Guide to Christmas in Northern Virginia: Traditions and Parades

Northern Virginia is a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas as many communities host special holiday events, such as small-town Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, holiday parades, visits with Santa, lively community sing-alongs, and decorated historic homes. This guide will help you enjoy the season and make Christmas 2018 a season to remember.

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    Christmas Horse Carriage

     

    Kirkikis/Getty Images 

    Throughout the holiday season, Colonial Williamsburg comes to life with its 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 people did during colonial times. 

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    Boats-Decorated.jpg
    Photo © Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

    Throughout the holiday season, the City of Alexandria hosts wonderful events including the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, the Scottish Walk weekend, the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, candlelight tours, Christmas in Camp, and a variety of holiday concerts. Alexandria is also a great place to shop for unique Christmas gifts. 

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    Mount Vernon Prepares For Christmas

     

    Joe Raedle / Staff/Getty Images 

    Visit Mount Vernon for an old-fashioned holiday experience from November 23, 2018 - December 31, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas at one of Northern Virginia’s top attractions transports visitors back in time to experience the holidays like George Washington did with themed decorations, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations, 18th-century dancing, and even a Christmas camel. Open Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.

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    Bull Run Christmas Lights

    Courtesy of Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority

    Every year from Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day, enjoy the Bull Run Festival of Lights located at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville. This festive display of lights features penguins, snowmen, deer, candy canes and Santa. You can drive through 2.5 miles of lighting displays. After viewing the lights you can visit the Winter Wonderland Holiday Village that includes amusement rides, an ice skating rink, entertainment, shopping, contests, food, and more.

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    In this photo provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, people dressed as he Christmas Town elves ride Busch Gardens' Alpengeist roller coaster in Williamsburg, Virginia. (Photo by Scott K. Brown/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via Getty Images)

    Handout / Handout/Getty Images 

    Take the family to see one of the largest Christmas lights displays in North America. The Williamsburg, Virginia amusement park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland from November 17, 2018 to January 5, 2019, 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.

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    Enjoy a full day of celebration with the Northern Virginia community with the Annual Race for the Kids, a Thanksgiving parade, visits with Santa, the tree lighting, and carriage rides on November 23, 2018. For more to do, Reston Town Center also has an Ice Skating Pavilion open all day and every day from November until March.

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    Head for Old Town Manassas to celebrate the Christmas season. Each year Manassas puts on its holiday finery with a weekend of old-fashioned family fun at the "Merry Old Town" celebration on December 1, 2018. The festivities include a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, the Manassas Christmas Parade, a gingerbread contest and lots of holiday activities for all ages. The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday. 

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    On December 1, 2018, Middleburg is a wonderful place to celebrate the Christmas holiday in Northern Virginia. Traditional festivities include the Middleburg Hunt where approximately 100 horses, riders in red hunt coats, and dozens of hounds ride through the town.

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    In Reston, Virginia you can welcome the holidays with a Lake Anne tradition of a petting zoo, entertainment, ornament-making for children, Faux Bear, holiday market vendors, and the arrival of Santa by barge on December 1, 2018. Santa sails in at 12:00 p.m. to visit with children on the plaza. The event is free, presented by Lake Anne Merchants Association.

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    On December 1, 2018, 12 noon to 6 p.m. at the Sherwood Community Center in Historic Downtown Fairfax, Virginia, you can enjoy a day of holiday cheer and festivities including lunch with Santa, s'more’s by the yule log, ice sculpting, hot cider, face painting, Christmas tree lighting, and caroling.

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    McLean, Virginia celebrates the holiday season with its one and only community parade on December 2, 2018, at 3:30 p.m. The parade route runs along Chain Bridge Road beginning at Fleetwood Road and ending at Elm Street.

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    Throughout the holiday season, the Historic town of Leesburg celebrates with a variety of community events including a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a holiday craft show, and a holiday parade, festival, and concert. Leesburg is also a great place to enjoy shopping, dining, and seasonal cheer.

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    In Leesburg, Virginia, the 360-acre estate comes alive with historic and handcrafted decorations, live music, unique shopping, and afternoon tea from November 23 - December 30, 2018. The Pickwick Players will perform a variety of Christmas vignettes and sing Christmas music in the historic Carriage House. The mansion is open Monday - Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday, Noon to 5:00 p.m. While you're there, find the perfect gift at the Historic Carriage House Shop, and don't forget to visit the formal terraced garden which is beautiful in every season.

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