Colonial Williamsburg’s Grand Illumination

Merchant Square and Colonial Williamsburg are magical at Christmas time, even more so when shared with a good friend. Sunday my friend Leslie came to town and we made a point to arrive at Merchant Square in time for Ed Whitaker’s 15-minute version of A Christmas Carol.

The Virginia Theater Machine production of A Christmas Carol

We laughed out loud at the silly good humor and creativity of the show. Ed was engaging as the self-important thespian, and his stage manager Bob almost stole the show a couple of times. They perform weekends in December at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Look for the Virginia Theater Machine at the corner of Henry and Duke of Gloucester Streets.

It was very cold, so we kept moving after that, doing a lot of window shopping and popping in and out of stores to get warm and snag a few Christmas gifts.
Demonstration of traditional European Christmas crafts outside of Binn's Fashion Shop
We kept wondering why people were looking at us, until we realized it wasn’t our magnetic personalities and natural beauty—it must have been our hats! They were great conversation starters, and even after dark we had no trouble finding each other in the crowd. (As if two women, one 5’9″ and the other 5’10” needed to stand out in the crowd … ok, so we just wanted to be silly, work with me here, ok?)

Leslie and Laurie at Grand Illumination, Colonial Williamsburg, 2009

We enjoyed the door decorations made with natural materials until it began to get dark. I will definitely go for a walk this weekend in the daylight to see more of them. It’s one of my favorite things to do in December.

Decorations made with natural materials on a home in Colonial Williamsburg

All afternoon there were musicians and choirs in several locations performing songs of the season, and groups of visitors were also singing carols.
Twilight in Colonial Williamsburg at the Grand Illumination

The official Grand Illumination activities began with the Fife & Drum corp parade at 5:15, followed by lighting the candles in the windows of all the homes and public buildings in the historica area. That alone is a wonderful sight. But then, at 6:45 p.m. the fireworks started in three locations: the Governor’s Palace, the Magazine, and the Capitol. From our position on Palace Green next to the Greenhow Lumber House, you could see them in three directions. I loved seeing the stately Governor’s Palace as the backdrop for the lights, but it was also dramatic to see the silhouettes of the colonial rooftops and bare tree branches against the dramatic sky show.

Fireworks at the Governor's Palace, Colonial Williamsburg, December 6, 2009

Fireworks at the Governor's Palace, Colonial Williamsburg, December 6, 2009

Fireworks at the Magazine, Colonial Williamsburg, December 6, 2009

Fireworks at the Magazine, Colonial Williamsburg, December 6, 2009

Fireworks at the Magazine, Colonial Williamsburg, December 6, 2009

I’m kind of kicking myself for all of the years I’ve been too tired or too busy to go to this spectacular free event just a few blocks from my home. We enjoyed it so much we already have a date for next year. And next year, I’m not taking “but there’s 3 games on tv I want to see” as an excuse from Jeff. He’s going, or Santa will hear about it. So there!

Hey, Leslie … thanks for sending me your great fireworks photos. You rock!

If the rest of you need more encouragement to go to this event, be sure to check out the fabulous photos on The Daily Press’s web site.

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