Category Archives: Music

Live Entertainment for Families Around DC this Winter

The set of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” is as magical and creative as the classic story


As it gets cold outside, plan to warm up with some entertainment indoors. There are all kinds of shows and performances to enjoy through the season. Here are details on what you can see on area stages, starting with currently running shows, then listed by start date, with most production descriptions coming straight from the sources. (KFDC Tip: Tickets to these could make for great holiday gifts!) . Happy Viewing!

Holidays on the Stage
Where: Around the DMV
When: Through the holiday season
Tickets: Vary by show

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment to get into the spirit of the season, there’s plenty of it! There are several versions of The Nutcracker, storybook classics like The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Imagination Stage. You can stomp along with Step Akrika!, catch An Irish Carol at Keegan Theatre, and enjoy a Candlelight Christmas at the Kennedy Center. Get details on these shows and many, many more in the 2019 Guide to the Holiday Season.

Singin’ in the Rain
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Through January 5
Tickets: $54-$99 (find discounts)

The greatest movie musical of all time comes to life on the Mainstage and for once, rain during the holidays is guaranteed to make you smile. Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon including “Good Mornin’,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.” Our biggest production of the year is certain to impress Broadway regulars and enchant kids meeting this musical for the first time. If this were a film it would be rated G.

Newsies
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: Through December 29
Tickets: Start at $66

In the summer of 1899, the newsboys of New York City took on two of the most powerful men in the country — Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst — and won. Inspired by true events, the Broadway smash hit is a testament to the power of standing up and speaking out. The Tony Award-winning musical features fan-favorites like “Carrying the Banner,” “King of New York” and “Seize the Day.” Newsies is “a winning, high-energy musical” (Entertainment Weekly) just in time for the holidays and perfect for the whole family.

Peter Pan and Wendy
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 11
Tickets: $35-120/adult, $35/14 & under (find discounts)

Bold, budding scientist Wendy Darling dreams of earning a Nobel Prize. When Peter Pan arrives at her bedroom window, she takes a leap and leaves finishing school behind, chasing adventure among the stars. Facing down fairies, mermaids, and the dastardly Captain Hook, Wendy, Peter, and their friends discover the power of standing up together for what’s right. J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan is reimagined for a new generation of theatregoers.
This beloved tale of adventure and wonder is sure to delight adults and children alike this holiday season. Recommended for ages 5+.

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Lab at Convergence | Alexandria, VA
When: December 5-21
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon’s show is recommended for ages 2-5… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals.​

Jersey Boys
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 17 – January 5
Tickets: $39-99 (find discounts)

They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story — a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the Tony and Grammy Award®-winning true-life musical phenomenon, Jersey Boys. From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s just too good to be true. Recommended for ages 12+.

My Fair Lady
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 17 – January 19
Tickets: $39-159 (find discounts)

From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady. Director Bartlett Sher’s glowing production is “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was” (The New York Times). Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE
When: December 27-31
Tickets: $15

Atlas presents Arts on the Horizon’s show… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals.​ Recommended for ages 2-5.

Pete the Cat
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: January 11-12
Tickets: $20

For Pete the Cat, life is an adventure no matter where you wind up. So the minute the groovy blue cat meets The Biddles, he gets the whole family rocking. That is, except for young Jimmy Biddle, the most organized second grader on planet Earth. But when Jimmy draws a blank in art class during the last week of school, it turns out Pete is the perfect pal to help him out. Recommended for K – 5th grade.

Narnia
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: January 10-19
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (find discounts)

Encore Stage & Studio presents its signature theatre By Kids For Kids… When the four Pevensie children stumble upon an old wardrobe, little do they know they will discover the magical world of Narnia. Full of mystical creatures, talking animals, and great escapes, this action-packed story by C.S. Lewis depicts the triumph of Aslan, the great lion and ruler of Narnia, over the White Witch. Join the adventure as four brave kids, one great lion, and an entire kingdom fight for what is right. We recommend this musical for ages 4 and older.

Mouse on the Move
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: January 11 – February 16
Tickets: $12

Nellie and Amelia are two adventurous mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse-hole. They decide to go to the moon, since it is cat-free and made entirely of delicious, mouth-watering cheese (so they have heard). In this interactive play, the audience becomes part of the story through multi-sensory activities. Join us as we all try to reach beyond the stars. Recommended for ages 1-5.

Step Afrika! Step Xplosion
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: January 12
Tickets: $35-75

Strathmore is proud to welcome back Step Afrika!, the first professional organization dedicated to the African American tradition of stepping. This performance begins with a showcase of the region’s finest step squads featuring lightning-fast footwork, percussive chants, and incredible synchronicity. In addition to Step Xplosion, Step Afrika! showcase a portion of their new work, Drumfolk, commissioned by Strathmore. Drumfolk honors the heritage of step and places the evolution of this vibrant art form in its historical context. Tracing step’s roots to the African American percussive traditions of patting juba, hambone, ring shout, and tap, Drumfolk reflects on the harsh realities of the American South and celebrates the fortitude of enslaved Africans who practiced these transcendent musical forms. Recommended for ages 8+.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Folger Theatre | Capitol Hill, DC
When: January 14 – March 1
Tickets: $27-85

Some appetites never go out of style. The pursuit of money is bound to backfire when the targets are smarter than their gold-digging schemer. Falstaff’s dubious plan to woo Windsor’s wealthy housewives is met with hilarious retaliation, when the ladies devise a plot to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. The comedic comeuppance is an absolute treat in Shakespeare’s delightful comedy on love, money, deception, and the power of women.

Once Upon a Moon at Udvar-Hazy
Where: Udvay-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: January 16-17
Tickets: $3-9

Let’s go to the moon! Celebrate the spirit of the Apollo landing in this exciting, interactive show for our youngest audiences. Performers and exquisite puppets spin new and old stories about the moon’s magic, create a “living exhibit” of its phases, and introduce the amazing science that brought us to its surface. You might even get the chance to be a moonwalking astronaut. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Rapunzel
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: January 17 – February 16
Tickets: $12

A “bewitching” tale by Duane T. Bowers, adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairytale. Witch Wartsmith wants a baby, and after bargaining for little Rapunzel, must go to great lengths to keep her out of the hands of a handsome prince. The Puppet Co. uses “coloring- book” charm and the simplicity of hand puppets in a production designed to delight its younger audiences. Recommended for ages 3.5-9.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 19, 2pm & 5:30pm
Tickets:

Daniel Tiger and all his friends from the beloved Emmy Award winning PBS KIDS television series are hopping back aboard Trolley for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Neighbor Day. Daniel Tiger and his family along with O the Owl, Miss Elaina, Katerina Kittycat, Prince Wednesday, and more familiar friends will take audiences on an interactive adventure to the Neighborhood of Make Believe, sharing stories of friendship, helping others and celebrating new experiences. The live show features new songs and fan favorites series, including the beloved Wont You Be My Neighbor? The live theatrical production is filled with music, dancing, and wonderful surprises.

Here We Go, Team!
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: January 22-23
Tickets: $3-9

This Discovery Theater original scores big with a musical play about sharing and taking turns, the importance of personal space, and the awesome power of teamwork. Five-year-old Bobby and Casey are aspiring soccer stars and best friends—but they’ve ended up on separate teams! Through a mishap on the field, they discover that helping people is cool, thanks to another kind of team—their favorite teacher and coach who make it all OK.

Monster Jam
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: January 25-26
Tickets: $29-110

The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in monster trucks will thunder its way into DC. Alien Invasion, El Toro Loco, Grave Digger, Max-D, Megalodon, Monster Mutt, Soldier Fortune, and Zombie are among the vehicular beasts you’ll see tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

Happy Theater: Five Spoons
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: January 25 – February 2
Tickets: $15-20

Interactive community building theater piece for adults and children alike. Five miniature stories are creatively told and woven together into a greater story about our personal connection to the world and to each other. Through physical theater, storytelling, audience interaction and object-based theater we meet five people who live next to us – people who may be living without vision, or hearing, who have movement limitations, or are lonely, angry, sad…. How do they see, hear or feel the world, and how do we see, hear or feel them? Recommended for ages 10+.

Capital City Symphony’s Symphonic Dancing
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: January 26
Tickets: $15-20

This fun, interactive family concert will have every family member on their feet! The program explores the expressive, dance-like melodies of William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama, and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag. Come enjoy this energetic concert for all ages! Join 30 minutes before the performance for an Instrument Petting Zoo!

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: February 8 – March 22
Tickets: $25-35

Zomo — one hip-hoppity rabbit — is taking on Washington, DC. When Zomo is dissed and dismissed by the other tricksters in town, he turns to the Sky God for more power. The Sky God sends him on an impossible quest taking him from the breakdancing fish on the DC Waterfront, to the graffiti artist cow at the National Zoo, and finally to the DJ Leopard in Adams Morgan. Will Zomo find the power he’s seeking? Or will he wise up? This high-energy hip-hop adaptation of a Nigerian folktale, originally commissioned by Imagination Stage in 2009 (Helen Hayes-Nominated Outstanding Production- Theatre for Young Audiences), puts a local spin and lots of silly humor on the global tradition of trickster tales. Recommended for ages 4+.

Glimpse
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 11-12
Tickets: $20

What do colors sound like? Who can understand the moon? How do you sing a tree? This concert presented by Dutch music company Oorkaan transports young audiences to an enchanted world in which music, artists, images, and technology interact with one another. Jazzy melodies mix with bright visuals, forming a captivating new way to relate to music and sounds. Recommended for ages 2–4.

A Thousand Splendid Suns (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: January 17 – March 1
Tickets: $56+

Adapted from the New York Times bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner), the lives of two Afghan women are inextricably bound together. In the war-ravaged Kabul, Miriam and Laila become unlikely allies in the face of the insurmountable odds of a brutal and oppressive way of life. Hopes of a new life lead to an unselfish and shocking decision, changing the course of their futures forever. Called “emotionally stirring” (Los Angeles Times), this gripping and heart-rending fight for survival will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

NSO Music for Young Audiences: Beauty and the Beat
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 18-26
Tickets: $20

See NSO principal second violinist Marissa Regni and NSO principal percussionist Eric Shin in an exciting new program exploring the magic created when the violin and percussion join together. Eric may have a vast array of percussion instruments, but Marissa shows how versatile the violin can be. This melodic and rhythmic ride for families proves that no matter how different the instruments are, they can come together to make some beautiful music. Recommended for ages 3+.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 31 – February 1
Tickets: $59-99

This immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the amazing journey shared by folk-rock duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60s to their dramatic split in 1970. It culminates with the famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 with more than half a million fans in attendance. Using huge projection photos and original film footage, the show also features a full live band performing all of their hits, including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound,” and many more. Recommended for ages 4+.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java | Vienna, VA
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends

Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local acts perform every Friday, and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Most Saturdays
Tickets: FREE!

The free theatre program runs on select Saturdays with performances at 9:30am and 11:30am. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here. Tickets are distributed day of performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must be in line to receive a ticket.

Boogie Babes
Where: Miracle Theater | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Thursdays, 10:30am
Tickets: $6/child, free for sibling 6 months and under

This weekly sessions of musical fun were started by two friends of mine back when all our our babes were, well, babes. While it’s changed hands since then, it still brings entertainment especially for little ones to Capitol Hill, and children can boogie along with their favorite local musicians. Plan on grabbing lunch after at one of the many nearby eateries or Eastern Market.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: Most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Millennium Stage
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Ongoing daily, 6pm
Tickets: Free

The Kennedy Center presents these free, no-tickets-required performances every day at 6pm, and the public is welcome to enjoy them. The acts span the genres — you can see everything from contemporary dance to folk music to puppetry to comedy shows to opera scenes. Millennium Stage showcases everyone from local youth choirs to internationally known bands (They Might Be Giants performed there a few years ago). This is a great series to keep in mind for whenever you’re looking for some free, easy entertainment.

Rise+Rhyme
Where: BusBoys & Poets | Brookland, DC & Hyattsville/Takoma Park, MD
When: Mondays
Tickets: $5

The weekly series welcomes children 5 and under with their caregivers to enjoy a morning of performances and stories from 9:30-11am. Go to one of three locations: Brookland in DC or Takoma Park or Hyattsville in MD. Plan on breakfast, too — full service is available while the little ones are grooving.

Children’s Arts & Entertainment
Where: BloomBars | Columbia Heights, DC
When: Ongoing
Tickets: Varies by show/activity

The arts center in Columbia Heights offers a variety of enriching, entertaining, and cultural activities and performances for children. From Harambe sessions to puppet shows to musical theatre to sing-a-longs, there’s something going on for little ones just about every day of the week.

Phantom of the Opera
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: February 5 – March 1
Tickets: $35+, $15-25/under 30

Gaston Leroux’s timeless supernatural classic gets a fresh update as Irina Tsikurishvili brings her captivating presence and virtuosic skill sets to the title character of The Phantom of the Opera. When tragedy strikes, a talented but now scarred ballerina takes refuge deep beneath the Paris Opera House. Years later, she becomes enraptured with the ingenue Christine in the corp de ballet. Known only as the Phantom, she terrorizes the opera house and manipulates Christine, cultivating her talent and demanding she be cast in more prominent roles. Synetic’s adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera will honor the pathos and beauty of this classic French tale while examining longing, legacy, and the tragedy of unrealized dreams.

The ABC’s of Percussion with Uncle Devin
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 6-7
Tickets: $3-9

Join Uncle Devin on a musical journey through the wide, wonderful, and boisterous world of percussion instruments. From West African agogo bells to a Chinese lithophone (made of stone!) to Brazil’s zabumba drum, learn how each unique instrument brings global beats to vibrant life. Uncle Devin makes the sounds and rhythms of percussion the perfect way to reinforce the alphabet for the youngest learners.

Into the Great Unknown: African American Adventurers and Explorers
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 11-13
Tickets: $3-9

Leadership, courage, and adventure take center stage in this inspiring Discovery Theater original. From Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole, to astronaut Mae Jemison, meet a century’s worth of bold men and women who challenged the Western frontier, the highest of mountains, and the vastness of outer space—and triumphed. In the histories and heroism of these explorers and adventurers, young audiences find models to help them reach their own highest goals. Recommended for ages 6-12.

The King’s Speech
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: February 11-16
Tickets: $54-114 (find discounts)

The King’s Speech is based on the true story of King George VI’s struggle with a speech impediment and the friendship he formed with his unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue. With the Nazi threat looming and civil unrest at home, royal secrets explode around the King as he’s thrust onto the world stage. David Seidler’s original play – which inspired the 2010 Oscar-winning film starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush – will make its long-awaited U.S. debut in a production The Mail proclaims “A right royal treat.” Recommended for ages 13+.

Disney on Ice: Celebrate Memories
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: February 13-17
Tickets: Start at $15 (find discounts)

Your favorite Disney stories come to life at Disney On Ice presents Celebrate Memories. Sail along with Moana on her high-seas adventure and dance with Woody, Buzz and all the Toy Story friends. Feel inspired when love wins in Frozen and dreams come true for the Disney Princesses. Share the excitement and make new memories the whole family will treasure forever!

The Snowy Day & Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: February 14 – April 1
Tickets: $23

This beautiful show follows the character of Peter and his friend Archie around the neighborhood in four of Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved tales, The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, and A Letter to Amy. Renowned for his tender personality, the character of Peter faces relatable everyday challenges to which children of all ages will find delightfully entertaining. Recommended for all ages.

NSO Family Concert: Girl Power! Celebrating Women in Music
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 16
Tickets: $15-18 (find discounts)

Don’t miss a special showcase of female composers, conductors, and performers to mark 100 years since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. The program is to include works by Florence Price, Joan Tower, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Jessie Montgomery. Recommended for ages 5+.

Going the Distance
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 20-21 & 26-28
Tickets: $3-9

Race to the finish line with two black Olympians who changed history! Soaring music and the exhilaration of world-class sorts motivate us to greatness in this vivid portrayal of the lives of Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph. Join them as they them overcome childhood illness, infirmity, and poverty to become the world’s fastest man and woman, winning the greatest honor in all athletics: the Olympic gold medal. The John Cornelius II score speaks to the heart and soul of the winner in all of us.

Beauty and the Beast
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, DC
When: February 20 – March 29
Tickets: $12

A romantic tale of a handsome prince, and his love, Beauty, set in a great forest in old Russia. There are curses, conflicts, hopes, wishes, dreams, and exciting adventures, all the things that make a happy ending that much sweeter. Imaginative settings and beautiful costumes support this large-scale marionette version of the classic love story. Winner of a Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, it has played successfully to children and families nationwide. Recommended for ages 5+.

Imagination Stage’s Mouse on the Move
Where:Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: February 21 – March 1
Tickets: $15

Nellie and Amelia are two adventurous mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse-hole. They decide to go to the moon since it is cat-free and made entirely of delicious, mouth-watering cheese (so they have heard). In this interactive play, the audience becomes part of the story through multi-sensory activities. Join us as we all try to reach beyond the stars.

Mark Nizer 4D
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: February 22
Tickets: $20

The only live 3D show in the world! Okay, technically any on-stage performance is a live 3D show, but this world-champion juggler uses lights, music, special effects and his own incredible skill to put on a dazzling performance with thrills and outrageous laughs. Special 3D glasses available to the audience give a surreal sensation of depth that take this family-friendly show beyond anything you’ve ever seen on stage before!

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NSO Music for Young Audiences: Mozart Mash-Up
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 22-23
Tickets: $20

Share the magic and music of Mozart in a special family concert! A string quartet featuring members of the National Symphony Orchestra plays its favorites from the prolific composer. At age 3, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could be found observing his big sister Nannerl at the keyboard. By 4 or 5, he had written his first compositions, and by age 7 his first symphony. Mozart continues to inspire audiences and performers today—some of whom experienced his music when they were just as young as the composer! Recommended for ages 7+.

Celia and Fidel (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: February 28 – April 12
Tickets: $72+

Can one woman change the mind of a man and the fate of a nation? Fidel Castro’s most trusted confidant and political partner, Celia Sánchez, is never far from his side as he grapples with how to move his country forward. It’s 1980 and a failing economy has led 10,000 Cuban citizens to seek asylum at the Peruvian Embassy in Cuba. Castro must decide what kind of a leader he wants to be: merciful or mighty. Imbued with magical realism, Arena Stage’s seventh Power Play imagines a conversation between Cuba’s most influential female revolutionary and its most notorious political leader in a contest between morality and power.

YAO YAO
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 29 – March 1
Tickets: $20

Yao is a mischievous little girl who loves to play, but hates when her Daddy picks up his briefcase and goes off to work. One day, Yao grabs Daddy’s overcoat and accidentally pulls a thread that leads to the start of a magical world. South Korea’s Brush Theatre uses interactive screen art technology and live music to capture the whimsical adventure that follows. What Yao finds at the end of the thread playfully blurs reality and imagination. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Hot Peas ‘N Butter
Where: Center for the Arts | George Mason University, VA
When: March 1, 1pm & 4pm
Tickets:$15/adult, $10/child

Praised by the Los Angeles Times for their “hot and mellow multicultural groove,” Hot Peas ‘n Butter will have you and your whole family on their feet dancing with their infectiously fun global music celebration. This Parent Choice Award-winning, family music ensemble blends together traditional Latin music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock to create a “rainbow of color and sound.” (NY 1 TV). Singing in English, Spanish, French, Korean and Hebrew, Hot Peas ‘n Butter aims to show multi-cultural interconnectedness. Their repertoire of songs like “Number 1” and their signature Latin beat tracks “Somos Familia,” “Amistad,” “Que Llueva,” and “Round the World” enjoy radio play nationwide. Recommended for ages 2-6.

The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!
Where: Center for the Arts | George Mason University, VA
When: March 1, 1pm & 4pm
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child

Witness the impossible with top illusionist Bill Blagg in his new mind-bending and hilarious magic show The Magic of Bill Blagg Live! “Unbelievable!” raves USA Today, and “Absolutely Incredible!” echoes The Chicago Tribune. The whole family will rub their eyes in disbelief as the “Houdini Times Ten” (NBC), makes objects disappear, teleports across the theater, levitates in mid-air, and so much more. Don’t miss your chance to experience this thrilling, action-packed, and interactive show that will leave you and your family breathless. Bill Blagg is changing reality one city at a time, and Fairfax is next! Recommended ages 8+.

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 4-6
Tickets: $3-9

Meet the grocer, the baker, the pizza-dough maker, and all of the friendly people who make our neighborhoods terrific places to live every day. Recycled crafting, interactive songs, literacy and numeracy elements make this community day the perfect blend of learning and just plain fun.

Story Tapestries: The Fastest Plane
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: March 5-7
Tickets: $10-15

Travel the World with Story Tapestries’ Family Artists and The Giggling, Wiggling Bookworm. Dive into the ocean, soar above the mountains and fly through the jungle. Leave the program swinging like a monkey, singing like a bird and eager to celebrate stories from around the world!

NSO Music for Young Audiences: 123 Andrés
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 7-8
Tickets: $20

Andrés and Christina are Latin Grammy Award®–winning teaching artists who get kids and families excited about learning and moving together in Spanish and English! Join Andrés on an exciting cultural exploration of Latin America through an introduction of language, music, and dance. Families sing, shake, and sound out. Children can use their imaginations to ride an imaginary airplane and join in singing and dancing while practicing new vocabulary. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Science Tellers: Escape from Earth
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 12-13
Tickets: $3-9

Two curious kids venture into the forest to investigate a meteor shower and find themselves mixed up with a family of visitors from another planet. They risk everything to rescue their new friends and get them to their spaceship before it’s too late. Audiences get to learn the science behind the show’s out-of-this-world special effects.

Arts on the Horizon’s Drumming with Dishes
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: March 11-15
Tickets: $15

What happens when you invite someone very different from you to come over to play? Such an adventure awaits an energetic child when she introduces her shy imaginary friend to a very special kitchen. But instead of food, they’ll cook up beautiful music! This gentle, whimsical adventure celebrates friendship and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Join us and discover what wonders can be accomplished through friendship! Recommended for ages 2-5.

Jazz Doodle Jam! Jason Moran & Bandwagon + Mo Willems
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 13-14
Tickets: $20

Jazz Doodle Jam! is an intimate jazz concert where you collaborate with the band! Sit down at a table covered with paper, grab a marker or crayon, and join host Mo Willems for a new kind of participatory musical experience. Kids and grown-ups doodle to music played onstage by Jason Moran and The Bandwagon. The band reacts and improvises to the audience’s explorations, jamming together with pictures and music, blurring the lines between artists and audience. All ages welcome!

St. Paddy’s Day with Pete Moss and the Bog Band
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 12-13
Tickets: $3-9

Join Pete (aka Mitch Fanning) and his troupe of talented young musicians as they pick up their fiddles and bodhran drums to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Spirited music, lively step dancing, and a dash of Irish musical history guarantee “a rattlin’ good time!” Recommended for ages 5-12.

Happy Theater: Nest
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: March 14, 21, & 28
Tickets: $25-45

An interactive, multi-sensory show about the life cycle of a bird for families with children from 6 months to 4 years old… In a nest in a tree, an egg is kept warm. Then a Baby Bird hatches! The Baby is fed and nurtured by the Tree Fairy, and both the Baby and the Fairy begin to explore what it means to grow up, and to learn how to fly, and what it means to be a parent. They feel sunshine and rain, smell flowers, taste berries, and see butterflies. There are surprises. One day, the Baby learns to spread its wings and fly. Where will it go? Will it leave the Tree Fairy?

Once Upon a Moon
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 19-20
Tickets: $3-9

Let’s go to the moon! Celebrate the spirit of the Apollo landing in this exciting, interactive show for our youngest audiences. Performers and exquisite puppets spin new and old stories about the moon’s magic, create a “living exhibit” of its phases, and introduce the amazing science that brought us to its surface. You might even get the chance to be a moonwalking astronaut.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 21
Tickets: $25 and up (find discounts)

The Original Harlem Globetrotters are on the road for their action packed tour! A star-studded roster will have fans on the edge of their seats to witness the ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that thrills fans of all ages. There will be new high-flying dunks, hilarious stunts, a new record-breaking attempt and unforgettable family moments.

Is there a great show running soon that you don’t see listed here? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!


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Filed under 2019, 2020, All ages, Date Night, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Seasonal, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Winter Theatre Offerings for Ages 6 Months – 1st Grade at Encore Stage & Studio!


Turn your winter into a theatrical winner with Encore Stage & Studio! The theatre company in Arlington offers class opportunities for students ages 6 months and up, emphasizes the excitement of discovering the power of imagination and storytelling for the youngest students.


Parent & Me Classes for Ages 6 months – 2 years

Share, grow and learn with your child during this special time in their life! Through creative play, movement and music, children will sharpen critical social and physical skills in a fun and imaginative environment. Parent & Me classes are held Tuesday mornings, 10:30 am – 11:15 am. Monthly registration preferred: $10 per class; $15 walk-in rate.
Register here!


Classes for Ages 3-5


Students will enjoy a 45-minute class designed to develop their confidence to share a story with a beginning, middle, and end, while working together as a group. Class titles include Adventures of Curious George and Stories & Fairytales. Saturday morning classes are held January 25 – March 7, 9:00 – 9:45 am. Tuesday afternoon classes are held February 4 – March 17, 4:00 – 4:45 pm. Fee: $110.
Register here!


Classes for Grades K-1st Grade
Students will explore the magic of movement for musicals in our Broadway Kids class. In The Tales of Beatrix Potter, students will discover the classic tales of characters such as Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-Duck as they learn to act out stories, learning about life’s important lessons along the way. Saturday morning classes are held January 25 – March 7. Fee: $110.
Register here!


Classes are held at Encore’s Main Campus in Arlington, VA. Enrollment is available online or by calling (703) 548-1154.

Planning ahead for summer?
Don’t miss Encore’s Summer Camp Open House on Saturday, January 4, 2020 from 10am – 12pm! Students ages 3-18 will experience 30-minute sample classes of Encore’s award-winning camps. Open House registration is free.



Learn more about Encore’s offerings for students in elementary through high school by visiting www.encorestage.org.


This post is sponsored by Encore Stage & Studio, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, Babies, Camp, Class, Educational, Gradeschoolers, Music, Play, Preschoolers, Professional Service, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Giveaway: Enter to Win Tickets to Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre!


Singin’ in the Rain is the perfect show for the whole family to see this holiday season. Kids will love the slapstick humor, high-energy tap dancing, and live rain on stage. Grownups will swoon to the story of romance and 1920s Hollywood glamour along with classic songs like “Good Morning,” “Moses Supposes,” and of course, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Don’t miss this opportunity to give your kids a theatrical experience they’ll never forget. This holiday season, make sure it rains!

About the production
In the Heights Director/Choreographer Marcos Santana returns to Olney Theatre Center with another classic American musical! Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon. OTC’s biggest production of the year is certain to impress Broadway regulars and enchant kids with live rain on stage.

“A crowd pleasing revival…with triple threat stars.”
The Washington Post


Singin’ in the Rain is now running at Olney Theatre Center through January 5, 2020. Tickets are $54-$99 and can be purchased online or through the Box Office (301.924.4485). (Look for discounts here.) You can also try winning a Family 4-Pack to the performance on December 31, 2019 at 2pm through the giveaway below!

One Warm Coat
When you go to see Singin’ in the Rain, bring a new or gently used coat to donate! For too many people in our community, rain is nothing to sing or dance about. They lack a seasonally appropriate warm coat to protect them from wind, rain and snow. In the spirit of the holiday season, Olney Theatre Center is partnering with One Warm Coat to organize a coat drive during the run of Singin’ In The Rain. All sizes of new or gently used warm coats will be collected and distributed by Interfaith Works to members of the community in need.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of Tickets to see Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre on December 31, 2019 at 2pm, simply leave a comment below letting me know your favorite part of a Thanksgiving feast. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Wednesday, December 4, 2019, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


This post is sponsored by Olney Theatre Center, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, Giveaway, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Theatre, Ticket Giveaway, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The 2019 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

✨Get ready for holiday magic in DC✨



The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, 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 stroll or drive among them. Special markets offer unique gifts along with a good time. And an array 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 annual KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Shows

Chanukah

Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

*************************************************************


Have a stompin’ good time at Step Afrika’s Holiday Step Show!


HOLIDAY SHOWS
 

The Velveteen Rabbit
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park
When: November 15 – January 1
Tickets: $20.50

Margery Williams’s classic toy story gets a vibrant retelling in this brand new adaptation. When the Child gets the Rabbit for Christmas, she is at first disappointed in her gift. But as the two quest and adventure through her storybooks, both Rabbit and Child grow and care for each other. And they discover that love is the greatest force in the Universe and can make impossible things Real. Recommended for all ages.

Disney Junior Holiday Party
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 17
Tickets: Start at $29 (look for discounts)

Disney Junior Holiday Party! is a dazzling musical wonderland where children and their families can sing and dance along to their favorite Disney Junior songs plus holiday classics with their favorite Disney friends, including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, the Puppy Dog Pals, Vampirina and many more, plus a special visit from Santa Claus!

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 21-26
Tickets: $3-8

Grandma has arrived for the holiday—and that can only mean making puppets, cooking together, washing the car, and learning lots of fun new things! This musical play with a great big heart brings the whole audience into the family with singing, fingerplay, and call-and-response as we all give thanks for being together. Recommended for ages 3-7.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 21 – January 1
Tickets: $36-124

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 actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 23 – January 5
Tickets: $15-35

Leap through the wardrobe and into a winter wonderland in this dance-based adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s treasured novel from the Chronicles of Narnia. A remount of Imagination Stage’s Helen Hayes award-winning 2012 production, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the story of four siblings who journey from war-torn England to a magical land frozen in eternal winter, where the powerful lion Aslan leads them on a journey to discover their destiny. Music, modern dance, and breathtaking puppetry tell a story of love, sacrifice, and redemption. Recommended for ages 5+.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 23 & 30
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

Start your holiday season with NVB’s traditional and family-friendly production of The Nutcracker. Featuring guest artists and the international award-winning dancers of NVB/ARB, the performance includes exquisite costuming and Russian-produced sets.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $12

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years! 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. Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $6

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.

The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 23-24
Tickets: $30-55, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

Join THEARC for DC’s perennial favorite and some holiday magic! The Washington Ballet modifies this critically acclaimed production a bit at the Anacostia theatre, making it more enticing for young theatre-goers. The set is scaled-down, and performances are shorter. This celebrated production is 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 again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with loved ones.

Atlanta Ballet: The Nutcracker
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 27 – December 1
Tickets: $49-249 (look for discounts)

Ballet and Nutcracker fans are in for a treat Thanksgiving week with the Kennedy Center debut of Atlanta Ballet and its extraordinary new production, which premiered last December. Washington audiences will be the first to see it outside of Atlanta—a truly spectacular, visually inventive staging set against a fantastical starry night, dominated by oversized storybooks, clocks, and constellations.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discounts)

It’s the 10th Anniversary of Olney’s favorite Christmas tradition. Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended – in his own words – and rediscover this timeless classic presented in a masterful solo performance. Adapted from Dickens’ original novella and reading tour, Morella’s solo

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 30 – December 29
Tickets: $30-130 (look for discounts)

DC’s perennial favorite! 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. FYI, Family Day is Sunday, December 1. (Note: Even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version.)

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 2-20
Tickets: $6+


Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 19th 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.

Joy to the World–A Christmas Celebration
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 2
Tickets: $20-68

Noted conductor Theodore Thorpe III will return for the third time to conduct this concert featuring a choir of over 100 voices accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, with interpretations enriched by liturgical dance and drama. Guest artists include 10-time Grammy Award® winners Take 6, a world-class a cappella sextet specializing in jazz-styled sacred music classics.

The Snow Queen
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: December 3-29
Tickets: $15-35

Just in time for the holidays, Synetic presents a whimsical, family-friendly adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved fairy tale, The Snow Queen. Join Gerda, a little girl with gumption, a magic mirror, and a quest to save her best friend, as she sets out on a life-changing journey that takes her over mountains and across distant lands to the Snow Kingdom. Once there, she harnesses her inner-strength and wit to defeat the coldest threat of all.

The Illusionists — Magic of the Holidays
Where: National Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: December 3-8
Tickets: $54-114

Ring in the holidays with the mind-blowing spectacular THE ILLUSIONISTS – MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS, showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible illusionists on earth. THE ILLUSIONISTS has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever seen on stage. This nonstop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

The Second City’s Love, Factually
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 3-29
Tickets: $49-75

Love, Factually: Back again, with even more laughs, more heart, and more Love…Actually. Whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it, you’ll definitely love this romantic romp that parodies the film along with many other classic holiday rom-com moments. Back by popular demand following a sold-out run in 2018, this year’s Love, Factually is packed with even more parody of the classic holiday film Love, Actually, more audience participation, more improvisation, and more hilarious moments the entire family will love…actually! Recommended for teens and up.

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: The Lab at Convergence | Alexandria, VA
When: December 5-21
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this holiday show for children ages 2-5 and their families… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals.​ (Note: This will also be performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 27-31.)

CSI: Christmas Scene investigators
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 6-15
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for discounts)

In this by kids for kids production by Encore Stage & Studio, Santa Claus is missing! During the last rehearsal for the annual Christmas Show, the action comes to a screeching halt when the cast discovers that the Santa Claus statue has been stolen! Mrs. Dickens calls in the Clue Club — a group of ambitious and eccentric students who take mystery and detection into the realm of science. Full of more surprises than a fruitcake, the Clue Club finds they have successfully fulfilled their duty as “Christmas Scene Investigators” when they discover the true meaning of Christmas. Recommended for ages 4+.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 6-23
Tickets: $30/adult, $20/child, $80/family 4-pack

In what has become a holiday tradition at the cauldron, we couldn’t resist one more visit from everyone’s favorite precocious little Parisian. “In an old house in Paris, covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” And with that familiar phrase, author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans sets in motion the adventures of the brave and resourceful Madeline! In this musical adaptation, Madeline’s schoolmates and tutor are all sick in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to go home for Christmas. Madeline comes to the rescue with the help of a magical rug merchant and takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 7, 4pm (gates open 2:30pm)
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.”

Christmas Revels: Celestial Fools
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 7-15
Admission: $9-60

Magic is just around the corner in a rustic village in Europe! As the Winter days grow short, three wandering performers from far-off lands weave music, dance and stories from their cultures into an enchanting and dramatic tale of the Winter Solstice. But when the sun finally sets on the longest night — and darkness seems to stretch on without end — these “Celestial Fools” lead us on a journey into the heavens to reclaim the light and restore its warmth to the world.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Folksong for the Holidays
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 8, 4pm
Tickets: $16-26

Put a little fiddle in your holiday tradition with a spectrum of American folksong! Strathmore Children’s Chorus collaborates with Grammy winners Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer on folk arrangements of holiday gems that celebrate the spirit of the season, including the spiritual “Children Go Where I Send Thee,” “Hine Ma Tov,” “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” and “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” plus Appalachian tunes and more. The chorus is accompanied by a stellar lineup of roots musicians on guitar, banjo, fiddle, and hammered dulcimer.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 7-8
Tickets: $24/adult, $19/10 & under


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!

Fiddler on the Roof
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 10-15
Tickets: $54-114

Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher brings a fresh and authentic vision to beloved theatrical masterpiece Fiddler on the Roof. A wonderful cast and lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family. Featuring the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “To Life,” Fiddler on the Roof will introduce a new generation to this uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy! To love! To life! Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 11-12
Tickets: $29-99 (look for discounts)

This holiday season give your family the gift of Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker! Step into a simpler time filled with sweet dreams and Christmas magic. With world-class artists, over 200 dazzling costumes, stunning sets, towering puppets and soaring birds, don’t miss your chance to ring in the holidays with this acclaimed Christmas extravaganza. The New York Times, “Hot Ticket!” Celebrate this cherished holiday tradition and relive the dream with Tchaikovsky’s timeless score.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 17-19
Tickets: $33-68

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines 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. Through this remixed and reimagined version of the holiday classic, The Hip Hop Nutcracker takes us on a journey that celebrates love and community.

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 12-22
Tickets: $25-45

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. Over the last eight years, this internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a contemporary holiday tradition at the Atlas, featuring friendly, furry characters, pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and even a dance party. Why celebrate the holidays sitting still when you can step with Step Afrika!

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 12-31
Tickets: $51/adult, $46/senior, $41/under 25

Returning for its ninth season! An original work by Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, AN IRISH CAROL is an homage to Dickens’ classic – told as only the Irish can. This comic and touching play, set in a modern Dublin pub, follows one evening in the life of David, a wealthy pub owner who has lost touch with his own humanity in the interest of self-protection and material success. But on this Christmas Eve – challenged by a voice from the past, provoked by those in the present, and faced with the reality of a lonely future – David’s life may change forever.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 15-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $19-82

It’s not Christmas without The Washington Chorus! Featuring brass, organ, sing-alongs, and the magnificent Candlelight Processional, A Candlelight Christmas includes your favorite songs such as The Dream Isaiah Saw, Hallelujah Chorus, and more Christmas favorites to fall in love with.

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 14-15
Tickets: $15-30, 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 the Family Series on 12/15, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

Choral Arts Society: Songs of the Season
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 15-24
Tickets: $15-72 (look for discounts)

Glad tidings we bring with a selection of our favorite holiday carols and seasonal classics performed by the Choral Arts Chorus and Youth Choir. We’ll combine traditional favorites and choral jewels of the season with masterpieces performed by soloist Kristina Lewis. Bring the entire family for a concert of festive treats that will leave you with the joy of the season in your heart!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 20-26
Tickets: $34-38/adult, $27-32/12 & under

There is something for everyone in the Maryland Youth Ballet’s fun and engaging version of The Nutcracker — a huge cannon that fires at the mice, a beautiful growing Christmas tree, whirling flakes in a snowstorm, cute little Ginger Snaps peeking out of a huge Mother Ginger skirt, a lovely Sugar Plum dancing with her handsome Cavalier, and extraordinary costumed characters from the Kingdom of Sweets.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: MGM | National Harbor, MD
When: December 20-23
Tickets: $32-99+ (look for discounts)

Cirque Dreams Holidaze lights up the 2019 holiday season with its popular and electrifying stage spectacular. Over 300 imaginative costumes, 20 world-class astonishing acts, the finest singers, original music and seasonal favorites celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s in a 2 hour breathtaking spectacle. Audiences of all ages will marvel at soaring acrobatics, gravity defying feats and extravagant theatrical production numbers.

The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 21-22
Tickets: $39-65

Experience this timeless holiday classic with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Fairfax Ballet — a holiday tradition your family will always cherish. Enjoy a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and epic battles between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. A perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

Choral Arts: A Family Christmas
Where 12/23: Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall | Alexandria, VA
Where 12/24: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 23, 1pm & December 24, 11am
Tickets: $20-45

Bring the kids for an unforgettable holiday experience as the Choral Arts Chorus fills the concert hall with holiday classics just for them! We’ll take you on a merry tour of sing-alongs and Christmas favorites that will have your family singing all the way home. Expect a visit from Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph! This one-hour concert is perfect for children ages 5 and up. Two performances and two venues to choose from!

Kwanzaa Celebration
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 27
Admission: Free

Bring the entire family for the museum’s annual Kwanzaa celebration program. Enjoy energetic and interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with Melvin Deal African Heritage Dancers & Drummers. The audience participatory program includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes, and lively characters designed for young children and adults alike. During the performance and afterwards, kids can also enjoy making Kwanzaa-inspired arts and crafts from a variety of materials. Art workshops will be led by artist/educators Brian Barber and Alma Robinson. Free fun for the entire family!


Come light the menorah on Chanukah


 
CHANUKAH
 

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD
When: December 7,
6:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free
Celebrate Chanukah AND Havdalah in your pajamas with a festive singalong Havdalah service led by Rabbi Uri Topolosky, followed by stories, de-light-ful activities, crafts and snacks. Best for ages 2-8 though all ages are welcome. Please bring good-quality art supplies to be given as holiday gifts to children in shelters. This event is free and brought to you by PJ Library in Greater Washington, Berman Hebrew Academy, Kehilat Pardes and The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.

Great Latke Cookoff!
Where: Hill Center | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 8, 2-3pm
Admission: $15/child, $35/family

Join the Hill Center for The Great Latke Cookoff! Mix, peel, cut, and fry (using kid-safe equipment and adult supervision!) to create delicious, sizzling, Chanukah Latkes. Test your cooking skills and have a blast! Space is limited, so make sure to save your spot! For safety, this event is geared for kids ages 6+. Adult admission is included in kid’s ticket.

Fiddler on the Roof
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 10-15
Tickets: $54-114

Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher brings a fresh and authentic vision to beloved theatrical masterpiece Fiddler on the Roof. A wonderful cast and lavish orchestra tell this heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family. Featuring the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “To Life,” Fiddler on the Roof will introduce a new generation to this uplifting celebration that raises its cup to joy! To love! To life! Recommended for ages 8 and up.

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School | Brightwood, DC
When: December 15, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $12/family before 12/12, $18 at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun! Join us for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. Please bring good-quality art supplies to be given as holiday gifts to children in shelters. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 2 and older.

Chalkboard Menorah Workshop
Where: Homedepot | Northeast DC
When: Sunday, 1-2pm
Admission: Free

Get into the Chanukah spirit! Join us at the Home Depot for an exciting workshop — make your very own Chalkboard Menorah! You can also play Dreidel and eat some Chanukah gelt. Free and fun for the whole family. Register in advance here.

Be the Light: Helping Others on Chanukkah
Where Blair Giant & Wheaton Giant | Silver Spring & Wheaton, MD
When: December 17 (Blair) & December 18 (Wheaton), 5:30–7:00 pm
Admission: Free

On Chanukkah, we can spread the light of the holiday with others by giving back. Bring your family and your friends to Giant Food to purchase items to donate to Manna Food Center so they can help more families in need. We will have a special singalong and Chanukkah snacks each night. This is a program of Pop-Ups to Pop In, funded by the Phyllis Margolius Family Foundation. On Tuesday, 12/17, it takes place at Blair Giant, 1280 East West Highway, Silver Spring. On Wednesday, it’s at Wheaton Giant, 2900 University Boulevard West, Wheaton. Register online here.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 22, 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 order them in advance through the website.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 22, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $10-$13

Celebrate Chanukah with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but food will be sold separately — hot latkes, Kosher hot dogs, and refreshments will be available.

Menorah Lighting
Where: Bethesda Row | Bethesda, MD
When: December 22, 5pm
Admission: Free

Join Bethesda Row to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Chanukah with Chabad of Bethesda and light up the menorah on the first night of the Festival of Lights. Enjoy the annual menorah lighting, plus live music and entertainment, food and drink, giveaways, and fun for the whole family.

Clarendon Menorah Lighting
Where: Clarendon Central Park | Clarendon, VA
When: December 25, 6pm
Admission: Free

Join a community celebration for the lighting of a giant 6-foot Menorah. Festivities will also include delicious hot potato latkes, chocolate gelt and dreidels for all, and lively Chanukah music.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 26, 6:30pm
Admission: Free

Share in the joy and spirit of Chanukah at the Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting in Old Town Alexandria. Along with a giant menorah lighting, enjoy a free light stick for every child, latkes, gelt, dreidle, a free raffle, and lively music.

Annual Hanukkah Party
Where: National Museum of American Jewish Military History | Northwest DC
When: December 26, 6:30-9pm
Admission: Free

Join the Museum’s annual Hanukkah Party with latkes, jelly doughnuts, gelt, and song! Explore the museum and eat, play games, and sing. They’ll also look at the ways Jews in the American military have continued the tradition of the Maccabees. Go early to tour the museum at 6pm before the party begins at 6:30pm. BYO menorah for a group lighting.


The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor


 
TREE LIGHTINGS
 

2019 Light Up
Where: Fairfax Corner | Fairfax, VA
When: November 15, 6-9pm
Admission: Free

Fairfax Corner is beginning the holiday season at their annual Light Up celebration. Festival goers will enjoy a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and holiday activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse & carriage rides ($3 cash donation), live entertainment, balloon art, giveaways, and more!

Holiday Tree Lighting & Block Party
Where: Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 16, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

The annual event in Downtown Silver Spring always includes the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind holiday tree on the Fountain Plaza. This year they’re lighting up Colorbound Tree: An impressive 35-foot-tall public art installation by Karl Unnasch that incorporates joyous color and twinkling lights making for a visual treat during the holidays. Other fun festivities of the evening will include live entertainment, bites and drinks, art stations, games, and more!

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 16 – January 5
Admission: Free

Ignite your holiday spirit with the lighting of the 56-foot tree and two million twinkling lights in the National Harbor Waterfront District. The first tree light show is November 16, and it will take place daily, every half hour from sundown to 9pm. On weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) there will be snowfall over the tree during the light show.

Rockville Tree Lighting
Where: Rockville Town Square | Rockville, MD
When: November 22, 6-9pm
Admission: Free

Join Rockville Town Square for a tree lighting celebration! This free, family-friendly event includes the lighting of the Christmas tree, visits with Santa, live music, strolling entertainment, a live dance performance by Dawn Crafton Dance Connection, and more!

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, & Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center | Reston, VA
When: November 29
Admission: Free

Reston Town Center launches the festive season at the 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 along Market Street also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. The Clauses will return for the Fountain Square Tree Lighting and Sing Along at 6pm. Afterwards, on Market Street, horse-drawn carriage rides and more fun continues.

Light Up The Wharf
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: November 30, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season at The Wharf as they officially light the Christmas tree and transform the waterfront into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights. Make an evening of it and have a family dinner at one of the many eateries there, too.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 30, 6pm
Admission: Free

CityCenterDC will kick off the holiday season with an exciting evening of celebrations, including a joyful music performance by The Washington Chorus and an official lighting ceremony and countdown emceed by NBC4’s Eun Yang. Enjoy our dazzling 75-foot tree, visit the two resident 25-foot reindeer, and capture the spirit of the holidays with a photo under the Palmer Alley Dream Closet display!

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill area, DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. The tree is always huge and beautifully adorned ad will be lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening will also feature performances by The String Queens, whose members have collaborated with artists such as Ledisi, Janelle Monáe, and Common, and the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir.

15th Annual Tree Lighting
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welcomes the public to enjoy its annual tree lighting! The lobby and courtyard will be filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, becoming the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Families will warm up with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies as they listen to the award-winning Georgetown Visitation Madrigals perform holiday classics. Children will enjoy decorating holiday cards, families will be entered to win prizes and Santa Claus will make a special guest appearance along with Georgie, the hotel’s Canine Ambassador. All families are welcome to take a photo with Santa after the ceremony in his very own suite. This free event benefits Horton’s Kids, and all families and guests are encouraged to bring a popular toy such as Legos, basketballs, footballs dolls, books, games or arts and crafts to help spread holiday cheer to over 500 children, ages 5 – 18.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! 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 New Mexico, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive November 29, and the lighting will likely take place December 4. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 5
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

To attend this lighting, you had to have entered a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s 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.

Shirlington Light Up The Village
Where:The Village at Shirlington, VA
When: December 5, 6pm
Admission: Free (donations for some activities)

Join the shopping center as they Light Up the Village during our annual tree lighting with Santa, hosted by Adam Tuss of NBC4, and featuring holiday musical performances by Signature Theatre and Bishop O’Connell High School, plus horse and carriage rides, merchant specials, and so much more!

5th Annual Tree Lighting
Cathedral Commons | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 6
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons hosts its 5th Annual Tree Lighting to bring the joys of the season to residents of Northwest DC and beyond. Don your favorite holiday attire, then bring the entire family and furry friends to celebrate. Other activities will include free photos with Santa (kids, dogs, and cats only!), live entertainment, complimentary s’mores and other sweet treats, kids activities and seasonal giveaways, and festive food and drink offerings from Silver and other retailers at Cathedral Commons. The Tree Lighting is free and open to the public.



The Season’s Greening train display is always full of wonder and whimsy!


 
MODEL TRAINS
 
Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden | Wheaton, MD
When: November 22 – December 31
Admission: $25/car (part of Garden of Lights)

Part of Brookside Garden’s annual Garden of Lights exhibition, the South Conservatory comes 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 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.

Season’s Greenings

Where: U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall Area, DC
When: November 28 – January 5
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 is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, the exhibit features botanic gardens from Hawaii to Maine. Plant based recreations of conservatories, fountains, and sculptures will fill the model train room, including iconic gardens scenes like Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s vibrant red Japanese torii gate, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ flamingo topiaries, Missouri Botanical Garden’s famous Climatron conservatory, and Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Rocket Garden, featuring NASA space nodes and rockets! 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. Get a glimpse of last year’s exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. 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 | Baltimore, MD
When: December 2-31
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12, free/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.

Model Trains and Thomas
Where: Historic Vienna Train Station | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free (donations accepted)

Chug on down to the Historic Vienna Train Station for their December Open House where you can see and hear HO scale model trolleys and trains, including Thomas and some of his friends on display and in operation. It’s a great family fun and activity for the young and young at heart. The Station is at 231 Dominion Road NE, Vienna, VA along the W&OD trail just past the Caboose.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: TBD
Admission: Free

Every year, DC’s grand train station hosts a wonderful Holiday Train Display, on view in the West 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.


Adorn the holidays with fun!


 
SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES
 
Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner | McLean, VA
When: Through December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

Get photos with Santa and check out the interactive Elf Academy at Santa HQ. You can try on the latest elf looks with Santa’s Magic Mirror, create your very own Elf- ID Card and scan yourself on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter. Plus, new this year, spend less time in line and more time on holiday fun with a Fast Pass. Purchase yours today!

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: $35

Give thanks and learn a bit about Thanksgiving traditions on this heartfelt treasure hunt. Have fun searching for Thanksgiving themed items found only at The Mansion. This includes a self-guided tour of the many themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 15 – December 30
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 15 – December 30
Admission: Starts $25/child & $33/adult, free/under 3 (look for discounts)

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 few times, and I recommended reading my reviews here and here before you go. I didn’t post a write-up after the last time we went a couple of years ago, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed. However, people seem to have varying opinions. This year is a “Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas” theme, and you walk through frozen holiday scenes depicting the story and slide down small ice slides — all kept at a very 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.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 16 – January 5
Admission: Starts at $22.99/ages 3+

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

Holiday Window Unveiling
Where: Macy’s Metro Center | Downtown DC
When: November 21, 5pm
Admission: Free

Guests are invited to Macy’s Metro Center to celebrate the magic of the holiday season at our annual window unveiling. Customers will experience an evening of cheer at Macy’s Holiday Market featuring festive shopping, treats, live entertainment, and a special appearance by Santa who will reveal this year’s themed windows. The evening will include musical performances by Natasha Bedingfield and other surprise guests with more fun inside for the little ones where they can enjoy arts and crafts and take a photo with Santa.

Ritz-y Celebrations
Where: Ritz Carlton | Pentagon City, VA
When: Throughout the holiday season
Admission: Varies by activity

The Ritz Carlton has a delightful holiday season planned with a variety of festive events on the calendar. Breakfast with Santa, Holiday Tea, Thanksgiving Brunch & Dinner, a Gingerbread House Workshop, Christmas Eve Brunch, and Christmas Dinner are just some of the ways you can celebrate at the luxury hotel.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 23, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The streets are being overrun with turkeys, dinosaurs, penguins, and reindeer! No, the zoo hasn’t opened their gates — it’s the Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade! With marching bands an Latin dancing groups, floats, giant characters and balloons, and over 120 units, the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade is the only Thanksgiving Parade in the metro DC area. Held in downtown Silver Spring, the exciting parade traditionally heralds the start of the holiday season. The parade steps off from Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and proceeds south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue. It also is televised live on News Channel 8 and re-run on Thanksgiving Day.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Sheraton Hotel | Pentagon City, VA
When: November 23-24
Admission: $15/child, $10/adult

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, holiday crafts, breakfast and photos with Santa, Holiday tea, plus a cocktail reception and dancing.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: Weekends during the holiday season
Admission: Starts at $55

Take a one-of-a-kind train ride through Winter Land aboard the Western Maryland. During this 3-hour expedition, you will meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves as you join in on reindeer games and more. Each child will have one-on-one time with the jolly guy and will enjoy some Christmas Treats, too! Dining guests will enjoy a traditional turkey dinner aboard one of the vintage dining cars, and a snack bar is available to all passengers.

Festival of Trees
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds | Timonium, MD
When: November 29 – December 1
Admission: $14/adult, $6/child, free/4 & 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!

Winter on the Farm
Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
When: Dates TBA
Admission: TBA

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. Christmas trees directly from Sweet Providence Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains will be available for purchase, too. (Note: No admission fee to purchase trees or greens!) Read more about the winter fun at Ticonderoga in this post about one of our experiences there.

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: November 28 – 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. There are often musical performances throughout the season, too. 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.

Holidays at the Willard
Where: Willard InterContinental | Downtown DC
When: Throughout the season
Admission: Varies by activity (some free)

There’s something about the holiday season at the Willard InterContinental. The elegant garland-wrapped columns outside lure visitors to take in the stately lobby décor, snap a photo by the tree dripping in glittering ornaments and wind through the lobby to find this year’s “how did they do that?” gingerbread display. Year after year the music, aromas, events and traditions offered at The Willard suspend the stress of the season to allow for enjoyment of the simple pleasures that only the holidays can bring, all within the formal yet welcoming backdrop of the beloved property. Thanksgiving brunch, The Nutcracker Tea Party, cookie making, or just a look at the lobby decor are all ways to enjoy the holiday season at the luxury hotel.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 29 – December 31, 9am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season.
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. There are also Candlelight Tours on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

Snowland Celebration
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 30 – January 5
Admission: Rates vary

Celebrate Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge! The resort transforms your stay into a winter wonderland with nightly snow showers in the Grand Lobby. And with many more festive, free events taking place each day, there’s plenty of fun for the whole pack! Bring joy to your family this holiday season with uninterrupted time together under the enchanting spell of Snowland’s twinkling lights, holiday trees, and indoor snow showers that melt into perfect 84-degree basking weather in our water park. Read about a KFDC stay at Great Wolf Lodge (though not during the holidays).

Holly Trolley Holidays
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: November 30 – January 26
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

There are a few happenings at the Trolley Museum this winter. At the Winter Wonder Garden, see toy trains and street cars in an indoor winter village. Then on weekend from December 7-22, guests can ride with Santa on the street cars as well. And Winter in Washington, a special exhibit celebrating the season with street cars in the Nation’s Capital, will run through January 26.

Christmas Wheels Tour
Where: Bike and Roll DC | National Mall, DC
When: December 5-22
Admission: $39/adult, $34/ages 12 & under

See Washington, DC, at its most magical on a 2.5-hour Christmas tour by bike! Under the watchful eye of a local guide, you’ll experience quintessential Christmas in Washington. Tour highlights include the Botanical Gardens Holiday Showcase; a hot chocolate stop; the exquisite decorations at the Willard Hotel and of course the Capitol and National Christmas Trees! Snap the perfect family photo as tour guides share yuletide stories about what it’s like to spend Christmas at the White House. Don’t miss the chance to shift gears and awaken holiday cheers with Bike and Roll! ​

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 5, 11am – 3pm
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.

WinterFest
Where: Wunder Garten | NoMa, DC
When: December 6-22
Admission: Free (but pay for food/drinks/activities)

The temperature-controlled Bier Garten will be transformed into a Hoppy, Holiday Wonderland from top to bottom. Heavy décor will fill all 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space to build a holiday junkie’s dreamland. WinterFest 2019 will also feature fun for the entire family (furry friends included) with special guests and events, including appearances from Santa himself and photo ops on Saturdays from 2-8pm.

The Nutcracker Ballet Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays with SAAM and the Washington Ballet! Join acclaimed Artistic Director Julie Kent as she shares behind-the-scenes stories about how the ballet company puts on their annual performance of The Nutcracker, then enjoy watching dancers perform highlights from this charming Christmas classic. Blending the magical score of Tchaikovsky with scenery that is unmistakably Washington, DC, the Washington Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker has become a must-see tradition. Make a winter-themed craft or go on a scavenger hunt, and indulge in a hot chocolate bar and other tasty treats for purchase from the Courtyard Café.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Bethesda Row & Veteran’s Park | Bethesda, MD
When: December 7, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. Blocks of ice will be transformed into wintery works of art before your eyes during the live ice sculpting presentation followed by choral performances from local school groups. Academy of the Holy Cross, Bach to Rock, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Georgetown Prep, Oneness-Family School, Washington Episcopal School and Westbrook Elementary School will delight the crowd with holiday music. Additionally, Santa Claus will make a visit to the park and holiday treats and crafts will be provided to children.

Holiday Kick Off
Where: Ballston Quarter | Ballston, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Join Ballston Quarter for an all day holiday event to kick off the season! Explore all four levels of Ballston Quarter for a holiday surprise around every corner. Leading the day will be a special pajama party screening of The Polar Express, and the fun will continue all day with train rides, crafts for all ages, holiday treats, photo ops, music and a special appearance from Santa. There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy!

Open Studio: Wrap It Up: Holiday Gift Giving
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: December 7,8, 13, & 14, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

While you make a furoshiki wrapping cloth, learn how this Japanese tradition can help save money and the environment. Also, enjoy a scavenger hunt to explore our new exhibition Hokusai: Mad about Painting. In the studio, make your own holiday decorations using cloth and woodblock materials. All ages are welcome with adult companions.

Santa’s Suite
Where: The Fairmont | Georgetown, DC
When: Select weekends in December
Admission: Free (Donation to Horton’s Kids suggested)

Sleigh bells will be ringing at The Fairmont when Santa checks into his DC residence bringing comfort and joy to all who believe in the magic of the holiday season. All naughty and nice children are invited to stop by Santa’s suite, with their parents to enjoy yummy treats and a holiday keepsake to commemorate the visit. Those writing a letter to Santa, while in his suite, will receive one back.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season as you watch beautifully decorated boats pass by The Wharf. Get into the spirit as you decorate ornaments or warm up by the Camp Wharf fire pit while making a s’more. Go ice skating and sample winter drinks at the Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden. And bring the whole family to meet Santa at the lighted Christmas tree and make memories during this annual DC tradition.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-8pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fireboat at the Alexandria City Marina to take photos with children and families at the annual Torpedo Factory Art Center Holiday Festival. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 49th 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.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 7, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season. Kids can enjoy snacks, coloring, music and activities during the fair while you shop, including interactive demos brought to you by Coder Kids and hands-on cooking provided by Tiny Chefs.

Jingle Bell Rockout
Where: King Farm Village Center | Rockville, MD 20850
When: December 7, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy performances by Members of LDE Unplugged with Friends, appearances by The Grinch, Elvis, and the guest of honor: Santa Claus. A FREE, family friendly event with ton of holiday entertainment. Free photos with Santa, arts & crafts for the kids, complimentary face painting and balloon art, giveaways, hot cocoa, and more! First 150 kids to register at the King Farm Village Center table will receive a goody bag.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 7, 12-4pm
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.

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, & 23, 6-9pm
Admission: $10.95

Celebrate Christmas with the Critters at the Animal Park’s evening holiday event! Activities include photos with Santa Claus, themed arts & crafts, live animal encounters + holiday photos with them, a kids’ indoor play zone, bonfire & marshmallow roasting, pony rides, nativity scene, animal petting & feeding, and thousands of holiday lights. Christmas trees & wreaths will be available for purchase at the Farm Market, too.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Varies by activity

Rain or Shine, Middleburg is the perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling, and so much more. Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the incomparable Salamander Resort & Spa. Relax in the countryside without missing a moment of the Christmas magic.Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade. Afterwards, experience a Middleburg evening in our bistros, cafes, pubs, and restaurants joining in the Spirits of Middleburg. See the schedule of events for details.

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 7-8, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season by creating one-of-a-kind handmade cards. The National Postal Museum provides beautiful holiday stamps from all over the world, along with a variety of crafts supplies to both inspire your creativity and decorate your cards. We’ve attended this annual event several times, and its always very well organized and tons of fun. After making your cards, visit the museum’s stamp store to send the cards to your loved ones with a special Museum postmark. And plan to stay and tour the exhibits, many of them interactive and interesting for all ages. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 8, 12-5pm
Admission: $5

Everyone loves chocolate and Annapolis will be celebrating by filling West Street with local chocolatiers ready to help chocoholics get through the holiday season. Prepare your sweet tooth with an afternoon of chocolate decadence as over 20 local and regional chocolatiers vend their specialies, plus make s’mores at a bonfire in the street, and enjoy hot cocoa from the popo. The Festival will also feature family friendly entertainment, holiday shopping, and the lighting of West Street’s BGE Holiday Light Canopy.

Movie Screening: The Snowy Day
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 11-13 & 17-18
Tickets: $3-9

Join Discovery Theater for a holiday-season screening of the award-winning Amazon Original Special The Snowy Day, winner of two Daytime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program. Based on Ezra Jack Keats’ classic 1962 story. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne and with character voices by Regina King, Angela Bassett, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the film follows young Peter’s magical snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. One the way, he meets some new (and diverse) friends who come together to celebrate many traditions. A very special day indeed!

Ice Maze
Where: CityCenterDC | Downtown DC
When: December 13-14
Admission: Free

Get lost in the a-MAZE-ing, magic of the holidays with CityCenterDC’s icy tradition. This year, CityCenterDC is building the largest clear ice maze in the United States built with 110,000 pounds of ice. Washingtonians will not want to escape the towering seven foot walls of this chilly challenge.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 14, 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.

Russian Winter Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate | Upper Northwest DC
When: December 14-15
Admission: $12-18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

Celebrate Sviatki, the festive winter season, in traditional Russian style! Meet Grandfather Frost, Russia’s Santa Claus, and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden in a fun family play, based on traditional Russian stories, produced by Flying V Theatre. Create and wear your own kokoshnik (lady’s headdress) or Russian gentleman’s winter hat to dress in the style of boyars (old Russian nobles). Join in the playful antics of mummers parading in animal costumes and discover what the new year has in store from fortunetellers strolling the estate, presented by Happenstance Theater. Enjoy lively music performed by Samovar Russian Folk Music Ensemble and festive dances performed by Kalinka Dance Ensemble.

WinterFest in Occoquan
Where: Historic Occoquan, VA
When: December 14, 3-7pm
Admission: Free

WinterFest in Occoquan is fun for the whole family! Visitors can enjoy heart-warming fire pits with marshmallow roasting, listen to the talented Dunbar Saxophone Quartet at the Town Hall, sing holiday carols with the Woodbridge Community Choir, sample free hot chocolate, and delight in a special visit from Santa Claus! Visitors are also invited to browse the town’s unique shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and cafes to experience all that Occoquan has to offer. Many businesses will be open late for visitors to complete their holiday shopping!

Santa Brunch
Where: All Purpose Pizza | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 15, 10am
Admission: Cost of your meal

Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for brunch and photos in our Holiday Winter Garden. Proceeds from the photos will go to support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and their efforts in childhood cancer research. Reservations are strongly recommended for this event.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 20-21
Admission: $30-36/adult, $20-26/child

Kick off the holidays with an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music, with fireworks beginning around 8:30pm. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides. George and Martha Washington will also be on site to greet Mount Vernon’s holiday guests. Tickets: $35 adult/$25 youth with Mansion tour, $30 adult/$20 youth.

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 21, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy music from strolling Christmas carolers and a meet-and-greet with Santa and one of his elves! While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. More info to come.

Christmas Eve Breakfast Tour
Where: The Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
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! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: $25 ’til 11/30, $30 12/1-30, $35 12/31, free/12 & under
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!


Kicking up some some fun with the interactive art installations at Light Yards


 
LIGHT DISPLAYS
 

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 8 – January 5
Admission: $14.50/adult, $8/ages 3-12 (look for discount)

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 15 – January 5
Admission: $5, $8/skating, $4/rentals (look for discounts)

Glide across the ice at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia. The waterpark will be transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music and more! Grab a slice of pizza, roast a marshmallow over the fire pits, and enjoy the winter village.

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 22 – December 29
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13 (look for discounts)

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Christmas market and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review of this new-to-DC holiday attraction.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 22 – December 31 (with noted exceptions)
Admission: $25/car Mon-Thurs, $30/car Fri-Sun

The Garden of Lights celebrates its 20th season as a DC area family holiday tradition! Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 22 – January 5
Admission: Mon-Thurs $15/car, Fri-Sat $20/car (look for discount)

Every year from Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day, you can experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. After viewing the lights, bring head to the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments, and of course, photos with Santa Claus (holiday village open select nights). The festival happens annually at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia. Avoid crowds and get a discount by going Monday through Thursday — look for a special online coupon here.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: $20/car (look for discount)

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 24th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. Lights on the Bay has something for everyone in the family. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. And Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day!

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 27 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

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. On December 1, walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 29 – 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. And new this year: Enjoy dozens of large, glowing animal lanterns and stroll through thousands of reflecting lights as part of the interactive ⁠— and highly Instagrammable — art exhibit called “Entre Les Rangs.”

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 29 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $10/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, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 29 – December 31
Admission: $12-15/car Mon-Thurs, $17-20/car Fri-Sun

The 24th Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The 3.5-mile route takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm. Closed on 12/25.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 29 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & 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” depicting mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more — the elves have reimagined the possibilities and can’t wait to delight you with new sculptures and displays. Don’t forget to ask for a “Holiday I Spy” program. After your walk, warm up in the Arts Building where you will find nightly entertainment, beautiful exhibits, great shopping, and a holiday cafe!

Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights
Where: Georgia Ave/800 Block of Upshur Street | Petworth, DC
When: December 1-31
Admission: Free

The Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights is a new month-long community event this season. The businesses along Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street and the 800 Block of Upshur Street will be decked out with holiday lights. Wander the corridor with neighbors and visitors to enjoy amazing holiday events, activities, and promotions throughout the month. Whether you’re a local resident or just visiting for a few days—stop by Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights to explore, shop, and play this holiday season.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 5 – January 4
Admission: Free

Its 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 400,000 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. A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more!

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 6 – January 5
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through January 6, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community, the region’s only curated outdoor public light art experience. 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 to dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Get a glimpse of a past light show here.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays and see the beautifully decorated boats pass by. Get into the spirit as you decorate cookies and craft your own boat. Warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Take the kids ice skating, and adults can sample winter drinks at our Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: DEcember 6-23
Admission: Free

For the last few years, The Yards has presented a special light exhibition during the holiday season, with large-scale illuminations that are interactive and beautiful. This year features an illuminated adventure through Airship Orchestra, an interactive light installation on the waterfront curated by international award-winning artists, ENESS. While ticketed, admission is free, and children are welcome to attend. When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).


The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter


 
HOLIDAY MARKETS
 

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 22 – 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.

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 22-24
Admission: $5-50

Holiday Shops is more than a unique shopping experience; it is also one of the Junior League of Washington’s major fundraisers. Proceeds from the event support the League’s ongoing efforts to improve the Washington, DC, community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers and by awarding annual grants to local nonprofits. Each year, they welcome thousands of shoppers throughout the weekend. Merchants will help you find those special gifts for your family and friends, and with each purchase, you will know you are making a positive impact on the community.

Fall Bazaar
Where: Washington Waldorf School | Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

For 50 years, the Washington Waldorf School has been offering one of the highest quality bazaars in the DC area. The Bazaar has unique crafts and activities for children of all ages, including woodcraft, felt craft, candle making, plus and many fun games. They welcome many local artisans and offer an array of beautiful handcrafted items made by parents. There will also be live entertainment, coffee, delicious baked goods to munch on while you shop, and a delicious organic lunch for you to sit and enjoy. Entrance is free, but activities require tickets to be purchased. All are welcome!

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 28 – December 24,
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult on weekends (look for discount)

West Shore Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will be transformed into a Christmas Village, an authentic German holiday market, that is full of fun for all ages. There’s kids entertainment all day long, photo ops with Santa, gingerbread house making, a bratwurst eating contest, and more. Plus, everyday there are more than 50 vendor booths to browse for gifts, food, entertainment, and lots of holiday fun to celebrate the season. (Note that it is closed on select dates — see the website.)

Eastern Market
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
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).

Bazaart Holiday Art Market
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 29-30
Admission: Free

The Museum’s annual holiday art market returns! Shop hundreds of original creations by regional artists and craftspeople, including paintings, sculpture, paper crafts, metalwork, jewelry, textiles, mixed media, apparel, and other work that simply defies categorization! Shop local on #SmallBusinessSaturday and support these original makers! Entry is free, and the rest of the museum, the Sideshow gift shop, and the 3rd floor restaurant at AVAM, Encantada will be open (regular admission for those).

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 6-8
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $4/ages 2-12

Do some shopping at Christkindlmarkt, an annual holiday artisan market and festive house tour, 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.

Holiday Glow
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 7, 2-8pm
Admission Free

The Torpedo Factory Artists invite shoppers into their studios to find original gifts of art and enjoy festive activities, too. Enjoy the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights from the riverfront, then warm up inside the Art Center for more programming and after-hours art.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 7, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season. Kids can enjoy snacks, coloring, music and activities during the fair while you shop, including interactive demos brought to you by Coder Kids and hands-on cooking provided by Tiny Chefs.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 6-8
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free/11 & 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.

Upshur Street Craft Fair
Where: 800 Block of Upshur | Petworth, DC
When: December 14, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

The 14th Annual Upshur Street Craft Fair — led by Julie Wineinger, local DC resident and owner of Willow & Lulabelle’s — will feature 50+ local crafters, artists, and food vendors. Attendees can pop by Willow on Upshur Street to check out this year’s amazing Gingerbread House Contest entries in the Gingerbread Village and get their gifts wrapped by the Powell Padres. And new this year, attendees can relax with friends & family in the Pop-Up Holiday Lounge while enjoying a live DJ, boozy (and non-alcoholic) winter beverages, and delicious wintery treats.

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


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