Sights and Sounds of the Season
Entertainment at a
Virginia Location Near You.
by Rosemary Dietrick, Contributing Writer
Stop by the historic Jefferson Hotel in
downtown Richmond to see the decorations and
call about having an afternoon holiday tea.
This year, Virginia travel is the holiday gift that keeps
on giving before, during and, in some cases, throughout the holidays and
It starts, of course, with the re-enactment of the First
Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation on the James River. Two museums appear
on the entertainment calendar, exciting film buffs and country music fans.
Both the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond and Winchester’s Museum of
the Shenandoah Valley will be there for you in mid-winter.
For the harried households preparing for Dec. 25, there’s
respite galore: Ice- skating under the stars, a beloved ballet, light shows
in gardens and caverns, theater tickets in southwest Virginia, a parade with
horses and hounds in hunt country, all invariably hosted by Santa Claus.
Take a break from trimming the tree. There’s holiday fun
to be had throughout the Old Dominion.
To See and Do in the Capital City
Film buffs can open a Christmas present from the Virginia
Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) by viewing Hollywood Costume, an exhibition
organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. From Nov. 9, 2013, to
Feb. 17, 2014, see the clothes worn by favorite characters in movies like
The Wizard of Oz, My Fair Lady, Titanic, Superman, and Harry Potter and the
Half Blood Prince.
Complementing Hollywood Costume, is Made in Hollywood, a
collection of more than 90 original prints featuring iconic stars like Greta
Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Humphrey Bogart, and Clark Gable. The prints will
be shown Nov. 23, 2013, to March 10, 2014 (804-340-1400; www.vmfa).
From VMFA, it’s a short trip
downtown where Richmond’s skyscrapers
provide a twinkling backdrop for RVA on Ice.
After a spin on the new ice-skating rink, sip hot chocolate by a fire
(804-592-3330; www.rvaonice.net). Nearby at the Carpenter Theatre, catch a
performance of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker (Dec. 14. to Dec. 23),
performed by the Richmond Ballet with the live music of the Richmond
Symphony (804-592-3330; www.rich mondcenterstage.com).
At Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, enjoy the Dominion
Gardenfest of Lights (Nov.
29 through Jan. 13 -- only closed on Dec. 24/25)
where over a half-million lights depict the beauty and bounty of the
natural world (804-262-9887; www.lewisginter. org).
Historic Berkeley Plantation is the place to be Nov. 3,
to celebrate the arrival of the English settlers in 1619. It was on this
spot that the exhausted voyagers, sent by the London Company, gave thanks
for their successful voyage to the New World. The First Thanksgiving
Festival is an annual commemorative event held on the banks of the James
River in Charles City County (804-829-6018; www.berkeleyplantation.com).
For families, the holiday spirit reigns in Williamsburg
at Busch Gardens’ Christmas Town with Santa’s Workshop, an Ice Palace,
Broadway-style shows, and a 50-foot-tall light-animated tree (800-343-7946;
fires light the streets of Colonial
Nearby at Colonial Williamsburg,
18th-century decorating traditions hold forth outdoors and in public
Garlands of greenery and the glow of
candlelight evoke the Christmas spirit in the Revolutionary City as crowds
await the fireworks of the Dec. 8 Grand Illumination (1-800-HISTORY;
At the College of William & Mary, the exhibition, Glenn
Close: A Life in Costume, will be shown at the Muscarelle Museum of Art in
honor of the actress who is an alumna of the college’s Class of 1974. The
collection of costumes includes clothes worn by Close in such films as Fatal
Attraction and 101 Dalmatians (Sept. 29, 2013, to Jan.12, 2014;
During the Thanksgiving holidays, photographers and
birders make an annual trek across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge for some
Eastern Shore serenity and the opportunity to participate in the Assateague
Island Waterfowl Weekend. Tours are conducted along trails normally closed
to the public. The Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge notes the fall
migration will be at its peak Thursday, Nov. 28, to Sunday, Dec. 1.
Showtime in the Valley
In the exhibition, Becoming Patsy Cline, the Museum of
the Shenandoah Valley tells the story of the music icon in her early years
in the Valley. Cline was the first female solo artist inducted into the
Country Music Hall of Fame. Artifacts like clothing, furnishings and rare
photographs are on display. The exhibition is on review through Feb. 2, 2014
At the Blackfriars Playhouse in
Staunton, the American Shakespeare Center offers a stage adaptation of A
Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
(Dec. 8 to Dec. 28). The stunning playhouse is
the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s original indoor theatre.
Playing concurrently are The Twelve Dates of
Christmas, The Santaland Diaries, Othello, and The Merry Wives of Windsor
Don’t miss Staunton’s spectacular Celebration of Holiday
Lights in Gypsy Hill Park. For the ninth year — from Nov. 25, 2013 to Jan.
5, 2014 — a sprawling 214 acres are aglow with displays in lights
Check out the acoustics of Christmas carols sung in a
cavern. Against the backdrop of stalactites and stalagmites of the Grand
Caverns, the Grottoes Ruritan Club presents candlelight tours and musical
performances in Solomon’s Temple, the armory, and ballroom (Dec. 14).
America’s oldest continuously operated show cave is also a National Landmark
In Abingdon, the legendary Barter
Theatre pulls out all stops during the
holidays. Back onstage for the theater’s 80th
anniversary year is the popular A Christmas Story plus two more
holiday-themed plays: ’Twas the Night Before Christmas and Another Night
Before Christmas (276-628-3991;
In Appalachia at Duffield, celebrate the season at the
Natural Tunnel, carved by nature, through a limestone ridge over thousands
of years. William Jennings Bryan called the attraction — as tall as a
10-story building — “the eighth wonder of the world.” Colored lights enhance
chair-lift rides and the interior of tunnel; local church choirs fill the
air with carols. Santa welcomes children at the Visitor Center. The program
begins Nov. 29; runs every weekend through Dec. 21 (276-940-2674;
and hounds share Santa's spotlight in
Middleburg's Christmas parade.
The town of Middleburg knows how to put on a parade. On
Dec. 7 approximately l00 horses, riders in red coats, and dozens of hounds
will make their way down Washington Street followed by floats, marching
bands, and antique fire trucks. The grand finale is Santa riding on a
handsome horse-drawn coach. The day’s agenda consists of hayrides, choir
performances, a Christmas Flower and Greens Show, and a craft show
The Vienna Boys Choir will bring its Christmas in Vienna
concert to the Fairfax campus of George Mason University’s Center for the
Arts on Friday, Dec. 13. The Austrian singers’ program includes popular and
classical music, traditional Christmas carols, Gregorian chants, and songs
from around the world (888-945-2468; cfa.gmu.edu).
The Gray Ghost Vineyard’s annual
Christmas Cork and Cheese Celebration is more festive than ever. Decorative
displays — don’t miss the tree — crafted from
more than 80,000 corks create a challenge. Visitors are invited to guess the
number of corks comprising new items to win a selection of Gray Ghost wine.
Admission to each event, Dec. 7 and 8, includes cheese tasting, desserts,
winery tours and a collectible holiday glass. On Dec. 15, Santa will visit
the Gray Ghost to discuss children’s wish lists (540-937-4869;