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Grand Illumination–Colonial Williamsburg 2012

Colonial Williamsburg kicks off the holiday season with its annual Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012Colonial Williamsburg kicks off the holiday season with its annual Grand Illumination on Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012

through expanded hours and more immersive celebrations to herald the start of the 2012  holiday season.

The celebration begins at 5 p.m. when candles are lit in the windows of public buildings, shops and homes. At 5:15 p.m., live entertainment begins on four outdoor stages at Palace Green, Market Square, the Gaol and Capitol building.

The public can participate in the lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. when thousands of guests will be invited to activate glow sticks simultaneously to illuminate the town.

Following the lighting ceremony, Colonial Williamsburg’s Fifes and Drums play Grand Tattoo on all four outdoor stages to signal the beginning of Colonial Williamsburg’s holiday season.

imageAt 7 p.m., fireworks will fill the sky over the Historic Area from four locations: the Governor’s Palace, Market Square, and the north and south sides of the Capitol building.

At 7:30 p.m. the Fifes and Drums march down Duke of Gloucester Street, and guests are invited to join in.

Colonial Williamsburg Ambassadors, wearing special badges, will be available to assist guests, making it easier for guests to get the most out of their holiday experience. The Ambassadors will be stationed in the Historic Area, Visitor Center and other high traffic areas to hand out broadsides, answer questions, and guide and direct guests.

Illuminations — the firing of guns into the air and lighting fireworks — were commonly used during the 18th century to celebrate major events. The tradition of Grand Illumination originated in 1934 with a “White Lighting.” The first re-creation of an 18th-century Christmas in Williamsburg featured single candles in the windows of the Historic Area’s restored and reconstructed buildings, as well as garlands and greens on the outside of the buildings.

For more information, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.com.

 Schedule of Events 2012

On Sunday, December 2, come early and stroll the Revolutionary City and decide which decorations you like best. Then, enjoy a relaxed dining experience and musical performances before the fireworks light up the sky.


10:30 a.m.–8:15 p.m.
Guided tours, dining events, live music, and shopping throughout the Revolutionary City, historic taverns, and resort restaurants


5 p.m.
Candles are lit in public buildings and homes


5:15 p.m.
Entertainment begins on outdoor stages at Palace Green, Market Square, Gaol, and the Capitol


6:30 p.m.
Guests illuminate the Revolutionary City with glow sticks


6:40 p.m.
Fifes and Drums play Grand Tattoo


7 p.m.
Fireworks at Governor’s Palace, Market Square, and the Capitol


8 p.m.
A Grand Medley of Entertainments at the Kimball Theatre


9:30 p.m.
Buses to the Revolutionary City resume operations until 10 p.m.

 Parking & Transportation

Please park at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and take the shuttle buses to the Revolutionary City.

Shuttle Scheduleimage

9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
Every half hour from the Visitor Center to all regular stops

5:30–6:45 p.m.
Express service ONLY from the Visitor Center to the Palace stop

6:45–9:30 p.m.
NO SERVICE*

9:30–10 p.m.
Regular service to all stops


*Note: Historic Area Buses will not run during the fireworks. Please plan to arrive early. Bus Stop locations are available on the interactive map at the bottom of this page.

Download the 2012 Colonial Williamsburg holiday planner here

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