Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Grand Illumination 2020 isn’t happening, but the spark of holiday cheer still burns bright

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(WYDaily file/ Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg)

Cross another Williamsburg holiday tradition off your list this year.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has canceled this year’s Grand Illumination due to new state restrictions and increases in COVID-19 cases.

“Working with the City of Williamsburg, we conceived and had hoped to present a series of scaled back, socially-distanced fireworks events over three Saturdays in December to celebrate the season. Unfortunately, that will no longer be possible in light of the Commonwealth’s recently tightened gathering restrictions due to changing health data,” Cliff Fleet, president and CEO of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, said in a news release.

Traditionally, the Grand Illumination has been held on the first Sunday in December. The event was free and open to the public, featuring musical performances and fireworks demonstrations at multiple Historic Area locations

Back in September, the foundation announced plans for a reduced version of the Grand Illumination, including spreading the dates out to Dec. 5, 12 and 19. Reservations would be required to view fireworks over the Governor’s Palace.

That plan, however, was subject to change due to state restrictions and the status of local health data.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation follows strict health and safety protocols, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Virginia Department of Health and other agencies, according to the news release.

In addition, all Colonial Williamsburg employees have received safety training, including site-specific basic sanitation procedures, use of face masks, and social distancing.

“Though we were all looking forward to the return to normal, as represented by the fireworks at Grand Illumination, we must continue to make adjustments for the public’s safety,” City Manager Andrew O. Trivette said in the news release.

But there are still plenty of holiday related events and activities to be had in the historic district.

A new Christmas Market opens Fridays through Sundays, Dec. 4-19, at the corner of South Boundary Street and Francis Street. The market is hosted in partnership with the city and CultureFixVA.

Other activities in the historic area include ice skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion, holiday shopping in Merchants Square, and viewing the holiday décor through the historic area, including the Folk Art Christmas Tree at the Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg.

“Our disappointment that we must forgo the fireworks displays to adhere to the Governor’s recent restrictions is tempered by the fact that we are able to accommodate new events like the Christmas Market and allow favorites like 2nd Sundays to continue,” Trivette said.

“We look forward to presenting the best-ever Grand Illumination in 2021, in conjunction with the City,” Fleet added.

To view event schedules for Colonial Williamsburg’s holiday season, you can visit their website here.

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