New 'RVA Illuminates' to kick off holiday season Dec. 6 at Kanawha Plaza

Ronald E. Carrington | 12/6/2019, 6 a.m.
It’s the most wonderful and magical time of the year, as dazzling and brightly colored displays and holiday festivities take …

It’s the most wonderful and magical time of the year, as dazzling and brightly colored displays and holiday festivities take over the city.

But after 34 years, the James Center has turned the lights out on the “Grand Illumination.”

The Richmond Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is taking over the free holiday event and moving the renamed “RVA Illuminates” to Kanawha Plaza at 801 E. Canal St. on Friday, Dec. 6., at 5:45 p.m.

Mayor Levar M. Stoney will hit the switch at 6 p.m. to light up the Downtown skyline.

Performances by the NO BS! Brass Band, the City Dance Theatre ensemble and the Miles Jones Elementary School Hand Bell Choir and others will be featured.

Free shuttle service for the event will run from City Stadium to Kanawha Plaza starting at 5 p.m., with the last shuttle returning at 9 p.m.

In addition to Downtown, lights will go on Friday, Dec. 6, at “Shockoe Illuminates,” at the 17th Street Market, 100 N. 17th St. in Shockoe Bottom, with a tree lighting at 6 p.m. The free event will feature a very special guest from the North Pole. There will be a children’s art tent to make light catcher tree ornaments. The Baffa Academy of Irish Dance troupe will perform at 7 p.m. There also will be an assortment of holiday vendors.

Dec. 5 – Tree lighting ceremony at the State Capitol, 5 to 5:30 p.m., with an open house at the Executive Mansion following until 7 p.m. Choral music will be performed at the tree lighting ceremony and at the open house, with cider, hot chocolate and cookies to be served at the mansion. Details: www.virginia.org/listings/Events/ CapitolTreeLighting/

Dec. 6 and 7 – 17th Street Market Horse and Carriage Rides from 6 to 10 p.m. The sound of carriages and horses’ hooves on the cobblestones will circle Shockoe Bottom. One free round-trip ride per person. Information: (804) 350-7752.

Dec. 6, 7 and 8 – Richmond Symphony and Richmond Sym- phony Chorus perform the holiday classic Handel’s “Messiah” Friday at 7:30 p.m., and “Let It Snow” on Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. at the Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St. Tickets start at $20. Details: www.richmondsymphony.com.

Dec. 7 – The 36th Annual Dominion Energy Christmas Parade, 10 a.m. to noon. The annual holiday parade, led by grand marshal and Richmond’s most notable veteran, Cmdr. Paul Galanti, departs from the Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 W. Broad St., and continues Downtown eastward to 7th Street. For many RVA residents, the free event kicks off the Christmas season. The show will go on rain or shine. Details: www.richmondparade.org. or (804) 788-6470.

Dec. 7 – Hopewell Holiday Boat Parade 2019, 5:30 to 8 p.m. Hopewell City Marina, 1051 Riv- erside Ave. The Appomattox River will sparkle as Christmas lights twinkle and shine while decorations shimmer during the floating boat parade. Boats will leave from the Jordan Point Yacht Haven at 5:30 p.m. and make their way upriver to the Hopewell City Marina, the main viewing location. The lighted boat parade also can be viewed from Weston Manor, 400 Weston Lane. Holiday music will be played and food trucks will offer a variety of foods. Parking is limited. Details: www.hopewellrecandparks.com/ boatparade.

Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 – Soul Santa at The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, 122 W. Leigh St. Soul Santa will be avail- able to hear Christmas wishes and for photo opportunities between noon and 4 p.m. Youngsters can participate in arts and crafts as well. The event also will feature a se- lection of African-inspired books, jewelry, art and more. Details: www.blackhistorymuseum.org.

Dec. 8 – The 33rd Annual Court End Christmas, noon to 4 p.m. Historic sites in Downtown Richmond open their doors for a day of free admission. The holiday festivities include living history, music, children’s activities, re- freshments, gift shops and tours. Park once, then hop aboard the complimentary shuttle that will be circulating among The Valen- tine, The Valentine First Freedom Center, the Executive Mansion, the John Marshall House, historic St. John’s Church, the Virginia State Capitol, the American Civil War Museum’s White House of the Confederacy, Monumental Church and Masons’ Hall. This is a free rain or shine event. Details: www.thevalentine.org.

Dec. 8 – Victorian Christmas at Maymont Mansion and Carriage House Lawn, 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. People dressed in Victorian garb welcome visitors to the estate and the Dooley Mansion. Delight in the charms of Christmases past and marvel at hundreds of ornaments on the 12-foot Christmas tree.

Take a carriage ride or visit with Santa. Make a Victorian ornament, an old-fashioned toy or pine cone winter bird feeder. Mansion tours: $5 per person; $4 for members and children ages 12 and under. Carriage rides: $8 per person; $6 for members and children ages 12 and under. Information: (804) 358-7166, ext. 329.

Dec. 13 through Dec. 23 – “The Nutcracker” at the Dominion Energy Center’s Carpenter Theatre, 600 E. Grace St. This is the 40th season Artistic Director Stoner Winslett stages her continually evolving, acclaimed version of “The Nutcracker.” Tickets start at $25, with a separate ticketed Clara’s Tea Party after select mati- nee performances. Details: www. richmondballet.com.

Dec. 13 through 15 and Dec. 20 through 22 – Horse and Car- riage Rides at the James Center, 10th and Cary streets, Friday 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday 5 to 9 p.m. and Sunday 5 to 8 p.m. Carriages circle Shockoe Slip and Shockoe Bottom. Each ride is scheduled on the half-hour and is approximately 20 minutes long. Cost: $10; children ages 4 and under sitting on your lap are free. Reservations: (804) 350-7752.

Dec. 14 – Richmond Night Market, 4 to 9 p.m. 17th Street Market. Free event features live music, entertainment and activities for all ages. Artists and vendors will have a variety of things avail- able for purchase. A gift wrapping station will be on site. Attendees also can bid on last month’s night market featured mural by artist Hamilton Glass. Details: www. richmondnightmarketva.com or (212) 518-4776.

Dec. 14 – The Richmond Boat Parade of Lights, 5:30 to 9 p.m. Boaters decorate their vessels and parade on the James River. Viewing sites in Richmond include Libby Hill Park, as well as Osborne Park and Boat Landing in Henrico County and Henricus Historical Park in Chesterfield. Details: www.facebook.com/rvaboatparade/

Throughout December – The Children’s Museum of Richmond has outdoor ice skating as part of the Legendary Santa experience at its Downtown location, 2626 W. Broad St. Open all winter, the 1,344- square-foot outdoor synthetic ice skating rink is perfect for all ages and features weekday, weekend and evening hours. Children under age 6 must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older while on the rink. All skaters must sign a safety waiver prior to entering the rink; those under 16 must have an waiver signed by someone age 16 or older. Cost: $10 per skater; Children’s Museum members, $7 per skater; skate rental, $5. Details: c-mor.org or (804) 474-7062.