Colonial Williamsburg to Host Christmas Eve Tree Lighting Ceremony

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The lighting ceremony for the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas tree will take place at 5 p.m. on Christmas Eve. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)
The lighting ceremony for the Colonial Williamsburg Christmas tree will take place at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve. (Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg Foundation)

Colonial Williamsburg and the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg will be continuing a Historic Triangle tradition of more than 50 years this week with the annual Christmas Eve celebration on Market Square.

The Kiwanis Club and Colonial Williamsburg have cosponsored the lighting of a Christmas tree on Market Square since 1959, and this year’s program will follow much the same pattern as previous years’ ceremonies.

The festivities begin at 5 p.m. with the firing of the Christmas guns, a tradition reminiscent of the 18th-century custom of firing guns during the holidays as an expression of joy and celebration.

Intermingling with the sound of gunfire will be a musical performance from the Fifes and Drums, summoning visitors and guests to gather around the Courthouse on Duke of Gloucester Street.

A reading of Clement Clarke Moore’s beloved holiday poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” more commonly known as “’Twas the Night before Christmas,” will begin at 5:25 p.m. During the presentation volunteers and members of the Kiwanis Club will distribute programs and candles to the onlookers.

Upon completion of the candle distribution, City of Williamsburg Mayor Clyde Haulman will give the signal for the candles to be lit, with “the flame passing from one to another until a sea of candle light fills Duke of Gloucester Street,” according to a recent news release from Colonial Williamsburg.

Once the candlelight has spread over the crowd, guests and visitors will be invited to join in the singing of a couple of popular Christmas carols.

The highlight of the festivities is the lighting of the live, 40-foot tall Norway spruce tree, which is adorned with 6,000 lights. Haulman will flip the switch and set the tree aglow, and the program will conclude with a benediction and another traditional carol.

This event is free and open to the public. No tickets or reservations are required.