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.

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 | Grandin Village | November 19
  • Vinton Christmas Parade | Downtown Vinton | December 1
  • City of Salem Christmas Parade | Downtown Salem | December 2
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Parade (pictured above) | Downtown Roanoke | December 9
  • Buchanan Christmas Parade | Downtown Buchanan | December 10

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 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 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 2, features the Christmas Parade on December 9 and culminates with the beloved RVSPCA Pet Costume Contest on December 16.

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: Insiders Guide to 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 23 and is open 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.

It's also available for private groups and rentals, which would make 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:

  • Spirit FM Drine-In Movie: Polar Express | Salem Civic Center | November 6
  • Nutcracker! Magic of Christmas Ballet | Jefferson Center | November 22
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas Live on Stage | Berglund Center | November 23
  • We Need a Little Christmas Holiday Concert | First Evangelical Presbyterian Church | November 28
  • Holiday Inn | Mill Mountain Theatre | November 30 - December 23
  • Roanoke Symphony Orchestra: Holiday POPS! | Salem Civic Center - December 2 | Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech - December 3
  • Mannheim Steamroller Christmas | Berglund Center | December 2
  • Holiday Late Nights | Taubman Museum of Art | December 2, 9, 16
  • Roanoke Valley Children's Choir - Community Carol Sing-A-Long | Taubman Museum of Art | December 3
  • Winds of the Blue Ridge - Holiday Jubilee | William Fleming High School | December 5
  • Christmas Belles | Attic Productions | December 8-18
  • Roanoke Symphony Orchestra: Holiday Brass | Cave Spring United Methodist Church | December 9
  • Beats, Brews and Buddies: Songwriters in the Round - Christmas Special | The Spot on Kirk | December 10
  • SWVA Ballet’s The Nutcracker | Berglund Center | December 10-11
  • Classic Film Series: Holiday | Grandin Theatre | December 10
  • Salem Red Sox Movie Night: Elf | Salem Memorial Ballpark | December 10
  • Roanoke Valley Children's Choir Annual Holiday Concert - Songs of the Season | Church of the Holy Spirit | December 10
  • Roanoke Symphony Orchestra: Handel’s Messiah | Parkway Church on the Mountain | December 13
  • Free Holiday Singing Classes | Bethel Baptist Church | December 15
  • Christmas with the Templetons | Essig Recreation Center | December 16
  • Roanoke Ballet Theatre - The Nutcracker (pictured above) | Jefferson Center | December 17
  • 15th Annual Xmas Jam | Martin's Downtown Bar & Grill | December 17

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 | Roanoke County’s Explore Park | November 19 - December 30
  • Bedford Festival of Trees | Bedford Area Welcome Center | November 22 - January 6 
  • Land of Lights | Franklin County Recreation Park | November 24 - December 25
  • Fashions for Evergreens | The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center | November 24 - January 1
  • Fashions for Evergreens at Virginia Tech | The Inn at Virginia Tech & Skelton Conference Center | November 24 - January 1
  • Parade of Christmas Trees | Vinton War Memorial | November 24 - January 2
  • Franklin County Christmas Tree Lighting | Franklin County Courthouse | November 25
  • Do You Want to Build a Snowman Trail | Town of Rocky Mount | November 25 - December 31
  • Natural Bridge Festival of Trees | Natural Bridge State Park | November 25 - December 31
  • Buchanan Tree Lighting | Town of Buchanan | November 26
  • Buchanan Festival of Trees | Main Street Library - Buchanan | November 26 - January 1
  • A Celebration of Life & Lights | Richfield Living | November 29
  • Deck the Rails | Virginia Museum of Transportation | December 1-31
  • City of Roanoke Christmas Tree Lighting - Dickens of a Christmas | December 2 | Downtown Roanoke
  • City of Salem Christmas Tree Lighting | Salem Farmers Market | December 2
  • Grand Illumination - Buchanan Festival of Lights | Buchanan Town Park | December 2-3
  • 3rd Annual First Bank Tinsel Trail (pictured above) | Historic Fincastle | December 2 - January 1
  • Live Outdoor Nativity | Bethlehem Church of the Brethren | December 3
  • Hermitage Roanoke Festival of Lights | Hermitage Roanoke | December 3 - January 1
  • Old Southwest Festival of Lights | Old Southwest Roanoke | December 3-31
  • Buchanan Festival of Lights | Buchanan Town Park | December 4 - January 1
  • Natural Bridge Luminary Nights | Natural Bridge State Park | December 9-11 & 16-18
  • Live Nativity | Shenandoah Baptist Church | December 9-11 & 16-18 
  • Christmas Eve Luminaries | Town of 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 moments of magic as you go.​

  • Black Dog Salvage Holiday Open House | Black Dog Salvage | November 5
  • 2022 Stocked Market | Berglund Center | November 11-13
  • Holiday Gift & Craft Show | Lord Botetourt High School | November 12
  • Lackey Studio & Art Gallery Holiday Open House | Lackey Studio & Art Gallery | November 19
  • November Holiday Market | Botetourt Farmers Market | November 19
  • Holiday Artisan Market | Roanoke County’s Explore Park | November 19 - December 30
  • Buchanan Small Business Saturday | Main Street - Buchanan | November 26
  • Downtown Roanoke Small Business Saturday | Downtown Roanoke | November 26
  • 6th Annual Mistletoe Market | Holiday Inn Tanglewood - Roanoke | November 26
  • The Ultimate Urban Market Pop-Up | Verses | November 26
  • Grandin Village Small Business Saturday | Historic Grandin Village | November 26
  • The Dilly Dally Christmas Market | The Dilly Dally | November 26
  • 7th Annual Holiday Craft & Vendor Show | Berglund Center | December 3-4
  • A Country Christmas | Beaver Dam Farm | December 3
  • Salem Crafty Christmas | Salem Farmers Market | December 3
  • Historic Fincastle Art & Craft Holiday Marketplace | Fincastle Baptist Church | December 10
  • Salem Holiday Market | Salem Civic Center | December 10-11
  • Wasena Last Minute Market | Roanoke Mountain Adventures | December 14

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.