With Thanksgiving on Thursday, it’s now time to 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.
We’ll start with the traditional events:
From Nov. 24, 25, 26, 27, 29 & 30 – Dec. 1, 2 & 3 – Holiday Wreath Workshop at the Thomas Jefferson David M. Rubinstein Visitor Center, located at 931 Thomas Jefferson Pkwy, Charlottesville, VA 22902. These ever-popular workshops, in their 31st year, produce a gratifying and tangible end product: a beautiful holiday wreath. 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.
Holiday Open House on Sunday, Nov 26 from 9 am-4:30 pm – Celebrate the beginning of the holiday season at Monticello’s FREE Annual Holiday Open House. Be among the first to see Monticello decorated for the holidays as you stroll through the first floor at your own pace. Discover unique holiday gifts at the Shop at Monticello, which will be offering tastings and treats.
December 8-9, 15-18, 20-23, and 26-30 – 5:15, 5:30, 5:45, and 6:00 – 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. $60 per person. For more info call: 434-984-9822.
Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 16, at 11 am and 1 pm – Monticello
Children’s Woodland Ornament 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. Per one parent/child pair $30.
Saturday, December 2, 8am – 7th Annual Monticello Holiday Classic 5K and Deck the Halls Kids Dash. This family-oriented 5k begins at the East Walk of Monticello. Kids 12 and under can enjoy the Deck the Halls Kids Dash, a quarter mile loop around the West Lawn! Please call for pricing info.
Friday, Dec. 1, 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 .
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 in November and running until December 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. 9 from 10:30 am-1 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 sing-along, and more! Musicians from the Charlottesville area will perform throughout the day. Call 434-295-7973 for more info.
At UVA, the holiday season wouldn’t be the same without these events:
Thursday, Nov. 30 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
Saturday, Dec. 2 at 8 pm and Sunday, Dec. 3 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. 5 at 8 pm – 50th Anniversary Messiah Sing-In at the UVA McIntire Department of Music. Be there to participate in a tradition that celebrates its 50th anniversary this year! 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 10 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.
Friday, Dec. 1 & Saturday, Dec. 9 from 8-10 pm – Virginia Glee Club’s 77th 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. 1) & First Presbyterian Church (Dec. 9). $15/general admission; $5/students.
Saturday, Dec. 2 at 4:30 & 7:30 pm – 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.
Monday, Dec. 11 and Tuesday, Dec. 12 at 7:30 pm – Moscow Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” – at the Paramount. For more info call: 979-1333.
Saturday, Dec. 16 – 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:
Friday, Dec. 8 from 6-9 pm (rain date Sat. Dec. 9) – 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.
Sunday, 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.