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Grand Illumination

December 3, 10, 17, 2022

Join the Colonial Williamsburg community as we celebrate the holiday season with three Grand Illumination weekends, December 2-4, 9-11, and 16-18. Yuletide entertainment will include favorite holiday traditions, as well as heartwarming new additions to the festivities. In the 18th century, illuminations — the firing of guns and lighting of fireworks — celebrated major events such as the birthday of a reigning sovereign, military victories, or the arrival of a new colonial governor. Begin the special day by checking out the unique decorations throughout the Historic Area. Then, enjoy musical performances on multiple stages throughout our streets and fireworks displays from the Capitol and the Palace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

When is Grand Illumination?

  • Instead of a single Sunday event, the Grand Illumination events and fireworks will occur on three consecutive Saturday nights.
  • The festivities begin each Friday night, with the Lighting of the Cressets, 18th century entertainments on Duke of Gloucester Street and a Celebration of the Yule Log, a holiday procession beginning at the Capitol and ending at the Magazine where guests will have an opportunity to make a wish and toss a sprig of greenery into the bonfire.
  • This December, our Grand Illumination festivities will be on Saturday, December 3rd, Saturday, December 10th, and Saturday, December 17th from 5:00 p.m.– 7:00 p.m. Each night and will feature two locations for fireworks, one at the Governor’s Palace and one at the Capitol.
  • There will not be a premium seating area on Palace Green. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Can I reserve a specific audience area on Palace Green?
No. All audience areas are free and open to the public. There will not be a premium seating area on Palace Green. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

What time do the fireworks start? What time should I arrive?
The fireworks begin at 7:00 p.m., but it’s best to arrive early. The official start of Grand Illumination holiday programs throughout the Historic Area is at 5 p.m.

Will each week be the same Grand Illumination fireworks show?

Yes. Each Saturday night, fireworks will be fired simultaneously from the Capitol and Palace. There will not be fireworks at the Magazine.

Where are the best places to watch the Grand Illumination fireworks shows?
For the Palace fireworks, anywhere on Palace Green is perfect. For the Capitol show, the best viewing area is on Duke of Gloucester St east of Botetourt St

Where should I park?
Parking will be at a premium downtown all day. We recommend parking at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center and using the free shuttle to the Historic Area.

What time do the shuttles run?
Shuttle buses will run on a 30-minute schedule from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Limited bus service to Visitor Center & Palace stops only from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. There will be no bus service from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. Regular bus service resumes to all stops at 9:30 pm until 10:00 p.m.

Can I bring a cooler with my own food and drinks?
Yes. Coolers are permitted.

Where can we purchase food and drinks?

There will be food trucks parked behind the Courthouse in the center of town on Nicholson St just east of North England St. Serving hot food and non-alcoholic drinks from 3 p.m.– 7 p.m.

  • Kings Arms Tavern will have a prepaid dinner on each of the Grand Illumination evenings
  • Raleigh Tavern Bakery will extend their hours until 7:30 p.m.
  • Campbell’s Tavern will offer a 3-course ticketed dining event inside the tavern
  • Chowning’s Cider stand will be open until the fireworks begin around 7:30 p.m.
  • Chowning’s Garden will offer a variety of food options


Where is the closest restroom?
In addition to regular restrooms listed on the maps and in the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app, there will be portable units installed throughout the Historic Area.


Please note that the following items are not permitted on Colonial Williamsburg Property:

  • Weapons
  • Beach umbrellas
  • Tents
  • Drones

Are the Grand Illumination Palace Green and Capitol fireworks viewing areas ADA accessible?
Yes.

Is there special seating for seniors?
No, there is not special seating for seniors.

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