Holiday Celebrations In Central Virginia


The first weekend (and in some cases the second weekend as well) in December long has been designated as the date when the historic properties and other popular venues in central Virginia invite visitors to celebrate the holidays with the entire family. This year is no exception. Each county has a unique way of marking the holiday season. There is a treasure trove of activities everywhere. Here are some of the highlights of celebrations being offered throughout the multi-county area.

Albemarle County
Ashlawn-Highland Holiday Workshops
On Sunday, December 4, attend the Gingerbread and Lace Ornament Workshop at Ash Lawn-Highland, the historic home of president James Monroe. Ash Lawn-Highland’s head kitchen and craft interpreter Martha Bar will direct an ornament workshop from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each participant in the workshop will be guided through the process of making three Victorian inspired tree decorations to take home. The cost is $12.00 per person and advance registration is required. Call 434-293-8000 for more information. 
From December 5 through the 31st, the Monroe home will be decorated for Christmas. Fresh boxwood, fruits, holly and more adorn the historic home in the early 19th century style, with a late 19th century emphasis in the Victorian addition. For more information, visit
Candlelit Tavern for Yuletide Patrons at Michie Tavern
The oldest section of Michie Tavern will be decorated for its Yuletide evenings and a variety of special activities will take place.  Adults and youth are invited to sing traditional carols with Tavern musicians. Living history interpreters and storytellers will be available to entertain guests and period refreshments served from the 18th-century tap bar.  There is no additional admission fee to the candlelit tavern during the evenings of our Yuletide Traditions.  The candlelit tavern will open for dinner guests only. Only a few reservations were left at press time.  Call 434-977-1234 or email
Holiday Evening Tours at Monticello
Holiday Evening Tours at Monticello will take place December 10, 17, 21 – 23, and 26-30.
These small-group house tours, which include the Dome Room, offer visitors an intimate look at how the holidays were celebrated in Jefferson’s time, plus the rare opportunity to experience Monticello after dark. Tours begin at 5:45 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on each date. The cost is $45 per person and reserved tickets are required. Please note: Holiday Evening Tours are not recommended for children under age 6. Portions of this tour are not handicapped-accessible.
City of Charlottesville
Mark your calendars for Friday, December 2 and join the holiday festivities with the Virginia Gingerbread Christmas annual celebration in Downtown Charlottesville. You can look forward to the annual Gingerbread House Competition, Mrs. Claus Invites party and St. Nicholas reception! Visit for information about events and entering a gingerbread house into the competition.
Also on December 2, you can see the movie, White Christmas, with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney at the Paramount Theater, running from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Visit for ticket information.
On Saturday, December 3, continue the holiday festivities and celebrate our national and community history and culture with a spectacular Holiday Heritage Parade along the outdoor mall in downtown Charlottesville. The parade features entries including marching bands, floats, dancers, living history performers, animal rescue units, celebrities, festival queens and princesses, and more! For more information email
Fluvanna County
Old Fashioned Village Holiday Event in the Village of Palmyra is held the second Saturday in December. Initiated just a few years ago, this event brings hundreds of guests to the center of Palmyra for a celebration of traditional Christmas.  It has become very popular and includes concerts, tours of the village and its historic sites, a reception at Maggie’s House and the lighting of the county Christmas tree. All are welcome and the event is free. 
Greene County
Sponsored by the Greene County Chamber of Commerce, The Parade of Lights brings the local community out in droves to create a festive spirit both in and around Greene that other events carry through the season. On Saturday, December 3, at 6:00 p.m., this parade proceeds down Main Street of historic Stanardsville and wouldn’t be complete without lively local music, warm refreshments and a final appearance by the Big Man in Red himself. VIP seats are available on the balcony of Lafayette Inn where one can watch the parade in style with adult beverages, finger foods and most importantly a heater. 
Four County Players
In our American culture, “It’s a Wonderful Life” has become almost as familiar as Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and this year you can share that tale with your whole family by taking them to see the Four County Players adaptation of this timeless holiday classic.  This is the saga of George Bailey, the Everyman from the small town of Bedford Falls, whose dreams of escape and adventure have been crushed by family obligation and civic duty, and whose guardian angel has to descend on Christmas Eve to save him from despair and to remind him—by showing him what the world would have been like had he never been born—that his has been, after all, a wonderful life. 
Performances begin on Friday, December 2 and run weekends through December 18. Admission Fee: $16 Adults, $14 Seniors & Students, $12 Children 12 & Under – All Fridays Half-Price (Half off a regular adult-price ticket). Call (540) 832-5355 or visit for more information.
Madison County
Enjoy “A Madison Christmas” on December 3rd with cookies provided by Ms. Ann Benzinger, Coffee and cocoa provided by  “The Shack” from The Summit. Caroling begins at 9:30 a.m. in Beasley Park followed by a Parade at 10:00 a.m.
Nelson County
Oakland Museum Holiday Open House 
On December 11,  from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., visit the Oakland Museum, 5365 Thomas Nelson Highway in Arrington where you’ll see traditional holiday decorations throughout the tavern and  all the gift shop items for sale. Tour the museum exhibits, including Hurricane Camille and its Aftermath and Cuttin’ on the Lights, how rural life changed with the arrival of electricity. Musical entertainment and refreshments. Come and bring a friend. 434-263-5895.  Visit
Lovingston Christmas Parade
Get ready for the holiday season by bringing your family to the annual Chamber of Commerce Christmas Parade in the village of Lovingston. The parade features floats, marching units, vehicles, animals and best of all Santa Claus. There are also business open houses, home and business decoration contests and vendors selling food and beverages. The parade is from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 and travels north through the village to visit with Santa.
Sugar Cookie Fun!
Come to the Devils Backbone Brewing Company, 200 Mosbys Run in Roseland on December 6 from 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. for a fun-filled night of Christmas decorating and Christmas cookie decorating for the kids. There will be hot chocolate and apple cider, and smores by the outdoor fireplace (please dress warmly). Tasty treats and hors d’oeuvres offered. Take some early Christmas cookies that you decorated home. If you plan to attend the Christmas Cookie decorating for the kids, please R.S.V.P. at 434-361-1001. Visit 
Walton’s Mountain Museum
Are you nostalgic for an old-fashioned holiday—the kind you watched on the Walton’s television program? You can relive that more innocent time by visiting Walton’s Mountain Museum, 6484 Rockfish River Road in Schuyler.  Enjoy apple cider and cookies with paid admission. The rooms have Christmas decorations and you can take your own photo inside replica rooms. Children 5 and younger free. Open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. 
Walton’s Mountain Museum offers replicas of John-Boy’s Bedroom, Ike Godsey’s Store, “The Waltons” kitchen and “The Waltons” living room. Watch the 30-minute video featuring Earl Hamner and the stars of “The Waltons,” see the hundreds of photographs and pieces of memorabilia for you to see and visit the exhibits and souvenir shop. 
Holiday Open House
There will be a Holiday Open House at Nan Rothwell’s studio, 221 Pottery Lane in Faber on December 3 (10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.) and December 4 (noon to 4:00 p.m.). See pottery by Nan Rothwell, cards, calendars, prints & jewelry by Nancy Maxon. A portion of sales will benefit Las Vidas Mejoradas, public health projects in the Peruvian Andes. Information and directions: 434-263-4023 or
Orange County
A Christmas Evening at Montpelier
Montpelier is the lifelong home of James Madison, Father of the Constitution, architect of the Bill of Rights, and president of the United States. Now that the home’s recent $25 million architectural restoration is complete, visitors can see the progress of “A Presidential Detective Story: Rediscovering The Furnishings and Décor of James and Dolley Madison” through daily guided tours. They can also participate in hands-on activities, and archaeology: stroll the grounds; and take in the many galleries and other attractions on the 2,650-acre estate.
On December 2, 3 and 4 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. visitors are invited to “A Christmas Evening at James Madison’s Montpelier.”  Enjoy centuries of Christmas traditions on this Candlelight Tour where you will be greeted by Dolley Madison and learn about early 19th century Christmas customs while exploring the Madisons’ home by candlelight. See the Assembly Dancers perform in the Grand Salon. Linger in the DuPont Gallery, enjoy light refreshments, wine, and wassail around the tree in the Grand Salon while enjoying harp music and carolers. 
The price is $25 in advance; $30 at the door. Members are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. For advanced sale price, RSVP by  November 30 at or call 540-672-2728, x112. Enter through the Main Gate and park at the Visitor Center. The Museum Shop will be open.
Downtown Orange Christmas Parade
On Sunday, December 4, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. you can experience the Orange County Christmas Parade taking place in downtown Orange.  Come celebrate the holiday season and bring the whole family.
Exchange Hotel in Gordonsville
The Exchange Hotel Civil War Museum in Gordonsville stands silent watch over a rich past that intertwines Civil War medicine, military actions of the Army of Northern Virginia, and the mighty railroads of Virginia. Visit this unique building and experience Gordonsville’s personal history through medical, military, town, and hotel exhibits.
See it decorated for the holidays during the holiday open house on Sunday, December 4. 
While you are in Gordonsville, you may want to stay for the annual tree lighting ceremony that kicks off the community’s holiday tradition. Light refreshments are served while a visit from the jolly old man himself is enjoyed by children young and old at the Exchange Hotel.
The Gordonsville community comes together to carol down Main Street from the Exchange Hotel to the Town Hall for the Christmas tree to be lit. The lights on the tree are lit in memory of loved ones that are no longer with us during the holiday season. If you are interested in having a light on the tree or have any questions concerning this festive celebration, please contact the Town Clerk at 540-832-2233.