Colonial Williamsburg Grand Illumination Tips

Posted by Ariel Zimmerman in Holiday, Top 5, Virginia, Williamsburg

Our travel team, well versed in all things Williamsburg, Virginia, brings to you a collaboration of the best ways to enjoy Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination Tips.

Williamsburg Grand Illumination

What is Williamsburg Grand Illumination?

Some people vacationing are wonder just what is Williamsburg Grand Illumination? Grand Illumination is an annual celebration in Colonial Williamsburg on the first Sunday of the first full week in December. During the 18th century grand illuminations were held for celebrating major events like military victories and the arrival of a new governor with firing off guns and lighting fireworks. Now, the Revolutionary city holds a day of celebration with festive decorations & lights, theater & musical performances, and three firework displays to end the celebration right and start the holiday season in Williamsburg. It’s a wonderful time to visit Williamsburg with friends and family. At Tripbound we highly recommend traveling to Williamsburg during this time to get into the holiday spirit. Next year’s Grand Illumination is December 3rd!  So read on as the Tripbound team share their personal tips.

Megan At Williamsburg Grand Illumination

Williamsburg Grand Illumination Parking And More

Find out the best Williamsburg Grand Illumination Parking and more. “A great place to catch the fireworks is right in front of the capitol building. It tends to be the least crowded place to watch while still giving you an amazing view! There was even a bagpipe group performing on the stage right before the fireworks started. This was a great way for our family to begin the Christmas season in Williamsburg. My favorite place to park is the free parking garage located on Boundary Street. It is only about a block more to walk from the pay for parking garage and you get FREE parking! Aromas Cafe on Prince George Street has amazing hot beverages to keep you warm and toasty while waiting for the fireworks. “

Megan Travel Coordinator & mom of two


Williamsburg Kid-friendly Activities Before The Fireworks

“As a die-hard dog lover, one of the great things Williamsburg has brought to the city is their new mascot, Liberty, the friendly Briard dog. She’s training to become a therapy dog and takes walks around the city and greets guests, which is something fun to tell the little ones to look out for as you walk up and down the historic streets. If your kids like to ice skate, there is now an ice rink in the middle of DOG Street called the “Liberty Ice Pavillion.” It’s a great activity for before the fireworks display. You can rent skates and afterwards go into Barnes & Nobles and get some hot chocolate from Starbucks and see Santa! As for seeing the fireworks, I recommend watching by the Magazine. They close off South England Street and you can watch peacefully with more than enough elbow room. This year’s display was impressive–they did a really great job.”

Ariel Creative Assistant, Lover of dogs & Christmas lights

Tina and Sharon Grand Illumination

Experience The Theater & A Bottle Of Wine

“The Virginia Theater Machine comes to town and performed a 30 minute rendition of a Christmas themed play that shows Saturday & Sunday in merchant’s square. You can also see the William & Mary Choir, Russian Folk Ensemble and Flute Frenzy for some musical entertainment, all downtown. Not many know, but the Cheese Shop on DOG Street has a wine cellar underneath the shop where you can buy affordable, nice wine. They will uncork the bottle and give you cups to enjoy your wine on their heated patio out front. It’s a great place to rest, people watch, and enjoy the holiday festivities.”

Sharon Gundrum CCO & Co-founder, mother of two, and proud southern belle

Where To Eat & Drink At The Grand Illumination

“This was our first Grand Illumination so we didn’t know there would be a bunch of ghost/history tours by firelight across Colonial. We will be participating in those next year for sure! Barrett’s had the fastest seating and service when we got there around 4:30 p.m. and they have delicious Hot Buttered Rum, and their happy hour $1 oysters are still going on at that time so we enjoyed a drink and a dozen roasted oysters. Yum.”

Aliza Travel Coordinator, lover of Christmas, and salt & sand

Where To Stay In Williamsburg Illumination With Best Rate

“It is best to book in August for Grand Illumination or the end of July to be safe! People love Colonial Williamsburg and begin booking their trips earlier and earlier each year!
For couples I recommend staying at Greensprings Resort or Wyndham Governor’s Green. They are more quiet which gives you the space to relax. For families—stay at Historic Powhatan Resort or Wyndham Kingsgate for the kid-centric amenities.”
Caitlin Leadership Team, mother of two, and lover of horses 
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