Norfolk: your home for the holidays image

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays in Norfolk! From shopping and dining to parades, festivals, seasonal shows and so much more, Norfolk is your home for the holidays.

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Million Bulb Walk

Norfolk Botanical Garden

November 9 - December 15

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Walk through 2-miles of spectacular holiday light displays with family and friends. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season… with a few new surprises. Purchase tickets here.

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Visit with Santa!

Santa & snow queen

Photos with Santa in the Ice Palace

MacArthur Center

November 10 - December 2

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Visitors are transported to a winter wonderland when they step inside the spectacular holiday Ice Palace, featuring a 30-foot ice dome with falling snow, a light show and interactive fun for all ages.

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Visitors can also marvel at the larger-than-life snow globes, leave an icy handprint and sit on the chilly Ice Throne.

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The adventure culminates with a visit to Santa and a special gift.

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Visit the MacArthur Center website to view Santa hours of operation and package pricing.

Signing Santa with little girl

Signing Santa

MacArthur Center

November 13

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Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are invited to visit with our Sign Language Santa during this very special day.

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Interpreters will be on site all day.

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Dickens Christmas Towne

November 17 - December 31

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Celebrate family, art and literature during six magical weeks in this delightful holiday village. In recognition of the 175th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, this season will feature the first-ever U.S. exhibition of original book sketches by Christmas Carol illustrator P.J. Lynch.

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Let your imagination soar with magical fairies, carousel horses, weekend tea parties, a second giant train display, carolers, new entertainment, shops and more! Every child will receive a FREE copy of A Christmas Carol. Returning to this year’s experience will be Father Christmas, Geoffrey “the Talking Christmas tree”, puppet shows, magicians, a children’s crafts corner, and lots of free family activities! PLUS, special programming returns the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

Puppets from Dickens Christmas Towne
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Grand Illumination Parade float

34th Annual Grand Illumination Parade

Downtown Norfolk

November 17

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The 34th Annual Grand Illumination Parade, "The Lights Are Bright On Broadway,” will take place in Downtown Norfolk on Saturday, November 17 at 7pm, bringing thousands of spectators out to take in the beauty, magic, and electric holiday spirit.

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MacArthur ice rink at night

MacArthur On Ice

November 17 - January 14

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MacArthur Center kicks off the fourteenth season of ice skating at the coolest place in town. Whether it’s a family tradition or a first date, the center’s 7,200-square-foot outdoor ice rink is the place for good times this winter.

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Throughout the season, enjoy public skating sessions, ice hockey clinics, figure skating exhibitions and more. Those new to the ice or feeling a bit rusty can sign up for private lessons or get a helping hand from skate guards on-site.

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The ice skating rink is located just outside MacArthur Center, at the corner of Monticello Avenue and Freemason Street. Click here for details, special events and pricing.

Blair Middle School

November 30


Enjoy caroling from local school groups, cookies & hot chocolate, a visit from Santa & Mrs. Claus, and the lighting of the tree.

Christmas tree ornament
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Shopping bags

Ghent's Holiday Open House Weekend

November 30 - December 2


Visit your favorite Ghent businesses, take advantage of special promotions and start your holiday shopping!

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Pancakes, Paws and Santa Claws

Virginia Zoo

December 1

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Join us for Pancakes, Paws and Santa Claws at the Virginia Zoo! Along with getting to eat breakfast with Santa, guests will meet Zoo animal ambassadors, make a craft and receive a Zoo-themed coloring sheet, enjoy all-day Zoo admission and take home a lasting memento of you and Saint Nick. Click here for ticket information.

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Starving Artist Cafe

December 1


Enjoy breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Bring the family and your wish list and enjoy Starving Artist’s brunch menu and mimosas all in a festive holiday atmosphere. Each child will have the opportunity to visit with Santa and have a picture taken with him. The cost of the pictures will be $15 for 5 digital pictures. Plus, the kids will receive a special treat from Santa and Mom and Dad will receive a goodie bag filled with great offers and promotional items from area Ghent businesses.

Santa & Mrs Claus

Join us for a one-day Holiday Market in Town Point Park on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront. The Holiday Market will coincide with the 4th Annual Holiday Yule Log Bonfire, Saturday, December 1, 12 noon – 8 pm.

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This festive outdoor wonderland will feature unique and local crafters, a massive Yule Log bonfire, Christmas caroling with a take home carol book, and also a visit from the big-man himself, Santa Claus. During the festivities, hot chocolate, ciders, seasonal craft beer, mulled wine and other holiday treats will be available for purchase. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Virginia Stage Associates.

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Breakfast with Santa!

Santa having breakfast

Breakfast with Santa

MacArthur Center

December 8 & 15

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Santa always starts his day with a good breakfast and the kids are invited to join him at California Pizza Kitchen. Guests can meet and talk with Santa and enjoy their favorite breakfast and a jolly good time.

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Saturday, December 8th from 8AM - 9:30AM

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Saturday, December 15th from 8AM - 9:30AM

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Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. $7 for children/$8 for adults. Register online here.

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Breakfast with Santa

Spirit of Norfolk

December 8

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Special appearance by Santa. Breakfast buffet with kid-friendly options. DJ entertainment, dancing & festive holiday decor.

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Price: Adults from $34.90, child (Age 12 & Under) from $24.90.

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Register online here.

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Enjoy Festive Performances!

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A Christmas Carol

Wells Theatre

November 30 - December 23

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It wouldn't be the holidays without Dickens' A Christmas Carol at the Wells Theatre. Experience the childlike wonder of this heartwarming story that follows the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future as they take Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of redemption where he learns the power of kindness and compassion. This play is recommended for all ages and, in our opinion, is better the more kids you bring. Click here for show times and tickets.


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The Santaland Diaries

Wells Theatre

December 6 - 16

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Based on the memoir of award-winning comedic author David Sedaris, this hilarious one-man-show takes us back to ye olden days when he was one of Santa's Elves at Macy's Department Store. In this one-act play the struggling writer, who chooses the elf name "Crumpet," weaves an unbelievable tale of drunken Santas, lascivious actors, and combative parents. Come laugh, drink and be merry with your friends at the Wells Theatre. This late night holiday treat for adults is sure to make your spirits bright! Click here for show times and tickets.

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Richmond Ballet Presents The Nutcracker With Virginia Symphony

Chrysler Hall

December 7 - 9

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Tchaikovsky's brilliant ballet score comes to life for this magical collaboration between Richmond Ballet, The State Ballet of Virginia, and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra! Heralded as "perfect" by The New York Times, Stoner Winslett's The Nutcracker returns to Chrysler Hall for the 6th consecutive year. From a battle beneath the branches of a mystical Christmas tree, to a winter white forest, and then off to a far-off kingdom of delectable sweets, this dazzling production is sure to bring joy to everyone’s December.

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Be sure to join us for Clara's Tea Party after the Saturday matinee show! Meet characters from the Kingdom of Sweets and enjoy tasty treats! Only available with tickets purchased to the December 8 2pm performance. Clara's Tea Party tickets are $25 and can be added to your order on Ticketmaster.com.

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The Sunday matinee show will feature special guests from the Virginia Beach SPCA! Join us for The Pupcracker during the December 9 2pm show and meet adoptable dogs from the VBSPCA. Our furry friends will also make a special appearance onstage!


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Hurrah For The Holidays

Roper Performing Arts Center

December 7 - 9

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Guaranteed to get you in the holiday spirit is the annual production of HURRAH FOR THE HOLIDAYS; a joyful celebration featuring all the best music of the season - from your favorite classic standards to popular modern day hits. With the renowned Lisa Wallace kick-line dancers, a 6 foot dancing snowman, and a few festive surprises - it's an event for the entire family. Click here for tickets.


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The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Roper Performing Arts Center

December 8

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Based on the popular book by Barbara Robinson, THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER is the funny, heartwarming, and mildly irreverent story of what happens when a church play is hijacked by six of the 'absolutely worst kids in the history of the world'. A holiday tradition for 27 years, this event is presented with Happy Hanukkah, My Friend; a short program celebrating the Festival of Lights. Click here for tickets.

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Handel's Messiah

Harrison Opera House

December 15

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Join the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and VSO Chorus for the time-honored Christmas tradition of George Frideric Handel’s revered oratorio, Messiah. Get in the spirit of the season with this distinguished performance of Handel’s sacred masterpiece that presents the austere and dramatic narrative of the Messiah. From Isaiah’s prophecies to the Hallelujah Chorus, you will be brought to your feet in the Messiah performance of the season. Find tickets and details here.

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Holiday Jazz Flights

Norfolk International Airport

December 17 -21


Norfolk International Airport, in partnership with Virginia Arts Festival and Norfolk Botanical Garden, presents Holiday Jazz Flights featuring the Jet Setters.

Performances December 17 - 21 (2 - 4:30PM) in the Main Lobby.

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Garden of Lights

Norfolk Botanical Garden

December 16 - December 31

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Don’t miss Virginia’sfavorite holiday tradition. Bring your family and friends to our 25th annual light show extravaganza for a magical holiday experience. During this event, the Garden is transformed into a winter wonderland where you will enjoy a 2-mile drive through a million sparkling lights bringing the four seasons to life.

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Visit the Norfolk Botanical Garden website for ticket information.

Stay Active!

Running through downtown Norfolk

Norfolk Harbor Race Series

Downtown Norfolk

November 17 & 18

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The Chartway Norfolk Harbor Half Marathon Weekend presented by Bon Secours DePaul Orthopedics is an exciting two-day event that offers flat, fast, and scenic courses through the Mermaid City. Norfolk is your perfect race destination with a bustling Downtown, thriving arts community, and world-class cuisine, you’ll feel right at home the moment you arrive.

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The series offers a race distance for everyone, including a Half Marathon, Half Marathon Relay, 5K, and Kids Mile. Register here.

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Tacky Sweater 5k

Smartmouth Brewery

December 9

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Be a part of the fun festive holiday event that features a 5K run and a 5K walk in support of EVMS Melanoma Awareness.

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Much of the course will be along the scenic Elizabeth River Trail through Plum Point Park on the Elizabeth River and back to Smartmouth Brewery. All finishers receive a custom finisher medal.

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The Tacky Sweater 5K also features a festive post-race party at Smartmouth with food, drinks, live entertainment, finisher medals, custom age group awards and more. Click here for information.


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Garden 2.019 Fun Run

Norfolk Botanical Garden

January 1

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Kick off the New Year in a fun, healthy way. Run through 2.019 miles of spectacular light displays in the most beautiful place in Hampton Roads—Norfolk Botanical Garden!

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Each year more than 600 runners and their families enjoy the Dominion Energy Garden of Lights annual light show extravaganza while starting off the New Year on the right foot—and the left! The Garden 2.019 Fun Run is a fundraising event that helps support Norfolk Botanical Garden programs. This run is fun for the entire family. Register Online.