Dec. 1-Dec. 10 Friday, Dec. 1 Over 400,000 tiny lights arranged in a botanical theme transform Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden into a winter fantasy-land during their Gardenfest of Lights, 5:30-10 p.m. nightly through Dec. 30 (except Dec. 24 and 25). The first illumination takes place tonight, 5:30 p.m. Adults $5; seniors $4; children $3. 1800 Lakeside Ave. www.lewisginter.org. Advance tickets available during regular garden hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 262-9887. See the bright new holiday event in Richmond, Celebrate Illuminate, as magical lights from the State Capitol to the 17th St. Farmer's Market light your way on an adventure through the River District. Illumination begins at the State Capitol at 5 p.m. and continues to the James Center, Shockoe Slip and the Canal Turning Basin. Finish the night with an Urban Light Works show across from Main Street Station and shopping at the 17th St. Farmer's Market. Call (804) 646-0477 for more information. Winter's Grace concert today features national artists Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum with master fiddler Bruce Molsky for a concert of songs from their "Winter's Grace" album, 7:30 p.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church. 9505 Gayton Road. $10 tickets available at Plan 9; $15 at the door. (804) 320-7067. See the winter wonderland glow warm. It's the Grand Illumination of the James Center, 6 p.m. in Downtown Richmond, with the VMI marching band, the Budweiser Clydesdale horses, rides, carriage-rides, petting zoo and entertainment. Cary Street between 10th and 12th streets. Free. (804) 344-3232. Frank Capra's beloved Christmas story "It's a Wonderful Life" comes to the TheatreVirginia stage in a musical version, "A Wonderful Life." Runs through Dec. 17. $19-$40. Call (804)3 53-6161 for show times and tickets. The Henrico Theatre Company presents the rollicking Christmas musical "Mame," Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 6-10 at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen. All performances held at 8 p.m. except Sundays, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 matinee is 2:30 p.m. $6; student and senior tickets, $4. 2880 Mountain Road. In this year's production of Handel's "Messiah," Mark Russell Smith conducts the Richmond Symphony and James Erb conducts the Richmond Symphony Chorus, 8 p.m. at the Carpenter Center. Tickets $10-$35. (804) 262-8003. Don't miss the Junior League's 25th annual Christmas Collection of The Bizarre Bazaar at Strawberry Hill, which benefits the Junior League's programs to help families at risk. Growing every year, this popular event features crafts and displays of 475 exhibitors. Today and Saturday, Dec. 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults $6; children $1.50. (804) 673-6280. Holiday Fanfare: A Celebration of the Seasons transforms the Children's Museum Grandis gallery into a wintry landscape with a Snowy Forest Walk, hands-on activities and games, and exhibits on Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. Continues through Dec. 31. Admission, $5. 2626 W. Broad St. (804) 474-CMoR. Music at Midday, a holiday tradition at The Jefferson Hotel, features 50-minute performances by local school choral and string groups on selected weekdays at noon. Free. Call (804) 649-4627 for individual performance dates. Browse through unique and functional crafts for the home and garden by area artists during 43rd Street Gallery's Holiday Open House, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. through Dec. 3. 1412 W. 43rd St. (804) 233-1759. Mount Vernon by Candlelight allows visitors to walk back in time along candlelit paths to an 18th-century Christmas, with George Washington's estate lit by hundreds of candles, tours of the mansion, carolers and snacks around a campfire, 5-8 p.m. Dec. 1-3 and Dec. 8-10. Call (703) 780-2000 for more information. Take a tour of 19th- and early 20th-century homes during the 38th annual Historic Fan District Holiday House Tour, which opens with a gala and loft tour tonight at 6:30. Tour package also includes tours of 16 restored homes Saturday, Dec. 2 and Sunday, Dec. 3, brunch, high tea and dinner in Fan homes, carriage rides on Monument Avenue, Civil War tour and a production of "Gift of the Magi" at the Firehouse Theatre. Two-day tour of all homes is $35; one-day tour $25; individual prices for other events. Tickets purchased by Dec. 1 receive $5 discount. Call (804) 254-2550 for tickets and information. Saturday, Dec. 2 Take your pet for pictures with Santa at Willow Lawn Pet Photos with Santa at the Shops at Willow Lawn. Dec. 2, 9 and 16, 9 a.m. to noon. A portion of the proceeds benefit "Paws For Health." (804) 282-5198 Carytown shoppers are not without Santa any longer. See Mr. Claus in Carytown when he takes good boys and girls up on his lap at the Byrd Theatre for Christmas requests and photos weekends through Dec. 24 (including Dec. 20-23), noon-4 p.m. (804) 353-4733. The seventh annual Heavenly Creations Art and Gourmet Food Sale brings together works by more than 50 area artists for a show of art, crafts and decorations, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at the St. James the Less Episcopal Church. 125 Beverly Road in Ashland. Have Lunch with Santa at the Montpelier Center for Art & Education at noon. Adults $6, children $4. Call (804) 883-7378 to register. Musical Christmas in Ashland concert by the Hanover Concert Band is new this year, presented at 5:30 p.m. in the Hanover Arts and Activities Center, 500 S. Railroad Ave. in Ashland. $5 donation for adults; children $2. (804) 789-0536. The Randolph-Macon College Winter Choir Concert is held at St. Ann's Church at the corner of England and Henry streets in Ashland, 8 p.m. The 2000 Ukrop's/Retail Merchants Association Christmas Parade features holiday floats, marching bands, huge balloons and, of course, Santa, 10:15 a.m. from DMV on Broad St. to 7th St. (804) 559-6113. Mark Russell Smith conducts The Richmond Symphony and James Erb conducts the Symphony Chorus when they perform seasonal favorites during the annual Let It Snow concert, 8 p.m. at the Carpenter Center. Program repeats Sunday, Dec. 3 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets $11-$46. (804) 262-8003. Shop for the holidays at Collegiate School's annual Holiday Boutique, offering home accessories, original artwork, jewelry, children's clothing and much more, 9-3 p.m. North Moreland Road between River and Derbyshire roads. (804) 323-1898. The 30th annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of 12 historic Fredericksburg homes also offers entertainment and refreshments, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Call (800) 678-4748 for more information. The Richmond Clay Artists offer a one-day Holiday Show and Sale, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at Richmond Pottery. 402 N. Robinson St. (804) 254-2094. The Cathedral of the Sacred Heart presents its annual Christmas concert and carol festival, with the adult and men's choirs of the Cathedral, conducted by Patrick Carlin, with baritone James Smith and the VCU Flute Ensemble, 8 p.m. 20 N. Laurel St. $25. (804) 359-5651. The Science Museum's 14th annual Joy From The World offers children a chance to make Lithuanian decorations, see African and Egyptian dancing and enjoy other presentations of faraway cultures, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 17. Each day has different activities. Included with admission. 2500 W. Broad St. (804) 367-0000. Holiday Tree Lighting and Caroling at the Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen takes place with Christmas snacks and a visit from Santa, 4:30 p.m. Free. 2880 Mountain Road. (804) 261-6200. Find that one-of-a-kind gift at the annual Antique, Toy and Collectible Extravaganza at the Showplace Annex, 10-6 p.m. today, and Sunday, 10-5 p.m. 3002 Mechanicsville Turnpike. Adults $2.50; children 12 and younger, free. (804) 730-9734. Old-Fashioned Christmas and lantern tours are traditional holiday events at Meadow Farm Museum, with an 1840s-era St. Nick, music, crafts, period games and hot cider. Also history demonstrations and lantern tours of the farmhouse, 6:30-9 p.m. Free. Call (804) 501-5520 for more information. See "The Gift of the Magi," adapted for the stage by W.R. Hutchinson and directed by Tim Ireland, today at 2 and 4 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre. $5. 1609 W. Broad St. (804) 355-2001. Get your pet's picture taken with Santa Claws, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at local PETsMART stores. Also Dec. 3, 9 and 10. Photos at Libbie Place location support AARF (Animal Adoption & Rescue Foundation). (804) 254-0800. The Concert Ballet of Virginia presents The Nutcracker during its 25th-anniversary season. Three Mechanicsville performances take place at Atlee High School, today at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 3, at 2:30 p.m. 9414 Atlee Station Road. Richmond performances take place at the Woman's Club Dec. 9 and 10 at 2:30 p.m. 211 E. Franklin St. All performances are $18 for adults, $15 for children. (804) 798-0945. Sunday, Dec. 3 Richmond Parks, Recreation & Community Facilities presents the annual production of "Amahl and the Night Visitors," a musical by Gian Carlo Menotti, 4 p.m. Landmark Theater. Free. (804) 646-1031. The Richmond Concert Band performs one of five holiday concerts, today at St. John's Catholic Church, 5 p.m. 811 W. Nine Mile Road in Highland Springs. Free. Other concerts are on Dec. 5, 10, 13 and 17. Celebrate Advent Sunday at The Episcopal Church of St. Andrew with the 30th annual choir office of Advent Lessons and Carols, featuring music by guest flutist, Scott Hershey, 5:30 p.m. at the corner of South Laurel Street and Idlewood Avenue. (804) 648-7980. Ring in the holiday spirit with the annual Jingle Bell Run & Walk for Arthritis. Hundreds of runners and walkers tie jingle bells to their shoelaces and speed through Innsbrook. This is the annual nationwide fund-raising event for the Arthritis Foundation. Join in the 5K run or 3K walk. Call (804) 359-1700 for more information. GE Financial Assurance Holiday Village opens for visits with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Rudolf and Santa's helpers. Other life-size storybook characters entertain and greet guests, 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Other hours are Dec. 4, 6 and 8, 6-8 p.m. and Dec. 10, 2-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Free and open to the public. 6604 W. Broad St. (804) 281-6699. Meet at the Ashland town tree to practice for neighborhood Christmas Caroling, 4 p.m. at the corner of Thompson Street and Hanover Avenue. The Grand Illumination at Randolph-Macon College and the holiday piano recital at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center follows, 5:30 p.m. (804) 798-2728. The 25th annual A Victorian Christmas at Maymont hits the quarter-century mark and lavishes Richmond with the charm of glowing Yule logs, strolling carolers and visits with Father Christmas. Escape the crowds and frustrations of the holidays with a trip to the 1890s. The 42nd annual Candlelight Ceremony begins at 6 p.m. In-house tour and carriage rides also available. The Victorian Christmas takes place noon-6 p.m. 1700 Hampton St. (804) 358-7166, ext. 310. Meet at the Ashland town tree to practice for neighborhood Christmas Caroling, 4 p.m. at the corner of Thompson Street and Hanover Avenue (in Ashland). The Grand Illumination at Randolph-Macon College and the holiday piano recital at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center follow at 5:30 p.m. (804) 798-2728. Monday, Dec. 4 The Richmond Philharmonic, conducted by Victoria Gau, is joined by soprano Kara Charise Harman for a free holiday concert, 7 p.m. at the James Center Atrium. (804) 673-4001. Tuesday, Dec. 5 The Richmond Concert Band performs one of five holiday concerts, today at Imperial Plaza, 7 p.m. 1717 Bellevue Ave. Free. Other concerts are Dec. 3, 10, 13 and 17. The Saints Singers of St. Christopher's and St. Catherine's schools perform a choral concert of sacred and secular Christmas music at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, 10 a.m. Three Chopt Road and Grove Avenue. Wednesday, Dec. 6 Children and families of the hearing-impaired are invited to visit with Santa for photos during Here Comes Signing Santa Claus. Signing experts will be on hand to enhance Santa visits for the hearing impaired 2-6 p.m. today and Dec. 8 at the Shops at Willow Lawn, in Santa's Toy Village in front of Dillard's. Thursday, Dec. 7 St. Joseph's Villa celebrates the holiday with its annual tree-lighting ceremony and reception, 5:30 p.m. More than 2,000 lights are illuminated on the 40-foot tree that stands beside the chapel at the entrance to the villa. Children perform a selection of holiday songs. Cookies and punch are served in the administration building following. Free. (804) 553-3225. Maymont by Moonlight is a luxurious carriage ride and tour of the Maymont House that concludes with carolers and refreshments. Thursdays and Fridays to Dec. 15, 6-8:30 p.m. $14 adults; $7 children 12 and younger. Registration required by Dec. 4. (804) 358-7166, ext. 329. Friday, Dec. 8 Stratford Hall Plantation holds its annual Christmas Candlelight Tour, 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. today and Saturday. The Great House reopens at 4:30 p.m. for candlelight tours. Costumed interpreters are present in each of the rooms, and 18th century music is played in the Great Hall. A buffet dinner by candlelight in the Plantation Store is available by registration only. Call (804) 493-8038 weekdays, or (804) 493-8371 weekends for tickets and information. The Blackwell Blackbox Theatre performs Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" through Dec. 14. Monday through Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 2 p.m. Randolph-Macon College. Theatre located at 205 Henry St. in Ashland. Visit www.rmc.edu for more information. Reservations required. (804) 752-7316. Miracle on 34th Street continues The Chesterfield Children's Theatre's 2000 season, through Dec. 22 at the newly renovated Pinocchio Family Playhouse. Call (804) 706-1910 for season brochure, tickets, times and other information. 1601 Ware Bottom Spring Road. Listen to Strolling Dickens Carolers at the Shops at Willow Lawn, 6-8 p.m., part of the mall's three-day holiday open house. Theatre IV opens its production of King Christmas Island, a play about the struggle of island villagers beset by fierce winter weather. This is the second production of Theatre IV's 2000-2001 Family Playhouse Season. Presented through Dec. 24 at the Empire Theatre, 114 W. Broad St. Call (804) 643-2477 for times and ticket information. The Church Hill Holiday Festival is a vespers service, a candle walk, a Christmas ball and a tour of homes in Church Hill. It begins Dec. 8 and ends Dec. 10 with the tour of homes. The ball is Dec. 9 at The Showcase. (804) 648-2120 or (804) 644-6060. Saturday, Dec. 9 Take your pet for pictures with Santa at Willow Lawn Pet Photos with Santa at the Shops at Willow Lawn. Dec. 2, 9 and 16, 9 a.m. to noon. A portion of the proceeds benefit "Paws For Health." (804) 282-5198 The eighth annual James River Parade of Lights dazzles viewers beginning at dusk. This lighted-boat parade cruises the James River from Richmond to the Varina-Enon Bridge. More than 20 boats are decorated with lights. Parade begins at Libby Hill Park in Richmond (entertainment 4:30 p.m., parade 5:30 p.m. and moves to Kingsland Reach Marina and Osborne's Landing (entertainment, 5:30 p.m.; parade 7:50 p.m.) Two locations in Chesterfield: The Dutch Gap Boat Landing, (entertainment, 5:30 p.m.; parade, 8 p.m.) and the bluff at 1611 Citie of Henricus (entertainment, 5:30 p.m.; parade, 8:15 p.m.) Parade times are approximate. Arrive early; parking limited. (804) 717-6681. The Richmond Ballet kicks off the first of 14 performances of the holiday classic The Nutcracker, 8 p.m. at the Carpenter Center. Join Clara and her friends in this annual presentation of Tchaikovsky's Christmas tradition. Adults, $22-$47 (discounts for students and seniors). Tickets, (804) 262-8100. Through Dec. 23. The Concert Ballet of Virginia presents The Nutcracker at the Woman's Club Auditorium, 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 211 E. Franklin St. Program repeats Sunday, Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m. Call (804) 798-0945 for ticket availability. The Chesterfield County Historical Society hosts its annual Christmas Open House, with reenactors and old St. Nick, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Magnolia Grange and Castlewood in Chesterfield. Local garden clubs have designed the live decorations. Free. Photos with Santa, $5. (804) 777-9663. A Holiday Big Band Concert with Bill Zickafoose and the Continentals celebrates the holidays swing-style, with 1940s-era classics, 8 p.m. at Hermitage High School. 8301 Hungary Spring Road. Free. (804) 501-5115. The Woodland Heights Civic Association hosts its annual Artist in Residence holiday event, with crafts, holiday decorations, storytelling and Santa for children, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Historic Stone House in Forest Hill Park. Get in the spirit with Sleigh Ride, an evening of favorite Christmas songs and carols performed by the James River Ringers, 7 p.m. at Bon Air Presbyterian Church. $6; children 10 and younger, free. (804) 932-4448. Sunday, Dec. 10 The University of Richmond presents Handel's Messiah at the Cannon Memorial Chapel, 3 p.m. Free. (804) 289-8277 Agecroft Hall's annual Christmas Open House takes place, showing Richmonders how Christmas was done centuries ago. Features a walk-through tour of an English manor decorated in the style of the 16th and 17th centuries, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. More or Less Morris Dancers perform dances of the day in the courtyard, and refreshments are served on the lawn. New activities this year are scenes from Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," and children's arts-and-craft making. Free. 4305 Sulgrave Road. (804) 353-4241. Visit The Museum of the Confederacy, decorated as the Davis family might have during Christmas, for a special holiday season celebration as it opens its doors to the public, noon-5:00 p.m. Admission to the Museum will be free, and, for the first time since it was restored in 1988, free guided tours of the famous White House of the Confederacy will be available. Also features a Victorian Santa for children, caroling and craft making. 1201 E. Clay St. Next to the Medical College of Virginia. (804) 649-1861. The Holiday Family Open House the Virginia Museum includes a visit with Santa, holiday music, ornament-making and the lighting of the museum's holiday tree. 6-8 p.m. Free. (804) 367-8148. The Richmond Concert Band performs one of five holiday concerts, today at River Road United Methodist Church, 7:30 p.m. 8800 River Road. Free. Other concerts are Dec. 13 and 17. The Shops at Willow Lawn ends the holiday open house with Family Craftmaking and Stories featuring the Nutcracker prince and princess, 1 p.m.-3 p.m. inside the mall. Hear a Gospel Christmas Concert featuring gospel music figure Larnelle Harris, 6:30 p.m. at Grove Avenue Baptist Church. Free. Advance tickets required. Call (804) 740-8888. 8701 Ridge Road. The Richmond Harp Ensemble Concert takes place today, 4:30 p.m. at the Gayton Kirk Presbyterian Church. Gayton and Ryandale roads. (804) 266-3723. Did we miss your event? Send us an e-mail.