City of lights: Enjoy Norfolk’s history, charm through the holiday season

Norfolk, Virginia’s skyline comes to life and lights up the night sky during the holiday season. A busy calendar of events is lined up, from glassblowing ornaments to pictures with Santa and gingerbread men. The city is ready to share the Christmas spirit.

This modern port city is home to the world’s largest naval station. The intimate charm of a coastal community blends with the powerful influence of a storied naval history. Water plays an important role in Norfolk civic life and tourism, reflected in a vast network of rivers, creeks and 7.5 miles of beaches. The city is at the confluence of Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

Norfolk pulls out all the stops during the holidays. Christmas trees and holiday lights of all shapes, sizes and colors illuminate the city, turning it into a winter wonderland. An oversize menorah towers over TowneBank Fountain Park flanked by two large Christmas trees and a giant tree on the waterfront.

Winters are cold, but ice and snow are rare — except at the MacArthur Center downtown, where families can enjoy skating on a 7,200 square foot outdoor ice rink. Afterward, children can visit with Santa inside the shopping center.

The harbor walk is also decked out in seasonal finery. This is an ideal way to view the skyline and naval vessels. To warm up, people like to stop for lunch at Stripers Waterside or gather at one of the city’s outdoor firepits, a good place to taste holiday brews and hot cider.

Dickens Christmas Towne is set up at the Decker Half Moone Center next to Nauticus, a maritime science museum, and the Battleship Wisconsin. It simulates an 18th century English holiday setting inspired by author Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Entertainment features marching gingerbread men, a nutcracker army, a life-size jack in the box and a rag doll aerialist.

One of Virginia’s favorite holiday traditions can be found at Norfolk’s Botanical Gardens, where visitors of all ages enjoy the Million Bulb Walk. The dazzling landscape is a mile-long route accessible by strollers and wheelchairs. This year a new light display in the arboretum simulates fallen snow. A 44-foot-tall tree provides a dramatic backdrop to hundreds of twinkling lights while a special animated fireworks display will pay tribute to the military. The walk runs through Dec. 14.

The annual Garden of Lights show at the botanical garden is also a magical holiday experience. One can drive through a 50-foot tree illuminated by moving laser lights. There is a gift shop and café. Dates are Dec. 15-31.

Like many American cities, Norfolk is a city of neighborhoods. The historic Freeman District has its own vibe and culture. A walk along cobblestone streets connects visitors to beautiful historic homes decorated in their own lustrous colors and hues.

Norfolk residents put a high priority on patriotism and civic pride. The MacArthur Memorial and Museum are dedicated to Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a revered war hero. Visitors are welcome to write holiday cards to men and women serving in the military.

In recent years, city fathers have focused on building a strong and vibrant arts culture that ties in with Christmas music and theatrical arts. Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will be in the spotlight at Wells Theatre; “The Nutcracker” ballet and Holiday Pops are on tap as well.

The NEON arts district also gets into the holiday mood. It is home to many of the city’s unique artists and public art. A splendid Tiffany glass collection can be seen at the nearby Chrysler Museum Glass Studio.

For more information, go to visitnorfolk.com/things-to-do/holidays.

Published at Thu, 05 Dec 2019 10:34:08 +0000

Source: City of lights: Enjoy Norfolk’s history, charm through the holiday season.

Categories: Travel

About Author