The Collegian
Saturday, April 13, 2024

Eight things to do in Richmond this winter

Looking forward to winter break, which lasts from Dec. 19 to Jan. 16, is the only thing getting some University of Richmond students through their final exams. Most students will get to return home to family and friends.

For others, these four weeks can be uneventful. 

Each year, approximately 200 students request to stay on campus for part or all of winter break, Residence Life & Housing Associate Director Taylor Walsh wrote in an email to The Collegian. This number does not include student athletes staying for in-season competition or those approved to stay through group requests.

The Office of International Education will be organizing a few events for students staying over break. 

There will be a Post-exam Pizza Party Palooza on Dec. 19 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Westhampton Deanery Living Room. A Craft and Cocoa event is scheduled for Jan. 8 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the International Education Lobby. Last, there is another pizza event for international students on Jan. 11 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in The Current. 

There are also other activities around the City of Richmond that students can get involved with, especially holiday-related events. 

1. The best botanical garden holiday lights nationwide, according to the USA Today 10Best contest, can be found right here in Richmond. The Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is open every night until Jan. 7, excluding Christmas and Christmas Eve. The garden, described as a “walk-through” experience, features millions of lights adorning the many trees and plants. This year, the light fest’s theme centers around nature and the four seasons and features an illuminated tapestry by local artist Kyle Epps. 

The festival also includes special performances by local groups each week, including the Greater Richmond Chorus on Dec. 12, Henrico High School Choir on Dec. 19, School of the Performing Arts in the Richmond Community’s Touring Ensemble on Dec. 29 and the James River Ringers on Jan. 2. 

There will be sit-down dining, grab-and-go options, a pop-up bar, hot chocolate and s’mores available at the festival. Adult ticket prices range from $17 to $20, depending on the night, and must be purchased online. 

2. Richmond is also home to the largest Kwanzaa event in Virginia: the Capital City Kwanzaa Festival, presented by the Elegba Folklore Society. The event will run from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 30. The Greater Richmond Convention Center will be bustling with performances, workshops and vendors for everyone. 

The musical lineup includes performances by Grammy-nominated Cheick Hamala Diabate, singer Ms. Jaylin Brown and Afrobeats artist Rhythim. There will also be a candle-lighting, Kwanzaa cuisine and an African market. 

General admission tickets are sold online for $7.30, and $8.30 at the door.

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3. The fourth annual Stony Point Sip & Shop at Stony Point Fashion Park has already begun and will continue each weekend until Christmas Eve. Visitors can enjoy available desserts and drinks while they browse through a lineup of local artisans and craft vendors. This event is the only holiday shopping experience in the city of Richmond that has alcoholic drinks available. 

The Sip & Shop is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Entry is free.

4. Students with access to a car can visit the Illuminate Light Show, which is the largest drive-thru synchronized Christmas light and music show in Virginia. 

The show opens at 5:30 p.m. every night until Dec. 31, including holidays. It is located at Meadow Event Park in Doswell, less than 30 miles from campus. Entry costs $30 per car, with up to nine people allowed in each vehicle.

5. The Virginia Museum of History and Culture is hosting chocolate making demonstrations every Saturday at 11 a.m. until the end of December. The hour-long demonstrations are free, during which guests will watch professionals use 18th century cooking tools and equipment to make the chocolate. 

Samples will also be offered after the demonstration. Those in attendance can also buy more chocolate to take home or enjoy hot chocolate from the Museum Cafe. Registration is not required.

6. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has a “3 in 30” program, highlighting three art objects in a span of 30 minutes, each month. Artist Willie Anne Wright’s Language of Flowers will be featured on Jan. 2, with a virtual version of the event on Jan. 4. 

Wright, born in Richmond in 1924, is a world-renowned photographer and painter who has been creating art for more than six decades. VMFA Curatorial Assistant Madeleine Dugan will lead guests through an exploration of Wright’s repeated use of flowers in her artwork, and how she “created her own modern language of flowers in her paintings and photographs.” 

Wright’s temporary exhibition, titled “Willie Anne Wright: Artist and Alchemist,” will also be on display in the VMFA until the end of April. This exhibit includes 63 photographs and nine paintings, examining pop-culture, feminine identity, history and cultural shifts in the South.

The “3 in 30” program starts at 11 a.m., as does the Jan. 4 virtual version, which requires registration. Both are free, as is entry to the rest of the museum. The VMFA currently has 15 exhibitions, including ongoing and temporary installations. 

7. Garden Grove Brewing and Urban Winery will be hosting an end-of-year show featuring Big Loud Awful Sound, a local funk and reggae band, on Dec. 30. They will be joined by local artists Tinted Rose and Navi Taylor. 

The show will start at 8 p.m., and entry is free. 

8. Many restaurants and bars in Richmond hold weekly trivia nights for those who enjoy showing off their niche knowledge. 

Mellow Mushroom in Carytown hosts trivia night every Monday at 8 p.m., including Christmas. Pie314 hosts its weekly trivia at 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, and the top two teams take home cash prizes. 

Three Notch’d Brewing Company has trivia every Wednesday at 7 p.m; the first place prize is a $20 gift card for the Three Notch’d taproom. Buddy’s Place, located in the Museum District, has 8 p.m. trivia every Thursday. 

Contact lifestyle writer Solace Church at

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