Now that Thanksgiving has passed, we can turn our thoughts to celebrating the holidays in Charlottesville. Every year, there are signature events that define the season and we’ve compiled them for you below, along with some new traditions. We all know that shopping local helps the local economy, but celebrating local also helps the community spirit as well.
Let’s start with the traditional events:
From Dec. 2 – Dec. 6 – Holiday Wreath Workshop at the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center, located at 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902. These ever-popular workshops, in their 29th year, produce a gratifying and tangible end product: a beautiful holiday wreath. Janet Miller, Lou Hatch and Maggie Stemann Thompson will lead participants through the process in these three-hour workshops. All materials (straw wreath forms, pins, wire, etc.) will be provided, including a cornucopia of natural materials. Bring hand pruners. $75 (all materials included). Reservation Required. Times vary. Please call Monticello Information at 434-984-9800.
Dec. 11, 12, 18-23 and 26-30 at 5:15, 5:30, 5:45 & 6 pm – Holiday Evening Tours at Monticello, located off Rt. 53 just past Michie’s Tavern. These small-group house tours, which include the rarely open Dome Room, offer visitors an intimate look at how the holidays were celebrated in Jefferson’s time, plus the rare opportunity to experience Monticello after dark. Not recommended for children under age 6. $55. For more info call: 434-984-9822.
Saturday, Dec. 5 & 12 at 10 am & 2 pm, Sunday, Dec. 6 & 13 at 2 pm – Monticello
Gingerbread House Family Workshop. Embrace your inner architect during Monticello’s Gingerbread House Family Workshop at the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center, located at 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902. Inspired by Jefferson’s genius, craft a mini Monticello, or let your imagination run wild as you design your own architectural masterpiece. Escape the hustle and bustle of the outside world, and enjoy special family time during this two-hour workshop. Fuel your creativity with hot cider and cookies as you work together to craft a hand-made addition to your home’s holiday decor. Please call 434-398-4980 for more info.
Holiday Market – The popular Holiday Market returns to downtown Charlottesville in the City Market lot – corner of Water St. and South St. – for another season every Saturday starting Dec. 5 and running until Dec. 19 from 8 am-1 pm! The festive outdoor market features over 90 local vendors with a variety of unique gifts, decorations, food and crafts. All items are handmade, homegrown or home baked by local farmers, artists or bakers. Call 434-970-3371 for more info.
Saturday, Dec. 5 from 10:30 am-3:30 pm. – McGuffey Art Center Holiday Open House. The Artists at the McGuffey Art Center, located at 201 Second Street, NW, Charlottesville, VA 22902, will open their studios once again for the Annual Holiday Open House. Visitors will be able to enjoy creating and working with the artists who will offer face painting, making potato prints, fashioning paper plate hats, dancing, coloring with crayons, a community song-along, and more! Musicians from the Charlottesville area will perform throughout the day. Food will be available from vendors on the McGuffey lawn. Call 434-295-7973 for more info.
At UVA, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without these events:
Thursday, Dec. 3 at 7 pm – Annual Lighting of the Lawn. Join community members on the UVA Lawn for illumination of this historic spot, music and other festivities in celebration of the winter holidays. UVA Lawn. Free
Friday, Dec. 4, Friday from 5-7 pm – Charlottesville’s Grand Illumination – Kick off the holidays by watching the 17th annual grand illumination of the community’s Christmas tree and Mall-length holiday lights! Performances, live music and more! Downtown Mall. Free. All ages welcome. For more info call: 295-9073 .
Saturday, Dec. 5 at 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 6 at 3:30 pm– Charlottesville Symphony Holiday Concerts. The Charlottesville Symphony’s Family Holiday Concerts, presented by the orchestra and U.Va’s University Singers at Old Cabell Hall on the Grounds at UVA, are an annual community tradition. Call 434-924-3376 for more info.
Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 8 pm – Messiah Sing-In at the UVA McIntire Department of Music. Be there to participate in a tradition that has lasted for over 40 years! The Messiah Sing-In remains a simple and joyous event, relying on the University and Charlottesville community to come together to sing and perform one of the greatest oratorios ever written. Benefits UVA choral ensembles. Old Cabell Hall. $10 for adults and $5 for students. For more info call: 434-924-3376.
For those who love Holiday music – these concerts are a real treat. The most beloved annual kick off to the season is the Municipal Band concert.
Sunday, December 13 from 3:30-5 pm – Charlottesville Municipal Band Holiday Concert. It’s not Christmas in Charlottesville until the Municipal Band plays seasonal and traditional music at its annual holiday concert. Martin Luther King Performing Arts Center, located at 1400 Melbourne Road. Free (canned or non-perishable donations for the food bank accepted). All ages welcome. For more info call: 434-295-9850.
Saturdays, Dec. 5 & 12 from 8-10 pm – Virginia Glee Club’s 75th Annual Christmas Concert. The UVA Glee Club performs seasonal favorites with plenty of audience participation and entertainment for the entire family. Old Cabell Hall (Dec. 5) & First Presbyterian Church (Dec. 12). $15/general admission; $5/students.
Saturday, Dec. 5 at 4:30 & 7:30 pm – 26th Annual Christmas With the Consort. Annual candlelight Christmas concert of the Virginia Consort with the Youth Chorale. Recommended for school-aged children and older. A special pre-concert performance by the children’s Prelude Choir will take place at 2:30 pm. First Presbyterian Church, located at 500 Park Street. For more info call: 434-244-8444.
Saturday, Dec. 12 at 2 and 4:30 pm – Ash Lawn Opera: Amahl And The Night Visitors at The Paramount Theater, located at 215 East Main St. on the Downtown Mall. By popular demand, the perennial holiday favorite returns. This hour-long inspirational holiday story in English has made opera accessible and enchanted families for over 60 years. $12-$45. For more info call: 434-979-1333.
Saturday, Dec. 19 at 2:30 & 7:30 pm – Oratorio Society of Virginia: Christmas at the Paramount. The Oratorio Society of Virginia’s holiday concert has become a Paramount Theater annual tradition. The ensemble will perform selections to get everyone in the holiday spirit. $15-$49. For more info call: 434-979-1922.
Other fun events to check out:
Dec. 1 – Dec. 31 from 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.– Boar’s Head Holiday Tea. Enjoy a classical tea service accompanied with sandwiches, jam filled cookies and warm scones with Devonshire cream, lemon curd and orange marmalade before or after you’ve taken a stroll around the grounds to admire the holiday décor. $30 for adults & $15 for children, tax & gratuity. Located at 200 Ednam Drive, Charlottesville, VA 22903. Please call 434-972-2230 for more info.
Friday, Dec. 11 from 6-9 pm (rain date Sat. Dec. 12) – Let There Be Light: An Outdoor Art Exhibit At PVCC. You’re invited to an evening of light-centered artworks illuminating the outdoors as the longest night of the year approaches at the grounds surrounding the V. Earl Dickinson Building, located at 501 College Drive. Free. All ages welcome. For more info call: 434-977-6918.
Saturday, Dec. 19 at 11am & 3:30pm and Sunday, Dec. 20 at 2 & 5pm – THE NUTCRACKER SUITE – V. Earl Dickinson Building at PVCC – Charlottesville Ballet. Join Clara on her magical journey to the Land of Sweets and enjoy the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky’s score. This enchanting performance is sure to delight the whole family. All ages welcome. Reservations are required. For more info call: 227-7592.
Friday, Dec. 4 (5-7 pm) and Saturday, Dec. 5 (8 am-1 pm) – Holiday Yard Sale at the Senior Center, located at 1180 Pepsi Pl, Charlottesville, VA 22901. The Senior Center’s December Holiday Yard Sale is here and everyone is sure to find gifts for the holiday! All the decorations you need for trimming your tree, wreaths, ornaments, figurines, glassware and specialty items. It all kicks off with the early-bird sale, Friday, Dec. 4, 5 – 7 pm with $5 entrance fee. Free to all on Saturday, Dec. 5, 8 am – 1 pm. Please call 434-974-7756 for more info.
Thursday, Dec. 31 from 3 pm-midnight – Charlottesville’s First Night Virginia. Celebrate the new year with a community arts fest with performers, a creation station and fun zone for kids and more! See website for full event schedule. Downtown Mall. Various prices. All ages welcome. For more info call: 434-975-8269.
Three events to add to your list at the Paramount Theatre:
Sunday, Dec. 6 at 1 & 5 pm – Paramount presents Moscow Ballet’s spectacular Great Russian Nutcracker. Celebrate the beloved Christmas tradition with the whole family as forty world-class Russian artists bring this charming classic to life. For more info call 979-1333.
Sunday, Dec. 12 from 10 am-5 pm – The Paramount Theater 14th Annual Holiday Spotlight, marking another year of the “Downtown for the Holidays” tradition! During a typical Holiday Spotlight, a variety of performers showcase their talents on The Paramount’s stage, bringing together hundreds of community members to share in holiday cheer and witness our terrific local talent. Performance Schedule
Tuesday, Dec. 15 at 5:30 pm – Illumination of the Paramount Blade sign – Join The Paramount Theater as we close out our 10th Anniversary celebration and light the restored historical 33-foot vertical blade sign for the first time! Purchase your $5 button at the Theater or other area locations. Your button will be your ticket to the lively downtown Illumination festivities, which will also include a free holiday movie for all campaign supporters. For more info call: 293-1010 or 979-1333.