Covid-19 might have changed a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it needs to put a damper on your holiday celebrations. Here’s a roundup of things to keep you busy throughout the holiday season!
Downtown Shopping, Dining, and Sights:
Staunton’s enchanting downtown is one of America’s most celebrated Main Streets and offers a truly authentic holiday experience. Find something for everyone on your shopping list in one of our boutiques and artisan shops offering unique gifts for all ages and interests. Check out Where to Get Your Shopping Fix in Staunton.
During the Covid crisis, many downtown restaurants expanded outdoor seating through the Dine Out in Downtown initiative, which closes a portion of Beverley Street on the weekends. This will extend through the end of December.
Art for Gifts
One shop you can’t miss is the R.R. Smith Center for History and Art. This gallery and museum is transformed into a holiday market showcasing works by 70 Virginia artists and artisans and features quality, handmade fine art and crafts. Shop in person, online, or reserve a 30-minute private time slot.
Santa’s workshop comes to life at 110 West Beverley Street with “living window” displays. The Staunton Downtown Development Association recreates Santa’s North Pole operations complete with live actors portraying Jolly Old Saint Nicholas and his hard working elves in scenes from Santa’s workshop. Don’t forget to bring your letters to Santa, which can be placed in a special mailbox, located in front of the storefront during the hours of the event. The living windows will be on display Dec. 5, 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
Strolling Christmas Characters & Carolers
You can also find Santa and the elves, along with other Christmas characters, strolling around downtown Staunton during SDDA’s “Saturdays in December” from 10am – 2pm, weather permitting.
Thanksgiving marks the end of Staunton’s traditional Farmers Market but this December we are in for a treat with the first, ever Winter Market! The market’s vendors—old and new—come together to offer homegrown and hand-crafted products ranging from food to clothing and accessories, home decor and gifts. The Winter Market will be held on December 5, 12 and 19 from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Learn more on their website. Many vendors have included contact information so that you can browse online and place orders ahead of time.
Celebration of Holiday Lights
Now through the end of December, Gypsy Hill Park is transformed into a winter wonderland. Come see the park aglow with holiday lights and festive decorations. If you’re lucky, you might catch a live performance! Entrance into the park is FREE and lights can be seen every evening from 5:00 pm – 11:00 pm. For more information, please visit their website. Walk and look at the setups during the day, or drive after dark. While there are many wonderful displays, pay special attention to the lighted “Field of Deer” exhibit. Each deer honors a special person.
Old World Holiday Tours at Frontier Culture Museum
Embark on an after-hours tour of the Frontier Culture Museum as you travel to England, Ireland and Germany visiting original farmsteads with costumed interpreters performing festive music and holiday skits. New this year, a cheeky and fast-paced performance of, The Reduced History of Christmas featuring two street performers weaving their way through the shortest history of Christmas in one madcap ride. The tour culminates with light refreshments. Tours run the weekends of December 4-6, 11-13, 18-20.
COVID safety measures are in place.
Avenue of Evergreens at the Blackburn Inn
The Blackburn Inn and The MaDee Project have created the second annual Avenue of Evergreens to support the fight against pediatric cancer. This event is free and open to the public. Visitors will tour the inn and donate monetarily to vote for their favorite trees and wreaths. Wreaths were decorated by businesses, nonprofits, and families, and the one earning the most money will win the People’s Choice award. Votes will be accepted until January 3.
Christmas Wonderland at Creative Works Farm
Looking for another chance to visit Santa and check out the seasonal lights? Reserve a ticket and head out to Creative Works Farm on December 4 from 5-8 p.m. Activities (planned with Covid guidelines in place) include a walk-through light and music show, musical performances, crafts, refreshments, wagon rides, visits with farm animals and more. All proceeds benefit Camp LIGHT, a summer camp for children with special needs.
Christmas Haunts and Legends from the Queen City
If you’ve enjoyed A Christmas Carol and want to learn about your hometown ghosts, sign up for a 90-minute Ghosts of Staunton tour through downtown. You’ll learn about Staunton’s history, hauntings, and holiday legends.
American Shakespeare Center’s A Christmas Carol
Savor the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, from the comfort of your own couch! Enjoy ghostly season’s greetings filled with memorable music and cheer with this contemporary twist on the age-old tale of Marley, the three Christmas ghosts, the Cratchits and Tiny Tim. Catch the live stream on December 4th or 8th or watch at your leisure with the buy on-demand option. Or watch it on the silver screen at Visulite Cinemas in downtown Staunton. The cinema-quality filmed performance will be playing December 18-24.
Heifetz Institute’s The Beethoven Experience
Though the Heifetz Institute is not having physical programming this season, it will continue to showcase valuable virtual experiences. Tune in on December 14 for the final concert in The Beethoven Experience with the Borromeo Quartet series, which gives ticket holders a chance to “participate in online interactive pre-concert conversations investigating the intersection between Beethoven and the intellectual, political, and artistic currents of his time….and ours.” The December 14 concert explores both endings of Beethoven’s Op. 130 string quartet. Purchase tickets here.
ShenanArts Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus
Your family will love the old-timey joy of gathering together to listen to the ShenanArts streamed staged radio play production of Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus. Not only will actors perform their lines, they’ll also create all the music and original sound effects. This play is based on a true story from 1897 in which a young girl connects with a New York Sun reporter over a very important question. Yes Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus “celebrates the magic of Christmas and believing in the unseen.” Streaming December 18-20.
Blow Your Own Ornament at Sunspots
Create a family tradition for years to come by blowing your own ornament at Sunspots Studios! Trained glassblowers will be by your side to assist you in making a one-of-a-kind ornament to adorn your tree at home. Visitors can also watch live glass blowing demonstrations daily from 11 am to 4 pm.
Decorations make the holidays brighter and there are several local wreath and centerpiece workshop opportunities. Valley Mills Farm and Valley Pike Farm Market still have slots open, but they’re filling up quickly.
Our Winter Village
Here’s a fun alternative to installing even more inflatables on your lawn this year. Staunton Parks and Rec’s Our Winter Village is an opportunity to join with others to create a village of winter-themed characters for display in Gypsy Hill Park. Register online for this free December 5th event and your creation will stand with the rest of the village through New Year’s.