The Yorktown holiday season is packed with traditions and so many different opportunities to gather outdoors with friends, family, and neighbors to celebrate the season. Whether it's shopping the holiday markets to support local businesses, sharing the magic of imagination with your children, or simply taking in the Christmas lights as they reflect off the York River—it's such a festive time of year to visit Yorktown!
Christmas Tree Lighting
Victory Monument & Yorktown Waterfront
Friday, Dec. 3
Monument Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m.
Tree Lighting at 7:30 p.m.
Our events kick off with Yorktown’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony. This community tradition goes all the way back to 1945. That's the year that Reverend Claud G. Barkley, Pastor of Yorktown Baptist Church, and staff from the County Clerk’s office, decorated a cedar tree that stood at the corner of Main and Ballard Streets. The York County Historical Committee works hard to keep this ritual going! The tree that is used today is a 20-foot artificial commercial “Giant Everest Fir” tree placed down in Riverwalk Landing. And NEW this year—will be added ornaments to help bring the Christmas spirit to the waterfront.
Everyone is invited to gather at the Yorktown Victory Monument by 6:30 p.m. for live music, including a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town. From there, the procession will make its way from the Victory Monument to Riverwalk Landing, where the tree lighting ceremony will begin. Make sure you stay for a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, eager to hear all those wish lists!
Christmas Market on Main Street
Historic Main Street
Saturday, Dec. 4 | 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 5 | 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Whether you're searching for a holiday gift for family, friends, or as a treat to yourself—you’re sure to find it at the Christmas Market on Main Street! This is one of the most anticipated Yorktown events every holiday season and it has been extended to two days. Close to 100 vendors line the street selling everything from nautical paintings to handmade soaps to Christmas ornaments and wreaths! The Town Crier will ring in the market at 10 a.m. on Saturday, followed by a performance from the Fifes and Drums of York Town to officially open the market. Then, Santa Claus himself will greet families. Expect strolling musical entertainment throughout the day to add to the festive atmosphere and an ice carver set up in front of York Hall on Sunday. It simply doesn't get more "Christmas" than this!
Lighted Boat Parade
Saturday, Dec. 4
Pre-parade festivities begin at 6 p.m.
Boat Parade begins at 7 p.m.
If you’re ready to get into the holiday spirit, you’ll want to put this one on your calendar! Join us at the Yorktown Waterfront from 6 to 8 p.m. for the Lighted Boat Parade. Pre-parade festivities start at 6 p.m. and include caroling around a beach bonfire, a musical performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, and complimentary hot cider.
The boats will finish out the evening, as they make their way down the river in a dazzling show of lights that starts at 7 p.m. This annual community tradition has been taking place for more than two decades, and brings neighbors together to celebrate the season. As an added safety precaution, families are encouraged to bring flashlights to assist in navigation around town at night. No rain dates are scheduled for any holiday-related weekend activities. If rain, storms, or heavy winds are in the forecast—please call the York County Event Weather Hotline (757.890.3520) before you head to town. We will always update it with the most current information. This special parade is sponsored by the Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade Committee.
Cookies with Santa
Gallery at York Hall
Sunday, Dec. 5 | 1 to 4 p.m.
The Gallery at York Hall is excited to host Cookies with Santa—a complimentary event to make the season bright. It's free for families and Santa will stay socially distanced. Bring your phones or cameras, wish lists, and your face masks! Don’t forget to stop inside the Gallery on your way out to pick up unique Christmas presents handcrafted by local artists. The Gallery is filled with local one-of-a-kind art pieces from hundreds of local artists, in all types of mediums.
In addition to all the special events, Historic Yorktown's many shops and restaurants will get in the spirit of the season by offering pre-made gift baskets, gift certificates, and other unique stocking stuffer ideas.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook so you don't miss our annual Holiday Gift Guide that takes you inside our museums, galleries, and other local businesses!