On Saturday, May 27, 2017, the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will light thousands of candles throughout the Fredericksburg National Cemetery in honor of fallen veterans. The family-friendly Fredericksburg Luminaria is one of the most beautiful displays in the Mid-Atlantic region – and it’s completely free! I’m delighted to help sponsor it again this year. Please consider visiting the Luminaria, even if it’s just to stop by for fifteen minutes. It’s worth the trip.
Here are the details for the event this year:
2017 Fredericksburg National Cemetery Luminaria
Saturday, May 27, 2017
8:00 PM – (varies)
Fredericksburg Battlefield Visitors’ Center
1013 Lafayette Blvd
Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Also, if you have the opportunity to go, I want to share a few tips:
1) Wait until it’s dark. The candles will be lit and pretty in early twilight, but they’re truly marvelous in the deep darkness after the sun has set. (The sun will set at 8:24 PM that night.)
2) As you approach the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, you will likely see a steep hillside covered in glowing candles. It’s captivating and pretty, and many people mistakenly think *that* is the whole Luminaria. However, you cannot see the whole Luminaria from any streets nearby, or even the stone wall of the battlefield. You must enter the cemetery to see the most beautiful parts of the memorial display. Follow the pathway up the hill, past the friendly rangers of the National Park Service, and into the main part of the cemetery at the top of the hill. From there, you will see the Luminaria proper, literally fields of lights in every direction. (If you want to be in a quiet place away from crowds, or just want to view the display from a different angle, consider walking the perimeter of the National Cemetery by the stone wall. That will lead you to the western boundary, where there are more lights and fewer people.)
3) The event is getting more popular every year and parking immediately adjacent the National Cemetery can be hard to come by. Feel free to park in the surrounding neighborhoods; you may have to walk a few blocks, but the weather is normally mild at that time of year and the walk pleasant.
4) Regarding photography, it can be difficult to get good photos of the Luminaria due to the contrast between the night sky and the bright candles, even with the great cameras now available on smartphones and other tech devices. If you would like souvenir pictures of the Luminaria and are unable to get good photos yourself, there are Luminaria postcards available in the Visitors’ Center bookstore at the base of the hill. The photograph on those postcards was taken by John Cummings, who is the Chairman of the Friends of the Fredericksburg Area Battlefields (FoFAB) and a Visual Historian. (A sample of the postcard that will be available is below.)
5) There are brief guided tours available during the Luminaria for visitors who would like to know more about the event and the Fredericksburg battlefield. Moreover, every 30 minutes a bugler will play Taps during the Luminaria. Here are some additional details from the National Park Service: https://www.nps.gov/frsp/planyourvisit/luminaria.htm
Hope to see you there!