The holiday season is filled with special community traditions in Historic Yorktown. From modern celebrations like the Tree Lighting and Christmas Market on Main Street to period programming like “Christmastide in Virginia” and “Viking Yuletide Celebration”—there are special events taking place all December long. It’s a time for friends, family, and neighbors to safely gather together to eat, shop and create lasting memories. Historic Yorktown’s first weekend is action-packed with festive activities along the waterfront, on Main Street and at the Victory Monument.
Christmas Tree Lighting
Friday, December 2
Victory Monument & Yorktown Waterfront
Monument Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tree Lighting at 7:30 p.m.
The festive weekend kicks off with Yorktown’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. This community tradition goes all the way back to 1945. That’s the year Reverend Claud G. Barkley, Pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church, and staff from the County Clerk’s office, decorated a cedar tree that stood at the corner of Main and Ballard Streets. The York County Historical Committee works hard to keep this ritual going! The tree that is used today is a 20-foot artificial commercial “Giant Everest Fir” tree placed down in Riverwalk Landing.
Everyone is invited to gather at the Yorktown Victory Monument by 6:30 p.m. for live music, including a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town. From there, the procession will make its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, where the tree lighting ceremony will begin. Parents and grandparents are encouraged to stay for a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus who will be eager to hear all those wish lists!
Christmas Market on Main Street
Historic Main Street
Saturday, December 3 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 | 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Shoppers can search for holiday gifts for family and friends, or as a treat for themselves during the Christmas Market on Main Street! This is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events every holiday season which is why, in recent years, the event was extended to two days. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps, to Christmas ornaments and wreaths! The Town Crier will ring in the market at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town to officially open the market. Then, Santa Claus himself will ride in on York County’s first fire truck and will be available for photos on Main Street with the vintage firetruck. Kids can make Colonial ornaments and view a model train demo in the basement of York Hall on Saturday. Expect strolling musical entertainment during both days to add to the festive atmosphere, and an ice carving demonstration in front of York Hall on Sunday. It simply doesn’t get more “Christmas” than this!
Lighted Boat Parade
Saturday, December 3
Pre-parade festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Boat Parade begins at 7 p.m.
The Lighted Boat Parade is one of the most unique holiday events in Yorktown. Pre-parade festivities begin at 6 p.m. and include caroling around a beach bonfire, a musical performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, and complimentary hot cider.
The boats will finish out the evening as they make their way down the river in a dazzling show of lights that starts at 7 p.m. This annual community tradition has been taking place for more than two decades, and brings neighbors together to celebrate the season. As an added safety precaution, families are encouraged to bring flashlights to assist in navigation around town at night. No rain dates are scheduled for any holiday-related weekend activities. If rain, storms, or heavy winds are in the forecast—please call the York County Event Weather Hotline (757.890.3520) before heading into town.
This special parade is sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee.
Cookies with Santa
Gallery at York Hall
Sunday, December 4 | 1 to 4 p.m.
The Gallery at York Hall once again hosts Cookies with Santa—a community event designed to make the season bright. It’s free for families. Guests are encouraged to bring their phones or cameras and wish lists! Don’t forget to stop inside the Gallery to pick up unique Christmas gifts handcrafted by local artists. The Gallery is filled with local one-of-a-kind art pieces from hundreds of local artists, in all types of mediums.
Continue your Christmas journey to experience a unique “mari-time” event at the Watermen’s Museum. Observe a Victorian reenactment and hear St. Nicolas contrast both eras’ contributions to today’s holiday celebrations. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, December 3 and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 4.
In addition to all the special events, Historic Yorktown’s many shops and restaurants will get in the spirit of the season by offering pre-made gift baskets, gift certificates, and other unique stocking stuffer ideas. Be sure to follow Visit Yorktown on Facebook so you don’t miss our annual Holiday Gift Guide that takes you inside our museums, galleries, and other local businesses!
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