Friday, April 19, 2024

Historic Yorktown lights up for the holidays

Yorktown parade has lighted boats
Local craft of various types will sail the York River Saturday evening, competing for in best in show honors at the annual parade of lighted boats. (Photo courtesy York County Public Information)

From lighted boats to a beach bonfire and a tree lighting, Yorktown is kicking off the holidays with a three-day celebration this weekend.

Tree Lighting

The annual tree illumination ceremony gets underway Friday, Dec. 2 at the Yorktown Victory Monument at 6:30 p.m.

There will be seasonal songs from the Mount Vernon Elementary School Mustang Chorus, followed by the Fifes & Drums of York Town at 7:10 p.m., according to a county news release. 

At 7:30 p.m., a procession of lights, led by the town crier and the Fifes & Drums, will head from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing for the tree lighting.

The TRADOC Band Victory Brass Quintet will perform holiday music at Riverwalk Landing, beginning at 7 p.m.

Santa and Mrs. Claus will visit with children after the ceremony until 8:30 p.m.

The first 600 people at the Victory Monument will receive free digital candles to carry during the procession.

Christmas Market on Main

Saturday will bring the 11th Annual Christmas Market on Main Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The event features strolling instrumental ensembles, caroling, roasted chestnuts and arts and crafts vendors, as well as visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Buildings will be decorated for the holidays, including the Custom House, the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Yorktown Battlefield, the York County Historical Museum and Museum on Main and the Main and Ballard Street galleries.

In addition, antique model trains will be on display in York Hall, on the lower level.

Lighted Boat Parade

The 20th Annual Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade at the Yorktown Waterfront begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, with free hot cider served by Boy Scout Troop 123 from Seaford. The Yorktown Chorale and the Fifes & Drums will perform at a beach bonfire.

Judging kicks off at 7 p.m., with a procession of decorated sail, pleasure and work boats on the York River, competing for best in show.

Attendees are encouraged to bring flashlights. Parking will be available at the courts and office center and at the county administration building.

The Yorktown Trolley will run from 5 to 9 p.m., with stops at the Victory Monument, the courts and office center and the intersections of Water and Read streets and Ballard and Main streets.

Cookies with Santa

Santa's Yorktown schedule
Parents will want to have cameras  ready when local children visit with Santa in Yorktown Sunday afternoon. (Photo courtesy York County Public Information Office)

The festivities end with Cookies with Santa at the Gallery at York Hall on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.  There will be refreshments, visits with Santa and an opportunity to browse in the gallery, which highlights the work of local artists.

For more information, call the gallery at 757-890-4490.

If You Go

The weekend events are free.

Public parking will be available at the Riverwalk Landing parking terrace on Water Street, at York Hall (but not on Friday night), at the county administration building and the courts and office center parking lots on Ballard Street.

There are no scheduled rain dates. For updates, call the York County weather event hotline at 757-890-3520.

For a full schedule of events, go to and for more information, call 757-890-3500.

Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley
Joan Quigley is a former Miami Herald business reporter, a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and an attorney. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post,, and Talking Points Memo. Her recent book, Just Another Southern Town: Mary Church Terrell and the Struggle for Racial Justice in the Nation’s Capital, was shortlisted for the 2017 Mark Lynton History Prize. Her first book, The Day the Earth Caved In: An American Mining Tragedy, won the 2005 J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Award.

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