By Rebecca Holland
If you’re trying to shop local this holiday season but finding it difficult to get to stores during their business hours, there are plenty of events in Southwest Virginia to help you out. During these holiday events, many local stores will be keeping extended hours so you can find the perfect gift with local flavor.
This is the 30th year of downtown Roanoke’s Dickens of a Christmas. On Dec. 7, 14 and 21, many downtown merchants will be open late and welcoming shoppers. The event officially begins at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, and 6 p.m. on Dec. 14 and 21. It runs until 10 p.m. each evening.
In addition to extended shopping hours, the City of Roanoke Tree lighting will be held Dec. 7, the City of Roanoke Christmas Parade will be held Dec. 14 and the RVSPA’s Pet Costume Contest will be held Dec. 21 during the family-friendly event. You also can browse from the selection of craft, food and novelty vendors set up throughout the Roanoke City Market each evening.
For more information, visit www.downtownroanoke.org.
The Winter Lights Festival will be held in downtown Blacksburg this year on Dec. 7. During this event, downtown shops will remain open until 8 p.m., and many will offer refreshments and special holiday discounts. Local farmers and crafters will set up shop in the Holiday Gift Market at Market Square Park.
There are plenty of other family-friendly activities to enjoy during the festival, as well. TubaChristmas, which features 20 to 200 tuba players, will perform Christmas carols in Market Square Park, and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be available to visit and take photos with in the lobby of The Lyric Theatre. A children’s choir will perform as the mayor ceremonially turns on the holiday lights for the season.
There will also be two other special shopping days. Ladies Night is Dec. 13 and Gents Night is Dec. 20. During these two evenings, select shops and restaurants will offer late hours, free gift wrapping, personalized shopping assistance and special discounts.
For more information, visit www.downtownblacksburg.com.
At the Wide Open Weekend (WOW) in Lexington shoppers can look forward to extended store hours, in-store demonstrations and promotions, free “Downtown Dollars,” and a downtown Lexington gift basket giveaway. The dates for this year’s event are Dec. 7 through 9.
There also will be other attractions for the family, such as a holiday drink contest, gingerbread men handing out candy canes, seasonal music and carolers, an appearance by Mrs. Claus, holiday stories, ornament-making and refreshments.
For more information, visitwww.downtownlexington.com.
During Ye Olde Salem Christmas on Dec. 8, shoppers can browse through merchant open houses and visit market vendors offering crafts, wreaths, baked goods and more from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Kids will enjoy story time with Mrs. Claus, getting their photo with Santa, carriage rides, sipping hot cider and the Gingerbread Festival.
All of these activities will be available in various stores throughout downtown Salem, the Salem Library, the Salem Farmers Market and Longwood Park.
For more information, visit www.salemva.gov.
For the three Fridays before Christmas, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, Centertown Bedford will also host a special event for holiday shoppers.
Most Centertown shops will hold late hours on those evenings beginning at 5 p.m.
There will be other attractions, such as carriage rides and a visit from Santa Claus. For more information, call Bedford Main Street at 586-2148.
For more local events, visit the roanoke.com calendar