Sunday, December 10, 2023

Here’s what you need to know for this year’s Grand Illumination

The skies above Colonial Williamsburg will light up for the annual Grand Illumination. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)
The skies above Colonial Williamsburg will light up for the annual Grand Illumination. (WYDaily/ Courtesy Colonial Williamsburg)

For those ready to start the holiday season, Colonial Williamsburg will be hosting its annual Grand Illumination event Sunday. 

During the event, guests can experience three hours of seasonal music and other entertainment with a fireworks demonstration over the Governor’s Palace, the Magazine and the Capitol building, according to a news release from Colonial Williamsburg. 

Events will start in the afternoon at 10 different locations throughout the historic area. 

“Each year the community and guests from around the world gather in Williamsburg for Grand Illumination – an evening of holiday celebration spanning the decades back to the illuminations of the 18th century,” said Bill Schermerhorn, Colonial Williamsburg creative director of signature events, in a news release.

First, there will be a celebration of holiday music from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Hennage Auditorium. The show will feature Henley Fork with music from the time Jamestown to the 20th century. Tickets for the show are $10 in addition to Colonial Williamsburg or Art Museums admission.

From 3:45 to 8 p.m., guests can experience a Grand Illumination dinner at Shield Tavern or at Christiana Campbell’s and King’s Arms taverns from 4:15 to 8 p.m.

To get into the holiday spirit, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., guests can catch up with Father Christmas at the William Pitt Shop on Duke of Gloucester Street. There will also be a reading of “Goodwin and the Ghost” at 5 p.m. on the Palace Green Stage. The story is considered a classic Williamsburg Christmas tale and will feature the William & Mary Botetourt Chamber Singers.

Following that, guests can watch at 5:30 p.m. as the George Wythe House illuminates with decorations. 

At 5:30 p.m. at the Historic Area’s Charlton Stage, there will be a free performance from the Middlesex County Volunteers Fifes & Drums.

The firstworks display will set off at 7 p.m., but premium seating for viewing on the Palace Green are 3 p.m. and first-come, first-serve. Tickets for premium seating are $25 per guests. The display will be followed by a torch-lit procession of the Fifes & Drums down Duke of Gloucester Street. 

Historic sites will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg will be open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to ticketed guests throughout the day.

Guests can also skate on the Liberty Ice Pavilion with special tickets from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

For more information, visit Colonial Williamsburg online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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