Historic Triangle melds classic customs with new traditions

Angela Blue

Grand Illumination 2008 Fireworks at the Governor's Palace

Made up of three neighboring cities — Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown — Virginia’s Historic Triangle brings out the best holiday traditions during a plethora of exciting events.

Grand Illumination 2008 Fireworks at the Governor's Palace
Grand Illumination 2008 Fireworks at the Governor’s Palace

Feasts and festivities

Most holiday gatherings involve preparing and savoring a meal together. Take the opportunity to explore cooking and preservation methods from centuries ago during Jamestown Settlement’s and Yorktown Victory Center’s Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia, Nov. 26–28. Those visiting on Thanksgiving Day should plan to stay for Thanksgiving Dinner in the Jamestown Settlement Café. Explore more holiday traditions during A Colonial Christmas, held Dec. 1–Jan. 3. (historyisfun.org)


Colonial celebrations

The experience of learning about savory food preparation wouldn’t be complete without adding some sweetness. At Colonial Williamsburg, visitors of all ages will delight in the elaborate display of gingerbread houses in the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge, and Williamsburg Woodlands. A professional team of chefs spend hours carefully assembling the houses, piping them with snow-white frosting, then decorating each one in intricate fashion.

Wythe Candy and Gourmet in Merchants’ Square can fill just about any request for holiday sweets.

Williamsburg’s memorable holiday experiences include a street theater version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and an Annual Christmas Homes Tour featuring houses gorgeously adorned with holiday florals.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Barbara Brown said, “The scent of hot cider, pine, and wood fires fills the air. The entire historic area is decorated with miles of pine roping and the natural decorations for which Colonial Williamsburg has been famous for over the years, even though the decorations are different every year.”

An ideal time to view the captivating decorations of Colonial Williamsburg is during the Grand Illumination and Fireworks on Dec. 6. Stroll the Revolutionary City as you enjoy musical performances and delight in fireworks displays from three locations. (history.org)

Enjoy a living history presentation of a Colonial holiday table at the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.
Enjoy a living history presentation of a Colonial holiday table at the Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.

Make the season bright

The holiday season presents many additional opportunities to take in illuminated scenes, beginning with Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town (Nov. 27–Jan. 3). The theme park is lit up with more than 8 million lights that guests can observe on their way to catching a spectacular show, choosing a one-of-a-kind gift, dining in glorious holiday style, or visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus inside a whimsical workshop. (seaworldparks.com)

Newport News illuminates its city with two major attractions — Celebration in Lights (Nov. 26–Jan. 2), a 2-mile drive featuring enchanting animated scenes created with individual lights, and HollyDazzle (Dec. 5), a fireworks and special effects show choreographed to holiday music and culminating in the lighting of the city’s animated, lighted tree.

HollyDazzle is timed for the same weekend as the Grand Illumination so visitors can take in both events. (nngov.com)

The same weekend, you can join the community of Yorktown at the annual Christmas Tree Lighting on Dec. 4 and Yorktown’s Christmas Market on Main on Dec. 5, featuring arts and crafts, strolling musical entertainment, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. Later that evening, the water will be bedazzled with shimmering lights during the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade.

If you’d rather participate in a parade than watch one, plan to come for Yorktown’s Toyland Parade Dec. 12. Decorate yourself, a stroller, wagon, or even a four-legged friend and join Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the Polar Express to march through Riverwalk Landing. (yorkcounty.gov/tourism)

Bundle up tight and prepare to experience the joy and warmth that make the Historic Triangle truly sparkle during the holidays.


Coming this month

Yorktown gets ready for the holidays during Market Days with fresh produce, meat and seafood, baked goods, and art, occurring Nov. 7 and 14, and the Yorktown Holiday Open House Weekend, Nov. 7–8.


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