A Festive Countdown to Holiday Fun in Yorktown!
The Yorktown holiday season is packed with traditions and so many different opportunities to gather outdoors with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate the season. Whether it's shopping the holiday markets to support local businesses, sharing the magic of imagination with your children, or simply taking in the Christmas lights as they reflect off the York River—it's such a festive time of year!
Saturday, Nov. 20 | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
It’s a pre-Thanksgiving cornucopia of fun! Shop for turkeys, pecan pies, and cranberry sauce. Take home unique holiday pieces from local artists for serving your family meals. More than 50 vendors participate in this special November market. Visitors will find seasonal fruits and vegetables; beef, pork, and chicken; farm milk and eggs; homemade breads and baked goods; kettle corn and flavored popcorn; gourmet dog treats; handmade potato chips; and so much more. Don’t miss the return of the popular live log carving demonstration! There will also be a free animal show inside the Freight Shed at 1 p.m. It’s presented by the Virginia Living Museum and sponsored by the Riverwalk Landing Business Association. There will also be a special take-home craft for children.
Foods & Feasts of Colonial Virginia
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Friday & Saturday, Nov. 26 & 27 | 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Long before microwaves, electric stoves, and refrigerators—food was prepared in clay pots and iron kettles over hot coals. And it was preserved by smoking and salt curing. This Thanksgiving holiday, explore centuries-old culinary practices and cooking techniques of 18th-century Virginia during a two-day event, Friday and Saturday, November 26 and 27. Cooking demonstrations will take place throughout the day in re-creations of a Continental Army encampment and Revolution-era farm. Visitors can also learn about typical Revolutionary War soldiers’ fare and trace the farm’s bounty from field to kitchen!
It isn't long after the Harvest Market that we transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas! The LOVE Letters have returned to the waterfront as a permanent addition to all of our special events, and just as we did in 2019, we plan to team up with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the York County Grounds Crew to provide a display that will make the perfect backdrop for your family Christmas card photos!
Christmas Tree Lighting
Victory Monument & Yorktown Waterfront
Friday, Dec. 3
Monument Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tree Lighting at 7:30 p.m.
Our events kick off with Yorktown’s annual 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 live music, including a performance by the Fifes and 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. Make sure you stay for a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, eager to hear all those wish lists!
Christmas Market on Main Street
Historic Main Street
Saturday, Dec. 4 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 5 | 11 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 is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events every holiday season and it has been extended to two days. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps to Christmas ornaments and wreaths! The Town Crier will ring in the market at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town to officially open the market. Then, Santa Claus himself will greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day to add to the festive atmosphere and an ice carver set up in front of York Hall on Sunday. It simply doesn't get more "Christmas" than this!
The Watermen's Museum is busy that Saturday as well. Up on Main Street, they will be set up at the Christmas market showing guests how to make colonial ornaments. Then, at the museum on Water Street, you're invited to join their Yorktown Yuletide event from 10 to 5—featuring a Viking encampment, Santa Claus, and a Comparative Christmas display.
Lighted Boat Parade
Saturday, Dec. 4
Pre-parade festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Boat Parade begins at 7 p.m.
If you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit, you’ll want to put this one on your calendar! Join us at the Yorktown Waterfront from 6 to 8 p.m. for the Lighted Boat Parade. Pre-parade festivities start at 6 p.m. and include caroling around a beach bonfire, a musical performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, and complimentary hot cider.
The boats will finish out the evening, as they make their way down the river in a dazzling show of lights that starts at 7 p.m. This annual community tradition has been taking place for more than two decades, and brings neighbors together to celebrate the season. As an added safety precaution, families are encouraged to bring flashlights to assist in navigation around town at night. No rain dates are scheduled for any holiday-related weekend activities. If rain, storms, or heavy winds are in the forecast—please call the York County Event Weather Hotline (757.890.3520) before you head to town. We will always update it with the most current information. This special parade is sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee.
Cookies with Santa
Gallery at York Hall
Sunday, Dec. 5 | 1 to 4 p.m.
The Gallery at York Hall is excited to host Cookies with Santa—a complimentary event to make the season bright. It's free for families and Santa will stay socially distanced. Bring your phones or cameras, wish lists, and your face masks! Don’t forget to stop inside the Gallery on your way out to pick up unique Christmas presents handcrafted by local artists. The Gallery is filled with local one-of-a-kind art pieces from hundreds of local artists, in all types of mediums.
Saturday, Dec. 11 | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The holiday shopping season has officially kicked off in Yorktown! Browse the market for chowders and soups; baked goods including an assortment of cakes, breads, brownies, fudge, cookies; jams, jellies, and honey; holiday wreaths; candles and soaps; and local seasonal art! March in the annual Toyland Parade, and don’t forget to hop aboard the Riverwalk Landing Polar Express for a loop around the festivities. A professional ice carver will be set up in front of the Riverwalk Landing fountain providing a fascinating live demonstration.
Wreaths Across America
Yorktown National Cemetery
Saturday, Dec. 18
Fresh Christmas wreaths will be placed on grave markers at the Yorktown National Cemetery in this remembrance ceremony conducted by the Yorktown Coast Guard Station and members of local organizations to pay tribute to our fallen war veterans. This event joins several others across the country that happen on this same day and at the same time. The ceremony is open to the public, with parking at the Battlefield Visitor Center.
All the wreaths are sponsored by numerous civic, veteran, and auxiliary organizations throughout the community. If you're interested in personally sponsoring a wreath, or volunteering to place them on the graves, please visit this website.
Christmastide in Virginia
American Revolution Museum at Yorktown
Dec. 18 – Dec. 31 (Closed Christmas Day)
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
During your visit to the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown, learn about winter camp life and hear accounts of Christmas during the war. Assist the quartermaster in preparing military supplies. And observe exciting artillery demonstrations! At the clapboard farmhouse adorned with greenery—historical interpreters compare and contrast 18th-century holiday traditions with those of modern times. They will also demonstrate a variety of holiday activities, including setting a farmhouse table for a holiday feast and decorating with greenery. Visitors can see open-hearth cooking and watch as period dishes are made in the farm kitchen. Other activities throughout the day include traditional caroling and musical performances, including a special concert from the Fifes and Drums of York Town.
In addition to all the special events, Historic Yorktown's many shops and restaurants will get in the spirit of the season by offering pre-made gift baskets, gift certificates, and other unique stocking stuffer ideas.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook so you don't miss our annual Holiday Gift Guide that takes you inside our museums, galleries, and other local businesses!