With the holiday season upon us, it’s time to check off all the annual traditions, from tacky lights tours to a heartwarming breakfast with Santa himself. But if you’re looking to really immerse yourself in the spirit of the season, these festive destinations take decorating to the next level with millions of lights, unique seasonal themes, and enough holiday cheer to get you through the New Year. Head to one of these beautifully decorated seasonal sites for a concentrated dose of holiday spirit in Virginia.
An 100-year-old Leesburg historical landmark, Old Lucketts Store is home to over 30 dealers that showcase antique, vintage, and new finds from all over the East Coast. During the holidays, they deck out the 6,000+ square-foot store with creative displays that the staff spends all year long dreaming up. After filling the shop to the brim with imaginative decorations and decor, they have expanded to the property farmhouse, adorning the home’s eleven rooms with beautiful decorations, all of which are for sale. Spend the day getting some holiday shopping done at Old Lucketts Store, then take your holiday photos at one of their many Instagram-worthy seasonal scenes, including three hand-painted murals, decorated vintage vehicles, and an authentic London cab packed with holiday cheer.
Photo Credit: Tom Hennessy
Now through January 7, Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is blanketed by twinkling lights in all colors and designs for their annual Gardenfest of Lights, sponsored by Dominion Energy. Gaze at over one million holiday lights as you stroll through the 50+ acres of public gardens, voted one of the top four in North America by USA Today readers. The gardens offer family activities every night during Gardenfest, as well as model trains, holiday dinners, and snacks like s’mores and hot chocolate to warm you up on even the coldest nights. Tickets are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors 55 and up, $8 for children 3-12, and free for children under three.
During select nights through January 5, Busch Gardens transforms into Christmas Town, a family-friendly holiday celebrations with over 10 million lights (more than any other holiday event in North America), six festive shows, photos with Santa, and a 50-foot Christmas tree illuminating the Germany region of the park. Ride in the Aeronaut Skyride to get views of the grandly-lit park from above, and get a grand tour of the decorations from the Christmas Town Express, a train decked out in lights that plays all the classic holiday songs for those on board to sing along. Head to the Highland Stables to see the Clydesdale horses, then take the kids to meet Rudolph and the rest of his reindeer friends in Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland.
A free event in Dublin, Virginia, DAK Lights is an annual holiday light and music show held every night from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve in Randolph Park. Hundreds of people travel to the New River Valley each year for this spectacular holiday show, which lasts roughly 20 minutes and choreographs over 20,000 brightly-colored lights to seasonal songs broadcasted on local radio channel 103.9FM. The show begins each night at 5:30, repeating in 20 minute intervals until closing, and visitors can enjoy the holiday tunes and flickering light displays from the comfort and warmth of their cars.
See the 24th annual Garden of Lights at Norfolk Botanical Garden, where visitors can walk through the wondrous displays featuring millions of holiday lights from November 9th to December 15th. Then, from December 16th to December 31st, the two-miles of illuminated pathways transform into a drive-through light show, allowing you to take in the stunning holiday decorations from your cozy car. Reservations are not necessary; general admission is $30 per car, or $50 for limousine and multi-passenger van group tours.
This year, Kings Dominion announced the addition of Winterfest to their annual calendar. The park-wide holiday celebration runs select nights through December 31, with millions of shimmering lights, a 300-foot Christmas tree, 12 live shows, up to 21 rides open (weather permitting), and 34 performers spreading Christmas cheer to visitors throughout the park. There are plenty of hands-on festive activities and crafts for all ages, an artisan village open for your holiday shopping, and special seasonal dishes like smoked turkey and carved ham served in the park restaurants. Kids will love the live entertainment and seasonal shows, including Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular, the Coke Polar Party, and the Sounds of the Nativity scene, a petting zoo with 38 animals that tells the Christmas story of Bethlehem. Tickets start at $25 per person, with free admission for children 3 and under.
Although not quite as large as some of the other locations decked out for the holidays, Edgewood Plantation packs every square foot of the bed & breakfast with holiday decorations. This adorable inn is decorated with 18 Christmas trees, 10 roaring fireplaces, and candles and other décor throughout the home during the holiday season. Even if you don’t plan on staying overnight, you can see the extravagant decorations by booking a tour with Edgewood Plantation or get the full colonial Virginia holiday experience during the Candlelight Christmas Tour, which includes tours of nearby Berkeley and Shirley Plantations and ends at Edgewood Plantation for holiday refreshments.
While Edgewood goes above and beyond for the holidays, many hotels, resorts, and inns in Virginia also deck their halls in the finest holiday trim, welcoming visitors to come take their holiday photos as they bask in the beauty of the seasonal décor.
These are a few of the most incredible lights displays in Virginia, but you’ll find many more in virtually every corner of the state. Where are your go-to places to take in over-the-top holiday decorations? Share your favorite seasonal spots with us in the comments below!