- What time do the fireworks start? What time should I arrive?
The fireworks begin at 7:00 p.m., but it’s best to arrive early. Explore activities you can enjoy before the fireworks here.
- Where is the best place to watch the fireworks?
There’s no right answer. Displays will fire simultaneously at the Governor’s Palace, the Magazine, and the Capitol. The most popular spot is Palace Green with the beautiful backdrop of the Governor’s Palace. Market Square is centrally located and you will be able to see the fireworks going off in all directions. The North side of the Capitol is a lesser known and less-crowded spot where the hillside creates a small natural amphitheater. On the South side of the Capitol there will be a handicap accessible area for viewing of
Note: the fireworks do not go up as high in the air as our Independence Day fireworks, so tall trees and
buildings may block your view.
- Where should I park?
Parking will be at a premium downtown all day. We recommend parking at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and using the free shuttle to the Historic Area. Handicap parking will be available in the Tavern parking lot across from the Capitol on Francis Street. You will need to show your placard to gain entry.
- What time do the shuttles run?
Shuttle buses will run on a 30-minute schedule from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. with express service from the
Visitor Center to the Palace Stop from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Please note: there will be no shuttle service from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. All bus service stops at 6:30 p.m. At 9:30
p.m., the shuttles will resume regular service to all stops until 10:00 p.m.
- Where is the closest restroom?
In addition to regular restrooms listed on the maps and in the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app, there will
be portable units located at several locations throughout the Historic Area:
Palace Green area (3): Across from the St. George Tucker House behind Roscoe Cole Stable; in the orchard
next to the McKenzie Apothecary; and on Duke of Gloucester Street near Lumber House Ticket Office
Capitol Area\Goal area (4): Blair Street across from Capitol near Francis Street; behind the garage across the
street from Coke Garrett; Nicholson Street, near Booker Tenement; and the corner of Nicholson and
Market Square area (2): Corner of Queen & Nicholson Street; Queen Street, near Up and Down Cottage
Merchant Square area (1): On the south side of Duke of Gloucester Street near the Henry Street bus stop
- Where can I get a warm drink/snack?
Throughout the Historic Area, there will be refreshment stands offering warm (and cold) drinks and snacks.
There will be two food truck locations – on Nicholson Street near the Randolph House and on Blair Street
across from the Gunsmith Shop. The Mackenzie Apothecary, Dubois Grocer, Raleigh Tavern Bakery,
Chowning’s Tavern Garden will be open. Mr. Shield’s Garden will also be open beginning at 4:00 p.m.
- What else is happening on the day of Grand Illumination?
A variety of music will celebrate the Christmas season throughout the Historic Area, beginning at 4:00 p.m.
At the Restoration Stage on Palace Green, hear the big band sounds of Truetone Honeys & 504 Supreme,
celebrating the beginnings of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation through the music of the 1930s and ’40s.
At the North Stage on the field between the Capitol Building and Gaol, you’ll hear the rich heritage of
southern Appalachian song performed by William & Mary’s Appalachian Music Ensemble with sets at 4:00,
5:00, and 6:00 p.m.
At the Scholars Stage on Market Square, a cappella Christmas favorites will be performed by William &
Mary’ Gentlemen of the College at 4:00 p.m. The Botetourt Chamber Singers will follow at 5:30 and 6:15 p.m.
The Gentlemen of the College will also be found on Duke of Gloucester Street at the newly-reconstructed
Raleigh Tavern Porch, starting at 5:30 p.m.
On an Ox Wagon on Duke of Gloucester Street, Colonial Williamsburg’s Jubilee Performers are
celebrating Grand Illumination with African-American songs of the spirit throughout the evening.
Please note: Musicians and performers will not rotate between stages.
- Will the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums perform?
Yes. Our Fife & Drum Corps will play a special concert near Capitol Circle beginning at 4:30 p.m., and at a
special ceremony at the Raleigh Tavern at 5:00 p.m. This new ceremony will celebrate the origins of Grand
Illumination as the Raleigh Tavern is lit window by window, candle by candle.
The Fifes & Drums’ Junior and Senior Corps will also be performing on Palace Green, Market Square, and
on the north and south sides of the Capitol at 6:40 p.m., with concerts of colonial favorites as everyone gets
ready for the spectacular main event.
The fireworks will be followed by a procession of Fifes & Drums on Duke of Gloucester Street as Grand
Illumination comes to a close.
Is there special seating for seniors?
No, there is not special seating for seniors. However, lawn and folding chairs are welcome.
Please note that the following items are not permitted on Colonial Williamsburg Property: