It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year... to Visit Yorktown!

Yorktown Celebrates Christmas collage with santa, fifes and drums, lighted boat parade, and polar ex

Yorktown transforms into a magical place this time of year as the community gathers to celebrate the season with special Christmas markets, festive performances, and several visits from the jolly old man himself—St. Nick! Here’s a look at all the holiday fun planned in December so you can mark your calendars and start those shopping lists.

Christmas Tree Lighting
Victory Monument & Riverwalk Landing
Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 2017

Every year—the town kicks off Christmas with the Tree Lighting down at the waterfront. 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.

Fifes and Drums perform at Christmas Tree Lighting

The fun actually starts up at the Yorktown Victory Monument with live music at 6:30 p.m. From there, the procession, led by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, will make its way from the Victory Monument, down Ballard Street and onto Water Street, where the tree lighting ceremony will take place. Santa and Mrs. Claus will ride in on the old York County Fire Truck around 8 p.m. and then mingle with the crowd. 

Early Evening Nutcracker Sweet Treats
Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Cafe
Friday, Dec. 6, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters at Christmas

This year, you’ll want to get to town early to stop by Mobjack Bay Coffee Roasters & Petite Cafe on Historic Main Street. Warm up with 18th-century "drinking chocolate", sweets, hors d’oeuvres, coffee, tea, French wine by the glass, champagne, or beer. Then, make the short walk down a block to enjoy the festivities on the Monument. 

Christmas Market on Main
Historic Main Street
Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Whether you’re searching for a holiday gift for family, friends, or as a treat to yourself—you’re sure to find it at the Christmas Market on Main Street! This year, more than 100 vendors, artists, musicians, and food trucks will line the street. Expect chestnuts roasting on an open fire, kids’ activities like DIY colonial ornaments, and jolly greetings from Santa 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!) 

Christmas Market on Main holiday merchandise

The Town Crier will ring in the market at 10 a.m., followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town to officially open the market. Then, Santa Claus himself will ride in on York County's first fire truck, before mingling with the crowd to greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day to add to the festive atmosphere. It simply doesn't get more "Christmas" than this!

Christmas Market on Main Entertainment

Viking Yule Tide
Watermen’s Museum
Dec. 7, 2019, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Watermen’s Museum will have a booth up on Main Street to talk about Colonial Christmas Traditions. Be sure to stop by and make an 18th-century ornament to take home! Down the hill at their permanent home on Water Street, you’ll find a free family-friendly celebration to learn more about the Yule Celebration and how some of those familiar customs became part of our modern Christmas Celebration in the Victorian Era.

Watermens Museum Christmas Programming

Beach Bonfire & Lighted Boat Parade
Yorktown Waterfront
Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, 6 to 7 p.m.

The festivities move to the waterfront that evening for the exciting Lighted Boat Parade. Head down early to grab dinner at one of the many restaurants or grab a quick bite from vendors set up on the Market Green. Centerstage Academy will kick off the festivities before the crowd gathers up and down the beach beginning at 6 p.m. In true community fashion, the Boy Scout Troop 123 of Seaford will be serving complimentary hot cider. As you sip your festive drink, you can enjoy performances from the Yorktown Chorale and Fifes & Drums of York Town. Both groups will play by the glow of a massive beach bonfire. 

Polar Express Best in Show 2018 Lighted Boat Parade

Then, at 7… watch the dazzling display of 20 to 25 sail, pleasure, and work boats as they 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. Contestants really get into the spirit of the event and many start planning their themes months in advance. This event is free and sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee & Towne Bank.

Cookies with Santa
Gallery at York Hall
Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, 1 to 4 p.m.

On Sunday, make sure you bring the kids by the Gallery at York Hall to share their Christmas wishlists with Santa. Parents will be able to take their own pictures and the kids can enjoy a holiday coloring activity while they wait their turn.

Cookies with Santa

Before you leave, don't forget to pop into the Gallery where you'll find hundreds of unique holiday gift ideas, especially for the Yorktown lover in your life—each handcrafted, hand-painted, and handmade by local artists. Hint: you'll find some pretty original stocking stuffers! This annual tradition for families is sponsored by the Celebrate Yorktown Committee.

Gallery at York Hall Christmas Ornaments

Toyland Market & Parade
Riverwalk Landing
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We round out the Christmas Event season with our final Yorktown Market Days on December 14 featuring the Toyland parade. It’s your last chance to stock up on holiday gifts, seasonal treats, and delicious food. You’ll find a little of everything including fresh-baked breads, cakes, brownies, and cupcakes; candles and soaps; and festive greenery. Take home one-of-a-kind holiday finds like jewelry, baskets, and even painted gourds.

Toyland Parade Polar Express

Children’s activities include colonial crafts, holiday music, and rides on the Polar Express! Everyone is invited to march in the Toyland Parade through Riverwalk Landing led by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, with festivities beginning at 1 p.m. Don your strollers, wagons, pets, and kids in your most impressive holiday spirit.

’Tis the Season of Mirth
Historic Main Street & Nelson House
Friday, Dec. 13, 6 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

In 18th-century Virginia, Christmas was not just one day, but twelve! Virginians reveled in a festive season of feasting, balls, fox hunts, and other fine entertainments. Friends and neighbors are invited to gather at the Nelson House for dancing, singing, and general merrymaking in honor of the approaching Christmastide! In addition to activities at the Nelson House, several nearby sites operated by park partners will also be open for visitation along Main Street. These Yorktown holiday events are free to the public. Parking will be available in the Church Street and York Hall parking lots. Please remember, there is no parking along Main Street.

Tis the Season of Mirth Colonial Dancers

Wreaths Across America
Yorktown National Cemetery
Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, 12 to 1 p.m.

Join a powerful remembrance ceremony conducted by the Yorktown Coast Guard Station and members of local organizations to pay tribute to our fallen war veterans. Fresh Christmas wreaths will be placed on grave markers at Yorktown National Cemetery. This event is free and everyone in the community is invited to attend.

Christmastide in Virginia
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Friday, Dec. 20 - 31, 2019, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Later in the month, you don’t want to miss Christmastide in Virginia at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. From Dec. 20 - 31 (closed Christmas Day), you can experience 18th-century Virginia holiday traditions with a variety of interpretive programs, cooking demonstrations, and musical entertainment. In the Continental Army Encampment, you can learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war, as well as assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies! Remember, Museum admission is free to all York County, James City County, and Williamsburg residents.

Christmastide in Virginia colonial woman warming by the fire