $56, with discounted group rates.

Patrons must show proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test by a professional technician within 48 hours of the performance day and time.

Details: or (804) 282- 2620.

38th Annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade

Saturday, Dec. 4, 10 a.m. to noon — The 38th Annual Richmond Christmas Parade is back in person with the theme, “Bringing Back the Fun in 2021!”

The parade steps off at 10:15 a.m. from the Science Museum of Virginia at 2500 W. Broad St. and travels east along Broad Street, ending at 7th Street in Downtown.

About 85 units are expected, including marching bands, dance troupes, colorful floats and giant helium balloon characters. Snoopy will be the grand marshal, with James Madison University championship softball pitcher Odicci “Ci Ci” Alexander and JMU Coach Loren LaPorte serving as honorary grand marshals. Ms. Alexander, who grew up in Mecklenburg County and starred at Park View High School in South Hill, led the team to the Women’s College World Series in 2021 and was named Softball America’s 2021 NCAA Pitcher of the Year.

The free event will be broadcast live on WTVR CBS 6 and streamed on beginning at 10 a.m.


Soul Santa

Saturday, Dec. 4, and Saturday, Dec. 11, 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. — The Black History Museum & Cultural Center of Virginia’s Soul Santa will visit virtually again this year.

NBC12’s Jasmine Turner will interview Soul Santa on the Soul Santa Network. Santa also will be joined by special friends for fun activities.

Youngsters can make Christmas treats and enjoy story time on Dec. 4 or make Christmas crafts and have story time on Dec. 11. Supply lists and instructions are available.

Registration is open, with those who sign up tuning in to see Santa. Each child registering receives a Christmas card in the mail from Santa.

Details and registration: Mary Lauderdale at [email protected] or call (804) 780-9093.

Richmond Night Market’s 4 Holiday Villages

Saturday, Dec. 4; Saturday, Dec. 11; Saturday, Dec. 18; and Sunday, Dec. 19, 1 to 6 p.m. – The Richmond Night Market, in partnership with the City of Richmond, is hosting four Holiday Villages in various areas of Richmond, featuring multicultural holiday market shopping experiences.

People can buy clothing, jewelry, art and other wares from local artisans at the events that also will feature food and music.

Locations for the Holiday Villages:

• Dec. 4, Brookland Park Boulevard and North Avenue in North Side.

• Dec. 11, Forest Hill Park in South Side.

• Dec. 18 and 19, 17th Street Market in Shockoe Bottom.



Saturdays and Sundays, beginning Dec. 4 through Jan. 2 — Maymont Mansion Holiday Audio Tours

Explore the festively decorated Gilded Age home of James and Sallie Dooley and their preparations for the holiday season in this self-guided audio tour.

Tickets are free for Maymont members. Non-members, $8 for ages 13 to 64; $6 for ages 3 to 12 and seniors age 65 and older; children ages 2 and under are free.

Tickets, tour dates and times:

Details: or (804) 358-7166.

A Baroque Holiday

Saturday, Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m.—The Richmond Symphony presents “A Baroque Holiday,” featuring the Richmond Symphony Chorus and soloists in highlights from Handel’s “Messiah” and other holiday classics. Performance at the Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St.

Details and tickets:

“O Christmas Tree”

Saturday, Dec. 4, 1 to 4 p.m.—The Chesterfield Historical Society of Virginia, with the Chesterfield County Department of Parks and Recreation, will kick off the holiday season with “O Christmas Tree” at Magnolia Grange House Museum, 10020 Iron Bridge Road.

At the free event, Santa’s elves will greet visitors as the Harken Back String Band performs holiday music. Visitors will learn about commonly used ornaments, gifts and holiday songs popular during the 1920s.

Children can create a Christmas craft and take a photo with Santa. Refreshments will be available.

Masks are encouraged and social distancing guidelines will be in place.

Details: or (804) 796-7121.

Movies on Brown’s Island

Saturday, Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m. – The family movie “Elf” with Will Ferrell will be shown on Brown’s Island, 500 Tredegar St.

The ticketed event is sponsored by Venture Richmond Events and Dominion Energy.

Bring a chair and/or blanket for seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

People also can bring picnic dinners, but food vendors will be on site. No pets are allowed.

Gates open at 5 p.m.

Tickets are $5; free for children ages 5 and under, and can be purchased at the gate or online in advance.


Richmond Boat Parade of Lights

Saturday, Dec. 11, 5:30 p.m. – Boaters decorate their boats each holiday and parade on the James River in a holiday display of lights from Downtown.

The best views are from Libby Hill Park in Church Hill and at Rocketts Landing.



Richmond Ballet’s “The Nutcracker”

Saturday, Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 — Richmond Ballet performs Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” a ballet that is synonymous with Christmas.

This is the last year for this version because there will be updated Nutcracker costumes and sets in 2022.

Tickets are $25 to $125. Performances at the Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St. in Down- town. Show times vary according to the day.

Details and tickets: https://richmondballet. com/event/the-nutcracker/2021-12-11/?

Winter Wander: Celebrate Court End

Sunday, Dec. 12, noon to 4 p.m.—The Valentine, 1015 E. Clay St.

Join The Valentine for some winter cheer on their picturesque block of East Clay Street, featuring family crafts, games, live music and hot beverages.

The event also features self-guided tours of the historic Court End neighborhood, with shuttles to visit open houses and activities at nearby cultural sites.


Details: wander-celebrate-court-end/

A Black Christmas in Jackson Ward

Saturday, Dec. 18, noon to 7 p.m. – RVA Black Farmer’s Market and The Exclusive Blacklist celebrate the season with a vendor market, food and music at 10 E. Leigh St. in the heart of Jackson Ward.



Richmond Holiday Light Show

Now through Dec. 30, 5 to 9 p.m. — Richmond Raceway is hosting a drive-thru Holiday Light Show, a mile-long holiday-themed display that’s synchronized to holiday music played through your vehicle’s radio.

See dozens of displays featuring hundreds of thousands of colored lights and spectacular displays using the latest LED technology and digital animations. The experience lasts 20 to 25 minutes.

The display is best viewed when it is dark. Some nights, the show is open until 11 p.m.

Enter through Richmond Raceway’s Gate 7, 4690 Carolina Ave.

Tickets are $23 to $35 per vehicle and may be purchased at

No buses, limos, trailers or trolleys are allowed.

Details: or (866) 455-RACE.

GardenFest of Lights

Now through Saturday, Jan. 9, 4 to 10 p.m. — Millions of lights line garden paths and twinkle in trees at Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave. in Henrico.

Enjoy the lights and holiday decorations as you walk through the garden, a fun, family experience. Model trains also are on display.

Tickets are available only in advance and online for specific arrival times, and range in price from $18 to $5 depending on age and membership at Lewis Ginter. Children under age 3 are free.

Details: or (804) 262- 9887.