Charlottesville, VA, is one of the best Christmas towns in the US to visit according to several publications! These include Fodors, Huffington Post, Forbes, and Simplemost. That many people can’t be wrong, and we agree! What makes Charlottesville such a great place to visit during the holiday season?
All of these publications mention the fabulous Downtown Charlottesville Mall. It is one of the longest pedestrian malls in the U.S., stretching to a total of eight blocks. It runs from 6th St NE to Old Preston Ave, extending to Water St. On the east end is the Ting Pavilion, an outdoor concert venue. Several side streets are paved in brick, like the main walkway. The entire area is closed to traffic making it the perfect place for shopping and celebrating!
The Grand Illumination
Dates & Times: Beginning December 3, 2021 at 5pm
Location: Ting Pavilion, Downtown Charlottesville
One of the things that makes Christmas so special is the lights — lots of twinkling lights! And lights are what the Grand Illumination is all about! First, a large tree is found and transported to the Central Place of the Downtown Mall. The tree is strung with over 20,000 LED lights. Although the festivities begin earlier, you won’t want to miss the tree lighting at 8pm. Other activities include musical performances, a visit from Santa Claus, crafts, and, of course, shopping.
Shopping in the Downtown Mall
You will be able to find something for everyone on your list at the Downtown Mall! Their motto? “Friends don’t let friends shop at chain stores.” Some of the shops include America’s coolest pet store, a wine bar that also specializes in high-end chocolate, yarn and needlework supplies, a record store dedicated to vinyl, unique toys for kids and grownups, and used and rare books. There are dozens more. Where else can you find such a variety of independent shops?
When your feet are tired and your mind and shopping bags are overflowing with gifts, there are lots of restaurants available! With more than 20 different selections from sandwiches and burgers to fine dining, how can you go wrong?
Downtown Holiday Market
Dates & Times: Saturdays, November 27 – December 18, 2021, 8am to 12pm
Location: 100 Water St, Downtown Charlottesville
If you are used to the farmer’s market on Water Street in downtown Charlottesville on Saturdays from May through September, don’t miss the outdoor Holiday Market! Open on Saturdays, you will see craft vendors with holiday ornaments and a vast array of gift options. Wander among booths manned by local farmers, artists, and artisans to find baked goods and decorations.
Celebrations Outside of the City
With so much to do downtown, don’t forget to plan a visit to some of our historic homes, and smaller towns. They have much to offer, as well!
Holiday Events at Monticello
Dates & Times: Saturdays & Sundays, November 27 – December 5, 2021, various times
Location: 931 Thomas Jefferson Parkway, Charlottesville
There are several ways to experience the season at Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello. Join a wreath-making workshop with locally harvested natural elements. This fun activity is in its 35th year, and is extremely popular, so make advance reservations!
Dates & Times: December 10 & 11, 17-23, 26-30, 2021, starting at 5:15pm
There are also Holiday Evening Tours which provide a rare opportunity to tour public and private areas of the property decorated in the style appropriate for the time. These tours also sell out quickly. Reservations are required to be made at least 48 hours in advance.
Holiday Tours at Montpelier
Dates & Times: Mondays – Thursdays, 9am – 3pm (Closed December 24 & 25, 2021)
Location: 1135 Constitution Hwy, Montpelier Station VA
Tours are available at Montpelier, the home of James Madison. The tours can be inside, outside or both but tickets must be purchased at least 48 hours in advance.
Other Holiday Celebrations
The Annual Lighting of the Lawn at UVA will take place on December 6 at 7PM. This year’s theme is “Brighter Than Ever”. The event was founded in the wake of the September 11th attacks to foster unity and inclusion in the UVa and Charlottesville communities, and this original mission rings true today for LOTL’s Twentieth Anniversary.
There are other activities you may recall from prior holidays that are still being conducted virtually, or have been canceled, for safety reasons. Two of our favorites are the Gingerbread Display at the Ronald McDonald House (virtual) and the First Night of Virginia. We will look forward to all of our traditional events in future years.
With so much still happening, plan now to enjoy the season here in Charlottesville VA, one of the best Christmas towns. Book your stay at the Foxfield Inn, and plan to shop ’til you drop, then relax and sleep in with visions of sugarplums!