By Janeal Downs
With the opportunity to use some saved-up vacation time, and with children out of school on break, the holiday season offers a time for families to settle down and come together. Whether Richmond area residents have a small or large family, there is something to do during the holiday season.
The community has the opportunity to go ice skating downtown with RVA On Ice until Jan. 4. Ice skating is available from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. RVA has Talent and SMG Richmond will also present live bands at Friday Night Live from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Skate rentals and general admissions are $5 a piece, military and senior citizen admissions are discounted to $4 with the skates for $5, and children under the age of 5 are admitted for free but skates cost $3. More information about bands and theme nights can be found at www.RVAOnIce.net.
View the Lights
The Holiday Glitter on Monument Avenue After Dark Walking Tour is available for $15 until Dec. 27. “This early evening stroll combines history with a touch of glitz,” the website stated. “We offer a full schedule of walking and bus tours of city neighborhoods, waterways, parks, retail districts, historic sites, and battlefields.” The tours are led by guides who incorporate the history of the area with the beauty the guests will see.
Except for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, Dominion will host the GardenFest of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden until Jan. 12. “A holiday tradition featuring more than half-a-million twinkling lights, hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, firepit with s’mores and hot chocolate (for purchase), nightly family activities & more. The region’s ultimate holiday extravaganza,” the lewisginter.org stated. Tickets are $12 for adults, $11 for seniors over the age of 55, and$8 for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Garden members can enter for $7 and their children between the ages of 3 and 18 can enter for $5.
The Meadow Event Park will present the Illuminate Light Show and Santa’s Village up until Dec. 24, with Santa leaving on Dec. 23. “As you drive through the park you will experience hundreds of thousands of LED lights synchronized to music from your car radio,” illuminatelightshow.com stated. “The show features an 80-foot tunnel of lights, 50-foot Christmas trees, dancing snowmen, and festive decorations. The show is located at 13111 Darn Blvd. Car admissions from one to nine passengers are $22 Monday through Friday and $25 Friday through Sunday at the gate. The tickets are $2 less if bought in advance. Limousines, mini-bus, and full size bus admissions are also offered.
After the show, spend some time in Santa’s Village, where fun awaits your whole family. There will be pictures with Santa, children’s activities, Christmas trees, food and more.
With live performances, food, music, workshops, and activities for children, Elegba Folklore Society will host the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival at the Altria Theater at 6 N. Laurel St. on Dec. 27. The festival will last from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tickets are $7 at the door, $6 for students 12-18, $6 for seniors, and free for children under the age of 12. According to the Altria Theater’s website, the Elegba Folklore Society’s founder and artistic director, Janine Yvette Bell has helped produce the annual Kwanzaa programs in Richmond since 1986 and the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival has been presented since 1990. “Richmond, a center of the trade of enslaved Africans, is known as the capital of the Confederacy and the ‘birthplace of black entrepreneurship,’” the website stated. “The recognition of Kwanzaa as a cultural mediator of this history and the embracing of its concepts is evident not only in the festival’s attendance, but also in the volume of requests for information and assistance from schools, churches, and community groups.” Members of Open High School will be performing at the festival; Black studies professor, James Small will speak; and the African Market will also be open at the festival.
Nest has been presenting their 2014 Art Craft and Vintage Holiday Market gallery since Nov. 15 and it will not end until Dec. 31. The gallery is presenting the artwork of more than 35 artists from the area, including jewelry and home decorations. They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Nest is located at 3404 Semmes Ave.
Virginia Repertory Theatre will host “Santa’s Christmas Miracle” at Willow Lawn until Dec. 28. Tickets are $20. The play is set to take place in Broken-Bone, Montana on Dec. 24 in 1883. The plot is about an “unknown stranger and a bungling bandit named Big Bad Bart” who are trying to end a sheriff’s plan to outlaw Christmas. “This delightful story emphasizes love and the holiday spirit to the accompaniment of foot-stompin’ country and western music,” the website stated in the show’s description.
Virginia Repertory Theatre will present the musical “Mame” at the Virginia Rep Center at 114 W Broad St. The musical is set during the Great Depression and is about a woman named Mame Dennis “an eccentric bohemian woman of wealth whose life is interrupted when the son of her late brother comes to live with her,” va-rep.org stated. “Through the trials and tribulations of finding and losing love, and the ups and downs of the struggling economy, Mame tries her best to keep up her usual fabulous flair and share it with those around her.” Standard tickets are $48; and $15 for high school and college students.
Children have the chance to visit Legendary Santa until 2 p.m. on Dec. 24 at the Children’s Museum of Richmond. Monday through Sunday, children can visit Santa between 9:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. The Children’s Museum’s website states photo packages range from $19.95 to $29.95; emailed photos are $27.95; a photo button is $8.95; a photo key chain is $9.95; and four wallet sized photos are $11.95.
The Science Museum of Virginia is offering an exhibit called “Mindbender” until Jan. 4: Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. “Enter the wonderfully puzzling world of brainteasers and interactive challenges that are guaranteed to test your brain power,” the Science Museum stated on their website. “Think outside of the box to complete puzzles and become a member of the Mindbender Society.” For exhibits only, people between 13 and 59 can enter for $11, and children between 4 and 12 and seniors can enter for $10.
By taking a trip to Bow Tie Cinemas Movieland at 1301 N. Boulevard; CineBistro at Stony Point; Regal Westhampton Cinema 2 at 5706 Grove Ave; and other movie theaters, the movies could be a great way to bring the family together.
One movie available in theaters on Dec. 18 is “Annie” starring Quvenzhané Wallis and Jamie Foxx in the remake of the classical musical with African American leads. The movie is directed by Will Gluck and produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter.
Other December releases with African American leads include “Selma” about the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “Top Five” which is a comedy directed by Chris Rock about a comedian trying to become an actor. “Selma” is Rated PG-13 and will be released on Christmas day and “Top Five” is Rated R and was released on Dec. 12.
Other PG-13 movies include “Unbroken” directed by Angelina Jolie; a fantasy “Into the Woods”; and “Big Eyes” directed by Tim Burton. All will be available to watch on Dec. 24.
Not only are there opportunities for family fun, but why not help make someone else’s day. “There are hundreds of congregations and nonprofit groups who serve neighbors in need through food pantries, feeding programs, shelters and clothes closets,” faithinrichmond.com wrote on their website. Numerous churches and groups such as Biltmore Baptist Church, CARITAS, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, Westover United Methodist Church and others will participate in food drives and other activities to give back to the community this holiday season.
With a furniture bank, CARITAS is hoping to donate furniture to previously homeless families. Items needed include: sofas, mattresses, bed frames, kitchen chairs, kitchen tables, pots, pans, kitchen towels, bath towels, blankets, and sheets. For a pickup fee, between $30 and $40, professional staff are even sent to homes to pick up the items. If interested in donating furniture and scheduling a pickup, call (804)343-5008. People can also drop off donations at CARITAS Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1125 E. Commerce Road. Other drop-off locations include AAAA Self Storage units or the Christ Episcopal Church in the West End.
Handsonrva.org also lists numerous volunteer opportunities.