Best Places in Richmond to Get in the Holiday Spirit

With Christmas practically upon us, you’re most likely in one of three states: Buddy the Elf (i.e., you live in a constant state of Christmas-readiness); the Grinch (i.e., please just make it go away); or you’re in the state I’m currently in (i.e., sheer panic because Christmas is quite literally almost upon us and I’m SO not ready). But regardless of which state you’re in, we can all do with a little extra holiday cheer this time of year.

The Richmond area is jam packed with holiday celebrations and spirit. From shopping the quaint, decorated streets of Carytown to visits with Santa at one of many different locations, the holiday spirit is alive and well in our area.

However, if you’re struggling to find the best events to get your Christmas mojo going, then have no fear. We’ve done it for you! While many holiday events have already come and gone, we’ve found some truly spectacular ways to inspire your holiday mood right up until the big day itself—and even after.

The following five events and locations are some of our favorite ways to celebrate the holidays, and we think you’ll agree. To select our favorites, we made sure that they all had the following features:

  1. Family-friendly environment
  2. A range of price points, if not free
  3. PLENTY of holiday cheer (of course!)

Even if the stresses of the season are starting to wear on you, the following five holiday events are sure to put you and your loved ones in the perfect holiday mood. We hope that you’ll love them as much as we do, but in the meantime, if you have an event or family holiday tradition that gets you and yours feeling ready for the big day, please share it with us! You can send an email to

5. Ice Skating at The Rink at West Broad Village

Holiday Spirit The Rink at West Broad 2
The Rink at West Broad Village / Facebook

For some good old fashioned outdoor family fun, ice skating at The Rink at West Broad Village is a surefire way to enjoy the season. And while the ice skating season lasts from November until January 27, the time surrounding Christmas is especially festive. Not only can you skate on a cold winter’s day (or night) to the sounds of holiday music, you’ll also be surrounded by the festive holiday décor of the West Broad Village Shopping Center.

Why we love it: Ice skating outside is not something that we all grew up doing—at least not if we grew up in some of the more southern states. And while there are indoor rinks throughout the state, finding a fun outdoor rink can be a little more challenging. The Rink at West Broad not only offers a convenient location for Richmond residents, but it offers tons of flexibility for our busy holiday schedules. In fact, the rink is even open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! How’s that for keeping the holiday spirit alive and well?

Dates and Times:
November 9, 2018 – January 27, 2019
Monday: 3pm – 7pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 3pm – 9pm
Friday: 3pm – 11pm
Saturday: 11am – 11pm
Sunday: 11am – 7pm

Click here for specials and extended holiday and winter break hours.

Adults: $10.00
Children (10 and under): $9.00
Skate Rentals: $5.00
Skate Aids: $5.00/hour

Contact and Location:
The Rink at West Broad Village
2301 Old Brick Road
Glen Allen, Virginia 23060
(804) 221-4242


4. The Nutcracker Ballet

The Richmond Ballet / Facebook
The Richmond Ballet / Facebook

With its first premiere in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, The Nutcracker is a time-honored holiday classic that has been entertaining audiences for more than 100 years. This beautifully choreographed ballet, set to music by Tchaikovsky, features Clara, a young girl who receives a beautifully crafted nutcracker on Christmas Eve. That night, the nutcracker comes to life as a prince who rescues Clara from the evil Mouse King. Today, The Nutcracker can be found in theatres around the world during the holiday season—including right here in Richmond. The Richmond Ballet’s skilled interpretation of The Nutcracker is filled with gorgeous costumes, fanciful scenes, and truly breathtaking choreography and dance.

Why we love it: If you are looking for a special holiday outing that the whole family can enjoy, The Nutcracker offers everything you’re looking for. Even members of the family who think that they don’t like ballet will be entertained by the sights and sounds of this stunning performance. In fact, many families make it a seasonal tradition—with good reason. The Richmond Ballet performs at The Carpenter Center in downtown Richmond, which is a special setting in and of itself. Filled with history, music, delightful characters, and a story that never grows old, The Nutcracker is well worth adding to your holiday repertoire.

Dates and Times: December 14 – 23, 2018
Click here to see a complete list of show times.

Cost: Tickets range between $25 – $125

Order tickets by phone at (800) 514-3849; click here to purchase online; or purchase tickets in person at the Richmond Ballet Box Office (407 East Canal Street), Monday through Friday from 11am to 6pm.

Contact and Location:
Carpenter Theatre
600 E Grace St #400
Richmond, VA 23219
For specific show information, visit the The Richmond Ballet online or call (804) 344-0906.


3. Holiday Movie Classics at The Byrd Theatre

Holiday Spirit The Byrd
The Byrd Theatre and Foundation / Facebook

The Byrd Theatre in Carytown is a special movie-going experience any time of year, especially with an admission price of only $4 per person. But there’s no better time to visit The Byrd than during the Christmas season. Throughout the holidays, they they offer family classics like Elf, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, The Polar Express and more. And of course, their traditional Christmas Eve screening of It’s a Wonderful Life is perfect for celebrating the season as a family in a fun, affordable way.

Why we love it: Since being built as one of the Nation’s Grand Movie Palaces in 1928, The Byrd Theatre has become one of the most iconic places in Richmond, earning both State and National Landmark status along the way. With its marbled walls, velvet curtains, elaborate paintings, gold leaf arches, and a Czechoslovakian crystal chandelier in the auditorium, the Byrd is an historical gem. And then, of course, there’s the The Mighty Wurlitzer Organ. This incredible instrument occupies four rooms on the fourth floor above The Byrd’s stage, plus two alcoves in the house, and the console pit in the center of the orchestra pit. Originally installed to play along with silent movies, the organ still plays today, making movies at The Byrd a one-of-a-kind experience—especially during the holidays.

Dates and Times: Click here for movie show times

Cost: $4/person

Contact and Location:
The Byrd Theatre
2908 West Cary Street
Richmond, VA, 23221
For Showtimes: (804) 353-9911
Main Office: (804) 358-3056 (Please leave a message)


2. Tacky Lights Tours

Holiday Spirit Tacky Lights
Photo Credit: Donnie Gladfelter (Creative Commons 2.0) / flickr 

This is a holiday event that we just can’t stress enough. Over the years, Richmond has become quite famous for their neighborhood light displays, with homes competing to see who can come up with the most elaborate—and outrageous—displays. In fact, last year for the second year in a row, a Richmond home was featured on ABC’s reality game show The Great Christmas Light Fight. In 2016, Al and Esther Thompson at 9716 Wendhurst Drive in Glen Allen were asked to join the competition and took home a trophy. And last year, The Phifer family at 9606 Asbury Court in Henrico County won the grand prize of $50,000, not to mention earning the title of Christmas lights’ champions.

Why we love it: Not only is it free to take a tacky lights tour, but there are just so many options. With featured neighborhoods in Henrico, Chesterfield, Richmond City, and more, it’s easy to find prime spots near you, wherever you live. Plus, with no set times (most folks will have their light on after sunset and keep the displays going until the new year), you can find the perfect time to suit your busy holiday schedule. It’s hard not to love the incredible creativity, imagination, and dedication that these families put into their displays. And frankly, it’s pretty much impossible not to be in the holiday spirit with that kind of inspiration.

Dates and Times: Nightly, now through the New Year

Cost: Free for self-guided tours, or click here to find a limo or car service offering guided tours.

Contact and Location:
Find maps for a self-guided at Simply enter your city, state or zip code in the search field for a list of houses in your area. Or, see the ever-growing list of Richmond area homes with The Richmond Times Dispatch Tacky Lights Guide.


1. Visit the “Legendary Santa”

Holiday Spirit Legendary Santa
The Legendary Santa / Facebook

These days, visiting with Santa is as easy as going to your local shopping center. But The Legendary Santa is a different experience altogether. Starting in 1936, visits with the Legendary Santa—or the “real” Santa as he’s sometimes known—became a rite of passage for children throughout the Richmond area and beyond. If you have family members who remembers the old Miller and Rhoads Department Store in downtown Richmond, then you probably already know what I’m talking about. Donned in your holiday best, you would head to the department store for a visit (and maybe a photo) with ol’ Saint Nick himself. Today, while Miller and Rhoads is no longer there, the Legendary Santa lives on. These days, he sets up holiday headquarters at the Children’s Museum of Richmond on Broad Street. You and your family can visit with him from now until Christmas Eve and even take part in a range of special events, including tea with Santa and his elves, meeting the Snow Queen, and much more.

Why we love it: The Legendary Santa has been delighting children for more than 80 years. But it’s not just his authenticity that keeps his tradition alive. Visiting with the Legendary Santa is more than just a visit with a wish list—it’s a full experience that embodies the magic of the holiday season. From regular visits (with or without photos), special teas with Santa and his elves from now until Christmas, semi-private visits where Santa comes down the chimney right in front of your very eyes, and so much more, the Legendary Santa experience is like no other. In keeping with the Miller and Rhoad’s tradition, the Children’s Museum of Richmond has continued to host the Fawn Shop—a shop just for kids where elves will help kids choose presents for family and friends. All gifts are featured at kid-friendly prices ($2 each), allowing your children the chance to learn the joy of giving in an easy, fun way.

Cost, Dates, and Times: To see a complete list of times, special events, and photo package prices, visit The Legendary Santa at The Children’s Museum of Richmond.

Contact and Location:
Children’s Museum of Richmond – Central
2626 West Broad Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 474-7062

For more family-friendly resources, activities, and events in the Richmond area, be sure to visit our entire Best of Richmond series!