Historic Yorktown Offers a Weekend Packed with Free Holiday Fun for the Community!

Santa and Mrs. Claus Coleman Bridge

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it's time to turn our attention to what some consider the hap-happiest season of all! That's right, folks. Christmas. Is. Coming. We are so excited to share with you the Inside Scoop on four of the biggest events in Yorktown, sure to bring everyone together during this special time of year.

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Christmas Tree Lighting

The fun kicks off next Friday, December 1, with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This community tradition goes all the way back to 1945. That's the year that Reverend Claud G. Barkley, Pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church, and staff from the County Clerk’s office, decorated a cedar tree that stood at the corner of Main and Ballard Streets.

The York County Historical Committee works hard to keep this ritual going! The tree that is used today is a 20-foot artificial commercial “Giant Everest Fir” tree placed down in Riverwalk Landing. Everyone is invited to gather at the Yorktown Victory Monument by 6:30 p.m. for a performance by the Mt. Vernon Elementary School Mustang Chorus, followed by holiday music from the Fifes & Drums of York Town. The first 800 people to arrive will receive a complimentary digital candle to carry (and keep) during the procession to Riverwalk Landing. You may also head straight to Riverwalk Landing where the TRADOC Arsenal Brass Band will take the stage at 7 p.m.  Once the procession makes its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, the tree lighting ceremony will begin, followed by a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus who will stay and visit with children until 8:30 p.m.  

This free event is sponsored by the York County Historical Committee.  

Christmas Market on Main Street

Market on Main Vendor

The excitement continues Saturday, December 2, with Yorktown's annual Christmas Market on Main Street. It's the holiday event shoppers look forward to all year. Vendors, artists, food trucks, strolling musicians, and antique cars will line Main Street from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And this year is shaping up to be one of the best yet, with almost 80 different participants. There will be chestnuts roasting on an open fire, kids’ activities, and jolly greetings from Santa and Mrs. Claus! The reindeer may have to stay behind at the North Pole, but visiting Alpacas will be at the event, ready to stand in if needed. (Be sure to check out Kino Alpaca Criations to see hats, scarves, and sweaters made from the Alpaca fleece. Pretty cool gift ideas!)


The diverse selection of vendors will have a little of everything: paintings and prints; birdhouses and birdbaths; Bonsai trees; custom furniture; photography; pottery; sun catchers; vintage signs; wind chimes; wine accessories; painted glass; granite platters; gourmet dog treats; hand-made soaps and lotions; wreaths and greens; wooden toys; and Christmas ornaments.

And be sure to bring your appetite! Water Street Grille will be serving up lunch, in addition to market vendors Creekside Catering, Kathi’s Clam Chowder, Boyd’s Tasty Dogs, VA Blue Crab Co., Belmont Peanuts, Sinful Treats, and Nothing Bundt Cakes. Other delicious goods for sale include: soups; crab cakes and lobster rolls; seasonings, blends, spices and dips; jams, jellies, and syrups; candy and confections; pies and brownies; kettle corn, peanuts and snack mixes; and a variety of kid-friendly options.

The Peninsula Model Train Club will have a display in the lower level of York Hall and historic buildings and museums, including the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, Yorktown Battlefield, the York County Historical Museum, Custom House, Watermen’s Museum, and Museum on Main will be open that day, and decorated for the holidays.

The free Christmas Market is co-sponsored by Village Events and York County.  

Lighted Boat Parade

Lighted Boat Parade

The festivities move down to the waterfront that evening for the exciting Lighted Boat Parade. If you've never experienced this local tradition, you're missing out! Everything takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Crowds gather up and down the beach and the Riverwalk to watch the dazzling display of 20 to 25 sail, pleasure, and work boats coast down the York River, competing for “Best in Show.” The judges are looking for four things: Wow Factor; Color and Light; Originality and Theme; and Spirit. They rank each boat accordingly to get an average which determines the winner.

Michael Webb, Chairman of the Lighted Boat Parade Committee, tells us boats as small as 13 feet have participated and placed in the past. One of his personal favorites over the years was a main boat decorated with reindeer, that was towing Santa's sleigh. Mike says the contestants really get into the spirit of the event and many start planning their themes months in advance. He estimates it takes some of the more elaborate displays, 10-20 hours to put together.

Chorale Performance Lighted Boat Parade 2016
In true community fashion, the Boy Scout Troop 123 of Seaford will be serving complimentary hot cider at the parade. A coalition of local businesses and a national food distributor donated more than 80 gallons to the group this year. As you sip your festive drink, you can enjoy performances from the Yorktown Chorale and the Fifes & Drums of York Town. Both groups will play by the glow of a massive beach bonfire.

Beach Bonfire 2016

We know parking can be tricky for big events like this. You're encouraged to park at the York-Poquoson Courthouse, and the County Administration Building. From there it’s just a short walk to the waterfront. A modified Trolley Route will also be running from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. making stops at those locations as well as the Victory Monument, and the intersection of Water and Read Streets. Additional parking (for this evening only), will be available at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown during that same time frame of 5 to 9 p.m. Free transportation will be provided from the Museum to the festivities.

This free event is sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee and Wormley Creek Marina

Cookies with Santa

Cookies with Santa

On Sunday, December 3, from 1 to 4 p.m., the Gallery at York Hall will feature Cookies with Santa. Children and parents can visit with Santa, enjoy complimentary refreshments, and do some holiday shopping too! The Gallery showcases fine arts in all mediums, and features select local artists on a revolving basis. For more information on specific exhibits, call the Gallery at York Hall at (757) 890-4490.

This free event is sponsored by the Celebrate Yorktown Committee


Holiday Trolley Service

Public parking for all special events is available at the Riverwalk Landing parking terrace on Water Street, York Hall (with the exception of Friday night), County Administration Building, and the York-Poquoson Courthouse. The heated, handicap-accessible Yorktown Trolley will run Saturday Dec. 1 ONLY, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the Market on Main Street event and then again that night, as mentioned, from 5 to 9 p.m. with a modified route for the Lighted Boat Parade.

We can't wait to welcome you and your family as we celebrate the Christmas season together, here in Historic Yorktown!