The Weekend Round-Up:
December 1-3

Ice skating on the National Mall…so quintessentially DC


Happy Weekend!

Quick links to ideas galore for ongoing DC fun:
* The Great Indoors
* Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Off-the-Beaten-Path Museums
Autumn Adventures
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Kid-Friendly Eats
* Bike Rides
* Baltimore with Kids
* Peaceful Places

‘Tis the Season
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity
There’s holiday fun to be had all over the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. See the delightful model trains and festive decor at the US Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greetings exhibit.Check out Light Yards, the annual illuminated installation at Yards Park.  Experience holiday magic at National Harbor. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest.  Find details on all of these events and more in the 2023 Holiday Guide. (And see some of them listed in this round-up, too.)

Glow with It
Where: Around Georgetown, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free 

See Georgetown in a whole new creative light — literally. Georgetown Glow is back and brightening the neighborhood with modern light art installations on exhibit around the bustling community. Plan to make an evening of it and take the family to dinner at one of the many restaurants there pre- or post-light tour — see some suggestions for kid-friendly dining spots.  Get a glimpse of a past Glow here and a look at last year’s here.

Happy 20th, Udvar-Hazy!
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free (parking, too!)

It’s been almost 20 years since the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum, opened and they’re celebrating with a day packed full of everything you know and love about the museum. From a behind-the-scenes look at the Mary Baker Engen Restoration Hangar to talks with curators about fascinating artifacts to hands-on activitiesfor the whole fam, the event promises to highlight why the museum is a must-visit destination and look forward to what’s next.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 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. Photos will be scheduled by reserved time slot. To reserve a slot, send an email to All guests over the age of 2 must have a ticket.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: ThroughJanuary 2, 5-9:30pm
Admission: $10-15/vehicle

We’ve been doing this one since the kids were babes… Watkins’ sweet holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. It’s a 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. Even more, if you can snag a limited spot, they are also offering horse-drawn carriage rides this year (extra cost, and preregistration required). For more about Watkins Regional Park, including all there is to enjoy during the day, see this KFDC post.

More Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Even more parks and gardens in the area are brightening up the season with twinkling holiday light displays. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Whatever you choose, you’re in for a dazzling good time.  See where you can enjoy them in the KFDC Holiday Guide.

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: Starting Saturday
Admission: Free

The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states will be accessible for viewing starting Saturday.  It’s a staple on many a holiday activity repertoire.  The whole scene 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.

Old Tyme Christmas
Where: Harpers Ferry, WV
When: Friday – Sunday (& December 8-10)
Admission: Free

Take a little road trip to experience some holiday magic! This two-weekend-only Christmas celebration offers seasonal activities for the whole family. Featuring historic tours, wagon rides, caroling, a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, shopping at the Handmade Holiday Market, and much more. View the full schedule of activities here.

Dinosaur Park Open House
Where: Dinosaur Park | Laurel, MD
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Discover an ancient world right in Prince George’s County! On the first and third Saturdays of every month, Dinosaur Park in Laurel welcomes the public to their interpretive programs. Paleontologists and educators will display fossils, casts, and models of Astrodon johnstoni, Maryland’s state dinosaur, along with other 112 million-year-old creatures found there.

Skate Under the Sky
Where: Ice rinks around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

All of the local ice rinks are open for the season, so get out there for some cold weather recreation!  Skate amid art at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, with river views at Washington Harbour, or above the river at The Wharf.  Or enjoy skating at one of many other area rinks.  See this post for details on all of the places you can glide the day (and night) away.

Heurich Christmas Markt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Friday – Sunday
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

Heurich House’s annual holiday market, Christkindlmarkt, is back this weekend. Stroll through the festive German-style craft market from the Heurich House garden up New Hampshire Ave towards Dupont Circle to find holiday gifts. The Markt will feature over 50 local small-scale makers, a mcaini exhibit about the historic revival of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co.’s Senate Beer, children’s ornament making, and more!  Hours are Friday 4-8pm, Saturday 12-8pm, and Sunday 12-6pm.  (PS:  There are some other holiday markets happening this weekend — see them all here.)

Bethesda Winter Wonderland
Where: Norfolk & Cordell Avenues | Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season in downtown Bethesda with Santa Claus, live ice sculpting, live music, and more! At this annual outdoor street bazaar, see blocks of ice transformed into wintery works of art before your eyes, enjoy a student concert, and partake in more festive activities.

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

The 52nd annual Scottish Christmas Walk will be a showcase of 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 usually begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and ends at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine.

First Saturday at NGA
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free
The NGA’s monthly program will celebrate the winter season with holiday card making, face painting, and more. Free activities for all ages will take over the East Building this weekend. Author and illustrator Susan Stockdale will read her children’s book during a bilingual Storytime program (on Friday morning, too). You can also stop at a station with supplies in the atrium to create a holiday card for loved ones, visit the pop-up library, explore one of  the new exhibitions (the Mark Rothko is wonderful!), and more.

Where: Franklin Park | Downtown DC
When: Starting Saturday through December 17
Admission: Free

Step into an illuminated winter extravaganza as Franklin Park is transformed into a glistening Frosted wonderland aglow with thousands of lights. There will be lots of fun holiday festivities to enjoy, too… this weekend witness holiday toys come to life during the Favorite Christmas Toys Parade, watch artists create ice sculptures, see stories illuminated, browse the makers market, and more.  See the schedule of festivities on the website.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 4:30pm
Admission: $10/adults, $8/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Explore a unique DC area museum this holiday season. Visit with Santa down our mile-long woodland railroad, featuring a holiday ride on our historic street cars. In addition, enjoy a holiday model railroad display in collaboration with the Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society, crafts for children, photo opportunities, and more.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Saturday, 6-9pm

Admission: Free
It’s the 30th anniversary of an iconic DC holiday event:  The District’s Holiday Boat Parade, featuring over 60 festively decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. On land at The Wharf, spectators can get into the spirit with ornament decorating, roasting s’mores at the Camp Wharf fire pit (for purchase), visiting the lighted 45-ft Christmas Tree, and skating at The Wharf Ice Rink ($10-13).  Plan on pictures with Santa, too!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: Saturday, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 1-5:30pm and a holiday bazaar and food options 3-7pm. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. The parade begins at 5:30pm.

Holiday Entertainment
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment to get into the spirit, there is plenty of it!  The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre is a classic that will enchant audiences of all ages.  Dorrance Dance is also presenting  a tap dancing version at the Kennedy Center. Or take littles to see a version on strings at The Puppet Co.  Adventure Theatre has a wonderful production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre (review here). Get details on these shows and see what else is coming up soon in the 2023 Guide to the Holiday Season.

(W)Hoop it Up!
Where: Universities around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Tickets prices vary

The college hoops season is happening, and with so many universities in the area, there’s always some good on court going on. Here’s what you can see this weekend:
American men vs St. Francis on Saturday at 2pm
* Catholic men vs Wilkes on Saturday at 2pm
* Catholic women on Saturday at 4pm
* Georgetown men vs TCU on Saturday at 5pm
* Maryland women vs George Mason on Sunday at 1pm (Go, Terps!)

Season’s Treatings: Holiday Gingerbread Decorating
Where: The Garden at Building Momentum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3, 10:30am – 12pm & 1-2:30pm
Admission: $35-250

Join UpCycle Creative Reuse Center to unleash your creativity and decorate gingerbread houses . Get into the holiday spirit and indulge in the joy of creating edible masterpieces. Sign up in advance!

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 3, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $5

Everyone loves chocolate and Annapolis will be celebrating by filling West Street with all things chocolate 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 specialties, plus make s’mores at a bonfire in the street, and enjoy hot cocoa. The Festival will also feature family friendly entertainment, lots of holiday shopping, and the lighting of West Street’s BGE Holiday Light Canopy.

Holiday Market
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Sunday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Hit a holiday market in an unexpected place: a cemetery!  For the first time ever the Historic Congressional Cemetery is hosting a holiday market, featuring one-of-a kind gifts, hand crafted treasures, and delectable treats, all made by local makers, bakers, artists, and vendors.  Even better, it a really cool place that is interesting to explore anytime (one of my most frequented spots int he city with Teddy the Aussiedude).  Dogs on leash are welcome to the market, too!

Dreidel Workshop
Where: Home Depot | 901 Rhode Island Ave NE, DC
When: December 3, 1:30-2:30pm
Admission: Free
How about a DYI project to celebrate the upcoming holiday? Kids can make a dreidel game boards using wood, hammers, etc. There will also be chocolate coins, music, and other Chanukah goodies! Be sure to register in advance!

Inside Info
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place

Looks like there may be some wet weather this weekend, so if you’re seeking indoor fun or just want ideas for extra activities, there are plenty of options for things to do inside. This post has over 100 suggestions.

* In case you missed it, there’s a new post with 5 festive, kid-friendly destinations for the holiday season, all within 3 hours from DC.
* Hanukkah begins this coming week, and if you’re looking for ways to celebrate, the KFDC Holiday Guide has a whole section of ideas!
Have you seen all the KFDC gift guides?  There are recommendations for little kids, teens, grown ups, and gift that are DC-inspired.
This “Parents Are People” episode of This American Life is a really good listen.
* We saw Dream Scenario last weekend, and it was fantastic. Such an interesting premise, and Nicolas Cage once again shows why he is one of the best actors around (and it all started with this totally awesome gem).
* Has anyone tried the viral butter candle recipe?
* Don’t mess with Dolly 💙


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