Thousands of people will gather Thursday evening on the University of Virginia’s iconic Lawn to witness the annual illumination of the Rotunda and Academical Village that surrounds them.
The tradition, known as the “Lighting of the Lawn,” has been happening every December since 2001, and features an orchestrated light show and numerous musical and dance performances. This year’s event – the first since scaffolding was removed from the newly renovated Rotunda this summer – is scheduled to last from 7 to 10 p.m., and spectators from the University and Charlottesville communities are invited.
Event co-chair and fourth-year student Matt Golden said the theme of the program is inclusivity, and that it is a family-friendly event.
“We are stressing inclusivity and safety as our theme this year because we want to make sure Lighting of the Lawn stays true to its roots as an event to bring the entire community together,” Golden said. “It started in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks as a way to bring us together in dark times, and we want to come back to that.”
Golden added that a reception at Pavilion X, sponsored by Hoos Got Your Back, ADAPT, the family of Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom, Hoos in Recovery, the Latino Student Alliance, the Jewish Leadership Council and the Muslim Student Association, will offer food, hot chocolate and cider to UVA students, faculty and staff as well as community members
“It’s an opportunity for anybody to stop in, socialize and warm up,” he said.
Fellow co-chair and fourth-year student Katie Kozlowski said that UVA’s LGBTQ and Multicultural Centers will host another open reception at Pavilion VIII, and that several other student groups and organizations from across Grounds will also be represented at the event, hosting their own private receptions.
“It’s a really great way to showcase some of these groups,” she said.
The evening’s festivities will include more than two-dozen performances, appearances by groups from local high schools and the Charlottesville community, and a reading of the traditional fourth-year poem.
Kozlowski said preparation for the event brings together UVA students, staff, faculty and even alumni.
“We had so much fun hanging up some of the lights on the Rotunda,” she said. “It’s really cool because this year we’ve had everyone from first-years to a couple that graduated from UVA 50 years ago helping out.”
Lighting of the Lawn will take place rain, snow or shine. For those who can’t attend the program, there will also be a live stream of the event.