Christmas in Williamsburg-2023


Kicking off the holiday season and keeping the fire going, The Grand Illumination is the talk of the town. For three weekends in December, The Grand Illumination is a massive holiday event with the firing of guns and an exciting fireworks display. Join the Colonial Williamsburg community to celebrate the merriment!

Fireworks will be displayed this year at two locations at the same time. The Governor’s Palace and the Capitol are where the fireworks are held; they are best viewed either on the Palace Green or at Duke of Gloucester St east of Botetourt St. Bring your lawn chair, a cooler with your favorite beverages, some blankets, and cozy up to watch the magic. 

It is recommended that you arrive early to beat the crowds and find your favorite viewing spot. The festivities begin each Friday with the burning of the Yule Log (details below). Add this to your Colonial Williamsburg Christmas events!

Dates / Times: December 2, 9, 16 for 2023

Fireworks begin at 7 pm, though it is recommended that you arrive early. Most visitors arrive around 5 p.m. to walk around the Historic Area and see the holiday exhibits.

Admission & Parking: All admission is free to everyone. You can bring a cooler with food and drinks as well. We recommend parking at the Colonial Williamsburg Visitor Center and using the free shuttle to the area. Shuttle buses will run every 30 minutes between 9 am and 5:30 pm. Then, between 9:30 pm and 10 pm.

More info about Holiday events at colonial Williamsburg here


Every Friday, before the Grand Illumination, a special ceremony called the Celebration of the Yule Log takes place. It’s a very popular and fun family event. The very first Yule Log Ceremony was held in December of 1940 and has been a cherished tradition ever since. The Yule Log placed in a wagon is hauled from Capitol Circle to Market Square. 

The log is followed by music, festivities, and lights and accompanied by the community of Williamsburg. The log is then lit, and every attendee is given a sprig of holly to toss into the bonfire, traditionally to ward off evil spirits; now, it is said to be for good luck for the coming year. 

The Yule Log Celebration is a great way to experience a part of history while getting into the Christmas spirit! Warm cider, hot chocolate, and cookies are served after the event. 

Dates / Times: 
Dec 1st, 8th, and 15th, 2023 between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m 

Admission: Admission is free to everyone

Merchants Square Tree Lighting

November 25, 2023 | 5:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Duke of Gloucester Street, Williamsburg, VA

A festive Merchants Square tradition in downtown Williamsburg, the lighting of the Merchants Square tree! Featuring caroling and an appearance by Father Christmas!

The Williamsburg Christmas Market

The Williamsburg Christmas Market was featured in Virginia Living Magazine as must-visit Christmas Market in the state of Virginia!

The market will be located on Court Street (Adjacent to Bicentennial Park/Behind the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg). There will be 40 vendor chalets, as well as photo ops with Santa *set times, train rides, live entertainment, gluhwein (warm spiced wine), craft beers, Christmas music, fire pits, & delicious market food from local restaurants.


Enjoy a family-friendly activity this holiday season on historic Duke of Gloucester St. Join us at the Colonial Williamsburg Ice Rink in Merchants Square, where you will experience the sights, sounds, and smells of the holidays with a few turns on the ice.

Ice Rink is open daily from November 17, 2023, through February 27, 2024, including holidays!

The Colonial Singers of Williamsburg

The Colonial Singers of Williamsburg is a professional five-member acapella vocal ensemble. Beautifully attired in 19th-century costumes, the Colonial Singers draw upon a vast musical repertoire that spans five centuries. Enjoy their rich, colorful voices and their humorous historic anecdotes in performances throughout the mid-Atlantic. We are excited to have them return to Merchants Square this holiday season.

Christmas Town

The World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park is once again transformed with over ten million twinkling lights, one of the largest light displays in North America on select dates from November 10 through January 7. Be immersed in this one-of-a-kind winter wonderland with two all-new light experiences, Polar Pathway: Spectacle of Lights and Celebration of Lights at O’Tannenbaum. Enjoy heart-warming shows like the all-new Wisemen, returning favorites like ‘Twas that Night and for the first time since 2019, Gloria!. Discover the reason for the season with Santa’s Workshop, the Christmas Town Express and more classic experiences. Pair thrilling moments with holiday cheer on over 25 rides and coasters, including the all-new DarKoaster™, North America’s first all-indoor straddle coaster. Families can enjoy a hearty meal and a special Christmas story from the big elf himself during Santa’s Fireside Feast presented by Coca-Cola®. Festive treats, holiday shopping and special photo opportunities complete this holiday tradition for friends and families.

Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Watch as a fleet of decorated boats navigate around the York River and compete for best in show!

December 2, 2023


7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Yorktown Waterfront


331 Water Street
Yorktown, VA 23690

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