Yorktown’s holiday celebrations begin with a tradition that is more than two generations old: lighting the Christmas tree.
The late Rev. Claud G. Barkley, then the pastor at Yorktown Baptist Church, along with the county clerk’s office staff decorated a cedar tree on the corner of Ballard and Main streets in 1945.
Now, a 20-foot Giant Everest Fir will grace Riverwalk Landing beginning Nov. 30. But the event begins further up the street at the Yorktown Victory Monument at 6:30 p.m. with a Fifes and Drums of York Town performance followed by a procession to Riverwalk Landing for the tree lighting ceremony. Children can talk with Santa and Mrs. Claus about their wish lists.
Christmas fun is planned throughout the weekend.
New to Yorktown this year is the two-day Yule Celebration at the Watermen’s Museum 11 a.m. Dec. 1 and 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Dec. 2. This is a chance to have a Viking Christmas with members from the Society of Amateur Vikings for General Reenactment, said Steve Ormsby, president of The Watermen’s Museum.
“Guests will have the opportunity to learn more about the Yule Celebration and how some of these familiar customs became part of our modern Christmas celebration,” he said.
The Carriage House will feature Victorian Christmas crafts and photos with St. Nicholas for a $5 per child suggested donation until 3 p.m. The Outdoor Viking Yule Celebration continues until 6 p.m.
Shopping is made easy and fun with the Christmas Market on Main Street. Everything from nautical paintings to roasted chestnuts are available. The market runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with the Town Crier and the Fifes and Drums of York Town followed by Santa and Mrs. Claus leading the way down Main Street. Throughout the day there will be strolling entertainment.
The Lighted Boat Parade along Riverwalk Landing wraps up festivities on Dec. 1. The fun on land begins at 6 p.m. with caroling around a beach bonfire and a performance by the Fifes and Drums of York Town, and some complimentary hot cider. The boat parade sets sail at 7 p.m. with colorfully lighted boats on the water.
According to Jessica Wauhop, content marketing specialist with the York County Tourism Development office, some boats take as much as 20 hours to decorate. Visitors are encouraged to bring flashlights to navigate the beach area at night more easily.
Another annual favorite returns as the Gallery at York Hall hosts its Cookies with Santa event from 1-4 p.m. Dec 2. The kids can visit Santa and mom and dad can do some shopping at the Gallery. Cookies with Santa is free for the kids.
Another fun shopping experience is the Holiday Market and Toyland Parade from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Dec. 8. Local produce, seafood and various soups, cheeses, jellies and breads are among the items for sale. Decorative wreaths, candles, soaps, and local art is also available. The Toyland parade is led by the Fife and Drums of York Town with area children in the holiday-themed strollers, and wagons following. Kids will also be able to take a ride on the Polar Express.
The crafty folks with Virginia Cooperative Extension and Watermen’s Museum will be on hand inside the Freight Shed and in front of the Water Street Grille fountain to offer ornament-making workshops and some tips on decorating.
The American Revolutionary Museum at Yorktown has a special holiday program, Christmastide in Virginia, where re-enactors will share stories about Christmas and winter in military encampments during regular operating hours from Dec. 20-31.