Tree lightings, street parades, wine country vines covered in twinkling lights… yes, the holidays have arrived in Loudoun. Add in holiday markets and festive events, there’s no shortage of fun in Loudoun.
Here we select some not-to-miss seasonal highlights.
VILLAGE AT LEESBURG HOLIDAY CELEBRATIONS
The Village at Leesburg kicks off the festive season very early with its annual tree lighting on November 18 at 4 p.m. accompanied by live music, carolers, cookie decorating and an appearance by Santa and Mrs. Claus. The fun actually starts earlier in the day with a Holiday Open House: special deals and discounts from local merchants. Other Village events through December include the ever-popular Tuba Christmas - live tuba music in front of the tree on December 10 – and Storytime with Mrs. Claus on December 3 and December 17 in association with Rust Library.
Christmas in Middleburg
Picture the scene: dozens of scarlet-jacketed riders and their foxhounds, vintage horse-drawn carriages, and a 1.5-mile-long procession of drummers, bagpipers, bikers and more - welcome to the annual Christmas in Middleburg parade on December 2. Throughout the day there are choir performances and in addition to the town’s restaurants, food trucks will be located on South Madison and North Pickering streets. King Street Oyster Bar will also have “Sip & See” tables for the parade. Celebrations actually start the night before (December 1), with the 5 p.m. tree lighting ceremony and carol singing in the postcard perfect downtown. It’s not the only holiday fun in Middleburg. Starting December 2, and continuing every weekend until Christmas Eve, horse-drawn carriages take guests through the town and there’s often free hot cocoa at ice cream parlors and various shops.
Downtown Leesburg turns into a glittering wonderland come the holidays, with a giant Christmas Tree lighting in the Town Square, streetlamps adorned with red ribbons and greenery. Take the kids to the tree lighting ceremony on December 2. That same day, and on December 3, attend the 33rd Annual Leesburg Holiday Fine Arts & Crafts Show at Ida Lee Park Recreation Center where more than 90 local artists, artisans and crafters display and sell everything from candles, stained glass and wood carvings to jewelry and table linens - the perfect place to buy gifts. December 9 meanwhile is the Annual Christmas and Holiday Parade where Santa and friends are ushered down King Street, through historic downtown Leesburg. The parade begins at Ida Lee at 6 p.m. and ends at Fairfax Street. Merriment actually begins the night before (December 8) when Tally Ho Theater hosts the annual Jingle Jam concert. Tickets cost $25 and proceeds go to Juvenile Diabetes and Loudoun Hunger Relief.
THE MARSHALL PLAN TREE WALK
Dodona Manor’s signature holiday event kicks off December 2 at 4:30 p.m. with an outdoor tree lighting ceremony followed by an immersive tree walk. Bundle up for hot chocolate and s’mores before sunset and then enjoy walking by 17 beautifully decorated trees on the grounds, each representing a European nation that benefited from the Marshall Plan. This year’s lighting is made more meaningful by the property celebrating the 70th anniversary of George C. Marshall winning the Nobel Peace Prize. On top of the tree walk, the ceremony will feature a handbell performance of holiday favorites by Music to Free, a non-profit group that teaches handbells in low/fixed-income senior living centers, veteran rehabilitation programs and addiction treatment programs in northern Virginia.
Christmas in Purcellville
Purcellville’s tree lighting ceremony takes place December 2 at 6:30 p.m. while December 9 is the Holiday Parade through the streets of downtown followed by the annual all-day Holiday Market at the Bush Tabernacle featuring work from local artists and artisans. Also on December 9, bring the kids to Photos with Santa in the train station depot opposite Magnolias at the Mill. Visitors and residents can also join a self-guided tour of the neighborhood lights.
FRANKLIN PARK WINTER LIGHTS WALK
Each evening from December 7-23 the backyard of the Franklin Park Arts Center is transformed into a winter light display featuring giant lollipops, candy canes, butterflies and gingerbread houses. Bundle up and bring some hot cocoa. Prior to that, on the evenings of November 25 and December 1 and 2, Goose Creek Players will present its theatrical version of Miracle on 34th Street at the Arts Center.
PC: Franklin Performing Arts Center
MARK MILOVATS CHRISTMAS WONDERLAND
Ion International Training Center in Leesburg kicks off the season with a live Holiday Ice show on December 2. Pop crooner Mark Milovats, aka “America's Premier Showman” performs on stage with his dancing ensemble while a variety of Olympians and world-class skaters perform on ice.
Lucketts Holiday Open House
Over in Lucketts, the famous Old Lucketts Store hosts its annual Holiday Open House from November 30 to December 3. Browse or purchase antiques, vintage clothing and accessories from the main store or purchase a ticket online to the nearby Holiday Design House – a festively decorated 19th Century farmhouse in which all décor and items, from homeware to ornaments to furniture, are for sale. On top of the two stores, the property will also feature fun holiday murals, photo vignettes and a wine garden.
LIGHTING OF THE VINES
Drive west on Route 7 toward Bluemont on any Thursday through Sunday evening this holiday season and a surreal sight greets you: to the left of the road, about a mile south, the slopes of the Blue Ridge are carpeted in a glorious golden glow. If it looks like a scene from a sci-fi movie, it is in fact The Lighting of the Vines, 15,000 holiday lights strung through 10,000 grape vines at Bluemont Vineyard. Launching on November 24 and on show until January 1, the vines are lit Thursday-Sunday at 5:30 p.m. While they can be seen from miles away, the best place to enjoy them is at the winery tasting room, the Stables event venue or the property’s Harvest Room & Kitchen restaurant up the hill.
CRAFTS AND CRAFT BEVERAGES
Several wineries and breweries feature artisan markets. Start shopping this weekend at Old 690 Brewing Company's Holiday Market November 18. Some to check out on December 3 include the Merrymaker’s HAPPY HOLI-YAYS Market at Walsh Family Wine and Lost Barrel Brewing’s Indoor Holiday Market. On December 9, enjoy a wine and Christmas cookie pairing (four cookies from Cosmic Confections in Round Hill) in the tasting room of Bogati Winery, part of Hill High Market, and on December 10, Cana Vineyards and Winery hosts its annual "Crafts and Cheer" festival featuring a craft market, a dessert paired with a wine flight and the roasting of s’mores around crackling firepits. Santa may make an appearance in the afternoon, so bring the kids.
GRAND MENORAH LIGHTING AT ONE LOUDOUN
On December 10 at 4:30 p.m. One Loudoun will host the 6th annual Grand Menorah Lighting to commemorate Chanukah, the eight-day long Jewish festival of lights. The ceremony will include an LED robot entertainer, a performance from a Hasidic musician and a fire engine that will do a gelt drop from its ladder. Other Menorah lightings will take place in different towns in Loudoun throughout the eight nights (December 7 to sundown on December 15) including Middleburg, Aldie, Purcellville and Dulles. Along with the lights, enjoy traditional dishes such as Sufganiyot (jelly donuts) and latkes (potato pancakes).
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE AT LEESBURG ANIMAL PARK
Fridays through Sundays, from December 8 to 23, take your kids to meet Santa and hang out with a variety of exotic animals at the Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park. Furry friends to see include camels, sheep, horses and cats, with some animals adorned in festive gear. Other activities include photo ops with Santa, a holiday train ride and craft projects all under the glow of decorative twinkling lights. Magic.
CHRISTMAS TREE SHOPPING
Visit one of the many Christmas tree farms of western Loudoun to pick your own spruce. Snicker’s Gap Christmas Tree Farm in Round Hill was featured in none other than Martha Stewart Living while Loudoun Nursery has been growing trees since the 1970s. Other spots to cut your own tree include Country Loving Christmas Farm and Milltown Creek Tree Farms. If you want a fresh, pre-cut option, check out Farmer John's Market off Route 15, which will kick off the season with a holiday market December 2-3.
2023 Hillsboro Holiday Homes Walking Tour
Join the Hillsboro Preservation Foundation for the 2023 Hillsboro Holiday Homes Walking Tour on December 9 to see the magic of the season come alive inside historic sites alongside Hillsboro Main Street. Individuals will have three unique touring options which include a guided tour, self guided tour and the newly added candlelight tour. En route will be cheerful carolerers, warm libations and homemade goodies for your indulgence. While you're in the spirit, don't forget to stop by the Old Stone School's Christmas Market. You can purchase tickets and pick your preferred tour option here,
WILDLIFE IN WINTER
Need to get the kids out and about? Head over to Brambleton Library on December 5 at 2 p.m. for Wildlife in Winter, a family-friendly program co-sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy and the Loudoun County Public Library where kids get to learn how animals migrate, hibernate and adapt to harsh winter weather. The event may feature a turtle, a snake, an opossum and a raptor.
PC: Loudoun Wildlife Conservatory
CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT
Talking wildlife, after Christmas - on December 28 - join the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy for the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count. Amateur bird watchers join experienced birders to count as many feathered friends as they can in geographic areas that cover more than 177 square miles of the county and include Banshee Reeks Nature Preserve, Dulles Greenway Wetlands, Beaverdam Reservoir, Morven Park, Ball’s Bluff, Waterford’s Phillips Farm, several private estates and much of the rural western portions of the county. After the counting, participants meet for a Tally Rally to share stories of the day’s highlights. Sign up at https://loudounwildlife.org/events/ by December 22.