Once upon a time, Christmas in Middleburg consisted of a procession of horses and hunt dogs and a parade with a few floats. It was beloved by locals, but not known much beyond Northern Virginia. Enter Middleburg native Jim Herbert who worked as a parade volunteer in 2005, became the organizer in 2010 and has since expanded the spectacle and told the world about it.
This year’s parade on Dec. 7, the 10th with Herbert at the helm, will feature the Hunt Parade (scarlet-jacketed riders and their foxhounds), scores of dashing Mexican Charros on leaping stallions, vintage horse-drawn carriages and a 1.5-mile float procession that includes drummers, bagpipers, Harley riders and some 700 animals—literally more than in Barnum’s Circus.
“We’re a small town, but this event shows a big heart,” said Herbert, 67. “We get featured everywhere from Southern Living to NBC’s Today Show because people relate to the authentic, family friendly feel.”
Holiday fun in Loudoun isn’t restricted to hunt country, however.
Fans of historic homes can enjoy a series of themed Christmas teas—Nutcracker, Candy Cane, even Ugly Sweater—in the carriage house at Oatlands Historic House & Gardens over multiple weekends in December. Enjoy a black tea blend, cucumber sandwiches and cream scones and make sure to take a guided tour of the main mansion, decorated for the season.
Nearby, kids will love Leesburg Animal Park’s ‘Christmas Village,’ open select evenings in December, and featuring a nativity, bonfire and marshmallow roasting, holiday lights and live animal encounters.
Talking lights, more than 10,000 vines on the slopes of vertiginous Bluemont Vineyard will be illuminated from late November through December, bathing the hillside in a resplendent glow. Enjoy the twinkling views over a glass of aptly named Ascent, a Bordeaux Blend.
Fans of live entertainment can get in the spirit, too, with Snow Story on Ice at ION International Training Center in Leesburg. Santa drops in on Leesburg Farmers’ Market at Virginia Village on Dec. 7—in a helicopter, not a sleigh—while both Purcellville and Leesburg host their Christmas parades the weekend of the 14th. Stock up on gifts at the Holiday Fine Arts and Crafts Show at Ida Lee the weekend before, featuring 90 local artisans.
Lansdowne Resort & Spa, meanwhile, debuts its second Winter WonderLansdowne: a variety of festive offerings such as brunch with Santa, an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, horse and carriage rides and the lighting of a 20-foot tree.
Back in Middleburg, if you can’t make the parade, Salamander Resort & Spa will unveil its own tree and a host of events such as cookie decorating and story time with Mrs. Claus. Famous miniature pony “Cupcake” will even dress up for guests.
For more information on holiday events, go to visitloudoun.org/getout/