Category Archives: Theatre

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

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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 8, 4pm (gates open 2:30pm)
Tickets: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City. Through this remixed and reimagined version of the holiday classic, The Hip Hop Nutcracker takes us on a journey that celebrates love and community.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 14-15
Tickets: $15-30, kids free with adult

Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to join Coyaba Academy, Coyaba Dance Theater and special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa. *During the Family Series on 12/15, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Come light the menorah on Chanukah


 
CHANUKAH
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 22, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor


 
TREE LIGHTINGS
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reston Town Center launches the festive season at the annual Reston Holiday Parade with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade along Market Street also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. The Clauses will return for the Fountain Square Tree Lighting and Sing Along at 6pm. Afterwards, on Market Street, horse-drawn carriage rides and more fun continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! You might not be able to sit close up, but you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. For now, follow the tree as it journeys from New Mexico, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive November 29, and the lighting will likely take place December 4. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

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

To attend this lighting, you had to have entered a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree.

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

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



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.

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.

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.

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!

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 will also feature an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Christmas market and Santa and Mrs. Claus.

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. The Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center and Think Tank are open every night. 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.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 6 – 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 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: TBA
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’s installation has yet to be announced, so stay tuned! But when you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights. *FYI, current link is to last year’s event.


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

Rent is at an All Time High at National Theatre


I first saw Rent at National Theatre about 22 years ago, just over a year after it debuted on Broadway and was an instant hit. It was one of those powerful theatre experiences that sticks with you, something greater than the beautiful story told on stage through sensational performances and stirring music.

Rent pushed boundaries in a way that no other Broadway show had before as it explored themes of life and love and friendship. The story follows the lives of seven artists over a year in the 1990’s struggling to achieve their dreams and navigate their relationships — in the shadow of the AIDS crisis. It was raw and edgy and unapologetic as the storyline included addiction, homosexuality (and homophobia), and a disease associated with panic and fear. It was also hopeful, inspiring, and joyous as it celebrated life and love and friendship, and prompted audiences to ponder what matters, how they measure a year in the life.

Fast forward 20+ years, and Rent is back in DC at the National Theatre on the 20th Anniversary Tour. When I was invited to see the show to review for KFDC, I jumped at the opportunity. But I would have gone to see it, anyway, having loved it so much the first time. I wondered, though, would it hold up after all these years? Was it just the timing that made it strike the chord it did back in the 90’s, when AIDS angst was intense and incorporating it into a musical a novel idea?

Well, as the title of this post indicates, Rent holds up — and then some. The show was just as phenomenal, if not more, than it was all those years ago. Perhaps it has to do with my perspective and seeing the characters from a maternal point of view more than as a peer (amazing what changes in 20+ years). Or maybe this time I was processing less and just enjoying more. Regardless, I loved it. All of the performances were brilliant, delivered with passion and grit, but I have to note that Joshua Taveres as Angel, Kelsee Sweigard as Maureen, and Shafiq Hicks as Tom Collins were especially wonderful.

The score is still soul stirring, and this time I had to hold myself back from bursting into song along with the cast. The story, while viewed a bit differently as the AIDS situation has changed, captures that period of time in a powerfully evocative way. And the heart of the show, its themes of life and love and friendship, remain steadfastly universal.

I highly recommend seeing Rent during its run at National Theatre. And when you do and hear the question “How do you measure, measure a year?”… I think the answer will be easy.

RENT – 20th Anniverary Tour
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 12-17, 2019
Tickets: $54 – $117 (look for discounts)
Run time: 2 hours, 35 minutes, including one intermission
Recommended for ages 13 and up.


Disclosure: I received complimentary tickets to see and review Rent, however, all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.


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Filed under 2019, Date Night, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Teens, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

Giveaway: Two Ways to Win Tickets for The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre!


Adventure Theatre MTC is about kick off their world premiere production of The Velveteen Rabbit that will run through the holiday season. And just like all of the shows at the playhouse in Glen Echo Park, you have a chance to win tickets to see it. This time, though, there are a couple of ways to win — and (sort of) be part of show!

Patrick Flynn’s adaption of The Velveteen Rabbit, based on the book by Margery Williams, offers local audiences a chance to see love rise from the ashes and come alive in this new play. 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.

This wintry show about friendship, imagination, and second chances runs November 15, 2019 through January 1, 2020 and is recommended for all ages. Tickets are $20.50 and can be purchased online or by calling 301.634.2270.

Win a Ticket with a Toy!
Adventure Theatre is holding a casting call for toys! If you or a loved one has an antique toy they would like to donate to Adventure Theatre MTC’s production of The Velveteen Rabbit, please send a photo to [email protected] If your toy is chosen, you will receive one free ticket to see your toy in action on the stage. (Note: Free tickets must be redeemed for performances that occur prior to November 23, 2019.)

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below with your preferred date and time to see the show (after November 17). Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Sunday, November 17, 2019, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


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


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Filed under 2019, All ages, DC, Giveaway, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Seasonal, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up:
November 8-11

The bonsai exhibit at the National Arboretum is always a delight


Happy Weekend!

Nao Santa María Ship
Where: The Wharf – Market Pier | Southwest DC
When: Through November 17, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $10/adult, $5/child, $25/family (up to 5)

Take a trip back in time with The Wharf! Board the historic Santa María, a faithful replica of the Spanish galleons used in the time of Columbus, docking at Market Pier from through Sunday, November 17. Learn the fascinating history of these ocean crossing vessels. Built in Spain in the tradition of the nao ships of the 16th century, the vessel weighs 200 tons and is nearly 100 feet long. Tours will be conducted daily, and discounts are available for school groups and families. 

2019 Southern Montgomery County Preschool Fair
Where: Wheaton Library & Rec Center | Wheaton, MD
When: Friday, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Attend this preschool fair for a one-stop shop to meet a wide range of school representatives, learn about curriculum and tuition, schedule tours, and more. The preschool fair is a free event and open to the community. Kids are always welcome.

Food History Weekend
Where: National Museum of American History | National Mall, DC
When: Friday & Saturday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

With cooking demonstrations, hands-on learning, dynamic conversations, museum collections, and beer history, there’s something for everyone at the fifth annual Smithsonian Food History Weekend: Power Through Food. A special focus will be on migrant and refugee women and organizations this year, exploring how their food-related enterprises are helping create sustainable livelihoods and stronger communities. Enjoy free daytime activities for visitors of all ages, including a kids table, marketplace, book signings, curators’ corner, and more.

The Arctic Refuge Experience
Where: AutoShop | Northeast DC
When: Through Monday
Admission: $10

Experience a year in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge at this one-of-a-kind art installation powered by a mix of breathtaking film, 4D technology, and immersive sensations. Prepare to be awed by America’s last great wilderness and get up close and personal with herds of caribou, arctic foxes, migratory birds, and polar bears. With over 66 million pixels of projected video, 20 channels of sound, custom scents, atmospheric elements, and tactile sensations, you’ll be transported to the Arctic Refuge without ever leaving Washington, DC.

New To You Sale
Where: Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten | Reston, VA
When: Saturday, 7:30am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Stock up for the kids at the biggest children’s yard sale in Reston! There will be thousands of items for babies & children available at unbeatable low prices, including high chairs, clothes from newborn up to size 10, bikes, strollers, kitchen sets, doll houses, trains, toys for all ages, children’s furniture, books, DVDs, and much more. Families in the Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten community donate a wide variety of gently used items, you don’t want to miss out! All remaining items will be 50% off from 12-1pm. Cash, credit cards and checks all accepted.

Kids’ Market & Seasonal Sale
Where: Hollin Hall | Alexandria, VA
When: Saturday, 8am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Hosted by Fort Hunt Preschool, at this annual market find gently-used, high-quality children’s clothing, shoes, toys, books, furniture, decor, maternity wear, and more — all donated by the families of Fort Hunt Preschool. 

Autumn Bonsai
Where: U.S. National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: Through Monday
Admission: Free

Take your little people to see the little trees in their brilliant autumnal colors before the leaves fall away to reveal bare winter silhouettes. See red maples, yellow ginkgos, fruited trees, and more in the Bonsai Museum located within the National Arboretum — it’s a fantastic exhibition. Be sure to tour the big trees around the rest of the Arb while you’re there, too. It’s easily one of the best places in the city to do some leaf peeping. Get a glimpse in these scenes from a visits there last fall.

Christmas Bazaar & Thrift Shop
Where: St. Jane de Chantal | Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Shop “local” with more than 35 vendors at this 14th Annual Christmas Bazaar. Huge thrift shop, bake sale, and raffles, plus free pictures with Santa! This is sponsored by HSA for benefit of St. Jane de Chantal School located at 9525 Old Georgetown Rd.

The Jungle Book
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $14 through TodayTix

Creative Cauldron presents a musical adaptation of one of the most well-loved books in the English language. Danger lurks everywhere for young Mowgli as he learns the “laws of the jungle” from his friends Akela, the wolf, Baloo, the bear, and Bagheera, the panther, who warn him that Shere Khan, the tiger, wants to eat him. But when Mowgli is forced to leave his friends and return to the village from which he came, he soon learns that man is the most dangerous creature of all. With sensitive themes about loyalty, honor, courage, and persistence, the “Jungle Book” stories have an irresistible appeal for audiences of every generation.

More Show Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by show

* Reserve free tickets the The Uncle Devin Show, this week’s Saturday Morning at the National show
* Dutch theater company Maas brings EGG-tion HERO to the Kennedy Center
* Let Newsies entertain you at Arena Stage
* The Kidz Bop tour is stopping at DAR Constitution Hall on Sunday
* It’s opening weekend for Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre
* Little theatre-goers will love Inside Out at Imagination Stage
* Join InterAct Story Theatre for an exciting morning of rhythms, dances, and songs representing a variety of cultures across Africa.
* No lie, Pinocchio is at The Puppet Co.
* And Baby Bear’s Birthday is the featured Tiny Tots show there on Sunday
* Jason Didner & the Jungle Gym are playing the Saturday morning show at Jammin Java
* Source Theatre’s Little Shop of Horrors is recommended for tweens and up.
* Enjoy a performance of Amadeus at The Folger

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Around DC
When: Through Sunday
Admission: Free

This weekend is the last to enjoy free artistic adventures of the European variety, thanks to the annual Kids Euro Festival. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the many, many exciting acts that are performing at a variety of venues through Sunday. See what’s on the schedule over the next few days.

The Miraculous Magical Balloon
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: Saturday, 12pm
Admission: Free for kids, adults pay what you will

The Miraculous Magical Balloon tells a wonderful story of a traveling actor and his magical trunk of tricks and toys. This family-friendly show is open to everyone! Children get in free and parents are welcome to “pay what you will.” Celebrate joy and imagination with Synetic Theater at this community event! Be sure to get tickets in advance.

Trash to Treasure Green Craft Fair
Where: Watkins Nature Center | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Do some eco-friendly shopping while the kids have fun at this special event featuring vendors selling items made from recycled, organic, or sustainable materials. Along with local artists selling their handmade wares, there will crafts for kids and food for sale. Of course, plan to stay and play at Watkins — read about all there is to do there!

The Emporiyum
Where: Union Market Dock 5 | Northeast, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Tickets start at $15 (find discounts)

Meet, eat, and shop at this two-day market and celebration of everything delicious. Over 95 artisans, producers, chefs, and restaurants showcase their wares, works, and culinary creations. It’s a chance to meet the people behind the brands, taste and learn about their products, and shop for unique edible gifts.

Kidz Graffiti Party
Where: Art Jamz | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Sunday, 12:30-2pm & 2-3:30pm
Admission: $15

Get messy like a street artist at an Art Jamz Kidz Graffiti Party! Children of all ages are invited to paint their very own masterpieces on the ArtJamz walls. The lounge will be open for accompanying parents and we they’ll be playing jamming tunes to inspire all the little artist. Afterwards, your family can purchase additional studio time and canvas and let your vision come to life off the wall.

Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Observe Veterans Day by visiting the sites that honor those who have served. Make the rounds on the Mall at your leisure or attend a special ceremony — one will take place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1pm, and the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial are easy walks from there.

National Veterans Day Ceremony
Where: Arlington National Cemetery | Arlington, VA
When: Monday, 11am
Admission: Free

The National Veterans Day Ceremony begins at 11am with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. A prelude by the United States Air Force Band starts in the amphitheater at 10:30am. Free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to get there by 9:30am. Read more about Arlington National Cemetery in this post about a KFDC experience there.

Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Monday, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free/military; $20/adult, $12/child, free/under 5

Special activities at George Washington’s former estate include a wreath laying ceremony, a concert by the Harmony Heritage Singers or the United States Air Force Strings before greeting General and Lady Washington. Throughout the day, write a thank you letter to an active duty service member in the Vaughan Lobby. Honored guests are also invited to place a flower at Washington’s Tomb. (Above admission fees are for online; prices are slightly higher on site.)

Free Parking
Where: National Parks around the DMV (and nation)
When: Monday
Admission: FREE

It’s the last fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no entrance fee where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in autumn colors, visit Harpers Ferry, or see the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner at Fort McHenry.

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

Want to glide under the sky? Many outdoor ice skating rinks are welcoming guests to skate the day away. This post has details on all of them (indoor venues, too), including bonus activities while you’re there.

Awesome Autumn Ideas
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The fall festival season is winding down, but there are plenty of other fantastic ways to enjoy the season around the area. This KFDC post lists 10 great places to for fall adventures.

DC, Inside & Out

Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend

Admission: Varies by adventure


Want even more options for fun things to do with the kids around the area? If you’re looking for activities outdoors or inside, depending on the weather or simply your preference, these posts are chock full of evergreen pursuits:

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

The Great Indoors

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* One more event to consider for the weekend that might interest many adults.
* Get a glimpse of the new National Children’s Museum opening soon!
* Also opening this winter, The Lane in Ivy City is one to keep on your radar.
* Learn about Fig & Wally, an online service for creating invitations and gift wishlists, and enter a couple of giveaways to win some cool prizes!
* Join Nibble and Squeak DC at A Rake’s Progress for a festive and autumnal “Tykesgiving” feast on November 16!
* The PSAA Snowpass Program is a great ski opportunity for 4th and 5th graders!
* Primary, the children’s clothing brand that parents and kids adore, is having a 25% off sale right now!
* Ready to order holiday cards? Take advantage of this great deal!


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Seasonal, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend