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The calendar has all kinds of great events during the holiday season in the Roanoke Valley in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
The region is full of festive cheer as we celebrate with parades, tree lighting ceremonies, festivals, holiday performances, and more.
From Santa sightings and Christmas carolers to ice skating and historic home tours, it’s all part of the holiday spirit in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Here are some of the most popular annual events to check out during your holiday visit to the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Described as “Roanoke’s Biggest Family Reunion,” thousands of runners and visitors gather every year on Thanksgiving morning to participate in the Drumstick Dash in Downtown Roanoke. The 5K is a fun, family-friendly event that raises money for the Roanoke Rescue Mission, which provides a variety of valuable resources to those in need.
The annual Fashion for Evergreens competition at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center is an impressive display of creativity and holiday decorating skills. Local organizations and businesses participate in the contest by decorating a tree and displaying it in the hotel, where visitors can vote for their favorites.
Many communities in Virginia’s Blue Ridge host holiday parades that are great events for the entire family, including Downtown Roanoke, Grandin Village, Vinton, Rocky Mount, Salem and many others. Grab a cup of hot chocolate or apple cider, find a spot with a great view, and decide which parade float is your favorite!
Recognized as one of the best annual holiday events in the Southeast, Dickens of a Christmas is one of the region’s biggest celebrations. The festival is held in Downtown Roanoke the first three Fridays in December and features all kinds of fun activities, including carriage rides, shopping, performances, caroling, costume contests and more.
The great holiday tradition of building a gingerbread house is taken to another level at the Salem Gingerbread Festival. Check out the amazing designs that are submitted in the gingerbread house competition and enjoy live entertainment, craft activities for kids, and local vendors for holiday shopping.
Which neighborhood has the prettiest tree and best decorations? It’ll be tough to choose when you take part in the various tree lighting celebrations held throughout Virginia’s Blue Ridge. It’s an exciting time that highlights the strong community spirit of the region.
Experience what an old Virginia Christmas was like for the residents, enslaved and free, on this mid-19th century tobacco plantation at the Booker T. Washington National Monument. Listen, smell, feel and taste "an old Virginia Christmas" on the farm where Booker T. Washington was born an enslaved person.
Visitors have multiple opportunities to enjoy The Nutcracker, the classic ballet adaptation of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s story “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.” The Southwest Virginia Ballet and Roanoke Ballet Theatre both present productions of The Nutcracker, and it’s a great performance to celebrate the holiday season.
Tour historic homes and properties of Virginia’s Blue Ridge that are beautifully decorated for the holidays. The Old Southwest Parlor Tours and Historic Fincastle Holiday Home Tour are walking tours in two of the region’s most charming communities, and you can also take candlelight tours of Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest estate.
Sing along with your favorite holiday music at the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra's annual Holiday Pops concerts. It’s a wonderful concert of timeless holiday songs, as well as a few numbers that have been originally written and composed by the director, and a musical performance that will be enjoyed by all ages.
How can you resist the combination of Santa and trains? The Virginia Museum of Transportation's annual Candy Cane Express event features special model trains on display, holiday stories, and crafts. You can also experience the museum’s impressive collection of automobiles and railyard full of locomotives.
Ring in the new year with a party in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. There are elegant dinners and galas, along with casual parties and live music, offering New Year’s Eve celebrations of all styles. Here’s to one final night of fun to end the year in the Blue Ridge Mountains!
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