December 2, 2013
Colonial Williamsburg Celebrates 80th Grand Illumination Dec. 8Colonial Williamsburg ushers in the holiday season with an all-day celebration of Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 8.
Guests are invited to enjoy a mix of old and new traditions that begin early in the day and culminate with spectacular fireworks programs presented simultaneously at three sites throughout the Revolutionary City.
Guests are invited to begin their celebration with a one-hour guided Christmas Decorations Walking Tour to learn about the traditions, materials and techniques that produce Colonial Williamsburg’s signature holiday decorations. Three tours are offered through the day at $15 per person.
The excitement of an 18th-century-style auction is evident on the Market House stage at 1:30 p.m. Entertainments begin by early mid-afternoon as Colonial Williamsburg Junior Dancers performs 2 – 4 p.m. on the stage at the Raleigh Tavern. Spirit Bells from Gum Spring United Methodist Church perform on Market Square Stage from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Refreshment stands throughout the Revolutionary City offer hot cider, cookies and gingerbread men.
Guests may also purchase their Grand Illumination kits, including blankets, souvenir 2014 Colonial Williamsburg mugs and glowsticks at the Market House. Illuminations begin when candles are lit at 5 p.m. in the windows of public buildings, trades shops and residences throughout the Revolutionary City.
The evening entertainment gets into full swing at 5:15 p.m. on four stages located at the fireworks sites: Palace Green, Market Square, the Gaol and the Capitol. Narrators introduce choirs and musicians playing period music.
At 6:30 p.m., guests are invited to participate in the annual lighting of the glow sticks ceremony to begin the final countdown to the Grand Illumination fireworks program.
The Fifes and Drums take the stages at 6:35 p.m. to provide a prelude to a sky filled with the traditional fireworks of Grand Illumination at 7 p.m.
Following the fireworks, guests then are invited to march with the Fifes and Drums from both the Palace Green and the Capitol, meeting at Botetourt Street.
The evening’s festivities continue at 8 p.m. with A Grand Medley of Entertainments — a variety show where everything that can go wrong does — at the Kimball Theatre in Merchants Square. A ticket is required for this performance: $18 adults, $9 children.
Illuminations were commonly used during the 18th century to celebrate major events. These old traditions and new experiences are part of a new era for Colonial Williamsburg at Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 8, through expanded hours and more immersive celebrations to herald the start of the 2013 holiday season.
The tradition of Grand Illumination originated in 1934 with a “White Lighting.” This first re-creation of an 18th-century Christmas in Williamsburg featured single candles in the windows of the Historic Area’s restored and reconstructed buildings, as well as garlands and greens on the outside of the buildings.