28 November 2021

Norfolk's Best Holiday Attractions

The holiday season is here, and with it brings a whole host of fun activities! Norfolk is known for its unique holiday events, from dazzling light displays to parades on both the streets and water. Here are some unique activities and events to spice up your holiday season.

Downtown Norfolk 

Courtesy of Downtown Norfolk Council

Downtown Norfolk is illuminated for the holiday season! Buildings are decked with holiday lights, big, red bows adorn streetlamps, windows glow with cheery displays (check out VisitNorfolk’s Visitor Center window!), giant Christmas trees tower over passersby in city squares, and festive art lines historic Granby Street.

Garden of Lights at Norfolk Botanical Garden

@jgr757, Instagram

If you thought the Norfolk Botanical Garden was magical during the daytime, just wait until you see it at night during the holidays. Twinkling lights transform the garden into a holiday wonderful complete with various themes, configurations and even some familiar characters along the way.

Grand Illumination Parade and Cruise

Enjoy your evening aboard City Cruises by Hornblower for their Grand Illumination Early Dinner Cruise from 3:30 to 6 p.m.  Start the festivities with great food, a grand view from the water and unforgettable entertainment. End the evening at Norfolk’s Grand Illumination Parade that takes place every year on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, bringing thousands of spectators out to the streets of Downtown Norfolk to take in the beauty, magic, and electric holiday spirit to kick off the season.

Holiday Yule Log Bonfire & Christmas Marketplace

Filled with plenty of holiday cheer and good tidings, the Holiday Yule Log Bonfire and Christmas Marketplace is the perfect way to welcome in the holiday season. For one afternoon, Town Point Park along the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront is transformed into a festive outdoor wonderland highlighted by a towering Yule Log Bonfire and also featuring a local artisans market, Christmas caroling, hot chocolate and whiskey tastings and a visit from the Big Man himself! The event is free (including Santa visits) and open to the public.

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 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 is the themed events like the Merry Little Christmas Tea and reenactments of the classic, “The Night Before Christmas.”

WinterFest on the Wisconsin 

@beach_racegirl, Instagram

The historic Battleship Wisconsin lights up with a dazzling walk-through light trail featuring over 250,000 lights for WinterFest on the Wisconsin. This seven-week, mainly outdoor experience features holiday lights, vignettes, music, Santa sightings and festive treats. Grab a hot cocoa and marvel at the tree lighting ceremonies.

Zoolumination

Go wild in the at the Virginia Zoo with Zoolumination. Experience this half-mile path with over 25 inflatable animals. Go in the daytime and see how tall you are standing next to a 30-foot giraffe, or visit at night to see all sorts of mammals and amphibians lit up along the path.

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