Christmas 2016 in Colonial Williamsburg

••• Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to, Inc.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year to visit Colonial Williamsburg, America’s largest interactive history museum, located just a few hours south of Washington, DC. The Christmas season comes to life with Colonial Williamsburg’s world-renowned holiday decorations and 18th century seasonal programming. Beating drums, trilling fifes, firework displays, theatrical programs and interpretive characters take visitors back in time to celebrate the holidays as our forefathers did during colonial times.

Visiting Tips

Grand Illumination

Sunday, December 4, 2016. Williamsburg welcomes in the Christmas season with candles, fireworks and music during an unforgettable night of fireworks and entertainment. The celebration begins in the late afternoon with a variety of entertainment that starts at 4:45 p.m. on multiple outdoor stages throughout the Historic Area. The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums provide 18th-century music appropriate to the season. Other costumed performers present holiday entertainment found in Williamsburg two centuries ago. At 6:15 p.m., candles are lit in public buildings, shops and homes, and fireworks are launched at three Historic Area locations: the Governor’s Palace, Magazine and Capitol.

After the fireworks, entertainment resumes on the outdoor stages and continues until 7:30 p.m. Following Grand Illumination, guests can enjoy illuminations of individual buildings within the Historic Area throughout December.

Christmas Decorations at Colonial Williamsburg

Traditional Christmas decorations include wreaths and swags, using pine, boxwood, Fraser fir, magnolia leaves, assorted fruits and berries, and dried flowers.

Residents of nearly 85 homes in the 301-acre Historic Area join in the holiday spirit each year by displaying additional decorations. More than 1,200 electric candles in the windows of buildings throughout the Historic Area are lit at dusk each evening during the holiday season. “The Christmas Decorations Walking Tour” takes a look at their work throughout December.
See Photos of Christmas Decorations at Colonial Williamsburg

Holiday Programs

Colonial Williamsburg offers a wonderful selection of entertainment programs for the holiday season. Visitors of all ages will enjoy performances such as “A Capitol Evening,” (18th century dancing), “Christmastide at Home,” (a journey back through time to experience Williamsburg Christmases of the past or walking tours such as the “Annual Christmas Homes Tour” (a tour of five private homes in the Historic Area not usually open to the public). Note that these programs require tickets at an additional charge. Check the schedule for a full list of holiday programming.

Seasonal Programming for Kids

Programs include: dressing up for the holidays; 18th-century music, dance, storytelling and a puppet show; celebrating several religious traditions; singing carols; preparing for life passages and children’s moral education; participating in food preparation; leisure activities such as Loo (a popular card game) and introduction to British holiday traditions.

Kids will receive a Kids Holiday Adventure Map, incorporating the various activities and programs they can experience with their family.

Holiday Dining at Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg operates four dining taverns in the Historic Area, each offering unique 18th century menus served in authentic colonial surroundings:

  • Chowning's Tavern - casual dining, chicken, ribs, pulled pork
  • Christiana Campbell's Tavern - premier Seafood
  • Shields Tavern - casual dining and southern fare, such as Carolina-style barbecue sandwiches
  • King's Arms Tavern - fine dining, prime beef, pork, lamb

For reservations, call toll-free 1-800-HISTORY. See more information about dining in Williamsburg.

While visiting Williamsburg, be sure to visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens. The amusement park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, combining an immersive holiday experience with one-of-a-kind shopping and dining opportunities, all-new holiday shows and a spectacular light-dancing Christmas tree.