December 5, 12 & 19, 2020
Free reservations are sold out for all dates.
Grand Illumination will look and feel a little different this year, but our mission remains the same – to bring the Williamsburg community together to celebrate the holiday season. Yuletide entertainment will include the dramatic presentation of an original holiday story, traditional music of the season, and a joyful appearance by Father Christmas, culminating in the Grand Illumination fireworks display.
Please note that special event plans are dependent on quickly evolving health protocols and guidelines. Please sign up for our emails and check back closer to your visit for updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is different about this year?
- This December, our Grand Illumination festivities will be on Saturday, December 5th, Saturday, December 12th, and Saturday, December 19th from 5:30 p.m.– 7:00 p.m. Each night and will feature a single location for fireworks on Palace Green.
- Free reservations are required to view the fireworks and to enter the Palace Green area. If you do not have reservations, you will not be able to view the fireworks from any other location within the Historic Area.
- Capacities will be very limited.
- Audience areas will be marked on Palace Green. All audience areas will be 6 ft from each other to maintain physical distancing protocols. Each audience area is designed for parties of four.
- Chairs will be provided.
- Palace Green will be closed for the Grand Illumination event for the entire day. Only guests with reservations will be permitted into the audience area.
- The area west of North England St from Scotland St to Duke of Gloucester St, including the green space behind the Courthouse will be closed beginning at 4 p.m. each night. The grass area west of the Lumber House ticketing office on Duke of Gloucester St will also be closed.
How can I make reservations?
Free reservations are sold out for all dates.
Can I reserve a specific audience area on Palace Green?
No. All audience areas will be seated on a first come first serve basis.
Is there any other way to see the Grand Illumination fireworks if I don’t get reservations?
Yes. We will be live streaming the event including the fireworks on our website and YouTube. Fireworks will not be visible from any other spots in the Historic Area aside from Palace Green.
Where should I park?
Free parking for guests with Grand Illumination reservations will be available starting at 12:00 p.m. Noon at the Great Hopes Plantation parking lot off Visitor Center Drive, across from the Woodlands Hotel entrance. Follow the signs to the reserved parking area.
Additional parking will be available at the Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center. Guests can then walk over the pedestrian bridge or use the free shuttle to the Historic Area.
Where do I check-in?
We recommend parking at Great Hopes and checking in there. Guests will receive a wrist band and will be directed to the check-in gate on Nicholson St & North England St.
Additional check-in entry points will be located on Duke of Gloucester at Palace Green and on Prince George St and Palace Green. All guests are required to wear masks and maintain 6ft of physical distancing during check-in.
What time can I check-in and get my audience area?
The check-in locations on Palace Green will open at 12:00 p.m. To keep your transaction as touch-free as possible, please have your e-reservations ready.
Wrist bands are required for re-entry into the Palace Green event space.
All members of your party must be present at the point of check-in to receive wristbands.
What time do the shuttles run?
Shuttle buses will run on a 30-minute schedule from 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Please note there will be no shuttle service from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. All bus service stops at 6:00 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., the shuttles will resume regular service to all stops until 10:00 p.m.
Where can I get food and drinks?
Food and drinks will be available for purchase on the west side of Palace Green at the Mckenzie Orchard, adjacent to the Mckenzie Apothecary. Hot food including burgers, sandwiches, and soup will be sold as well as bottled water and soda, American Heritage hot chocolate, and mulled cider.
A pre-paid Tavern Holiday Picnic Dinner is also available. For details, please call the Colonial Williamsburg Reservation Team (1-800-447-8679) who can assist you Mon - Fri 8:30 a.m. - 6 p.m. and Sat - Sun 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Can I bring a cooler with my own food and drinks?
No. Outside food and drinks will not be permitted on Palace Green during the event.
Where is the closest restroom?
In addition to regular restrooms listed on the maps and in the Colonial Williamsburg Explorer app, there will be portable units installed on the east and west sides of Palace Green as well as at the Great Hopes parking area.
Please note that the following items are not permitted on Colonial Williamsburg Property:
- Beach umbrellas
Will the Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums perform?
All performances for Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums Corp are currently suspended.
Health & Safety
Do I need to wear a mask?
Yes. Masks are required on Palace Green during check-in and anytime you are not in your designated audience area, including when you are getting food or using the restroom facilities.
All eating and drinking must be done in your respective audience area.
Affordably priced face coverings will be available for guests to purchase in all Colonial Williamsburg retail outlets. Face shields are not an accepted substitute for masks.
Do I need to maintain physical distancing?
Yes. Signage in public spaces during the event will remind guests to maintain at least 6ft distance from other groups of people not traveling with them, this will include standing in lines or moving around the Palace Green area
Is Colonial Williamsburg implementing staff safety procedures?
Yes. All Colonial Williamsburg staff members are required to complete mandatory health screenings before arriving on-site for each shift. Staff who do not pass their health screening will not be permitted entry until they are declared fit to work by a licensed medical professional.
Masks will be worn by all staff members during the event.
For more information, please visit https://www.colonialwilliamsburg.org/update/
Is the Grand Illumination Palace Green audience area ADA accessible?
Is there special seating for seniors?
No, there is not special seating for seniors. Chairs will be provided in your audience area.
Plan Your Visit
Sign up for our emails to be the first to know more about the next Grand Illumination