Category Archives: Trains

Giveaway: Enjoy a Day Out with Thomas at the B&O Railroad Museum!

All aboard, little train enthusiasts! Thomas the Tank Engine™ is returning to the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, rolling in to the “station” on their annual Day Out With Thomas tour. The crew from the Island of Sodor will be stopping there from April 26-28 and May 3-5. And TWO lucky KFDC readers can win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to go on April 26!

A Day Out With Thomas ticket includes all kinds of locomotive-themed fun. Along with all-day admission to the B&O Railroad Museum and fun live entertainment, you get to take a scheduled 25-minute train ride behind Thomas the Tank Engine™ and enjoy all of these activities and programs:

• Photo opportunities with Sir Topham Hatt
• Thomas Imagination Station of interactive play
• Carnival Games
• Moon bounce
• Kid’s climb-on train
• Craft & tattoo stations
• Interactive B&O Railroad Museum exhibits
• Free rides on the Museum’s carousel

Tickets to a Day Out With Thomas are $26 and available for purchase online. Of course, you can also try to win them through the giveaway below.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win one of the Family 4-Packs of tickets to Day Out With Thomas on Friday, April 26, 2019, with a 1pm train ride time, simply leave a comment below telling me what activity you and your kids enjoyed most in February. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through March 15, 2019, then a winner will be drawn at random and announced shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Filed under 2019, Annual, DC, Exhibit, Giveaway, Maryland, Museums, Special Event, Spring, Ticket Giveaway, Trains, Weekdays, Weekend

The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. Model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive among them. Special markets offer unique gifts along with a good time. And an array of events and extravaganzas, several at iconic locales, bring holiday cheer and activities that thrill and enchant kids — and the kid in all of us adults. This annual KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Shows


Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Light Displays

Holiday Markets


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

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

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

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 15-20
Tickets: $3-8

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 15 – December 30
Tickets: $32-101

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended – in his own words – and rediscover this timeless classic presented in a masterful solo performance. Adapted from Dickens’ original novella and reading tour, Morella’s solo version will transport you back to Victorian England and into the heart of this classic morality tale.

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

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

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 23 – December 30
Tickets: $6

This marionette version of the holiday classic is geared toward the smallest of audience members. Tiny Tots shows are designed for theater patrons ages 0-4. They are shorter, the lights stay on, the doors stay open, and the show is set up on the floor.

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

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years! The Nutcracker is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s favorite toy and their adventures together in the land of the Sugarplum Fairy. Music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet blends with marionettes and costume characters to create this unique production. Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 24-25
Tickets: $30-55, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

Join THEARC for DC’s perennial favorite and some holiday magic! The Washington Ballet modifies this critically acclaimed production a bit at the Anacostia theatre, making it more enticing for young theatre-goers. The set is scaled-down, and performances are shorter. This celebrated production is set in historic Georgetown with historical figures and whimsical touches. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historic characters including George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the menacing Rat King! Join again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with loved ones.

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

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

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

DC’s perennial favorite! Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from a few years ago. (And note that even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version.)

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

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

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

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

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

Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 19th season, this signature Discovery Theater show celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. This show sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Recommended for ages 5-10.

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

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

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

“In an old house in Paris, covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” And with that familiar phrase, author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans sets in motion the adventures of the brave and resourceful Madeline! In this musical adaptation, Madeline’s schoolmates and tutor are all sick in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to go home for Christmas to be with their families. So it’s Madeline to the rescue! And with the help of a magical rug merchant she takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City.

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

Enjoy an exclusive screening of The Snowy Day, based on Ezra Jack Keats’ 1962 classic story, narrated by Laurence Fishburne and voiced by Regina King, Angela Bassett and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. The film follows young Peter’s magical, snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. One the way, he meets some new (and diverse) friends who come together to celebrate many traditions. To make the morning super-fun, Discovery Theater is adding sing-along holiday songs and a special host! To top it off, each family and classroom receives a copy of this beloved children’s book — donated to audiences by Penguin Random House. Recommended for ages 3-7.

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

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

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 14-30
Tickets: $25-45

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

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

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

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

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

The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 16, 8pm
Tickets: $39-65

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

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 16
Tickets: $15-30, kids free with adult

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring the entire family for the museum’s annual Kwanzaa celebration program. Enjoy energetic and interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with Harambee, Baba Ras D. Additionally there will be a rhythmic dance extravaganza by LeSole Dance Project. The audience participatory program includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes, and lively characters designed for young children and adults alike. During the performance and afterwards, kids can also enjoy making Kwanzaa-inspired arts and crafts from a variety of materials. Workshops will be led by artist/educators Brian Barber and Alma Robinson. Free fun for the entire family!

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 12

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 2


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

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

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

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

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD
When: December 1, 6:30–7:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Chanukah AND Havdalah in your pajamas with a festive singalong Havdalah service led by Rabbi Uri Topolosky, followed by stories, de-light-ful activities, crafts and snacks. Please bring a NEW pair of warm socks or gloves to be donated to people experiencing homelessness. They can be adult or child-sized. This program is a collaboration of PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy and Kehilat Pardes. Good for all ages!

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

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

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

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

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 2, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chanukah Festival
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4, 6:30pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor

Tree Lighting Celebration & Street Party
Where: Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 10
Admission: Free

The annual event in Downtown Silver Spring always includes the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind holiday tree on the Fountain Plaza. And this year’s tree, the “CommUNITY Tree,” is no exception! Embraces diversity and unity through visual harmony, four artists have come together to create an illuminated mural with images of a diverse congregation of people ringing the bottom half as prismatic energy organically flows from them and dances towards a mobile color sculpture at the top. Other fun festivities of the evening will include live entertainment, bites and drinks, art stations, games, and more!

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 10, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

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

2017 Light Up
Where: Fairfax Corner | Fairfax, VA
When: November 16
Admission: Free

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

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

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

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, & Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center | Reston, VA
When: November 23
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24
Admission: Free

CityCenterDC will kick off the holiday season with an exciting evening of celebrations, including a joyful music performance by The Washington Chorus and an official lighting ceremony and countdown emceed by NBC4’s Eun Yang. Families will be entertained with balloon artists, face painters, holiday activities and more. Enjoy the dazzling 75 foot holiday tree, our two resident 25-foot reindeer, and the return of our Palmer Alley overhead holiday display!

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: November 29
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

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

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: November 29
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. The tree is always huge and beautifully adorned ad will be lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening will also feature the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a holiday pop-up concert that showcases some of D.C.’s beloved hometown musical acts. There will also be a simulcast of Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach Cello Suites at the Washington National Cathedral.

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

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

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

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! You might not be able to sit close up, but you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. For now, follow the tree as it journeys from Oregon, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive November 26, and the lighting will likely take place December 5. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

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

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden | Wheaton, MD
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Free

Part of Brookside Garden’s annual Garden of Lights exhibition, the South Conservatory comes to life with a landscape in miniature, as trains and trollies wind their way through town and country scenes, past one-of-a kind models of the Brookside Gardens Conservatories, the Dentzel Carousel and the Chautauqua Tower of Glen Echo Park. Colorful plantings complement it all — winter may rule the outside landscape, but the conservatories will be bright with color and active with sound and motion to match the festive feeling of the season.

Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall Area, DC
When: November 22 – January 1
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, All Aboard! for a ride through America for a showcase of train stations! Plant-based recreations of iconic train stations from across the United States will be represented in the train room. Explore classic stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, Maui’s Lahaina Station, and many more, plus fantasy Dinosaur and North Pole stations. And for even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. Get a glimpse of it all in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Santa’s Suite
Where: The Fairmont | Georgetown, DC
When: Weekends starting November 24, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free (Donation to Horton’s Kids suggested)

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

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: December 1-31
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior (60+), $12/ages 2-12, free/B&O members

This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

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

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

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

Every year, DC’s grand train station hosts a wonderful Holiday Train Display, on view in the West Hall. Featuring a Norwegian landscape, the displays are intricate and fun to stop by and see if you’re at the station during the holiday season.

Frozen slides at the ICE! exhibit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. We’ve been a few times, and I recommended reading my reviews here and here before you go. I didn’t post a write-up after the last time we went a couple of years ago, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed. However, people seem to have varying opinions. This year is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” theme, and you walk through frozen holiday scenes depicting the story and slide down small ice slides — all kept at a very chilly 9 degrees. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and timed entries are every half-hour. Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the schedule when you plan to go.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 17, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 17 – January 5
Admission: Start at $20/ages 3+

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

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

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

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 23 – December 31
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season.
The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. There are also Candlelight Tours on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

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

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

Festival of Trees
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds | Timonium, MD
When: November 23-25
Admission: $14/adult, $6/child, free/4 & under (look for a discount)

Kick off the holiday season by welcoming Santa Claus to a winter wonderland at the annual Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees! The East Coast’s largest holiday-themed festival will return to the Maryland State Fairgrounds with decorated trees, a gingerbread town, shopping, breakfast with Santa, endless holiday activities, and non-stop entertainment for children of all ages!

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

The annual festival includes hayrides to the white pine fields with access to all of the farm attractions — swings, forts, slides, tunnels, and more. Fire pits are inviting to keep you warm and make some s’mores or roast hot dogs. Christmas trees directly from Sweet Providence Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains will be available for purchase, too. (Note: No admission fee to purchase trees or greens!) Read more about the winter fun at Ticonderoga in this post about one of our experiences there.

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

Snowland welcomes your family to the winter holidays in proper north woods style. Great Wolf Lodge is transformed into a magical winter wonderland complete with spectacular decorations, visits with Santa, Snow ‘N’ Glow Dance Parties, North Pole University activities, and a life-size gingerbread house big enough to dine in! Bring joy to your family this holiday season with uninterrupted time together under the enchanting spell of Snowland’s twinkling lights, holiday trees, and indoor snow showers that melt into perfect 84-degree basking weather in our water park. Read about a KFDC stay at Great Wolf Lodge (though not during the holidays).

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

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

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: November 28 – January 1
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 1
Admission: $5

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

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

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

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 2, 12-5pm
Admission: $5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 8-9, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

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

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 8, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the Park’s annual Winter’s Eve event. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios.

Russian Winter Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate | Upper Northwest DC
When: December 8, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $12-18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

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

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

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

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

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

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

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 14-15
Admission: $30-35/adult, $20-25/child

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

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 22, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

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

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

They deck the halls and fill the stockings with seasons greetings and holiday cheer that will create lasting memories for the entire family at the Mansion on O Street! Enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour the wonderful themed rooms and search for secret doors. Be sure to bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: $25 ’til 11/30, $30 12/1-30, $35 on 12/31 free/12 & under
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!

Strolling through Brookside’s wonderful Garden of Lights

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

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

Winter Walk of Lights

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

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

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

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

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 17 – January 1
Admission: $15/car (look for a discount)

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

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 22 – December 30, Wednesdays-Sundays
Admission: $25/car

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

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

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

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

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

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 23 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $10/car, FREE on December 25

This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – bring a thermos of hot chocolate, pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

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

The 23rd Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The route takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm. Closed on 12/25.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: November 29 – January 1
Admission: Free

Its official name is the Washington, DC Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 650,000 LED lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 30 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & under

This magical tour takes visitors on a beautiful trip through the glittering woods. As you stroll the protected path, you will be transported to a fantastical place of spectacular lights and amazing “light sculptures” depicting mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more. Don’t forget to ask for a “Holiday I Spy” program. After your walk, warm up in the Arts Building where you will find nightly entertainment, beautiful exhibits, great shopping, and a holiday cafe!

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

See Georgetown in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through January 6, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community, the region’s only curated outdoor public light art experience. Works of local, regional, and international artists will be on display in both public and privately-owned spaces, including M Street, along the C&O Canal, and more nearby places. Take the family to dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Get a glimpse of a past light show here.

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

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 8
Admission: Free

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

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

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

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

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

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

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 16-18
Admission: $5-50

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eastern Market
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Year-round Saturdays & Sundays
Admission: Free

The outdoor flea market at the centerpiece of the Capitol Hill community is practically a year-round weekend institution for locals. And during the holiday season, it’s a go-to for shoppers seeking unique gifts along with a fun outing. Over 100 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

Bazaart Holiday Art Market
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 23-24
Admission: Free

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

Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: November 30 – December 2
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/ages 2-12

Do some shopping at Christkindlmarkt, an annual holiday artisan market and festive house tour, honoring the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour. This year they are offering two new ticket options, in addition to general admission: An early access ticket that will give holiday shoppers a less crowded extra hour on Saturday or Sunday from 10-11am and a limited edition 2018 tote bag. Shoppers may also purchase a VIP ticket which also includes the tote.

Holiday Glow
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 1, 2-8pm
Admission Free

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

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

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

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 7-9
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free/11 & under

This seasonal fair showcases works by more than 300 top artisans. Pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home and garden décor, furniture and home accessories, and photography will be on display — and for sale. The best part is that the award-winning festival is a family affair. Parents can shop, and children can enjoy an interactive puppet theater and watch live-demonstrations of iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting, and other media by the master craftspeople themselves. Not to mention, gourmet goodies hand-made by specialty food vendors always leave everyone wanting more. Tickets are good for all three days of the Festival.

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Holiday prep at home is super fun, too!

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


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

All Aboard for a Train Day Celebration at the National Postal Museum!

Get ready to chug on over to the National Postal Museum this coming weekend! Every May, they celebrate the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The tracks connecting the coasts allowed the Post Office Department to quickly move mail across the entire country. Over time, trains have played an important role in keeping our nation connected.

This year’s Train Day Celebration at the National Postal Museum is happening on Saturday and Sunday, May 19-20. From 10am – 3pm both days, museum-goers and little locomotive buffs can enjoy a variety of educational activities with opportunities to learn, engage, and play!

Here are more details about the day’s FREE festivities:

Model Train Railroad Displays
Kids can enjoy the magical, miniature world of model railroads running throughout the museum, thanks to the Rappahannock Model Railroaders; the Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society; and the Northern Virginia NTRAK.

Railway Post Office (RPO) Training School
The tiniest RPO clerks (ages 2-5, up to 45 pounds) can ride on a toy steam train and collect mailbags in between stations. Older kids can learn all about the specialized jargon that was used by RPO clerks and become a certified Junior RPO Lingo Expert.

“Meet” Owney the Dog
Owney was a scruffy mutt who rode with the mailbags on RPO train cars across the country in the late 19th century. The RPO clerks adopted Owney as their unofficial mascot and good luck charm since no train Owney rode was ever in a wreck. “Meet” Owney and hear all about his adventures.

Train Whistles
Crack the secret code of the railroad crews as you learn to communicate by train whistle. After you master the skill, take a train-shaped whistle home with you.

Railway Post Office (RPO) Sorting Challenge
Do you have what it takes to be an RPO mail clerk? Board an authentic train car and see if you can sort the mail before time runs out!

Story Time
Join a special train-themed story time featuring: “A Lucky Dog: Owney, U.S. Rail Mail Mascot” by Dirk Wales and “Coolies” by Yin, a book about the brave and perseverant Chinese railroad workers who made the Transcontinental Railroad possible.

Refueling Station
Running out of steam? Put a brake on your day at the Refueling Station. Lighthearted music to give you an energy boost and complimentary tea, lemonade, and sweet treats are provided while supplies last.

Train Day Celebration
Where: National Postal Museum | 2 Massachusetts Ave NE, WDC
When: May 19-20, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

This post is sponsored by the National Postal Museum, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.


Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Free, Museums, Special Event, Sponsored Post, Spring, Trains, Weekend

Giveaway! All Aboard the Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum

Trains are magical during the holidays, and at a venue dedicated to locomotives, you know the seasonal exhibition is going to be extra special.

The B&O Railroad Museum invites all aboard the Magical Holiday Express! The spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse is devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes with 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!

Magical Holiday Express at the B&O Railroad Museum
Where: 901 West Pratt Street | Baltimore, MD
When: Mon-Sat 10am – 4pm/Sun 11am – 4pm through December 31
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12

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Giveaway: For a chance to win Admission for 4 to the B&O Railroad Museum’s Magical Holiday Express, simply leave a comment below telling me your favorite holiday song. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too! This giveaway will run through Wednesday, December 13, then TWO winners will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


Filed under 2017, All ages, Annual, Christmas, Contest, DC, Exhibit, Giveaway, Holidays, Indoor Play, Maryland, Seasonal, Trains, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 27 – December 1

Hike (and hide) amid the pretty foliage at Pohick Bay Regional Park


Monday – Hang out at Hains Point! Play, picnic, and enjoy the surrounding scenery where the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers converge. Head all the way down, almost to the tip of the park, to reach the playgrounds. They’re set amid a large grassy area with picnic tables and restrooms right there, too. And the spot offers great views of the rivers and airplanes taking off and landing at DCA. You could even make a longer day of it, and visit the nearby Tidal Basin to explore the Jefferson, Roosevelt, and MLK Memorials. Admission to all of it is free.

Tuesday – Relish in the beautiful fall day at Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA. Hike the easy trails through the woods vibrant with foliage, take in views of the water, let kiddos swing and climb on the playground, and play some disc golf if that’s your thing. Bring along a picnic — there are lots of tables in gorgeous spots for lunch al fresco. Hours are sunrise to sunset, and admission is $7 (though the gate house was closed when we recently visited, so entry was free).

And don’t forget to take part in Giving Tuesday! If you want some ideas of where to donate, the GIVE page has a long list of charities and causes, all of them shared by KFDC readers. (And if you have one you’d like to highlight, leave a comment on that page, and I’ll add it.)

Wednesday – Enjoy a little time trip back to the 18th century at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. The living history locale welcomes visitors to explore the grounds, where there is a tobacco barn, farm house, garden, orchard, and animals. Guests can also interact with a family portraying life as it was back then. Hours are 10am – 4:30pm Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $5/adults, $3/children ages 3 and up, free/2 & under. Read about our first experience there in this post.

Thursday – Bring little ones to the National Museum of American History for a special Sesame Street Celebration. Festivities include a “Create Your Own Character” craft, a music making station, Sesame Street story times, and a rare opportunity to see Sesame Street characters from the Museum’s storage. Plus, families will be able to meet Julia, one of Sesame Street’s newest residents who lives with autism, during meet and greet sessions. This will all take place 10am – 12pm. Admission is free.

Friday – Zip over to DC’s big train station to check out the little trains. Union Station’s annual Holiday Train Show is back in the West Hall, featuring an elaborate Norwegian mountain landscape. Plan to grab a bite to eat at one of many options there or pop over to the National Postal Museum next door for more fun. Admission is free to both the train exhibit and the museum.

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Filed under 2017, All ages, Animals, Cause, Charity, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Trains, Virginia, Weekdays