Get Ready for This Year’s Lighting of the Lawn

November 21, 2023
An evening fish eye photo of the lawn and Rotunda during Lighting of the Lawn

(Photo by Sanjay Suchak, University Communications)

The planning started in earnest in the spring. The payoff comes Dec. 1, when students at the University of Virginia host the 22nd annual Lighting of the Lawn.

This year’s theme is “Disglow.” 

“It’s kind of combining disco and glow sticks,” fourth-year student Riley Lorgus, the event’s co-chair, said. “We just wanted to do something a little bit different. We thought it would increase the community involvement because with ‘Disglow,’ you can dress up in a disco costume, bring some glow sticks and have some fun with it.”

The Future of Medicine Just Broke Ground in Virginia | Learn More About What It Means to Be Great and Good in All We Do
The Future of Medicine Just Broke Ground in Virginia | Learn More About What It Means to Be Great and Good in All We Do

People who arrive early for the 7 p.m. event can help themselves to a limited supply of free glow sticks.

Brighter Than Ever This Year

About every seven years, Lorgus said, students must replace all the strands of lights, which number about 11,000. This year was the time to make that change, meaning the Lawn will glow brighter than ever with new strands of bulbs, powered by solar energy.

Lorgus and his co-chair and fellow fourth-year student, Frances Carraway, began meeting in the spring to plan this year’s event. This fall, the entire team, about 55 students, meet weekly for two-hour planning sessions in the Rotunda. It is a complex operation that includes a lot of fundraising. This year, the committee brought in $80,000 to put on the show.

Despite the festive theme, there will be somber notes at this year’s gathering, Logus said.

“Last year, Lighting of the Lawn was the first event where the whole community could come together after the shootings of Nov. 13, and it was a really important moment to unite us and uplift the community after the tragic event,” he said. 

As was the case last year, this year’s event will feature lights formed into “1,” “15” and “41,” the jersey numbers worn by Lavel Davis, Devin Chandler and D’Sean Perry, who were killed in the shooting.

New This Year

This year’s light show will be longer, Lorgus said. “We heard feedback from the community that the light show is really what they like and we felt the need to deliver and give the people what they want,” he explained.

Doors for the event open at 6 p.m. About 20 a capella and performance groups will kick off the show at 7 p.m. A collection of special guests will read a reflective poem at 8:45 p.m., followed by the mass singing of “The Good Old Song.”

The light show will begin about 9:00 p.m., with pulsing illuminations timed to the beat of several pieces of music.

Lighting of the Lawn will also be livestreamed.

A look up the columns of the Rotunda lit with string lights
Last year, the Lighting of the Lawn committee partnered with the School of Architecture’s Fabrication Lab to install lights illuminating Davis,’ Chandler’s and Perry’s respective jersey numbers. (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University Communications)

Members of the community are invited to attend Lighting of the Lawn, which is free and was founded by students after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Attendees are invited to make a night of it and enjoy dinner from food trucks parked on the South Lawn. Dumplings and chicken will be on the menu for purchase.

There also will be four water stations and free cookies, mulled cider and hot chocolate.

Guests are asked to enter the Lawn through metal detectors located on the South Lawn, on the Garrett Hall sidewalk near the McIntire Amphitheater or on the Rouss/Robertson Hall sidewalk. A clear bag policy will not be in effect, but those carrying bags should expect a security check.

Cedric Rucker, UVA’s interim senior associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, will host a special reception for fourth-year students in his Pavilion VI home.

“We will have fourth-year glassware,” Lorgus said. “It’s a time-honored tradition.” 

Each fourth-year student will receive a stemless wine glass etched with the 2023 Lighting of the Lawn disco ball logo.

The Lawn will remain illuminated through the new year.

Media Contact

Jane Kelly

University News Senior Associate Office of University Communications