I love the icicle holiday lights on the Escape from Pompei Ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

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If you are looking for a fun and beautiful Christmas event at a theme park in Virginia, then you actually have two awesome choices.  Both Kings Dominion theme park near Richmond and Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg have wonderful events.  Kings Dominion recently started holding a Winterfest event.  And Busch Gardens has been holding its Christmas Town event for over ten years.

My family loves both events.  If you can, then I would go to both events.

But if you can only choose one, the question is, how do you pick?  So we thought we would help you by comparing different aspects of Winterfest and Christmas Town.

Holiday Lights

Both events have amazing holiday lights.  You will seriously be mesmerized by them from the minute you enter the park.

I love all the holiday lights up at Winterfest, especially around International Street.

Why your family will love the Christmas decorations at Winterfest at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

We love the holiday lights at International Street at Kings Dominion during Witnerfest

See beautiful Christmas lights at the popular Virginia theme park Kings Dominion during Winterfest, their holiday event

But I would have to give the edge to Christmas Town.  They are my favorite holiday lights at any event at any theme park.  And I have gone to a lot of these events.  But my favorite will always be Christmas Town at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg.

I love the icicle holiday lights on the Escape from Pompei Ride at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

How to save money on admission to CHristmas Town at Busch Gardens theme park in Virginia

Williamsburg Christmas vacation packages hotel & admission to Busch Gardens, Historic Triangle

Winner: Christmas Town

Christmas Shows

Both events have a lot of great Christmas shows.  Winterfest has a Broadway-style show in Charlie Brown’s Christmas Spectacular, a comedy show in Tinker’s Toy Factory, and a great singing show in Cool Yule Christmas.

Actors dressed as elves performing in Tinker's Toy Factory show at Kings Dominion WinterFest in Virginia

Cool Yule Christmas Show with Performers in front of Christmas trees at Kings Dominion WinterFest in Virginia

Winterfest also has smaller-scale entertainment that are entertainment but not full-fledged shows.  This would include Blitzen’s Brass Band, Four Drummers Drumming, Jingle Jazz, and the Holly Jolly Trolley, where performers step out of a trolley and give a performance.

Blitzen's Brass Band performers, playing instruments and walking through Kings Dominion at the WinterFest Christmas event

But Christmas Town has more full-fledged shows.  They also have entertainers that perform at various times, like carolers in the England section, a Killarney Village Band in Ireland, and a Country Christmas in New France.  But then as far as shows are concerned, they have a full-fledged musical show in Scrooge No More, a show you can watch while you eat with Unto Us in Italy and Up on the Haustop in Germany.  They also have a new show, Celtic Fyre, in the Ireland section.  And then they have my favorite, an ice skating show (‘Twas The Night) that stars Olympic Medalist skater Elvis Stojko.  That alone makes it the winner.

Live performers perform throughout Busch Gardens theme park during Christmas Town holiday experience

A choir singing during Unto Us, the holiday show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town

Up on the Haustop is one of the live shows at Christmas Town holiday event at Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Twas That Night Ice Skating Holiday Show at Busch Gardens Williamsburg Christmas Town

Winner: Christmas Town


Both Winterfest and Kings Dominion are operating a lot of the rides they normally do.

Kings Dominion is operating the following rides:

Kings Dominion's Winterfest has lots of rides that you enjoy during the year including roller coasters open

  • Twisted Timbers
  • Dominator
  • Delirium
  • Dodgem
  • Carousel
  • Flying Eagles
  • Bad Apple
  • Americana
  • Blue Ridge Tollway
  • Wave Swinger
  • Flying Ace Balloon Race
  • Lucy’s Crabbie Cabbies
  • Linus Launcher
  • Kite Eating Tree
  • Sally’s Sea Plane
  • Great Pumpkin Coaster
  • PEANUTS 500
  • Snoopy’s Junction
  • Charlie Brown’s Wind Up
  • Snoopy’s Space Buggies
  • Woodstock Whirlybirds

Busch Gardens is operating the following rides:

  • Apollo’s Chariot
  • Verbolten
  • Finnegan’s Flyers
  • Invadr
  • Der Autobahn
  • Der Autobahn Jr.
  • The Battering Ram
  • Kinder Karussel
  • Der Wirbelwind
  • Le Catapult
  • The Little Balloons
  • Grover’s Alpine Express
  • Prince Elmo’s Spire
  • Oscar’s Yucky Forest
  • Oscar’s Whirly Worms
  • The Little Gliders
  • Der Roto Baron
  • Li’l Clydes

But Busch Gardens goes a step further.  For Christmas Town, you get to see Christmas and holiday versions of some rides.  The bobsled ride in Festa Italia becomes Reindeer Run.  The spinning teacups become Peppermint Twist.  And the speedy bobsled ride becomes Snowman Summit.

But my favorite is what happens to the train at Busch Gardens.  It becomes Christmas Town Express.

The Christmas Town Express is a great train ride from New France in Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Not only it is a great way to see the beautiful Christmas lights around the park.  And you get to sing Christmas carols!  And it is a ride all ages can enjoy.  So that ride alone to me gives the edge to Christmas Town.

Winner: Christmas Town


This is one category where Winterfest takes the cake.  Winterfest has far better dining options.  They have multiple dining options where you can eat inside.  My family loves the Classic Christmas Cafe, you can read our review here.

My family loved the classic Christmas & Thanksgiving dinners you could order at Winterfest at Kings Dominion in Virginia

Stay warm by eating inside at Winterfest Christmas event at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

You can also eat indoors at Blitzen’s Burritos.

Blitzen's Burritos restaurant at Kings Dominion WinterFest holiday event in Doswell Virginia

Now, why is eating indoors important?  Well, if the weather is nice, it’s fine to eat outdoors.  But that has never happened to me when visiting these Virginia Christmas events.  It has always either been really cold or raining.

But Christmas Town only has one indoor dining option.  Das Festhaus is a great option.  It’s in Oktoberfest and you can watch a great Christmas show while you eat.  There is plenty of seating.

You can sit down inside at Des Festhaus at Busch Gardens Christmas Town

But since it is the only indoor dining option, it can get very crowded and the lines to get the food can get really long.  And it is far across the park from other attractions.  So if you find yourself getting hungry, you can’t just easily get there.

There is one dining option that has covered eating, and that is Marco Polo’s Marketplace.  You can eat while watching a show there, too.  But when we’ve eaten there before, it has gotten really cold.  And last time, we had to get up and change tables when it started pouring.  Also, the lines here get really long, too.

Now, you can eat before or after you visit the parks, and that is away around this problem.  But if you are planning on being there for a day or you’d like to eat the park, Winterfest has much better options.

Winner: Winterfest

Photo Opportunities

There are a lot of great photo opportunities at both theme parks.  You can get photos with lots of great holiday characters at Winterfest at Kings Dominion, like the Sugar Plum Fairy and Jack Frost and his nieces.

Two winter characters posing for a photo in front of the Simply Christmas store at Kings Dominion WinterFest

But at Christmas Town, you can get a photo with an actual Clydesdale horse.  How is that for a unique and special holiday picture?

Busch Gardens Christmas Town has great holiday photo opps, like this one with a Clydesdale horse

Ice Skating

If you are lucky enough to be in Paris, France during the holiday season, you could ice skate in front of the Eiffel Tower.  But did you know that you can do that in Virginia?

There is ice skating available in front of the Eiffel Tower at Winterfest.

Ice Skating on Snow Flake Lake at International Street in Kings Dominion during WinterFest

This is an activity that is not available at Christmas Town.

Winner: Winterfest

Better Deal

Ultimately, though, what may make your decision on which event to attend could come down to price.

Now, the price of a Christmas Town does depend on the date you attend the event (click here to see date-specific pricing).  And most days, if you are only going to be visiting one time, a ticket to Winterfest would be cheaper.

But if you do plan to visit more than one day, Christmas Town is a better deal.  Because they have some great ticket options.  You can get a Christmas Town Fun Card and then you can have unlimited visits during the entire Christmas season.  And this just costs $69.99; click here to buy this ticket.

You could also consider getting a Christmas Bounce Ticket, which gets you admission to both Christmas Town and Colonial Williamsburg, which is beautiful during the Christmas season:

So admission to Busch Gardens Christmas Town can be a better deal.

Winner: Christmas Town