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

Get a jump on all things merry with an upcoming parade or 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.

Christmas Parades

Dickens of a Christmas Parade Train

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 | Historic Grandin Village | November 18
  • Vinton Christmas Parade | Downtown Vinton | November 30
  • City of Salem Christmas Parade | Downtown Salem | December 1
  • Biggest Little Christmas Parade | Rocky Mount | December 1
  • Town of Fincastle Christmas Parade | Historic Fincastle | December 2
  • Craig County Christmas Parade | New Castle | December 2
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Parade (pictured above) | Downtown Roanoke | December 8
  • Buchanan Christmas Parade | Downtown Buchanan | December 9 

Illuminights at 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, and marvel at the Snowville Miniature Christmas Display.

Get Your Tickets for Illuminights >

Fashions for Evergreens at The Hotel Roanoke

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 and open daily from Thanksgiving Day to New Year’s Day.

Learn More: Fashions for Evergreens Website > 

Dickens of a Christmas

Dickens of a Christmas - Carolers Singing

A beloved holiday tradition for many, The Delta Dental 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 1, features the Christmas Parade on December 8, and culminates with the beloved RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest on December 15.

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 >

Ice Skating in Elmwood Park

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

Elmwood on Ice, presented by WDBJ7, kicks off November 24 and is open until January 28. 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.

It's also available for private groups and rentals, making for an awesome holiday party.

Learn More: Elmwood on Ice Website >

Special Performances & Holiday Concerts

Roanoke Ballet Theatre - The Nutcracker 

Is it really Christmas if there aren’t classic holiday performances nearby? We’re suckers for traditional works of art like The Nutcracker, 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:

  • Nutcracker! Magical Christmas Ballet | Jefferson Center | November 22
  • Martina McBride: Joy of Christmas 2023 Tour | Berglund Center | November 25
  • Elf the Musical | Mill Mountain Theatre | November 29 - December 23
  • Holiday Late Nights: Let's Dance Band | Taubman Museum of Art | December 1
  • Roanoke Symphony Orchestra: Holiday Pops Spectacular | Salem Civic Center - December 1 | Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech - December 2
  • A Very Merry Larry Keel Experience w. Colby T. Helms & The Virginia Creepers | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 2
  • Roanoke Valley Children's Choir Holiday Sing-along | Taubman Museum of Art | December 2
  • Hollins Winter Choir Concert | Hollins University | December 3
  • Mannheim Steamroller Christmas | Salem Civic Center | December 3
  • A Sense of Place, the Grid Art Show | The Market Gallery | December 3
  • Roanoke Symphony Orchestra Youth Strings Concert | Taubman Museum of Art | December 3
  • Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas | Sale Theatre - Ferrum College | December 5-17
  • A Christmas Carol | Attic Productions | December 7-17
  • Lost in Yonkers | Showtimers Community Theatre | December 7-17
  • Holiday Brass | Cave Spring United Methodist Church | December 8
  • Chatham County Line - Electric Holiday Tour | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 8
  • Holiday Classics: Elf - 20th Anniversary | Grandin Theatre | December 8
  • SWVA Ballet’s The Nutcracker | Berglund Center | December 9-10
  • Handel’s Messiah | Jefferson Center | December 12
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas - Live on Stage | Berglund Center | December 14
  • Johnny King & Friends - Christmas and a Case of the Blues | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 14
  • Sexbruise? A Christmastime Spectacular | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 15
  • Holiday Classics: Scrooged | Grandin Theatre | December 15
  • Christmas Movie Night: The Santa Clause | Salem Memorial Ballpark | December 15
  • Cherry Poppin’ Daddies Tiki Xmas | Harvester Performance Center | December 16
  • Roanoke Ballet Theatre’s The Nutcracker (pictured above) | Jefferson Center | December 16-17
  • Blacksburg Master Chorale: Messiah | Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech | December 17
  • Broadway in Roanoke: Cirque Dreams Holidaze | Berglund Center | December 20
  • Isaac Hadden Family Christmas Jam | 5 Points Music Sanctuary | December 22
  • Holiday Classics: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation | Grandin Theatre | December 22
  • Holiday Classics: It's A Wonderful Life | Grandin Theatre | December 23

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 & Christmas 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 (pictured above) | Roanoke County’s Explore Park | November 18 - December 30
  • Bedford Festival of Trees | Bedford Welcome Center | November 21 - January 5
  • Land of Lights | Franklin County Recreation Park | November 23 - December 25
  • Fashions for Evergreens | The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center | November 23 - January 1
  • Grand Illumination at Mountain Lake | Mountain Lake Lodge | November 24
  • Festival of Trees | Natural Bridge State Park | November 24 - December 31
  • Buchanan Christmas Tree Lighting | Town of Buchanan | November 25
  • Buchanan Festival of Trees | Town of Buchanan | November 25 - January 1
  • Deck the Rails | Virginia Museum of Transportation | November 28 - December 31
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Tree Lighting | Downtown Roanoke | December 1
  • City of Salem Christmas Tree Lighting | Salem Public Library | December 1
  • Franklin County Christmas Tree Lighting | Rocky Mount | December 1
  • Buchanan Festival of Lights | Buchanan Town Park | December 3 - January 1
  • 4th Annual Botetourt Chamber Tinsel Trail | Downtown Fincastle | December 1 - January 1
  • O' Holy Bright Drive Thru Christmas Lights | St. Mark's United Methodist Church | December 2-24 (Fridays & Saturdays | Christmas Eve)
  • 20th Annual Roanoke County Christmas Tree Lighting | South County Library | December 4
  • Luminary Nights at Natural Bridge | Natural Bridge State Park | December 8-17
  • Live Nativity | Shenandoah Baptist Church | December 8-17
  • Santa's Winter Wonderland | Blue Ridge PBS | December 8-23 (Wednesday - Sunday)
  • Buchanan Christmas Eve Luminaries | Buchanan | December 24

​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 magical moments as you go.​

  • Black Dog Salvage Holiday Open House | Black Dog Salvage | November 4
  • Yuletide Market | Virginia Mountain Vineyards | November 4
  • 35th Annual Stocked Market | Berglund Center | November 10-12
  • Holiday Craft & Gift Show | Lord Botetourt High School | November 11
  • November Holiday Market | Botetourt Farmers Market | November 18
  • Magical Christmas Village & Market Place | Mountain Lake Lodge | November 24 - December 24
  • Buchanan Small Business Saturday Celebration | Main Street Buchanan | November 25
  • Dilly Dally Christmas Market | The Dilly Dally - Salem | November 25
  • Downtown Roanoke Small Business Saturday | Various Locations | November 25
  • Clay Christmas Tree Workshop & After Hours Shopping | Two and a Half Sisters | November 30
  • Salem Crafty Christmas | Salem Farmers Market | December 2
  • 8th Annual Holiday Craft & Vendor Show | Berglund Center | December 2-3
  • Parade Fashion Show | She's International Boutique (Roanoke City Christmas Parade) | December 8
  • Buchanan Christmas Market | Town of Buchanan | December 9
  • Salem Holiday Market | Salem Civic Center | December 9-10
  • Wasena Last Minute Market | Roanoke Mountain Adventures | December 13
  • December Holiday Market | Botetourt Farmers Market | December 16
  • Free Holiday Open House at Fishburn Mansion | Historic Fishburn Mansion | December 17

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! Visit our Holidays section for additional resources and information.

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