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  • Writer's pictureThe West End Mom

Free Christmas Events in Richmond, Virginia

Looking for ways to celebrate Christmas in RVA? Richmond has plenty of well-known splurge-worthy holiday experiences, but you may not know about all the free events & activities happening in December.

I've got over 15 free, festive activities and events around RVA for you and your family to try this holiday season! You'll also find a list of low cost events for families around Richmond after all the free activities -- everything costs $50 or less for a family of four.

Here are the best free, Christmas events and activities around RVA to try this December!

1.Attend RVA Illuminates.

On Friday, December 1, The Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities, hosts the annual RVA Illuminates at Kanawha Plaza, 801 E. Canal Street, on Friday, December 21, 2023 beginning at 4PM. The skyline will light up at 6PM, announcing the arrival of the holiday season.

Cost: This is a free event.

*Check here for more information.

2. Watch Dominion Energy Christmas Parade.

On Saturday, December 2 at 10 am, The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade returns! This parade takes place on Broad Street, and it travels east to end at the Richmond Coliseum. We are so excited to see the giant balloons, colorful floats, local marching bands, our favorite princesses, and, of course, Santa! Check here for viewing tips.

Cost: This is a free event.

3. Twirl by the Iconic, Pink Christmas Tree.

The Quirk Richmond is a gorgeous, modern hotel in the heart of the city. It is decorated for Christmas with pink decor the Monday after Thanksgiving through New Year's. The Lobby Coffee Bar is open daily from 7-1, and it's perfect for a create your own Christmas Tea.

Cost: It is free to visit. Coffee Bar's prices are very reasonable - we ordered 2 hot chocolates for $3.25 each & coffee cake for $6.

*Check here for my review.

4. Watch the 2023 Henrico Holiday Express Tour.

Henrico County Parks and Recreation are putting on their annual neighborhood parade. The tour runs from 5-8pm on three different nights, in three different areas of the county. Personally, we like to park at either the beginning location of the parades so we know exactly when it starts and can make it home for bedtime.

On Tuesday, December 5, it will be in the Brookland and Fairfield areas. It starts at Libbie Mill Library and it ends at Easter Henrico Rec Center.

On Wednesday, December 6, it will be in Varina. It starts at Varina Library and it ends at Henrico Theatre.

On Thursday, December 7, it will be in Three Chopt and Tuckahoe. It starts at Twin Hickory Libary and it ends at Deep Run Rec Center.

Here is the parade's route. If the parade doesn't come through your neighborhood or you don't live in Henrico, you can also visit the parade's starting point & watch from the various libraries (Libbie Mill, Varina or Twin Hickory).

Cost: This is a free event.

*Check here for more information.

5. See the larger than life gingerbread house at The Jefferson.

This historic Jefferson Hotel turns into a Christmas wonderland from the Monday after Thanksgiving through January 2024. You can visit to see the iconic Christmas tree, larger-than-life gingerbread houses, live poinsettias, and thousands of twinkle lights and elegant without a hotel or dining reservation during the week.

Heads Up: Due to popularity, you will need reservations to visit on a Friday or Saturday night.

We like to grab hot chocolate and cookies from the Gator's Gift Shop and wander around in our Christmas best.

Cost: Free to visit. Prices will vary if you order from Gator's.

6. Watch the Model Trains at The Great Big Greenhouse.

We love this greenhouse because they are very family-friendly & host many events throughout the year. The Great Big Greenhouse currently has Santa visits on weekends (dates not announced yet), a model train display by River City 3 Railers & Christmas trees + decor!

Cost: free and open daily

*Check here for my review. 

7. See the Christmas trees at Main Street Station.

Main Street Station hosts the annual Christmas Under the Clocktower each December. At this historic train station, visitors can vote for their favorite Christmas trees. But the best part is that these trees are decorated by 23 local nonprofits, and your votes are donations. Votes are $1 & each vote goes directly to the nonprofit that received the vote! There is also a bonus prize for the top three winners. This is a fun way to support our local Richmond, Virginia community & get in the holiday spirit!

Main Street Station is open 7 days a week from 6:30 to 8pm on weekdays & 8am-8:30 pm on weekends.

Cost: It is free to visit, and you can donate to the charity that you believe has the prettiest Christmas tree.

*Check here for my review.

8. Watch the Richmond Boat Parade of Light.

On December 9, Christmas-themed boats will take off from Rockett's Landing at 4:45pm. The boat parade ends at Osborne Landing. You can easily view the parade from the Capital Trail in front of The Boathouse and Island Shrimp, or you can view it from Osborne Landing Park. For more details on the Richmond Boat Parade, check here.

This event is always on second Saturday of December!

Cost: This is a free event.

9. Enjoy a Christmas from the past.

Agecroft Hall & Gardens is hosting its annual Yuletides at Agecroft. This Christmas open ouse is on December 11 from noon to 5pm. Visitors can experience Christmas from three different areas: English in 1640, London in 1860, and Richmond in 1942. We attended this event last year, and my children loved the puppet show & watching The Night Before Christmas.

Cost: This event is free & open to the public.

10. Meet Santa Claus at Tablespoond Bakery on December 16.

Located in Westover Hills, this local bakery serves a good cause, makes yummy treats & has a playground! Tablespoon Bakery a vocational culinary training program for students with diverse abilities. They are on a mission to provide employment opportunities to all. This bakery & cafe serves coffee, tea & an assortment of baked good. Tablespoon Bakery also offers a cookie club + children’s baking workshops!

On December 16, Tablespoon Bakery hosts it's annual Santa experience from 10am-12pm. It is a sensory-friendly experience with Black Santa. No reservations necessary - this is a free experience!

*Check here for my full review.

11. Attend Hope Church's annual Jingle Jam.

Hope Church's Jingle Jam is a FREE Christmas party for the whole family. It includes a 45 minute show with Christmas songs, interactive family games, and the Christmas story like you've never heard it before. The pre-show will include train rides, hot chocolate, and inflatible Christmas decorations. This year's theme is The Polar Express, so wear your jammies!

Hope Church's annual Jingle Jam is on December 9, 2023. While this popular event is free to attend, you have to register in advance -- tickets go live on Sunday, November 19.

Hope Church is located on Patterson Avenue in Henrico County near the Goochland line.

*Grab your FREE tickets here.

12. Attend the Live Nativity at Discovery Methodist Church.

On Saturday, December 9 from 5pm to 8pm, you can watch the live nativity at Discovery Methodist Church in Henrico, Virginia. The animals are back, and so are the snow machine, bounce houses, complementary hot chocolate and more!

*Check here for more information.

13. Walk through the giant Christmas tree at Short Pump Mall.

Short Pump Town Center has a 60 foot walk-thru Christmas tree and two of Santa's 22-foot reindeer! You can snap a picture by the tree or run through the second level - Christmas music is usually playing. Both Starbucks and the outdoor children's play area are nearby too.

Heads up: the indoor play space is closed in Deceber. This is where you can meet Santa and have your picture taken with him!

14. See the giant Christmas tree at Stony Point Mall.

This local mall is decked out for the holidays. Stony Point Fashion Park has an ice skating rink, snow falling during the week, a play area, horse drawn carriage rides, Santa, a giant Christmas tree & more! While the special events have an admission cost, the outdoor kids space and the Christmas tree are free to visit. My little kids also love watching the big kids ice skate!

*Check here for my review.

15. Create your own tacky light tour

One of our favorite Christmas traditions is looking at Christmas lights, and most houses are decorated from the day after Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. I usually create our own Christmas light tour, and we start at 4:45/5 (right when it gets dark). I plan it three ways: pack everyone up in jammies with homemade treats, stop for hot cocoa along the way or add a visit onto our afternoon adventure.

The five best houses we’ve visited:

(1) The Ashbury Court Homes: Located in the West End, “A Phifer Christmas” has two homes that are illuminated with over 1 million lights.

(2)The Ivyglen Court Home: Located in the Wellesley neighborhood, this is probably the most unique home we’ve visited. The house is almost dark until you push one of the 5 “show” options: Fun Christmas, USA, VT, Frozen & Christmas Show. Then the music starts, the inflatables blow up & the lights dance to music!

(3) The River Road House: These homeowners allow visitors to drive thru their driveway & yard. It’s completely decked out in lights that are synced to music. They have a life sized nativity + Santa is in the window! We usually drive thru 2-3 times in a row.

(4) The Walton Park neighborhood: This Midlothian neighborhood goes all out for Christmas, and it is the course for the Tacky Light Run 6K. We drive through “Christmas Court” on Dawnridge Court & Coralview Road. The Urban Farmhouse is less than 5 minutes away.

*Salty Santa of Walton Park and Christmas on Coralview are participating in Worth Day's A Joyful Battle of Lights, to raise money for local children in foster care.

(5) The Wendhurst Drive Homes: Located in Glen Allen, you can either drive by or walk up to the three homes that are decorated together. They have 2,207 homemade decorations on display! We also visit the Coleson Road home after these because it’s 4 minutes away!

(6) RVA Christmas House: Located in the city of Richmond, you can either drive by or walk up to this home at 3209 Hanover Ave. Our favorite part is the giant "RVA" all in lights on the roof.

This home participating in Worth Day's A Joyful Battle of Lights, to raise money for local children in foster care.

*Check here for my review.

16. Attend the Miracle of Christmas at Metro Richmond Zoo.

Located on 150 acres in Moseley, Richmond Metro Zoo is home to 2,000 animals and 190 different species. In addition to the animal sightings and experiences, the zoo hosts Miracle of Christmas each December. This 20 minute performance celebrates the birth of Christ through a live re-enactment of the Christmas story, and it features animals from the zoo. Live performances will be on December 20, December 21, and December 22 at 7pm , 7:45pm and 8:30pm. Zoo gates open at 6:15 for the first show.

Cost: free

*Check for more information.

17. Visit the giant nutcrackers at Cameo Cakery and Cafe.

This full service cafe is transformed into a Land of Sweets from Thanksgiving through New Years Day. You can see the oversized nutcrackers, Christmas trees, snowflakes above the pergola as you stroll through Westhampton. You can even walk from Libbie Park.

We love the hot beverages, croissants, cinnamon rolls, and charcuterie boards! There are also vegan & gluten free options.

Cost: Free to take pictures. Cost varies depending on your order.

18. Visit Santa’s Winter Wonderland.

 Santa's Winter Wonderland at Cabelas and Bass Pro is open from November 5 – December 24, 2022, and it's free to visit. Your free visit with Santa also includes a free picture with Santa. You have the opportunity to purchase digitals or more pictures if you want. Sign up on Bass Pro's website here. We visited on a week night, and we signed up on the spot. My littles got to spend at least 10 minutes with Santa because there was no one else there, too. This was a great experience for us!

Cost: free

Looking for a full list of places to see Santa around Richmond? Check out my guide to finding Santa in RVA!

Here are a few Christmas activities that cost under $50 for a family of 4:

1.Watch a Christmas movie at the Byrd.

Showing movies since 1928, the historic Byrd Theatre is the oldest, surviving movie theater in RVA ! The theater has 1,200 seats, box seats & a balcony. The opulent chandeliers, rich marbles & theater mural paintings will make your feel like you’re at a movie palace — not a movie theatre! It even has a theater organ. If you visit on Saturdays, you may be lucky enough to watch organist Bob Gulledge play the organ before the Family Classic film, too.

Family Classics & Sensory Friendly movies cost $5 per person on weekends. The concession stand sells items for $2.50 to $7.50, including drinks, candy & popcorn.

Upcoming Christmas Movies:

1.Saturday, December 9 at 10am - The Grinch, $5

2. Saturday, December 10 at 7pm - The Santa Clause, $8

3. Sunday, December 10 at 2pm - Miracle on 34th Street, $8

4. Sunday, December 10 at 7pm - White Christmas, $8

5. Saturday, December 16 at 10am - The Polar Express, $5

6. Saturday, December 16 at 7pm - The Muppet Christmas Carol, $8

7. Sunday, December 17 at 7pm - Elf, $8

8. Friday, December 22 at 7pm - Elf, $8

9. Saturday, December 23 at 10am - The Polar Express, $5

10. Saturday, December 23 at 7pm - It's a Wonderful Life, $8

11.Sunday, December 24 at 10am - It's a Wonderful Life, $8

12. Sunday, December 24 at 7pm - It's a Wonderful Life, $8

13. Monday, December 25 at 7pm - It's a Wonderful Life, $8

2. Attend Breakfast with Santa at Westwood Fountain

On Saturday, December 9, Westwood Fountain is hosting its annual Breakfast with Santa and Trolley Rides. Menu includes Mickey Mouse pancakes with bacon & eggs for kids at $7.50. The trolley will begin at Westwood Fountain and signage will make stops along Paterson, Libbie and Grove Avenues.

Breakfast is served from 8am-10am, and trolley rides are from 10am-3:30pm.

*Check here for my review of Westwood Fountain.

3. Take a day trip to Williamsburg to see holiday decor.

This 301 acre living-history museum is filled with holiday traditions & special events in December. You can listen to ensembles sing holiday music, follow the Yule log to Market Square & watch fireworks! Colonial Williamsburg is hosting three Grand Illumination weekends, December 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18, with firework displays on December 3, 10 & 17. The ice skating rink stays open through the end of February. During our recent visit to Colonial Williamsburg, we loved finding the every day items on the handmade Christmas decorations & watching the sheep trim the grass on the Palace Green!

*Check here for my review. 

Things to do with kids in Richmond, Christmas in Richmond, Christmas in RVA, free things to do in Richmond, Virginia, holiday activites in RVA


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