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Top five weekend events: GardenFest of Lights, Legendary Santa & Winterfest
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Top five weekend events: GardenFest of Lights, Legendary Santa & Winterfest

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Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome to the official start of the holiday season! Lots of events are happening this weekend and beyond, including Dominion Energy’s GardenFest of Lights, the Model Railroad Show, Legendary Santa and more.

GardenFest of Lights Now open

Stroll through the grounds at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and see over a million lights during GardenFest of Lights. This year’s theme is “Naturally Connected,” and things seem extra bright with 16,000 lights on the Darlington Oak Tree, 48 new forms and characters, and a 25-foot-tall live Christmas tree in the Conservatory. The model trains are back, as well as family favorites, such as the spider web maze for kids and the warming fire where you can buy marshmallows to toast. Tickets must be purchased online; no walk-up tickets will be sold. Open 4 to 10 p.m. daily through Jan. 9; closed Thanksgiving, Dec. 24 and 25. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, 1800 Lakeside Ave. $8-$18. (804) 262-9887 or LewisGinter.org

Model Railroad Show Friday-Sunday

The trains are rolling back into the station for the annual Model Railroad Show at the Science Museum of Virginia. Check out eight different train displays with various scaled locomotives riding through intricate landscapes and miniature cities. The vintage train cars behind the museum will be open for guests to explore, plus kids can take a trackless train ride on the Teddy Bear Express from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and watch a blacksmith forge custom metal pieces. 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2500 W. Broad St. $10-$15.50. (804) 864-1400 or SMV.org

Legendary Santa

Starts Friday

Legendary Santa returns for his 85th year in Richmond. This year, you can reserve tickets to see Santa for safety and to eliminate lines. Tickets are $30 for up to six family members and must be purchased in advance; no walk-up tickets will be sold. Virtual visits are also available this year; prices vary. Times vary at. Children’s Museum of Richmond, Central, 2626 W. Broad St. (804) 474-7062 or c-mor.org

WinterFest at Kings Dominion

Friday-Sunday

Kings Dominion has been transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of holiday lights, thousands of Christmas trees and an ice-skating rink on International Street. Starting on Saturday, the WinterFest Wonderland Parade will bring elaborately decorated floats through the park with characters and dancers. Tickets run $32 and up. Open from 5 to 10 p.m. on select days through Jan. 9. Kings Dominion, 16000 Theme Park Way, Doswell. KingsDominion.com

Richmond Symphony: Let It Snow Saturday

Kick off the holiday season with Christmas carols, classics and holiday favorites performed by the Richmond Symphony. There might even be a surprise visit from Santa. 8 p.m. at Dominion Energy Center, 600 E. Grace St. $10-$82. (804) 788-1212 or RichmondSymphony.com

ccurran@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6151

Twitter: @collcurran

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

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