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Top five weekend events: Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights, Model Trains & Santa

Top five weekend events: Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights, Model Trains & Santa


Holiday events may look a little different this year, with advance tickets required, requisite masks and limited attendance, but there are still plenty of ways to celebrate around here. Let’s get to it, and ho-ho-ho!

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights

Friday through Jan. 10

Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights is bringing the magic back this holiday season. Stroll through thousands of outdoor holiday lights, and search for your favorite forms, such as the giant peacock, unicorn and dragon. All attractions have moved outdoors, including the model trains. New this year, tickets can only be purchased online and in advance in order to control crowds. Under the new coronavirus guidelines, the garden is limited to 250 visitors and visits will last no more than one hour. Masks are required inside and outside. 4-10 p.m. at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave. Tickets: $14 adults and $8 ages 3-12; members $7 adults and $5 ages 3-17. or (804) 262-9887.

Model Trains at the Science Museum of Virginia


Model trains return to the Science Museum of Virginia for the holiday weekend. Check out scaled locomotives riding through mountains and miniature cities, while 6 feet apart, of course. Timed tickets must be purchased in advance; no walk-up tickets allowed; masks required. Free planetarium shows will be included, plus museum exhibits and activities like making a conductor hat. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at 2500 W. Broad St. Tickets: $10-$15.50. or (804) 864-1400.

Illuminate Light Show

Through Jan. 3

Get in the holiday spirit — safely — with a drive-thru light show of nearly a million lights synchronized to music at Meadow Event Park. 5:30-10 p.m. nightly at 13111 Dawn Blvd., Doswell, Gate 1. $25 per car. (804) 994-7846 or

Busch Gardens Christmas Celebration

Through Jan. 3

Head to Busch Gardens to see the holiday lights and decorations in eight European villages. Guests can ride 15 roller coasters, meet the Gingerbread man, listen to holiday music, check out the Holiday Treat Trail and sample holiday-inspired specialty drinks and food dishes. Tickets, $59.99 per person, include one entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. Park admission is $39.99. Advance reservations only and limited capacity. Busch Gardens, Williamsburg.

Santa Visits

Through Dec. 24

Legendary Santa at the Children’s Museum of Richmond may be sold out this year due to limited capacity, but there are still plenty of ways to visit Santa Claus this year … even if it’s behind plexiglass. Santa can also be found in person at Bass Pro Shops at 11550 Lakeridge Parkway, Ashland; Regency Mall at 1420 N. Parham Road; Short Pump Town Center at 11800 W. Broad St.; Stony Point Fashion Park at 9200 Stony Point Parkway; Chesterfield Towne Center at 11500 Midlothian Turnpike. Virtual visits with Santa will also be offered at Chesterfield Towne Center, Short Pump Town Center and Virginia Center Commons this year. Times and prices vary; contact each location for more details.

— Colleen Curran

Colleen Curran covers arts and entertainment for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She writes the weekly column Top Five Weekend Events.

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