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Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk gets holiday makeover

Nauticus is transforming the historic battleship into a full-on holiday experience. That includes turning its cannons into candy canes and adding 250,000 lights.

NORFOLK, Va. — The Nauticus Foundation said it's inviting everyone to experience the holidays like never before on the Battleship Wisconsin. For six weeks, the historic ship along Norfolk's waterfront will be transformed into a winter spectacle. 

WinterFest on the Wisconsin is scheduled to begin November 21. 

The holiday makeover will feature more than 250,000 lights and projections.

Stephen E. Kirkland, Nauticus’ Executive Director said, “My challenge to the lighting team was to think of this ship as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. It has to be that iconic.”

The team is Chesapeake's Blue Steel Lighting Design.

“We’ve been planning since July, but it’s hard to get a sense of the scale until you’re on board and setting the light forms in place. We’re so grateful for the amazing opportunity though. It’s been a really tough year for the event community," Jeremy Kilgore, owner of Blue Steel Lighting Design said.

Besides seeing all of the lights, visitors will see the Wisconsin's huge cannons turned into candy canes.

Credit: Nauticus

Each Saturday evening, there will be a variety of activities to enjoy at the festival. Those include a walk-through light trail to a lighted sailboat parade on the Elizabeth River. By the end of each parade, Santa arrives by boat.

The experience will be mainly outdoors. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing rules are in place and masks are required. Nauticus is limiting the capacity and has a guest plan that includes a one-way flow with timed entries.

WinterFest on the Wisconsin runs until December 31.

For more information, you can visit Nauticus' website.