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November 23, 2007

CW's Grand Illumination set for Dec. 2

Colonial Williamsburg is known throughout the world for its natural Christmas décor, period music and fine dining, but few traditions may be as well known or anticipated as Grand Illumination, the signature event of the season.

Balladeers, choirs and fifes and drums will provide entertainment on four outdoor stages throughout the Historic Area: at the site of the first theater in America on Palace Green; on Market Square across from the Peyton Randolph site; on the south side of the Capitol; and at the Public Gaol, on the west lawn of the Coke-Garrett House north of Nicholson Street. The entertainment will be from 4:45 – 6:15 p.m. and following the fireworks until 7:30 p.m.

Cressets – elevated baskets of pine, or “fat wood” – are lit at dusk. At 6:15 p.m., candles are illuminated in public buildings, shops and homes throughout the Historic Area, and fireworks are set off simultaneously at three locations – the Governor’s Palace, Powder Magazine and Capitol. Following the conclusion of the fireworks, entertainment resumes on the outdoor stages until 7:30 p.m.

Francis Street will close at noon to regular traffic. The Magazine will be closed all day for set up of fireworks, and the Palace and Capitol access will be limited. Bus service from the Visitor Center via the blue line which circles the Historic Area will cease at 4:30 p.m. There will be limited bus service via the red line from the Visitor Center to the Palace from 4 p.m. until 5:45 p.m. Regular bus service resumes at 8:30 p.m. runs until 10 p.m. A limited number of handicapped parking spaces will be located in the Tavern lot at the east end of Francis Street accessed via York Street.

Grand Illumination is open to the public, and there is no charge for outdoor activities.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Barbara Brown
(757) 220-7280