Christmas in Roanoke, Virginia
Dickens of a Christmas
Dickens of a Christmas spans the first three consecutive Friday nights in December – highlights include a tree lighting ceremony, a Christmas parade and a Pet Costume Contest. Dickens is fun for the whole family with horse drawn carriage rides, carolers in the streets, a myriad of street performances, re-enactors dressed in costume, ice sculpture demonstration, music and dance, vendors selling their wares, a special ‘kids zone area’ and much more.
As the holiday spirit begins to fill the air, the Roanoke Valley transforms into an inviting scene for events, shopping and dining.
You’ll find all three at one of the most classic holiday experiences in the valley, Dickens of Christmas. This event is regularly rated among the Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society and takes place in downtown Roanoke. Featured are carriage rides, a Christmas parade, tree lighting, street performances, caroling, costume contests and more set among many vibrant shops that are all very walkable.
As part of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, even the trees transform to become part of the celebration. Enjoy the festive decorations and get ideas for decorating your own Christmas tree by visiting Fashions for Evergreens, a tree competition at the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center that showcases 25 professionally designed and decorated trees.
Along with ideas for decorating your tree, pick up some tips for home decorating on the Old Southwest Holiday Parlor Tour. The parlor tour showcases many of the beautiful homes that are decorated for the holidays in one of the Roanoke Valley’s most historic communities.
The excitement begins during the local communities’ holiday parades. The first is the Grandin Village Holiday Children’s Parade, which is always the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving. While there, grab a white peppermint cupcake from Viva La Cupcake to give your taste buds a sample of the season. Start off December by attending the Vinton Christmas Parade in neighboring Vinton, or the Salem Christmas Parade, which is set along Main Street in the city’s downtown.
In addition to enjoying the holiday spirit in the streets, the Roanoke Valley also celebrates the holidays with its railroad heritage. The O. Winston Link Museum welcomes Santa as he rides into the city waving from the back of a red caboose. Santa’s ride into Roanoke has become an annual event and additional activities include: sing-a-longs, crafts, snacks and performers from Southwest Virginia Ballet’s The Nutcracker.
For a historical perspective on the holidays, step back in time at the Booker T. Washington Christmas in Ole Virginia celebration at the Booker T. Washington National Monument in Hardy. The monument features costumed interpreters and provides a portrayal of where Booker T. Washington celebrated Christmas during his childhood as a slave. The celebration also includes music, refreshments and children’s activities.
The Roanoke Valley will also host several special performances. The musical, Scrooge, and the Southwest Virginia Ballet’s The Nutcracker are both performed at the Roanoke Civic Center. Also, the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra performs their Holiday Pops Spectacular at the Salem Civic Center.
When it comes to specialty shopping, the Roanoke Valley offers great additions to gift lists and provides the perfect presents for friends and family. Pick up a lightweight rod and reel for a fly fisherman from Orvis, a sweet treat for the chocoholic from Chocolatepaper or a special souvenir from the gift shops at the Virginia Museum of Transportation or the Mill Mountain Zoo.
The Roanoke Valley offers the complete holiday experience. Between shopping, accommodations, dining, festivals, special performances and more, the calendar is filled with fun activities. Check the specials and offers section of the Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau website for discounts and special packages to enhance your time in the Roanoke Valley.