The Ultimate Guide To 2023 Christmas Light Tours & Holiday Events in Charlottesville


Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”— Conductor, “The Polar Express”

Embrace the magic and wonder of the holiday season in Charlottesville, a city that comes alive with the spirit of Christmas. From enchanting light tours that illuminate the winter nights to heartwarming meetings with Santa Claus himself, this guide is your ticket to the best holiday experiences in the area. Whether you’re basking in the glow of spectacular light displays, strolling through festive neighborhoods, or enjoying an array of community events and activities, Charlottesville offers something special for everyone this holiday season. Let’s embark on a journey through four dazzling sections that capture the essence of Christmas in our charming city.

2023 Christmas Light Tours & Can’t-Miss Holiday Events

Charlottesville welcomes the holiday season with a series of light tours and events, each offering a unique blend of spectacle and festive spirit. Let’s explore these events, accompanied by quotes from beloved Christmas movies that capture the essence of each experience.

Charlottesville Area

Boar’s Head Resort Winter Wander

Location: 200 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903

Description: “It’s a lot like Christmas; it’s everywhere you go.” The Winter Wander at Boar’s Head Resort wraps you in a festive embrace, much like the sentiment expressed by Bing Crosby’s character. The resort transforms into a winter fairytale with its spectacular light displays, including the illuminated Heritage Lake and the enchanting Fountain of Dreams.

Cost: Varies

Website: Boar’s Head Resort Winter Wander

boars head resort

Hooville Illumination

Location: 1548 Valcrest Lane, Charlottesville, VA 22901

Description: “Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps…means a little bit more!” Dr. Seuss’s Grinch would surely understand the spirit of Hooville Illumination, where the festive lights and music create a magical experience that goes beyond the material, celebrating the joy and community of the season.

Cost: Free; Donations appreciated

Website: Hooville Illumination

Tinsel Trail at Stonefield

Location: The Lawn at Stonefield, 2100 Hydraulic Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22901

Description: “Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” This quote from Kris Kringle in “Miracle on 34th Street” perfectly captures the essence of the Tinsel Trail. A walk here is a journey through a festive wonderland, where the spirit of Christmas comes alive amidst the sparkling lights and decorations.

Cost: Free

Website: Tinsel Trail

Grand Illumination at Downtown Charlottesville

Location: Ting Pavilion, Downtown Charlottesville

Description: “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Echoing Buddy the Elf’s enthusiasm, the Grand Illumination is a heartwarming celebration that lights up the city’s heart, marking the beginning of the holiday season with a joyous community gathering.

Cost: Free

Website: Downtown Charlottesville Grand Illumination

Charlottesville grand illumination

Further Out

GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Richmond)

Location: 1800 Lakeside Avenue, Richmond, VA 23228

Description: “The lights are twinkling, the snow is falling…” The GardenFest of Lights could be the setting for such a scene straight out of a holiday movie. With over half a million lights, the gardens turn into a captivating wonderland, inviting visitors to indulge in the beauty and serenity of the season.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Website: Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden (Richmond)

Richmond Tacky Lights Tour (Richmond)

Location: Various locations in Richmond, VA

Description: “We’re kicking off our fun, old-fashioned family Christmas by heading out into the country in the old front-wheel drive sleigh…” Clark Griswold’s words ring true for the Richmond Tacky Lights Tour. This vibrant and somewhat over-the-top display is a delightful family adventure into the heart of Christmas decorations and lights.

Cost: Free; some locations may have fees

Website: Richmond Tacky Lights Tour

Historic Staunton Foundation Holiday House Tour (Staunton)

Location: Newtown Historic District, Staunton, VA 24401

Description: “It’s Christmas Eve! It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more.” This sentiment, shared by Frank Cross in “Scrooged,” is the essence of the Holiday House Tour in Staunton. Explore beautifully decorated historic homes and embrace the warmth and joy of the holiday season.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Tacky Light Tours: Top Charlottesville Area Neighborhoods For Holiday Cheer

Explore the local neighborhoods in Charlottesville, each adorned with festive lights and decorations, creating magical atmospheres perfect for the holiday season.

Neighborhoods Close to Charlottesville

IX Art Park

Location: 522 2nd Street SE, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Description: IX Art Park turns into a dazzling spectacle of lights during the holidays, offering a colorful and unique holiday experience.

Agnese Street

Location: Agnese Street, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Agnese Street is a delightful neighborhood for an evening stroll, with each house adorned with lights and decorations.

Mountain View Street

Location: Mountain View Street, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Known for its extravagant holiday light display, Mountain View Street is a must-visit for light enthusiasts, aglow with thousands of lights.

Fairway Avenue

Location: Fairway Avenue, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Fairway Avenue offers a traditional holiday experience with homes decorated with lights and seasonal decor, creating a warm and cozy ambiance.

Elliott Avenue

Location: Elliott Avenue, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Elliott Avenue is another charming street, where residents deck their homes in classic holiday style, creating a welcoming atmosphere.

charlottes ville holiday

Neighborhoods a Bit Further Out

Western Ridge neighborhood in Crozet

Location: Western Ridge, Crozet, VA

Description: The Western Ridge neighborhood in Crozet lights up with holiday spirit, with residents decorating their homes, making it a festive destination.

Old Trail neighborhood in Crozet

Location: Old Trail, Crozet, VA

Description: Old Trail is known for its picturesque holiday scenes, adorned with festive lights and decorations.

Preddy Creek neighborhood in Ruckersville

Location: Preddy Creek, Ruckersville, VA

Description: The Preddy Creek neighborhood in Ruckersville offers a delightful holiday experience with beautifully lit homes.

Additional Holiday & Community Events This Season

Discover a variety of festive activities beyond light tours, perfect for immersing in the holiday spirit.

Family Holiday Concerts 2023

Location: Old Cabell Hall, UVA, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Enjoy a family-friendly concert featuring seasonal music and performances.

Cost: Varies

Website: Family Holiday Concerts

Barracks Road Holiday Parade

Location: Barracks Road Shopping Center, Charlottesville, VA

Description: This festive parade features floats, marching bands, and holiday characters, creating a joyful atmosphere.

Cost: Free

Website: Barracks Road Holiday Parade

Holiday Card Workshop 2023

Location: Virginia Center for the Book, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Participate in a holiday card-making workshop, ideal for those who love crafts.

Cost: Starts at USD 55

Website: Holiday Card Workshop

McCormick Observatory Public Night

Location: Leander McCormick Observatory, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Explore the stars and constellations during the public night at McCormick Observatory.

Cost: Free

Website: McCormick Observatory

Paramount Presents: Christmas with Elvis

Location: The Paramount Theater, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Enjoy a unique holiday event featuring Elvis’s classic hits with a festive twist.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Website: The Paramount Theater

Paramount Presents: Christmas with Elvis

NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet

Location: Charlottesville, VA

Description: A celebration of community and freedom, featuring speakers, entertainment, and a banquet.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Website: Albemarle-Charlottesville NAACP

Indie Short Film Series

Location: Vinegar Hill Theatre, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Enjoy a series of independent short films at this event, ideal for film enthusiasts.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Website: Vinegar Hill Theatre

Charlottesville Symphony Holiday Concert

Location: Charlottesville Symphony Society, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Delight in the sounds of the season with the Charlottesville Symphony’s holiday concert.

Cost: Ticket prices vary

Website: Charlottesville Symphony

Charlottesville Symphony Holiday Concert

Each of these events provides a unique way to celebrate the holiday season, from musical performances to creative workshops and community gatherings.

Meet Santa Claus: Magical Moments For Kids Around Charlottesville

The holiday season in Charlottesville brings with it a special kind of magic, particularly for families looking forward to the cherished tradition of meeting Santa Claus. From cozy brunches to festive gatherings at local malls and community centers, there are numerous opportunities to see the jolly man in red. Whether it’s capturing that perfect holiday photo, whispering wish lists into Santa’s ear, or simply basking in the holiday cheer, these Santa sightings are sure to spark joy and create lasting memories. Here are some of the best places in and around Charlottesville where families can enjoy the enchantment of meeting Santa Claus this holiday season.

meet Santa Claus: Magical Moments For Kids Around Charlottesville

For families in the Charlottesville area looking to see Santa Claus during the holiday season, there are several delightful opportunities:

Santa at Fashion Square Mall

Location: Fashion Square Mall, Charlottesville, VA

Description: Santa Claus makes a special visit to Fashion Square Mall, offering a classic holiday experience where children can meet Santa and take photos.

More Info: Santa at Fashion Square Mall

Santa at Mount Ida Reserve

Location: The Tasting Room + Taphouse at Mount Ida Reserve

Cost: Tickets $45.00

Description: Join the annual holiday event featuring Santa Claus, complete with story-time, cookies, and more festive activities. A ticketed event perfect for a family evening out.

More Info: Santa at Mount Ida Reserve