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Unofficial Guide to Busch Gardens Christmas Town
Busch Gardens Williamsburg – Christmas Town
It is the most wonderful time of the year as Busch Gardens® Christmas Town™ returns on select dates from November 11, 2023 through January 8, 2024.
Pictures with Santa, sparkling lights, abundant decorations, festive foods, live seasonal music, unique shopping and of course roller coasters and rides. The spirit of the season is alive at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
First, here is our Busch Gardens Discounts page that keeps up on discounts and memberships at Busch Gardens Williamsburg! Keep scrolling down for all the new things this year at Christmas Town!
The annual Christmas Town celebration transforms Busch Gardens Williamsburg into one of the largest Christmas light displays in North America. Christmas Town runs select days beginning November 11 through January 8, 2023.
Voted the World’s Most Beautiful Theme Park every year since 1990, Busch Gardens® Williamsburg will transform into a stunning holiday wonderland with over 10 million twinkling lights, one of the largest light displays in North America. Other highlights include Christmas Town Express holiday-themed train ride, Santa’s Workshop, and festive food, drinks and unique holiday shopping.
If you are in Williamsburg anytime between mid November and January 8, you do not want to miss Busch Garden’s Christmas Town. There is something for everyone in your family. Wait, did we mention Santa Claus is there too? (The real one!) Purchase tickets here!
Top things to do this year at Christmas Town:
1. Santa’s Workshop: Looking for Santa? He is at Busch Gardens in Santas Workshop. Children can take a picture and personally drop off their Christmas wish lists!
Before you visit Santa, your children can write a letter to him on this fancy Christmas stationary by downloading it here (or any paper they would like to write on) and they can drop it in Santa’s North Pole mailbox perched outside Santa’s Workshop in Oktoberfest.
TIP: Beat the crowds and head to Santa’s workshop for photos as soon as the park opens.
2. Christmas Town Express: – HOLD THE TRAIN…a trip to BG Christmas Town is not complete without a ride on the railway. Grab a cup of hot chocolate and take in the beautiful sights in the park, and if you’re really in the spirit sing along with favorite holiday songs. Two million stunning Christmas lights and themed holiday vignettes meticulously placed around the 1.5-mile tour. Little ones will enjoy the real train ride and everyone else will enjoy a little rest as you tour the sites.
3. Wilkommenhaus – The park’s German village transforms into an amazing visual Christmas spectacle through beautiful projection mapping. The sweet smell of Christmas treats from the Cookies & Cocoa Shop wafts through the air as virtual gingerbread men bring this festive village to life every 15-minutes during Christmas Town. Kids will love watching this light show.
TIP: Get a great view of the most of the lights from the Skyride, the Christmas Town Express train, or Mach Tower (or Nacht Tower), which descends slowly during Christmas Town so you get the best views!
4. O’Tannenbaum – There is a hot chocolate stand near by – so grab a mug and get ready to watch the multi-colored spectacular light show O’ Tannenbaum located in front of the Das Fest Haus. Gather with friends around our majestic 50-foot Christmas tree, sip your hot beverage and dance to the booming holiday musical score. The iconic tree creates a sense of community that will stay with you long after you leave the park…and everyone has a photo with this tree in their Christmas photos!
5. Das Fest Haus – Located in Oktoberfest offers great food with options for everyone and huge benches of seating. The show “Up on the Haustop” is filled with modern-day Christmas classics. Any seat in the house will be pretty good. This is a fun show, and a great place to sit down, eat dinner or just grab a hot chocolate and enjoy a festive performance.
TIP: Near Das Fest Haus, duck into the Mistletoe Marketplace and find a traditional Germany outdoor market and with unique treasures for everyone on your Christmas list.
6. Holiday Scavenger Hunt presented by Coca-Cola© – Spot the special holiday symbols around the park and redeem a prize! Pick up the clue list in England.
7. Sesame Street® holiday show: Elmo’s Christmas Wish –Elmo’s Christmas Wish takes place on the stage at Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™. Guests can enjoy this holiday musical show with Rosita, Grover, Zoe and Cookie Monster as they help Elmo find his Christmas wish. Sesame Street® Forest of Fun™ also will be all decked out for the holidays. Guests can meet their favorite Sesame Street characters, including Elmo and Cookie Monster, and capture a special holiday photo. Families can ride Grover’s Alpine Express, Oscar’s Whirly Worm, and Prince Elmo’s Spire. Take time for some Christmas shopping at Abby Cadabby’s Treasure Trove.
8. Unto Us – A choral celebration of the greatest story ever told. The first Christmas comes alive in this inspiring show which takes place in the open-air San Marco Theatre.
TIP: The San Marco Theatre is an outdoor space so if it is a chilly night bring the mittens and coats.
9. Celtic Fyre®: A Christmas Celebration – Celtic Fyre returns during Christmas Town. Voted USA Today’s #1 Theme Park Entertainment, this iconic fan favorite show celebrates Irish culture with step dancing at Abbey Stone Theatre. The performance adds Christmas flair with a new twist on a Killarney classic. You may find yourself dancing out of the theatre.
10.”Scrooge No More”: The Globe Theater in England has returned to its musical roots; presenting live musical productions, which started with London Rocks!, Christmas Town continues the live musical theater programming with “Scrooge No More!” This rendition of the classic Christmas Carol story focuses on Scrooge’s transformation from Humbug to Christmas Ambassador Extraordinaire. We have seen this show every year and love it!
11.‘Twas That Night: For a full-scale ice show check out Royal Palace Theatre in France. Inspired by the classic poem A Visit from Saint Nicholas. This show really captured the magic of Christmas Eve — I’m not sure who enjoyed it more, me or my kids! They loved seeing Santa and his reindeer on skates – and there are a few more surprises but I won’t spoil it for you! This is an outdoor space so if it is a chilly night – some yummy hot chocolate will do the trick. Update – just saw it again this year and it is still wonderful!!
TIP: The Royal Palace Theatre is in an open-air venue with tons of seating, but I recommend going early if you want the best seats on busy nights. Center seats are best for viewing and wait when exiting – they open the back door too so you don’t have to exit where you entered and this might save you time depending on how far back you sit.
12. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer™: Stop by Rudolph’s Winter Wonderland and see Rudolph and his Friends – this is perfect photo op for your kids (and you) to jump in a picture with your favorite childhood characters. The classic Christmas character is back and joined by friends Clarice, Yukon Cornelius, Bumble and Sam the Snowman. Also, enjoy a multi-sensory presentation of the timeless Rudolph story at Rudolph’s Movie Experience.
13. Caribou Pottery: Take a break from all the excitement and sit down with your kids and paint. Select the pottery pieces you would like to paint like holiday decor, bowls, plates and mugs and paint them. They will fire them and then you can pick them up or have them mailed to you. We enjoy hanging our ornament on the tree every year! Located in New France.
14. Live Animals: The Clysdales are all about Christmas – we had a chance to pet them but you can also get a picture with them in front of the Scotland Stables.
Now one of my favorite aspects…SHOPPING!!! People think of Busch Gardens as a great place for a family adventure but it is also a great place for gifts for the holidays and for yourself!
There are so many lovely shops bursting with treasures for everyone on your list. This year the shops in Ireland are stocked. And the Emporium in England has these cool snow globe type decor that are battery powered so the snow is always blowing. They are magical.
Pin trading is still alive and well and the Emporium has a good selection if you are looking to add to your collection or start one. Busch Garden’s staff will always trade with you!
TIP: Use Parcel Pickup: Planning on shopping at Busch Gardens – and why not, they have package pickup. Purchase your item and ask to have it taken to Parcel Pick up right near the exit of the park so you don’t have to haul your goodies all around the park. We did it and it was easy as pie!
Places to Dine:
Christmas Town offers an assortment of special dining experiences which feature a buffet luncheon with a carving station, pasta and salad bar, kid-friendly foods and other holiday favorites.
Santa’s Fireside Feast is back this year! Be immersed in the magic of the season during this dining experience. Families can enjoy a hearty meal and a special Christmas story from the big elf himself during this festive encounter. Santa’s Fireside Feast is offered on select dates in the Killarney area of the park. Guests can reserve their spot at BuschGardens.com.
One of my favorite places to grab lunch/dinner at the Trapper’s Smokehouse in New France – which includes ribs and smoked chicken – food here is amazing.
There is a warm seating area to take a break from the cold and enjoy a warm and delicious meal. Also right near here is the funnel cake shop and according to my kids – they were pretty awesome!
Or take time to sit down and experience Das Festhaus. It is transformed with Christmas garlands, wreaths and lights has a ton of dining options including your typical Christmas menu as well as roasted sirloin sandwiches, salads and more. Sing-along to the classics in the all-new performance Up on the Haustop.
For all the dining options visit Busch Gardens website.
Here are a few special offers that can save you a couple of dollars – especially if you are a repeat visitor to Christmas Town:
- You can always use your refillable drink cups from past seasons to get a reduced rate on refills of soda.
- Thirsty? You are welcome to bring in a water bottle to the park or you can ask for ice water at any concession stand – and it is free.
- You can save on your meal by purchasing online in their Meal Deal section before you head to Christmas Town.
- Purchase the Christmas Town™ Souvenir Hot Beverage Mug and then get refills at a discounted rate during Christmas Town. Souvenir mug (12 oz.) can be filled with coffee*, hot chocolate and fountain soda. (*Starbucks, Ghirardelli and alcoholic beverages are not included.)
- PhotoKey membership – your photos taken by Busch Garden’s photo team in the park will also be linked to your account so that you will be able to share, or create one-of-a-kind memorabilia from your trip to Busch Gardens – purchase and set it up before you go so that you can easily scan the QR codes on your phone app as you have your picture taken by staff at various locations.
- If you have an Annual Membership, depending on your level, you will receive free or discounted parking and discounts on food and merchandise. Check your membership levels to see your discounts before you go!
If you have not been to Busch Garden’s Williamsburg before please check our Unofficial Guide to Busch Garden’s Williamsburg. It will give you the insider’s scoop on where to eat, snacks you can bring in the park and helpful tips.
Here is our page with the latest Busch Gardens promotions and special discounts .
This review was written in 2014 but was updated in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022! This post and site has affiliate links.