Tag Archives: Christmas in DC

The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

The holiday season really may be the most wonderful time of the year in DC. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive through them. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. 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 around the DC area, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all.  Happy Holiday Season!

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

*************************************************************


An illuminated scene from a past Georgetown Glow

LIGHT DISPLAYS

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 11 – January 8
Admission: $30/car 

The early in the season opening offers more opprotunity to 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. And what elevates this light display is the holiday village and carnival that’s included in admission.  Even more, from November 11-20, save $10 with the promo code early22 — valid every day including weekends.  And from November 21- December 15 save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with the code lights22.

Winter Walk of Lights
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 8, 5-10pm
Admission: $16-18/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under

The Winter Walk of Lights start dazzling in mid November, as the beautiful garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights in the evenings. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: Free

Through the holiday season, Main Streets throughout the District are joining together to bring DC residents a spectacular holiday experience: DC Holiday Lights! Residents are invited to take a stroll down each of the participating corridors to experience a dazzling array of lights and decor, enjoy holiday promotions, and shop local. Visit the website to see where corridors are located and what to expect at each of them.

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

Glide the evening away at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria. The waterpark is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music, and more! Grab a slice of pizza, roast a marshmallow over the fire pits, and enjoy the winter village.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $10/age 5+

One of our faves, he Garden of Lights is 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 — a few of them new this year. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

Rhizome
Where: Bell Street Courtyard | Crystal City, VA
When: November 18 – January 2
Admission: Free

The Bell Street Courtyard, also known as Center Park, will house an installation by Light Art Collection’s Belgian artists, Tom & Lien Dekyvere. Consisting of a web of hundreds of meters of illuminated rope, Rhizome symbolizes the many ways in which human exchanges occur both on- and offline. This cocoon of light exchanges is reflective of our current society.

Winter City Lights
Where: 501 Olney Laytonsville Rd | Olney, MD
When: November 19 – December 31
Admission: $39-48/adult, $25-37/youth, free/4 & under

New to the area this year, this magical holiday experience consists of one million twinkling lights spread across 18-acres of an outdoor winter wonderland where it is guaranteed to “snow” every night. The largest light show in the DC area and Baltimore area, Winter City Lights claims to be one of the most technologically advanced Christmas light experiences in the country. Complete with 14 bonfires, it includes an enchanted 1.5-mile long trail of Christmas lights and displays through the woods, a 52-foot high programmable Christmas lights tree and light show, a 200-foot diameter canopy of Christmas lights. There’s also an eight lane Snow Tubing Ride, s’mores, funnel cakes, and more!

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 20 – January 1
Admission: $20/car, $5/3-D glasses

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 27th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. 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! Plan to purchase glasses at the entrance to make the lights come alive!

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When:  November 24 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 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 course is refreshed with some new lights and a 150 foot screen. On November 27, December 6, and December 31 walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family (check website for pricing on those nights).

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 25 – December 30, 5-9pm (select dates)
Admission: Free, but passes are required

This beloved FREE light display is back for the first time since Covid!  Thousands of environmentally-friendly lights and animal lanterns transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland in the evenings. There are also live music performances, tasty winter treats. and lots of opportunities for holiday shopping. Note that you must have passes to visit, and they’ll be available soon!

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/age 3-17

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas light maze, this year with a “Santa’s Magic Timepiece” theme. Stroll through lighted tunnels, travel to magical illuminated lands as you search for stars, and find your way to the 100-foot tall Christmas tree.  Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market,  and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review (from the first season it was here) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $10/online, $15/at gate

This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes. This has been one of our family traditions since the kids were babes!  For more about Watkins Regional Park, including all there is to enjoy during the day, see this KFDC post.

Winter Lights Festival
Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 25 – December 31
Admission: $15/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun

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

Winter Lantern Festival
Where: Lerner Town Square | Tysons, VA
When: November 25 – February 12
Admission: $32/adult, $20/child (look for discount)

This new-to-the-area event will be lighting up Tyson this winter. The illuminated display will transform Lerner Town Square into a dazzling world of light with over 1000 Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of experience. The lanterns and bright displays will light the night and bring warmth this holiday season!

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $15, free/2 & under

Bundle up for this magical holiday experience that is mostly outside. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into a twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous illuminations. Wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more are some of the sparkling scenes you’ll see.  Holiday pop-up shops, music, fun photo ops, and food and drink add to the seasonal cheer. Note that it’s closed November 28-29 and December 5, 6, 24, 25. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Commercial District | Georgetown, DC
When: November 26 – January 22
Admission: Free

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

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 1 – January 1
Admission: Free

This is the 7th year that the Yards is presenting a special light exhibition during the holidays, which always features large-scale illuminations that are interactive and really beautiful! This holiday season, Swinging Bells invites guests to become part of the artwork with interactive swings that animate the lights and amplify the cheerful sound of holiday bells. Fve, 13-foot tall bells will illuminate The Yards’ Sun Deck and are the perfect stop for taking photos and enjoying the holiday spirit.When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).  Get a glimpse of other previous Light Yards here, here, and here.

LDS Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 1 – January 2
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 (and for the first time this summer welcomed visitors inside). During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 400,000 lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity. Some activities require tickets, but they are not required for general admission.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 30th Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This iconic DC event will feature over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. Get into the spirit with holiday ornament decorating, family photos with Santa, and live music under thelighted Christmas Tree.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. The parade begins at 7pm.

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

The Nutcracker @ TheARC
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 12-13
Tickets: $30-60

This modified version of Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker is perfect for little theatre goers with a scaled-down and shorter performances. Like the bigger production, it’s set in historic Georgetown with historical figures and whimsical touches. There are only four performances available on one weekend, so snag your tickets soon!

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years is returning! 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.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 25 & 26
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

Usher in the holidays with Virginia National Ballet’s 10th Anniversary production of The Nutcracker. This full-length, professional production features international soloists and professional students from VNB’s school, with choreography by Artistic Director Rafik Hegab. Perfect for ballet-lovers and families alike!

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discount)

In a season stuffed with varied versions of the classic yuletide tale, Paul Morella’s solo performance stands apart for its devotion to Dickens’ original language and storytelling genius. One extraordinary performer brings to life Scrooge and his specters, the whole Cratchit family, and celebrants of Christmases past, present, and future – more than 40 different characters in all. It’s why this production is a treasured annual tradition gathering more devotees than ever as it enters its 13th iteration.

Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 25 – December 230
Tickets: $48-140

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. Swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms, and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, this “DC” production is a tradition for many a Washingtonian to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from one of our experiences fro awhile back. [Note: Even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version, it’s that good.]

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings once again at The Puppet Co. this year! In this puppet play, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the community, but the Queen and King of the Goblins have forbidden the lighting of the candles. Can Hershel save the day and lift the curse for this shtetl (village)?

Snow Maiden
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: December 1-23
Tickets: $25 (look for discount)

In a frozen silver world, a lonely man builds a woman from snow. Based on a 19th century folk tale and created by Helen Hayes Award-winning choreographer and Synetic Co-Founder Irina Tsikurishvili, Snow Maiden is a story of love, hope, and the transformative power of dreams. This enchanting holiday show is for all audiences. Go early for winter-themed arts and crafts, holiday cheer, and more!

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Theatre on the Run | Arlington, VA
Alexandria Country Day School | Alexandria, VA
When: Dec 2-4, 14-18 (Arlington) | Dec 10-11 (Alexandria)
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this holiday show for little ones… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals. Recommended for children ages 2-5 and their families.

The Christmas Angel
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 2-18
Tickets: $20-40

Based on a little-known 1910 novel by Abbey Farwell Brown, this tale about an elderly spinster and her heartwarming transformation into the Christmas spirit echo Dickens and the journey of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Our award-winning creative team, Conner and Smith, put their signature stamp on what is sure to become another classic Christmas show!  Use code 4PK to purchase a Family 4-Pack for $80 (4 seats together)!

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 3
Tickets: Free

Kick off the holiday season at Wolf Trap’s Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long! This musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with local choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring along a few things: 1) A candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” 2) A new, unwrapped toy — Wolf Trap will be collecting them for Toys for Tots (donations are voluntary and not required). 3) Your holiday cheer!

Family Messiah
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When December 3, 12pm
Tickets: $45/adult, $25/child

Join Washington National Cathedral for Handel’s beloved “Messiah,” and experience this Christmas classic in a space as Handel would have intended. The Cathedral’s soaring architecture and Gothic splendor offers a space unlike any other in Washington to experience Handel’s masterpiece. This noon concert on December 3 is an abbreviated performance of “Messiah” highlights, perfect for busy families with young children. Experience the best of “Messiah” with the whole family.

A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 3-11
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child

Encore Stage presents this show by kids for kids… In this remake of a Christmas classic, your favorite fairy tale characters bring to life the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s magical Christmas Eve. Mother Goose lends her talents to narrate the story as the Big Bad Wolf takes on the humbugging lead role. Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Old King Cole, and many more help create a new twist on the traditional Dickensian story told every December.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 5-16 & 19-20
Admission: $3-9

This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is back this season for first time since 2019! Seeing this show is like a rite of passage for every true DC kid. A signature Discovery Theater show, it 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. Recommended for ages 5-10.  It always sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets!

Step Afrika! Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: December 9-18
Tickets: $56-95 

Taking place at Arena Stage for the first time this year, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! (And we know from many years’ experience!) 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. The internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a fantastic, contemporary holiday tradition, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party. A great deal is the Family Fun Pack: 4 seats for only $130!  Order by calling the sales office (202.488.3300) Tuesday – Sunday, 12-8pm.

Holiday Wishes from The Talent Machine Co.
Where: Indian Creek School | Crownsville, MD
When: December 9-23
Tickets: $20

Enjoy this high-energy holiday musical revue from The Talent Machine Company, a premier children’s theater program based in Annapolis. The show features an amazingly talented cast of kids ages 5 to 18. The Talent Machine’s holiday show, which has been delighting children and families for more than 30 years, features Rudolf, the Elves, Frosty the Snowman and, of course, the irrepressible Santa himself. A holiday tradition not to be missed. Note that there will be an ASL interpretation during the 7:30pm show on Saturday, December 10 – more details on the website. Details about show dates, times and the ASL interpretation are on the website:

Joy of Christmas
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When: December 10, 2pm & 6pm | December 11, 4pm
Tickets: $25-98

Trumpets, drums, and voices herald the coming of the Christmas season. As the cold of winter sets in, music of the holidays past and present will warm your spirit. CCS’s annual Joy of Christmas is a Washington tradition that all should experience.

Christmas Revels: Celtic Crossroads
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 10-11 & 16-18
Admission: $20-55
The Washington Revels 40th annual Christmas Revels will be a homespun celebration of the holidays with music, dance and stories that echo from Celtic homelands to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Friends and neighbors living in a 19th-century “hollow” gather to prepare for “Old Christmas,” and the coming of the New Year. As the holidays draw close, they share music, warm family rituals that reflect ancestral roots, and stories of the journeys that led them to their Appalachian home. Scottish, Irish, German, Appalachian, and African American musical influences create a rich, uniquely American mash-up of toe-tapping reels, lush ballads and soaring spirituals, all culminating in a joyous Cèilidh and “breakin’ up Christmas.”

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: MGM National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 15-18
Tickets: $32-99

Cirque Dreams Holidaze lights up the stage in this popular and dazzling family holiday spectacular. This annual tradition wraps a whimsical, Broadway-style musical infused with contemporary circus artistry into the ultimate holiday gift for the entire family!

A Magical Cirque Christmas
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 16-18
Tickets: $50-120

Experience the enchantment of Christmas as Magical Hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live. Get into the spirit of the season with this merry treat that’s perfect for the entire family.

Wonderful Time of the Year
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: December 16-31
Tickets: $60 (look for discount)

Emotions and gratitudes will overflow this holiday season at Olney Theatre Center’s world premiere event. The Most Wonderful Time of The Year features Olney superstars and a five-piece band, and the show will have something for everyone. From skits to audience sing-alongs, dancing, and even some disco, there is sure to be an abundance of the holiday spirit in the house every night. So bring your joy, your sorrows, your need for connection, and your prayers for the world as we journey the month of December and celebrate The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 10-11
Tickets: $27-30/adult, $22-25/12 & 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 19-22
Tickets: $34-68

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand and celebrating its 10th anniversary season! The Hip Hop Nutcracker features Tchaikovsky’s classic score punched up by all-star contemporary and hip-hop dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Innovative visual effects transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of modern urban life. Through this remixed and reimagined version of the holiday classic, The Hip Hop Nutcracker takes us on a journey that celebrates love and community.

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 15-31
Tickets: $51/adult, $46/senior, $41/under 25 

Returning for its 10th season! An original work by Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, An Irish Carol is an homage to Dickens’ classic – told as only the Irish can. This comic and touching play, set in a modern Dublin pub, follows one evening in the life of David, a wealthy pub owner who has lost touch with his own humanity in the interest of self-protection and material success. But on this Christmas Eve – challenged by a voice from the past, provoked by those in the present, and faced with the reality of a lonely future – David’s life may change forever.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Strathmore  | Bethesda, MD
When: December 16, 17, & 23
Tickets: $10-73

It’s not Christmas without The Washington Chorus! Featuring brass, organ, and special guests, delight in the signature candlelight processional; raise your voice in an audience carol sing-along; and leave humming with a candy cane and a heart filled with holiday cheer.

The Nutcracker
Where: Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 16-26
Tickets: $27-41

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.

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 24, 11am
Tickets: $20-45 

Bring the kids for an unforgettable holiday experience as the Choral Arts Chorus fills the concert hall with holiday classics just for them! We’ll take you on a merry tour of 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+.

 


The U.S. Botanic Garden’s delightful model trains will be back outdoors this year!

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 11 – January 8
Admission: Starts at $27.99

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

Holiday Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 13 – December 18, Sundays
Admission: Free

Bundle up to enjoy an outdoor holiday movie at National Harbor. Every Sunday at 2pm, a free film will be shown on the Plaza’s big screen. Pack your chairs, grab food from one of the many eatery’s there, and sit back to enjoy a family-friendly holiday classic.

Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse
When: November 19 – January 8
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
Admission: $17-30
ARTECHOUSE presents a holiday celebration with this exhibit that will run through the season.  Experience holiday joy brought to life through digital fantasy worlds, as you float among giant swinging bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, join a thrilling train ride through wreaths, take a spin in the candy cane carousel, and more in this interactive cutting-edge experience. Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse is intended to transport you into an immersive multiverse filled with magic and wonder — the perfect experience to share with your family and loved ones.

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 24 – January 2
Admission: Free

Easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction, Season’s Greenings is a local must-do.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory 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’s theme is . Even better (imo), it’s back outdoors in the National Garden!  For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings.  Get a glimpse of a past exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 29, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Larger than life inflatable turkeys and penguins, glittering floats, marching bands, dancing groups, and Santa and his elves!  Montgomery County’s annual procession is the only Thanksgiving Parade in the DC Metro area. Heralding 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.

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: November 20 – December 31
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! is often the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. The atrium of the resort 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 way past.)

ICE!
Where: National Harbor, MD
When: November 20 – December 31
Admission: Starts $27.99/child & $36.99/adult, free/under 3 

The popular holiday spectacle, ICE!, is back after a pandemic hiatus.  This year it’s with an “A Christmas Story” 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.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 few years ago, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed.  However, some people love it, so check it out for yourself!  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.

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/age 3-17

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market,  and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review (from the first season it was here) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

The B&O Polar Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 25 – Decemeber 19, weekends
Admission: $47-67

Climb aboard The Polar Express to create a Christmas memory that you and your family will cherish forever! Come in your pajamas as a family to watch the live performance of The Polar Express. Once on the train, the classic Christmas tale will be performed and little ones will have the opportunity to meet Santa and receive their first gift of Christmas! Santa’s helpers will greet you upon arrival to the North Pole, where you can take pictures with Santa and have lots of holiday fun.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: November 25 – December 24, mostly weekends
Admission: Starts at $35-380

Yes, there are two Polar Express train rides! On this one, take a one-of-a-kind ride through Winter Land aboard the Western Maryland.  The 90-minute family-friendly expedition includes  singing, dancing, and a reading of The Polar Express, plus hot chocolate and cookies served by friendly and entertaining chefs and a visit from the Big Man himself! Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa will present the first gift of Christmas. On the return trip, everyone will receive a silver sleigh bell. Passengers are encouraged to wear their favorite pajamas and join in on the magic.

Church Street Holiday Stroll
Where: Church Street | Vienna, VA
When: November 28, 6-8:30pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy live holiday music from local groups, a tree lighting led by Mayor Linda Colbert, and great deals from local Church Street businesses.  Visit historic sites such as the Freeman Store and Museum, Little Library, Caboose, Train Station, Knights of Columbus (formerly First Baptist Church) and Vienna Presbyterian’s Old Chapel.

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: December 2 – 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.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November & December
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under 

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  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. And if you want to get in on special events, there are Candlelight Tours on select dates (November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10, and 18) and Christmas Illuminations fireworks (December 16-17) — visit the website for more details and pricing.

Lantern Walks
Where: Around the DC Area
When: November 30 – December 4
Admission: Free

For 10 years, Tinkergarten families and friends have walked with homemade lanterns to welcome winter’s darkness. This inspiring and beloved tradition helps children learn to embrace change and remember that, when they are in community with the natural world and with one another, they have the strength and light to overcome any challenges. Families can register to attend their local Lantern Walk, find out how to make their own lanterns, or even order sweet lantern-making kits here.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 3, 12-4pm
Admission: $5

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

Super Stamps and the Season of Giving
Where: National Postal Museum | Union Station Area, DC
When: December 3, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

During a time of year when many are seeking opportunities to make a difference, visitors to “Super Stamps and the Season of Giving” will learn about how semipostal stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS) fundraise for important causes. Together with other museums and charitable organizations, the National Postal Museum will explore the themes of community action and caring for others using a variety of performances and hands-on activities. Reserve a spot!

Holiday Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 3, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season with SAAM! Enjoy winter-themed crafting, face painting, and story time under the twinkle lights in the Kogod Courtyard. Enjoy a reading of The Nutcracker, groove to the beat of DJ Harry Hotter, and embark on a scavenger hunt in the galleries to find winter-themed artworks. Reserve a spot!

Pictures with Santa
Where: Ballston Quarter | Ballston, VA
When: December 3-24
Admission: Packages start at 39.99

If you want to get classic kids pics with Santa, book a session at Ballston Quarter. Embark on an enchanted adventure to take pictures and create magical memories for your family.

Bethesda Winter Wonderland
Where: Norfolk Avenue Streetery | Bethesda, MD
When: December 3, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

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

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3, 11am
Admission: Free

The Scottish Christmas Walk is back for its 51st year.  Once again, the parade will be a showcase of marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade usually begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and ends at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Starting  December 3
Admission: $10/adults, $8/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Visit a unique DC area museum this holiday season. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus down themile-long woodland railroad, featuring a holiday ride on historic street cars. In addition, enjoy a holiday model railroad display in collaboration with the Washington, Virginia, & Maryland Garden Railway Society; a Live Steam demonstration (December 10 only), photo opportunities; and more.

Season’s Treatings: Holiday Gingerbread Decorating
Where: Canal Center Plaza | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3, 1-2:30pm & 3:30-5pm
Admission: $35-250

Join UpCycle Creative Reuse Center at Canal Center Plaza in North Old Town Alexandria for an afternoon of decorating fun and holiday arts market. Stay to watch the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac River (starting at 4:30pm). Each ticket includes one pre-made gingerbread house (suitable for 2 people), frosting, and unlimited access to an expansive candy buffet. Parking in underground garage is also included.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 3, 4pm
Tickets: Free

Kick off the holiday season at Wolf Trap’s Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long! This musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with local choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring along a few things: 1) A candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” 2) A new, unwrapped toy — Wolf Trap will be collecting them for Toys for Tots (donations are voluntary and not required). 3) Your holiday cheer!

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

Middleburg is a perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit, and many events during the season — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling — add to it.  Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the fabulous Salamander Resort & Spa.  Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade. Afterwards, experience a Middleburg evening in our bistros, cafes, pubs, and restaurants joining in the Spirits of Middleburg. See the schedule of events for details.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: TBA
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.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 30th Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This iconic DC event will feature over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. Get into the spirit with holiday ornament decorating, family photos with Santa, and live music under thelighted Christmas Tree.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. The parade begins at 7pm.

Holiday Fest
Where: Historic Downtown Occoquan, VA
When: December 3-4
Admission: Free

The town of Occoquan will be festively decorated starting in mid-November, but the weekend of December 3-4 will have lots going on for all ages. Visit with Santa, a gingerbread house contest, a holiday market, concerts in the park and more fun can be enjoyed by all ages. Vsit the website for details.

Annual Family Holiday Party
Where: Sandy Spring Museum | Sandy Spring, MD
When: December 4
Admission: $15/family

Head to the museum for seasonal fun! Enjoy visits with Santa and his elves, a kids’-only gift shop, hands-on kids craft stations, mountains of cookies and a hot cocoa bar, live holiday music, and the Fine Arts & Crafts Holiday Gift Show featuring one-of-a-kind items created by local artists.

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

Everyone loves chocolate and Annapolis will be celebrating by filling West Street with all things chocolate to help chocoholics get through the holiday season. Prepare your sweet tooth with an afternoon of chocolate decadence as over 20 local and regional chocolatiers vend their 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, lots of holiday shopping, and the lighting of West Street’s BGE Holiday Light Canopy.

DAR Holiday Open House
Where: DAR Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 7, 5:30-8pm
Admission: Free

Tack this on to a visit to see the National Christmas Tree, as the DAR Museum is right across the street. Enjoy refreshments, cookies, and a taste of history at DAR. Experience the elegance and Christmas splendor of Memorial Continental Hall as you view a collection of sentimental DAR Christmas Open House memories through the years, take a tour of the 31 period rooms depicting scenes of early American life, explore the museum, and so some holiday shopping. Visitors are encouraged to bring new and lightly used children’s books to donate to our DAR Open House book drive.

Fifth Annual Winter Workshop
Where: Silver Oaks Cooperative School
When: December 10, 9am – 12pm & 1-4pm
Admission: $40

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could drop your kids off somewhere for three hours while you got some much needed time to yourself during this busy season? Wouldn’t it be even MORE amazing if they could make four different useful, homemade gifts along with spending time playing in a great setting? Silver Oaks Cooperative School thinks so, too… Their Kids Winter Workshop welcomes children ages 5-12 to the school for three hours to make four lovely gifts. Kids will wrap the gifts so they can stay a surprise until it’s time to open them. Use code Double before you select your tickets to get $5 off each ticket when you purchase two or more.

Brunch with Santa
Where: Watermark Hotel | Tysons, VA
When: December 11
Admission: $49/adults, $29/age 6-12, free/5 & under
Enjoy a bountiful and delicious brunch buffet with the season’s most popular celebrity, Santa! This jolly brunch at the Watermark Hotel includes signature favorites like scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, sausage, and other delightful bites. Chef Yo is also putting a twist on his trademark Tokyo Chicken dish by adding waffles and whipping up his famous fluffy chocolate chip pancakes. Top it all off at the hot cocoa bar and delight in soft serve ice cream for dessert. Adults are also invited to join in on the holiday fun with mimosas, bellinis, and build-your-own bloody marys ($12 each). During brunch, guests are invited to share their holiday wishes with Santa, take a photo with him, and enjoy the hotel’s festive holiday decor. Seatings are available at 11:30am, 12pm, 1:15pm., and 1:45pm. Reservations required, make them on Open Table under Experiences.

Tudor Tots: What Winter Holidays Do You Celebrate?
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown DC
When: December 14, 10-10:45am
Admission: $5/child, free for accompanying adults

The winter season is filled with so many different holidays; come learn how different people celebrate during this time of year. Young learners aged 18 months to 4 years and their caregivers will explore the traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza. Play games that are associated with the different celebrations, enjoy a group story about winter holidays, create a holiday craft and sing along to holiday songs.

Holidays at the Willard
Where: Willard InterContinental | Downtown DC
When: Throughout the season
Admission: Varies by activity (some free)

The Willard InterContinental is a popular DC stop during the holiday season. The elegant garland-wrapped columns outside lure visitors to take in the stately, festive lobby decor and snap a photo by the tree glittering with ornaments. Music, aromas, events, and traditions offered at the hotel are a nice break from the bustle of the city and season outside its doors.  Holiday meals, tea time, and caroling are some of the ways to enjoy more holiday time there.

Santa’s Workshop
Where: Women’s Club of Chevy Chase | Chevy Chase, MD
When: December 16-17, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $15

Santa and Mrs. Claus will be the Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase for this holiday event, and all are invited to join! Talk with Santa and Mrs. Claus to share Christmas wishes and snap a few photos, enjoy holiday crafts & fun, and see a Lionel Train set on display. Pizza, doughnuts, and refreshments will be available for purchase.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 16-17
Admission: $48-60/adult, $26-38/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.

Waterskiing Santa
Where: Columbia Island Marina | Arlington, VA
When: December 24
Admission: Free

Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he waterskies his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free at Columbia Island Marina in Arlington  — note that it’s a new spot from previous years!

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: TBA – tickets on sale November 7
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!

 


See the tree at the Library of Congress

TREE LIGHTINGS

National Harbor Nightly Tree Lighting
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 12 – December 31
Admission: Free

Watch the brand new 60-foot tree come to life nightly with a breathtaking light show in the heart of the Waterfront District. The show runs on the half an hour from sunset to 9pm. The Stars and Stripes Fair will also take place on the first night of the tree lighting.

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 18, 6pm
Admission: Free

Tysons Corner Center will bring the community together to join Santa in kicking off their 2021 Holiday Season. Programming will include Santa lighting the holiday tree, community performances, complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate station, a giant slow globe, the holiday market, festive music, giveaways, and more.

A Stunning Holiday Tree
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Throughout the season
Admission: Free

While there isn’t a special tree lighting event, the Christmas tree at the Library of Congress is one worth making time to see. Riding grandly in the middle of the Great Hall, it makes the already stunning space even more magnificent as its decked out in holiday decor. Read more about the Library of Congress here.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 29, 5pm
Admission: Free

The Capitol Tree Lighting is great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win lottery tickets (or even if you do)! While you can’t get up close to the lighting ceremony,  you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. Until then, you can follow the tree as it journeys from Pisgah Forest in North Carolina, where it was harvested, to DC. After the lighting ceremony, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy through January 1.

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

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. The tree is always huge and beautifully adorned, and 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 also always features festive performances.

Holiday Tree Lighting + Santa Firetruck Parade
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 25, 4pm
Admission: Free

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! Join the Mosaic District to welcome the arrival of the holiday season with a merry and bright tree lighting. Bring your family and friends to experience the Jolly Man’s arrival on a firetruck, a Santa meet and greet, and catch a screening of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

16th Annual Capitol Hill Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Eastern Market Metro Plaza | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 26, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the community as the 20-foot evergreen tree is lit up in the large circle garden at Eastern Market Metro Plaza. The tree is beautifully decorated by the BID’s “men in blue” every December. Festive cheers and caroling always follow the grand illumination of the tree, while friends gather for hot chocolate and holiday treats.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: November 30
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

This year will be the 99th National Christmas Tree lighting! Historically, to attend this lighting you have to enter a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual ceremony that takes place on the Ellipse, just beyond the White House. 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.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: CityCenter | Downtown DC
When: November 26, 5pm
Admission: Free
CityCenterDC’s beloved holiday tree lighting celebration returns for the ninth year, kicking off the holiday season with a spectacular 75-foot tree decked with over 155,000 lights and ornaments. The seven-piece dance band, Elan Artist’s The Revel, returns for a second year to perform contemporary and classic renditions of holiday favorites throughout the ceremony. More fun includes face painting and balloon art; sweet and savory treats; an exciting, interactive, photo experience for the crowd; and the Instagram-famous orange carpet on I Street for all your IG-worthy holiday photos.

Holiday Tree Lighting & Celebration
Where: Cathedral Commons | Northwest DC
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Join this signature Holiday Tree Lighting & Festive Celebration at Cathedral Commons. Enjoy free photos with Santa (dogs & cats, too), holiday performers, live music & more as you stroll through the decorated community square. Other activities include live performances and roaming entertainment.

Tree Lighting Festival
Where: City Ridge | Northwest DC
When: December 3, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

City Ridge is celebrating its first holiday season with fun, free seasonal activities all evening long for guests of all ages. Festivities for kids include face painting, glitter tattoos, Santa photos and a Letters to Santa station, crafts, roaming performers, holiday train rides, and more! There will also be carolers, pop-up opera performances, live ice carving demos, live music, fun photo ops, and giveaways — all of it culminating with a tree lighting ceremony featuring a performance and sing-along with a local choir.

Festival of Lights & Carols
Where: Old Town Square | Fairfax, VA
When: December 3, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the Christmas season in Fairfax with a festive day at Old Town Square. There will be a Holiday Market along with live holiday music, s’mores treats, crafts and more. The tree lighting and caroling begins at 5pm.


Get Hanukah started with the National Menorah Lighting

CHANUKAH

Hanukkah Hub
Where: PJ Library Online
When: Throughout the season
Admission: Free

PJ Library, a non-profit program that delivers more than 630,000 books to kids around the world (including Russia!) each month, has tips and resources to help you plan for and celebrate the holiday. Their Hanukkah Hub has child-friendly versions of the Hanukkah story along with craft ideas, recipes, and lots of educational and fun printables. You can also listen to their podcasts for kids and broswe their shop on Amazon.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings once again at The Puppet Co. this year! In this puppet play, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the community, but the Queen and King of the Goblins have forbidden the lighting of the candles. Can Hershel save the day and lift the curse for this shtetl (village)?

Boogie-Woogie Klezmer Brunch
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown, DC
When: December 4, 10:3am (brunch), 11:30am (Concert)
Admission: $25/concert & brunch; $15/concert free/7 & under
Klezmer brunch is back and family friendly this December! Music lovers of all ages are welcome to join us for Boogie-Woogie Klezmer Brunch with Seth Kibel paired with the Music Pilgrim Trio & Daryl Davis. There will be concert seating for those who want it, but children will not be expected to sit quietly — dancing is encouraged!

Chanukah LEGOLAND
Where: Northeast Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 4, 3-4pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot

Does your child love Legos? Are you ready to get into the Chanukah spirit? Join us at the Northeast Neighborhood Library for a lego-themed party!
Enjoy Lego activities, Chanukah treats, and help build a giant lego menorah. Duplos will be available for the younger kids, regular lego for the older ones. This fills up, so be sure to sign up early!

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD)
When: December 10, 6:30pm
Admission: Free
Join PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy, Kehilat Pardes, and The Jewish Federation to celebrate how to bring more light into the world with Chanukah (the Festival of Lights) and Havdalah. After a warm, spirited Havdalah ceremony to end Shabbat, create lanterns for a lantern walk!

Menorah Workshop
Where: Home Depot |901 Rhode Island Ave NE, DC
When: December 11, 3-4pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot!

Join Chabad East DC for a menorah building workshop. Make a brand new, custom built Menorah for this Chanukah! Dreidel games and chocolate gelt will also be part of the fun. And kids can bring home their very own, hand-painted menorahs!

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 18
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, there should be latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to reserve them in advance through the website.

The Wharf Lighting of the Menorah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 18
Admission: Free

The Wharf continues their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights!  Plan to enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront while you’re there and maybe even go for a spin at the ice rink!

First Night of Hanukah
Where: metrobar | Northeast DC
When: December 18, 4:30pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot

Visit metrobar for the first night of the festival of lights! Join to light our menorahs (yes, it’s fine to BYO menorah too!), eat vegan donuts from Donut Run, and enjoy hot drinks with friends and fam. And they’ll be lighting the menorah the same time all week from December 21-24. (PS: metrobar is right next to The Alamo, so you can plan for a family movie after you light the menorah).

Kensington’s Annual Menorah Lighting
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: December 18, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

Kensington is celebrating the first night of Chanukah with its annual Menorah Lighting at the Kensington Town Hall. All are welcome to join. Music and treats wil be part of the festivities, too.

Northern VA Night of Lights
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: December 18, 5:30pm
Admission: Free
Join a family-oriented, community-wide candle lighting event featuring holiday-themed activities, including latkes, dreidel playing, doughnuts, kids crafts, music, a photo booth, and more!

Chanukah Holiday Party
Where: Edlavitch JCC | Downtown DC
When: December 19, 7-8:30pm
Admission: $10

Bring family and friends for a festive night of celebrating Chanukah at the JCC! They’ll light candles, enjoy holiday music, play dreidel, and participate in other fun Chanukah-themed activities. Dinner and snacks will be served, too.

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: TBA
Admission: Free

Join Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington to celebrate Chanukah! After they liht the 9-foot menorah, enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and lively music. There will also be chocolate gelt and dreidels for all. Register in advance.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: TBA
Admission: TBA

The Chanukah celebration returns to the ice at Pentagon Row this year! Celebrate the holiday with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but a kosher dinner will be sold separately for $5 and includes hot latkes, Kosher hot dogs, donut, and water. Prepay by November 25, admission is $10, after it’s $13.

Chanukah Concert & Grand Menorah Lighting
Where: Sylvia S. Ely Auditorium | Rockville, MD
When: December 22, 7pm
Admission: Starts at $18

Join Chabad of Silver Spring for a special concert with Nissim Black on the 5th night of Chanukah. There will also be a menorah lighting along with the live music. Concessions will be available for purchase.

The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Museum Shop Holiday Market
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: November 11-13, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Suggested donation of $10
Start your holiday gift shopping with DC’s museums. Strathmore’s Museum Shop Holiday Market brings together the area’s best museum and cultural shops for three festive days. Every present is part of a larger purpose as your purchase supports nonprofit museums and arts organizations in our community. Find unique gifts from the shops at Strathmore, Brookside Gardens, the Supreme Court Historical Society, Hillwood, The Phillips Collection, GWU Museum & The Textile Museum, President Lincoln’s Cottage, and Woodend Nature Shop.

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, including one  at 8th and Pennsylvania just across from the Metro.

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 10 – December 11
Admission: $20-25

Join Lucketts for their fabulous Holiday Design House and decked out Store. A magical holiday event filled with Christmas shopping, fun holiday murals + photo vignettes, Vanish wine garden and more. Your ticket gets you entry to the Design House, a 19th century farmhouse that Lucketts transforms into a winter wonderland. All decor inside is available for purchase and additional surprises will take place throughout each weekend. [Note:  Admission to the store and ground are free, just the Holiday house requires a ticket!]

29th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 11-13
Admission: $8/age 13+, free/12 & under

This award-winning holiday show features 225 fine artisans from more than 20+ states. They offer a diverse selection of fine arts, pottery, jewelry, stained glass, wood, photography, fiber arts, vintage re-creations as well as thousands of one-of-kind Christmas collectibles. Select specialty food vendors will offer gift-packaged gourmet fare, and the tasty homemade goodies are ideal for creating gift baskets, loading up Santa’s stockings, and gathering those hard-to-find executive gifts. A major food drive benefiting the Capital Area Food Bank is held during this event each year as well.

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – 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 an excellent variety of gift items — I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city feel like a small town. A bonus is the free live entertainment along with treats and coffee drinks available for purchase. And after you’ve done your shopping and enjoyed a snack and music, you can pop into the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market.

Holiday Market
Where: The PARC | Tysons, VA
When: December 2-17, Fridays & Saturdays
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season with local makers, crafters, and artisans from the Fairfax area. Visit The PARC at Tysons the first three Fridays and Saturdays of December for a pop-up shop of local artisans and small businesses offering their unique holiday-inspired goods and gifts. You’re sure to find something for even the hardest-to-shop-for person on your list.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: TBA
Admission: Free

Victura Park, the family-friendly wine garden on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, transforms into a festive Holiday Market during the season, featuring a line-up of local artists, craftspersons, and other specialized vendors, including the Kennedy Center Gift Shop pop-up shop. Support small businesses by purchasing gifts, prepackaged treats, and one-of-a-kind artworks for the perfect holiday celebration!  Sip on seasonal classics such as spiked cider and hot cocoa or choose from the signature menu of beer and wine, light snacks, and delicious food hot from the grill.

Fall Bazaar
Where: Washington Waldorf School | Bathesda, MD
When: November 19
Admission: Free, but fee for activities 

Washington Waldorf School is bringing back its annual holiday market for the first time since 2019! For over 50 years, it has been offering one of the highest quality bazaars in the DC area with unique crafts and activities for children of all ages. They welcome many local artisans and offer an array of beautiful handcrafted items made by parents. There will also be live entertainment and tasty treats Entrance is free, but activities require tickets to be purchased. All are welcome!

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 19 – December 24
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult weekends, kids free

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, a carousel and ferris wheel, live performances, 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 for specifics.) And for more to do in Charm City see the KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids.

Heurich Christmas Markt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 2-4
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

Heurich House’s annual holiday market, Christkindlmarkt, has evolved from a small garden fair to a block-wide celebration. This year, stroll through the festive German-style craft market from the Heurich House Museum’s garden up New Hampshire Avenue NW towards Dupont Circle with a Glühwein in hand and find the perfect holiday gifts for loved ones. The Markt will feature over 50 local small-scale makers, a mini exhibit about. the historic revival of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co.’s Senate Beer, children’s ornament making, and more! Visits to the Christmas Markt not only support DC’s local craftspeople directly, but also helps the museum provide services to them all year long.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 8, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

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

Old Town Alexandria Christmas Market & Holiday Craft Show
Where: Carlyle Square | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 10
Admission: Free

Over 110 artisans, crafters, independent consultants, and other local small businesses will showcase their products, just in time for the holidays! From arts and crafts to jewelry and baked goods, to body and hair care, the vendors have perfect items for gifts for loved ones!

DC Holiday Market
Where: Union Market – Dock 5 | Northeast DC
When: December 17-18
Admission: $10-15/adult, free/age 14 & under

The holiday market is back at Union Market. Treat yourself and browse everything from clothing to gourmet snacks, jewelry to home goods, all while meeting the designers and small business owners themselves. Admission includes access to shopping, free drinks, fun DIY projects, areas to lounge, and great photo ops.

* * * * *

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

The Weekend: December 31 – January 2

Kick off 2022 with a nice hike! (Turkey Run Park pictured here)

 

Once again, I’m taking a little break and keeping it simple as we wind down 2021. Not to mention, with Omicron spreading like wildfire, there aren’t many special events and activities happening this weekend.  The links below will still lead you to info and inspo to fill the next few days with as much (or little) activity as you want, including holiday happenings and ongoing and seasonal fun. You can also check KFDC on Instagram and Facebook for any updates or extra ideas that might arise.

Happy Weekend! And a very Happy New Year to all!

The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

Chill Time: Activities Around DC During the Covid Winter

Where to Go and What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2021

Ice Skating Around the DC Area

Walks in the Woods

Serenity Now: 10 Places to Find Peace and Calm in DC

Ride On: Bike Routes for Everyone Around the DC Area

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Live Entertainment Around the DC Area in Late Fall & Winter (Some show may be cancelled.)

Baltimore with Kids

Indoor Outings

 

***MORE GOOD STUFF TO KNOW***

The Noon Yards Eve event at Yards Park has been cancelled.

The Washington Post’s annual list of what’s in and what’s out for the year ahead.

New Year’s Eve finger foods, many that sound perfect for an at-home celebration with the fam.

Toast-worthy cocktails to ring in the new year.

New Year’s traditions around the world.

20 best places to travel in 2022, according to Travel + Leisure.

Ten noteworthy books for January.

Some great sales going on right now:  Anthro, Nordstrom, Gap, Everlane.

A fantastic movie available to rent this weekend.

For the whole fam: Best kids’ movies of 2021 that parents will also love.

Omicron is the Beginning of the End (we hope!).

McSweeney’s most read articles of 2021.  (#15 had me in lol tears.)

22 things to look forward to in 2022 🙂

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2021, 2022, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend

The Weekend: December 24-26

 

This is the time of year I give myself a little break with weekend posts.  So, just like the modified title, I’m keeping this round-up simple — but definitely not leaving you hanging. The links below will still lead you to info and inspo galore to fill the next few days with as much (or little) activity as you want, including holiday happenings and ongoing and seasonal fun. You can also check KFDC on Instagram and Facebook for any updates or extra ideas that might arise.

Merry Christmas to all… and to all a Happy Weekend!

 

The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

Chill Time: Activities Around DC During the Covid Winter

Where to Go and What to Do Around DC During Winter Break 2021

Ice Skating Around the DC Area

Walks in the Woods

Serenity Now: 10 Places to Find Peace and Calm in DC

Ride On: Bike Routes for Everyone Around the DC Area

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Live Entertainment Around the DC Area in Late Fall & Winter

Indoor Outings

 

***MORE GOOD STUFF TO KNOW***

I can’t say enough… go get vaccinated or boosted if you haven’t yet.  As mentioned earlier this week, walk-up vaccinations for ages 5+ and boosters for ages 16+ are available nearly every day in DC at select libraries and rec centers (not on Christmas Day). You can also go here to search for other locations near you.

Two of our recent orders from Amazon that I recommend for everyone: These and these.

Need some very last minute gift ideas?  The KFDC Holiday Gift Guide has loads of suggestions for local experiences or subscriptions you get in just a few clicks!

Inspiring people:  2021 Washingtonians of the Year.

A very yummy  looking/sounding Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Menu.

Sasha gives two big thumbs-up to Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The year in sound, from The Daily.

The 22 best podcasts to help you process the end of 2021.

A beautiful tribute to one of the best at the Kennedy Center Honors.

Love the pure joy of this moment.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2021, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: December 17-19

 

Happy Weekend!

Easy links to a mix of ongoing and seasonal DC fun:
* KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season
Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Indoor Outings
* Ice Skating
* Bike Rides
* Peaceful Places
* Baltimore with Kids

Winter Breakin’
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

For many of us, our kids’ Winter Break from school begins this weekend. If you’re going to be in town and seeking ways to keep the whole gang happy (and that includes us parents), this KFDC guide has you covered. Find recommendations for the best things to do now, from holiday-inspired happenings to special exhibits to live entertainment to outdoor adventures to indoor action to awesome day trips… and even more.

Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

This probably is the weekend to embrace the holiday spirit.  And there’s holiday fun to be had all over the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. See model trains buzz around model farms around the world at the US Botanic Garden. See pretty Christmas trees and enjoy an evening lighting.  Experience Christmas on the Potomac at the National Harbor. Celebrate the season at Mount Vernon. Take a festive train ride at the B&O Railroad Museum. Check out Light Yards, the annual illuminated installation at Yards Park. Find details on all of these events and many more are in the 2021 KFDC Holiday Guide.

Rock the Rink with the Caps
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Friday, 7-10pm
Admission: $9/child, $12/adult, $6/skate rental

It’s ALL CAPS at The Wharf! Join fellow hockey fans at The Wharf to show your Caps pride and skate at the ice rink with a DJ, Caps gear giveaways, and a visit from Slapshot. At 8pm, they’ll also broadcast the Capitals’ away game against the Winnipeg Jets on a jumbotron located on the Transit Pier floating stage. Throughout the day, fans wearing Capitals gear will receive $5 off admission to The Wharf Ice Rink. After skating, warm up by the fire pit and make Caps s’mores at the Capitals Campfire. For more places to skate throughout the weekend (and winter), see this round-up of local rinks.

Holly Days After Hours
Where: Eastern Market Area | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Friday, 4-9pm
Admission: Free

Eastern Market Main Street is getting festive after hours with fun activities for the whole family. The Not-So-Silent Night Market will run around the building 12-8pm. And along the C Street Plaza, there will be crafts for kids, complimentary gift wrapping of any corridor purchases, and a holiday photo booth (7pm). Best of all, the Silent Disco is returning (7-9pm), so get ready to boogie!

Holiday Drive-In: Love Actually
Where: Buzzard Point | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday, 6:30-9pm
Admission: Free ($20/car donation suggested)
Catch a family holiday movie from the comfort of your car! The Capitol Riverfront BID is presenting a festive flick at the drive-in. See Love Actually and enjoy some holiday treats, too. Kilwins, one of the Wharf restaurants, will be onsite selling hot chocolate, popcorn, candy, and other goodies! The drive-in is free to attend with registration, but movie-goers are encouraged to make a $20 donation to DC Central Kitchen.

Holiday Movie Pajama Party
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: Saturday, 10:15am, 10:30, & 10:45am
Admission: $8

The Boro is teaming up with ShowPlace ICON Theatre for a holiday movie marathon. Grab your coziest pair of pajamas and enjoy your favorite holiday classics. Register in advance to see Elf at 10:15am, The Polar Express at 10:30am, or Dr. Suess’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas at 10:45am. The pajama party continues after the movie with music, crafts, photos, and more in the lobby.

Alif Ba Opening Celebration
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $15.95

A new visiting exhibit that explores the Arabic alphabet opens at the Museum on Saturday — and they’re celebrating with special activities. Named for the Arabic term for the “ABCs,” the Alif Ba Exhibition brings the Arabic alphabet and language to life with 28 hands-on letter displays in the Museum’s Creative Corner. At Saturday’s event, there will also be Arabic calligraphy, animal name yoga, story time, an Arba music demonstration, and mosaic tile making. Read more abot the Museum here.

Model Trains & Thomas
Where: Historic Vienna Train Station | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

What would the holiday season be without trains? Stop by the Historic Vienna Train Station where you can see and hear HO scale model trolleys and trains, including Thomas and some of his friends on display and in operation. The Polar Express will be running, too! A great family activity for the young and young at heart. The Vienna Depot is located at 231 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, VA. Masks required for all visitors age 2 and older regardless of vaccination status. Hand sanitizer will be available.

Merry TUBACHRISTMAS!
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: Free

Watch and listen as hundreds of tuba, sousaphone, and euphonium players from around DC play traditional Christmas music at the 48th annual Merry Tubachristmas! The Millennium Stage show will take place outside on The REACH plaza.  Make a day of it and visit the Victura Park Winter Holiday Market while you’re there and enjoy the Kennedy Center’s beautiful outdoor areas.

Search for Santa’s Helpers
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: Saturday through Tuesday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: $5/child

Go on a scavenger hunt around Potomac Overlook Park to find Santa’s helpers so they can get back to the North Pole in time for the holidays.  No reservations are needed, but check in at the Nature Center  to begin.  The park in Arlington is a great place to hike around, even better when there’s an extra holiday adventure!  Get some background on Potomac Overlook in this KFDC post from awhile back — but pretty much still applicable now.

Market Days
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by market

Add some fun to your holiday shopping! What might be a stressful activity for many this time of year, can actually be good time for you and the kids — if you know where to go. Many local holiday markets offer more than the standard browse-and-buy. Live entertainment, yummy treats, fun activities, and the chance to shop outdoors in a festive atmosphere will keep your inner-Scrooge at bay as you pick out perfect gifts for all. The Downtown Holiday Market, Victura Park Holiday Market,  Eastern Market, and Christmas Village in Baltimore are some running this weekend, and you can find details for all of them in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season.

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

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment to get into the spirit, there is a lot to choose from! Courderoy is on the Imagination Stage.  Adventure Theatre and The Puppet Co. have performances especially for little ones. Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker will enchant audiences of all ages.  And Cinderella is sweeping across the Synetic Theatre stage. Get details on all of these shows and see what else is coming up soon in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in the DC Area.

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

This one deserves its own listing because it’s a fave (and it’s run ends this weekend): Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town (and we know from many years’ experience!) 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. The internationally renowned percussive dance company has created a contemporary holiday tradition at the Atlas, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party.

Once Upon a One More Time
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 9
Admission: $82-145 | Find Discount

This fantastic show presented by Shakespeare Theatre Company reimagines classic fairytales as it empowers the princesses in them — all to the tune of Britney Spears’ music! It’s a fun and funny, pop-fueled show with entertaining song and dance numbers, stellar performances, and a great message, to boot. And seeing it on the heels of Britney being freed from her conservatorship adds a little extra something. Its run has just been extended to January 9, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out! I’d recommend the show for tween ages and up.

Holly TrolleyFest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Saturday
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Visit a unique DC area museum and enjoy some holiday cheer! Take a ride on a street car; check out Winter in Washington, a special exhibit celebrating the season with street cars in the Nation’s Capital; see the Winter Garden Railway and Street Car Hall… and, who knows, maybe Santa will make an appearance, too.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: $48-60/adult, $26-38/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.

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Saturday, 2pm
Tickets: $20-45 (look for discount)

Bring the kids for an unforgettable holiday experience as the Choral Arts Chorus fills the concert hall with holiday classics just for them!

Jingle Jam
Where: Capital Turnaround | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Saturday, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

“Mix and a-mingle” with friends, family, and neighbors at this special Christmas concert in the newly opened Capital Turnaround. See the space decked out for Christmas, and enjoy crafts, holiday portraits, hot beverages, and a special performance by the U.S. Marine Band clarinet ensemble. Tickets are free, but register in advance.

Photos with Santa
Where: The Salt Line | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Sunday, 3-5pm
Admission: $10

The Big Man himself is visiting Capitol Riverfront a few days early for Photos with Santa. Kids, kids at heart, and pets are all welcome to register for a photo which comes with a complimentary warm beverage from The Salt Line. All ticket proceeds will be donated to St. Baldrick’s Foundation for Childhood Cancer Research. Get your tickets ASAP — they’re almost sold out!

Roam Free
Where: Dumbarton Oaks Gardens | Georgetown, DC
When: Throughout the weekend, 3-5pm
Admission: Free

One of my favorite KFDC Tips to impart because it’s on of my favorite places in DC:  During this time of year (from November through mid-March), there is no fee to roam the beautiful, enchanting garden at Dumbarton Oaks.  Stroll among the various plats, find lovely tucked away places to sit, and enjoy a delightful, relaxing wander around the grounds. Hours are limited, but you can make a longer day of it with play time at Montrose Park next door, some holiday shopping along M Street, and/or a bite to eat at one of of the many options in Georgetown. This KFDC post about Dumbarton also has some nearby food recs and this one from earlier KFDC days has more info and scenes.

Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of many parks or corridors in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, expect to be dazzled.

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* In case you missed it earlier this week, KFDC writer Emily shared some excellent stocking stuffer ideas for little ones.
* And if you’re in need of last minute present ideas for all ages, don’t forget about the KFDC Gift Guide.  Many of the suggestions are experiences that can be purchased easily online and emailed or printed to give.
* Another one to note: Arena Stage has a great holiday sale going on — 3 plays for $99!
* Practical gift for your house?  This is the best of its kind that we’ve ever owned, and totally worth it (imo).
* Extra festive restaurants for Christmas dining around DC, from Washingtonian.
* NY Times Cooking’s 50 most popular recipes of the year.
* We hope Teddy the pup will like this gift as much as we will.
* A great round-up of bingeable movies, TV shows, and podcasts.
* Top cartoons on IG in 2021 (New Yorker).
* May the holiday spirit make us all feel like this!

2 Comments

Filed under 2021, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: December 10-12

The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

 

Happy Weekend!

Go-to posts for all kinds of ongoing and seasonal local activities:
* KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season
Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Indoor Outings
* Autumn Activities
* Ice Skating
* Bike Rides
* Peaceful Places
* Baltimore with Kids

Holiday Drive-In: The Muppet Christmas Carol
Where: Buzzard Point | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Friday, 6:30-9pm
Admission: Free ($20/car donation suggested)

Catch a family holiday movie from the comfort of your car! The Capitol Riverfront BID is presenting a festive flick at the drive-in on Friday. See The Muppet Christmas Carol this week, and enjoy some holiday treats, too. (Love Actually next Friday Kilwins, one of the Wharf restaurants, will be onsite selling hot chocolate, popcorn, candy, and other goodies! These drive-in movies are free to attend with registration, but movie-goers are encouraged to make a $20 donation to DC Central Kitchen.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: Friday, 4-9pm | Saturday & Sunday, 12-9pm.
Admission: Free

The grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center are always great for hanging out on weekends. Victura Park, the family-friendly wine and beer garden + cafe on premises, offers snack and sips that you can enjoy at picnic tables in pretty areas. This weekend it gets festive as they bring back the Holiday Market featuring a line-up of local artists, craftspersons, and other specialized vendors, including the Kennedy Center Gift Shop pop-up. Make a day of it shopping, noshing, sipping… and enjoying the gorgeous rounds including the KC Terrace and Plaza we well as the scenic river views!

More Market-ing
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by market

Add some fun to your holiday shopping! What might be a stressful activity for many this time of year, can actually be good time for you and the kids — if you know where to go. Many local holiday markets offer more than the standard browse-and-buy. Live entertainment, yummy treats, fun activities, and the chance to shop outdoors in a festive atmosphere will keep your inner-Scrooge at bay as you pick out perfect gifts for all. Along with Victura Park, the Downtown Holiday Market, Old Town Christmas Market, and Eastern Market are a few running this weekend (and beyond), and you can find details for all of them in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season.

Story Time with Santa
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
Admission: Free, but register ahead

Santa Claus is coming to town to spread holiday cheer! He’ll be visiting The Boro to read some of your favorite holiday stories. Join to meet Santa, warm up with a Hot Cocoa Bar, and get in the spirit of the season. While you’re there, stop by the pop-up bookstore hosted by Turning the Page from 10am – 3pm to find perfect gifts for everyone! (PS: The Boro will be collecting toys to donate to Toys for Tots. Guests are invited to bring a toy to this event for donation.)

Happy Trails
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Warmer temps will make it a perfect time to hit the trail with the fam! Savor the time in nature, tramp in places with scenic views, hike and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a bunch of recommendations for great places to go with kids.  A few specific suggestions for this weekend: Riverbend to Great FallsPatapsco Valley State Park, drive out to Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area, or stay closer to home at Greenbelt Park.

The Polar Express Pajama Party
Where: Miracle Theater | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Saturday, 11am
Admission: $6

Sip some hot chocolate in your PJ’s while watching the holiday classic, The Polar Express. The film is an inspiring adventure based on the beloved children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. A young boy embarks on a magical adventure to the North Pole on the Polar Express. During his adventure he learns about friendship, bravery, and the spirit of Christmas.

Holidays on the Stage
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment to get into the spirit, there is a lot to choose from! Courderoy opens at Imagination Stage.  Adventure Theatre and The Puppet Co. have performances especially for little ones. Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker will enchant audiences of all ages.  Cinderella is sweeping across the Synetic Theatre stage. Get details on all of these shows and see what else is coming up soon in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in the DC Area.

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: Through December 19
Tickets: $25-45 

This one deserves its own listing because it’s a fave: Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town (and we know from many years’ experience!) 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. The internationally renowned percussive dance company has created a contemporary holiday tradition at the Atlas, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party.

Once Upon a One More Time
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 9
Admission: $82-145 | Find Discount

This fantastic show presented by Shakespeare Theatre Company before it heads to Broadway undoes classic fairytales as it empowers the princesses in them — all to the tune of Britney Spears’ music! It’s a fun and funny, pop-fueled show with entertaining song and dance numbers, stellar performances, and a great message, to boot. And seeing it on the heels of Britney being freed from her conservatorship adds a little extra something. Its run has just been extended to January 9, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it sells out! I’d recommend the show for tween ages and up.

Nursery School Open House
Where: River Park Nursery School | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Are you looking for the quintessential nursery school experience for your child? RPNS is a morning program for your 3-5 year old with a small teacher to student ratio. It is a warm and welcoming community. Bring your child to an Open House on Saturday to talk with current families, meet their amazing teacher Ms. Erin, and see the learning space. The RPNS program is designed to encourage individual growth, in a pro-social environment, and to foster exploration, creativity and good work habits through the experience of shared value and citizenship, all under the guidance of highly qualified professional instructors. Sign up in advance for an Open House time slot. (Note: There will also be one on January 15 from 10am – 12pm.)

A Little Christmas in The Little City
Where: Christ Crossman Church | Falls Church, VA
When: Saturday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Christ Crossman Church is once again hosting its annual holiday event that is fun for all and helps others. Family-friendly and outdoors, it features a live petting zoo, holiday craft stations, food trucks, and hot chocolate around fire pits.  Kids can participate in a service project assembling Power Packs for local students in need through Food for Others. Free and open to all! Christ Crossman Church is located at 384 N Washington Street in Falls Church.

Lantern Walks
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

For nearly a decade, Tinkergarten families and friends have walked with homemade lanterns to welcome winter’s darkness. This inspiring and beloved tradition helps children learn to embrace change and remember that, when they are in community with the natural world and with one another, they have the strength and light to overcome any challenges. DC area Lantern Walk events are taking place this Saturday and Sunday. Register to attend your local Lantern Walk, find out how to make their own lanterns, or even order sweet lantern-making kits here.

Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt
Where: Around DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Fourteen commercial corridors in the city have teamed up to add a little extra holiday cheer to this holiday season! You can visit them to see all kinds of dazzling lights and participate in a citywide DC Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt. Earn entries for each participating corridor you visit during December, as well as by completing other scavenger hunt tasks such as visiting murals on the corridors and finding secret codes at businesses across DC. The more entries you earn, the more chances to win one of the $5,000 in prizes available from local businesses all across the District!

Caroling Christmas Trees
Where: N & Half Streets SE | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Saturday & Sunday, 6-9pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Day 4 (& 5) of Capitol Riverfront’s “12 Days of Capriv” with festive fun. Head to Half Street on Saturdayfor Caroling Christmas Trees, featuring live carolers performing holiday classics and a can’t-miss “Letters to Santa” mailbox for kids and kids-at-heart to drop off their wishes. Post a photo in front of the illuminated trees on Instagram, and tag @capitolriverfront for the chance to win a $50 gift card to a neighborhood restaurant!

Capital Art & Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $10/advance, $12/at door, free/12 & under
Browse the works of over 200 local artisans and crafters and find unique holiday gifts  This festival features art in more than a dozen mediums — jewelry, paintings, prints, glass, leather, photography, pottery, wearable art, and wood, and more.  For safety, aisles are wider and masks required.  Visit the website for more details.

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


This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus displays representing all 50 states are a staple 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.

Day Trip from DC
Where: Around the region
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Get out of dodge  for a day for some cool fun in areas that require a bit of a drive, but not an overnight stay (though you could consider it). Explore the spectacular underground world of Luray Caverns. Discover charm and awesome attractions of Baltimore.  Enjoy hiking and history at Harpers Ferry. Take an ice cream making museum tour at Turkey Hill in Lancaster, PA. Or venture out to the Calvert Marine Museum to experience fascinating exhibits that highlight the history of the Chesapeake Bay.

Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of many parks or corridors in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, expect to be dazzled.

More Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

There’s holiday inspired fun to be had all over the area in all kinds of ways at every price point. See model trains buzz around model farms around the world at the US Botanic Garden. Experience Christmas on the Potomac at the National Harbor. Celebrate the season at Mount Vernon. Check out Light Yards, the annual illuminated installation at Yards Park. Find details on all of these events and many more are in the 2021 KFDC Holiday Guide.

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* Looking for a great way to give back with kids? KFDC contributor Emily just shared about her experience volunteering at Comfort Cases with her 4-year-old daughter.
* If you’re still in need of holiday gift ideas, the KFDC guide has lots of good, DC-centric recommendations.
* The National Cherry Blossom Parade will be back this year, and seated grandstand tickets are now on sale. ( FYI, you can also stand along the route for free.)
* Washingtonian’s 6 Festive Holiday Destinations Within an Easy Drive of DC.
* Currently reading and really enjoying this book.
* How fun are these slippers? (We love the socks, too!)
* Best of 2021 – a bunch of ’em.

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2021, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend