Williamsburg to host 3-day ‘Grand Illumination’ free holiday event, reservations open next week


WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and City of Williamsburg are planning to celebrate the coming holiday season with a three-day free event while following COVID-19 guidelines.

The Grand Illumination event, which typically happens on a Sunday, is now scheduled for three consecutive Saturdays on Dec. 5, 12, and 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. The show will take place over the Governor’s Palace and a limited number of guests with reservations will be able to enjoy the program. 

Reservations open Oct. 6 and can only be made by phone at 1-800-447-8679 from Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. or on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“This holiday season will be particularly special, and different from all that came before it. We hope to celebrate Grand Illumination in a way that includes as many guests as possible while protecting their safety along with that of employees and the community,” said Robert Currie, Colonial Williamsburg director of entertainment. “We don’t know what the intervening weeks hold in terms of public-health guidelines, but we look forward to a joyous holiday season followed by a healthy, happy 2021.”

Viewing spots are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. Chairs will be provided and food and beverages will be available to purchase. Reservations are limited to one per household and reservation dates cannot be changed.

The music and fireworks display will be available for 250 socially-distanced, marked audience areas on the Palace Green, each with a group capacity of four to six people.

Plans are contingent upon the gathering restrictions that are in place at the time of the event and more information will be provided closer to the date. 

Grand Illumination guests can park at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center at 101 Visitor Center Drive and access the Historic Area on foot or via Colonial Williamsburg shuttle buses which are complimentary for ticketed guests.

City officials say that the following will be in place during the event:

  • Face coverings will be required on Palace Green during guest check-in and any time guests are not within their designated audience areas.
  • Event signage will remind guests to maintain at least six feet of social distancing from guests not traveling with them.
  • Fireworks are only viewable from Palace Green. 
  • Guests and members of the public without free reservations will have difficulty viewing fireworks from any other location within the Historic Area.

An event FAQ list is available at colonialwilliamsburg.org/holidays.

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