West Virginia, mountain mama, take me home country road.
If you are thinking of spending a country Christmas out of town, West Virginia is an ideal destination. And if you want to see many of the state’s attractions, why not head out to the capital city of Charleston?
Charleston sits at the meeting of the Elk and Kanawha rivers. It features a gold domed Capitol Building, a Governor’s mansion and the West Virginia State Museum and theater. Other attractions include the Clay Center for Arts and Sciences which is home to an art and discovery museum, a planetarium and a concert hall.
If you are planning on taking a holiday vacation to Charleston, here are some things you can see and do.
Charleston Christmas Parade
The Charleston Christmas Parade starts on Kanawha Blvd between Clendenin and Capital streets. It runs down Kanawha towards Capitol St. to Washington St. then it goes to Court St to Quarrier St to Clendenin St and back to Kanawha where it ends.
The parade is full of magnificent floats which are judged 45 minutes prior to the parade taking off. Awards are presented at the ‘Review Stand’ in front of the Town Center’s Court St. entrance.
The parade attracts thousands of people each year and promises plenty of holiday fun.
Holly Day at the Clay Center
The Clay Center has so much for families to enjoy including an art museum, a discovery museum, a planetarium and live performances. Every year they bring the cheer by hosting Holly Day. Come by for arts and crafts activities, visits with Santa and a chance to explore the museum and planetarium.
Edgewood Summit’s Annual Santa’s Workshop
Edgewood Summit is a senior living facility that offers a fantastic market during the holiday season. Guests can come by to pick up items like handmade gifts, custom wood crafts, ornaments, greeting cards and more. There will also be live entertainment and Santa will be on site.
Murder and Merriment
Murder and Merriment is a Charleston company that allows guests to have the opportunity to play detective by questioning suspects and examining clues in a staged murder mystery. Its great for parties, fundraisers and small groups.
Every year, they host a special Twas the Murder Before Christmas event which is open to the public. Purchase tickets at the Hale Street Center, then come down to figure our who killed the victim.
Bisperas ng Tanghali
We know how it is. You want to celebrate New Year’s, but with the kids and all you have to do, it’s just not possible to stay up until midnight.
The Kanawha County Library feels your pain and that’s exactly why they host a Noon Year’s Eve event. Stop by at 11 AM on Dec. 30 or Dec. 31 (see branches for dates) so you can take part in the family friendly activities.
The Charleston Town Center is an enclosed shopping mall in the downtown area of the city and one of the largest enclosed malls in the United States. It’s a great place to get holiday shopping done, and, if you travel over to its Center Court, you can take in the glory of its Shining Chimes display.
The display includes over a million LED lights, 42 miles of wire and 15 giant ornaments. It stays up for 50 days of the holiday season and if you come by at 5, 6, 7 or 8 PM on any night, you can check out the light show.
The mall also hosts Christmas performances each year. Come by to see what artists they are featuring.
Albans Festival of Lights
The Festival of Lights takes place at Albans Park. Spend the evening enjoying the thousands of holiday lights and many decorations. The event is free and open to the public.
Opening night is typically Black Friday and the decorations stay up throughout the season. The park is lit up from 6-9 PM.
Coonskin Park closes at 4 PM during the winter, but people can still walk or drive by to see the winter display lighting up the area.
Charleston is full of performing arts venues and you can bet there will be plenty going on when you are in town.
The Charleston Coliseum Convention Center is a great spot for holiday concerts. Events like the Manheim Steamroller Christmas Tour, Christmas in Appalachia and performances by Bill Gaither & The Gaither Vocal Band have taken place in past years. Find out what’s going on during your visit.
The Clay Center is another great holiday performance venue. They are known for hosting a performance of the Nutcracker by the Charleston Ballet.
If you are lucky, you may catch the Appalachian Children’s Chorus’s Peace Joy & Harmony Christmas Concert at the Charleston Baptist Temple.
Cirque Dreams: Holidaze is another event that often passes through town. It features acrobatics, elaborate costumes and Cirque antics that are sure to get families in the holiday spirit.
The Culture Center Theater is another venue worth checking out for Christmas performances.
Pasko sa Capitol
For many West Virginians, it’s just not Christmas without this Capitol building event.
The Joyful Night celebration kicks off with school music performances and a tree lighting ceremony at the South Plaza Fountain.
The activities move inside the Capitol Building so the governor and first lady can unveil the Christmas décor featured in the West Rotunda and the governor’s reception room. The trees decorated are in recognition of the military, first responders and the Communities in Schools programs.
Then the program moves to the Great Hall of the State Culture Center as the First Lady announces the winners of the state ornament contest. Other activities include the lighting of a menorah and visits with Santa.
The evening wraps up in the Governor’s Mansion as the governor and first lady do a reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Charleston promises downhome fun with a country feel. It’s a great place for enjoying Christmas lights, getting some shopping done and checking out cultural sites. Which of these activities are you most excited about?