Traditional Christmas and holiday experiences are abundant in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, but there are new things to explore, too.

Get a jump on all things merry with an upcoming parade, performance, or stroll through beautiful lights. It’s going to be a holly jolly holiday!

Here are some of the best holiday experiences you’ll find during your next metro mountain adventure in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.


Historical fire truck riding in the Dickens of a Christmas Parade

Saint Nick and his elves are sure to make a variety of appearances across Virginia’s Blue Ridge this season. Plan to attend a parade to catch a peek, and perhaps light a community Christmas tree while you’re at it.

  • Grandin Village Holiday Children's Parade | Grandin Village | November 20 | Event Website >
  • 2021 Christmas Parade Past & Present | Town of Vinton | December 2 | Event Details >
  • Salem Christmas Parade | Downtown Salem | December 3 | Event Details >
  • Town of Fincastle Christmas Parade | Town of Fincastle | December 4 | Event Details >
  • Bedford Christmas Parade | Downtown Bedford | December 4 | Event Website >
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Parade | Downtown Roanoke - Dickens of a Christmas | December 10 | Event Details >
  • Buchanan Christmas Parade | Downtown Buchanan | December 11 | Event Website >

Illuminights at Explore Park

Illuminights Holiday Lights - Explore Park

You’ll be walking in a winter wonderland in no time – literally – at Explore Park. Open during the holiday season, a trail in Explore Park will twinkle and sparkle with more than 600,000 lights. Sights, sounds, and smells of the season await as you proceed at your own pace.

It's also accessible for strollers and guests with mobility issues.

Don’t miss the artisan Christmas market for a thoughtful gift.

Check the calendar for special activity and rate nights.

Get Your Tickets for Illuminights >

Fashions for Evergreens

Fashions for Evergreens - The Hotel Roanoke

If some of your holiday joy is wrapped up enjoying decorations, Fashions for Evergreens is an annual event you can’t miss. Each year community organizations sponsor a tree for professional decoration at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, Curio Collection by Hilton.

Spectators are encouraged to “vote” for their favorite tree monetarily. All money raised benefits the United Way of the Roanoke Valley and the tree with the most donations will be declared the winner of the People’s Choice Award.

Fashions for Evergreens is free to enjoy and is open daily from Thanksgiving Day (November 28) to New Year’s Day (January 1).

Learn More: Fashions for Evergreens Website > 

Dickens of a Christmas

Dickens of a Christmas - Carolers Singing

A beloved holiday tradition for many, The Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas is a three-weekend event that's held the first three Fridays in December.

It begins with the Christmas Tree Lighting on December 3, features the Christmas Parade on December 10 and culminates with the beloved RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest on December 17.

Experience very Dickens-esque merriment like roasted chestnuts and carriage rides. If it’s not already your family tradition, there’s a great chance it will become one.

Learn More: Dickens of a Christmas Website >

Ice Skating

A couple holding hands, ice skating at Elmwood Park in Roanoke

Elmwood on Ice presented by WDBJ7 kicks off November 24 and is offered every Thursday through Sunday until January 30. Elmwood on Ice is unlimited ice skating and sliding complete with skate rentals, and it’s affordable for families.

Both daytime and evening hours allow for flexible planning.

This year's Elmwood on Ice will also feature a special putt putt course for additional fun!

Learn More: Elmwood on Ice Website >

Special Performances

Performers for the Southwest Virginia Ballet posing on stage 

Is it really Christmas if there aren’t classic holiday performances nearby? We’re suckers for traditional works of art like The Nutcracker and Miracle on 34th Street, as well as concert mainstays like Holiday Pops.

If that’s you, too, here’s where and when to catch them and other special performances this season:

  • A Nutcracker Holiday Spectacular with the Roanoke Valley Children's Choir | Salem Football Stadium | November 21 | Event Website >
  • A Christmas Story | Mill Mountain Theatre | December 1-19 | Event Website >
  • The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Musical | Berglund Center | December 1 | Event Website >
  • Holiday POPS Spectacular | Salem Civic Center | December 3 | Event Website >
  • Holiday Brass | Cave Spring United Methodist Church | December 10 | Event Website >
  • Chatham County Line - Electric Holiday Tour | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 11 | Concert Tickets >
  • SWVA Ballet presents The Nutcracker | Berglund Center | December 11-12 | Event Website >
  • Holiday SongFest | Beliveau Farm Winery | December 12 | Facebook Event >
  • Handel's Messiah | Jefferson Center | December 14 | Event Website >
  • Roanoke Ballet Theatre presents The Nutcracker | Jefferson Center | December 17-18 | Event Website >

Holiday Flavors

Twin Creeks Distillery - Christmas Cocktails

Get your fat pants ready because the holidays are meant for eating and drinking all the great things with the greatest people with whom you can surround yourself. Here are a few of our favorites…

Homestead Creamery Eggnog can often be purchased at your local Kroger, but we love it fresh from the farm. Visit Homestead Creamery in Franklin County to get your own quart or half gallon. [Homestead Creamery Products >]

At Blue Cow Ice Cream, peppermint ice cream is all the rage. Yes, rejoice, all you peppermint lovers! Our season is finally here! [Blue Cow Ice Cream Flavors >]

Ultimate holiday cocktails are being shaken, stirred, and gently poured all over Virginia’s Blue Ridge. For some delicious holiday inspired drinks, check out Twin Creeks Distillery in Rocky Mount.

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

Tree Lighting Celebrations & Light Displays

Fincastle Tinsel Trail - Botetourt County

There’s nothing like a downtown community dressed for the holidays, and part of that décor includes a lighted tree.

Some of our favorite events are connected to the lighting of the official tree, while others are unique light displays that you can enjoy throughout the holiday season.

  • Illuminights | Explore Park | November 20 - December 30 | Event Website >
  • Bedford Festival of Trees | Bedford Welcome Center | November 23 - January 2 | Facebook Page >
  • Fashions for Evergreens | The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center | November 25 - January 1 | Event Website >
  • Land of Lights | Franklin County Recreation Park | November 25 - December 31 | Event Details >
  • Franklin County Christmas Tree Lighting | Franklin County Courthouse | November 26 | Facebook Event >
  • Buchanan Festival of Lights | Buchanan Town Park | November 28 - December 27 | Event Website >
  • City of Salem Christmas Tree Lighting | Salem Farmers Market | December 3 | Event Details >
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Tree Lighting | Downtown Roanoke - Dickens of a Christmas | December 3 | Event Details >
  • 2021 First Bank Tinsel Trail | Historic Fincastle | December 3 - January 1 | Event Website >
  • Roanoke County Christmas Tree Lighting | South County Library | December 6 | Event Details >
  • Luminary Nights | Natural Bridge State Park | December 10-19 | Event Details >
  • Old Southwest Festival of Lights - Gather at the Gish House | Gish House - Highland Park | December 22 | Event Details >
  • Christmas Eve Luminary Display | Town of Buchanan | December 24 | Event Website >

​Learn More: Holiday Lights & Decorations in Virginia's Blue Ridge >

Holiday Markets & Christmas Shopping

Rocky Mount Farmers Market - Christmas Shopping 

More merriment awaits at our area festivals and holiday markets. You’ll be able to shop, taste, and encounter moments of magic as you go.​

In addition to the various holiday markets, we encourage you to visit our Christmas Shopping section for more ideas and resources to help you shop local and make the most of the holiday shopping season in Virginia's Blue Ridge.  

From our family to yours, happy holidays and Merry Christmas!

Enjoy your adventures and explorations in Virginia’s Blue Ridge as you become a #trailsetter of all things bright and joyful.