Tag Archives: DC Holiday Markets

Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park: What to Expect & Tips for Visiting


If you’re excited about holiday activities, DC is a pretty great place to be this time of year. There are so many fun, festive, and unique things to do around the area to celebrate the season — but not always enough time, energy, and — especially notable at this time of year — money to do everything. Costs add up quickly, especially on top of gifts and other holiday spending.

So, many of us want to be selective about the holiday activities we choose to do. Which is why I’ve been getting lots of inquiries about Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park. DC’s new big holiday attraction apparently is the world’s largest Christmas light maze and market — and somewhat of a splurge for a family of four to visit. A lot of people have been very intrigued, myself included, so of course our family had to go experience it.

I should start by mentioning that 1) I am a sucker for holiday light displays. I always find them kind of magical, whether walking through illuminated grounds or driving along roads lined by twinkling installations. 2) My family received complimentary admission to Enchant, which does alter the perspective since I could just enjoy without wondering if we wasted our money. (That said, I did keep in mind that I would be reviewing it for paying visitors.)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Enchant and tried to go in with an open mind, despite being underwhelmed by other popular holiday spectacles in past years. Things started off well as we walked through the Center Field gate to see a tall, white lit-up tree with smaller light formations nearby. The vibe was warm and festive with lots of people walking by looking relaxed and smiling. And there were dogs — it was a Paws & Claus night, so many people brought their pups along. But it was the scene just beyond it all that took my breath away (remember, I am an absolute cornball about this kind of thing).

The field has been transformed into a beautiful illuminated wonderland, a towering bright white tree the centerpiece of it all with blue, gold, and purple light installations and walls of sparkling holly surrounding it. An icy trail meanders through a section, skaters gliding along. And more people can be seen walking through the glowing landscape below.

We were eager to be part of it all, so after a quick peek at some of the vendor stands, we made our way down to the maze entrance, where we were handed a postcard with scratch off circles. Enchant includes a little adventure to find all of the reindeer within the maze, and you scratch off a circle each time you encounter one. Sasha was very into this, and Owen helped her out (though he was a bit more into Snapping pics — it’s a very social-media-share-worthy event).

Once inside, we wandered around, taking in the sparkling scenes. Some installations are just really pretty to view, others are interactive offering some fun and play as well as great photo ops. And while there are plenty of other people there, it never felt too crowded or chaotic, a benefit of ticketed entry. We spent well over an hour walking around it all — looking for reindeer, getting intentionally lost, and making sure we’d been down every path (that was me, anyway… I didn’t want to miss any neat light displays).

From there, we headed to the rink, though the kids passed on ice skating since they’d done a lot it over Thanksgiving break. But it looked like a lot of fun, the ice trail circling an illuminated “forest” under arches of glittering holly. Skating is included with admission, but rentals are $5/kids & $10/adults, a fee you can avoid if you BYO skates.

A couple of drink stands are on the field area, including the Ice Bar & Lounge, plus roaming hot chocolate vendors for warming up. There are even more food and drink options on the concourse upstairs, Ben’s Chili Bowl and local food vendors among them, so you can grab a bite there (or head to one of several nearby restaurants afterwards like we did).

Also on the concourse is a stage with live entertainment, plus the Christmas Market with over 40 local artisans selling everything from jewelry to art to edible treats to wearable accessories. You can do some holiday shopping, to boot!

Okay, the big question: Is Enchant worth it? My opinion: Yes! It is a splurge, but if you want to do something special with the family, this is a good one. The light displays are quite dazzling, there are multiple activities to enjoy, you can spend a good amount of time there, and it really captures the spirit of the holidays. And maybe not as important, but something about being at Nationals Park during the off-season after the big World Series win adds some extra allure to the experience. 🙂

Enchant Christmas is running at Nationals Park every evening, Christmas included, through December 29. Admission varies by date, time, and age, so check the website for details and see tips below for getting the best deal.

KFDC Tips to help plan for your Enchant experience:

* There is a Family 4-Pack ticket that offers 20% off admission, and you can add on guests as needed.

* Rates vary by date and time, so check out a few different ones if you have flexibility.

* Goldstar is offering ticket discounts, so be sure to check those, too.

* If you have ice skates, bring them to avoid a rental fee (and skate free!).

* Dress warmly — Enchant is all outdoors.

* And since it is all outdoors, it’s worth checking the forecast for the date you want to go.

* Tickets have been selling out, especially on weekends, so don’t wait until the last minute to get them.

* Strollers are not allowed in the maze, only up on the concourse. However, there is a stroller valet.

* There are Paws & Claus nights when dogs are welcome, so if you want to bring your pup or just like seeing them (some in festive wear), check the calendar for those dates.

* Garage parking is available for an extra charge (up to $22), but you can look for street parking in the area — I recommend trying on the other side of M Street and walking a couple of blocks.

* How could I forget? Santa is also there and available for photo ops. Pay for a professional photo, or snap your own for free.


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To Market, To Market this Holiday Season

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter is open daily through December 23

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter is open daily through December 23



How about adding some fun to your holiday shopping? What’s often a stressful activity for many this time of year, can actually be good time for you and the kids — if you know where to go. Here are some local markets that offer more than the standard browse-and-buy, where live entertainment, yummy treats, fun activities, and the chance to shop outdoors in a festive atmosphere will keep your inner-Scrooge at bay as you pick out perfect gifts for all. Happy Shopping!

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW
When: Daily through 12/23, 12-8pm

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 seems feel like a small town. A bonus is the free live entertainment along with treats and coffee drinks available for purchase. And after you’ve done your shopping and enjoyed a snack and music, you can pop into the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market.

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

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. Nearly 200 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to colorful Turkish rugs, to home dĂ©cor 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).

Harbor Holiday Market
Where: National Harbor
When: Saturday & Sunday through January 5

National Harbor invites you to deck the halls with ideas from their Holiday Market, located on American Way, featuring handmade holiday ornaments and decorations, tasty holiday treats such as cookies and roasted chestnuts, and much more. Regional vendors will be offering holiday goods and specialty foods every weekend throughout the holiday season. Kids will love carousel rides with Santa on Saturdays from 12-2pm ($3/ride), and live entertainment by local school choirs will get everyone in a festive mood on Saturdays at 3pm & 6pm (also Fridays at 6pm).

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center
When: December 13-15

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 $10/adults at the door $8 in advance online (free for children under 12), and are good all three days of the Festival.

Christkindl
Where: Canal Park
When: Through December 22

Head to the small market at the Navy Yard to enjoy the sights, sounds and flavors of the Holiday Season. Enjoy a hot cup of cocoa, go ice skating (when the rink opens – it’s currently still closed for maintenance), buy holiday dĂ©cor, or pick out a fresh Douglas or Fraser Firs and have it delivered directly to your house!

Gifts That Give Hope
Where: Calvary United Methodist Church
When: December 14, 10am – 2pm

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? Gifts That Give Hope Arlington is holding their 3rd annual Gift Fair, capturing the holiday spirit in a way that redefines the notion of meaningful, alternative gift giving. This year’s fair will feature 15 local and global nonprofit organizations, many of them based in Arlington. Shoppers will have the opportunity to peruse the tables hosted by each organization and purchase alternative gifts that will directly benefit the mission of those organizations. There will also be refreshments, face painting, and kids activities.

Holiday Gift Market
Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts
When: December 18-20

So, this market may not be ideal for a family affair, but it sounds like a nice one for moms (or someone looking for a present for mom) to check out. Five fabulous women will be featured at the Holiday Market: Diane Ginsburg, Keithley Pierce, Meena Tharmaratnam, Cindy Hornaman, and Melanie Ferrara. Selling their jewelry, textiles, and home and personal accessories, all of them will attend the trunk show for a meet-and-greet event with shoppers held on Wednesday, December 18, through Friday, December 20, from 10am – 5pm with extended hours on Wednesday until 7pm. Museum members will receive double discounts (20%).

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