I love fireworks for any holiday, and I am incredibly excited how Colonial Williamsburg has packed an entire day with music, tradition, and fireworks in the unique way only this iconic American city can do. Join me in Colonial Williamsburg to enjoy the holiday festivities of Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 3. After a morning of the town’s special activities and an afternoon of music, the events will conclude with “A Festival of Light and Thunder,” a free fireworks demonstration. Trust me, it’s going to be epic.
First, what is an illumination? In the 18th century, illuminations involved the firing of guns and lighting of fireworks. These guns and fireworks announced major events such as the birthday of a reigning sovereign, military victories, or the arrival of a new colonial governor.
Grand Illumination festivities begin at 4 p.m. when a town crier (of course Colonial Williamsburg begins the festivities with a town crier) officially opens the holiday season from the Courthouse steps. I’ve listed the highlights of the city's December 3rd events below. Visit colonialwilliamsburg.com for tickets and even more details.
Until 6:30 p.m., themed musical performances will be showcased on four Historic Area stages:
At the same time, the William & Mary a Capella group the Gentlemen of the College will sing on the new porch of the Raleigh Tavern.
Fireworks and Parade
The celebration culminates in “A Festival of Light and Thunder” at 7 p.m. with simultaneous free fireworks demonstrations above the Capitol, the Magazine and the Governor’s Palace, followed by a torch-lit procession of the Fifes & Drums down Duke of Gloucester Street. Visit colonialwilliamsburg.com for complete programming details.
The day’s dining highlights include:
Guest parking is available at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center.
Daytime programs included with Colonial Williamsburg admission
Good Neighbor Passes to the Governor’s Palace
Also on Dec. 3, Colonial Williamsburg is offering a single-site ticket to the iconic Governor’s Palace, available in limited quantities exclusively via the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer mobile app for $15. The ticket will only be available on Dec. 3. For just $10, residents of Williamsburg, James City County and the Bruton District of York County can visit the Governor’s Palace and other sites daily and enjoy other benefits with a Good Neighbor Annual Pass. For additional information and to purchase a Good Neighbor Annual Pass visit colonialwilliamsburg.com/good-neighbor.
Tickets and program information are available by visiting colonialwilliamsburg.com. Tickets, reservations and information are available by calling 855-296-6627, toll-free. Information, dining reservations and same-day program tickets are available via the free Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app, which can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play. Information is also available by following Colonial Williamsburg on Facebook and @colonialwmsburg on Twitter and Instagram.
Experience the 30th Annual Town Point Virginia Wine Festival, Norfolk’s famous wine festival, this October. Wine Enthusiast Magazine has called Virginia one of the 10 best wine travel destinations in the world! According to Norfolk FestEvents, this year’s fall wine festival will showcase more than 30 wineries with over 200 of Virginia’s best wine varieties.
Stroll along the Elizabeth River, sampling and purchasing premier wine vintages. Enjoy live musical performances, along with gourmet foods and specialty wares.
October 21-22, 2017
Town Point Park, Downtown Norfolk Waterfront, Virginia
Saturday: 11am - 6pm
Sunday: 11am - 6pm
General admission tickets (which don’t include tasting privileges nor souvenir glass) are $25 on Saturday and $20 on Sunday. Tasting tickets (which include souvenir glass and tasting privileges) are $35 in advance on Saturday; $30 in advance on Sunday.
While you’re exploring the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront, consider taking the ferry as part of your weekend adventure. The ferry service is also operated by Hampton Roads Transit and offers a great view of the harbor. The ferry only has one route, which travels between Downtown Norfolk at The Waterside, and North Landing and High Street in Portsmouth. For more information, visit Paddlewheel Ferry .
What will the weather be like? Because of its temperate mid-Atlantic climate, Norfolk is a year-round destination. October in Norfolk has ideal warmth, with an average high of 70 degrees Fahrenheit and low of 54 degrees. Pack clothes that layer well, such as a fleece vest if you want to explore the waterfront in the mornings.
For more information about transportation, weather, and my recommendations on restaurants and places to stay, check out our inexpensive Norfolk itinerary.
I am on a mission to get you traveling more often. This blog is a reflection of my mission. I travel (on average) 30 weeks per year hosting and producing a television series for PBS. In addition, I host a weekly radio show and produce original travel videos for online distribution. I am very fortunate for these opportunities and it is my hope you will join me on my travels!