Category Archives: Hotel

The Weekend Round-Up: December 15-17

Holidays aglow-glow



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This round-up is heavy on holiday-inspired events, but you’ll find other activities sprinkled in, too. For even more, the Everyday Play page is loaded with all kinds of ideas for getting out and about around DC. Happy Weekend!

Wreaths Across America
Where: Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, VA
When: Saturday, opens 7am, wreath placing 9:15am
Admission: Free

This is a chance for the whole family to volunteer. Help place Veterans’ Remembrance Wreaths on the graves of American heroes buried at Arlington National Cemetery. There is no sign-up or age requirement — families are encouraged to volunteer together. Be sure to visit the website for details, including schedule and meeting location. Read about more family-friendly volunteer opportunities around the DC area.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mount Vernon Square, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am – 4pm
Admission: $39/adult, $29/child

The annual festival is full of interactive holiday and baseball activities for fans of all ages. Join clinics with Nationals players and coaches, watch a Homerun Derby featuring the Nationals mascots, make a snow fort, take batting practice, hear a winter or baseball themed story read by a Nationals player, ride down The Slider – a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill, and more. Guests can also meet and greet their favorite Nationals players and mascots, take a photo with Santa, strike a pose at the life-size snow globe photo station, and donate a toy to a child in need.

Rocknocerous Holiday Singalong
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

Local kids fave Rocknocerous will be playing two shows on Saturday, and kids (and parents) can jam and sing along with them as they rock the holiday tunes. The full lunch and drink menu will be available, so plan on eating there, too. Doors open at 10:30am, and seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Holiday Ornament-Making Workshop
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange | Brentwood, MD
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Take advantage of a fun, free opportunity to create paper ornaments for the holiday season at this family-friendly workshop. All materials are provided, but if you have special paper you’d like to use, feel free to bring it the day of the event.

Santa Arrives on 8th Street
Where: Barracks Row | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Santa Claus’ sleigh will be touching down on 8th St SEon Saturday! He’ll be holding court at Taoti Creative at 530 8th St SE . He’s available for photo ops and will answer any questions children have about the North Pole. To keep this event FREE, instead of Barracks Row taking photos and giving them to you, parents and caregivers can use their own cameras to capture the holiday cheer. If you are able, bring an unwrapped toy to donate to TOYS FOR TOTS. Snacks and cocoa will be served throughout the day by Ted’s Bulletin. There will also be free face painting and songs performed by the Capitol Hill Chorale.

Hot Chocolate Happy Hour
Where: Hamilton Hotel | Downtown DC
When: Daily through December 22, 4-6pm
Admission: Free!

Hamilton Hotel hosts happy hour for all ages this holiday season! Savor two special kinds of hot chocolate for free in the evening during the 12 Days of Christmas celebration. Sip on the classically decadent Creamy Hot Chocolate or indulge in a cup of Caribbean Hot Chocolate, inspired by Alexander Hamilton’s hometown of Charlestown.

More Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Get into the holiday spirit the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. Enjoy Chiristmas at Mount Vernon with fireworks and more. Ride the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum. Enjoy an atrium full of activities for little ones at Christmas on the Potomac. View holiday planes and trains at the Aviation Museum. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. Find details on all of these events and more are in the 2017 Holiday Guide.

From Our Happy Home Holiday Craft
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the American Art Museum and step into the 19th century world of Louisa May Alcott in this craft program for the entire family. Construct paper house lanterns and handmade books as you explore some of the ways people have created feelings of comfort and warmth in the cold winter months. Join Little Women story time to hear how Alcott’s heroines the March sisters celebrated the holidays, bringing literature and music together to light their home. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

A Circus Carol
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/child

It’s holiday pageant time at W.T. Dickens High School! Chaos reigns supreme throughout the school halls as teachers, administrators and students try to get it together in time for their annual holiday production. Watch as the circus atmosphere comes to life in A Circus Carol, as incredible aerial performances dazzle and bring our characters together to rise above (sometimes, literally!) the holiday madness. Appropriate for all ages.

Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker    
Where:  Woodrow Wilson High School | Woodley Park, DC
When: Friday, 7:30pm, Saturday, 3pm and 7:30pm, & Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $20-30/adult, $14-18/under 10

Capitol Hill’s Momentum Dance Theatre presents its 19th annual Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker.  The show is a unique, high-energy twist to the typical Nutcracker, set to music from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite plus contemporary and classic pop, funk, and salsa.  Momentum’s professional performers are joined by students as young as age 5. (Owen & Sasha’s besties will be part of the crew showing off their sweet dance moves!)

More Holiday Entertainment
Where: Theatres around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Much of the live entertainment on local stages right now is holiday-inspired.
Enjoy The Little Prince, A Holiday Family Opera at the Kennedy Center. Have fun at Adventure Theatre with Frosty the Snowman. See the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre or catch a tot-friendly version at The Puppet Co. Get details on these shows and others in the 2017 Holiday Guide.

Show Time
Where: Theatres around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

For live entertainment without all the seasonal trimmings, Hansel & Gretel is a lovely wordless show for all ages at Synetic Theatre. Charlotte’s Web is on the Imagination Stage. Kids’ fave Annie is at Olney Theatre. Nina Simone: Four Women at Arena Stage is a moving and powerful show that teens and up will appreciate. And you can make it a grown-up night for Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Twelfth Night.

Race to the Moon
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: Saturday, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Smithsonian TechQuest: Race to the Moon is a FREE alternate reality game at the Chantilly arm of Air & Space. Set in the thrilling era of early spaceflight, the game explores the exciting race to space by the first American astronauts. Your mission in this installment: Develop a rocket to launch into space, travel over 200,000 miles to the Moon, and land safely. It is 1969 and national pride and prestige are on the line. The United States is in a tight race with the Soviet Union to see who can be the first to land humans on the Moon and return them safely to Earth. NASA needs engineers and scientists with real problem-solving skills.

GLOW with It
Where: Around Georgetown, DC
When: Nightly through January 1, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light — literally. Georgetown GLOW has the neighborhood sparkling with modern light art installations, some of them interactive, on display throughout the bustling community, which is extra lively and festive this time of year. The works are illuminated all around the neighborhood, and finding them is part of the adventure. Take the family to dinner or skating at Washington Harbour, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Read more about Georgetown GLOW and see pics from last year in this KFDC post.

Shakespeare Theatre, Family-Style
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through Sunday
Admission: Varies by activity

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Family Week offers free and low-cost programs for all ages celebrating the themes, story, and artists of their current production, Twelfth Night. Workshops, events, and a Mini-summer Night’s Dream run through this weekend. And families can also get a special discount on tickets during this time — see the website for details.

Model Train Open House
Where: Historic Vienna Depot | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Chug on down to Vienna to watch model train and trolley activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950′s, the Western North Carolina (WNC). As described in Model Railroader magazine, every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry in this layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything. To satisfy popular demand, expect an occasional sighting of Thomas the Tank Engine (and a few of his friends) chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives. The Vienna Depot is located at 231 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, VA.

Holiday Photos with Your Pet
Where: Wet Dog Tavern | Near U Street Corridor, DC
When: Saturday, 12-3pm
Admission: $20 donation

The Wet dog Tavern’s annual Holiday Photos with your Pet is back! Be sure to stop by to visit with Santa and have your holiday photo taken with the whole family, fur babies and all!  Photos are by Pooch Portrait Studios, and your $20 donation includes a printed photo in magnet frame and digital copy.

Earth Harp
Where: The Plaza at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Saturday, 4-6pm
Admission: Free

See the world’s largest harp played right here in DC! William Close, renowned for affixing 1,000-foot strings to skyscrapers, mountain peaks, and canyon walls, will fill CityCenterDC with the magical musical stylings of his Earth Harp. Join for this surreal holiday musical performance in The Plaza at CityCenter.

A Gift For Andrés / Un Regalo Para Andrés
Where: Kreeger Auditorium, Bender JCC | Rockville, MD
When: Sunday, 11am & 2pm
Tickets: $20-40

Join 123 Andrés, Christina, and the full band for a magical holiday story! Sing and dance at their last concert of 2017 and support a wonderful, important cause — the Greater DC Diaper Bank. The organization provides over 100,000 free diapers a month to over 3,600 low-income families in the DC metro area. In the past 8 years they have donated nearly 5 million diapers, and the number keeps growing. The goal: Donate $5,000 for diapers (that’s over 40,000 diapers)!

Open Studio & Ceramics Sale
Where: Hollow Works Studio
When: Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Shop for one-of-a-kind ceramics in the artist’s studio! Kate Hardy of Hollow Works Ceramics creates and sells beautiful, unique work — bowls, mugs, vases, and more — that would make perfect holiday presents. In addition to a bunch of new work, she’ll be clearing her studio of a year’s worth of seconds. Seconds are pieces with minor flaws, like glaze imperfections or warping. Seconds are also leftovers from commissions or experiments that just don’t fit in with the rest of her work that she sells for heavily discounted prices. There will be some serious deals to be had! The studio is located in the alley right off of 7th and H Streets NE.

Family Afternoon: From Our Happy Home
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the Building Museum to construct paper house lanterns and handmade books as you explore some of the ways people in the past and today create feelings of home in the cold winter months. Investigate objects from the Museum’s House & Home exhibition for examples of interior lighting. Step into the 19th century world of author Louisa May Alcott and discover how music and literature were brought together to light her homes during the winter season. Designed in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, this is a variation of the program taking place there on Saturday.

The Nutcracker on the Big Screen
Where: Select Movie Theaters in the DMV
When: Sunday, various time
Admission: Varies by theater

The unparalleled Bolshoi Ballet brings the holiday spirit to audiences with a magical performance of the timeless seasonal tale, “The Nutcracker,” in cinemas nationwide. Captured live from Moscow’s legendary Bolshoi Theatre, it’s a festive treat for the entire family. The fairytale enchants as Marie and her Nutcracker Prince embark on a dreamy adventure full of wonder.

Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas
Where: Hooray for Books | Alexandria, VA
When: Sunday, 3:30-5pm
Admission: $25/up to 3 people, $5/additional person

Register online: shalomdc.org/chanukahdosas/
Head to Hooray for Book to meet Pamela Ehrenberg, author of the new PJ Library® book, Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas. A book reading and signing will be followed by crafts and vegetarian Indian snacks from Namaste King Street. Admission includes a signed, hardcover copy of the book, too! Best for ages 3 and up. Register in advance here.

Holiday Bazaar and Ghana Send-Off Party
Where: Hands Off Drums
When: Sunday, 11am – 8pm
Admission: Free, but plan to shop!

Celebrate with Hands On Drums and sed off their Ghana trip crew with style! Enjoy a day of activigties for all ages including entertainment, drumming, and items for sale. They leave January 1 and will venture to Senya Beraku to see the Drumming Up From Poverty program in action, including performances by the DUFP youth drummers and dancers. They will also be seeing, for the first time, the nearly completed Artists Home they’ve been working on for the past 3 years, to serve as a home for our craftworkers whose workshops and homes are being displaced by development in Accra.

Holiday Shop
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Mostly free

If you’re still working through your gift list, there are several special holiday markets around the area, where you can find unique presents by local vendors and then some. Head to Penn Quarter, National Harbor, or Alexandria for great seasonal markets or to Capitol Hill for a weekend institution. More info about all of them is available in the 2017 Holiday Guide. And if you need some gift ideas, be sure check out the KFDC Holiday Gift Guide!

DC, Inside & Out
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’re looking for activities outdoors or inside, depending on the weather or simply your preference, these posts are chock full of evergreen pursuits:
The Great Indoors
The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids


***MORE GOOD STUFF TO KNOW***
* Want a fun, educational gift idea for kids? Check out Surprise Ride. The DC-based company delivers hands-on, educational activity kits to kids to help them unplug and create in the real world.
* Workafrolic, a coworking space with flexible child care on-site, will be opening in early 2018 in DC’s Eckington neighborhood.
* Imaginary World of the Nutcracker at ARTECHOUSE is sold out for the weekend, but you can get tickets for weekday admission. Snag yours efore those sell out, too!
* There are a few KFDC contests going on right now. Go to the Giveaways Page for chances to win a sewing class with Three Little Birds Sewing Co., a toy from Red Jellies, and a 4-Pack of Tickets to see Michael Carbonaro…Live! on New Year’s Eve.
* Plan for a grown-up night out this week to see The Santaland Diaries! The show, which I hear is hilarious, runs through December 23 at Drafthouse Comedy Theater in DC.
* The New York Times just started publishing “The Week in Good News,” a Friday feature that focuses on positive, uplifting things happening around the world. 🙂

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Hotel, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Shop, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Ring in the New Year, Family-Style

The 12pm ball drop at Noon Yards Eve

The 12pm ball drop at Noon Yards Eve



If you thought New Year’s Eve celebrations were a thing of the pre-kids past, think again! There are several great ways to ring in 2017 around the area that don’t just welcome, but center around the younger set. Here’s where you and your crew can get in on the fun. Happy New Year!

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park
When: 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards is once again hosting its Noon Yards Eve festival to ring in 2017! The fourth annual event will transform the park into a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with fun for both kids and adults. Activities will include music and dancing, balloon artists, bouncy inflatables, trackless train rides, face painters, kids crafts, and a big balloon drop at 12pm.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town
When: Starting at 1pm
Admission: $30, kids 12 and under are free

Fun and entertainment will be in abundance at the area’s largest family-friendy New Year’s Eve celebration. There will be more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria, with entertainment from a variety of genres. Among the many kids activities will be live entertainment, face painting, story time, balloon sculptures, interactive art activities, and much more. The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street. For details on where shows will take place, see the schedule on the website.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java
When: 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

For the 10th straight year, the widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be playing a special New Year’s Eve gig at Jammin Java. Sing along to some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the full menu of food and drinks while you’re there. Opt for lunchtime show at 11am, or go in the afternoon at 2pm. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

The Celebration of Centuries
Where: Medieval Times
When: 3:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $39.95/adult, $29.95/child (look for discount)

Experience an epic afternoon of fun and celebration as you countdown to 2017. Along with a four-course feast and thrilling jousting action, there will be special activities for the occasion — knight training, face painting, and a princess storytime will make the day extra exciting a for young revelers.

Noontime New Year: Snow Ball!
Where: Port Discovery
When: 9:30am – 5pm
Admission: $13.95

Join the children’s museum in Baltimore for a Snow Ball at its annual Noontime New Year Celebration. Kids are encouraged to dress up in their favorite costumes and count down to the New Year at 12 noon with Eric Energy! Toast 2017 with juice and cookies and enjoy a fun day of programs and performances! Be sure to check the schedule for timing of specific events.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: 10am – 2pm
Admission: $20.95/adult, $16.95/3-12, free for 2 and under

The Maryland Science Center’s New Year’s Eve family extravaganza will transform the midnight tradition into one the kids can enjoy. The 9th annual Midnight Noon will give kids the opportunity to see the ball drop before bedtime. Guests can dance their way into a very happy “Noon” Year — Grammy-nominated Baltimore kids band Milkshake will take to the stage at 11:30am. Visitors can also decorate party hats, construct noise makers, and more. And the rest of the Science Center will be open for exploration, too!

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: West Broad Street in Falls Church
When: 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights include a children’s scavenger hunt, a wide variety of inflatables, free balloons, karaoke, face painting, caricaturist drawings, and restaurants with special Walking Watch Night Menus at local restaurants. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place within a four-block area that begins on the 100 Block of West Broad Street. A free shuttle bus stops at each venue and the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening, including a shuttle from the East Falls Church Metro station.

Family Game Night at Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: 6-9pm
Admission: $6/ages 5 and up, free for 4 and under

Celebrate the final evening of 2016 in Calvert County! Enjoy Annmarie’s spectacular holiday light show in the gardens, then head inside to play a variety of family-friendly games. Wonderful friends from High Tide Games in Lexington Park, Play-n-Trade Games in Lusby, and PaxSpace in California will all be there with a wide variety of interactive games. Guests can also tour the game exhibit, enjoy a Holiday I Spy game, and a disco ball will be spinning, so you can do some dancing, too! Plus, refreshments will be available from the cafe.

Family Fun Entertainment on the Eastern Shore
Where: Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay
When: Thursday – Friday
Admission: See room rates on website

How about an easy getaway to ring in 2017? The Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay is offering special family-friendly activities to celebrate the new year. An inflatable fun house, arcade games, a kids’ karaoke and dance party, dive-in movie-watching from the comfort of an indoor pool, and an early ball drop are just some of the festivities hotel guests can enjoy. And there’s even more fun for adults — find details here.

Swoosh into 2017
Where: Ski Liberty
When: 5pm – 1am
Admission: Lift tickets start at

Hit the slopes to ring in the new year! Ski Liberty’s celebration will include late-night skiing and snowboarding until 1am, fireworks at midnight, and a variety of special events happening around the resort. New for this year, enjoy a decadent fixe prix dinner at Ike’s Chophouse. There is also a special, by reservations only, party at Boulder Ridge with Snow Tubing from 10pm to 1am. Find something for everyone and every age!

Glide into 2017
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new year. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel. Join a special event like Rock & Skate at Washington Harbour or just do your own thang. Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

New Years Night Lights
Where: Around the area
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve. Combine an outing to see them with dinner out — this guide from Edible DC has suggestions on where to eat nearby all the holiday lights. If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermous of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Festival, Free, Holidays, Hotel, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, New Years, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Virginia, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: November 19-20

Holiday fun is starting at Christmas on the Potomac

Holiday fun is starting at Christmas on the Potomac





Get into the holiday spirit, rock it at a gem and fossil show, go ice skating, get outdoors, enjoy a stage production… these are just some of the ways you can enjoy the weekend with the kids. And for even more ideas, check out the huge list of Everyday Play. Happy Weekend!

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza, Downtown Silver Spring
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Turkey Day celebrations are starting early in Downtown Silver Spring. The line-up of over 100 parade units features a giant inflatable turkey, penguin and dinosaur; colorful dancing groups; glittering floats; marching bands; clowns; performing animals; and, of course, an appearance from Santa at the end. Don’t miss a fun family photo op: Right next to the ice rink, you can take a pic with a Frozen inflatable Elsa, a 10-foot tall turkey, or with Hanukkah or Christmas décor.

A Gem of an Event
Where: George Mason University
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $6/adult, $3/ages 13-17, free for 12 and under

Kids (and adults!) who like fossils, rocks, and/or gems are in for a treat. Northern Virginia’s 25th Annual Mineral, Gem, & Fossil show will have all that and then some. More than 20 dealers will be selling collectibles, plus there will be demonstrations, exhibits, door prizes & kids activities, including mini-mines and a fossil dig.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Westin Tysons Corner
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm & Sunday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $15 (some activities are extra)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual holiday event returns. Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, hands on cooking demonstrations, Kids in the Holiday Kitchen activities, a visit from Santa, a model train display by Capital Trackers, kids crafts, gifts for purchase, premium events for adults and kids, and much more. Proceeds benefit the JLNV’s community initiatives through the Kids in the Kitchen programming.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Gaylord National Resort’s annual holiday extravaganza has festivities galore that capture the spirit of the season. And the best part is that there are activities for all ages at varying price points (even free!), from dancing fountains and indoor snowfalls to a tour of Christmas Around the World-themed ice sculptures. Get an idea of what to expect from this post about our experience there last year.

More Holiday Cheer
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by locale

Shows and special events that embrace — and emit — the holiday spirit are beginning around the area. Attend a tree lighting, start your holiday shopping, stroll through Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, visit Santa’s HQ at Tyson’s, catch A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre, and much more. The 2016 KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC has ALL you need to help make the season bright.

A Spin on the Carousel
Where: Arena Stage
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Tickets start at $64

The Rodgers and Hammerstein classic, Carousel, recently opened at Arena Stage, and it is wonderful! Owen and I saw the musical last week, and we were both completely captivated and moved by the show. Beautiful performances by the talented cast, a simple yet lovely theatre-in-the-round-setting, and a story that is emotional and hopeful make for a an excellent theatre experience. I recommend it for ages 10 and up (or a date night). Watch the stars perform on local news here.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Reserve free tickets for Rainbow Puppets’ The Really Big Dinosaur Show this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performance
*Get in on The Secret Garden presented by Shakespeare Theatre Company at Sydney Harman Hall
* Disney’s Beauty and the Beast opens at Imagination Stage on Saturday
* And little ones will love Aquarium at the Bethesda Theatre
* See Where Words Once Were is at the Kennedy Center (look for discount tickets)
* The Olney Theatre presents Mary Poppins
* Catch a one-time performance of Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters-An African Tale at Alden Theatre
* Mark Jaster: Piccolo’s Trunk is a mime show that will delight children
* You’ll want some more of Oliver Twist at Creative Cauldron
* Enjoy a celebration of religious unity through the arts at the 37th Annual Interfaith Concert on Sunday

Skaters Gonna Skate
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Glide the day away as several area outdoor ice rinks start welcoming skaters for the season. Meander your way around Canal Park Ice Rink. Skate in Georgetown at the Washington Harbour. Do some shopping and snacking along with your skating at Pentagon Row in Arlington. Practice your axles and triple lutzes at Reston Town Center. Or get started on holidays gifts after a skating session at Tysons Corner Ice Rink. This post published last year has been updated to reflect this season’s skating details.

Go Whole Hog!
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adults, $2/ages 3-12

With the first cold weeks of late fall comes the traditional season of preserving meats for the coming year. Join the Claude Moore Farm Family as they utilize historic methods for curing, salting, and smoking the mainstay of their diet — pork. You can also take part in helping with other farm tasks that involve the use of hog byproducts, such as rendering lard, dipping candles, and making soap. An educational and fun activity for families and small groups!

Wizard School Scavenger Hunt for Harry Potter Fans
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: $17.50/ages 10-17, $19.50/18 and up

Join Watson Adventures on a unique Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt for kids 10 & up! Follow in the footsteps of young wizards on a field trip to the National Gallery in search of art that echoes characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Wizards and muggles alike can play and enjoy this hunt. The hunt is not an addition to or variation on Harry’s adventures, but instead references to the books will provide a surprising bridge to many strange and wonderful works of art. It’s a great way to discover—or rediscover—the museum. This hunt is designed for kids and adults to do together, but all-adult teams will be allowed to compete separately. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Advance purchase is required.

CityJews PopUp: Havdalah

Where: Stead Park
When: Saturday, November 19, 4:30 p.m.

Admission: Free

Celebrate the end of Shabbat with an outdoor, sensory Havdalah experience with PJ Library and our partners. Together you’ll play, snack, read, do crafts, and enjoy a delightful Havdalah ceremony to welcome the new week. This free program is particularly good for interfaith families. Stead Park is located at 1625 P Street NW.

Tykesgiving
Where: Blue Duck Tavern
When: Sunday, 5:30pm
Admission: $150/child & adult

The successful fine dining club for parents and pipsqueaks, Nibble+squeak, will be hosting its first annual DC “Tykesgiving” event at newly Michelin starred Blue Duck Tavern on Sunday, November 20th. The special pre-Thanksgiving dinner will take over the restaurant’s esteemed Chef’s Table just for infants, toddlers, children and their extended families. Ticket price includes the three-course meal for both adult and child, kid beverages, adult beverages (up to 2 glasses of wine!), gratuity, and tax.

Cool Hikes
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

It’s might be cooling down a bit, but the weather should still be superb, so take advantage with some time on the trail. Peep the last of autumn leaves, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods with the kids.

To Market, To Market
Where: Eastern Market
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Whether you want to get your holiday shopping started or just browse around and enjoy the nice vibe, this outdoor flea market on Capitol Hill, is a great place to hang on the weekend. Vendors sell everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, handmade jewelry to funky accessories, home décor to furniture – and much, much more. Buy fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, Date Night, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Fundraiser, Holidays, Hotel, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

The 2016 KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

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Embrace the holiday spirit at these area events, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. Model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages. Light displays dazzle visitors as they walk or drive among them. Special markets offer unique gifts along with good time. And all kinds of events and extravaganzas, several at iconic locales, bring holiday cheer and activities that thrill and enchant kids — and the kid in all of us adults. This KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all.

Holiday Shows

Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Chanukah

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

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Holiday Shows

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A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: November 17 – December 31
Tickets: $22-92
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed Washington stage actor Edward Gero returns to play Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Imagination Stage
When: November 19 – January 15
Tickets: $10+

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this beloved film by attending the live performance at Imagination Stage this holiday season! Packed with memorable tunes like “Be Our Guest”, “Human Again”, and “Beauty and the Beast”, this holiday musical has something for the entire family! Once upon a time, in a French provincial town, Belle is the bookish daughter of a hapless inventor. She narrowly avoids the amorous advances of the bully Gaston only to find herself imprisoned in the castle of a terrible Beast. While the servants Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip conspire to make Belle fall in love with their bewitched master, she gradually wins over his heart by virtue of her kindness and patience. Excitement builds as Gaston gathers a mob to rid the community of the ugly Beast and to claim Belle for himself alone. Needless to say, after much high drama, silly laughter, exuberant singing and dancing, love wins the day!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: December 2-31
Tickets: $19.50 (Enter to win a Family 4-Pack!)
Join Adventure Theatre for this snowy, holiday classic featuring just a two-person cast! Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are sent to live in the countryside home of professor Digory Kirke. As Lucy explores the house, she discovers a secret portal to a magical world called Narnia. With an evil White Witch ruling the kingdom, can Lucy, her new friend Mr. Tumnus, and her family band together to save Narnia?

The Nutcracker
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: November 25 – December 30
Tickets: $10 (look for discount tickets)

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat! The Nutcracker is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s favorite toy and their adventures together in the land of the Sugarplum Fairy. Music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet blends with marionettes and costume characters to create this unique production. Don’t miss it! Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. Tiny Tots
When: November 25 – December 30
Tickets: $5


This marionette version of the holiday classic is geared toward the smallest of audience members. Tiny Tots shows are designed for theater patrons ages 0-4. They are shorter, the lights stay on, the doors stay open, and the show is set up on the floor.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: The Hylton Performing Arts Center
When: November 25
Tickets: $20-35

Virginia National Ballet/Gainesville Ballet are excited to announce two performances of The Nutcracker this season! The full-length ballet features Virginia National Ballet’s outstanding roster of American and international dancers, special guest Nurlan Abougaliev, and the students of Gainesville Ballet School. This Nutcracker is the first in the region, starting on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season

The Washington Ballet presents: Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker
Where: THEARC Theater
When: November 26-27
Tickets: $30-50, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

The Washington Ballet modifies Septime Webre’s critically acclaimed production a bit at the Anacostia theatre, making it more enticing for antsy little theatre-goers. The set is scaled-down, and performances are shorter. This celebrated production has become a DC perennial holiday favorite, set in historic Georgetown with historical figures and whimsical touches. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historic characters including George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the menacing Rat King! Join us again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with your loved ones.

The Second Shepherds’ Play
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library
When: November 27 – December 21
Tickets: $29-60

This magical retelling of the Nativity story combines beautiful music and a moving story for the holiday season. Revived by Folger Consort from its 2007 production, which the Washington Post called “a lovely seasonal surprise,” this engaging medieval mystery play and its festive English music of the period beautifully weaves together the stories of the shepherds, a sheep thief and his cunning wife, and the miracle in a humble manger in Bethlehem.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 30 – December 20
Tickets: $3-8


Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 16th season, this signature Discovery Theater show celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. This show sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Recommended for ages 5-10.

Adventures with Mr. Bear
Where: The Lab at Convergence & Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 1-17 & December 18-30
Tickets: $9, 12 months and under are free

Arts on the Horizon presents this winter show at two area theatres! The wonder and magic of a child’s imagination are brought to life in this charming world premiere. One cozy winter afternoon, a young girl and her favorite stuffed animal, Mr. Bear, play a game of hide and seek which evolves into a series of exciting adventures. Together, they embark on a journey of endless possibilities – all from the comfort of her playroom! Cuddle up with your favorite stuffed animal friend and join us for a delightful holiday production. Recommended for children ages 2-6.

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre
When: December 1-24
Tickets: $35-101 (look for discount tickets)


Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from a few years ago. (Note: Family Day is December 6, with an hour pre-performance activities before the 1pm show.)

A Christmas Carol Memory
Where: Creative Cauldron
When: December 1-20
Tickets: $15-30

A young orphan girl being raised by a warm but eccentric aunt is spending a tender first Christmas without her parents. While searching the attic for ornaments to decorate her aunt’s tree, she discovers a theatrical trunk once used by her puppeteer grandfather. When the extended family gathers on Christmas Eve, the contents in the trunk reawaken memories and spur the renewal of a long forgotten family tradition—the re-enactment of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. A production that breathes fresh new life into a timeless holiday classic.

A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol
Where: Gunston Arts Center
When: December 2-4
Tickets: $10

In Encore Stage & Studio’s remake of a Christmas classic, your favorite fairy tale characters bring to life the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s magical Christmas Eve. Mother Goose lends her talents to narrate the story as the Big Bad Wolf takes on the humbugging lead role. Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Old King Cole, and many more help create a new twist on the traditional Dickensian story told every December. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap
When: December 3, 4pm
Tickets: Free

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-A-Long is an annual musical celebration hosting a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. Parking is free, but limited, so plan on arriving early. Bring along a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots, a bell for a “Jing-A-Long” during the singing of “Jingle Bells,” and a candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras of Strathmore: Enchanted Visions
Where: Strathmore
When: December 4, 4:00pm
Tickets: $15-$25

The region’s top young musicians perform classics and holiday music for all to enjoy, featuring the Philharmonic playing Prokofiev’s Cinderella & Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Revelers will also enjoy Dvořák plus holiday chorus music with the Symphony, the Chamber Ensemble with Britten’s Simple Symphony, and Young Artists with Gliere and more Tchaikovsky.

Into the Woods
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 6 – January 8
Tickets: $45-175 (look for discount tickets)

Venture back Into The Woods, a unanimously acclaimed, Tony Award(r)–winning musical classic by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine . This witty and wildly theatrical re-invention is Into The Woods as you’ve never seen it before! Mind the wolf, heed the witch, and honor the giant in the sky in this extraordinary musical about the power of wishes–and what really happens after they come true. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: This Shining Night
Where: Strathmore
When: December 6, 7:30pm
Tickets: $16

Make this extraordinary annual event your family’s holiday tradition. Join the astonishingly talented Strathmore Children’s Chorus—the cream of the pre-professional musical crop—in concert with guests the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Choirs for a concert that celebrates the joys of the season in song.

Sleeping Beauty
Where: Synetic Theatre
When: December 7 – January 8
Tickets: $15-55

Synetic’s award-winning ensemble takes on the classic tale of a princess, an evil sorceress, and a centuries-long sleeping curse in this darkly elegant adaptation of one of the Grimm Brothers’ most beloved stories. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

The Nutcracker
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts
When: December 9, 8pm
Tickets: $39-65 (Save 10% with code SAVE10)

Experience the magic of the season as the Fairfax Ballet Company joins forces with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra to present a special Nutcracker at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. Tchaikovsky’s timeless masterpiece brings you on a journey through a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies, and an epic battle between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. It’s the perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens (KidFree Suggestion!))
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Dec 9-31
Tickets: $39-69 (look for a discount tickets)

The Second City parodies Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol for an interactive experience that Scrooge–and the audience!–will never forget. The legendary comedy troupe brings its improvisational skills and sketch comedy mastery to “the night before Christmas.” For ages 16 and up.

Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice in Music, Dance & Drama
Where: Lisner Auditorium
When: December 10-18
Admission: $12-60

Join the Washington Revels on a journey into the wonders of Nordic winter traditions! As our families from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden gather to celebrate the season, let the haunting melodies, breathtaking dance, epic folk legends, and joyful carols get you into the holiday spirit! Discover mythic drama from Finland’s epic Kalevala. As the moon lights the snow, watch the spirited Icelandic Vikivaki as a mysterious stag looks on. Celebrate the Swedish “bringing of the light” by Sankta Lucia with her crown of candles. Watch dancers twirl in the hypnotic Telespringar and thrill to the spectacular leaps of Norway’s Tom Løvli in the Halling dance. Be enchanted by the songs and dances of our children, and participate in their retelling of a beloved Norwegian fairy tale. Delight as the tree is decorated with traditional woven hearts and raise your voice in festive Danish toasts and carols. *December 16 is Family Friday — get 25% off youth tickets

The Gift of the Mad Guy
Where: Annapolis Friends Meeting House
When: December 10
Tickets: $8/online, $10/door, free for 2 and under

The Gift of the Mad Guy, the story of a gift-crazed child who believes that Christmas is about giving specifically to HIM until he is promised a REALLY big gift if he gives three of his gifts to others. Will Jack learn that the holidays are about more than getting? Join Building Better People Productions for a day of theater for the whole family and find out!

Virginia Ballet Company & School: Selections from The Nutcracker
Where: National Theatre
When: December 10
Tickets: Free

Saturday Morning at the National presents its annual holiday show, the Virginia Ballet Company and School’s selections from Tchaikovsky’s glittering confection. Visions of snowflakes and sugarplums dance through the air and gingerbread soldiers triumph over the evil Rat King as you follow Clara into the land of sweets and holiday cheer. Performances take place at 9:30am and 11am, and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are distributed half an hour prior to the start of shows on a first-come first-served basis. Seating is limited, so get there early.

Family Joy!
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: December 10
Admission: $25/adult, $15/child, $765/family 4-pack

Join the Cathedral Choral Society at the Washington National Cathedral,for a special Christmas Concert. This one-hour program has something for all ages, including a kids-only sing-along. Bring the whole family and get swept up in the sounds of the season. To receive the discount on a Family 4-pack (2 adults and 2 children), use code SAVE at check out.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: December 10-11
Tickets: $20/adults, $15/10 and under in advance | $20/at door


Maryland Youth Ballet’s Mini-Nut is a delightful abbreviated version of their classic, award-winning, The Nutcracker, designed to introduce children to the magic of this family favorite. This beloved holiday tradition with soaring music by Tchaikovsky promises to hold the attention of even the youngest theatergoer. Suitable for all ages, this version is less than an hour and performed by cast members from MYB’s full-length production. A perfect holiday mini-treat!

11th Annual Holiday Sing-Along
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 11
Tickets: $8.50

Join in the H Street tradition! Enjoy holiday favorites at the Atlas performed by the Capital City Symphony and sung by the Congressional Chorus and American Youth Chorus. Join in the singing during an audience sing-along.

The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe
Where: Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge, VA
When: December 11, 12, 18, & 19
Tickets: $12/adult, $8/4-13, free for 3 and under

Homeschool Theatre Troupe presents this dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic. Set in the land of Narnia, the show recreates the magic and mystery of Aslan, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the exciting, never-to-be-forgotten Narnia. The supporting characters are also here: Tumnus the faun, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the Unicorn, the Centaur and other forest animals, as well as Father Christmas. This is a story of love, faith, courage and a triumph of good over evil.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 11-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $18-72

Each year, The Washington Chorus delights DC audiences with its Candlelight Christmas concerts — resplendent affairs comprisin (Family night December 17)g a candlelight processional, brass, organ, and audience sing-alongs. This year’s concerts will feature star tenor and DC native Carl Tanner as soloist. Also joining TWC are the Northwest High School Chamber Singers and the H-B Woodlawn Chamber Singers as part of the Side-by-Side program. *The December 17 concert will be a B.Y.O.Baby Night, with discounted tickets for families, designated seating and baby play areas, a pre-concert backstage tour, and other treats for the whole family.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: National Theatre
When: December 13-31
Tickets: $48-128 (look for discount tickets)

Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage. Featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas,” The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Whos, an endlessly cheerful bunch bursting with holiday spirit. Celebrate the holidays with the show The New York Times calls “100 times better than any bedside story!”

Wicked
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 15 – January 8
Tickets: $99-349

The Broadway sensation looks at what happened in the Land of Oz… but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin–smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships… until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

Holiday Singalong with Rocknoceros
Where: Discovery Theater
When: December 15-16
Admission: $3-8

Who’s having a holiday party? Coach, Williebob, and Boogie Bennie, that’s who! The area’s favorite kid-rock band has a great big musical present for you. Join them as they lead audiences in seasonal songs and Rockno classics. It’s a bash you just can’t miss!

Step Afrika!’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 15-30
Tickets: $18-40

A new take on the holiday season! DC’s internationally-known percussive dance company invites you to celebrate the holidays with clapping, stomping, and all around fun for all ages featuring their furry friends from the Animal Kingdom, and a special dance party with DJ Frosty the Snowman! Taking the whole family to Step Afrika! Magical Musical Holiday Step Show? Get the Family Fun Pack: Four Tickets, Four FREE Snacks, Four FREE non-alcoholic drinks, all for $100!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore
When: December 16
Tickets: $29-54

A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker re-imagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City.

Shine a Light: A Solstice Circus
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 17-18
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/ages 11 and under

In the darkest winter days, one young man discovers that he has the power to bring light and inspire joy in even the most surprising places. This holiday show is an uplifting, delightful spectacle that will amaze the whole family. Featuring acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, and other dazzling performances – the spirit is sure to be contagious! Start a new and unique holiday tradition by coming to the circus! Appropriate for all ages.

A Family Christmas Concert
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 17
Tickets: $20-45

Songs of Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer fill the Concert Hall with the joy of the season. This one-hour, highly participatory concert is a holiday treat for the whole family. Perfect for children age 5 and older… and don’t forget the grandparents!

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre
When: December 18, 4pm
Tickets: $25/adult in advance, $30/at door, kids free with adult

Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to join Coyaba Academy, Coyaba Dance Theater and special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa. *During this Family Series, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: December 16-27
Tickets: $31/adults, $26/children in advance; $36/adults, $31/children at door


This is the 22nd season of the Maryland Youth Ballets beloved, full-length classic. Performances will tale place at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center of Montgomery College in Rockville.

Annual Kwanzaa Day Celebration: Kujichagulia Live with Culture Queen!
Where: Fort Stanton Recreation Center
When: December 27-28
Admission: Free

Anacostia Community Museum invites you to join Culture Queen (Jessica Smith) as she brings to life the Kwanzaa principle Kujichagulia which means “self determination” through live music, interactive movement and storytelling the whole family will enjoy!



Tree Lightings

The National Tree from a Christmas past.

The National Tree from a Christmas past.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor
When: November 13, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. They’ll have tons of holiday activities, including the opening of the holiday market, card-making for the Troops, a holiday movie on the Plaza, live entertainment, Santa at the carousel, fireworks, and more!

Light Up 2016
Where: Fairfax Corner
When: November 18
Admission: Free

Fairfax Corner is beginning the holiday season at the annual Light Up 2016 celebration. Festival goers will enjoy a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and holiday activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating with Cupcakes Actually, a performance by The Oaktones, and store giveaways.

Merry & Bright Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: RIO Washingtonian
When: November 18
Admission: Free

Rio Washingtonian will begin the holiday season with their annual Merry & Bright Holiday Tree Lighting celebration. Festival goers will enjoy cheerful activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus (arriving at 6:0pm and leaving promptly at 8pm), strolling holiday entertainment, horse and carriage rides, carousel rides presented by Adventist Health Care Shady Grove Medical Center, and store giveaways.

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center
When: November 25
Admission: Free

Kicks off the festive season at the 26th annual Reston Holiday Parade with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. The day also includes Gingerbread Man Mile races for kids, visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, mini-train rides, ice skating, and street entertainment. The tree lighting and sing-along is an evening highlight.

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station
When: November 30, 6pm
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. This year’s tree will be adorned with hundreds of custom made polar bear ornaments and will be lit by the ambassador of Norway. Santa will be on hand with presents for the kids and The Carolers of Greater Washington (CGW) will perform.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park, The Ellipse
When: December 1
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

This is easily one of the holiday season’s hottest tickets in DC, but you had to have entered the lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree and brings a message of peace to the nation and world.

Community Tree Lighting
Where: Monroe Street Market
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Monroe Street Market will host its inaugural community Tree Lighting event, bringing a Winter Wonderland to Brookland with a flurry of activities sure to ripen your holiday spirit! As sounds of the season fill the air, mingle through a variety of family-friendly activities, including a performance from Only Make Believe at 6pm. Other festivities include performances by Catholic University’s acapella group “Take Note” and DC’s own “Word of Mouth” acapella group, free photos with Santa (pets are welcome, too!), face painting, crafts, and delicious holiday flavors you don’t want to miss. Event will take place on the Cornerstone Plaza, located in front of Busboys & Poets. The countdown to the tree lighting starts at 8pm.

Tree Lighting & Seasonal Fun
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons, a mixed-use development located on Wisconsin Avenue, will kick off the holiday season with its second annual Holiday Tree Lighting Event. Join Santa along with festive holiday music performed by Lafayette Elementary School children and Thomas Circle Singers. There will be food from the fabulous array of Cathedral Commons restaurants. Santa will be available for free photos with families including the four legged family members (cats and dogs only), and children will receive a FREE festive giveaway. The event will culminate with the official lighting of the 24’ foot holiday tree at 7pm in front of Giant Food.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol
When: December 6
Admission: Free

If you don’t win lottery tickets to see the National Christmas Tree Lighting, consider going to this one at the Capitol. You might not be able to sit close up, but you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. For now, follow the tree as it journeys from Idaho, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive in a couple of weeks, and the lighting will take place December 6. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.



Model Trains

Season's Greenings

Trains whiz through the always delightful Season’s Greenings display



Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden
When: November 24 – January 2
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight, hands-down, is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s National Parks and Historic Sites theme will feature mini trains chugging through the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful Inn, the Gateway Arch, Mount Vernon, the Statue of Liberty, and many more. And for even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum
When: December 3-31 & January 2
Admission: $18/adults, $16/seniors (60+), $12/ages 2-12, free for B&O members


This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden
When: November 28 – January 3
Admission: Free

Brookside’s South Conservatory will come to life with a landscape in miniature, as trains and trollies wind their way through town and country scenes, past one-of-a kind models of the Brookside Gardens Conservatories, the Dentzel Carousel and the Chautauqua Tower of Glen Echo Park. Colorful plantings will complement it all — winter may rule the outside landscape, but the conservatories will be bright with color and active with sound and motion to match the festive feeling of the season.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: December 17 – December 23
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, under 2 are free

During the holiday season the College Park Aviation Museum gets ready for the festivities as miniature trains, villages, tunnels, and depots spark the imagination and bring history to life. The National Capital Trackers bring a fascinating and constantly moving display of model railroads.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station
When: TBD
Admission: Free
Every year, DC’s grand train station hosts a wonderful Holiday Train Display, on view in the Main Hall. Featuring a Norwegian landscape, the displays are intricate and fun to stop by and see if you’re at the station during the holiday season.


Special Events

Last year's ICE! exhibit at Christmas on the Potomac

Last year’s ICE! exhibit at Christmas on the Potomac

 

Positivi-Tree Lighting and Street Fest
Where: Downtown Silver Spring
When: November 12, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

The 5th Annual event is Downtown Silver Spring’s official Tree Lighting and Street Fest. And this year it will feature the lighting of Positivi-Tre, an impressive 35-foot-tall public art installation comprised of hundreds of illuminated and multi-colored umbrellas! Other fun festivities of the evening will include food tastings, live entertainment, ice sculpting, and more!

Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner
When: November 14 – December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

Discover holiday wonderment in this immersive and innovative experience with visual elements that transport you straight to the North Pole. Enter the HQ to be scanned by the digital Naughty or Nice O’Meter, snap an “Elfie Selfie” in Santa’s workshop and star in your own holiday video. Then onto the North Pole Observatory to experience Elf-Ray Vision in a 3D environment…all before meeting Santa himself!

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: November 19 – January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 19 – January 1
Admission:
$28-35/adult, $20-28/child, 2 and under are free
Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. We’ve been a couple of times, and I recommended reading my reviews here and here before you go. This year has a “Christmas Around the World” theme, and you can delight in the celebration of cultures through holiday scenes and travel to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves. Experience the magic of more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and slide down two-story ice slides — all kept at a chilly 9 degrees! Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and timed entries are every half-hour. Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the schedule when you plan to go.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza, Downtown Silver Spring
When: November 19, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The line-up of over 100 parade units features an inflatable penguin and turkey, a massive dinosaur, a portable skating rink, and more colorful dancing groups than you have ever seen. Emcee ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff will introduce glittering floats, a wide variety of high school, college, and professional marching bands; beauty queens; clowns; fire engines; and performing dog and rescue animal groups. As always, the Parade will end with Santa’s float playing holiday music and showing the smiling, rosy cheeked man in a red suit who loves to hang out with elves and give out candy canes. Be sure to get a family photo: Right next to the ice rink, you can take a pic with a Frozen inflatable Elsa, a 10-foot tall turkey, or with Hanukkah or Christmas décor.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Westin Tysons Corner
When: November 19-20
Admission: $15/kids, $10/adults (look for a ticket discount)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns! Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, hands on cooking demonstrations, and Kids in the Holiday Kitchen activities, a visit from Santa, a model train display by Capital Trackers, kids crafts, gifts for purchase, premium events for adults and kids, and much more. Proceeds benefit the JLNV’s community initiatives through the Kids in the Kitchen programming. By supporting The Enchanted Forest you are helping the JLNV empower families to make healthy eating and active living a priority, and supporting the development of women who will build better communities for years to come.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 25 – January 6
Admission: Online – $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free 5 and under
 (look for discount tickets

The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season.

Festival of Trees
Where: Krieger Institute
When: November 25-27
Admission: $15, adult, $7/child, free for 4 and under

Kick off the holiday season by welcoming Santa Claus to a winter wonderland at the annual Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees! The East Coast’s largest holiday-themed festival will return to the Maryland State Fairgrounds with decorated trees, a gingerbread town, shopping, breakfast with Santa, endless holiday activities, and non-stop entertainment for children of all ages!

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens
When: November 25 – January 2
Admission: $27/ages 3 and up

Go big on a treat for your family at this holiday celebration at the Williamsburg amusement park. Enjoy spectacular light shows, rides, live entertainment, the Mistletoe Marketplace,visits from Santa, live penguins, and more!

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 1 – January 1
Admission: Free


This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a brilliant holiday scene. Bonus: there will also be musical performances throughout the season this year. Unfortunately, the adorable Santa’s Workshop once again is not back this year (you might recall there was confusion about it in the past), but go enjoy everything else.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 2-4
Admission: Varies by activity

Christmas in Middleburg is a spectacular community event that includes a tree lighting, parade, Breakfast with Santa and Silent Auction, and the Middleburg Hunt Review creating a spectacular sight as 100 horses, riders in pink coats, and dozens of hounds come through the town. Throughout the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Christmas in Middleburg Craft Show, the Middleburg Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Show at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, as well as shopping and dining in the town’s shops and restaurants. The Middleburg Christmas Parade begins is a highlight, with a unique assortment of floats, troops, and musical groups marching by. Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach.

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall
When: December 3 & 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Sackler Gallery, National Museum of the American Indian, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of African American Art, and The Smithsonian Castle! They’ve got special events galore to help you get in the holiday spirit, including musical performances, book signings, trunk shows, activities for kids, and more!

Deck the Halls: A Family at Christmas
Where: Tudor House
When: December 3, 1-4pm
Admission: $10/child, $5/adult

Bring the family and celebrate the festive season at Tudor Place! Explore the historic mansion as a History Detective, finding decorations and clues to Christmas celebrations past. Nibble on cookies, write a letter to Santa, sing with carolers, make yuletide crafts, and enjoy refreshments throughout an afternoon of warm merriment.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 3, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 46th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: December 3, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. The celebration features holiday performances, a live ice sculpting presentation, and a visit from Santa Claus in Veterans Park.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: December 3
Admission: $5

This will be an experience to remember as you watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport (it’s the world’s oldest continuously operating airport!). Make some holiday arts and crafts, then have your picture taken with Santa Claus after his big flight.

Frost Fest
Where: Pentagon Row
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Join the holiday celebration featuring an on-ice firework display, live entertainment, music by the popular DJ Saucee, a shopping spree giveaway, food samples, and more. The grand finale fireworks show will take place on the ice at 7:30pm.

Family Gingerbread Workshop
Where: National Building Museum
When: December 3-4
Admission: $75/house

Get in the holiday spirit and construct your own gingerbread house with your family and friends! Turn gingerbread walls and royal icing into a delicious masterpiece. One house is appropriate for a group of 2-4 people. Members can register online beginning November 7 at 10am. General registration opens on November 14, and space is limited, so it may sell out.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum
When: December 3-18, Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

Guests can ride with Santa on the street cars and enjoy the model garden railway and holiday village inside the museum. Of course the rest of the museum, offering a glimpse into the history of street cars, including a Hall displaying different cars from around the region and Europe. Note: Santa will not be there the last weekend. Visit the website for directions to the museum.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building
When: December 7, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Explore the world and do some holiday shopping — all during the lunch hour! This lively midday festival is a celebration of international culture, travel, tourism and trade. It has the atmosphere of an international bazaar with each country showcasing their culture and traditions via visual arts displays, foods, handcrafts, as well as travel and tourism information.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: December 10, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the Park’s annual Winter’s Eve event. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: December 10
Admission: $33/adult, $23/child, under 2 are free

The annual festival is full of interactive holiday and baseball activities for fans of all ages. Join clinics with Nationals players and coaches, watch a Homerun Derby featuring the Nationals mascots, make a snow fort, take batting practice, hear a winter or baseball themed story read by a Nationals player, ride down The Slider – a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill, and more. Guests can also meet and greet their favorite Nationals players and mascots, take a photo with Santa, strike a pose at the life-size snow globe photo station, and donate a toy to a child in need.

Italian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: December 10, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

There’s no place like SAAM for the holidays. To celebrate the vibrant culture of Italy, Simona Rodano returns as The Italian Fairy to engage kids with the beauty of her native language. Along with Nutcracker ballet and winter-themed crafts, this festival will have all the music and Italian flair you’ll need to get in the spirit of this joyful season.

“Yes, Virginia” Family Day
Where: Newseum
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: FREE for kids (details below), $19.50/adult

Celebrate the season with the Newseum at its 18th annual “Yes, Virginia” Family Day. Join for a reading of the heart-warming editorial, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Afterward, the One-and-Only Macy’s Santa Claus will make a special guest appearance to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and pose for photos with good boys and girls as Figgy Puddings Holiday Carolers from the Washington National Opera provide entertainment. Kids 18 and younger will receive free admission that day if they bring a letter to put in Macy’s Believe Mailbox. (There will also be a table outside the Newseum where youth can fill out a letter on the spot). Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish® for every letter collected. For more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School in Arlington
When: December 10, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair.

Holiday Cookie Decorating
Where: The Watergate
When: December 10 & 17, 11am – 1pm
Admission: $20/child

Chef Celia from Kingbird will demonstrate cookie decorating with the kids and then help them decorate cookies of their own! Each child will also receive their own Toque Blanche or chef’s hat that they will decorate, too. Food and beverages will be offered along with a parent’s buffet. RSVP to [email protected] or 202-716-9308.

Winter Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farm
When: December 11-13 & 18-20
Admission: $9.95

The annual festival includes hayrides to the white pine fields with access to all of the farm attractions — swings, forts, slides, tunnels, and more. Fire pits are inviting to keep you warm and make some s’mores or roast hot dogs. Cut down your Christmas tree while you’re there or buy one from the lot. Read more about the festival in this post about one of our experiences there.

Culinary Kids: Holiday Cookies & Treats
Where: Hill Center
When: December 17
Admission: $49 & $65

Sign the kids up for a cooking class to make some holiday goodies with Jake and Sara Addeo, professional chefs who have worked in renowned restaurants in DC, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Italy. Along with having some holiday fun, they’ll learn some useful kitchen skills! Tho programs are being offered: Cookie Exchange is for ages 6-8, and Holiday Treats for 9-12.

Cookies & Cocoa with Santa
Where: Topgolf Alexandria
When: December 17, 9-11am
Admission: Free

Santa Claus is coming to town and this year he’s bringing Cookies & Cocoa! The free event for families with children 12 and under will feature cookies to snack on, a hot chocolate bar, a holiday-themed gift, and kids’ activities. Santa will be present for complimentary photos with the children, and all pictures taken will be available for download on the Topgolf Alexandria Facebook page after the event.

Christmas Eve Breakfast Tour
Where: The Mansion on O Street
When: December 24
Admission: $39

They deck the halls and fill the stockings with seasons greetings and holiday cheer that will create lasting memories for the entire family at the Mansion on O Street! Enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour the wonderful themed rooms and search for secret doors. Be sure to bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! Read more about the Mansion on O in this KFDC post.

Christmas Eve Service
Where: Waterfront Church
When: December 24, 6-7:15pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Christmas and sing a few carols as you join with others on Christmas Eve for a candlelight service at 6pm. All are welcome and childcare will be provided for children 3 and under. Waterfront Church is located at 1000 New Jersey Ave. SE.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 31
Admission: $20 until 12/12, $30 after, kids 12 and under are free
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!


Chanukah

Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6

Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6



Sunday at the Studio: Make Your Own Menorah
Where: Gary Rosenthal Collection
When: November 13
Admission: $22.50/family

Get ready for Chanukah with glass artist Gary Rosenthal! Get a fascinating tour of Gary’s studio (he’ll show how the glass is made!); make your own dreidel, menorah, mezuzah, candlesticks or tzedakah box; learn a bit with PJ Library’s own Sarah Rabin Spira; and enjoy a tasty snack. Gary’s studio is located at 4218 Howard Avenue in Kensington.

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: December 4, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun! Join PJ Library, the DCJCC, InterfaithFamily/DC, the Jewish Primary Day School, the Jewish Food Experience, the Jewish Social Service Agency, (JSSA) and the interfaith program, Love and Religion, for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 3 and older. Cost: $10 per family in advance; $15 at the door.

Chanukah Celebration
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: December 18
Admission: $25/family

Grab your socks and yarmulke, it’s time to bounce for Chanukah. This year’s rockin’ Chanukah party will feature a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats, and plenty of fun for the whole family!

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink
When: December 21, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $10 in advance, $13 at door

Celebrate Chanukah with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but food will be sold separately. Purchase advance tickets online at www.chabadAA.org or call 703-370-2774.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 25, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

This is the Jewish counterpart to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Chanukah, the National Menorah is lit in a ceremony on the Ellipse. Along with the lighting, there will be live entertainment, plus menorah kits and dreidels to take home. And if you don’t mind waiting in line afterward, you can stay for latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to request them in advance through the website.

Chanukah Festival
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria
When: December 25, 5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Chanukah a day early with a giant menorah lighting, free light stick for every child, latkes, donuts, a raffle, and music! The lighting will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Old Town Alexandria located at 901 N Fairfax Street. For more info, go to www.chabadAA.org or call 703-370-2774.

Family Chanukah Party
Where: Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim
When: December 25
Admission: Free

Spin a dreidel, eat latkes and applesauce, have your children do arts and crafts, spend time with community and learn how to dance… Israeli style. Whether you are 2 or 92, be a part of this family Chanukah celebration! The Congregation is located at 1840 University Blvd. W. in Silver Spring.

Community Chanukah Candle Lighting
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: December 28
Admission: Free

Come light the Menorah in the EDCJCC’s Jack and Ina Kay Community Hall! Join us as we light the candles, and then celebrate wtih latkes, donuts, dreidel games, music, crafts, and more! Celebrate with all ages, levels of religious observance, sexual orientations/gender identities, and abilities — part of the Inclusion & Disabilities programming at the Edlavitch DCJCC.


Light Displays

A stroll through Brookside's Garden of Lights

A stroll through Brookside’s Garden of Lights



Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: $13/adult, $8/ages 3-12

Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark’s renowned gardens as over 500,000 LED lights and displays bring the gardens to life and transform it into a winter wonderland. Marvel at the two-story animated fountain, stroll past the Gingerbread Village, and explore the beauty of nature like you’ve never seen it!

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion
When: November 23 – January 4, 6-10pm Weds-Mon
Admission: $20/car, $25 on Saturdays (look for discount tickets)

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. And the Symphony of Lights is the largest annual fundraising event benefiting Howard County General Hospital, the only hospital in Howard County. (Note that it’s closed on December 31.)

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park
When: November 23 – January 8
Admission: Monday- Thursday $15/car, Friday-Saturday $20/car (look for discount tickets)

For more than 14 years the Bull Run Festival of Lights has drawn thousands of visitors to the park to delight in its winter wonderland. Get a sneak preview of it on the website, where a video of Santa’s Enchanted Lights, with over 40,000 animated lights set to music, is merely a fraction of what you’ll find there.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: November 25 – January 1, with noted exceptions
Admission: $20/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun
 (look for discount tickets)

This spectacular, festive light show is back after a break last year. Visualize close to one million twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. Walk along the easily accessible paths and you’ll see what sets this light show apart from others; it’s the hundreds of wrapped trees and shrubs, beautifully lighted gazebos, cascading fountains, and the individually formed displays in the shapes of blooming flowers and wild animals. Look for moving displays such as a flock of geese, or an 11-foot giraffe covered with 9,000 lights. Open Sunday – Thursday 5:30-9pm, with last car admitted at 8:30pm, and Friday/Saturday 5:30-10:30pm, with last car admitted at 9:30pm. View scenes from one of our visits there.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo
When: November 25 – January 1, 5-9pm (Closed 12/24, 25, 31)
Admission: Free

Every year, thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland. The highlights are dozens of animal light displays, a dazzling light show set to music, and snow-less tubing. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment, a special train ride for children, a whirl on the Conservation Carousel, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and more “wild” holiday fun. The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm will be open every night. Rides and parking cost extra.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: November 25 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $5/car, FREE on December 25


This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – bring a thermos of hot chocolate, pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park
When: November 25 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Sun-Thurs, $15/car Fri-Sat

The 19th Annual Winter Lights Festival will feature more than 365 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through beautiful Seneca Creek State Park. Theme areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, North Pole, Toyland, and Penguin Cove. Special prism glasses to are available for $2 to heighten the experience. Proceeds Benefit Local Charities. Hours are Sunday – Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple
When: December 3 – January 3
Admission: Free

It’s official name is the Washington DC Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 600,000 LED lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Georgetown neighborhood
When: December 2 – January 1
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light – literally. Every evening through January 1, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community. Works of local, regional, and international artists will be on display in both public and privately-owned spaces, including M Street, along the C&O Canal, and more nearby places. Take the family dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: December 2 – January 1 (closed 12/5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 24, 25)
Admission: $6, free for ages 3 and under

This magical tour takes visitors on a beautiful trip through the glittering woods. As you stroll the protected path, you will be transported to a fantastical place of spectacular lights and amazing “light sculptures.” Guests will be surrounded by mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more. Because all the “light sculptures” are made at Annmarie, the designs are one-of-a-kind; nothing in this show is commercially available. It is all made just for visitors to Annmarie Garden In Lights! Enjoy the “Holiday I Spy Game,” nightly entertainment, special discount nights, sweet treats, and other fun activities.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions! At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. Before and after the parade, stop in to the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Holiday Open House between 4-9pm to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Choral Society plus gift shopping in open artist studios.


Holiday Markets

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter



Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: November 10-13
Admission: $9

This annual market brings the best of the area’s finest museum gift shops all to one place. At Strathmore’s Museum Shop Around you’ll find toys, jewelry, one-of-a-kind gifts — some handmade, all art-inspired — for yourself and everyone on your holiday list.

Bethany House Holiday Bazaar
Where: First Baptist Church Alexandria
When: November 18-19
Admission: $5/suggested donation $10/family

Get an early start on your holiday shopping at this bazaar benefiting Bethany House, a domestic violence shelter in Northern VA that serves women and children survivors of domestic violence. The bazaar features regional artisans, crafters, and unique businesses. Browse international gift items, such as jewelry, paintings, essential oils, home décor, and more.

Merry & Bright Shopping Preview
Where: Mosaic District
When: November 12, 4-9pm
Admission: Free

Get your gift shopping started at the Northern Virginia center. Many stores and restaurants in the Fairfax community are offering discounts and other specials to help patrons ring in the the holiday shopping season.

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW
When: November 25 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

This one, to me, is the holiday market in DC. It’s not even so much about the merchandise for sale (though there’s always a great variety of gift items – I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city feel like a small town. A bonus is the free live entertainment along with treats and coffee drinks available for purchase. And after you’ve done your shopping and enjoyed a snack and music, you can pop into the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market.

Eastern Market
Where: 7th Street SE, between South Carolina & Penn Aves.
When: Year-round Saturdays & Sundays
Admission: Free

The outdoor flea market at the centerpiece of the Capitol Hill community is practically a year-round weekend institution for locals. And during the holiday season, it’s a go-to for shoppers seeking unique gifts along with a fun outing. Over 100 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum
When: December 2-4
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/ages 2-12

Do some shopping at Christkindlmarkt, an annual holiday artisan market and festive house tou, honoring the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour.

Alexandria’s Holiday Market
Where: Carlyle District in Alexandria
When: December 3-22 (but not everyday, see the website)
Admission: Free

This annual signature event transforms the Carlyle District into a lively European Festival similar to the infamous Christmas Markets taking place in Germany or France. Shop for unique art and craft items, and enjoy live entertainment, traditional European food and sweets, hot wine, and hot cocoa. Be sure to visit the children’s corner for kid’s activities to learn more about European traditions and culture. The Market is located at 300 John Carlyle Street in Alexandria.

Holiday Bazaar
Where: Children’s Weekday Program
When: December 3, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy and shop a family-friendly bazaar featuring local craft and gift vendors, a chance for children to visit with Santa, a silent auction, children’s activities, a bake sale, cake walk, and much more. The event is on the second floor in the great hall. New packages of diapers will be collected for the D.C. Diaper Bank. Children’s Weekday Program is located at 716 S. Glebe Road in Arlington.

Holiday Festival & Art Market
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 3, 2 – 6 pm
Admission Free

The Torpedo Factory Artists invite shoppers into their studios to find original gifts of art. Handmade jewelry and ornaments, original ceramics, couture finds, objet d’art, and other fine works will be available to browse and buy. Special holiday promotions and discounts will be available from dozens of artists and galleries. The afternoon will also feature a children’s scavenger hunt, live music with the Alexandria Choral Society and Braddock Brass, and a visit from Santa.

Carpe Noctem
Where: St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, MD
When: December 3
Admission: $5/adult, free for kids

Seize the Night while you sip and shop, perusing the aisles for beautiful, unique gifts. The event supporting the students of St. Jerome Academy features two levels of shopping fun. In addition to many talented vendors and live music throughout the evening, Carpe Noctem has various dinner options, wine, beer, tasty desserts, and warm drinks for kids available for purchase. Children can enjoy face-painting, a photo op with St. Nicholas, and coloring activities. Customers will receive a complementary drink with their paid

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School, Arlington
When: December 10, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair.

Rosslyn Holiday Market
Where: Gateway Park
When: December 9-10
Admission: Free

Hosted by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, the market will boast more than 25 local boutique vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry and clothing to pottery and chocolate. The Friday schedule is geared towards an adult crowd, and Saturday will feature activities kicking off with the Great Chocolate Race, a 5-mile scenic run through Rosslyn. There will also be storytelling, free pictures with Santa Claus, and gingerbread house workshops for the whole family.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center
When: December 9-11
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free for 11 and under

This seasonal fair showcases works by more than 300 top artisans. Pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home and garden décor, furniture and home accessories, and photography will be on display — and for sale. The best part is that the award-winning festival is a family affair. Parents can shop, and children can enjoy an interactive puppet theater and watch live-demonstrations of iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting, and other media by the master craftspeople themselves. Not to mention, gourmet goodies hand-made by specialty food vendors always leave everyone wanting more. Tickets are good for all three days of the Festival.

How we do the holidays in our house

How we do the holidays in our house



Know of a great DC holiday event that you don’t see here? Let us know in the comments below!


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