Tag Archives: DC Chanukah events

The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in the DC Area


The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive among 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.

A few local favorites unfortunately aren’t back this year due to Covid, but there still are more than plenty to make the season fun and festive for all.  This annual guide to the holiday season in the DC area, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all. (Note: Details for some events have yet to be released, but I wanted to get this out, as some activities are starting very soon, plus tickets are on sale and there are some early bird discounts. Check back soon for more info and additional events.)  Happy Holiday Season!  [Note:  There have been some updates to the guide as more info and events are announced, and all are indicated.]

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Chanukah

Tree Lightings

Holiday Markets

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Enjoy a family stroll through Brookside’s magical Garden of Lights

LIGHT DISPLAYS

LuminoCity
Where: Roer’s Zoofari | Vienna, VA
When: Through January 2, 6-9pm
Admission: Start at $5-66 (look for discount)

The area’s newest light display is already open and immersing visitors in a world lit up with towering luminescent sculptures. Guided by Lumi, the LuminoCity mascot, see unicorns and other glowing characters and scenes throughout the experience. The event is all outdoors and timed-entry.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 2
Admission: $16/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 11 – January 2
Admission: $30/car 

Opening earlier than usual this year, there’s a little more time 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 back this year is the holiday village and carnival with even more fun to accompany the lights show.  Avoid crowds more and get a discount by going Monday through Thursday and use the code LIGHT21 for a discount on those days.

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 19 – January 6
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 19 – January 2
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

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

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Admission: $10/person

The Garden of Lights is back this year and celebrating its 23rd season as a DC area family holiday tradition! (FYI: This is one of our faves!) Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 21 – January 2
Admission: $20/car 

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 26th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. Lights on the Bay has something for everyone in the family. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. And Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day!

Enchant Christmas
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 26 – January 2
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13

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 last season it was here) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When:  November 25 – January 2
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On November 28, December 2, walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 26 – January 12
Admission: $8/online, $10/on site, FREE on December 25


This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes. 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 26 – December 31
Admission: $15/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun

The 25th Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The 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!

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 26 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & under

This annual holiday light show is keeping everything outside, so bundle up for a magical holiday experience. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into an outdoor twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. Wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more are some of the sparkling scnes you’ll see.  An outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink add to the seasonal cheer.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: A few alleys in Georgetown, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: Free

This GLOW is actually an extension of the summer edition, which has been brightening up Georgetown since July.  See parts of the neighborhood in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through November 30, a few alleys will sparkle with modern light art installations by four local artists. 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 6th 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 season will be a whimsical, 22-foot glowing trees light installation from Amigo & Amigo, the same artists who created last year’s stars.  Trimmed top to bottom in holiday decor and festooned lights, they’ll cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful, colored patterns.  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 and here.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays at The Wharf and see the beautifully decorated boats cruise by on the Potomac along with more activities. Decorate ornaments to get into the spirit, go ice skating (the rink will be back!), plus warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 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.

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

Back to Thanksgiving
Where: Keegan Theatre | Northwest DC
When: November 6, 7, 13, 14
Tickets: $10 (look for discount)
When an experiment on the last turkey on earth goes awry, a chase through time begins. Can Doc and his ragtag team of assistants find the turkey in time to save Thanksgiving? Sure hope so! This hilarious one-hour play is sure to be fun for kids and parents alike.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 18 – January 2
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings at The Puppet Co.! 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)?

Winterfest
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Tickets: $20.50

Adventure Theatre is celebrating the holiday season with three shows this year. Uri & Ora Light the Menorah focuses on Chanukah, Each year, siblings Uri and Ora look forward to Chanukah—gathering with friends and family, eating Bubbie’s latkes, and no homework! When things don’t go the way they want, will they be able to repair the holiday—and their relationship?Connection celebrates friendship builds bridges from the Philippines to America, and Cranky Penguin is a tale finds the fun in winter.

Enchanted Bookshop Christmas
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: November 19 – December 5
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for discount)

Encore Stage presents this show by kids for kids… It’s four days before Christmas and Miss Margie, the scatterbrained owner of the shop, is thrilled to have two very special guests — her serious-minded sister Ellen and book-loving niece Annabelle. Ellen was recently laid off from her position as an astronomy professor, and she’s certain she’ll never find a job again. Her luck changes, however, when high-tech billionaire Philip Brantley stops in at the shop and Margie convinces him to hire Ellen for his new space project. With Ellen out shopping, Margie has a brainstorm to wrap the bookmark that Philip wrote his phone number on and give it to Ellen as a Christmas present. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Ha! When the present disappears, it’s up to our come-to-life book characters to solve the mystery of the missing bookmark and save the day for Ellen — all without giving away their magical existence.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24 – December 27
Tickets: $36-124
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

Joy Around the World: The Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Watson Adventures Online
When: November 26-27, 5-6:30pm | December 11-12, 7-8:30pm
Admission: $19

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

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 27
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

Start your holiday season with NVB’s traditional and family-friendly production of The Nutcracker. Featuring guest artists and the international award-winning dancers of NVB/ARB, the performance includes exquisite costuming and Russian-produced sets.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: National Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 23 – December 5
Tickets: $54-114 (look for discount)

In this holiday musical, sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville for thetimeless story of the true meaning of Christmas. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Whos. It’s been a Broadway hit hailed as an “extraordinary performance” by the New York Times!

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 26 – January 3
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.

A Christmas Carol 2021
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 26 – December 26
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discount)

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

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 27 – December 26
Tickets: $48-137 

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

The Elf on the Shelf
Where: Capital One Hall | Tysons, VA
When: November 28
Tickets: Start at $32.95 (look for discount)

The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical is the thrilling spectacle of music and dance that transports audiences to the North Pole to glimpse the magical lives of Santa’s Scout Elves. Featuring an original story and score, dazzling sets and costumes, and heartfelt moments that will bring the family together, this joyous and uplifting celebration will leave audiences captivated by the splendor of the season.

A Very Electric Holiday [*new discount!]
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: November 28
Tickets: $19 (look for discount)

Make your season bright with Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Holiday. Gather the whole family for this imaginative story cleverly told with cutting edge electroluminescent puppetry, live dancers, and a lively mix of classical, jazz, and pop music. Follow a young bird, Max, who gets separated from his flock while flying south for the winter during a snowstorm. Lost and alone in the North Pole, Max embarks on an odyssey to be reunited with his family, and along the way encounters dancing poinsettias, caroling critters, Nutcracker soldiers, mischievous mice, and an evil rat king. Treat the whole family to this breathtaking live production that will leave everyone in awe and filled with a sense of wonder. Recommended for ages 4-12.

Cinderella
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: November 29 – December 26
Tickets: $15-35 (look for discount)

Just in time for the holidays, Cinderella joins Synetic’s family series repertoire — and she is stepping into her own shoes!  Productions at this theatre are always unique and very artistic with wonderful physical theater that mesmerizes and delights. This one sounds like it will follow suit!   Led by an all-female team of Syneticons, this innovative take on the classic fairytale is a perfect fit for audiences of all ages. Be sure to note Covid safety policies.

CSI: Christmas Scene investigators
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 6-15
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child

In this by kids for kids production by Encore Stage & Studio, Santa Claus is missing! During the last rehearsal for the annual Christmas Show, the action comes to a screeching halt when the cast discovers that the Santa Claus statue has been stolen! Mrs. Dickens calls in the Clue Club — a group of ambitious and eccentric students who take mystery and detection into the realm of science. Full of more surprises than a fruitcake, the Clue Club finds they have successfully fulfilled their duty as “Christmas Scene Investigators” when they discover the true meaning of Christmas. Recommended for ages 4+.

Family Concert: Handel’s Messiah
Where: National Cathedral | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 4
Tickets: $25

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 matinee concert is an abbreviated performance of “Messiah” highlights, perfect for busy families with young children.

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


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

The Christmas Angel
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 9-19
Tickets: $35/adult, $20/child

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!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 9-19
Tickets: $25-45 (look for discount)

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.

Christmas Revels: An American Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: The Spanish Ballroom | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 10-12 & 17-19
Admission: $20-55
This Winter season, travel back to December 1870 and the elegant DC parlor of Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels — the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. The holidays have arrived and the Revels family has invited colleagues and friends for a party! With joyous carols, heartfelt spirituals and toe-tapping dances, guests gather to celebrate with joyful reunions, all sharing the hope that long years of national struggle are over. After months apart, celebrate the season with beloved traditions that bring us closer — Welcome Yule!

Courderoy
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: December 11 – January 23
Tickets: See website for ticket package prices

We all need a friend, and Lisa is instantly drawn to the perfectly imperfect teddy bear on display at the department store. If only she can convince her stressed-out mother to buy Corduroy for her! Meanwhile, Corduroy is determined to find his missing button and become worthy of going to a real home. After the store has closed, he goes on a hilariously destructive search–with the Night Watchman in comical pursuit. Full of mischief and clowning, this story of unconditional love captures both the humanity and the merriment of the holiday season.

Joy of Christmas
Where: National Cathedral | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 11, 2pm & 6pm
Tickets: $25

From all corners of Washington National Cathedral, voices rise, filling the arches with echoes of holidays past and the wonder of things to come. Surround yourself with feelings of comfort and warmth that come when the weather is cold and the music is bright. It’s time to restart the tradition of singing together in a space of beauty and community. Note: Link above is for the 2pm show; get tickets for 6pm here.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: Theatre at MGM Grand | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 16-19
Admission: $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.

Fairfax Symphony Orchestra & Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 18-19
Tickets: $54-94 (look for discounts)

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra joins the Fairfax Ballet in their sixth collaboration to present the timeless class holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. This production is unique in the Washington metropolitan region as one of few presented with live musical accompaniment. The Fairfax Ballet Company dances to Tchaikovsky’s score performed live by the Fairfax Symphony. Enjoy a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and epic battles between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. It’s the perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 20-22
Tickets: $34-68

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. It’s brought to life by a powerhouse cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Let all the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take you on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season.

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 10-31
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.

Season of Hope
Where: The Theater at The MGM | National Harbor, MD
When: December 11 & 12
Tickets: Free

Celebrate this holiday season with The United States Air Force Band as they present “Season of Hope.” This concert will feature Air Force Band’s Concert Band and Singing Sergeants performing timeless renditions of holiday favorites and a visit from a special guest! Free and open to the public, but tickets required. Tickets will be available starting November 19 at 9am.

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: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 17-27
Tickets: Coming soon!

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 18, 2pm & December 24, 11am
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!

 


Enchant Christmas is back at Nats Park this season!

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Outdoor Holiday & Train Display [*new listing]
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 2
Admission: Free

Just when we thought the USBG’s wonderful annual model train exhibit would be on hiatus for another year, it’s coming back — but outdoors in the gated National Garden. It officially opens November 24, but some elements will be viewable earlier, as it’s installed. This one is made up of farming scenes, once again all constructed from plant materials. And, as always, so delightful!  Along with the model trains,  there will be more festive adornments, winterberries, lighted trees and shrubs, plus conifers and greenery placed throughout the Garden.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 12 – January 1
Admission: Starts at $49

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!

Christmas Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays, November 14 – December 12
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.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 20, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

Tinsel!
Where: | Loudoun County, VA
When: November 19 – January 22
Admission: $28

This new event in the region out in Loudoun County is a fully interactive winter destination. Rekindle the sparkle and playful spirit of the season for this outdoor festival. Expect a unique and collection of light displays, entertainment and fun activities that appeal to one and all, and amazing food and drink from popular area food trucks and Loudoun County’s incredible wineries and breweries. A Washington Capitals experience.

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: $35

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

Enchant Christmas
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 26 – January 2
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13

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 of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction from its 2019 run.

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 26 – December 31
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! has always been the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment (and that’s not even happening this year — see below).. 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 past.) This year there will also be Ice Bumper Cars, a Snow Factory “Snowball Build & Blast,” The Greatest Story Stage Show, and the #LIT Holiday Light Show.

I Love Christmas Movies
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: November 26 – December 31
Admission: Starts $25/child & $33/adult, free/under 3 

The annual ICE! exhibition at the Gaylord isn’t happening this year because travel restriction are preventing the ice artisans from coming here.  Instead, the Gaylord is presenting an “I Love Christmas Movies” interactive experience:  Walk through the most iconic scenes from your favorite Christmas films in their multi-sensory exhibition! Experience moments with the characters and sets you know and love while interacting with more than 13 fully-immersive scenes, complete with replicas of film props, audio, and more. I Love Christmas Movies features five beloved films, including: The Polar Express, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and The Year Without A Santa Claus.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: November 26 – December 23, mostly weekends
Admission: Starts at $35

Take a one-of-a-kind train 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.

Jingle Journey
Where: Online & Del Rey | Alexandria, VA
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: TBA

Arts on the Horizon, the wonderful theatre company for the youngest audiences, invite you and your little one(s) to join them for a magical scavenger hunt through the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria! Find clues, visit new places, and piece together the story of their newest holiday adventure: Jingle Journey, an online video to set you on a real-life adventure. Featuring vibrant imagery and playful choreography, the nonverbal scavenger hunt production is underscored by whimsical original music. ​Solve each of the clues and you’ll find the way home! Each clue will take you to a new location where you can engage your senses and get the clue for the next Jingle Journey video! ​Best for children ages 3-6 and their families.

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


This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a brilliant holiday scene. There are often musical performances throughout the season, too.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November – December
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under (look for discount)

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate.  The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. There are also Candlelight Tours (November 26-27, December 3-4, 10-11, & 19) fireworks (December 7-18) on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

Winter in Washington
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: November 27 – January 30
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
The annual holiday event at the museum is a little different this year, but you can still check out Winter in Washington, a special exhibit celebrating the season with street cars in the Nation’s Capital.  Trolley rides will also be offered, and who knows… maybe Santa will make an appearance, too.

Vienna Holiday Stroll
Where: Church Street | Vienna, VA
When: November 29
Admission: Free

Historic Vienna Inc. and Church Street businesses celebrate the merriest season of the year and welcome Santa to Vienna. Enjoy favorite holiday tunes performed by school choruses and others as well as s’mores, children’s activities, and more. Among the activities will be an open house by the Northern Virginia Model Railroader — a chance to see the model train display at the historic train depot in downtown.

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3-4, 11am
Admission: Free

The Scottish Christmas Walk will be back this holiday season!  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 begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 3-4
Admission: Varies by activity

Christmas in Middleburg is back, and  it’s the perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling, and so much more. Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the incomparable Salamander Resort & Spa. Relax in the countryside without missing a moment of the Christmas magic.Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade. Afterwards, experience a Middleburg evening in our bistros, cafes, pubs, and restaurants joining in the Spirits of Middleburg. See the schedule of events for details.

Holiday 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.

Winter Festival [*new listing]
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 4
Admission: $30/adult, $15/child

Join the museum for a special holiday event featuring festive refreshments, a photo opportunity with Santa, plus other holiday friends and cheer!

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays at The Wharf and see the beautifully decorated boats cruise by on the Potomac along with more activities. Decorate ornaments to get into the spirit, go ice skating (the rink will be back!), plus warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 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.

Holiday Festival 2021
Where: Torpedo Factory | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 4, 2-8pm
Admission: Free

Torpedo Factory Art Center joins the fun on Alexandria’s most festive weekend of the year! Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by fire boat around 3:30pm on the Waterfront. Music fills the halls and the Waterfront, beckoning people to browse three floors of open artists’ studios. Santa will even take a spin on the famous Torpedo Bike. Masks are required for all visitors over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status.

Lantern Light Tour
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: December 7, 9, 14, & 16
Admission: $25/non-members, $15/members

Celebrate the holiday season at Tudor Place! Alongside friends and family, explore the Historic House by candlelight to discover celebrations of winters past. Then, journey through the lantern-lit gardens on a guided-tour as you learn about the Peter family’s Christmas traditions. Capacity is limited and pre-registration is required. (Note that Kids Night is December 16!)

Lantern Walks
Where: Around the DC Area
When: December 11 & 12
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 will take place December 11-12 this year. 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.

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 thee.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 17-18
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.

Winter Village
Where: The PARC | Tysons, VA
When: December 28
Admission: Free

The PARC, a community event venue in Tysons, will be transformed into a festive winter village. It will feature a local holiday market, an iceless skating rink, and other snowtastic activities for the whole family to enjoy!

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 21, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy music from strolling Christmas carolers and a meet-and-greet with Santa and one of his elves! While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. More info to come.

Waterskiing Santa
Where: Old Town Waterfront | Alexandria, VA
When: December 24
Admission: Free

Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he water skis 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 from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria starting at 1pm sharp — the best viewing spots will be from the Torpedo Factory to Point Lumley Park.

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

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

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

 


The National Menorah Lighting from a Chanukah past

CHANUKAH

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

Hanukkah comes early this year, starting on November 28 through December 6. 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: November 18 – January 2
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings at The Puppet Co.! 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)?

Uri & Ora Light the Menorah
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Tickets: $20.50

Adventure Theatre is celebrating this holiday season with Winterfest, a series of three shows (for the price of one!), including Uri & Ora Light the Menorah… Each year, siblings Uri and Ora look forward to Chanukah — gathering with friends and family, eating Bubbie’s latkes, and no homework! When things don’t go the way they want, will they be able to repair the holiday—and their relationship?

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: November 28, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

This is the Jewish counterpart to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Chanukah, the National Menorah is lit in a ceremony on the Ellipse. Along with the lighting, there will be live entertainment, plus menorah kits and dreidels to take home. And if you don’t mind waiting in line afterward, there should be latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to reserve them in advance through the website — they will be available staring October 28.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The LYCEUM | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: November 28, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

CHANUKAH FESTIVAL – Old Town Alexandria
Experience the festival of lights with Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington on the first night of Chanukah. Along with the liighting of a giant 6-foot Menorah, there will be other fun festivities and treats. Hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, get, dreidels, lights sticks for kids, and lively Chanukah music. The event is free, but register in advance.

The Wharf Lighting of the Menorah [*updated info!]
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: November 28 – December 6, 5-6pm
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!

Kensington’s Annual Menorah Lighting
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: November 28, 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. Check back on the website for any updates on festivities.

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: November 30, 5:30pm
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 Firetruck Parade & Menorah Lighting
Where: Around Olney & Sandy Spring, MD (see details below)
When: November 30, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the third night of Chanukah with a Firetruck Parade and Menorah Lighting! The procession will stops in Norbeck Grove, Olney Mill, and Fair Hill Shopping Center, culminating at Sandy Spring Volunteer Station 4 (17921 Brooke Road in Sandy Spring). There, enjoy the Menorah Lighting along with refreshments.

Lights & Ice” Hanukkah Skate Night [*new listing!]
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 2
Admission: Regular skate cost

Celebrate the Festival of Lights at the Canal Park Ice Rink with the Capitol Riverfront BID! It’s a special night of skating around the Canal Park menorah. The first 100 attendees get free skate rentals, plus there will be a live DJ, fried donuts, and giveaways.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: $10-13

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.

Family Chanukah Party
Where: EDCJCC | Northwest DC
When: December 5, 10-11am
Admission: $25/family

Join us at the EDCJCC for a fun morning celebrating Hanukkah. We will have arts and crafts, music, science and a community service opportunity. This program will take place in the JCC parking lot and inside the building. All visitors over the age of 12 entering the EDCJCC’s building are required to show proof of vaccination.

Community Menorah Lighting
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: December 5, 5-7pm
Admission: Free

The JCC of Northern Virginia is bringing the celebration to you on the last night of Chanukah. Join for the menorah candle lighting, sing songs, enjoy entertainment, spin the dreidel, and more! This will all take place at Strawberry Park in the Mosaic District.


The US Capitol tree is lit nighty during the holiday season

TREE LIGHTINGS

National Harbor Nightly Tree Lighting
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 13 – DEcember 31
Admission: Free

Watch the 54-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.

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 19, 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, kids crafts, specialty market featuring our retailers, holiday beverages by Barrel + Bushel, festive music, giveaways, and more.

Holiday Tree Lighting [*new listing!]
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 25
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.

Light Up The Wharf [*updated info!]
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: November 26, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration [*new listing!]
Where: CityCenter | Downtown DC
When: November 27, 6pm
Admission: Free

Join the 8th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration was the 75-foot tree, one of the largest in the city and decorated with more than 150,000 lights and 4,500 ornaments, is illuminated to kick off the holiday season. Other festivities will include live entertainment, face painting, balloon art, sweet and savory treats, and a few surprises along the way that will have everyone dreaming of a whimsical snow-filled holiday.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 1 (to be confirmed!)
Admission: Free

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! While you can’t get 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  the Six Rivers National Forest in California, where it was harvested, to DC. It it expected to arrive November 19, and the lighting will likely take place December 1. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

Tree Lighting Benefiting Horton’s Kids
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welcomes the public to enjoy its annual tree lighting! The lobby and courtyard will be filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, becoming the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Enjoy holiday classics performed by the Georgetown Visitation Madrigals.  Kids can decorate holiday cards,and  families will be entered to win prizes. Santa will make a special appearance along with the hotel’s Canine Ambassador, and families are invited to take a photo with him. This free event benefits Horton’s Kids, and all families and guests are encouraged to bring a popular toy such as Legos, basketballs, footballs dolls, books, games or arts and crafts to help spread holiday cheer to over 500 children, ages 5 – 18.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 2
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. (Note: Details are still to come… this may be all virtual again due to Covid, and there likely will be vaccination requirements if it is in person.) 

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

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

Festival of Lights & Carols
Where: Old Town Square | Fairfax, VA
When: December 4, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the Christmas season in Fairfax with a festive day at Old Town Square. There will be live holiday music, s’mores treats, and hot cider all day. The tree lighting and caroling begins at 5:30pm.

 

Shopping and a little seasonal magic at the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Czech Christmas Market
Where: Embassy of Czech Republic |
When: November 6, 9:30am – 6pm
Admission: Free

start your holiday shopping at the Embassy of the Czech Republic — all are invited to enjoy the magic of the season in person at the annual Czech Christmas Market. Browse stands filled with beautiful handcrafted ornaments, Bohemian crystal, exquisite bead and glass jewelry, fine art, Moravian wines and traditional liquors. Savor the taste and smell of mulled wine as well as an assortment of delicious Czech pastries and gingerbread, and savory cuisine. Adore an array of live animals from the Nativity scene for selfies. There’s entertainment, too — hear the children of American Sokol Washington, DC, and Slavic American Sokol performing Czech Christmas carols and live music by the folk band Orchester Praževica.

Museum Shop Holiday Market
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: November 11-13, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Suggested donation of $10
Start your holiday gift shopping at 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, Jewish Museum of Maryland, and International Spy Museum.

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 11 – December 12
Admission: $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. In order to have a safe and cozy shopping experience, this is a fully ticketed season. 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.

28th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 12-14
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 19 – 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.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: December 10-12 & 17-19
Admission: Free

Victura Park, the family-friendly wine garden on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, will once again transform into a festive Holiday Market, 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.

Outdoor Holiday Market
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Germantown, MD
When: November 20, 10m – 10pm
Admission: Free
Join BlackRock Center for the Arts at its all day (and evening) outdoor holiday market plucked right out of a European folktale!  Even better, it will be followed by a live indoor concert of jazzy holiday standards with the Eric Byrd Trio at 8pm. Food, games, photos with Santa, holiday music, crafts, games, and surprises, this festive season kickoff only needs one thing — your family — to complete its winter wonderland magic.

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 25 – 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.) An for more to do in Charm City see the KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids.

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.

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 3-5
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

Huerich House Museum’s annual holiday artisan market and festive house tour is back in person this year.  Christkindlmarkt honors the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour.

Old Town Alexandria Christmas Market & Holiday Craft Show
Where: Carlyle Square | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 11
Admission: Free

Just in time for the holidays, check off your shopping list at the market in Old Town! From arts and crafts to jewelry and baked goods, to body and hair care, vendors have items galore that will make for great gifts for love ones. Register online.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Online
When: Through the holiday season
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season.

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

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

The 2020 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

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

 

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

Light Displays

Trees & Lightings

Chanukah

Special Events & Activities

Holiday Shows

Holiday Markets

 

Drive or walk through the festive Symphony of Lights

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

Winter Walk of Lights

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

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On November 29, the Family Festival welcomes visitors to walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family ($12/guest).

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

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

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

This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes. Purchase tickets in advance online and pay only $8.

Winter Lights Festival

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

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

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

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

Winter Glow
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Alexandria, VA
When: November 27-29, December 11-13/26-28, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $25-30/youth, $40-45/adult

Enjoy an enchanting evening of winter lights at Mount Vernon. See the estate illuminated with soft lights and holiday patterns as you listen to Christmas carolers and visit an 18th-century winter encampment.

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

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

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 7 – January 12
Admission: Free

Light Yards is returning for its fifth year at The Yards! The annual holiday installation will feature the premiere of the installation “Stars” by Australian-based immersive light design sculptors Amigo & Amigo . The larger-than-life stars constructed from metallic mesh feature dancing lights and play festive music, making for a perfect socially-distanced stroll for guests of all ages who want to safely experience some holiday cheer. Plan to enjoy dinner or cocktails al fresco amongst the Stars or pair your visit with a take-out pick-up from one of the many eateries at The Yards.

Holiday Lights on the Farm
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
When: December 11-12 & 18-19
Admission: $20

Brighten your season with a driving tour of Holiday Lights on the Farm at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. Tour the park in the safety and warmth of your vehicle on a one-mile route to see the farm animals, wooded wonders, and luminous lights decorating the pastures and historic buildings. On-line registration required.

43rd Annual Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 11-28, 6-9pm
Admission: Free

Its official name is the Washington, DC, Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 400,000 lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy, though this year in a modified way that puts safety and health first. The 2020 Festival of Lights will open as a drive-through experience. The tour begins at the entrance of the Temple grounds and end at the Temple Visitors’ Center with Christmas music transmitted over short-range FM radio.

 


Stop and see the Capitol tree

TREES & LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Technically, this lighting is not open to the public and will be broadcast live on C-Span.org, but you could view festivities from right across the street by the Reflecting Pool (be sure to social distance). I recommend going on another evening, though, when you can view the tree from a closer vantage point.  After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

National Christmas Tree & Holiday Trees
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 3-31
Admission: Free

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree on December 3 will not include a live audience this year, but the illumination and performances can be viewed virtually.  After that, the tree will be lit nightly, and visitors are welcome to see it on the Ellipse along with trees representing each state and territory and the District though December.


The National Menorah Lighting on the Ellipse

CHANUKAH

Chanukah in a Box
Where: Online/Zoom
When: December 6 (order by 12/4)
Admission: $15/box

Join Chabad for virtual Chanukah fun for the whole family! You will receive a box of supplies before the online carnival, and then log in to create Chanukah masterpieces together on Zoom! (Or if you prefer, you can do it all on your own — instructions included in the box.) Receive an action-packed box with Chanukah activities, including a menorah kit, Chamukah cookie cutters, a dreidel craft, a foil card, and popcorn for snacking. Order by 12/4 and use the code KFDC to ensure you get your box in time!

Chanukah Carnival in a Box
Where: Online/Zoom
When: December 6
Admission: $15/box

A super fun Chanukah carnival, in YOUR living room! Receive an action-packed box of Chanukah activities and treats, including supplies needed to make your own tie-dye Menorah, Chanukah cookie cutters and a recipe card to make delicious Chanukah cookies, popcorn and chocolate Chanukah gelt for a Chanukah party, a unique wooden Dreidel craft – fun for all ages, and a DIY foil press Chanukah card! You will receive your box of supplies before the virtual carnival, and then join to create Chanukah masterpieces on Zoom. Zoom link will be provided after registration. Chanukah in a Box will be ready for pickup on Thursday, December 3, at a central location in Alexandria or Arlington. While they prefer that you pick up the box, if you are unable to they will happily deliver it anywhere in Alexandria or Arlington!

Chanukah Grandfriend Program
Where: Online
When: December 8, 4pm
Admission:

Gather around the menorah for a multi-generational event for kids and their “grandfriends.” Jpin PJ Library and others to make Chanukah-inspired churros and dipping sauces, hear a story, and celebrate joyfully together. The recipe and ingredients list to bake along will be shared when you register.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 10, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

This is the Jewish counterpart to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Chanukah, the National Menorah is lit in a ceremony on the Ellipse. Usually, along with the lighting, there is live entertainment, menorah kits and dreidels to take home, and latkes and donuts. This year, details about those festivities are TBD.  Tickets are free, but you need to order them in advance through the website starting November 16.

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

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

Where: Zoom with Hurray for Books 
When: December 6, 1pm
Admission: Free

Join author Laura Gehl for an interactive Hanukkah storytime via Zoom featuring her new book HAPPY LLAMAKKAH! Laura will read the story, followed by Hanukkah and llama trivia and other interactive fun for ages 0-8.  Register here to receive the Zoom link.

8 Nights of Lights
Where: Zoom
When: December 10-17, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join your friends at Bender JCCGW, Edlavitch DCJCC, and Pozez JCC to light up Chanukah! Bring your Chanukiah (Menorah) to light with them. NOTE: The Friday, December 11, lighting will occur at 4:30pm, before Shabbat, followed by a Shabbat candle lighting.

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

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

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Zoom
When: December 12, 6pm
Admission:

Join PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy and Kehilat Pardes to start a new week with Havdalah and then light your family chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah) together as a community on the third night of Chanukah. Rabbi Uri Topolosky will sing songs, share a story, and help everyone have a joyful start to a new week.

Be the Light: Helping Others on Chanukah
Where: Virtual & Temple Shalom | Chevy Chase, MD
When: December 13, 11am – 12pm & and 4–5:30pm
Admission: Free

On Chanukkah, spread the light of the holiday with others by giving back. Encourage your child to dedicate one night of Chanukah as a Tzedakah Night, purchasing items for others instead of receiving a gift. Bring a donation for DC Diaper Bank (see wish list) in the morning. Later that day, join on Zoom for a bake-along with Paula Shoyer! Make blue-and-white cookies, ending with the menorah lighting together at 5:30 PM. You can pick up an activity kit for your family when you drop off your donation or arrange an alternate option by contacting us. (Note: Drop off donations in the morning & the bake-along is virtual.). Register by December 10.

Clarendon Menorah Lighting & Community Celebration
Where: Chabad Lubavitch | Arlington, VA
When: December 13, 5pm
Admission: Free

Experience the Festival of Lights! Join the lighting of a giant 9-foot menorah and enjoy hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, chocolate gelt, live Chanukah music, and dreidels for all. Capacity is limited, so register in advance here. Masks are required at this outdoor event.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The LYCEUM | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 15, 6:30pm
Admission: Free

Share in the spirit and joy of Chanukah at the grand Menorah Lighting in Old Town Alexandria. See the lighting of a 6-foot menorah, and enjoy latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, gelt, dreidels, an lively Chanukah music. Every child will receive a free light stick, too. Capacity is limited, so register in advance. This outdoor event will be socially distanced and masks are required.

Author Talk: The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica Perl
Where: Zoom
When: December 16, 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the JCCs for a Hanukkah afternoon as local author Erica Perl shares her latest story. It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing! Signed copies will be available through Politics and Prose for folks attending the Zoom program.


Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE evokes a winter vibe

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: $35

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 27 – December 31, 9am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season. The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. It’s open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years.

Tenley WinterFest
Where: Throughout Tenleytown, DC
When: November 27 – December 5
Admission: Free

This eight-day celebration of the holiday season is designed to showcase local businesses, community groups, and the neighborhood — all with a unique Tenleytown flair and lots of yetis. Get special deals at restaurants, join a Yeti Scavenger Hunt, checkout festive storefronts, and take a self-guided walking tour.

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

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

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

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

Make & Take Holiday Crafting
Where: Paper Source | Tysons, VA
When: December 2, 9, & 16
Admission: $10

Looking for the perfect way to kick off the holiday season? Unleash your inner artist this season with a series of ornament making fun for the whole family! Purchase a $10 crafting experience and receive a $10 gift card to Paper Source, in addition to your Paper Source ornament craft. Stop by Paper Source to pick up your crafting kit AND a $10 Paper Source gift card for $10. Join The Boro’s destination for all things creative, Paper Source, for seasonal crafting all through December.

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

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

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

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

Letter to Santa Watercolor Workshop
Where: Online (Supplies pick Up at The Station in Riverdale, MD)
When: December 19
Admission: Free

Santa is pulling into The Station! Join Santa’s crafting workshop and unleash your inner elf with a Letter to Santa watercolor workshop. Pick up your complimentary crafting kit at The Station PLUS a $10 gift card from participating restaurants at The Station. Pick up your free watercolor kit at The Station on Saturday, December 19 from from 11am – 2pm, then tune in for a workshop at 4pm with local artist and maker. Can’t make the workshop live? They’ll send a recording to all registrants. Santa will be here before you know it, so you can drop off your letter to Santa at participating restaurants at The Station and share on Instagram (tag @thestationrp) to be included in a drawing for a $50 gift card to Burtons Grill at The Station!

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

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

Joy Around the World: Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Watson Adventures Online
When: December 28
Admission: $19

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

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

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

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: $25 ’til 11/30, $30 12/1-30, $35 12/31, free/12 & under
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region is ON for 2020. Organizers are planning a hybrid experience that will include both online and live performances around Alexandria. More details to come soon!

 


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

VIRTUAL HOLIDAY SHOWS

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap Online
When: December 5 & 19, 4pm
Tickets: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Strolling the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 20 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

This one, to me, is the holiday market in DC. It’s not even so much about the merchandise for sale (though there’s always a great variety of gift items — I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city feel like a small town. Treats and coffee drinks are available for purchase, too.   KFDC Tip: Plan to visit the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market after you’ve done your shopping.  Reserve timed-entry tickets here. (The museums are currently closed due to rising Covid-19 rates.)

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

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

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

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

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

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

A Chanukah Wonderland Full of Family Fun on December 25!


This post is sponsored by Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad), however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, All ages, Chanukah, DC, Holidays, Special Event, Sponsored Post, Weekdays, Winter

The 2019 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

✨Get ready for holiday magic in DC✨



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

Holiday Shows

Chanukah

Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

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


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


HOLIDAY SHOWS
 

The Velveteen Rabbit
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park
When: November 15 – January 1
Tickets: $20.50

Margery Williams’s classic toy story gets a vibrant retelling in this brand new adaptation. When the Child gets the Rabbit for Christmas, she is at first disappointed in her gift. But as the two quest and adventure through her storybooks, both Rabbit and Child grow and care for each other. And they discover that love is the greatest force in the Universe and can make impossible things Real. Recommended for all ages.

Disney Junior Holiday Party
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 17
Tickets: Start at $29 (look for discounts)

Disney Junior Holiday Party! is a dazzling musical wonderland where children and their families can sing and dance along to their favorite Disney Junior songs plus holiday classics with their favorite Disney friends, including Mickey & Minnie Mouse, the Puppy Dog Pals, Vampirina and many more, plus a special visit from Santa Claus!

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 21-26
Tickets: $3-8

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 21 – January 1
Tickets: $36-124

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

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 23 – January 5
Tickets: $15-35

Leap through the wardrobe and into a winter wonderland in this dance-based adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s treasured novel from the Chronicles of Narnia. A remount of Imagination Stage’s Helen Hayes award-winning 2012 production, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the story of four siblings who journey from war-torn England to a magical land frozen in eternal winter, where the powerful lion Aslan leads them on a journey to discover their destiny. Music, modern dance, and breathtaking puppetry tell a story of love, sacrifice, and redemption. Recommended for ages 5+.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 23 & 30
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

Start your holiday season with NVB’s traditional and family-friendly production of The Nutcracker. Featuring guest artists and the international award-winning dancers of NVB/ARB, the performance includes exquisite costuming and Russian-produced sets.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $12

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

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $6

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

The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 23-24
Tickets: $30-55, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

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

Atlanta Ballet: The Nutcracker
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 27 – December 1
Tickets: $49-249 (look for discounts)

Ballet and Nutcracker fans are in for a treat Thanksgiving week with the Kennedy Center debut of Atlanta Ballet and its extraordinary new production, which premiered last December. Washington audiences will be the first to see it outside of Atlanta—a truly spectacular, visually inventive staging set against a fantastical starry night, dominated by oversized storybooks, clocks, and constellations.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 29 – December 29
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discounts)

It’s the 10th Anniversary of Olney’s favorite Christmas tradition. Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended – in his own words – and rediscover this timeless classic presented in a masterful solo performance. Adapted from Dickens’ original novella and reading tour, Morella’s solo

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

DC’s perennial favorite! Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from a few years ago. FYI, Family Day is Sunday, December 1. (Note: Even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version.)

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 2-20
Tickets: $6+


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

Joy to the World–A Christmas Celebration
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 2
Tickets: $20-68

Noted conductor Theodore Thorpe III will return for the third time to conduct this concert featuring a choir of over 100 voices accompanied by a full symphony orchestra, with interpretations enriched by liturgical dance and drama. Guest artists include 10-time Grammy Award® winners Take 6, a world-class a cappella sextet specializing in jazz-styled sacred music classics.

The Snow Queen
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: December 3-29
Tickets: $15-35

Just in time for the holidays, Synetic presents a whimsical, family-friendly adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved fairy tale, The Snow Queen. Join Gerda, a little girl with gumption, a magic mirror, and a quest to save her best friend, as she sets out on a life-changing journey that takes her over mountains and across distant lands to the Snow Kingdom. Once there, she harnesses her inner-strength and wit to defeat the coldest threat of all.

The Illusionists — Magic of the Holidays
Where: National Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: December 3-8
Tickets: $54-114

Ring in the holidays with the mind-blowing spectacular THE ILLUSIONISTS – MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS, showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible illusionists on earth. THE ILLUSIONISTS has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever seen on stage. This nonstop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

The Second City’s Love, Factually
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 3-29
Tickets: $49-75

Love, Factually: Back again, with even more laughs, more heart, and more Love…Actually. Whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it, you’ll definitely love this romantic romp that parodies the film along with many other classic holiday rom-com moments. Back by popular demand following a sold-out run in 2018, this year’s Love, Factually is packed with even more parody of the classic holiday film Love, Actually, more audience participation, more improvisation, and more hilarious moments the entire family will love…actually! Recommended for teens and up.

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: The Lab at Convergence | Alexandria, VA
When: December 5-21
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this holiday show for children ages 2-5 and their families… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals.​ (Note: This will also be performed at the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 27-31.)

CSI: Christmas Scene investigators
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 6-15
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for discounts)

In this by kids for kids production by Encore Stage & Studio, Santa Claus is missing! During the last rehearsal for the annual Christmas Show, the action comes to a screeching halt when the cast discovers that the Santa Claus statue has been stolen! Mrs. Dickens calls in the Clue Club — a group of ambitious and eccentric students who take mystery and detection into the realm of science. Full of more surprises than a fruitcake, the Clue Club finds they have successfully fulfilled their duty as “Christmas Scene Investigators” when they discover the true meaning of Christmas. Recommended for ages 4+.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 6-23
Tickets: $30/adult, $20/child, $80/family 4-pack

In what has become a holiday tradition at the cauldron, we couldn’t resist one more visit from everyone’s favorite precocious little Parisian. “In an old house in Paris, covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” And with that familiar phrase, author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans sets in motion the adventures of the brave and resourceful Madeline! In this musical adaptation, Madeline’s schoolmates and tutor are all sick in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to go home for Christmas. Madeline comes to the rescue with the help of a magical rug merchant and takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 7, 4pm (gates open 2:30pm)
Tickets: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Come light the menorah on Chanukah


 
CHANUKAH
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chalkboard Menorah Workshop
Where: Homedepot | Northeast DC
When: Sunday, 1-2pm
Admission: Free

Get into the Chanukah spirit! Join us at the Home Depot for an exciting workshop — make your very own Chalkboard Menorah! You can also play Dreidel and eat some Chanukah gelt. Free and fun for the whole family. Register in advance here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor


 
TREE LIGHTINGS
 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5th Annual Tree Lighting
Cathedral Commons | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 6
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons hosts its 5th Annual Tree Lighting to bring the joys of the season to residents of Northwest DC and beyond. Don your favorite holiday attire, then bring the entire family and furry friends to celebrate. Other activities will include free photos with Santa (kids, dogs, and cats only!), live entertainment, complimentary s’mores and other sweet treats, kids activities and seasonal giveaways, and festive food and drink offerings from Silver and other retailers at Cathedral Commons. The Tree Lighting is free and open to the public.



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


 
MODEL TRAINS
 
Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden | Wheaton, MD
When: November 22 – December 31
Admission: $25/car (part of Garden of Lights)

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

Season’s Greenings

Where: U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall Area, DC
When: November 28 – January 5
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, the exhibit features botanic gardens from Hawaii to Maine. Plant based recreations of conservatories, fountains, and sculptures will fill the model train room, including iconic gardens scenes like Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s vibrant red Japanese torii gate, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens’ flamingo topiaries, Missouri Botanical Garden’s famous Climatron conservatory, and Huntsville Botanical Garden’s Rocket Garden, featuring NASA space nodes and rockets! And for even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. Get a glimpse of last year’s exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

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


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

Model Trains and Thomas
Where: Historic Vienna Train Station | Vienna, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free (donations accepted)

Chug on down to the Historic Vienna Train Station for their December Open House where you can see and hear HO scale model trolleys and trains, including Thomas and some of his friends on display and in operation. It’s a great family fun and activity for the young and young at heart. The Station is at 231 Dominion Road NE, Vienna, VA along the W&OD trail just past the Caboose.

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

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


Adorn the holidays with fun!


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

Get photos with Santa and check out the interactive Elf Academy at Santa HQ. You can try on the latest elf looks with Santa’s Magic Mirror, create your very own Elf- ID Card and scan yourself on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter. Plus, new this year, spend less time in line and more time on holiday fun with a Fast Pass. Purchase yours today!

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: $35

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

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 15 – December 30
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

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

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 15 – December 30
Admission: Starts $25/child & $33/adult, free/under 3 (look for discounts)

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

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 16 – January 5
Admission: Starts at $22.99/ages 3+

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

Holiday Window Unveiling
Where: Macy’s Metro Center | Downtown DC
When: November 21, 5pm
Admission: Free

Guests are invited to Macy’s Metro Center to celebrate the magic of the holiday season at our annual window unveiling. Customers will experience an evening of cheer at Macy’s Holiday Market featuring festive shopping, treats, live entertainment, and a special appearance by Santa who will reveal this year’s themed windows. The evening will include musical performances by Natasha Bedingfield and other surprise guests with more fun inside for the little ones where they can enjoy arts and crafts and take a photo with Santa.

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

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

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 23, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Sheraton Hotel | Pentagon City, VA
When: November 23-24
Admission: $15/child, $10/adult

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns! Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, holiday crafts, breakfast and photos with Santa, Holiday tea, plus a cocktail reception and dancing.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: Weekends during the holiday season
Admission: Starts at $55

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

Festival of Trees
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds | Timonium, MD
When: November 29 – December 1
Admission: $14/adult, $6/child, free/4 & under

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

Winter on the Farm
Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
When: Dates TBA
Admission: TBA

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

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


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

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

There’s something about the holiday season at the Willard InterContinental. The elegant garland-wrapped columns outside lure visitors to take in the stately lobby décor, snap a photo by the tree dripping in glittering ornaments and wind through the lobby to find this year’s “how did they do that?” gingerbread display. Year after year the music, aromas, events and traditions offered at The Willard suspend the stress of the season to allow for enjoyment of the simple pleasures that only the holidays can bring, all within the formal yet welcoming backdrop of the beloved property. Thanksgiving brunch, The Nutcracker Tea Party, cookie making, or just a look at the lobby decor are all ways to enjoy the holiday season at the luxury hotel.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 29 – December 31, 9am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

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

Snowland Celebration
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 30 – January 5
Admission: Rates vary

Celebrate Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge! The resort transforms your stay into a winter wonderland with nightly snow showers in the Grand Lobby. And with many more festive, free events taking place each day, there’s plenty of fun for the whole pack! Bring joy to your family this holiday season with uninterrupted time together under the enchanting spell of Snowland’s twinkling lights, holiday trees, and indoor snow showers that melt into perfect 84-degree basking weather in our water park. Read about a KFDC stay at Great Wolf Lodge (though not during the holidays).

Holly Trolley Holidays
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: November 30 – January 26
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

There are a few happenings at the Trolley Museum this winter. At the Winter Wonder Garden, see toy trains and street cars in an indoor winter village. Then on weekend from December 7-22, guests can ride with Santa on the street cars as well. And Winter in Washington, a special exhibit celebrating the season with street cars in the Nation’s Capital, will run through January 26.

Christmas Wheels Tour
Where: Bike and Roll DC | National Mall, DC
When: December 5-22
Admission: $39/adult, $34/ages 12 & under

See Washington, DC, at its most magical on a 2.5-hour Christmas tour by bike! Under the watchful eye of a local guide, you’ll experience quintessential Christmas in Washington. Tour highlights include the Botanical Gardens Holiday Showcase; a hot chocolate stop; the exquisite decorations at the Willard Hotel and of course the Capitol and National Christmas Trees! Snap the perfect family photo as tour guides share yuletide stories about what it’s like to spend Christmas at the White House. Don’t miss the chance to shift gears and awaken holiday cheers with Bike and Roll! ​

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 5, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

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

WinterFest
Where: Wunder Garten | NoMa, DC
When: December 6-22
Admission: Free (but pay for food/drinks/activities)

The temperature-controlled Bier Garten will be transformed into a Hoppy, Holiday Wonderland from top to bottom. Heavy décor will fill all 13,000 square feet of indoor/outdoor space to build a holiday junkie’s dreamland. WinterFest 2019 will also feature fun for the entire family (furry friends included) with special guests and events, including appearances from Santa himself and photo ops on Saturdays from 2-8pm.

The Nutcracker Ballet Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays with SAAM and the Washington Ballet! Join acclaimed Artistic Director Julie Kent as she shares behind-the-scenes stories about how the ballet company puts on their annual performance of The Nutcracker, then enjoy watching dancers perform highlights from this charming Christmas classic. Blending the magical score of Tchaikovsky with scenery that is unmistakably Washington, DC, the Washington Ballet’s rendition of The Nutcracker has become a must-see tradition. Make a winter-themed craft or go on a scavenger hunt, and indulge in a hot chocolate bar and other tasty treats for purchase from the Courtyard Café.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Bethesda Row & Veteran’s Park | Bethesda, MD
When: December 7, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. Blocks of ice will be transformed into wintery works of art before your eyes during the live ice sculpting presentation followed by choral performances from local school groups. Academy of the Holy Cross, Bach to Rock, Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Georgetown Prep, Oneness-Family School, Washington Episcopal School and Westbrook Elementary School will delight the crowd with holiday music. Additionally, Santa Claus will make a visit to the park and holiday treats and crafts will be provided to children.

Holiday Kick Off
Where: Ballston Quarter | Ballston, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Join Ballston Quarter for an all day holiday event to kick off the season! Explore all four levels of Ballston Quarter for a holiday surprise around every corner. Leading the day will be a special pajama party screening of The Polar Express, and the fun will continue all day with train rides, crafts for all ages, holiday treats, photo ops, music and a special appearance from Santa. There’s truly something for everyone to enjoy!

Open Studio: Wrap It Up: Holiday Gift Giving
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: December 7,8, 13, & 14, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

While you make a furoshiki wrapping cloth, learn how this Japanese tradition can help save money and the environment. Also, enjoy a scavenger hunt to explore our new exhibition Hokusai: Mad about Painting. In the studio, make your own holiday decorations using cloth and woodblock materials. All ages are welcome with adult companions.

Santa’s Suite
Where: The Fairmont | Georgetown, DC
When: Select weekends in December
Admission: Free (Donation to Horton’s Kids suggested)

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season as you watch beautifully decorated boats pass by The Wharf. Get into the spirit as you decorate ornaments or warm up by the Camp Wharf fire pit while making a s’more. Go ice skating and sample winter drinks at the Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden. And bring the whole family to meet Santa at the lighted Christmas tree and make memories during this annual DC tradition.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-8pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fireboat at the Alexandria City Marina to take photos with children and families at the annual Torpedo Factory Art Center Holiday Festival. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 49th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 7, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season. Kids can enjoy snacks, coloring, music and activities during the fair while you shop, including interactive demos brought to you by Coder Kids and hands-on cooking provided by Tiny Chefs.

Jingle Bell Rockout
Where: King Farm Village Center | Rockville, MD 20850
When: December 7, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy performances by Members of LDE Unplugged with Friends, appearances by The Grinch, Elvis, and the guest of honor: Santa Claus. A FREE, family friendly event with ton of holiday entertainment. Free photos with Santa, arts & crafts for the kids, complimentary face painting and balloon art, giveaways, hot cocoa, and more! First 150 kids to register at the King Farm Village Center table will receive a goody bag.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 7, 12-4pm
Admission: $5

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

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, & 23, 6-9pm
Admission: $10.95

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

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Varies by activity

Rain or Shine, Middleburg is the perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling, and so much more. Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the incomparable Salamander Resort & Spa. Relax in the countryside without missing a moment of the Christmas magic.Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade. Afterwards, experience a Middleburg evening in our bistros, cafes, pubs, and restaurants joining in the Spirits of Middleburg. See the schedule of events for details.

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 7-8, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

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

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 8, 12-5pm
Admission: $5

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

Movie Screening: The Snowy Day
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 11-13 & 17-18
Tickets: $3-9

Join Discovery Theater for a holiday-season screening of the award-winning Amazon Original Special The Snowy Day, winner of two Daytime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Pre-School Children’s Animated Program. Based on Ezra Jack Keats’ classic 1962 story. Narrated by Laurence Fishburne and with character voices by Regina King, Angela Bassett, and Jamie-Lynn Sigler, the film follows young Peter’s magical snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. One the way, he meets some new (and diverse) friends who come together to celebrate many traditions. A very special day indeed!

Ice Maze
Where: CityCenterDC | Downtown DC
When: December 13-14
Admission: Free

Get lost in the a-MAZE-ing, magic of the holidays with CityCenterDC’s icy tradition. This year, CityCenterDC is building the largest clear ice maze in the United States built with 110,000 pounds of ice. Washingtonians will not want to escape the towering seven foot walls of this chilly challenge.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 14, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

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

Russian Winter Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate | Upper Northwest DC
When: December 14-15
Admission: $12-18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

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

WinterFest in Occoquan
Where: Historic Occoquan, VA
When: December 14, 3-7pm
Admission: Free

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

Santa Brunch
Where: All Purpose Pizza | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 15, 10am
Admission: Cost of your meal

Join Santa and Mrs. Claus for brunch and photos in our Holiday Winter Garden. Proceeds from the photos will go to support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation and their efforts in childhood cancer research. Reservations are strongly recommended for this event.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 20-21
Admission: $30-36/adult, $20-26/child

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

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 21, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy music from strolling Christmas carolers and a meet-and-greet with Santa and one of his elves! While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. More info to come.

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

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

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


Kicking up some some fun with the interactive art installations at Light Yards


 
LIGHT DISPLAYS
 

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 8 – January 5
Admission: $14.50/adult, $8/ages 3-12 (look for discount)

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 15 – January 5
Admission: $5, $8/skating, $4/rentals (look for discounts)

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

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 22 – December 29
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13 (look for discounts)

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Christmas market and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review of this new-to-DC holiday attraction.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 22 – December 31 (with noted exceptions)
Admission: $25/car Mon-Thurs, $30/car Fri-Sun

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

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 22 – January 5
Admission: Mon-Thurs $15/car, Fri-Sat $20/car (look for discount)

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

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: $20/car (look for discount)

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

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 27 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On December 1, walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 29 – January 1, 5-9pm (Closed 12/24, 25, 31)
Admission: Free

Every year, thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland. The highlights are dozens of animal light displays, a dazzling light show set to music, and snow-less tubing. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment, a special train ride for children, a whirl on the Conservation Carousel, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and more “wild” holiday fun. And new this year: Enjoy dozens of large, glowing animal lanterns and stroll through thousands of reflecting lights as part of the interactive ⁠— and highly Instagrammable — art exhibit called “Entre Les Rangs.”

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 29 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $10/car, FREE on December 25


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

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 29 – December 31
Admission: $12-15/car Mon-Thurs, $17-20/car Fri-Sun

The 24th Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The 3.5-mile route takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm. Closed on 12/25.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 29 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & under

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

Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights
Where: Georgia Ave/800 Block of Upshur Street | Petworth, DC
When: December 1-31
Admission: Free

The Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights is a new month-long community event this season. The businesses along Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street and the 800 Block of Upshur Street will be decked out with holiday lights. Wander the corridor with neighbors and visitors to enjoy amazing holiday events, activities, and promotions throughout the month. Whether you’re a local resident or just visiting for a few days—stop by Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights to explore, shop, and play this holiday season.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 5 – January 4
Admission: Free

Its official name is the Washington, DC, Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 400,000 lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity. A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more!

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 6 – January 5
Admission: Free

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: DEcember 6-23
Admission: Free

For the last few years, The Yards has presented a special light exhibition during the holiday season, with large-scale illuminations that are interactive and beautiful. This year features an illuminated adventure through Airship Orchestra, an interactive light installation on the waterfront curated by international award-winning artists, ENESS. While ticketed, admission is free, and children are welcome to attend. When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).


The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter


 
HOLIDAY MARKETS
 

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 22 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 22-24
Admission: $5-50

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

Fall Bazaar
Where: Washington Waldorf School | Bethesda, MD
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

For 50 years, the Washington Waldorf School has been offering one of the highest quality bazaars in the DC area. The Bazaar has unique crafts and activities for children of all ages, including woodcraft, felt craft, candle making, plus and many fun games. They welcome many local artisans and offer an array of beautiful handcrafted items made by parents. There will also be live entertainment, coffee, delicious baked goods to munch on while you shop, and a delicious organic lunch for you to sit and enjoy. Entrance is free, but activities require tickets to be purchased. All are welcome!

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 28 – December 24,
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult on weekends (look for discount)

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

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

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

Bazaart Holiday Art Market
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 29-30
Admission: Free

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

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 6-8
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $4/ages 2-12

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

Holiday Glow
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 7, 2-8pm
Admission Free

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

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 7, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season. Kids can enjoy snacks, coloring, music and activities during the fair while you shop, including interactive demos brought to you by Coder Kids and hands-on cooking provided by Tiny Chefs.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 6-8
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free/11 & under

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

Upshur Street Craft Fair
Where: 800 Block of Upshur | Petworth, DC
When: December 14, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

The 14th Annual Upshur Street Craft Fair — led by Julie Wineinger, local DC resident and owner of Willow & Lulabelle’s — will feature 50+ local crafters, artists, and food vendors. Attendees can pop by Willow on Upshur Street to check out this year’s amazing Gingerbread House Contest entries in the Gingerbread Village and get their gifts wrapped by the Powell Padres. And new this year, attendees can relax with friends & family in the Pop-Up Holiday Lounge while enjoying a live DJ, boozy (and non-alcoholic) winter beverages, and delicious wintery treats.

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


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