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December 7, 2010

Illuminations Light up the Sky for Holiday Celebrations in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area

Colonial Williamsburg’s guests can get into the holiday spirit and enjoy illuminations throughout the Historic Area. These illuminations feature stories, flickering cressets – baskets mounted on a pole in which oil or pitch was set on fire to create light, musket fire, and the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes and Drums.

Illuminations were commonly used in the past to celebrate special events such as major military victories, the birthday of the monarch or the arrival of a new colonial governor by firing guns and setting off fireworks. Written accounts of illuminations in Williamsburg before the American Revolution include descriptions of “candles in the cupolas of public buildings and the windows of gentlemen’s houses.”

Families are invited to enjoy these festive illuminations in the Historic Area:

  • Illumination of Palace Green starts in front of the George Wythe House at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11, 18 and 25.
  • Illumination of the Capitol kicks off on the Capitol Green at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 12, 19 and 26.
  • Illumination of the Taverns starts in front of the Prentis Store at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16, 23 and 30.
  • Illumination of Market Square kicks off at the Magazine on Tuesday, Dec. 21 and 28 at 5:30 p.m.

    Colonial Williamsburg’s guests also can take part in the holiday tradition of caroling. Families are invited to join in and sing songs of the holiday season throughout the Historic Area:

  • Caroling at the Courthouse — 6 p.m. Dec. 10, 17 and 22.
  • Caroling at the Palmer House — 6 p.m. Dec. 11.
  • Caroling at Wetherburn’s Tavern — 6 p.m. Dec. 16, 19 and 23.
  • Caroling at the Robert Carter House — 6 p.m. Dec. 18.

    There is no admission ticket required to attend these events.

    The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program.

    Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

    Media Contact:
    Penna Rogers
    (757) 220-7121

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