Yorktown Kicks off the Christmas Season with a Weekend of Festivities!

Santa with kids at Riverwalk Landing

The Yorktown holiday season is packed with community traditions every year. It’s a time for friends, family, and neighbors to gather under the glow of the Christmas lights to sing, shop, and share memories. 

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting

Yorktown Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony 2017

The fun kicks off Friday, November 30, with the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. This particular event dates back to 1945. That's the year that Reverend Claud G. Barkley, Pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church, with help from staff at the County Clerk’s office, decorated a cedar tree that stood at the corner of Main and Ballard Streets. The York County Historical Committee has worked hard to keep this ritual going ever since.

Christmas Tree Lighting Procession

Everyone is invited to first gather at the Yorktown Victory Monument at 6:30 p.m. for live music by the Mt. Vernon Elementary School Mustang Chorus and Fifes & Drums of York Town. From there, the procession will make its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, where the tree lighting ceremony will begin. Enjoy another musical performance by the TRADOC Brass Band. And make sure you stay for a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus who will visit with children to hear all those wish lists! 

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

Christmas Market on Main Street

Crowd Shot Market on Main 2017

The excitement continues Saturday, December 1, with our annual Christmas Market on Main Street. This year, more than 90 vendors, artists, musicians, and food trucks will line the street making it the biggest market Yorktown has ever seen! 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!)

Kino Alpaca Criations

The diverse selection of vendors will have a little of everything: paintings & prints; birdhouses & bird feeders; Bonsai trees; Christmas ornaments, wreaths, and greenery; custom furniture; gourmet dog treats; handmade soaps & lotions; jewelry; pottery & photography; painted glass & sun catchers; wine accessories; wind chimes and so much more!

Christmas Ornaments

With all that shopping, you’re bound to work up an appetite. Several Historic Yorktown restaurants will join dozens of food vendors and food trucks up on the hill to dish out some pretty delicious options. Look for clam chowder, soups, and stews; crab cakes; BBQ & cheesesteaks; seasonal sweets; peanuts & pretzels; nachos; kettle corn; breads and cheeses; and of course, some kid-friendly items like hot dogs.

Riverwalk Restaurant Booth at Christmas Market on Main

Make sure you visit all of the historical sites and museums that day. The Custom House will have a special exhibit of antique Christmas ornaments on display. The York County Historical Museum will share the Peninsula Model Train Club’s Display of antique model trains. The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (free to York County, James City County, and Williamsburg residents) is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well as the National Park Service Sites including the Yorktown Battlefield and Nelson House. The Watermen’s Museum will be offering its new holiday program, in partnership with SAVGR. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Viking Yule Tide takes guests through the ancient Norse influences on modern Christmas culture through demonstrations, games, and a proper Victorian display. St. Nicolas will also be on site to take photos. 

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

Lighted Boat Parade

Beach Bonfire Lighted Boat Parade

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. 

Southbay Charters Best in Show Lighted Boat Parde 2017 2m

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 free event is sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee and Towne Bank

Cookies with Santa

Cookies with Santa at Gallery at York Hall

On Sunday, December 2, 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!

Santa Shopping the Gallery

The Gallery showcases the work of hundreds of local artists. You’ll find ornaments, paintings, quilts, pottery, and so many other one-of-a-kind pieces that make for perfect Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers. 

This free event is sponsored by the Celebrate Yorktown Committee


Holiday Trolley Service

We know parking can be tricky for big events like this. You're encouraged to park at the York-Poquoson Courthouse, the County Administration Building, and the Yorktown Battlefield Visitor Center. From all points, it’s just a short walk down to the waterfront. 

An extended, but modified, Trolley Route will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. the night of the Lighted Boat Parade, making stops at the above locations as well as the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown (where parking opens up at 5 p.m.), Victory Monument, and the intersection of Water and Read Streets. 

There are spots available in the Water Street Parking Terrace, but please remember that they fill quickly.

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