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Downtown comes alive with holiday events, parade

12/2/2016, 6:23 p.m.
Love Christmas lights, holiday cheer and the thought of a white Christmas? What about tree lightings and holiday movie binge ...

By Lauren Northington

Love Christmas lights, holiday cheer and the thought of a white Christmas? What about tree lightings and holiday movie binge watching?

Or how about simply spending more time with loved ones?

No matter your holiday highlight preference, Richmond has something for you.

The city is ushering in the holiday season with events slated to bring in the Christmas cheer.

Festivities begin Thursday, Dec. 1, when Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Virginia’s First Family participate in the official tree lighting at 5:30 p.m. on the South Portico of the Capitol.

Immediately after the tree lighting until 8 p.m., the governor and his wife, First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, will receive visitors at the Executive Mansion for an open house. The event is free and open to the public. Students from the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School will perform and cookies and hot cider will be served.

On Friday, Dec. 2, Downtown will light up with the 32nd Annual Grand Illumination at the James Center. Hundreds of people are expected to brave the evening temperatures for the free yearly tradition that starts at 5 p.m. on the steps of One James Center, 10th and Cary streets.

Singers from the School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community will offer Christmas carols from 5 to 5:45 p.m. Then Virginia Commonwealth University’s Pep Band, The Peppas, will play on the Main Stage and get the crowd ready for the countdown to the illumination at 6 p.m., which will be led by Santa and television and radio personalities Juan Conde of WRIC-8 News and Jack and Melissa of 103.7 Play radio.

Music, family entertainment, free hot cocoa and cider and skits will be featured from 6 to 7 p.m. along two blocks. Among the entertainers will be the Richmond Boys Choir, the American Youth Harp Ensemble and the Virginia Piedmont and Central HO Model Railroad Club.

The James Center also boasts a new 46-foot Christmas tree.

From Grand Illumination through Dec. 9, Greater Richmond SCAN, Stop Child Abuse Now, will be collecting unwrapped toys in a sleigh in the lobby of Three James Center for distribution to children up to age 17 in the Richmond area.

Holiday revelers can enjoy free horse-drawn carriage rides around Shockoe Slip in a decorated, 12-passenger wagon on Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2. The rides, sponsored by Venture Richmond, start and end at the fountain at 13th and Cary streets and will take place both days from 6 to 10 p.m.

On Friday through Sunday, beginning Dec. 9 and ending Friday, Dec. 23, 20-minute carriage rides are available for $10 per person, with children 4 and under sitting in your lap free. Those rides, which will leave from 10th and Cary streets, will be available 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 5 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and 5 to 8 p.m. Sundays. Ride reservations: (804) 350-7752.

The Edgar Allan Poe Museum and garden, 1914 E. Main St., will be illuminated during a free event 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2. The celebration will include Victorian-era Christmas music, crafts and historical presentations. Details: (804) 648-5523 or www.poemuseum.org