Grand Illumination Relocates to Kanawha Plaza

If you’re a fan of the sparkly holiday tradition of downtown’s Grand Illumination, you may have heard there’s a big change this year.

For the past 34 years the event has been hosted by the James Center, but this year the City of Richmond has taken it over and will be holding the RVA Illuminates kickoff at Kanawha Plaza, 801 E. Canal St., on Friday, Dec. 6. The main event starts at 5:45 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m. but there will be a soft start featuring Richmond Public School students performing around 5 p.m.

“It’s pretty much the same thing [as last year], but No BS Brass band will play, the mayor will be there, the Snow Queen, Melissa Chase and Jack Frost will be there,” says Priscilla J. Wright, recreation service manager for citywide special events and film production. “The focus this year for us is lighting up the entire city at 6 o’clock.”

Not to confuse anyone, but there’s a separate new event at the same time called Shockoe Illuminates, which takes place at 17th Street Marketplace and will include holiday vendors. Wright says that the Shockoe Bottom Business and Neighborhood Association will utilize its open-container license: “So you can have a glass of wine and shop down there. And over at Kanawha there will be princesses and snow fairies and all those type of things.”

Wright explains that the event was moved over to Kanawha mainly because of space concerns and noted that ownership has changed at the James Center, which was undergoing renovations last year during the event.

“They outgrew their space there,” she says.

South Seventh Street between East Byrd and Canal streets will be closed until 10 p.m. Parking will be restricted on the east side of South Eighth between Canal and Cary, the west side of South Ninth between Canal and Cary, as well as the 800 block of East Canal Street between South Eighth and Ninth streets, according to a news release.

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