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It’s the most wonderful time of the year again! Here at Rutter Mills, we love the holidays, and this year we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite places and traditions in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.

Norfolk Botanical Garden

The Norfolk Botanical Garden offers a wide variety of activities this time of year. For the 25th consecutive year, they’ll be decking out their grounds with more than one million twinkling lights. USA Today rated our garden’s display one of the 10 Best in the country, and SimpleMost.com called it “One of the 12 Magical Christmas Destinations You Need to Add to Your Holiday Bucket List.” 

  • Drive-through: December 15th – December 31st from 5:30-10 pm
  • “Fun Run”: January 1st from 4-7 pm

Family holiday programs sell out fast. Some of their most popular events – like “Cookie Plates & Cocoa Mugs,” “Tinsel Tram Rides,” and “Nature Ornament Making” – were sold out in November! But you can still come down to decorate your own holiday ornament and visit Santa Mondays-Thursdays from December 2nd through the 12th from 4-5:30.

On Sunday, December 8th, kids ages 3+ and adults are invited to make “Holiday Cookie Houses” out of graham crackers, candies, and other festive goodies. Aside from the special holiday festivities, the Norfolk Botanical Garden is known for its butterfly house, 3-acre children’s garden, winter evergreen and holly collections, and beautiful year-round blooms.

The Sandler Center

The Sandler Center is a beautiful performing arts theater in the heart of Virginia Beach, and there is no shortage of performances to choose from this time of year. On December 14th, enjoy the sounds of the Virginia Beach Chorale at Beautiful Music, Ugly Sweaters. If your tastes are more traditional, check out the Holiday Pops (Dec. 15) or The Nutcracker (Dec. 20-22).

Families will surely enjoy the PB&J Series Jingle Bell Jam, starring Santa Claus and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra (Dec. 15). Or you can support the troops with the USO Home for the Holidays Concert featuring 25 local artists (Dec. 7 & 8) and the US Air Force Heritage of America Band Show (Dec. 10).

The Virginia Living Museum

The Virginia Living Museum’s beloved Owl Be Home for the Holidays (Dec. 2) cookie decorating, games, hot chocolate station, holiday story, and visit from the Claus family sells out early each year. Yet, there is still plenty to do at this haven for more than 250 animals, and center for hands-on learning about rocks, space, and nature. Unique attractions for the holiday season include: The planetarium’s “Holiday Magic” show (November 30th-December 21st),which pairs laser lights to familiar jingles like “Sleigh Ride” and “Joy to the World”; Star of Wonder: Mystery of the Christmas Star (Nov. 27 – Dec. 31st), an exploration of the journey of the Magi, ideal for children 8+; or Noon Year’s Eve (December 31st from 11 am – 1 pm), where kids are invited to ring in the New Year with a space theme; meet costumed characters, watch space movies, and participate in fun activities before the launchpad countdown. 

More Events Throughout Hamptons Roads

This is just a small sampling of what the area has to offer. Click here to check out more holiday events happening in all 7+ cities of Hamptons Roads. Rutter Mills wishes everyone a safe, healthy, and happy holiday season!