Colonial Williamsburg is considered one of the most “festive” places to visit during the holidays. Here are seven of the best things to do there this Christmas season.

'Tis the season to make lasting memories, and I can’t think of a better way than a visit to Colonial Williamsburg. According to Business Insider, Williamsburg is amongst the “25 Festive Places to Spend the Holidays Around the World,” and it’s no wonder. With the 18th Century holiday decor, the scent of cider, the echo of clopping horses, and colonial clad tour guides and shopkeeps, you can’t help but get caught up in the spirit of the season.

man walking in Colonial Williamsburg

Courtesy of Pinterest

From Hampton Roads, this is an easy day trip, as it takes approximately one and a half hours from Virginia Beach. If you're coming from Northern Virginia or D.C., the drive is about two-and-a-half hours—that’s a doable day trip (with a smooth traffic path). Or, you can just immerse yourself into the experience and enjoy an overnighter.

While there are so many things to do and see in Colonial Williamsburg year-round, we wanted to focus on the traditions of the holidays, so let’s get started and get in the festive spirit.

Guided Christmas Decorations Walking Tour

Christmas Decorations Walking Tour Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

Courtesy of Pinterest

Enjoy a guided walk through Colonial Williamsburg while enjoying the holiday décor of the charming buildings and streets. Your guide will discuss how these authentic decorations were made and from what (I guarantee no glue guns were involved!). It’s a fascinating and festive tour. You may go home and try to replicate some that you see. I suggest you visit the Market Shop, as they sell items to make your own colonial decorations. Click here for tour details.

Self-Guided Tours

Walking Tour of Holiday Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

Courtesy of Pinterest

Explore at your own pace as you walk along the streets. Enjoy the beautifully decorated, historic buildings and step into the charming shops where you can buy replicas of all things Colonial Williamsburg. The only places you can’t access are the designated buildings, which require a ticket.

Carriage Rides

Horse Drawn Carriage Ride Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride by a colonial-dressed coachman through the streets of the town. This is a wonderful and unique way to take in all of the sites. It's also a nice way for those who have a hard time walking to enjoy the scenes, too. Click here for more information.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Community Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Visit Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

Photos Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

Thursday, December 19 | 5–5:30 p.m. | Market Square

This annual event is a fantastic Colonial Williamsburg Christmas tradition. Enjoy a reading of "The Night Before Christmas," sing classic Christmas carols, and enjoy other holiday traditions dating back for centuries, all leading up to the star of the evening—the lighting of the large evergreen tree on Market Square. This event is filled with so much tradition and wonderful splendor; you just may make this event an annual holiday tradition for your family. Click here for more details.

Caroling at the Courthouse and Coffeehouse

Carolers at the Courthouse Colonial Williamsburg Virginia

Carolers at the Courthouse Steps (Courtesy of Pinterest)

I love caroling, I think it is such an uplifting tradition that makes me feel full of the holiday spirit. I actually remember caroling at the courthouse as a small child—what a wonderful memory that has lasted me a lifetime! Unfortunately, caroling seems to be a dying tradition, but not in Williamsburg! There are two locations to enjoy an old-fashioned gathering of carol-singing.So choose a date and come out and make lasting memories of your own.

The Steps of the Courthouse | December 11, 18, and 24 | 6–6:45 p.m.
Charlton's Coffeehouse Porch | December 15 and 22 | 6–6:45 p.m.

Ice Skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion

Ice Skating at the Liberty Ice Pavilion courtesy Colonial Williamsburg

Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

Ice skating is always a fun and festive activity, but it's especially so when surrounded by the beautiful historic buildings of Colonial Williamsburg all decked out in holiday decor. If you get a little chilly or need a quick break, you can purchase hot cider or coffee to warm your bones. Click here for more details.

Historic Tavern Dining

18th Century Servers King's Arms Tavern Colonial Williamsburg Viginia

18th Century Dining (Courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg)

There are four historic taverns from which to choose your dining experience (click on the tavern of choice for details, menu, and hours):

  1. Chowning's Tavern – Pub fare
  2. Christiana Campbell's Tavern – Primarily Seafood
  3. Shields Tavern – Colonial International
  4. Kings Arms Tavern – Chophouse

Each tavern offers their own 18th century-inspired menu, along with servers dressed in theme. You’ll enjoy your meal as if you are back in the colony 300 years ago. My favorite is Kings Arms Tavern; you must try their famous “peanut soupe.” Click here for details.

We hope you get a chance to enjoy some of these holiday traditions in Colonial Williamsburg and get transportated back in time. Please let us know what you think in the comments section; we always love to hear your thoughts!