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See the amazing Christmas lights and decorations as part of a holiday getaway to Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
There are many special events and celebrations with stunning light displays, including magical walks through the woods, historic properties that are beautifully decorated for the season, and charming main streets and downtown areas offering festive scenes.
Though the unique challenges and circumstances of 2020 has led to changes for many of our traditional holiday events and activities, getting out to see the holiday lights and decorations still makes for a fun, safe way to enjoy the holiday season in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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Holiday Events & Celebrations
Small Towns, Neighborhoods, Downtowns
The following events and celebrations in Virginia's Blue Ridge serve as wonderful opportunities to see Christmas lights and unique holiday decorations.
Dates: November 24 - December 18
This year’s Dickens of a Christmas celebration in Downtown Roanoke has been reimagined as 25 Days of Dickens, showcasing a variety of activities and special events spread out over multiple days and locations in the downtown area. The schedule for 25 Days of Dickens includes unique experiences like an Elf on the Shelf Adventure, festive lighting & decorations, and group runs to check out the holiday lights.
Dates: November 25 - January 2
Over 500,000 lights and unique displays along the ½ mile walking path through the woods will provide unforgettable holiday memories at Roanoke County’s Explore Park! The event will also feature a special Christmas market, campfires, and materials for roasting marshmallows.
Note: Tickets must be purchased in advance and are available on the Illuminights website >
Dates: November 27 - January 1
As part of a visit to the Natural Bridge State Park, head to the Visitor Center to see the 5th annual Festival of Trees. There will be trees decorated by local businesses and organizations and you can place donated items under your favorite tree. All donations will benefit the Rockbridge County Public Schools and they’re asking for socks, gloves, hats, and winter clothes to provide to local children in need.
Dates: November 27 - January 1
The Town of Buchanan hosts a variety of special activities and events during the holiday season, including hosting a special Festival of Trees at the Buchanan Library on Main Street. The trees line the front windows and are decorated with ornaments hand-crafted by students from Buchanan Elementary School.
Dates: December 3-28
Historic Fincastle will serve as a beautiful setting for the 2020 Bank of Fincastle Tinsel Trail, which is brought to you by the Botetourt Chamber of Commerce. Get your camera ready to take pictures of the many Christmas trees decorated by community businesses and organizations in Fincastle and take a leisurely stroll through this charming downtown of Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Dates: December 4-6
Though it’s certainly not the typical “Christmas lights” or festive decorations you would normally associate with the holiday season, the special Flames of Memory display at the National D-Day Memorial is a moving and powerful scene to experience during this time of year. The memorial honors the 4,415 men killed on D-Day with thousands of luminaries that shine in recognition of their sacrifice.
Dates: December 4-24
Blue Ridge PBS will be hosting a special drive-thru Winter Wonderland experience that's free! You'll travel through the Elf Village to see unique light displays and decorations and listen to Santa through a special FM radio frequency.
Dates: December 12-20
Walk along the illuminated Cedar Creek Trail and then stand beneath the stunning Natural Bridge, which will be lit up by a new lighting system that highlights some of the bridge’s most unique features. At the pavilion, you can relax and warm up around one of the campfires in the park.
Date: December 24
The lighting of the luminaries on Christmas Eve along Main Street in Buchanan is a treasured annual holiday tradition in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The 1 gallon plastic jugs that are used as the luminaries have special meaning to the town, which received donations of water and recycled the jugs following the flood of 1985, when the town was left without potable water.
One of the best ways to see Christmas lights and decorations during the holiday season is to explore the downtown districts, small towns, and unique neighborhoods in Virginia’s Blue Ridge. The following are fun, walkable areas with seasonal holiday displays and great local businesses full of charm.
There are lots of great areas to explore and experience the holiday spirit of Downtown Roanoke. 25 Days of Dickens is this year’s version of Dickens of a Christmas and will feature activities and holiday decorations that you can enjoy in various parts of downtown, including Market Square, Elmwood Park, Church Avenue, and West Station District.
The Town of Fincastle in Botetourt County is full of history and character, featuring restored homes, walkable streets, and a courthouse designed by Thomas Jefferson. As a way to celebrate this year’s holiday season, you can experience the 2020 Bank of Fincastle Tinsel Trail, showcasing beautiful Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and organizations.
With its scenic location along the James River and nearby proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Town of Buchanan is the perfect small town experience in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Christmas in Buchanan is a special time, with trees on display at the Buchanan Library and Main Street decorated with luminaries on Christmas Eve. This year’s lineup of events will also include a special Drive-Thru Christmas Parade!
Take a walk along Main Street in Downtown Salem to see holiday decorations and visit fun local stores and restaurants. You can also take a stroll through the popular Salem Farmers Market, where the city’s official Christmas Tree will be on display and where there will be a special Salem Crafty Christmas event featuring local vendors and artisans.
The Town of Rocky Mount in Franklin County will have special holiday decorations and music to help get you in the spirit of the season. Take part in their special Festive Fridays event series, which will be taking place during the first three Fridays in December, with each one having a special theme - Flannel Friday on December 4, Ugly Christmas Sweaters on December 11, and Christmas Characters on December 18.
A visit to Franklin County, The Moonshine Capital of the World, should certainly include a taste of the local history, so swing by Twin Creeks Distillery and cheers to a hand-crafted holiday cocktail.
The Town of Vinton will be bringing the holiday spirit to Virginia’s Blue Ridge this year with a special Drive-Through Christmas Parade on December 3, which will also include a Christmas Tree Lighting streamed on Facebook Live. In addition to the parade, you can walk through Vinton’s downtown area to see local storefronts decorated for the holidays.
In addition to the holiday decorations and lights you can see along Grandin Road in Roanoke’s Grandin Village, this is one of the best areas to walk around the neighborhood side streets to see amazing light displays people put up in their front yards and homes! There will also be a special holiday tree at the intersection of Grandin Road & Memorial Avenue that will be decorated by local merchants and community members.
Grandin Road is the main commercial area, but nearby streets like Westover Avenue and Maiden Lane make for great spots to walk around with the pets and kids and snap a few pics of the lights and Christmas decorations.
Grab a warm drink from the Little Green Hive in Grandin Village for sipping while you walk!
Plan a holiday light road trip and take advantage of this awesome Facebook group that's all about Neighborhood Christmas Light Displays of Salem & Roanoke Area, featuring posts by people who share details about their own Christmas lights & decorations or others in their neighborhood. To help organize things, there is also a special Christmas Lights Google Map with points for all the locations that have been shared in the group. Many of the spots on the Google Map also feature pictures to provide a preview of what you can expect!