• Norfolk Currents
  • Posts
  • All Aboard the Gingerbread Express! Norfolk's Beloved Holiday Tradition Turns 37

All Aboard the Gingerbread Express! Norfolk's Beloved Holiday Tradition Turns 37

The Grand Illumination Returns

Grab your icing and candy canes, because Norfolk's most beloved holiday event, the Annual Grand Illumination Parade, is celebrating its 37th fabulous year on Saturday November 18th! This treasured tradition has officially kicked off the Christmas season for nearly four decades straight with its magical floats, dancing snowflakes, and illuminated downtown. It's an event locals look forward to all year round - almost as eagerly as Santa himself awaits fresh cookies!

This year's confectionary-themed parade promises to be the sweetest yet with the theme "Gingerbread Dreams." I, for one, am envisioning giant animatronic gingerbread men waving from floats, candy-studded gingerbread houses on wheels, and maybe even ole Saint Nick rocking a gingerbread-spiced latte as he passes by. Hey, if I'm dreaming, might as well dream big! 

The evening unfolds like a Hallmark movie, with families bundling up to line Norfolk's streets by 5pm sharp to save a good spot. Kids skip and play as festive music fills the air, fueling up on hot cocoa (or getting in on the Great Hot Cocoa War - may the most marshmallowy mug win!) before claiming the best curb seats. Finally, at 7pm sharp, the towering downtown lights up in a dazzling Grand Illumination display. It's truly breathtaking. And just as we catch our breath - here comes the parade! 

Two full miles of festive floats, performers, bands, dancers, marchers and more wind through the jubilant crowds. Little ones laugh and cheer as lights twinkle overhead to the beat of prancing horses and merry musicians. And waiting to hear those iconic sleigh bells, the grand finale can only mean one thing - Santa's gingerbread-scented arrival! Sure, he may have added a few cookie crumbs to that snowy beard since last year, but hey, no judgement from me, Kringle. You deserve it after a long toy-making season!

So join tens of thousands of your closest friends in downtown Norfolk on November 18th as we "oooh" and "aaah" over spinning dreidels, pirouetting ballerinas, and dazzling sights. Gingerbread Dreams promises an evening even brighter than Rudolph's red nose. Don't forget to wave as you pass by my curbside perch, Norfolk! Oh, and Santa - save a cookie for me!

Join the conversation

or to participate.