It’s a great American tradition to go home for the holidays. But don’t underrate leaving home for the holidays. December in the Shenandoah Valley will give you all the holiday cheer you can handle. Christmas plays and stage performances, annual historic home tours, and a long list of parades give winter visitors a wish list of entertainment choices.
Here are just a few of the Valley’s holiday highlights at major venues:
American Shakespeare Center, Staunton
The ASC Blackfriars Playhouse, (see banner photo) the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, is open year-round for productions of classic plays, which have been hailed by The Washington Post as “shamelessly entertaining” and by The Boston Globe as “phenomenal…bursting with energy.” Here, the ASC troupe performs Shakespeare’s works on a simple stage, without elaborate sets, and with the audience sharing the same light as the actors. Founded in 1988 as Shenandoah Shakespeare Express, the organization became the American Shakespeare Center in 2005.
The December performance schedule includes Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and Then Some) as well as A Christmas Carol. Don’t overlook their online Gift Shop for the holidays, either. Where else can you get a Hamlet t-shirt?
Wayne Theatre, Waynesboro
Originally built for vaudeville in 1926, The Wayne Theatre Ross Performing Arts Center is now considered by many the premier live performing arts and film venue in the Greater Augusta area. With seating for 385, the Wayne offers a full schedule of entertainment offerings, including live music, comedy, theatrical productions, classic film and history and science lectures.
Wayne Theatre’s busy holiday lineup includes:
Dec. 2: Photos with Santa
Dec 3: Faith in Film Series—The Nativity Story
Dec 4: Appalachian Christmas
Dec. 9: Wilson Fairchild
Dec 10: Albermarle Ballet—The Nutcracker
Dec 17: Valley Dance—Making Spirits Bright
Dec 20-22: Christmas Movies
Dec 23: Carpenter’s Christmas—Carpenter’s Tribute Band
Court Square Theater, Harrisonburg
The Arts Council of the Valley’s hip and historic Court Square Theater showcases live music, theater, comedy, and critically-acclaimed films and documentaries. The theater boasts a variety of musical performances including Americana, bluegrass, and folk performers from around the country. The 250-seat theater can be rented for private parties and events. Concerts coming in December include Nothin’ Fancy (Dec. 8) and a Hank Williams, Sr. Tribute on Dec. 28.
JMU Forbes Center for the Performing Arts 540-568-7000 –Dec. 2 and 3: HolidayFest—Five JMU Vocal Ensembles and Symphony Orchestra
Not a stage performance but nonetheless a terrific showcase is the 45th Annual Historic Holiday House Tour in Staunton. This year’s tour highlights five beautifully restored homes on the streets of the historic Oakenwold neighborhood. Walk this wonderful neighborhood and visit houses decorated to convey the spirit of the season. Saturday, December 9th, 5-8pm; Sunday, Dec. 10th, 1-5pm. Tickets may be used once at each location on either day. Visit Staunton’s event schedule.
Christmas/Holiday Parades, etc.:
Martinsburg, WV “Old Town Christmas Parade” Dec. 2
Winchester, “Parade and Tree Lighting Ceremony” Nov. 27
Berryville, “Holiday Home Tour,” Dec. 10
Front Royal “Hometown Holiday Parade” Dec. 2
Strasburg “Home for the Holidays” Dec. 2
Luray “Christmas Parade/Santa’s Winter Workshop” Dec. 9
Woodstock “Light Up Woodstock” Dec. 1
New Market “Tis the Season” Dec. 2
Harrisonburg “Holiday Parade” Dec. 1
Harrisonburg Winter “Wonderfest” Dec. 9
Grottoes “Caroling in the Caverns” Dec. 3
Lexington “Main St. Lexington Christmas Parade” Dec. 1
Staunton “A Blue Ridge Christmas” Nov. 27
Covington “Christmas Memories Parade” Dec. 2
Bedford “Jingle Bell Rock Christmas Parade” Dec. 2
Roanoke “Roanoke Times Dickens of a Christmas” Dec. 9:
Regardless of where you are, be safe for the holidays.
Photo courtesy American Shakespeare Center