Save your traditions, Christmas isn’t canceled

Updated: Dec. 10, 2020 at 1:37 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Christmas isn’t canceled. Your traditions may look a little different this year, but you can still hang on to them. NBC12′s Sarah Bloom teamed up with Richmond Family Magazine this year for a look at how to celebrate safely.

In an ordinary year, you’re probably used to bustling around town checking off visits with Santa, light tours and holiday parties.

This is no ordinary year. You can still see Santa - but it may be behind plexiglass - that’s ok! What a way to remember what 2020 felt like, right? Short Pump has Santa in a bubble (snowglobe), Cabela’s has Santa behind plexiglass, so there are options.

The GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter is a community favorite and luckily, is largely outside. It’s 4 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 10 - except Christmas and Christmas Eve.

There are a few changes - get your tickets online ahead of time, they’re trying to cut back on people in groups like lines. And if you’re over five, wear a mask. Consider weeknights or later time slots for fewer people.

And if you love lights and haven’t gotten your fill - try the Illuminate Drive-Through Light Show at Meadow Event Park

“That’s really the perfect pandemic activity,” said Margaret Thompson with Richmond Family Magazine. “Because you are just in your car with your family and you don’t get out of your car.”

It’s 5:30 to 10 p.m. nightly through Jan. 3. Consider weeknights and early or later times for shorter wait times

King’s Dominion reopened for Taste of the Season for the first time in 2020. This is a limited capacity event. But it is outside - you’ll see holiday tastings, rides, and a tall Christmas tree.

“They have lots of protocols in place; health checks and screenings,” said Thompson. “Markers to keep people socially distanced on the ground.”

For many, the Richmond Ballet’s Nutcracker is a must-see this time of year.

“They love getting dressed up and going downtown to the theater and while that’s not possible this year, thank goodness the Richmond ballet has made it possible to stream it right to your house and you can watch it over and over for a couple of weeks once you purchase it.” said Thompson.

Here are Margaret’s awesome notes. We mentioned some of this, but hers are so organized and lovely - I wanted to share them as is!

GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden:

  • 4-10PM nightly through January 10th (closed Dec. 24 & 25)
  • Prepurchased tickets required; they are available online only at
  • Masks are required at all times for all guests over age 5
  • Weekends sell out quickly; consider weeknights and early or later time slots for more availability.

Illuminate Drive-Through Light Show at Meadow Event Park

  • 5:30-10PM nightly through January 3rd
  • Purchase tickets online at or at the gate
  • You stay in your car the whole time, so it’s the perfect COVID-safe holiday activity
  • Consider weeknights and early or later times for shorter wait times

Kings Dominion’s Taste of the Season

  • Kings Dominion has reopened for the first time in 2020 with a new limited-time, limited-capacity event, Taste of the Season.
  • The outdoor holiday celebration will feature 25 sweet and savory tastings that give a twist on holiday favorites, festive themed areas, live shows and activities, and 16 popular rides throughout the park. And of course, their 300-foot tall Christmas Tree.
  • The event will be open on select dates through December 27 and reservations are required to help ensure social distancing.
  • New safety procedures are in place including extra sanitization, health screenings and social distancing markers, and masks are required
  • Socially distanced photos with Santa

Richmond Ballet’s The Nutcracker

  • For the first time in history, Richmond Ballet is streaming its acclaimed production of The Nutcracker. For only $25, families can watch this beloved holiday tradition over and over, from the comfort of home.
  • In addition to the performance itself, the Ballet is offering virtual packages and exclusive experiences, including a family package that includes a Nutcracker gift box featuring a decorate-your-own cookie kit, crafts, an activity book and more – all designed to help families create new memories this holiday season.
  • You can even get a character visit to your home!
  • Learn more at

Virginia Rep’s Watch at Home Santa’s Enchanted Workshop

  • The link to view the show will come with a Playbill and a guide to fun activities such as how to sequence a story, journaling, using maps and celebrating holidays around the world, all of which tie to the show’s plot and characters >>

Holiday Lights and Music on the Riverfront

  • Saturdays, December 12 and 19
  • 6 – 8PM
  • A display of decorative lights, Espresso-A-Go-Go, and live holiday music on Brown’s Island.
  • for more info

And as always, be sure to check the venue’s website or Facebook page for any changes before heading out.

“We asked our Facebook fans what traditions they were continuing this year, and they had some great responses,” reported RFM’s publisher, Margaret Thompson.

Other holiday traditions that can safely continue this year:

  • Driving around to look at holiday lights
  • Baking Christmas cookies. Try one of Grandma’s more complicated recipes this year! If a special relative, like Grandma, typically joins you, try having a Zoom or FaceTime baking session this year.
  • Write a letter to Santa
  • Make sending Christmas cards a family affair, having the kids write special letters to their out of town relatives they aren’t able to see this year. And include pictures!
  • Have a virtual gingerbread decorating contest with cousins or other family or friends
  • Have a living room pajama party, complete with Christmas pjs, Christmas movies, and festive food and hot cocoa

Check out all of the area’s holiday events at

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