28 November 2021

The Best Ways to Get You into the Holiday Spirit in Norfolk

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.

WinterFest on the Wisconsin 

For the second year in a row, the historic Battleship Wisconsin will be lit up with a dazzling walk-through light trail with 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 – 5:30 PM & 7:00 PM.

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.

Hotel Decor at The Main

Photo credit Hilton Norfolk THE MAIN

Marvel at the Hilton Norfolk the Main’s holiday decor as all corners of the hotel will be decked out in Christmas trees, poinsettias (650 to be exact) and their larger-than-life gingerbread house. This scrumptious holiday gingerbread house is constructed of 10 gallons of syrup, 500 pieces of gumdrops and 100 pounds of butter! Wander the levels of the hotel, grab a brew at the outdoor rooftop restaurant, Grain and you’ll be living the life like Kevin from Home Alone 2 at the Plaza!

Festive Treats at The Birch

@thebirchbar, Instagram,

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. 

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.

Explore Downtown Norfolk 

Downtown Norfolk is illuminating 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 passerbys in city squares and festive art lines historic Granby Street. Shop small at eclectic boutiques inside Selden Market or explore the NEON Stars art exhibit showcasing creative holiday décor painted by Norfolk artists.

Photo curtesy of DNC

Glass Blown Ornaments from Chrysler Museum Glass Studio

Holiday desserts are delicious, but they’re even better when you don’t have to make 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.

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