Tag Archives: DC Hanukkah Activities

The 2023 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC




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


Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings


Holiday Markets



Enchant lights up Nationals Park during the holidays


Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 10 – January 7
Admission: $30/car online, $40/car on site

The early in the season opening offers more opprotunity to experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And what elevates this light display is the holiday village and carnival that’s included in admission.  Even more, from November 10-19, save $10 with the promo code early23 — valid every day including weekends.  And from November 20- December 14 save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with the code lights23.

Winter Walk of Lights
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 10 – January 7, 5-10pm
Admission: $18/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under

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

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 17 – January 7
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 17 – January 1
Admission: $8 just village ($10 on site), $20/with skating, free/under 2 

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

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 17 – December 31
Admission: $10/age 5+

One of our faves, the Garden of Lights is a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. 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. [Note that it is not open November 20-23 and December 24-25.]

Winter City Lights
Where: 501 Olney Laytonsville Rd | Olney, MD
When: November 18 – December 30
Admission: Starts at $39/adult, $31/youth, free/4 & under

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

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 19 – January 1
Admission: $20/car, $5/3-D glasses

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 27th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. And Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day! Plan to purchase glasses at the entrance to make the lights come alive!

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 20 – January 7
Admission: Free

Every year, the Yards is presents a special light exhibition during the holidays, which always features large-scale illuminations that are interactive and really beautiful!  During this 8th annual  event, Yards Park will be merry and bright with the return of Swinging Bells, allowing guests to become a part of the living artwork. The five, 13-foot tall bells play a jingle as you swing and are the perfect stop for friends and family to play and take photos!  Get a peek at last year’s.  When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).  Get a glimpse of other previous Light Yards here, here, and here.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When:  November 23 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle (look for discount)

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go — and the course is refreshed with some new lights and a 150 foot screen. On November 26 and December, 5, 7, 12, & 31 walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family (check website for pricing on those nights).

Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 24 – December 30, 5-9pm (select dates)
Admission: $6

For the first time, this beloved light display is not free admission. But it’s the same fun, festive seasonal joy at a favorite DC spot.  Thousands of environmentally-friendly lights and animal lanterns transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland in the evenings. There are also live music performances, tasty winter treats, and lots of opportunities for holiday shopping.

Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 24 – December 31
Admission: $32+/adult, $24+/age 3-17

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas light maze, this year with a “Santa’s Magic Timepiece” theme. Stroll through lighted tunnels, travel to magical illuminated lands as you search for stars, and find your way to the 100-foot tall Christmas tree.  Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market,  and Santa and Mrs. Claus.  View scenes from last year’s event and read a KFDC review (from the first season it was here in 2019) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: $10/online, $15/at gate

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

Winter Lights Festival
Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 24 – December 31
Admission: $15/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun

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

Winter Lantern Festival
Where: Lerner Town Square | Tysons, VA
When: November 24 – February 18
Admission: $25.99/adult, $17.99/child (look for discount)

This event will be lighting up Tyson again this winter. The illuminated display will transform Lerner Town Square into a dazzling world of light with over 1000 Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of experience. The lanterns and bright displays will light the night and bring warmth this holiday season!  not that a Family Pass is available for $20.99/person – must include two adults.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Admission: $15/online, $17/on site, free/2 & under

Bundle up for this magical holiday experience that is mostly outside. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into a twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous illuminations. Wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more are some of the sparkling scenes you’ll see.  Holiday pop-up shops, music, fun photo ops, and food and drink add to the seasonal cheer. Note that it’s closed November 27-28 and December 4, 5, 24, 25. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Commercial District | Georgetown, DC
When: December 1 – January 7, 5-10pm
Admission: Free

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

LDS Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 1 – January 2
Admission: Free

Its official name is the Washington, DC, Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda (and for the first time last summer welcomed visitors inside). During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 400,000 lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity. Some activities require tickets, but they are not required for general admission.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 31st Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This free family-friendly event features over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along up the Washington Channel, as well as fun landside holiday activities, including ornament decorating, holiday karaoke, a signature music performance by the Royals, family photos with Santa, fireworks, and more.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 22nd annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock and stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. More details soon!  Activities usually begin at 2pm, and the parade begins at 7pm.




A holiday classic in the historic Ford’s Theatre



The Winter’s Tale
Where: Folger Theatre | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 5 – December 17
Tickets: $20-58

After being closed for two years for renovations, the Folger Shakespeare Library is beginning its reopening with the theatre and this Shakespeare play… With the magic and fantastical elements of a fairy tale, Shakespeare’s astonishing romance is a thrilling journey filled with emotional depth, extreme behavior, complex relationships—and a bear in pursuit. A tribute to the magic of storytelling, The Winter’s Tale presents a rich tapestry of love, strife, hope, human folly, and resurrection. A wonderful show for the season!

Fiddler on the Roof
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 8 – December 31
Tickets: $35-101 (look for discount)

Tradition! The word itself is synonymous with this most classic of American musicals, set in the tiny shtetl of Anatevka. People all over the world continue to find universal truths in the story of Tevye and his headstrong, tradition-bucking daughters. Now, Olney Theatre creates a rich and re-imagined Fiddler for a new generation to embrace through unforgettable songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Like Tevye himself, this Fiddler knows the power of its traditional highlights, but like his daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava – it also may surprise you with new ways of carrying forward its spirit.

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 15 – January 7
Tickets: $12-44 (look for discount)

A musical celebration of friendship and holiday fun! In this hit Broadway musical, two best friends with opposite personalities wake up from hibernation and enjoy hilarious adventures through the seasons. Light-hearted, with a sprinkle of nostalgia, this show is inspired by the acclaimed children’s books.

The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 17 – January 7
Tickets: $25 (find discount)

In a two-person version of the classic tale, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy discover a secret portal to a magical world called Narnia. With an evil White Witch ruling the kingdom, can Lucy, her new friend Mr. Tumnus, and her family band together to save this land from the eternal winter?

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104 (look for discount)
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). Read a KFDC review of last year’s show.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 24 – December 31
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 24
Tickets: $40-50/adult, $24/child (look for discount)

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 24 – January 1
Tickets: $40-55

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Paul Morella’s stunning solo rendition of Charles Dickens’s classic tale that represents everything great about the holiday. This is A Christmas Carol in its purest form, with 99% of the text drawn directly from the original novella. Even more impressive, Morella’s theatrical portrayal of over 50 characters honors how Dickens himself would tour the world reciting the story. Now in its 14th holiday season, the show is a family tradition throughout the region and a gem constantly being discovered by new audiences.

The Nutcracker @ TheARC
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 25-26
Tickets: $30-60

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

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 30 – December 31
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Dorrance Dance: Nutcracker Suite
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 30 – December 3
Tickets: $29-99

In Nutcracker Suite, explosive tap dance meets your favorite holiday classic. This Nutcracker boogies, slides, struts, and dives into Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn’s intoxicating interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 1-20, 10:15am & 11:30am
Admission: $3-9

This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is like a rite of passage for every true DC kid. A signature Discovery Theater show, it celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. Recommended for ages 5-10.  It always sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets!

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 2,3, & 9
Tickets: $27-30/adult, $22-25/12 & under

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

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 2-31
Tickets: $51/adult, $46/senior, $41/under 25 

This original work by Keegan favorite 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.

Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: December 2-30
Tickets: $48-140

DC’s perennial favorite! Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms, and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, this “DC” production is a tradition for many a Washingtonian to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from one of our experiences fro awhile back. [Note: Even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version, it’s that good.]

How the Grinch Stole Christmas in Concert
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 7, 7:30pm
Tickets: $18-75

Discover the Magic of the Mean One this holiday season. Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas is a celebration of the holiday spirit no home should be without! Why is the Grinch such a grouch? No one seems to know, until little Cindy Lou Who takes matters into her own hands and turns both Whoville and the Grinch’s world upside down, inside out and funny side up in her search for the true meaning of Christmas.

Step Afrika! Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: December 8-17
Tickets: $56-95 (look for discount)

Taking place at Arena Stage for the first time this year, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! (And we know from many years’ experience!) This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a fantastic, contemporary holiday tradition, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party.

The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 8-10
Tickets: $29-49

The hit family opera returns for the holidays, based on the award-winning children’s book and featuring music from Tony®-winning composer Jeanine Tesori… As the first Christmas nears, who among the animals can lead Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem? Fearsome Lion and graceful Unicorn are the top contenders—though it certainly won’t be Donkey, whose only humble gift is a small but sturdy back. But with the birth of a very special king on the horizon, Donkey soon discovers that miracles can happen anywhere!

Reindeer Games
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 8-16
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child

Encore Stage presents this show by kids for kids… Pulling Santa’s sleigh is hard work. When team leader Dasher decides to retire, coaches Kris and Carol Kringle host the Reindeer Games to find the next member of the Nifty Nine, Santa’s reindeer crew. Eager reindeer recruits showcase their talents in a series of games, but these aren’t your typical winter events, nor your typical competitors. Turns out, everyone’s a winner when you’re on Santa’s nice list.

Snow Maiden
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: December 9 – January 6
Tickets: $25-35 (look for discount)

In a frozen silver forest high in the mountains, a lonely boy builds a girl from snow. When she mysteriously comes to life, mischief, laughter, and enchantment abound. But what will happen when the ice begins to melt? Told through Synetic’s signature style of dazzling movement, dance, and acrobatics, this magical take on the beloved folktale Snegurochka is a heart-warming story of love, hope, and the transformative powers of awe and wonder. Snow Maiden comes to life in a 45-minute production set to an enchanting score to get us all in the holiday spirit.

Family Messiah
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When December 9, 12pm
Tickets: $45/adult, $25/child

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

Snow Daze
Where: Masonic National Theater | Alexandria , VA
When: December 9
Tickets: $30/adult, $15/student, free/10 & under

Join SONOVA, the Symphony Orchestra of Northern Virginia, for an enchanting evening experience, “Snow Daze!” From the anticipation of a winter storm to the thrill of a snow day, this concert will transport you to the magic of a wintery wonderland! Featuring an epic orchestral version of “School’s Out” by Alice Cooper, “Cold as Ice” by a Foreigner and orchestral masterpieces like The Snow Maiden Suite by Rimsky-Korsakov, as well as a holiday favorite from The Nutcracker.

Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 11, 6pm
Admission: Free

A fun, lively tradition of the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. Musicians of all ages gather annually to perform traditional Christmas music arranged by American composer Alec Wilder on the tuba and euphonium. And 2023 is the 50th year of Merry TUBACHRISTMAS! events that are presented throughout the world. This tends to see out so snag tickets soon!

Trans-Siberian Orchestra: The Ghosts of Christmas Eve
Where: CapitalOne Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 14
Tickets: $49-109

Rock out this holiday season with TSO as they bring back “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve: The Best of TSO and More”! They’re pulling out all the stops to make sure this winter tour is thebest show in years.

The Magical Medieval Tale of Sir Gawain & the Green Knight
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 15-17
Admission: $17-70
The Washington Revels 41st production of Christmas Revels whisks audiences to the time of Camelot, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, weaving the ancient tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with English and French medieval music, delightful Revels favorites, and many opportunities for the audience to join in the fun. This year’s production features a multigenerational cast, ages 8 to 92, portraying the legendary ladies and gallant knights of Camelot and the mysterious Green Court of the Lord and Lady Bercilak—as Sir Gawain’s adventure unfolds, filled with beauty, magic, and celebration!

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: MGM National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 15-17
Tickets: $32-99

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

The Nutcracker
Where: Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 15-23 (look for discount)
Tickets: $34-42/adult, $28-35/child (
The Maryland Youth Ballet presents its annual production of the holiday classic… Magical dolls, life-sized mice, dancing snowflakes, and an enchanting kingdom of sweets return to stage this holiday season for Maryland Youth Ballet’s full-length production of The Nutcracker. Set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, the incredible dancing and dazzling costumes bring to life the classic story of Clara and her Nutcracker Prince.

Season of Joy
Where: Indian Creek School | Chantilly, VA
When: December 15-23
Tickets: $20

Don’t miss The Talent Machine Company’s annual holiday spectacular, Season of Joy, featuring an amazing cast of talented kids, ages 7 to 18, singing and dancing to your favorite holiday songs. Enjoy visits from Rudolph, Frosty, the Elves and the irrepressibleThe Talent Machine show is a family tradition not to be missed!

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center  | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 16 & 24
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! They’ll take you on a merry tour of Christmas favorites that will have your family singing all the way home. Expect a visit from Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph!

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center  | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 16-23
Tickets: $10-73

Ring in the holiday season (literally!) at The Washington Chorus’ “A Candlight Christmas!” Featuring spirited brass, a festive chorus, and extra special guests to help you celebrate the season, this concert is among the DC region’s most beloved holiday traditions — so don’t miss this heartwarming seasonal delight!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 19-23
Tickets: $28-68

This holiday mash-up is back by popular demand! Follow Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince on a magical adventure set in modern-day New York City. The Hip Hop Nutcrackerfeatures a combination of Tchaikovsky’s classic score and all-star contemporary and hip-hop dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Using innovative visual effects, the production transforms the traditional 19th-century German landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story into a vibrant and diverse representation of modern urban life. This remixed and reimagined version of the classic holiday tale takes audiences on an unforgettable journey celebrating love and community.

A Christmas Brass Spectacular!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 19, 7:30pm
Tickets: $60-70

The Capitol Bones All-Brass Big Band has created the ultimate show of favorite holiday music, performing original and new arrangements from “A Stan Kenton Christmas,” Duke Ellington’s “Nutcracker Suite,” and Vince Guarldi’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”

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

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



The Season’s Greenings train display at the US Botanic Garden


Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 10 – January 7
Admission: Starts at $29.99

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

Holiday Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 12 – December 17, Sundays
Admission: Free

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

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 18, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Larger than life inflatable turkeys and penguins, glittering floats, marching bands, dancing groups, and Santa and his elves!  Montgomery County’s annual procession is the only Thanksgiving Parade in the DC Metro area. Heralding the start of the holiday season, the parade steps off from Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and proceeds south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue.

Where: National Harbor, MD
When: November 19 – December 31
Admission: Starts $27.99/child & $36.99/adult, free/under 3 

The popular holiday spectacle, ICE! is back with a “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” theme. Walk through frozen holiday scenes depicting the story and slide down small ice slides — all kept at a very chilly 9 degrees.We’ve been a few times, and I recommended reading my reviews here and here before you go. I didn’t post a write-up after the last time we went a few years ago, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed.  However, some people really love it, so check it out for yourself!  Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and timed entries are every half-hour. Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the schedule when you plan to go. Look for a discount on admission!

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

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! is often the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. The atrium of the resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. Read more about the experience in this KFDC post by Emily Moise.

Holidays at Hillwood
Where: Hillwood Estate | Northwest DC
When: November 21 – January 14
Admission: $15/adult, $5/child  (workshops vary)

The beauty of the astounding historical and contemporary works of glass on view permeates the holiday décor that adorns the entire estate. As always, the gardens at Hillwood reveal the beauty of the holiday season. Conifers such as the blue atlas cedar and false cypress show off their evergreen boughs, while holly and witch hazel provide bright spots of color. Pine trees adjacent to the mansion are lighted to lead the way into the holiday splendor. Wreath workshops brings the holidays from Hillwood to you, inviting participants to craft a one-of-a-kind holiday decoration.

Holiday Caravan
Where: Franklin Park | Downtown DC
When: November 22, 6-9pm
Admission: Free

Head to downtown DC’s largest green space for an evening of free, festive, and family-friendly activities celebrating the holiday season. Santa Claus is rolling into downtown with his Holiday Caravan — a completely illuminated, 18-foot, 16-wheel spectacle! His helpers will be on hand to take free photos with Santa and hand out candy, toys, and Coca-Cola products. There will also be hot chocolate, carolers, and trackless train rides around Franklin Park! Celebrate the season of giving, too, by contributing to a coat, hat, and glove drive for our adult unhoused neighbors at the Downtown Day Services Center.

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 23 – January 1
Admission: Free

Easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction, Season’s Greenings is a local must-do.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the outdoor garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s display highlights pollinators and their related plants.  For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on select Thursday evenings, December 14, 21, & 28.  Get a glimpse of a past exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Crafting for the Holidays
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 24-25
Admission: Free

A great activity with the kids over Thanksgiving weekend… Join the Library of Congress for a family crafting program to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. Learn about the Library’s holiday collections while you take part in crafting activities for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and more.

Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 24 – December 31
Admission: $32+/adult, $24+/age 3-17

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas light maze, this year with a “Reindeer Games” theme. Stroll through lighted tunnels, travel to magical illuminated lands as you search for the reindeer’s magic bells, and find your way to the 100-foot tall Christmas tree.  Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market,  and Santa and Mrs. Claus.  View scenes from last year’s event and read a KFDC review (from the first season it was here in 2019) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

The B&O Polar Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 24-26 & December 1-3, 8-10, & 15-19
Admission: $47-67

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

American Girl Holiday Activities
Where: American Girl store | Tysons, VA
When: Various dates
Admission: Varies by activity

From decorating Thanksgiving and holiday cookies to making gingerbread houses to holiday tea times to a Santa Brunch, American Girl is hosting extra-special activities just for the season, starting November 16 through December 17. Follow the link for details on all of them.

Kids Ornament Workshop
Where: PlantHouse | Alexandria, VA
When: November 26
Admission: $14

This ornament workshop for kids is the perfect family activity! Join PlantHouse for a fun session, where kids will learn how to create a unique terrarium complete with air plants, decor, and winter/holiday figurines. Recommended for ages 6+, and parent supervision is required. Tickets only required for guests building a terrarium. Decor options will vary.

Church Street Holiday Stroll
Where: Church Street | Vienna, VA
When: November 27, 6-8:30pm
Admission: Free

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

Light Yards Express
Where: Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 29, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

Ring in the season at the first-ever Light Yards Express! All are welcome to the free, family-friendly celebration to kick off the most wonderful time of year with a night filled with holiday train rides, festive glitter tattoos, bell swings, live music, branded jingle bell giveaways, and a special guest, Santa Claus!

Elf Movie Party
Where: The Alamo | Northeast DC & Crystal City, VA
When: Throughout the season
Admission: $17.24

Don’t be a cotton-headed ninnymuggins this holiday season. Head to Alamo Drafthouse and spread the cheer at this sugar-fueled, interactive holiday spectacular, packed with games, props, and, of course, singing loud for all to hear. Bundle up for this celebration of one of the best holiday films ever made, period. Will Ferrell’s take on a North Pole elf trying to figure out Manhattan (“Watch out! The yellow ones don’t stop!”) just might be the funniest he’s ever been. The ELF Movie Party features all sorts of fun props, a gift “wrap off” before the film, and of course, your very own elf hat.

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

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. And if you want to get in on special events, there are Candlelight Tours on select dates (November 24-25, December 1-2, 8-9, and 17) and Christmas Illuminations fireworks (December 15-16) — visit the website for more details and pricing.

Christmas Movies
Where: Miracle Theater | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Throughout December
Admission: $8/adult, $6/child

There’s nothing like a good holiday classic film to bring coy and fun to the season. The Miracle Theater will have showings of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Home Alone throughout December. Make a day of it on the Hill… catch a flick, have a bite to eat on 8th Street, and maybe do a little holiday shopping at the shops and Eastern Market.

Tea, Cookies, and Magic with Santa
Where: Hank’s Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3, 10, 17, 23 | 11am – 1pm
Admission: $65

Parents and children can gather for a memorable performance by either the incredible Abracadabra Alex (12/3 & 12/10) or the hilarious Great Zucchini (12/17 & 12/23), both renowned magicians and entertainers. Santa Claus himself will make a grand entrance to greet the little ones and spread holiday cheer. After the show, guests will enjoy a holiday spread of tea sandwiches and sweets.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: December 8, 9 , 10, & 18-24
Admission: Starts at $40-500

Yes, there are two Polar Express train rides! On this one, take a one-of-a-kind ride through Winter Land aboard the Western Maryland.  The 90-minute family-friendly expedition includes  singing, dancing, and a reading of The Polar Express, plus hot chocolate and cookies served by friendly and entertaining chefs and a visit from the Big Man himself! Upon arrival at the North Pole, Santa will present the first gift of Christmas. On the return trip, everyone will receive a silver sleigh bell. Passengers are encouraged to wear their favorite pajamas and join in on the magic. Hank’s is located at 818 N. St. Asaph Street in Old Town Alexandria

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: December 2 – January 1
Admission: Free

This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire, because it may just be the most quintessential DC holiday activity of them all. 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.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 2, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $5

This will be an experience to remember as you watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport (it’s the world’s oldest continuously operating airport)! Make some holiday arts and crafts, then have your picture taken with Santa Claus after his big flight. Photos will be scheduled by reserved time slot. To reserve a slot, send an email to collegeparkaviation@pgparks.com. All guests over the age of 2 must have a ticket.

Bethesda Winter Wonderland
Where: Norfolk Avenue Streetery | Bethesda, MD
When: December 2, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

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

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 2, 11am
Admission: Free

The 52nd annual Scottish Christmas Walk will be a showcase of marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade usually begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and ends at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine.

Where: Franklin Park | Downtown DC
When: December 2-17
Admission: Free

Step into an illuminated winter extravaganza as Franklin Park is transformed into a glistening Frosted wonderland aglow with thousands of lights. There will be lots of fun holiday festivities to enjoy — appearances by Santa, The Grinch and Lulu, Ice Sculpture Island, Holiday Lane, the Frosted Maker’s Market, a larger than life Snow Globe Main Stage, and more!  See the website for the schedule.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: December 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, and 23
Admission: $10/adults, $8/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Explore a unique DC area museum this holiday season. Visit with Santa down our mile-long woodland railroad, featuring a holiday ride on our historic street cars. In addition, enjoy a holiday model railroad display in collaboration with the Washington, Virginia & Maryland Garden Railway Society, crafts for children, photo opportunities, and more.

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

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 2, 6-9pmAdmission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 30th Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This iconic DC event will feature over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. Get into the spirit with ornament decorating. Roast s’mores at the Camp Wharf fire pit and visit the lighted 45ft Christmas Tree. Skate at The Wharf Ice Rink on Transit Pier and sample winter drinks at the beer garden. Bring your camera for pictures with Santa!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 2, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Fest
Where: Historic Downtown Occoquan, VA
When: December 2-3
Admission: Free

The town of Occoquan begins celebrating the holidays in mid-November with a tree lighting and continues the festivities with a shop small weekend November 24-26, and an even bigger event the weekend of December 2-3 when there will be a lot, going on for all ages. Visit with Santa, join a gingerbread house contest, shop the holiday market, enjoy concerts in the park, and more.

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

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

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

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

DAR Holiday Open House
Where: DAR Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 6, 5:30-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Candlelight Tours
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: December 8, 13, & 15
Admission: $25/non-member, $15/member

Se Tudor Place by candlelight at this spacial holiday season program. Join a guided candlelit tour highlighting the season of gift giving among the Peter family and the African American and immigrant domestic laborers who lived and worked at Tudor Place.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 9, 3-6pm
Admission: Free

It’s Glen Echo Park’s annual Winter’s Eve celebration, a holiday event designed with all ages in mind. The Park will be abuzz with activity throughout the event:Open studios, artwork sales, refreshments, and the Puppet Co. will present it’s beloved The Nutcracker at 4pm. There will also be free children’s holiday crafts, and many of the Park’s resident arts organizations will offer holiday activities, including performances by Washington Revels, a hands-on blown glass ornament workshop (pre-registration required), Washington Conservatory of Music student performances, holiday portrait photography (pre-registration encouraged), and more!

Fun with Santa
Where: Women’s Club of Chevy Chase | Chevy Chase, MD
When: December 9-10 10am – 1pm
Admission: $15

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

Holiday Extravaganza
Where: The Boro | Tysons, DC
When: December 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Here comes Santa Claus, right down Boro Lane! Get into the holiday spirit with a festive and fun morning in Boro Park to kick off the holiday season! At Santa’s Workshop at The Boro, guests of all ages are invited to enjoy a fun filled morning of holiday kids crafts, a DJ dance party, specialty hot chocolate bar with lots of fun fixings from Bluestone Lane, a holiday themed bounce house, and calligrapher on site to customize ornaments. And don’t forget to stop Santa’s Workshop in Boro Park, where you can take pictures with Santa — he’ll be there from 11:30am to 1pm.

Breakfast with Santa
Where: Maggiano’s | Tyson’s Corner, VA
When: December 10, 8-10am
Admission: $30/adult, $40/child

Join Santa Claus for a delicious breakfast buffet, take some photo,s and create some special crafts for the Holiday season! Children will enjoy breakfast, write letters to Santa, and decorate their own holiday themed cookies. Santa’s elves will even help to assist them in making their own “magic reindeer food”, in hopes that Santa and his reindeer will come and visit on Christmas Eve. Pictures with Santa are encouraged. Parents, don’t forget your cameras!

Tudor Tots: What Are your Traditions?
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown DC
When: December 13, 10-10:45am
Admission: $6.50/child, free for accompanying adults

Young learners aged 18 months to 4 years and their caregivers are invited to learn about winter holidays and the traditions that surround them. Participants will enjoy a group storytime, make a present to share with loved ones and sing songs together. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Pre-registration for both child and accompanying adult is required.

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

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

Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse
When: December 15 – January 3
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
Admission: $17-30
ARTECHOUSE is bringing back this exhibit to celebrate the season.  Experience holiday joy brought to life through digital fantasy worlds, as you float among giant swinging bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, join a thrilling train ride through wreaths, take a spin in the candy cane carousel, and more in this interactive cutting-edge experience. Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse is intended to transport you into an immersive multiverse filled with magic and wonder — the perfect experience to share with your family and loved ones.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 15-16
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.

Holiday Family Activity Series
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 27-30
Admission: Free

This will be a good one to keep in mind after when you’re looking for activities with the kids during the school break after Christmas… Join the Library’s Informal Learning Office for a crafting activity to celebrate the holiday season and the coming New Year. Learn about the Library’s holiday collections while you make your own crafts including writing cards, creating countdown chains for upcoming celebrations, and learning how to write thank you letters.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: TBA 
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!

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

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



The festive tree lighting at CItyCenter DC


National Harbor Nightly Tree Lighting
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 11 – December 31
Admission: Free

Watch the brand 60-foot RGB tree come to life nightly with a breathtaking light show in the heart of the Waterfront District. The breathtaking light show dances alongside a holiday medley recorded by the United States Air Force Band.  The show runs on the half an hour from sunset to 9pm. If you go on a Saturday night, you’ll get to see fireworks, too!

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 17, 6pm
Admission: Free

Tysons Corner Center will bring the community together to join Santa in kicking off their 2023 Holiday Season. Programming will include Santa ringing in the season, music and dance performances, complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate bar, pop-up Holiday market featuring our Retailers, custom beverages by Barrel + Bushel, giveaways, and more.

17th Annual Capitol Hill Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Eastern Market Metro Plaza | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 18, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. The tree is always huge and beautifully adorned, and lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening also always features festive performances.

Holiday Tree Lighting + Santa Firetruck Parade
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 24, festivities begin at 6pm
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. Visitors can also meet and greet Santa in the Target lobby after the tree lighting and enjoy live entertainment from 6-9pm and a holiday parade from 6:30-6:45pm. The Tree Lighting is at 7:15pm.

10th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: CityCenter | Downtown DC
When: November 25, 5-7pm
Admission: Free
Kick off the holiday season and celebrate 10 years of CityCenterDC at their annual holiday tree lighting! The evening will include a joyful music performance by fan favorite, The Revels, balloon artists, face painters, holiday treats, and more. Enjoy the dazzling 75-foot tree, see two resident 25-foot reindeer, and capture the spirit of the holidays with a photo under our Palmer Alley Dream Closet art installation.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 28, 5pm
Admission: Free

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

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

This year will be the 100th National Christmas Tree lighting! To attend this lighting you have to enter the lottery to win admission — which is open through November 8. 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.

Jingle Jubilee Tree Lighting & Celebration
Where: Chevy Chase Lake | Chevy Chase, DC
When: November 30, 5:30-8pm
Admission: Free

Chevy Chase Lake’s annual holiday celebration features a community tree lighting, festive activities, and special giveaways. Hosted by NBC 4’s Tommy McFly, the event will include fun photo ops, a Polar Express train ride, live DJ music, face painting and balloon art, strolling entertainment, concessions for sale, and the tree lighting at 6pm

Holiday Tree Lighting & Celebration
Where: Cathedral Commons | Northwest DC
When: December 1, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Festival of Lights & Carols
Where: Old Town Square | Fairfax, VA
When: December 2, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

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

Get Hanukkah started with the National Menorah Lighting


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

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

Fiddler on the Roof
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 8 – December 31
Tickets: $35-101 (look for discount)

Tradition! The word itself is synonymous with this most classic of American musicals, set in the tiny shtetl of Anatevka. People all over the world continue to find universal truths in the story of Tevye and his headstrong, tradition-bucking daughters. Now, Olney Theatre creates a rich and re-imagined Fiddler for a new generation to embrace through unforgettable songs like “If I Were a Rich Man,” “To Life,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” Like Tevye himself, this Fiddler knows the power of its traditional highlights, but like his daughters Tzeitel, Hodel, and Chava – it also may surprise you with new ways of carrying forward its spirit.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 30 – December 31
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Dreidel Workshop
Where: Home Depot | 901 Rhode Island Ave NE, DC
When: December 3, 1:30-2:30pm
Admission: Free

How about a DYI project to celebrate the upcoming holiday? Kids can make a dreidel game boards using wood, hammers, etc. There will also be chocolate coins, music, and other Chanukah goodies! Be sure to register in advance!

Klezmer Brunch: Seth Kibel & Friends
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown, DC
When: December 3, 10:30-11:30am 
Admission: $19/concert, free/7 & under
Celebrate the season with a Family Chanukah Klezmer Brunch featuring Seth Kibel & Friends. Get in the holiday spirit with klezmer clarinetist Seth Kibel and his trio as they entertain you and your family with creative and jazzy renditions of your favorite Chanukah carols, traditional klezmer romps, and maybe even one or two of the many Christmas songs penned by Jewish songwriters. Bring the little ones to dance with the band!

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

The Wharf Lighting of the Menorah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 7
Admission: Free

It’ not officially on their calendar yet, but the Wharf has an annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah.  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: December 7, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

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

Hanukkah at the VIllage
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: December 7, 5-7pm
Admission: Free
The Village at Leesburg is partnering with Gesher Jewish Day School to bring you Hanukkah at the Village! Join for a family-oriented, community-wide candle lighting event and enjoy holiday themed activities, including latkes, dreidel playing, doughnuts, kids crafts, music, a photo booth, and more.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 7, 6pm
Admission: Free

Experience the festival of lights and share in the spirit and joy of Chanukah. See the lighting of a 6-foot menorah; enjoy delicious hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts; get some chocolate gelt and dreidels; andisten to lively Chanukah music.

Lights & Ice: Hanukkah Skate Night
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 8
Admission: Free; skating is $15/12+, $12/under 12

The Festival of Lights is back at the Canal Park Ice Rink with Free Skate Rentals for the first 150 attendees to glide around the outdoor menorah. There will also be live music from DJ Ci Ci, free Hannukah-themed donuts, and hot cider from neighborhood confectionary shop Kilwins courtesy of the Capitol Riverfront BID. Plus, enjoy dreidels, glow sticks, gelt, and an exclusive Capitol Riverfront mug & hot cocoa kit for the first 100 attendees! An official menorah lighting will take place at 7pm.

Chanukah Gelt Drop and Story Trail
Where: Lincoln Park | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 10, 4-5pm
Admission: Free

Walk through the Chanukah Story Trail with the accompanying soundtrack to experience the Chanukah story brought to life! Enjoy hot cocoa and latkes and then watch Chanukah goodies fall from the top of a fire truck. The program will end with a beautiful, musical Menorah lighting and singing. This will take place in the northeast corner of Lincoln Park, near 11th & Mass. Register in advance.

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: December 10, 5pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot!

Join Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington to celebrate Chanukah! After they light 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.

JF Chanukah Party
Where: Edlavitch JCC | Downtown DC
When: December 10, 10:30-11:30ampm
Admission: Free

Join a Chanukah gathering for families of young children! They’ll have snacks, stories, shmoozing, and a music performance by beloved Mr. Ari. Geared toward families with children under 4, but all are welcome! This event is free to attend, but registration is required.

Chanukah Firetruck Parade & Menorah Lighting
Where: Around Olney & Sandy Spring, MD (see details below)
When: December 11, 5:30-7:15pm
Admission: Free

Date still TBA for this annual event….  Celebrate Chanukah with a Firetruck Parade and Menorah Lighting! The procession will stop Norbeck Grove Pool House, Rosa Parks Middle School, B’nai Shalom of Olney, and Fair Hill Shopping Center, then culminating at Sandy Spring Volunteer Station 4 (17921 Brooke Road in Sandy Spring). There, enjoy the Menorah Lighting along with refreshments.  See the website for timing!

National Landing Menorah Lighting
Where: Met Park | National Landing, VA
Whe: December 11, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join a menorah lighting and community celebration to experience the festival of lights! Watch the lighting of a giant 9-foot Menorah, enjoy delicious potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, and chocolate gelt, pick up a dreidels, and listen to lively Chanukah music. Registration required.


Shop, stroll, and enjoy the season in the city at the Downtown Holiday Market


Museum Shop Holiday Market
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: November 9-11
Admission: Suggested donation of $10
Start your holiday gift shopping with DC’s museums. Strathmore’s Museum Shop Holiday Market brings together the area’s best museum and cultural shops for three festive days. Every present is part of a larger purpose as your purchase supports nonprofit museums and arts organizations in our community. Find unique gifts from the shops at Strathmore, Brookside Gardens, the Supreme Court Historical Society, Hillwood, The Phillips Collection, GWU Museum & The Textile Museum, President Lincoln’s Cottage, and Woodend Nature Shop.

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

The outdoor flea market at the centerpiece of the Capitol Hill community is practically a year-round weekend institution for locals. And during the holiday season, it’s a go-to for shoppers seeking unique gifts along with a fun outing. Over 100 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood, including one  at 8th and Pennsylvania just across from the Metro.

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 9 – December 10
Admission: $20-25

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

30th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 10-12
Admission: $9/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 17 – 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.

Fall Bazaar
Where: Washington Waldorf School | Bathesda, MD
When: November 18
Admission: Free, but fee for activities 

Washington Waldorf School’s annual holiday market is one of the highest quality bazaars in the DC area with unique crafts and activities for children of all ages. They welcome many local artisans and offer an array of beautiful handcrafted items made by parents. There will also be live entertainment and tasty treats. Entrance is free, but activities require tickets to be purchased. All are welcome!

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 18 – December 24
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult weekends, kids free

West Shore Park in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor will be transformed into a Christmas Village, an authentic German holiday market, that is full of fun for all ages. There’s kids entertainment all day long, photo ops with Santa, a carousel and ferris wheel, live performances, and more! Plus, everyday there are more than 50 vendor booths to browse for gifts, food, entertainment, and lots of holiday fun to celebrate the season. (Note that it is closed on select dates — see the website for specifics.) And for more to do in Charm City see the KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids.

Heurich Christmas Markt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 1-3
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

This year marks the start of a new decade for the Heurich House Museum’s annual Christmas Markt. Supporting over 1,000 small businesses since its inception, the small garden market has evolved into a key incubator for Washington, DC’s makers and craftspeople This year, Christmas Markt will feature 50+ local small-scale makers, a mini exhibit about the historic revival of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co.’s Senate Beer, children’s ornament making, and more.

Winter Festival & Christmas Tree Sale
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: December 2, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Friends of the National Arboretum are hosting this market at one of the prettiest places in DC. Shop from local vendors and enjoy free holiday-themed family activities, plus get your family’s tree! There will be vendors who specialize in jewelry, home goods, gardening accessories, food, drink, and more. Plan for time to tour the plant collections and maybe even enjoy a picnic, too.

Winter Market & Seasonal Festivities
Where: The PARC | Tysons, VA
When: December 2, 12-5pm
Admission: Free

The Winter Market returns to The PARC at Tysons this December for one day only! Don’t miss local small businesses, makers, artisans and lots of FREE fun.

City Ridge Holiday Market
Where: 14 Ridge Square NW | Tenleytown, DC
When: December 2-3
Admission: Free

City Ridge, a new bustling community located along Wisconsin Avenue, is ringing in the most wonderful time of the year with a two-day holiday market and tree lighting, featuring DC’s premier artisan pop-event URBNmarket. Shop from over 50 carefully-curated local vendors on the historic Great Lawn. Spread the holiday cheer with glitter tattoos and face painting, and don’t forget to write and give a letter to Santa. Savor the best flavors of the holiday season with bites from local restaurants, create your own decor at the craft station, and take a Saturday train ride through Ridge Square. Pose for Instagrammable pics with the whole family to welcome the holiday season! On Saturday, City Ridge will also host its second annual community tree lighting ceremony, featuring a performance from the Children’s Chorus of Washington.

Holiday Market
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 3, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Make this festive season extra special at the first HCC Holiday Market, featuring one-of-a kind gifts, hand crafted treasures, and delectable treats, all made by local makers, bakers, artists, and vendors. Dogs welcome.

Silver Spring Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Fair
Where: Veterans Plaza | Silver Spring, MD
When: December 3, 12-4
Admission: Free

Holiday shop and find gifts for everyone on your list. Over 80 artisans, crafters, independent consultants, and other local small businesses are looking forward to showcase you their products, just in time for the holidays. From arts and crafts to jewelry and baked goods, to body and hair care, vendors have everything to surprise your loved ones.

Old Town Alexandria Christmas Market & Holiday Craft Show
Where: Carlyle Square | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 9, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

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

DC Holiday Market
Where: Union Market – Dock 5 | Northeast DC
When: December 16-17
Admission: $10-15/adult, free/age 14 & under

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

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

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Filed under 2023, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Winter