Tag Archives: Family Holiday Events in Northern Virginia

The 2020 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

The 2020 DC holiday season is a little bit off this year 😉

 

Like most things in 2020, the holiday season in DC will look a lot different this year.  Many beloved annual events and shows that so many of us look forward to have been cancelled,  favorite family traditions interrupted. But there still are enough happening to make the season bright (literally, at some places).  Holiday light displays, that you drive or walk through outdoors, are as dazzling as they are great for social distancing.  In-person celebrations have extra safety precautions in place. Holiday shows are going virtual, many of them for free.  Christmas trees and menorahs are lit through the season, so you can visit at your leisure.  Seasonal markets are prepped for safety or bringing the shopping online. ‘Tis not the season we’re used to, but it still can be a wonderful time of the year.  This annual KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC will help you plan for it all.

Light Displays

Trees & Lightings

Chanukah

Special Events & Activities

Holiday Shows

Holiday Markets

 

Drive or walk through the festive Symphony of Lights

LIGHT DISPLAYS

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 6 – January 10
Admission: $20-30/vehicle (look for discount)

Experience 2.5 miles of colorful holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. It started early this year and online ticketing were added to provide minimal contact. Take advantage of a discount for purchasing online — use promo code WEB20 for $5 off the Monday-Thursday rate.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 3
Admission: $15/adult, $9/ages 2-12 (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.

Winter Wine-derland
Where: Bluemont Vineyard | Bluemont, VA
When: November 19 – January 3
Admission: $12-30

Enjoy a family friendly outing at the whimsical Winter Wine-derland, located at Bluemont Vineyard’s The Stable event venue, nestled among the vines half way up the mountain. At the exclusive holiday pop-up, families can decorate gingerbread while sipping hot cocoa, roast marshmallows fireside and craft inimitable cork ornaments. Adults can enjoy indulging in a cup of mulled wine or exploring a Wine and Cookie pairing of Christmas cookies, crafted by local Knead It Bakery, paired with their favorite Bluemont Vineyard wines. Check out the website for even more ways for adults to celebrate there!

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 20 – January 3
Admission: See details below(look for discount)

Glide across the ice at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia. The waterpark is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music and more. Visit Slice n’ Ice for hot chocolate, coffee and cold beverages, pizza, hot dogs, and delicious donut holes. Admission to the village is $7.95, with 1-hour skating and skate rental is $19.43, ice skating & rental only is $12.19. Ice skating tickets are available online only.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 20 – January 2
Admission: $20/car (look for discount)

Driving through Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park has become a tradition for many area families for the past decade. The scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay features more than 60 spectacular animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. The holiday light show is sponsored by the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 25 – 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 November 29, the Family Festival welcomes visitors to walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family ($12/guest).

ZooLights Express
Where: Around DC
When: See dates below
Admission: Free

ZooLights Express, powered by Pepco, is bringing the colorful glow of DC’s beloved National Zoo holiday tradition into the community. The 24-foot ZooLights Express truck will hit the road, festively decorated with light displays and featuring “Panda Claws,” and visit one District ward each Friday and Saturday night from 6-8pm:
Friday, 11/27 | Ward 1
Saturday, 11/28 | Ward 2
Friday, 12/4 | Ward 3
Saturday, 12/5 | Ward 4
Friday, 12/11| Ward 5
Saturday, 12/12 | Ward 6
Friday, 12/18 | Ward 7
Saturday, 12/19 | Ward 8

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 27 – January 1,
Admission: $8-10/vehicle

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. Purchase tickets in advance online and pay only $8.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: $12-15/car Mon-Thurs, $17-20/car Fri-Sun

The 25th Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The route takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night.  Note that it’s closed on Christmas.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 27 – January 1 (closed 12/1, 7, 8, 24, 25)
Admission: $10-12/person, free/3 & under

This annual holiday light show is getting a makeover in light of COVID-19 guidelines with everything outside to keep everyone safe, so bundle up a magical holiday experience. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into an outdoor twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. Discover wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more.  New this year: An outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink.

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: December 1-31
Admission: Free

During December, Main Streets throughout the District are joining together to bring DC residents a spectacular holiday experience: DC Holiday Lights! Residents are invited to take a stroll down each of the participating corridors to experience a dazzling array of lights and decor, enjoy holiday promotions, and shop local. Visit the website to see where corridors are located and what to expect at each of them. You can also take a guided tour of the lights with Free Tours By Foot!

 


Stop and see the Capitol tree

TREES & LIGHTINGS

Nightly Holiday Tree Light Show
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 14 – January 3
Admission: Free

Ignite your holiday spirit with the nightly lighting of the 56-foot tree and two million twinkling lights in the National Harbor Waterfront District. The tree light show takes place every evening, every half hour from sundown to 9pm. On weekends — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — there will be snowfall over the tree during the light show. This year, in order to maintain social distancing, guests will be asked to form a line and follow the directions.

Lighting of the Wharf Tree
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Friday, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season at The Wharf as they officially light their Christmas tree and transform the waterfront into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights. Bring the family for photos by to the 45-foot pine tree on District Pier, then enjoy dinner together at one of the many restaurants. End your evening by roasting s’mores around the firepit at Camp Wharf!

National Christmas Tree & Holiday Trees
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 5-31
Admission: Free, but you must have won tickets via lottery

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree on December 5 will not include a live audience this year, but the illumination and performances can be viewed virtually.  After that, the tree will be lit nightly, and visitors are welcome to see it on the Ellipse along with trees representing each state and territory and the District though December.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 2, 5pm
Admission: Free

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Technically, the lighting  will be broadcast live on C-SPAN, but you could view festivities from right across the street by the Reflecting Pool (be sure to social distance). I recommend going on another evening, though, when you can view the tree from a closer vantage point.  After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.


The National Menorah Lighting on the Ellipse

CHANUKAH

Chanukah in a Box
Where: Online/Zoom
When: December 6 (order by 12/3)
Admission: $15/box

Join Chabad for virtual Chanukah fun for the whole family! You will receive a box of supplies before the online carnival, and then log in to create Chanukah masterpieces together on Zoom! (Or if you prefer, you can do it all on your own — instructions included in the box.) Receive an action-packed box with Chanukah activities, including a menorah kit, Chamukah cookie cutters, a dreidel craft, a foil card, and popcorn for snacking. you need to order by 12/3 to join the Zoom on 12/6!

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 10, 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. Usually, along with the lighting, there is live entertainment, menorah kits and dreidels to take home, and latkes and donuts. This year, details about those festivities are TBD.  Tickets are free, but you need to order them in advance through the website starting November 16.

Lighting of the Menorah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 10-18, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

The Wharf is continuing their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights! Plan to dine out while you’re there and enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront.

Where: Zoom with Hurray for Books 
When: December 6, 1pm
Admission: Free
Join author Laura Gehl for an interactive Hanukkah storytime via Zoom featuring her new book HAPPY LLAMAKKAH! Laura will read the story, followed by Hanukkah and llama trivia and other interactive fun for ages 0-8.  Register here to receive the Zoom link.

The Drive-thru Chanukah Experience
Where: 6011 Executive Blvd | Rockville, MD
When: December 12-13
Admission: $25/vehicle + $2/person

The Chanukah Story comes to life with an epic audio-visual presentation in a Covid-safe manner, thank to Chabad Centers of Montgomery County. From the safety of their cars, families will literally drive-thru the Chanukah story as multiple illustrations, props, and actors bring the 2500-year-old Chanukah story to life. Guided by a professionally created soundtrack, they will experience the Chanukah events as it would be happening in real-time. Participants will meet, at a distance, the Chanukah characters and pick up souvenirs and treats as they move through the Chanukah story.The Chanukah Drive-thru Experience will bring the joy and excitement of Chanukah at a time when it is most needed.

 


Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE evokes a winter vibe

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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.

Crystalline
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 3
Admission: $12-17/child, $19-24/adult

ARTECHOUSE, known for its visually stunning digital art, has transformed the gallery into a blue-hued haven intended to evoke calm and peace during a turbulent time. Like all of the exhibitions there, just about all of it is interactive, as the images change with viewers’ motions, encouraging play.  Immersing into the depths of the color, even just for a little while, is a  dazzling and delightful escape from the bizarre Covid world outside.

The Virtual Enchanted Forest
Where: Online
When: November 21
Admission: Varies by activity

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns virtually this year. Activities include storytime with Santa, an online auction, call with Santa, cooking classes, arts and crafts, yoga, and more fun for the family.

Season’s Greetings
Where: Hillwood Estate | Northwest DC
When: November 24 – January 10
Admission: Suggested donation $18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

Hillwood remains a safe way to enjoy the holiday splendor with precautionary measures in place. Enjoy time outside as the gardens reveal another aspect of their ever-changing beauty during the holiday season. The gardens, as revealed in the publication A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood, are the inspiration for glamorous Christmas trees and festive décor across the estate. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

The Grinch’s Grotto
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: $50

If taking traditional cheerful holiday photos with the family is exactly what you don’t feel like doing, check out The Grinch’s Grotto, an imaginative take on holiday photo shoots that will give guests a fun way to show off a bit of their grumpiness during what is still the most wonderful time of the year.

Joy Around the World: Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Watson Adventures Online
When: November 27, 6pm & November 28, 2pm
Admission: $19

Wishing you could find a way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family? Join Watson Adventures on a virtual sleigh ride across the internet! This virtual scavenger hunt takes you to holiday markets and festivals, amazing museums and many scenic places around the world, in search of answers to fun, holiday-related questions. Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Boxing Day, it’s a fun game to unite families and friends. Guaranteed to delight any Grinch! For ages 10 and up. Teams of up to six can play together or remotely. Advance booking is required.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 27 – 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. It’s open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. There are also Candlelight Tours on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

Holiday Movies at The Wharf
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Weekends
Admission: $60

Join The Wharf throughout this holiday season for a pop-up outdoor movie theatre on Transit Pier where you can enjoy all the Christmas classics from your private firepit in front of a 20′ LED screen. They’re showing all the best holiday classics, including Home Alone, The Grinch, A Christmas Story, Elf, and more at 2pm and 6pm showtimes. In advance of the event, reserve your fire pit, which seats up to four people. Drinks (both hard and soft) and snacks are available throughout the movie from Cantina Bambina. Each seating includes a special stocking stuffed full of great offers and holiday treats from Wharf restaurants, merchants, and partners.

Occoquan HolidayFest
Where: Online & Historic Occoquan, VA
When: November 30 – December 13
Admission: Free

Enjoy the upcoming festive season with virtual and socially distanced celebrations in historic Occoquan! The Town of Occoquan and the Occoquan Merchants Guild are pleased to present a three-week event including in-person and online activities, including a virtual tree lighting, family fireside night, in-person market, a gingerbread contest, and trivia night. See the website for dates and details.

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 4/5/6, 11/12/13, 18/19/20, 22/23, 6-9pm
Admission: $10.95 9$12.95 at door)

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.

Georgetown History & Holiday Lights Tour
Where: Throughout Georgetown DC
When: Starting early December
Admission: Pay what you want

Join Free Tours by Foot for a special evening Historic Georgetown tour that brings you the history through the holiday window displays of Georgetown businesses and restaurants. It’s a unique way to learn about the art and the neighborhood itself. Explore the industrial and some of the oldest residential parts of the neighborhood by the water and along the canal. Note: All sites and homes will be viewed from the street.

Christmas Eve Tours
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 24
Admission: $39

They’ve decked the halls and walls and filled The O with season’s greetings & holiday cheer to create lasting memories for all. On the Breakfast Tour, enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour through the themed rooms and search for secret doors. On the Dessert Tour, tour the mansion, then take home an assortment of tortes, cakes, and sweets — includes hot coffee, hot tea, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate (cash bar). See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

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.

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 is ON for 2020. Organizers are planning a hybrid experience that will include both online and live performances around Alexandria. More details to come soon!

 


Catch Step Afrika’s magnificent Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show online for free!

VIRTUAL HOLIDAY SHOWS

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap Online
When: December 5 & 19, 4pm (gates open 2:30pm)
Tickets: Free

Wolf Trap continues their wonderful community tradition of the Holiday Sing-A-Long, this year with a virtual twist! Traditionally, this event combined a festive instrumental performance by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band (USMB) and a sing-a-long of traditional holiday carols led by more than 500 local singers. This year’s event will be presented in a digital format and we hope that you join us from the comfort of your home. These pre-recorded performances by the USMB at The Barns at Wolf Trap, will each begin with a short prelude of festive instrumentals followed by a series of favorite holiday sing-a-longs. Two nights. Two different virtual performances. Tons of holiday cheer!

The Snow Queen
Where: Imagination Stage Online
When: December 12 – February 28
Admission: $25-29/household

In this adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous winter fairy tale, a powerful friendship is put to the test as four narrators bring to life the story of Gerda and Kai, life-long best friends whose relationship is broken by the unfeeling Snow Queen. Can Gerda save Kai before his heart is frozen solid? Imagination abounds in this magical story of courage, wit, and unshakable resilience! Recommended for ages 5+.

The Nutcracker
Where: The Washington Ballet Online
When: TBD
Tickets: TBD

Experience moments of joy and magic from The Washington Ballet’s charmingly-DC The Nutcracker – virtually! While we can’t be in the theatre to celebrate the joy of The Nutcracker and the holiday season, The Washington Ballet is working on putting together a delightful virtual Nutcracker experience with behind-the-scenes content, interviews, special performances, and more.

A Season of Reveling
Where: Washington Revels Online
When: Through December 20
Admission: Varies

This December’s Christmas Revels will not take place on a stage… but Washington Revels will celebrate nonetheless! They’ve been hard at work imagining the possibilities of a virtual Christmas Revels. Much more information is coming soon! Right now we are excited to share that we will not only present a virtual Winter Solstice Revels, but also we are also planning an ongoing “suite” of Fall programming — “A Season of Reveling.“

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Step Afrika! Online
When: December 16, 7:30pm
Admission: Free
As the world’s first holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping, the Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a feast for the eyes and ears. Fabulous and furry friends from the Arctic Kingdom – Popper the Penguin along with polar bear twins, Pinky and Polo-ensure a fun and exciting experience for the entire family! Recognizing the challenges faced by so many families due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Step Afrika! is offering this year’s holiday show free of charge. Tune in as the celebrated performers of Step Afrika! spread holiday cheer to audiences all over the world. Register in advance.

ASO Live! Holiday Classics
Where: Strathmore Online
When: December 18
Admission: $49

The holidays are a time spent with friends and family, both near and far, celebrating togetherness. Enjoy a concert that will warm your heart on a cold winter’s night with holiday favorites and classical others. This concert is sure to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night. selections by Arcangelo Corelli, Johann Strauss, Scott Joplin, and Leroy Anderson, among others. This concert is sure to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

The Nutcracker Storybook
Where: Maryland Youth Ballet Online
When: Starting December 19
Admission: $10 to rent, $20 to purchase

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland Youth Ballet is excited to announce a reimagined production of its traditional holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, with a NEW video production. The Nutcracker Storybook follows the storyline of the timeless holiday classic with “Uncle Drosselmeyer” narrating and guiding viewers through a storybook come to life. The performance will be pre-recorded with a broadcast premiere on December 19.

Coyaba Dance Theater: In Spirit of Kwanzaa
Where: Dance Place Online
When: December 29, 6:30pm
Tickets: Free

Join Coyaba Dance Theater West African Dance Company in celebrating 15 years! This high-energy virtual presentation is based on the 7 Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: Umoja, Kuchjichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, Imani. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday from December 26 – January 1. In gathering, we commemorate and recommit to our families, community economics, and Faith. This show will lift your spirits and warm your hearts.

 


Strolling the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 20 – 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. Treats and coffee drinks are available for purchase, too.   KFDC Tip: Plan to visit the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market after you’ve done your shopping.  Reserve timed-entry tickets here.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: November 27 – December 20
Admission: Free

This winter, Victura Park, the pop-up wine car on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, transforms into a festive Holiday Market! The outdoor market will feature an amazing line up of local artists, craftspersons, and other specialized vendors, including the Kennedy Center Gift Shop pop-up shop. Support small businesses by purchasing gifts, prepackaged treats, and one-of-a-kind artworks for the perfect holiday celebration! Sip on seasonal classics such as spiked cider and hot cocoa or choose from the signature menu of beer and wine, light snacks, and delicious food hot from the grill. Holiday hours will be Friday 4 – 8pm, Saturday 12– 9pm, & Sunday 12 – 8pm.

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).

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Online
When: November 23 – December 18
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.

Holiday Freedom Market
Where: Online
When: November 22 – December 5
Admission: Free

Looking for ethically and sustainably made holiday gifts this season?  Visit the Holiday Freedom Market, an online pop-up launching on Saturday and running for two weeks. They’ve has partnered with brands that employ fair trade and sustainable practices (including local brand Hon’s Honey), many of which support anti-human trafficking initiatives or employ at-risk individuals or survivors of exploitation, to bring you incredible gifts options that you can shop with a clear conscience.   COVID-19 has made things exponentially worse for those who are vulnerable or currently being trafficked. All net proceeds will go to Justice Ventures International, an organization that fights human trafficking.  Local pick-up options will be available.  Note that the website will not go-live until this Saturday, but you can catch a sneak-peek by visiting their Instagram and Facebook pages.

First Sunday Arts Festival Holiday Edition
Where: Calvert & West Streets | Annapolis, MD
When: December 6, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Shop an array of items in person from 50 artists in downtown Annapolis (or shop online from over 200 vendors). Booths will be spread out to make social distancing easier. They ask that masks are worn when inside a vendors tent and that only one household enter a tent at a time. Bring hand sanitizer for convenient hand washing.

Virtual Markets
Where: Online
When: Throughout the season
Admission: What you spend!

Most annual markets have moved online due to Covid-19, which might even make shopping easier. So many of them offer unique finds that make for perfect holiday gifts, plus they often support wonderful organizations, places, and people in the community. Here are some to browse from the comfort of your couch:
Smithsonian Holiday Market
Strathmore Shop Around
Heurich House Christkindlmarkt
Sideshow at the American Visionary Art Museum
Waldorf School Fall Bazaar

 

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

 

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Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, 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 (find discount)

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.

Chanukah Wonderland
Where: TheSHUL | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 25 9:30am – 1pm
Admission: $10/child, $35/max per family

Fill your morning with Chanukah excitement! With four different live shows plus crafts, food activities, and more, Chanukah Wonderland is a great way to celebrate for kids of all ages and their families. Food and snacks will be available for purchase and free raffles will take place every 30 minutes! Get your tickets by signing up at ChanukahFun.com. TheSHUL is located at 2110 Leroy Place NW.

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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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Shop, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season 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

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


HOLIDAY SHOWS
 
Elf the Musical
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 9 – January 6
Tickets: Start at $59 (look for a discount)

Based on the hit Will Ferrell movie, Elf the Musical has quickly entered the pantheon of holiday classics, and for good reason. This warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby who grows up believing himself to be an elf, despite his large size and sub-par toy-making. Upon learning the truth from Santa, Buddy journeys to New York to find his father and help the jaded city folk rediscover the wonder and joy of the Christmas season.

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 15-20
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 15 – December 30
Tickets: $32-101

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

Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 16 – January 6
Tickets: $19.50 (look for a discount)

What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles-and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Oohlala! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous? Recommended for all ages.

Jingle ARRGH the Way!
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: November 16-18 & November 30 – December 9
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for a discount)

Encore Stage & Studio’s presents this by kids for kids. A mysterious message left in the crow’s nest of their ship brings Captain Braid Beard and his pirate mates back to North Beach to seek out young Jeremy Jacob to help solve a riddle and find the Christmas treasure. Favorite characters, a rollicking story, great songs, and a trip to the North Pole to find “you know who” – makes Jingle ARRGH the Way! a wonderful holiday show for the whole family. Based on a story by Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate. We recommend this musical for ages 4 and older. Recommended for ages 4+.

Children’s Series: Nutcracker
Where: Classic Ballet Theatre Studios | Herndon, VA
When: November 17-18
Tickets: $15

The Children’s Series is designed to be an introduction to the enjoyment of the art of ballet to the young and the young-at-heart alike. Every programs that we bring into the series are condensed ballet classics with all of their essence and costumes and enchantment of the originals. Make the Children’s Series a part of your tradition that you want to share with your loved ones.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 23 – December 30
Tickets: $40-50 (look for a discount)

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 version will transport you back to Victorian England and into the heart of this classic morality tale.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 23-24
Tickets: $37/adult, $25/child

Virginia National Ballet presents The Nutcracker — the first of the season! With beautiful sets, costumes, and special effects, the traditional choreography shines, as a stellar cast of professional award-winning, international dancers and the students of the Virginia National Ballet School enchant audiences. At family-friendly prices, this is an event no to be missed!

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 23 – December 30
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 on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 24 – December 30
Tickets: $12 (look for a discount)

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.

The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 24-25
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.

The Nutcracker
Where: Ernst Community Cultural Center | Annandale, VA
When: November 24-25
Tickets: $35

The Classical Ballet Theatre performs this holiday favorite with a beautiful production that includes all the costumes, scenery, and magic to bring Clara’s dream to life. Join Clara on her magical journey with her Nutcracker Prince to the Kingdom of Sweets, where she is greeted by the majestic Snow Queen, the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy, and other enchanted dancing characters in the Kingdom. Join them for this wonderful holiday tradition!

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 29 – December 28
Tickets: $30-130 (look for a discount)

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. (And note that even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version.)

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 1, 4pm
Tickets: Free

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

MCYO of Strathmore: Symphonic Devotions
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 1, 2pm & 7pm
Tickets: $15-$25

The talented youth of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra perform beautiful music to bring joy to the holiday season. This concert features MCYO’s full orchestras performing works by Verdi, Schubert, Vivaldi, plus Cucchiara’s suite from Vanara (US premiere), Farr’s “Te Papa” for singers, Maori Chant, and orchestra (US premiere), and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (Romantic).

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 3-21
Tickets: $3-8


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.

The Second City’s Love, Factually
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 4-31
Tickets: $49-75

Cue the cue cards and carols! From the twisted minds at The Second City comes this fast-paced romp that mingles the classic movie’s most beloved (and despised) characters and moments in an original take sure to warm your icy heart. Love, Factually is a holiday satire that blasts the December holiday time of life and love. After experiencing this mashup of parody, original comedy, music, improv, and audience participation, we’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that funny actually is all around. Recommended for ages 13+.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 6-23
Tickets: $26/adult, $16/under 12

“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 to be with their families. So it’s Madeline to the rescue! And with the help of a magical rug merchant she takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 7-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $18-75

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.

Christmas Revels: An Elizabethan Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 8-16
Admission: $12-60

Spend a festive holiday evening with the Queen — Elizabeth the First, that is! The year is 1599, England is swept up in a flowering of music and drama, and master Shakespearian actor and fool Will Kemp has become an overnight sensation by Morris dancing from London to the town of Norwich in just nine days! Queen Elizabeth herself is also on the way to Norwich, and the locals enlist Kemp’s help as they prepare a Winter play worthy of Her Majesty. But Elizabeth has left the trappings of court far behind — and she has much more rustic entertainment in mind. Mummers plays meet A Midsummer Night’s Dream in this boisterous blend of high and low, city and country, art and folk, along with timeless Revels favorites: rousing carol sing-alongs, dancing in the aisles, children’s singing games, the eerily hypnotic Abbots Bromley horn dance, and the glorious tones of the Washington Revels Brass.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Peace, Paz, Shalom
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 9, 4pm
Tickets: $15-25

More than 200 voices join together to pay homage to the world’s finest female composers through the annals of song. Strathmore’s Children’s Chorus (SCC) presents an eclectic program including a chant by German Benedictine writer Hildegard von Bingen, a Romantic-era piece by acclaimed pianist Clara Schumann, and contemporary works by American composers Victoria Ebel-Sabo, Emma Lou Diemer, Nancy Hill Cobb, and Andrea Ramsey.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 8-9
Tickets: $23-25/adult, $18-20/10 & 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!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 12-13
Tickets: $30-60

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.

Movie Screening & Sing-a-long: The Snowy Day
Where: Discovery Theater
When: December 12-14
Tickets: $3-8

Enjoy an exclusive screening of The Snowy Day, based on Ezra Jack Keats’ 1962 classic story, narrated by Laurence Fishburne and voiced 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. To make the morning super-fun, Discovery Theater is adding sing-along holiday songs and a special host! To top it off, each family and classroom receives a copy of this beloved children’s book — donated to audiences by Penguin Random House. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Holiday Family Opera: The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 14-16
Tickets: $49-79

As the first Christmas nears, who among the animals can lead Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem? Fearsome Lion and graceful Unicorn are the top contenders—though it certainly won’t be Donkey, whose only humble gift is a small but sturdy back. But with the birth of a very special king on the horizon, Donkey soon discovers that miracles can happen anywhere!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 14-30
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 six 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!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 14-23
Tickets: $34-38/adult, $27-32/12 & under (look for a discount)

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.

Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Wilson High School | Northwest DC
When: December 15-16, 3pm & 7pm & Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $23/adult, $14/child

Momentum Dance Theatre, a Capitol-Hill based dance studio is presenting its nineteenth annual holiday show – the Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker.  Momentum’s professional performers are joined by students as young as age 5 for this contemporary interpretation of the classic Nutcracker, set to music from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, plus hip hop, contemporary and classic pop, funk, and salsa . Not your mother’s nutcracker!

The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 16, 8pm
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!

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 16
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, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

The Elves and the Shoemaker
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 22-30
Tickets: $15 (look for a discount)

Eric, the lone shoemaker of Grimmsville, makes shoes that are miserably uncomfortable and impossible to walk in… leaving a lot of barefoot villagers and Eric without a means to provide for his family. While alone in the woods, his daughter Shannon is confronted by a stranger who offers her the deal of a lifetime: In exchange for her torturous pair of shoes, she is given a magical medallion that holds the charm of the elves. Wanting to help her family, Shannon tries the chant. Her words beckon a pair of elves that show up night after night at the shoemaker’s home creating the most fabulous shoes EVER! With his shoes now wanted throughout the land, Eric and his family have more gold than they can count. But they quickly begin to realize that all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.

The Washington Chorus Family Christmas
Where: GMU Center for Performing Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 23
Tickets: $66/adult, $20/12 & under (look for a discount)

Bring the entire family for a fun, festive afternoon! This 70-minute performance features everyone’s favorite carols, joyful sing-alongs, and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 24
Tickets: $20-45 (look for a discount)

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 holiday 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.

Celebrate Kwanzaa with with Harambee and Lesole Dance Project
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 28
Admission: Free

Bring the entire family for the museum’s annual Kwanzaa celebration program. Enjoy energetic and interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with Harambee, Baba Ras D. Additionally there will be a rhythmic dance extravaganza by LeSole Dance Project. 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. Workshops will be led by artist/educators Brian Barber and Alma Robinson. Free fun for the entire family!


Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 12

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 2


 
CHANUKAH
 

Menorah Workshop
Where: Home Depot | Northeast DC
When: November 18, 2:30-4:30pm
Admission: Free

Get into the Chanukah spirit at a Menorah Workshop with American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad). Kids can build and paint their very own Menorah at the Home Depot in Northeast DC. There will also be dreidel fun and gelt (chocolate coins). Space is limited so be sure to sign up in advance! RSVP to [email protected]

Hipster Hannukah Holiday Market
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: November 28
Admission: $6

Shop handmade goods from independent artists, from holiday cards to jewelry to baked goods. It’s Etsy IRL! Along with shopping, hang out in the lounge and enjoy musical performances, DIY crafts, a hot chocolate bar and doughnuts.

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD
When: December 1, 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. Please bring a NEW pair of warm socks or gloves to be donated to people experiencing homelessness. They can be adult or child-sized. This program is a collaboration of PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy and Kehilat Pardes. Good for all ages!

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: December 2, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun! Join PJ Library, the Edlavitch DCJCC, the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, Federation’s Jewish Food Experience and the interfaith program, Love and Religion, for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 2 and older.

Tot Sized Taste of Chanukah
Where: Shaare Torah Early Childhood Center | Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878
When: December 2, 4:00–5:30 pm
Admission: Free

Join with Shaare Torah and PJ Library for an awesome fun afternoon learning and celebrating Hanukkah! This program is designed for children aged 0-6 and will feature crafts, treats and a special reading of Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by author Pamela Ehrenberg. Open to the full community! Registration is free but requested in advance.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 2, 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.

First Night of Hanukkah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Head to the District Pier at the Wharf as they light the first candle on the Menorah to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Extend your evening there with some ice skating, a bite to eat, and to stroll around and enjoy the riverside scene.

Menorah Lighting
Where: Bethesda Row | Bethesda, MD
When: December 2, 5-6:30pm
Admission: Free

Bethesda Lane will celebrate the start of the Festival of Lights with the Annual Chanukah Menorah Lighting in partnership with Chabad of Bethesda.

Chai Treasure Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Admission: $30

Celebrate life and be stumped finding clues for Jewish customs on this heartfelt down-memory-lane treasure hunt. Have fun searching for specific items donated to the O Museum in The Mansion. Includes self-guided tour through themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4, 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.

Be the Light: Helping Others on Chanukah
Where: Giant Food | Silver Spring, MD
When: December 4, 5-8pm
Admission: Free, just pay grocery donations

On Chanukah, we can spread the light of the holiday with others by giving back. Bring your family and your friends to purchase food to donate to Manna Food Center so they can help more families in need. We will have lists with suggested items for you and your family to select and purchase. Families can come any time during this program, and we will gather for snacks and a special candle-lighting at 6:15 pm and 7:45 pm. This is a program of Pop-Ups to Pop In, funded by the Phyllis Margolius Family Foundation.

Chanukah Playdate
Where: Gymboree | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 5, 3-4:30pm & 4:30-6pm
Admission: $10/Gymboree members, $15/non-members (per family)

Celebrate Chanukah with PJ Library, DC Gymboree, and the Edlavitch DCJCC! Come for an open gym session that will feature all your Gymboree and Chanukah favorites: Lots of bubbles, lots of play, music fun, parachute fun, stories, and crafts. Best for ages 5 and under. Register for the 3pm time slot here, and for the 4:30 slot here.

Chanukah Story Time
Where: Montgomery Mall | Bethesda, MD
When: December 6, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join The Story House – Bookstore on Wheels for a Chanukah celebration in lower level Nordstrom court. Enjoy a story time reading of the PJ Library books, The Queen of Hanukkah Dosas (read by author Pamela Ehrenberg) and Meet the Latkes, as well as a musical sing-along and an arts and crafts table. See’s Candies will provide complimentary kosher lollipops.

Annual Hanukkah Party
Where: National Museum of American Jewish Military History | Northwest DC
When: December 6, 6:30-8:30pm
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.

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

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.

Giant Lego Menorah Build
Where: Northeast Neighborhood Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 9, 3-4pm
Admission: Free

Join American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) for some Chanukah fun! Along with helping build a giant Lego menorah, guests can enjoy even more festivities, including Chanukah crafts, a photo booth, hot latkes and doughnuts, and a Lego dreidel to take home. RSVP to let them know you’re coming.


The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor


 
TREE LIGHTINGS
 
Tree Lighting Celebration & Street Party
Where: Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 10
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. And this year’s tree, the “CommUNITY Tree,” is no exception! Embraces diversity and unity through visual harmony, four artists have come together to create an illuminated mural with images of a diverse congregation of people ringing the bottom half as prismatic energy organically flows from them and dances towards a mobile color sculpture at the top. 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 10, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. Spend the afternoon with Santa at the Carousel and Capital Wheel. Catch a screening of Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. The tree lighting ceremony starts at 5:30pm — followed by fireworks!

2017 Light Up
Where: Fairfax Corner | Fairfax, VA
When: November 16
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 (donations encouraged!), live entertainment, balloon art, giveaways and more!

Rockville Tree Lighting
Where: Rockville Town Square | Rockville, MD
When: November 16,6-9pm
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 23
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.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24
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. Families will be entertained with balloon artists, face painters, holiday activities and more. Enjoy the dazzling 75 foot holiday tree, our two resident 25-foot reindeer, and the return of our Palmer Alley overhead holiday display!

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: November 29
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.

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: November 29
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 the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a holiday pop-up concert that showcases some of D.C.’s beloved hometown musical acts. There will also be a simulcast of Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach Cello Suites at the Washington National Cathedral.

15th Annual Tree Lighting
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welcomes the public to enjoy its annual tree lighting! Filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, the courtyard becomes a glittering crystal garden the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Families can take the chill off with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies as they listen to the award-winning Georgetown Visitation Madrigals perform holiday classics. Children can enjoy decorating holiday cards, members of the United States Marine Corps Reserves will perform a presentation of colors, and Santa Claus and Rudolph will make a special guest appearance. All families are welcome to take a photo with Santa in his Winter Wonderland Suite. Sign up for free tickets here.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 5
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 Oregon, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive November 26, and the lighting will likely take place December 5. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.



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 16 – January 1
Admission: Free

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 22 – January 1
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, All Aboard! for a ride through America for a showcase of train stations! Plant-based recreations of iconic train stations from across the United States will be represented in the train room. Explore classic stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, Maui’s Lahaina Station, and many more, plus fantasy Dinosaur and North Pole stations. 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 it all 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.

Santa’s Suite
Where: The Fairmont | Georgetown, DC
When: Weekends starting November 24, 11am – 3pm
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.

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: December 1-31
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior (60+), $12/ages 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.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 15 – December 22
Admission: $5/adults, $3/senior, $2/age 2-18, free/under 2

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

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | 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.


Frozen slides at the ICE! exhibit


 
SPECIAL EVENTS
 
Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner | McLean, VA
When: November 6 – December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

The newly revamped Santa HQ experience will offer an immersive journey featuring state-of-the-art digital technology featuring two new experiences — the Magic Mirror that virtually allows visitors to try on the Santa HQ elves’ favorite holiday outfits and an Elf ID station where kids can create a personalized Elf Academy ID card. Along with these new enhancements, guests also will have a custom photo opportunity with Santa Claus and will enjoy pastime favorites by hopping on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter, exploring Santa’s Observatory with Elf-Ray Vision, and enjoying the synchronized holiday light show featuring over 10,000 individual lights orchestrated to the tune of Carol of the Bells.

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November
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.

Santa Photo Experience
Where: Fashion Centre | Pentagon City, VA
When: November 9 – December 24
Admission: Free

Eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon Santa Photo Experience at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Save time, avoid the line with Santa by Appointment. On December 2 from 9-11am, special needs children and their families have an opportunity to enjoy this time-honored holiday tradition through a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Reserve a FREE Caring Santa session here.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

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

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Starting at $24/child & $32/adult, free/under 3

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 Charlie Brown 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.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 17, 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.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 17 – January 5
Admission: Start at $20/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!

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.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 23 – December 31
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 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.

Holiday Train Rides
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: Weekends November 23 – December 23
Admission: Starts at $54/adult, $46/child (look for a discount)

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 23-25
Admission: $14/adult, $6/child, free/4 & under (look for a discount)

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: November 23 – December 23, Fri-Sun
Admission: $11.95/age 2+

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.

Snowland Celebration
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 24 – January 4
Admission: Rates vary

Snowland welcomes your family to the winter holidays in proper north woods style. Great Wolf Lodge is transformed into a magical winter wonderland complete with spectacular decorations, visits with Santa, Snow ‘N’ Glow Dance Parties, North Pole University activities, and a life-size gingerbread house big enough to dine in! 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).

Winter WonderLandsdowne
Where: Landsdowne Resort & Spa | Leesburg, VA
When: Throughout the holiday season
Admission: Rates vary

The Resort and Spa in Leesburg will transform into a whimsical holiday experience celebrating the spirit of the season. Feast on Thanksgiving Brunch. Attend a tree lighting on November 24. Shop a special market modeled after the famous Chriskindl markets of Europe. Enjoy elf tuck-ins that include treats and a story. Bring Fido for the Santa Paws 5k. Participate in an Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt. And even more. It’s a fun, festive, and convenient holiday getaway!

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.

Shirlington Light Up The Village
Where:The Village at Shirlington, VA
When: November 29, 6pm
Admission: Free (donations for some activities)

The shopping center will kick off the holiday season with its ​2018 Light Up the Village Holiday Celebration​​. Festivities start with ​a holiday performance by the children’s ensemble of ​Billy Elliot​ by the ​Signature Theatre​​, followed by a tree lighting in the outdoor plaza. After the tree is lit, attendees are encouraged to stop in for pictures with Santa at Hardwood Artisans, and enjoy a performance by the Bishop O’Connell High School Choir. From horse and carriage rides (with monetary or non-perishable food item donations to Arlington Food Assistance Center) starting at 6:40pm, to a snowman photo board station, face painting, balloon twisting, strolling carol entertainment, to live musical performances and retail specials and promotions, the Light Up the Village Holiday Celeb​ration is a can’t miss celebration for the entire family.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: November 30 – December 2
Admission: Varies by activity

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

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Sheraton Tysons Hotel | McLean, VA
When: December 1-2
Admission: $15/child, $10/adult (look for a discount)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns! Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, Kids in the Holiday Kitchen activities, visits from Santa, kids’ crafts, cupcake decorating, and more.

Santa’s Elves Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Throughout December
Admission: $35

Help Santa find special goodies found only at O Museum in The Mansion on this festive holiday treasure hunt. Explore the many themed rooms and search for secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — the mansion essentially is a 30,000 square foot gift shop! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 1-2
Admission: $39/adult, $29/child (look for a discount)

The annual weekend-long festival featuring Nationals players, coaches, and front office staff, will return to Nationals Park as a celebration of baseball and the holidays. This year’s event will have both indoor and outdoor activities including autograph sessions, curling stations, interactive games, clubhouse tours, batting cages, and of course photo opportunities with your favorite Nationals mascots, the Bullpen Cart, and Santa! Enjoy these activities and more with s’mores, adult hot chocolate, and other specialty food items at the home of your Washington Nationals!

Holiday Ballet Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays with SAAM and The Washington Ballet. Acclaimed Artistic Director Julie Kent gives an introduction of how the ballet of the nation’s capital puts on their annual performance of The Nutcracker before dancers perform excerpts from the charming holiday classic. Enjoy holiday crafts, a scavenger hunt, and tasty winter treats from the Courtyard Cafe.

Story Time with Santa
Where: Kramerbooks | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Saturdays in December, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $30/child

Make it a storybook holiday season this year and join Kramerbooks for Story Time with Santa! Gather ‘round to hear Santa tell your favorite festive holiday tales AND receive: Two Polaroid Instax mini photos of your child with Santa, a double-sided holiday ornament frame for each child, cider and hot chocolate for the kids (and nice parents), and spiked cider (for the naughty parents). This will take place every Saturday through December, and only 20 children’s tickets are available for each Saturday, so secure your spot now!

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

Celebrate holiday traditions at Tudor Place, and discover ways the Peter family contributed to relief efforts after World War I, like Nannie Peter and her lady’s maid Miss Duvall continuing to knit socks to send to soldiers overseas. Enjoy an interactive open house, send cheer to a servicemember, join carolers in song, make a festive stocking ornament, and sample sweets from 100 years ago. In the spirit of the Peters’ postwar service, Tudor Place will be collecting Toys for Tots, and new, warm men’s crew socks that So Others Can Keep Striding will distribute to the homeless community.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 48th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

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

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

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 1
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.

Holly TrolleyFest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: December 1-23 + 29-30 Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 1
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 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th 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.

Frost Fest
Where: Pentagon Row | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Join the holiday celebration featuring an on-ice firework display with a special Santa Claus appearance, live entertainment, music played by the popular DJ Har-V, food samples, a $500 shopping spree giveaway, and more.

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 2, 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.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 6, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

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

Winter in Washington
Where: CityCenterDC | Downtown DC
When: December 7-9
Admission: Free

CityCenterDC is excited to bring to life the DC landscape in a dreamy winter wonderland! The installation features monuments towering over 12 feet high, built with over 50,000 pounds of ice. Washingtonians can fulfill their subzero dreams for a weekend. Follow along on social media with @CityCenterDC #CCDCHolidays for weather updates and more.

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 7-22 Fridays & Saturdays, 6-9pm
Admission: $9.95

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.

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 8-9, 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.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 8, 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 8, 10am – 5pm
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.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 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, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

WinterFest in Occoquan
Where: Historic Occoquan, VA
When: December 8, 4-7pm
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!

Mistletoe Magic
Where: Parkridge Center | Mannassas, VA
When: Decemeber 8, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

It’s the second annual Mistletoe Magic holiday festival! This free, family-friendly event will feature a stationary hot air balloon, winter-themed games, crafts, holiday music, a festive train ride, s’mores, hot chocolate bar and a Meet and Greet with Mr. Claus himself!

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 14-15
Admission: $30-35/adult, $20-25/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 22, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy the sounds of the season, featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and join in as they sing holiday songs to spread the Christmas spirit all along the waterfront. While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree.

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 on 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!


Strolling through Brookside’s wonderful Garden of Lights


 
LIGHT DISPLAYS
 
LightUp Fest
Where: One Loudoun | Ashburn, Va
When: November 8 – January 2
Admission: $29.99/adult, $19.99/child (look for a discount)

LightUP Fest, a culture-rich lights exhibit that combines traditional Chinese lanterns with modern lighting technology, is making its debut in the Washington Metro area. With 77 stunning, differently-themed installations, it promises to be a magical experience for all. LightUP Fest will also feature daily performances from acrobats, dancers and musicians. An eclectic array of unique cuisines will also be available for purchase. And an interactive craft and art section will showcase the intricate culture and tradition of craftsmanship with hands-on activities such as sugar puppet making, calligraphy, portrait sketching and rice carving for all age groups to participate in.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 9 – January 6
Admission: $14/adult, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a discount)

Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark’s renowned gardens as over 500,000 LED lights and displays bring the gardens to life and transform it into a winter wonderland. Stroll by perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk — and look for new displays this year, too. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire (available for purchase at Light Refreshments concessions).

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 16 – January 1, with noted exceptions
Admission: $25/car Mon-Thurs, $30/car Fri-Sun (look for a discount)

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 our visit there last year.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 17 – January 1
Admission: $15/car (look for a 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 22 – December 30, Wednesdays-Sundays
Admission: $25/car

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

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 21 – January 6
Admission: Mon-Thurs $15/car, Fri-Sat $20/car(look for a 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.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 23 – January 1, 5-9pm (Closed 12/24, 25, 31)
Admission: Free

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

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 23 – 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, pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 23 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Mon-Thurs, $17/car Fri-Sun (look for discount)

The 23rd Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The 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.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: November 29 – January 1
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 650,000 LED lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 30 – 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. 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!

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 1 – January 6
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 1
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 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th 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 8
Admission: Free

For the or its fourth year, The Yards will shine during the holidays innovative light art, and this year there will be two installations: The Pool, by New York-based Jen Lewin Studio and Angels of Freedom, by Israel-based OGE Group. The Pool welcomes visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light, and as multiple visitors play in it, their movements will come together to create a giant canvas of shifting and fading colors in mesmerizing patterns. Angels of Freedom aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors angels, letting them pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos.

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter


 
HOLIDAY MARKETS
 
Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: November 8-11
Admission: $10 suggested donation

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

Christmas Bazaar
Where: St. Jane de Chantal | Bethesda, MD
When: November 10, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Get started on holiday shopping at St. Jane de Chantal’s 13th Annual Christmas Bazaar, a fundraiser to benfit the school Kick off the Christmas season and shop local! Unique items from more than 40 vendors with jewelry, home decor, accessories, personalized gifts, and much more. There will also be a thrift shop, children’s book fair, food trucks, bake sale, raffles, and free pictures with Santa just in time for holiday cards. Located at 9525 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda.

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 16-18
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.

A Crafty Way to Support Bethany House
Where: Bethany House | Alexandria, VA
When: November 17, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $5/adult

Join friends and supporters of Bethany House for coffee, tea, light refreshments, and an opportunity to purchase hand-crafted wooden items for holiday gifts or personal use. Bethany House will be hosting Tom Huber, a local woodturner, in a one man show of his hand made items. These items include a large array of bowls, platters, plates, boxes, pens, holiday ornaments, and kitchenware made from local hardwoods. One hundred percent of the proceeds of these items will be donated to the support of the Bethany House mission.

Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar
Where: Connelly School of the Holy Child | Potomac, MD
When: November 17-18
Admission: Free

Holy Child’s 15th annual Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar, always the weekend before Thanksgiving, is a shopping extravaganza you won’t want to miss. Start your holiday shopping early in a festive atmosphere with more than 60 vendors selling their jewelry, clothing, home décor, children’s presents, hostess gifts, personalized items, holiday decorations, and much more to make your shopping the easiest and best ever. Plan to stay for lunch from the food trucks.

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 22 – December 24,
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult on weekends

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.)

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

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

Eastern Market
Where: 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 23-24
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: November 30 – December 2
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/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. This year they are offering two new ticket options, in addition to general admission: An early access ticket that will give holiday shoppers a less crowded extra hour on Saturday or Sunday from 10-11am and a limited edition 2018 tote bag. Shoppers may also purchase a VIP ticket which also includes the tote.

Holiday Glow
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 1, 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.

Holiday Maker’s Markets
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: December 1, 8, 15, & 22
Admission: Free

Get a jump on holiday shopping with all things handmade, homemade, or homegrown! Ceramics, stained glass, hanging baskets, wood and leather crafts, organic skincare products, local distillery products, baked goods, batik and fleece clothing, handmade soaps and candles, herbal teas, ornaments, folk art, and more. Each market will feature a new set of vendors.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 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, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 7-9
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.

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Holiday prep at home is super fun, too!

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

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Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, New Years, Outdoor, Seasonal, Shop, Special Event, Theatre, Trains, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The 2017 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC



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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 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

Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Chanukah

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

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Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show is a KFDC fave!


HOLIDAY SHOWS
 
Madeline’s Christmas
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: November 10-19 & December 1-3
Tickets: $10 (look for a ticket discount)

Encore Stage & Studio’s presents this by kids for kids production based on the delightful book. Miss Clavel takes the 12 little girls on a series of adventures when disaster suddenly strikes as everyone gets the flu! Everyone that is, except for the ever-resilient Madeline. Saddened that they may not be able to go home for Christmas, the girls and Miss Clavel take to their beds. A jolly visitor in red appears who reminds Madeline and her friends about the magic of the holidays. Recommended for ages 4+.

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 15-17 & 21
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 16 – December 31
Tickets: $32-92

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

Frosty the Snowman
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 17- December 31
Tickets: $19.50 (look for a discount)

Do you want to build a snow man? How about watching him spring to life in front of you for one day of adventures before he melts away? In this merry wintertime romp, chock-full of chuckles and comic antics, Frosty dances into the hearts of kids and adults alike- even the heart of one near-sighted cop- through his uproarious antics.

Children’s Series “Nutcracker”
Where: Classic Ballet Theatre Studios | Herndon, VA
When: November 18-19
Tickets: $10

Introduce your young child to the performing arts with our Children’s Series Nutcracker! The Children’s Series Nutcracker is a condensed version of the popular holiday classic. This magical production with stunning costumes and beautiful choreography is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers as well as their families. Children delight in the approximately 40-minute performance followed by a short question and answer session and memorable photographs with dancers. Invite friends and bring your camera for after the show!

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 24 – December 31
Tickets: $12

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

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 24 – December 30
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 25-26
Tickets: $30-50, $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.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 24
Tickets: $15/under 12, $25/age 25-18 $35/adult (look for a discount)

Don’t miss this magical production with beautiful scenery, costumes, dancing, and choreography!Virginia National Ballet is one of Northern Virginia’s most exciting professional dance companies and its school (Gainesville Ballet) was voted Best Dance Studio 2017 in Northern Virginia Magazine. Their “The Nutcracker” sells out early every year, so be sure to get your tickets early!

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 1-21
Tickets: $3-8


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.

Snow Day
Where: Lab at Convergence & Atlas Performing Arts Center | Arlington, VA & H Street NE, DC
When: December 1-16 & December 17-19 & 27-30
Tickets: $9, free/under 1

Arts on the Horizon presents this winter show at two area theatres! One cold December morning, a young girl named Skip wakes up to find the entire neighborhood covered in a thick, dazzling blanket of white snow. A playful (if not a little mischievous) winter elf takes her on an adventure – showing her just how magical snow can be! Join Skip as she experiences all the excitement, joy, and wonder of her very first snow day. This nonverbal production features live music and lots of wintertime fun, just in time for the holiday season.

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 30 – December 24
Tickets: $30-130 (look for a ticket discount)

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. Super Value Performances: December 6 at 7pm, December 12 at 7pm, & December 13 at 7pm – no seat higher than $53!

Hansel & Gretel
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: December 1-23
Tickets: $20

During the bustle of holiday crowds, Gretel tries to keep her brother, Hansel, out of trouble while their unengaged babysitter leaves Gretel to fend for them both. As Hansel embarks on his own wonder-filled exploration of his everyday surroundings, he and his sister fall into a magical realm that takes them far away from home. In this wordless production, the well-beloved Grimm fairy tale embraces the fantastical through the eyes of those who see the world through a different lens. Recommended for all ages.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 1-23
Tickets: $15-25

“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 to be with their families. So it’s Madeline to the rescue! And with the help of a magical rug merchant she takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 2, 4pm
Tickets: Free

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

MCYO of Strathmore: Symphonic Devotions
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 2, 4:30pm
Tickets: $15-$25

The talented youth of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra perform beautiful music to bring joy to the holiday season. This concert features MCYO’s full orchestras performing works by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Wagner, and more!

Peter Pan
Where: Atlas Perfroming Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 2-3
Tickets: $12-20 (look for discount tickets)

This holiday season, Andrew Earle Simpson performs a fairy dust sprinkled original score for the beloved silent film, Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, dir., 1924). Introduce your youngsters to the magic of classic cinema through this whimsical tale of Peter Pan and Wendy, the lost boys, and Captain Hook. Live actors will add to the magic of the tale by performing narration and dialogue.

The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens (KidFree Suggestion!))
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Dec 5-31
Tickets: $49-75

Experience Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol like never before with this holiday favorite from The Second City! The legendary comedy troupe brings its infamous improvisational skills and sketch comedy mastery to the timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge. For ages 16 and up.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Peace, Paz, Shalom
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 10, 4pm
Tickets: $18

Strathmore Children’s Chorus performs both sacred and secular selections from musical masters Sibelius, Britten, Engelhardt, and others to celebrate unity, peace, and holiday joy. ’Tis the season to celebrate with the chorus and their special guest artists.

Christmas Revels: A French-Canadian Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 9-17
Admission: $12-60

Journey with Washington Revels to Trois-Rivières, a charming town in southern Québec. In the late December chill, the glow of hearth fires warms the spirits of the villagers as they prepare for the time of celebration–le temps des Fêtes! The timber business is thriving and the Hudson’s Bay Company is paying good money for beaver pelts. A group of young men prepares to leave home to seek profit and adventure—to be voyageurs. They paddle a huge canoe across rivers and lakes, deep into the wild Canadian woods, singing as they go. This energetic Québécois winter celebration features carols, wild dancing, and foot-stomping instrumentals, blending old French traditions with New World ingenuity. Be prepared for a deal with the devil and a ride in a flying canoe!

The Gift of the Mad Guy
Where: Annapolis Friends Meeting House | Annapolis, MD
When: December 9-16
Tickets: $10/ages 3+

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

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 9-10
Tickets: $23/adult, $18/10 & under in advance | $20-25/at door


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

12th Annual Holiday Sing-Along
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 10, 4:30pm & 7pm
Tickets: $12-20

Join in the H Street tradition! Capital City Symphony, Congressional Chorus, and American Youth Chorus perform a variety of holiday favorites in this perennially loved performance that is fun for the entire family. Audience members are encouraged to join in the singing of classics like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and The Twelve Days of Christmas. Continue the celebration after the concert with complimentary cookies and good cheer in our Kogod Lobby.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 10-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $18-72 (look for discount tickets)

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.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 12-13
Tickets: $28-58

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.

The Little Prince, a Holiday Family Opera
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 14
Tickets: $45-65

All the joy and wonder of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic illustrated storybook comes back to Washington National Opera! On his tiny home planet, a young boy spends his days protecting his only friend, a rose, from miniature volcanoes and ravenous baobab trees. When loneliness sets in, he begins a mystical quest across the cosmos to find new companionship. During his journey, he encounters several other intergalactic inhabitants–among them a delusional king, a rich businessman, and a wearied lamplighter–before meeting a pilot on Earth who has crash-landed in the Sahara. The two become unlikely friends, learning lessons from the desert’s many creatures until the prince realizes just how special his rose really is.

Movie Screening & Sing-a-long: The Snowy Day
Where: Discovery Theater
When: December 14-15
Tickets: $3-8

Enjoy an exclusive screening of The Snowy Day, based on Ezra Jack Keats’ 1962 classic story, narrated by Laurence Fishburne and voiced 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. To make the morning super-fun, Discovery Theater is adding sing-along holiday songs and a special host! To top it off, each family and classroom receives a copy of this beloved children’s book –donated to audiences by Penguin Random House. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 15-30
Tickets: $18-45

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 six 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!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 15-22
Tickets: $26-38

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.

Sweet Spot Aerial Productions: A Circus Carol
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 16-17
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/child

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

The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 16, 8pm
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!

Earth Harp
Where: The Plaza at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 16, 4-6pm
Admission: Free

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

How to Catch a Leprechan
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 16-31
Tickets: $15

Based on the familiar Irish folktale, How To Catch a Leprechaun follows the comical adventures of the wistful minstrel Riley O’Really, who really wants to catch a leprechaun. She’s got everything she needs for her trap: a pair of sharp eyes, a good Irish folk song in her heart and, most importantly, an irresistible pitcher of green lemonade. The wee leprechaun who Riley catches seems more than willing to give up his pot of gold – but is his offer a leprechaun trick or a leprechaun treat?

A Gift For Andrés / Un Regalo Para Andrés
Where: Kreeger Auditorium, Bender JCC | Rockville, MD
When: December 17
Tickets: $20-40

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

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 17, 4pm
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 this Family Series, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

Community Sing: Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming
Where: Folger Theatre | Capitol Hill
When: December 17, 4pm
Admission: Free

Folger Consort musicians will lead audience members in learning holiday songs from the medieval to the baroque. Enjoy singing and visiting the Folger during this festive holiday time. This community sing is for all ages and skill levels!

The MeshugaNutracker!
Where: Cinemas Around the DMV
When: December 19
Tickets: Vary by theater

Note: This is a cinematic production, not live! “The MeshugaNutcracker!” is a full-length musical comedy that features the wonderfully silly sensibilities of the folklore of Chelm (a fictional town of fools) underscored by an invigorating Klezmer-ized orchestration of Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” including original lyrics that celebrate Chanukah. Judah Maccabee’s triumphant saga and accounts of perseverance during the Holocaust as well as the celebration of the first Chanukah in the new state of Israel emerge with a genuine sense of wonder as the Chelmniks tell eight stories that pay tribute to the holiday. Add in dancing dreidels, singing sufganiot, and surprise guest stars and you have the perfect recipe for a holiday outing! Jews and non-Jews alike will delight in this original musical celebrating all things Chanukah.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 22-31
Tickets: $25-30

In the small town of Stillwater, painter and decorator Mr. Popper is a pleasant, practical, predictable person who periodically pines for polar adventures. But when a peculiar package on the Poppers’ porch produces a penguin, chaos waddles into their lives. Soon, the Poppers open their home and hearts to not one, not two, but a bunch of boisterous black-and-white birds. With catchy songs and penguin puppets aplenty, this fresh and funny musical adaptation of Richard and Florence Atwater’s popular book—also made into a Hollywood film starring Jim Carrey—will leave you chirping with cheer. Recommended for ages 3+

Kwanzaa Celebration with Nana Malaya Rucker, The Dancing Diplomat & Nubian
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 26
Admission: Free

This exciting family program combines the masterful skills of dance, music, storytelling and more by Nana Malaya Rucker, “The Dancing Diplomat,” with plenty of audience participation and African percussive instruments. The program includes introducing the audience to the history of Kwanzaa, its seven guiding principles and associated symbols, songs, dances and customs. This program is free and open to everyone!


Up close at the U.S. Capitol tree


 
TREE LIGHTINGS
 
Tree Lighting Celebration & Street Party
Where: Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 11
Admission: Free

The 6th Annual event in Downtown Silver Spring always includes the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind holiday tree on the Fountain Plaza. And this year’s tree, the “Good Energy Tree,” is no exception! Focusing on the power and possibilities of the bicycle, visitors can light the tree by peddling bicycles provided by Capital Bikeshare at the tree’s base. The bikes are connected to a 300-watt generator which can provide power to a USB port and also allow visitors to charge their cellphones. Other fun festivities of the evening will include food tastings, live entertainment, ice sculptures, and more!

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 12, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. Spend the afternoon with Santa’s Frosty Follies, participate in Card Making for Our Deployed Troops, watch a holiday movie, take dog pictures with Santa, and enjoy chances to meet Santa at the Carousel. The Radio King Orchestra plays at 5:30pm, and the tree lighting ceremony starts at 6:30pm — followed by fireworks!

2017 Light Up
Where: Fairfax Corner | Fairfax, VA
When: November 17
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 (donations encouraged!), live entertainment, balloon art, giveaways and more!

Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: RIO Washingtonian | Gaithersburg, MD
When: November 17
Admission: Free

Rio Washingtonian will begin the holiday season with their annual Tree Lighting celebration on the Lakefront Plaza. Festival goers can enjoy cheerful activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus (arriving at 6:0pm and leaving promptly at 8pm), strolling holiday entertainment, horse and carriage rides, a vehicle display, store giveaways, and more!

Rockville Tree Lighting
Where: Rockville Town Square | Rockville, MD
When: November 18, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Join Rockville Town Square for a tree lighting celebration! This free, family-friendly event includes a DJ, strolling entertainment, a performance from Dawn Crafton Dance Company, and a visit with Santa! Enter a drawing for a gift card giveaway and enjoy merchant food and drink specials. Check out the interactive holiday tree scheduled for the first performance at 5:50pm.

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, & Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center | Reston, VA
When: November 24
Admission: Free

Look on with thousands of spectators as Santa and Mrs. Claus make their way down Market Street to the holiday tree in Fountain Square. Join the crowd in a Reston tradition to wish upon the star as Santa lights the tree. With lights twinkling, snag a songbook and sing along with The Reston Chorale and a brass quintet to the tune of “O’Christmas Tree,” kicking off a half-hour holiday songfest after the lighting.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 25
Admission: Free

The Park at CityCenter will tout one of the largest trees in the city, a dazzling 75-foot tree that will be decked with more than 150,000 lights and 4,500 ornaments. The lighting will be a joyous celebration, emceed by NBC4 Anchor Eun Yang and including performances by Baltimore’s viral sensation, Cardinal Shehan School Choir and the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington.

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: November 29, 6pm
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, and 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. Rumor has it Santa will agin make an appearance, and guests can enjoy a Norwegian Christmas Concert.

14th Annual Tree Lighting
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: November 28
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welomes the public to enjoy its 14th Annual Tree Lighting! Filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, the courtyard becomes a glittering crystal garden the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Families can take the chill off with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies as they listen to the award-winning Georgetown Visitation Madrigals perform holiday classics. Children can enjoy decorating holiday cards, members of the United States Marine Corps Reserves will perform a presentation of colors, and Santa Claus and Rudolph will make a special guest appearance. All families are welcome to take a photo with Santo in his Winter Wonderland Suite.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: November 30
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.

Light Up the Wharf
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 1, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season at The Wharf with the official lighting of the Christmas Tree. Treat yourself to hot chocolate, enjoy s’mores at our fire pit, do some holiday crafts, and listen to live music for a bright and merry experience along the waterfront.

Community Tree Lighting
Where: Monroe Street Market
When: December 1, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Join friends and neighbors to celebrate the splendor of season at Monroe Street Market’s second annual Tree Lighting! Enjoy festive holiday performances, kids activities, free photos with Santa (for pets, too!), and food & drink from onsite retailers before helping count down to the tree lighting at 8pm. The tree was voted one of the best in the city by Curbed DC last year, so be sure to join and check it out for yourself!

Tree Lighting & Seasonal Fun
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season with a flurry of holiday activities at Cathedral Commons’ annual Holiday Tree Lighting! Join neighbors and friends on Newark Street for live performances, free giveaways, and food & drink from neighborhood restaurants. Santa will be joining us again this year for free holiday photos with the family (including cats and dogs) before leading the countdown to the tree lighting at 8pm.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 6
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 Montana, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive late November, and the lighting will likely take place December 7. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.



The Season’s Greenings train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden is an annual delight!


 
MODEL TRAINS
 
Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall Area, DC
When: November 23 – January 1
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight, hands-down, is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, take a trip across America with a Roadside Attractions theme! Trains will chug around, below, through, and above plant-based recreations of iconic sights from across the United States, like Texas’ Cadillac Ranch, Colorado’s hot-dog-shaped Coney Island Hot Dog Stand, South Dakota’s Corn Palace, New Jersey’s Lucy the Elephant, and many more. And for even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: December 1-31
Admission: $18/adult, $17/senior (60+), $12/ages 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.

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden | Wheaton, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: Free

Part of Brookside Garen’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.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 16 – December 23
Admission: $5/adults, $3/senior, $2/age 2-18, free/under 2

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

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: November 24 – January 1
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.


Frozen slides at the ICE! exhibit


 
SPECIAL EVENTS
 
Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner | McLean, VA
When: November 11 – December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

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

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

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

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission:
Starting at $26/child & $32/adult, free/under 3
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 last year, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed. However, people seem to have varying opinions. This year has a “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” 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.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 18, 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 rerun on Thanksgiving Day.

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: November 18-24
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. Prizes additional. Includes self-guided tour of our themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Westin Tysons Corner | McLean, VA
When: November 18-19
Admission: $15/child, $10/adult (look for a discount)

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

Santa Photo Experience
Where: Fashion Center | Pentagon City, VA
When: November 18 – December 24
Admission: Free

Eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon Santa Photo Experience at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Save time, avoid the line with Santa by Appointment. On December 3 from 9-11am, special needs children and their families have an opportunity to enjoy this time-honored holiday tradition through a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Reserve a FREE Caring Santa session here.

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. Holiday Tea, Thanksgiving Brunch & Dinner, a Gingerbread House & Train Workshop, Nutcracker Tea, Christmas Eve Brunch, and Christmas Dinner are just some of the ways you can celebrate at the luxury hotel.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 24 – January 6
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

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.

Holiday Train Rides
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: Weekends November 24 – December 23
Admission: Rates start at $45 (look for a discount)

Join Santa on a train ride through scenic western Maryland for a special seasonal adventure. Western Maryland Railroad offers the Holiday Limited train ride on Friday and Saturday afternoons and the Christmas Wonderland Express on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon — all come with either lunch or dinner and a lovely round-trip excursion from Cumberland to Frostburg and back.

Festival of Trees
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds| Timonium, MD
When: November 24-26
Admission: $13/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!

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: $27/ages 3 and up

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

Winter Days and Nights on the Farm
Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
When: November 24 – December 23, Fri-Sun
Admission: $11.95/age 2+

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

Snowland Celebration
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 26 – January 1
Admission: Rates vary

The popular family resort with the indoor waterpark hosts its annual Snowland celebration, transforming into a winter wonderland complete with indoor snow showers, spectacular decorations, visits from Santa Clause, “Polar Wolf” Walks, festive activities at North Pole University, a Great Clock Tower Howl-iday Show, and a spectacular life-size dine-in gingerbread house, where families are invited to celebrate the magic of the season by dining inside.Guests can opt to stay in festive Snowland Suites, complete with twinkling lights, glimmering garland, a fully decorated tree, oversized snowflakes and a copy of Great Wolf Lodge’s story book, “Unique as a Snowflake.” As a special treat, Wiley and Violet the Wolf hand deliver cookies and milk to each Snowland Suite nightly to help guests end the day with a super sweet surprise.

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: November 30 – January 1
Admission: Free


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

Ice Lounge
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 1-3
Admission: Free

Plastic igloos are popping up all over the world, and this holiday season CityCenterDC will take it to the next level with a modern Igloo – Ice Lounge, made entirely of 36,000lbs of ice. Styled with plush interiors by Joseph Ireland of JD Ireland Interior Architecture + Design, this one-of-a-kind, frozen structure will allow Washingtonians to fulfill their subzero dreams for a weekend. Follow along on social media with the hashtag #CCDCHolidays. It’s sure to be an Insta-hit.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 1-3
Admission: Varies by activity

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

Family Gingerbread Workshops
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: December 2-3
Admission: $75/house

Start a new family tradition with the National Building Museum’s annual family gingerbread workshop! Using “builder-grade” gingerbread, royal icing, and lots of edible decorations, create a sweet, sweet house to take home to display (or eat) over the holidays. We provide the supplies, you bring the creativity. The cost of this program is per-house. A group of 4 can comfortably work on one house together. FYI: Members get first dibs! (And note the link above is for a 12/2 workshop, bu there is also one on 12/3.)

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: National Museum of American History | National Mall, DC
When: December 2-3
Admission: Free

The Smithsonian will host its annual free, two-day festival at the National Museum of American History to kick off the holiday season. A great selection of festive events, entertainment, exhibits, activities, and seasonal décor will be available throughout the day, including musical performances by U.S. Air Force Band High Flight and Sounds of Faith. Other highlights include chocolate sampling during a demo by Mars Heritage Chocolate, and the Children’s Television Holiday display showcasing popular childhood characters sand more. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of treats at the museum cafe.

Deck the Halls: A Family at Christmas
Where: Tudor House | Georgetown, DC
When: December 2, 1-4pm
Admission: $10/child, $5/adult

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

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 2, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 47th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: December 2, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

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

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 2
Admission: $5

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

Frost Fest
Where: Pentagon Row | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Join the holiday celebration featuring an on-ice firework display, live entertainment, music by a live DJ, special promos, and more. The grand finale fireworks show will take place on the ice at 7:30pm.

Holly TrolleyFest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: December 2-23 & 30 Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

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

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 3, 12-5pm
Admission: $5-10

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.

Light Up the Season
Where: Four Seasons Hotel | Georgetown, DC
When: December 3
Admission: Starts at $50

Presented by the Children’s Health Board, his special holiday family-friendly event is a fundraiser for Children’s National Health System. It will feature decorated trees, wreaths, mantelpieces, and a menorah, each piece a unique collaboration between patients of Children’s National and notable area designers and businesses. Afternoon festivities will also include musical performances, youth entertainers, visits from Santa and the Children’s National mascot, Dr. Bear, a silent auction, ornament making, and cookie decorating.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 6, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 9, 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.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 9, 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.

“Yes, Virginia” Reading & Visit with Santa
Where: Newseum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: December 2, 1-2:30pm
Admission: FREE for kids (details below), $19.50/adult

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

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School | Arlington, VA
When: December 9, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 17 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair.

Family Christmas Sing Along
Where: St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church | Bethesda, MD 20816
When: December 9, 5pm
Admission: Free

Learn the Christmas Story and sing songs to celebrate the holiday. Enjoy a free chili supper and photos with Santa, too. All are welcome! St. Dunstan’s is located at 5450 Massachusetts Avenue in Bethesda.

Hot Chocolate Happy Hour
Where: Hamilton Hotel | Downtown DC
When: December 11-22, 4-6pm
Admission: Free!

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

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center | Mount Vernon Square, DC
When: December 16-17
Admission: $35/adult, $25/child (by 11/15)

The annual festival is full of interactive holiday and baseball activities for fans of all ages. Join clinics with Nationals players and coaches, watch a Homerun Derby featuring the Nationals mascots, make a snow fort, take batting practice, hear a winter or baseball themed story read by a Nationals player, ride down The Slider – a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill, and more. Guests can also meet and greet their favorite Nationals players and mascots, take a photo with Santa, strike a pose at the life-size snow globe photo station, and donate a toy to a child in need. Note: Admission is $35/adult, $25/child if purchased by November 15, after $39/adult, $29/child).

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 23, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy the sounds of the season, featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and join in as they sing holiday songs to spread the Christmas spirit all along the waterfront. While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree.

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: $20 until 12/10, $30 after, 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!


Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 12

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 12


 
CHANUKAH
 
Chai Treasure Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Admission: $30

Celebrate life and be stumped finding clues for Jewish customs on this heartfelt down-memory-lane treasure hunt. Have fun searching for specific items donated to the O Museum in The Mansion. Includes self-guided tour through themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

Annual Hanukkah Party
Where: National Museum of American Jewish Military History | Northwest DC
When: December 14, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the National Museum of American Jewish Military History at their annual Hanukkah Party for latkes, jelly doughnuts, gelt and song! Explore the museum and eat, play games, and sing. Explore some of the facts and myths about Hanukkah and look at the ways Jews in the American military have continued the tradition of the Maccabees.
We’ll be collecting winter coats for veterans in need.

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: December 3, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

This Chanukah make room for latkes AND dosas!Meet Pamela Ehrenberg, author of the new PJ Library book, The Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas, and enjoy hands-on activities, crafts, cooking, singing, food, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 3 and older.

Chanukah Celebration
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: December 10
Admission: $23-25/family

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

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 12, 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.

First Night of Hanukkah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 12
Admission: Free

Head to the District Pier at the Wharf as they light the first candle on the Menorah to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Extend your evening there with some ice skating, a bit to eat, and to stroll around and enjoy the scene.


See the neighborhood in a whole new light at Georgetown GLOW


 
LIGHT DISPLAYS
 
Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 10 – January 7
Admission: $13/adult, $8/ages 3-12

Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark’s renowned gardens as over 500,000 LED lights and displays bring the gardens to life and transform it into a winter wonderland. Stroll by perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk — and look for new displays this year, too. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire (available for purchase at Light Refreshments concessions).

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $15/car (look for a 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 21 – January 1, Tuesdays-Sundays
Admission: $20/car, $25 on Saturdays

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

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 22 – January 7
Admission: Mon-Thurs $15/car, Fri-Sat $20/car (look for a discount)

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

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 24 – January 1, with noted exceptions
Admission: $25/car Mon-Thurs, $30/car Fri-Sun (look for a discount)

The Garden of Lights celebrates its 19th 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 visits there.

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

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

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 24 – 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, pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 24 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Mon-Thurs, $15/car Fri-Sun (look for discount)

The 22nd Annual Winter Lights Festival will feature more than 380 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through beautiful Seneca Creek State Park. Themed areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, North Pole, and much more. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm. Closed on 12/25.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 8 – January 7
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through January 7, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community. Works of local, regional, and international artists will be on display in both public and privately-owned spaces, including M Street, along the C&O Canal, and more nearby places. Take the family dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Get a glimpse of last year’s light show here.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: December 1 – January 1 (closed 12/4, 5, 24, 25)
Admission: $6, 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.” Guests will be surrounded by mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more. Because all the “light sculptures” are made at Annmarie, the designs are one-of-a-kind; nothing in this show is commercially available. It is all made just for visitors to Annmarie Garden In Lights! Enjoy the “Holiday I Spy Game,” nightly entertainment, special discount nights, sweet treats, and other fun activities.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Rockville, MD
When: November 30 – December 31
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 650,000 LED lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Join The Wharf to celebrate the season and see the beautifully decorated boats pass by. Get into the spirit with the guaranteed first snow of the season and decorate your own boat. Sip hot cocoa and make s’mores at the fire pit. Visit the lighted Christmas Tree and enjoy other fun activities, including live music, skating on the new ice rink, and sampling winter drinks at the Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions! At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. Before and after the parade, stop in to the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Holiday Open House between 2-6pm to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Choral Society plus gift shopping in open artist studios.

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter


 
HOLIDAY MARKETS
 
Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: November 9-12
Admission: $10 suggested donation

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

Christmas Bazaar
Where: St. Jane de Chantal | Bethesda, MD
When: November 11, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Get started on holiday shopping at St. Jane de Chantal’s 12th Annual Christmas Bazaar, a fundraiser to benfit the school Kick off the Christmas season and shop local! Unique items from more than 30 vendors with jewelry, home decor, accessories, personalized gifts ,and much more!  Plus there will be a thrift shop, children’s book fair, food trucks, bake sale, and raffles! Get free pictures with Santa just in time for holiday cards and enjoy storytime with Mrs. Claus. Located at 9525 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda.

Bethany House Holiday Bazaar
Where: First Baptist Church | Alexandria, VA
When: November 17-18
Admission: $5/adult

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

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 17-19
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.

Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar
Where: Connelly School of the Holy Child | Potomac, MD
When: November 18-19
Admission: Free

Holy Child’s 13th annual Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar, always the weekend before Thanksgiving, is a shopping extravaganza you won’t want to miss. Start your holiday shopping early in a festive atmosphere with more than 60 vendors selling their jewelry, clothing, home décor, children’s presents, hostess gifts, personalized items, holiday decorations, and much more to make your shopping the easiest and best ever. Plan to stay for lunch from the food trucks.

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 23 – December 24,
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult on weekends

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 60 booths to browse for gifts, food, entertainment, and lots of holiday fun to celebrate the season. Hours are Sun-Thur 11am – 7pm, Fri-Sat 11am – 8pm, Thanksgiving and Christmas 11am –
5pm. Note that it will be closed the first three Tuesdays.

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Eastern Market
Where: 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).

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 1-3
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/ages 2-12

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

Alexandria’s Holiday Market
Where: Carlyle District | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1-23 (but not everyday, see the website)
Admission: Free

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

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

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

Holiday Maker’s Markets
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: December 2, 9, & 18
Admission: Free

Get a jump on holiday shopping with all things handmade, homemade, or homegrown! Ceramics, stained glass, hanging baskets, wood and leather crafts, organic skincare products, local distillery products, baked goods, batik and fleece clothing, handmade soaps and candles, herbal teas, ornaments, folk art, and more. Each market will feature a new set of vendors.

Carpe Noctem
Where: St. Jerome Academy | Hyattsville, MD
When: December 2, 5-9pm
Admission: $5/adult, free for kids

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

40th Annual Holiday Arts and Crafts Show
Where: Audrey Moore Recreation Center | Annandale, VA
When: December 2, 9am-4pm & December 3, 10am-3:30pm
Admission: $2, free/12 & under

Experience one of Northern Virginia’s longest running arts and crafts show with plenty of great gifts to choose from. Top-quality handmade arts and crafts will be offered by nearly 100 of the area’s finest artisans. Door prizes will be awarded, too! Audrey Moore RECenter is located at 8100 Braddock Road in Annandale.

CWP Annual Holiday Bazaar
Where: Children’s Weekday Program | Arlington, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

Join us for seasonal treats, a fabulous silent auction, great holiday gifts from crafters and local vendors, fun children’s activities, and even a visit with Santa. This event in our Great Hall offers a festive jumpstart for your holiday shopping. From handcrafts to thoughtful all-in-one gift baskets, you’ll find something perfect for everyone on your holiday list. This year we’ve got great items from the Nationals, the Spy Museum, the Boomerang Pirate Ship, and so much more! The Children’s Weekday Program is an independent, non-profit preschool and parents’ day out program in Arlington, VA.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School, Arlington
When: December 9, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 17 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 8-10
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.

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Getting ready for the holidays at home is always fun, too 🙂

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

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