RVA Illuminates and Shockoe Illuminates return in person on Friday

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:26 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2021 at 1:10 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As the holiday season warms up, a Richmond tradition returns. On Friday, Dec. 3, the city skyline will be lit up for RVA Illuminates. Unlike last year, it’s open to the public.

Festivities will get underway at the Kanawha Plaza on East Canal Street, starting at 5:45 p.m.

The longtime tradition is Richmond’s way of announcing the arrival of the holiday season.

“RVA illuminates has been going on for 30 plus years,” Tamara Jenkins with Richmond Parks and Rec said. “It brings thousands of families and people and everyone down to Kanawha Plaza to actually watch the Christmas tree and skyline be lit for the holiday season.”

The Richmond Police Department Band will perform some holiday classics, and Mayor Levar Stoney will flip the switch to light the skyline Friday at 6 p.m.

“I can’t think of a better way to kick off my holiday season here in Richmond, Virginia,” Jenkins said.

Ahead of the event, several street closures will take effect:

Downtown will not be the only spot in the city to celebrate. Shockoe Illuminates will happen just a short distance away in conjunction with RVA Illuminates.

“We’ll have roller skating; we’ll have artists and vendors to be able to start your Christmas shopping. We’re gonna have the trees and the lights go on at six o’clock to coincide with RVA illuminates downtown,” Jenkins said. “It’s just gonna be a very family-friendly event.”

Friday evening, the market will give families and friends a chance to come out and enjoy some holiday shopping, carolers, and more.

Jenkins says it is a great way to support locals.

“There are local vendors that are going to be here, and what better way to support them as we’re coming out of this pandemic,” Jenkins said.

Another great perk: ABC laws will allow you to purchase a beer or cocktail at a restaurant or bar and drink it while walking about the plaza.

“We will have the whole entire area fenced in, so you won’t be able to take it off the plaza, but you’ll be able to enjoy wandering while you’re shopping,” Jenkins said.

Victoria Nguyen is a server at Hot Chick, a popular bar and chicken joint right on the plaza. She says they are gearing up with tons of specials and eggnog cocktails for the big night.

“It gets really busy, and the bar traffic is crazy,” she said. “I’m excited to see all the people that come in and new faces. There’s a lot of people that come from out of town too.”

Shockoe Illuminates serves as a great alternative if you want to avoid the plaza crowds and find something more family-friendly.

“It’s a little bit more intimate,” Jenkins said. “You have the opportunity to be able to start your Christmas shopping or have dinner while you’re listening to holiday music; it’s a little more family-friendly down here.”

As part of the tradition, the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Community Facilities also asks businesses and residents to light up their storefronts and homes at 6 p.m.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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