It’s been several years since we’ve had a chance to visit Busch Gardens and I have to say that my favorite time of year to visit is during the annual Christmas Town™ celebration.
We have been twice before, our last visit being three years ago and boy has the celebration gotten bigger and better.
What to Expect
With over eight million Christmas lights in the park, Christmas Town™ is the largest light display in North America.
I am here to tell you it really is magical. If you’re looking to start a new family holiday tradition, then add this to your list.
As always, Our Kids recommends that you plan ahead before you embark on this holiday adventure. Consider your group’s stamina, the number of thrill-seekers in your party and how the trip and weather may affect each.
To start, you might want to consider downloading the Busch Gardens Discovery Guide Mobile App. I didn’t do this, but wish I had. Instead we used the map that you can pick up at the entrance to the park, which also works just as well for those who like paper versions of information.
With the app, if you attach a credit card to your account you can do Quick Pay throughout the park.
We arrived right on the dot at opening (to a large long of cars trying to get into the park) and left at closing and still didn’t get to see all that we wanted (but managed to get 22K steps on my Fitbit).
If you don’t want to feel rushed and can swing spending multiple nights at the park, consider purchasing the Christmas Town™ Fun Card, which allows for unlimited visits to the park.
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There are different ways to enjoy the park:
- walk from village to village
- take a ride on the Christmas Town Express
- take the world’s fastest multi-launch roller coaster, the Pantheon™
What’s at Christmas Town™
We spent 8 hours in the park and visited many attractions.
For the littlest of visitors, Sesame Street Forest of Fun is the place to be, as evidenced by the many strollers buzzing about.
Kids can choose from three different rides — and our group of teenagers went on Grover’s Alpine Express.
I am quite sure, my risk adverse 14-year old screamed the loudest. Spend time riding Prince Elmo’s Spire, Oscar’s Whirly Worms and play on Oscar’s Yucky Forest, a fun playground.
Each country or section within Christmas Town™ offers rides, entertainment and dining options.
Here are the Coasters and Christmas Town Favorites this season:
- World’s largest multi-launcher roller coaster: Pantheon
- An indoor/outdoor roller coaster: Verbolten
- Apollo’s Chariot: An award-winning hyper coaster
- The wooden roller coaster: InvadR
- Christmas Town Express
- The “scream ride”, Finnegan’s Flyer
As I mentioned before, we aren’t huge thrill-seekers when it comes to rides, but if you’re one, you will definitely enjoy these rides with your family!
In any event, don’t feel like you have to see everything – target what fits your group. Busch Gardens has something for everyone. We visited on the first Saturday in December and we saw a complete mix of ages and stages, which made the importance of family hit home.
In the mood to shop?
Then you are in for a treat. Each country sells merchandise similar to what you might find if you were really there.
Make pottery in New France; select scarves, sweaters, GUINNESS stout and more in Ireland; try Gluwein as you wander through the traditional German market or purchase beautiful nativities, ornaments and other unique gifts in Italy.
We purchased some really cool necklaces here. They have different light features and my girls were excited to have them for the season.
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If you’re into entertainment, there are several shows at Christmas Town™. Show times vary, so this is where the mobile app or the paper map comes in handy.
When we arrived at the park, we picked the shows we knew we wanted to see and planned our visit around them.
You won’t be able to see all the shows in one evening, so pick one or two ‘must-sees’.
- O Tannenbaum in Germany is a highlight and it a light show whose centerpiece is a 50-foot tall Christmas tree. The show is set to music and the lights are breathtaking.
- We also saw ‘Twas That Night in the Royal Palace Theatre in France. It’s an ice show and features World-champion and two-time Olympic silver medalist figure skater Elvis Stojko.
- The show is outdoors, is about a half hour long and includes original holiday songs and some cherished favorites.
- We also wanted to see Scrooge No More, but when we arrived at the theater, we were turned away because the theater was full.
Insider Tip: if you really want to see something on a peak visit day – get to the line early.
We arrived about 45 minutes prior to ‘Twas That Night and there was a long line forming. Thankfully, the theater venue is very large, so it can hold a lot of people.
Dining options are plentiful and just like shopping and entertainment, food is everywhere.
We feasted on a late lunch at Marco Polo’s Marketplace. They had a nice selection of Italian food, but other options as well. The highlight was the create your own cannoli station. Yum!
We enjoyed a late dinner at Trapper’s Smokehouse which offered various smoked turkey, ham and spare ribs entrees plus sandwiches and kid meals.
Other choices include:
- a traditional German dinner in Das Festhaus or a Tastes of Christmas Town buffet (reservations required for the latter),
- fish and chips in England,
- soups and stews in Ireland
- a retro American buffet diner in Holiday Hills
Desserts are plentiful throughout the park. We recommend grabbing a crepe at Coffee and Crepes in France.
In addition, you’ll find hot chocolate, homemade fudge, gourmet dipped apples, funnel cakes, coffee, kettle corn, beignets (enjoyed these during the ‘Twas That Night show, delicious), festive cocktails and more.
We had an unforgettable to Busch Gardens Christmas Town™ this year, so much so that we plan to continue the tradition of visiting for years to come.
Christmas Town Schedule
- Christmas Town™ is open from 2 to 10 p.m. daily from Nov 11th 2022 to Jan 8th 2023
- The timings vary on weekends and other special dates.
- Download the 2022 Park Schedule here.
Pricing and Tickets
- Date-Specific ticket starts at $39.99
- Christmas town fun card for ages 3+ starts from $76.99
- Christmas Bounce Ticket for adults is $95.62, for kids from ages 6-12 is $79.62 and for kids 0-5 is Free. With this, you also get a free parking.
- Additionally, there are a number of membership passes available.
- Save upto 30% when you purchase a 2-day or 3-day ticket.
- You can also purchase park memberships (of different categories) starting from $13/month.
- Purchase tickets online here.
- If you can manage it, we recommend visiting Busch Gardens Christmas Town™ on a non-peak day. The park will be a little quieter and the crowds more manageable.
- Busch Gardens Christmas Town™ is primarily an outdoor event, so be prepared. Dress comfortably for hours outside in the cold. Layers are a good idea.
- While you might not need your hat, scarf and gloves earlier in the day, once the sun sets, you will get cold.
- Case in point: my teenage daughter who was blessedly thankful that she did end up bringing her jacket vs. just wearing a hoodie.
- Lockers, strollers and wheelchairs are available for rent.
Busch Gardens is located at 1 Busch Gardens Boulevard. Williamsburg, VA 23185
Williamsburg is about a two and a half hour drive from the DC metro area.
It makes for a fairly easy car trip if there isn’t any traffic. We lucked out on both legs of the trip and made it to and fro stress-free.
Photos courtesy of Amy Miller.