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Historic Holidays in Virginia

In Virginia, the holidays sparkle and beckon visitors to enjoy the spirit of the season.   Here's what makes Virginia "home for the holidays".

Thanksgiving First

Thanksgiving traditions are said to have begun in Virginia.  Each year, Berkley Plantation along scenic Route 5 between Richmond and Williamsburg celebrates its standing as the site of America's First Thanksgiving.  In 1619, English settlers arrived from their long journey, promptly gathered along the banks of the James River and gave thanks for safe passage.  This annual event is a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Illuminating Getaways

Come share the glow of the season with 100 Miles of Lights - millions of lights and hundreds of events from Virginia's capital city to the Atlantic Ocean.  100 Miles of Lights features music, food, dancing and lights, lights and more lights hosted in Richmond, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  Kick off is Thanksgiving and runs through New Year's Eve. Travel packages are also available.

Historic Home Tours

Holiday home tours through Virginia's historic districts are some of the best in America. An entire district of historic homes is on tour in Portsmouth during the Historic Port Norfolk Holiday Tour of Homes. Bungalows, foursquares and Queen Anne beauties will be aglow for the Holidays. Alexandria is filled with historic homes, taverns and churches. Enjoy a candlelight tour of four distinctive buildings including the famous Gadsby's Tavern. Lynchburg's Point of Honor mansion, built in 1815 is a stunning example of Federal period architecture. Its special annual Christmas Open House includes tours, holiday decorations, refreshments and period music. 

Special Holiday Events

Colonial Williamsburg's Holiday Season is filled with great tradition and lots of Holiday cheer. Special programs, tours, children's activities can be enjoyed throughout the season. The Grand Illumination kicks off the season every year and is a Virginia tradition.

Richmond's Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is fabulous any time of year, but especially so during the Holiday Season. Hundreds of thousands of lights cover the grounds during the annual Garden Fest of Lights. Nearly every tree and shrub is filled with lights and the conservatory has a giant Christmas tree and model train layout.

Visit the homestead of Booker T. Washington in Franklin, Virginia for "Christmas Days in Old Virginia".  In the glow of candlelight, learn about his memories of Christmas while enjoying music, children's activities, refreshments and a special reading.

Step back into Colonial times at the home of the Lee family of Virginia at the Christmas at Stratford Hall celebration. See how food was prepared in the outdoor kitchen and then proceed to the mansion to see how it was served. The Colonial Lee's greet all guests.

Experience Christmas as George and Martha Washington knew it at Christmas at Mount Vernon . A dozen themed Christmas trees, chocolate making demonstrations and 18th century entertainment are part of the festivities.

In November, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg transforms into "Christmas Town: A Busch Gardens Celebration." Portions of the park remain open during the holiday season and transport visitors into a magical winter wonderland with holiday traditions, all-new attractions, exciting shows and visits from Santa Claus.

Virginia is where the holiday season comes to life, promising memorable experiences for visitors of all ages. These and many more ideas found on www.Virginia.org.

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