The holiday season is here and with it brings the usual traditions of decadent food, quality time with family and hanging with friends. Just because you have a tried-and-true holiday tradition, doesn’t mean you can’t add in some unexpected holiday fun! Here are some unique activities to spice up your joyous holiday season.

Interactive Art at MacArthur Green

Take a break from shopping and explore the two internationally-renowned interactive art installations at MacArthur Center. Impulse will bring back fond childhood memories of laughing on a playground with friends as you light up the night with 12 large seesaws, creating “dynamic and delightful waves of light and sound.” When you’re done playing, warm away your winter blues and create your own melody with Island of Warmth – a tall “campfire” made up of 150 luminous bulbs that sparkle and play notes in tune with your steps as you explore the space. (Above photo, credit @amandalady14)

Grand Illumination Cocktail from Gershwin’s

Located amid the hustle and bustle of Granby Street, also historically known as Norfolk’s “restaurant row,” you’ll find Gershwin’s, a classy piano lounge, lit up by vintage marquee lights. At night, a large Christmas tree glitters from the front windows as performers sing and play jazz music to a captivated audience.   Settle in under chandeliers reminiscent of the 1930s and warm up with their signature cocktail with the same name as Norfolk’s regionally famous holiday parade, the “Grand Illumination” – Maker’s Mark and orange peel smoked tableside with Cherry Wood.

Gershwins Exterior

Dickens After Dark

There’s a reason Dickens’ Christmas Towne is an admired local tradition in Norfolk. Each year the Nauticus Maritime Museum transforms the city’s cruise port into a Victorian holiday wonderland along the Elizabeth River, with non-stop entertainment, eclectic shops, and holiday treats. This year, their new Dickens After Dark series will add a twist for adults, bringing specialty cocktails, craft beer favorites, delicious food, and nightly themes featuring adult comedy routines, holiday wreath-making, and more.   

Dickens After Dark Logo

Festive Treats at The Birch

Holiday desserts are delicious, but they’re even better when you don’t have to make them for yourself. Norfolk’s Chelsea neighborhood stays abuzz year-round but the vibe is electric during the holiday season. Delight in The Birch’s cider or mead while you devour a delectable Apple & Peach Cobbler – Virginia peaches and Red Delicious apples soaked in spiced cider, topped with a brown sugar cinnamon walnut crumble and served with house-made gelato. 

Mead and Cider at The Birch@thebirchbar, Instagram,

Hunter House Victorian Museum

Nestled along the historic cobblestone streets of Norfolk’s Freemason District, sits the immaculately decorated Hunter House Victorian Museum. The Hunter sisters, Harriet and Eloise, who never married and pushed the Victorian boundaries of feminine social life in the South, chose to have their home live on as a museum of decorative arts and furnishings. The museum plays elegantly to their wishes, draping the extravagant home in handmade garlands, Victorian tea sets and a lavishly decorated towering Christmas tree. The best part about the museum during the holidays though is the themed events like the Merry Little Christmas Tea, and reenactments of the childhood favorite, The Night Before Christmas.

Hunter House Victorian Museum Holiday Interior


Glass Blown Ornaments from Chrysler Museum Glass Studio

If you’re looking for something truly different to do this holiday season, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to create your own glass blown ornament at the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio. After you choose your colors and pattern, an artist will assist you in heating and turning the molten glass as you blow the shape yourself. Bring the whole family and warm up by the furnace as you create a masterpiece that will be the jewel of your holiday decorations.

Glass Blowing Art

For more festive fun check out downtown Norfolks interactive holiday map or our holiday page!