November launches us into the holiday season and Virginia’s Blue Ridge is a prime destination to soak in the festivities and flavors. From elaborately decorated trees to performance traditions like “The Nutcracker,” you will be treated to an unforgettable season.

Join us to get into the spirit. We have five reasons you should book a holiday getaway to Virginia’s Blue Ridge.


COVID-19 Update

NOTE: This post was updated in November 2020 and features many changes related to how to enjoy the holiday season safely while limiting the spread of COVID-19. Virginia is currently in Phase Three of the Forward Virginia Plan and we have a page with more information regarding Phase Three Guidelines.

We also encourage everyone to join us in committing to the VBR Stay Safe Pledge as a way we can all work together to keep each other healthy and safe.


1. Holiday Lights & Decorations

Explore Park - Illuminights - Roanoke County

All around Virginia’s Blue Ridge there are communities hosting special light displays and putting up decorations to celebrate the season.

You'll want to make time for a visit to Roanoke County's Explore Park for its special Illuminights. This "Winter Walk of Lights" is a walking tour on a half-mile wooded path through an incredible display of over 500,000 lights! Following your walk through the lights, enjoy marshmallow roasting and artisan crafts at the Explore Park Christmas market. Illuminights tickets >

Other special light displays in the region include:

  • 2020 Bank of Fincastle Tinsel Trail - Downtown Fincastle
  • Luminary Nights at Natural Bridge - Natural Bridge State Park
  • Festival of Lights - Town of Buchanan
  • Land of Lights - Franklin County Recreation Park

Learn More: Where to See Christmas Lights & Holiday Decorations in VBR >

2. Holiday Events 

If lights and glamorous trees don’t set your heart on fire for the holidays, the events of Virginia’s Blue Ridge are sure to spark a flame. Many event planners and organizations have made big changes to this year's annual celebrations to provide a fun, memorable holiday experience for guests while also adhering to all recommended guidelines and safety protocols related to COVID-19.

Instead of the traditional holiday parades, a couple local communities are organizing special drive-through events where the floats will be parked in designated spots and attendees can drive through to see each of the unique displays from their own vehicles. Load up the car and head to the drive-thru parade in the Town of Buchanan. Blue Ridge PBS will also be hosting a special drive-through experience with Santa's Winter Wonderland, where you can even hear Santa on the airwaves from a special FM radio frequency.

Do some holiday shopping and support our amazing local businesses in Virginia's Blue Ridge by checking out fun events like Festive Fridays in the Town of Rocky Mount or 25 Days of Dickens in Downtown Roanoke.

Note - details regarding all events are subject to change at any moment, so we recommend checking event social media accounts and checking with organizers before you go for any last-minute details

3. Holiday Deals & Packages

Take advantage of special holiday packages and discounts for a getaway to Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains! It's a great time to book a room at one of the many hotels or unique lodging properties in the region, and our special VBR Savings Pass will help you save with exclusive discounts at local shops, attractions and restaurants. The VBR Savings Pass is free to use and downloads right to your mobile device - get the Savings Pass >

Looking for more resources? Take advantage of our list of Free Things to Do and check out our Ideas for a Weekend on a Budget in VBR.

4. Holiday Shopping

Shopping may or may not be your favorite pastime. If it’s not, perhaps we can change that. In fact, once you window shop the independently-owned stores of our charming downtowns, we’re confident you’ll want to actually shop them. Expect to find everything from apparel and jewelry to outdoor gear and gifts to please a palate.

There are also lots of special holiday markets and events on the calendar where you can do all your shopping in one spot:

  • 25 Days of Dickens - November 24 - December 18
  • Small Business Saturday - November 28
  • Festive Fridays - December 4, 11, 18
  • Holiday Craft & Vendor Fair - December 4-5
  • Dog Bowl Market - December 6
  • Salem Crafty Christmas - December 12
  • Salem Holiday Market - December 12

5. Holiday Flavors

The holidays are a delicious time of year in Virginia's Blue Ridge! We love the smells and tastes of the season with creative cocktails at local bars, decadent desserts and sweet treats at local restaurant & bakeries, unique brews and blends at local breweries, wineries, and distilleries, and many of the traditional favorite dishes that make for a special holiday meal.

So grab a boozy hot chocolate at Billy's in Downtown Roanoke, a pumpkin roll from Cupcakes & Canines in Botetourt County, a bottle of eggnog from Homestead Creamery in Franklin County, and some gluten-free gingerbread cookies from Corbin's Confections in Salem!

Learn More: Holiday Flavors in Virginia's Blue Ridge >    


Make your holiday the happiest ever and share your experiences with us on social media. Just tag #Trailsetter to add your photo(s) to an ever-growing showcase of area photos.