RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — There’s no denying it now — the winter holiday season is well underway.

There is technically no official start to “the holiday season.” Some get out their lights and wreaths as soon as Thanksgiving dinner is over, while many others start celebrating way before Turkey Day.

Christmas, the Christian holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus, is often the holiday that takes center stage in December in the United States. But there are many other holidays celebrated this month. You probably know about Hanukkah (also known as Chanukah), an eight-day Jewish holiday beginning on Dec. 18 this year, or Kwanza, an African-American holiday celebrating black heritage that begins on Dec. 26. But other December holidays include Santa Lucia Day, a festival of light often celebrated in Scandinavia and Sweden, and Yule, a midwinter festival that has been celebrated since the 4th century.

No matter what you celebrate this season, there is plenty to do across Central Virginia to get in the spirit. From light displays to local markets to musical celebrations, 8News has compiled a list of festive events that will keep you busy into the New Year.

Christmas Under the Clock Tower

Friday, Dec. 2 to Sunday, Jan. 1

  • This year’s RBI Services Christmas Under the Clocktower tree decorating event will feature tree designs by 23 nonprofits from across the Richmond region.
  • The trees will be on display until Jan. 1, giving guests the chance to learn about local nonprofits and support the work they do through donations. 

Richmond Ballet presents ‘The Nutcracker’

Friday, Dec. 9 to Friday, Dec. 23

  • Richmond Ballet is debuting ‘The Nutcracker’ with new scenery by Alain Vaës, choreography by Ma Cong and revamped costumes.
  • Tickets to the production start at $25. Opening night at the Dominion Energy Center, located at 600 E Grace Street in Richmond, on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m.
  • More details can be found on Richmond Ballet’s website.

Photos with Santa at Pactamere Farm

Every Saturday and Sunday from Saturday, Dec. 3 to Saturday, Dec. 24

  • Take pictures with Santa at Pactamere Farm in Glen Allen, alongside the farm’s goat kids which will be dressed in their holiday best as elves!
  • Admission to the farm also includes the chance to meet and play with the goats. Holiday drinks and treats will also be available.
  • Santa will be at the farm every Saturday and Sunday until Christmas Eve. Sign up for a time slot and buy your tickets online

Miracle of Christmas – Live at the Zoo

Tuesday, Dec. 20 to Thursday, Dec. 22

  • Visitors to the Richmond Metro Zoo are invited to watch a live reenactment of the Nativity story featuring zoo animals, including camels, donkeys, sheep and goats.
  • The zoo, located at 8300 Beaver Bridge Road in Moseley, Virginia, will present the show three times each during the evenings of Dec. 20, 21 and 22. Each show is 20 minutes long.
  • Musical performances given by instrumental and vocal groups from surrounding communities, schools and churches will precede each show.

Capital City Kwanzaa Festival 

Friday, Dec. 30

  • Capital City Kwanzaa, the largest Kwanzaa celebration in Virginia, is back!
  • The event will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Greater Richmond Convention Center at 403 N. 3rd Street.
  • The event will feature performances, workshops, children’s activities and food.

Richmond Holiday Lights Show

Friday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Dec. 31

  • Visitors are invited to drive through dozens of dazzling lights and holiday-themed displays and tune in to the synchronized light show on their radio as they go.
  • The route starts at Richmond Raceway and spans one mile.
  • Visitors have the option to buy either a general admission ticket, which allows them to enjoy the show during a specific date and time of their choosing or a seasonal pass that gives them unlimited access on any day the event is open. Tickets are available online.

Chesterfield County Holiday Lights

Any day!

  • You can make sure you’re not missing out on the best light displays in Chesterfield County with an online map of the best-decorated houses.
  • You can view the mobile-friendly map here and use it as you drive through your own personal light tour.
  • You can also share your favorite decorations with the county or suggest a house for the map on Facebook.

Hopewell Tour of Lights

Any day!

  • If you’re looking to take a tour of the best holiday lights in Hopewell, the city has made it super easy to visit a list of top houses on the Tour of Lights.
  • The city recommends visiting the houses from 5 to 9 p.m. daily and includes both traditionally lit houses and homes with tacky lights on its light tour list.
  • After the tour, Hopewell opened an online poll where you can vote for your favorite tacky and traditionally lit homes. Simply click this link to be taken to the voting page.

Winterfest at King’s Dominion

Friday, Nov. 25 to Sunday, Jan. 1

  • “Winterfest” is back at Kings Dominion for select nights until New Year’s Day.
  • Catch the Wonderland parade, watch live holiday shows, and enjoy some holiday treats. And, if you’re a thrill seeker, you can always brave 20 available rides.
  • Advance-purchase tickets are available now.

Holidays at Stony Point Fashion Park

Saturday, Nov. 19 to Monday, Jan. 2

  • Conquer your shopping list and celebrate the holiday season all December long with a full agenda of events at Stony Point Fashion Park.
  • Highlights of this year’s celebrations will include the return of the popular Stony Point Ice-Skating Rink, weekend holiday vendors and a family-friendly New Year’s celebration.

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden

Monday, Nov. 21 to Sunday, Jan. 8

  • Come enjoy more than a million lights decorating 50 acres at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.  
  • While you’re there, check out the model train exhibit in the Kelly education center and Christmas Trees decorated by Henrico County Public School students, and a 20-foot-tall, cut, live tree in the Conservator.
  • Tickets are can be reserved at

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens

Friday, Nov. 11 to Sunday, Jan. 8

  • Check out “Christmas Town” at Busch Gardens on select days until Jan. 8.
  • Visitors can watch six holiday shows, take a picture with Father Christmas, eat a holiday meal or take in the holiday light display featuring 10 million individual lights and a 50-foot Christmas tree.
  • Tickets can also be purchased online.

Three Kings celebration in Chesterfield County

Saturday, Jan. 7

  • The Three Kings celebration is a family-friendly cultural experience for the whole community, but specifically draws members from the local immigrant Latino community, the release states.
  • Children’s crafts, county and nonprofit resource tables, giveaways, a scavenger hunt and more will be available for attendees.
  • The event will take place on Saturday, Jan. 7, from 1 to 3 p.m. at St. Augustine Catholic Church, located at 4400 Beulah Road.

RVA Winter Puppetfest

Friday, Dec. 23 to Friday, Dec. 30

  • The RVA Winter Puppetfest features a number of different shows presented by Puppets of Broad Street.
  • The shows are held at the Richmond Triangle Players’ Robert B. Moss Theatre at 1300 Altamont Ave in Richmond.
  • Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased online.

Santa’s Wonderland at Ashland Bass Pro Shop

Sunday, Nov. 6 to Saturday, Dec. 24

  • Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s across the country will be hosting “Santa’s Wonderland” until Dec. 24.
  • Visitors will be able to take a free photo with Santa. Reservations are recommended.
  • For more information visit the website.

Concluded Events

Henrico Holiday Plant Sale

Thursday, Dec. 1 to Friday, Dec. 2, and Thursday, Dec. 8 to Friday, Dec. 9

  • Get your holiday wreaths, poinsettias and other greenery at two plant sales put on by students in the horticultural and landscaping programs at the Advanced Career Education Center at Virginia Randolph and the Advanced Career Education Center at Hermitage.
  • The first sale will be at the ACE Center at Virginia Randolph in Glen Allen from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2, and the second sale will be at the ACE Center at Hermitage in Henrico from Dec. 8 to Dec. 9.

West Broad Village Christmas tree lighting

Saturday, Dec. 10

  • West Broad Village’s annual tree lighting ceremony will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The countdown to the lighting will begin at 5:45 p.m. in the heart of West Broad Village, also known as The Pad, at 2250 Old Brick Road in Glen Allen.
  • Other activities will include photos with Santa Claus, holiday music, festive treats and a snowball arena.
  • The lighting is free to all.

Henrico County Santa Paws

Saturday, Dec. 10

  • From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., visitors are encouraged to bring their dogs to Short Pump Park, located on 3329 Pump Road, to take free photos with Santa.
  • There will also be a food truck, vendors and family activities.

Winter Wander at The Valentine

Sunday, Dec. 11

  • Guests throughout the Richmond region are invited to celebrate the winter holidays in the city’s Court End neighborhood.
  • The Valentine is partnering with the Court End Council to offer free tours of historic sites like St. John’s Church and the Virginia Executive Mansion.
  • There will also be carriage rides, live music, crafts and more on Clay Street.
  • The event runs from noon to 4 p.m. and is free.