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5 Richmond Holiday Events Adapted for Social Distancing

Christmas Parade 2015
Dominion Energy Christmas Parade, 2015 (Caroline Martin Photography)

Artsline: special holiday Edition || December 4, 2020

“The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing each other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of the holidays.” – W. C. Jones

Richmond is home to many holiday traditions. From parades to tacky lights, the city is full of holiday cheer! Because of COVID-19, many traditions are on hold or they have been adapted to meet social distancing guidelines. Instead of focusing on the negatives this season, Artsline brings you the holiday traditions Richmonders know and love - with a twist!

Theatre, Dance 
Purchase by December 10 for access 12/11 – 12/26
Purchase by December 17 for access 12/18 – 12/26
Starting at $25, package prices vary

For the first time in their 40-year history of performing Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, the Richmond Ballet will not offer live performances. Instead, they will release a recording of the production to watch at home. Depending on the package, viewers can purchase the recording with “Behind-the-Curtain” bonus content, gift boxes or even a visit from one of the performers in costume. Gift boxes include decorate-your-own cookies from Melissa’s Simply Sweet, a Nutcracker craft activity, and a special gift from the Nutcracker boutique.

For those still wishing for an in-person Nutcracker experience, tickets are available for Sunday, December 13th at 1:00pm and 4:30pm to watch the second act of the pre-recorded performance at the company’s Studio Theatre in downtown Richmond. Guests will meet cast members and view a short live performance after the show. To purchase ticket packages, visit or call 804.344.0906 x161.

Visual Arts, Parade
December 5, 10 am; Rebroadcast December 25
TV, Online

The Dominion Energy Christmas Parade aims to rejuvenate holiday spirit in a family-friendly setting, bringing the community together. The parade attracts up to 100,000 spectators each year across Virginia. To ensure participant and viewer safety, the parade will only be available via broadcast and online. WTVR CBS 6 will air the pre-recorded parade on Saturday December 5 and will also be available to stream on WTVR’s website, Facebook, and smart devices. It will be rebroadcast Christmas morning.

Though families cannot attend the parade in person, resources are available online to keep spirits up. From a viewing party checklist to parade bingo, families are encouraged to  discover  new traditions this season. Featured in the parade will be the winners of the first at-home float-building contest. 

The parade will still have its Grand Marshall: April O’Quinn, Richmond native and EMT. American Girl Doll recently created a doll modeled after O’Quinn because of her inspiring frontline work during the pandemic.

Available through January 8
Online (In-person option available)
$45/subscription, additional $25 for bundle

The Richmond Symphony has three holiday concerts this winter: Let it Snow - The Brass Edition, A Baroque Holiday and LolliPops 2: The Snowman. Though these concerts are offered in-person with safety protocols in place, the symphony also provides subscriptions to view all three concerts online. Both in-person attendees and those watching at home can enjoy the livestream of each concert and rewatch anytime through January 8, 2021. Let It Snow streams December 5, A Baroque Holiday streams December 12, and The Snowman streams January 2.  

Subscribers can also purchase a holiday cheer bundle that includes sleigh bells, an ornament, and on- and off-line activities. For each bundle purchased, a free Home for the Holidays digital subscription will be made available to a Military or First Responder family via VetTix. To purchase ticket packages, visit or call 804.788.1212. In-person and individual concert tickets are available here.

Crafts, Decor
Purchase by December 4 for access 12/4-12/31
Online (In-person option available)
$40/person, $34/member

After careful consideration, Maymont decided to cancel many of its annual holiday programs. Typically, visitors go on mansion tours and attend Victorian-themed holiday parties. Instead, Maymont will host  wreath workshops to extend holiday cheer into the home. While in-person sessions are available December 4 and 5, crafters can purchase materials and access to a video led by the Maymont horticulture team to create wreaths at home. The kit consists of fresh-cut evergreens, florist wire and a wreath form. Pick-up materials at The Robins Nature Center on December 4, 10 am-3 pm. The password-protected video link will be sent via email and be available through December 31.

Visual Arts, Literary Arts
Through December 31

Each December, Downtown Ashland’s trackside historic district transforms into a spectacular Christmas village. The mile-long display of holiday lights and decorations “Light Up the Tracks” for visitors to enjoy. This tradition  will be adapted to match safety protocols allowing visitors the opportunity to  enjoy shopping at the Christmas Market, view the Ashland Theatre Spectacular, and more. 

For those looking to get off the couch, the annual Ashland Railroad Run is going virtual this year. From December 5 to December 12, runners, joggers and walkers can plan their own route through Downtown Ashland and Randolph-Macon College. Though sign-ups have already ended, stay tuned for the winners for the most festive race attire. For those looking for something spooky this holiday season, historic ghost tours will be held throughout the month.

*** Some notable changes to this year’s festivities are the cancelations of public viewing of the Jefferson Hotel’s Christmas decor, the Richmond Nativity Pageant and Carytown Hanukkah. ***

If you are an arts or cultural organization with social-distance-safe events such as online classes, virtual exhibitions or concerts, or even book readings, submit your events to Artsline  here.  If you are an artist or an arts or cultural organization in need of resources and tools during the COVID-19 pandemic, check out the  list of local and national resources from Richmond CultureWorks.

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