Bristol Winter Holiday Event Guide
Winter is (almost) here, so let’s bring in the cheer! Experience the magic of the holiday season in Bristol. Here, you’ll get the best of Virginia and Tennessee mixed with a celebration to remember.
Whether you prefer dazzling decorations, lively entertainment, or quiet spaces to get outside, there’s something for everyone. Here are just a few ways to enjoy the festivities in Bristol.
Take in Speedway in Lights
There’s nothing quite like seeing Bristol Motor Speedway wrapped in more than three million lights. The four-mile route at Speedway In Lights includes a lap around “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” and a run down the dragstrip as you take in awe-inspiring displays, including Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Sea of Illumination and Dino Land.
Don’t forget to stop at the Christmas Village, located in the infield, for a chance to park the car and stretch your legs. Shop from a variety of local vendors, hop on the amusement rides, and take your photo with Santa.
This year’s show will run from November 18 to January 7, giving you plenty of opportunities to take in the spectacle. Looking to skip the wait time? Purchase a Fast Lane pass to go straight to the front of the line. Speedway In Lights is an experience you’ll be talking about for years to come.
Spin Around the Ice Rink
The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Ice Rink at Bristol Motor Speedway. Starting November 17, you can lace up a pair of skates and join the family for some fun on the ice. There is plenty of time to plan a return visit as the rink is open six to seven days a week through January 15.
Tickets get you access to the rink and a pair of skate rentals for just $12 Monday through Thursday and $15 Friday through Sunday.
Join the Fun at Bristol’s Christmas Parade
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than Bristol’s annual Christmas Parade down State Street? This tradition started more than a century ago, bringing joy and cheer to families of all ages. More than 150 floats supported by local businesses and organizations will make their way from Bob Morrison Boulevard through downtown to the train station. Stick around for the end of the parade when good ole Saint Nick makes his appearance.
Gather with your neighbors and friends on Thursday, December 1, with festivities kicking off at 7 p.m.
You can find more details about the parade here.
Enjoy Downtown Bristol
‘Tis the season to gather downtown for a whole host of festivities. Kick things off on November 21 with Downtown Bristol’s Annual Christmas Open House from 5:30 to 8:30 PM. Shops will stay open late, have special discounts, and serve refreshments for shoppers. Plus, keep an eye out for Santa handing out candy canes, carolers spreading the holiday cheer, horse and carriage rides, and a window decorating contest.
Return the following Monday, November 28, for Bristol’s annual community tree-lighting ceremony. Come out at six p.m. to Cumberland Square Park to view the 50-foot towering Norwegian Spruce and 25-foot Douglas Fir in all of their glory, lit by over 30,000 lights. For the first time, more than 20 smaller trees decorated by local businesses, individuals, and non-profits will also be on display. It’s quite a sight when all the trees are simultaneously lit.
Don’t worry if you can’t make it out for the tree lighting. From November 28 to January 2, the Christmas Tree Village will be on display in Cumberland Square and the Downtown Center. Visitors will have a chance to vote for the tree they believe has the best decorations.
Attend a Christmas Show
Bristol is a thriving performing arts hub, with several upcoming holiday shows to kick off the season. The whole family will love Elf The Musical, showing at the Paramount Bristol from November 18-20. Following along with Buddy as he travels from the North Pole to New York City, helping the people he meets along the way discover the true meaning of Christmas.
Get your tickets now for Good King Wenceslas, playing at the Paramount Bristol December 2-3. Described as a “play within the play,” where “brotherly jealousy, family conflict, romance, and a genuine Christmas miracle all somehow come together before the final curtain,” you’re sure to get a laugh out of the holiday chaos.
On December 4, Hannah Voudrie and Dave Eggar take the stage to celebrate Christmas at The Cameo Theater. Let Voudrie’s vocals and notes from Eggar’s cello wrap you in warmth and wonder amidst the glamor of The Cameo Theater, one of the oldest theaters in Virginia.
The holiday classic, The Nutcracker, returns to Paramount Bristol on December 9-10. The Bristol Ballet Company, featuring professional guest artists Erin Ginn and Jace Coronoado, will take you on a journey through the lands of snow and sweets with countless adventures and friends along the way.
Plan your return to The Cameo Theater for December 22 when the Wizards of Winter perform their holiday rock opera. Fans of Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, and Blue Oyster Cult will jam along as this theatrical performance evokes holiday memories.
You can find more upcoming events and shows in Bristol here.
Party at the Bristol Hotel
Since you’ll already be downtown for other holiday happenings, check out the unique events coming to the Bristol Hotel this December. Gear up for the Bristol Ballet’s first Jingle Mingle on December 15 from 7 to 10 p.m. Come dressed in your most festive attire or ugliest Christmas sweater for a night of dancing and food, plus a silent auction filled with great prizes.
Then it’s time to put on your detective hat for the murder mystery dinner on December 17 and help solve the Most Wonderful Crime of the Year. Enjoy a four-course meal in the ballroom as you work to figure out who did it. Seating begins at 6:30 PM, with the show running until 10.
Head to the Great Outdoors
Soak up some refreshingly crisp air as you hike one of the area’s stunning trails. Bristol’s city parks are the perfect spot to get outside close to town. Take in more than 20 miles of trails at Steele Creek Park, including views of the lake and a nature center. Head out to Sugar Hollow Park for tranquil walking and epic mountain biking trails to get your heart rate going in the cold.
Winter is the perfect time to discover new parts of the Mendota Trail. This 12.5-mile rails-to-trails project links Bristol and Mendota, Va., along a gentle grade pathway, ideal for walkers, bikers, and families. Keep your eyes peeled as more sections of the trail open.
A little farther outside of town, there are over 64,000 acres of public lands within Cherokee National Forest to encounter a waterfall, see a section of the Appalachian Trail, or find beautiful mountain views. You might even get on South Holston Lake to cast a line for largemouth, smallmouth, and black bass. Anglers might even stop at Bass Pro Shops to get a free photo with Santa!
No matter what the weather is doing outside, you can always head underground into the Bristol Caverns. Take an hour-long tour to view some of the most dazzling cave formations and the Underground River. With a constant temperature of 55 degrees year-round, you might even need to take a layer off.
Celebrate this holiday season the Bristol way with brilliant displays, fun events, and gatherings with friends.
To request your FREE Discover Bristol Visitor Guide, please CLICK HERE.