Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Maryland

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

Bike around the National Mall and memorials over the break

 

If you’re going to be in town over the Winter Break from school, you’ll likely be looking for activities to keep the whole gang happy (and that includes us parents)! Hence, I’m bringing back this guide once again, but with updated info and some new inspiration that reflects what’s going on now.

Many of these ideas are already on the blog, but sometimes a little guidance for what’s best at certain times helps. Among the recommendations are holiday activities that keep the spirit going a little longer, exhibits and shows that are hot tickets right now, outings that take advantage of the season, adventures to keep your gang active no matter what the weather, and places and experiences that kids who are in school all day can’t get to easily.

Of course, the rest of the blog is packed with suggestions if you want even more options. So, whether you’re enjoying a staycation or visiting from out of town, you should have no problem keeping the kids (and yourself!) entertained during the time off — or on, depending how you look at it. 😉  Happy Winter Break!

 

Holiday-Inspired Happenings

Special Exhibits & Museums

Must-See DC

#OptOutside

Show Time

Indoor Action

See Some Sports

Day Trips

Extra Tips

 

 

Holiday-Inspired Happenings

Model trains are back at the Botanic Garden — outside!

Outdoor Train Display
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 2
Admission: Free
The USBG’s wonderful annual model train exhibit is back after a hiatus last year, though outdoors in the gated National Garden.  Made up of farming scenes, it’s delightful as ever and once again all constructed from plant materials. Along with the model trains,  there are more festive adornments throughout the Garden, plus Patrick Doherty’s amazing stickwork sculpture that was installed in late 2019.

Search for Santa’s Helpers
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: December 18-22, 11am – 3pm
Admission: $5/child

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

Enchant Christmas
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Through 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 DC holiday attraction from its 2019 run. Look for a discount here.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

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

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. On select dates, there are some special evening holiday activities, too. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Year’s. Look for a discount – $21/adult, $11.25/child.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $18/adult, $17/senior, $12/age 2-12, free/B&O members


At a venue dedicated to locomotives, you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. The whole Museum has been transformed into a wonderland of festive fun including Reindeer Railway train rides, photos ops with Santa and winter friends, Santa’s Village, live entertainment, and more!  And just opened is  a new Model Train Gallery featuring a specially crafted HO Scale model layout of Baltimore in 1997.

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

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. While there’s no ICE! exhibit this year, there’s still plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Much of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly lightings, indoor snowfalls, and more fun,, much of it free. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.). For extra costs, there are ice slides and ice skating and holiday activities for kids.  There are also nightly tree lightings and lights show in the National Harbor outdoor plaza.

* Find even more holiday happenings in the KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC!

 

 

Special Exhibits & Museums

 

Interact with language at Planet Word

Word Up
Where: Planet Word | Downtown DC
When: Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The museum all about language is full of fun and interesting exhibits, most of them interactive. There are elements that all ages will love, though tweens and older will get the most out of it, having more grammar lessons under their belts and generally better comprehension. Our whole family loves it! Admission is free, but you need to book tickets in advance. Right now, there are some available for dates over the break. And a limited number of day-of, walk-up passes are available on the half-hour.

FUTURES
Where: Arts & Industries Building | National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

The Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building recently reopened — with a new, fascinating exhibition, to boot!  FUTURES spans 32,000 square feet inside, and it’s full of large-scale installations, displays, and interactives that are exciting, powerful, and thought-provoking as they offer a glimpse of future possibilities — and prompt us to wonder how we can contribute. It’s an exhibition for everyone and all ages, and one to put on your must-visit list! Get a glimpse of it here.

Laurie Anderson: The Weather
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This exhibition at the Hirshhorn is fantastic!  Beautiful abstract paintings, captivating stories, interesting photography, original instruments, spoken word video sculptures, and an entire black and white gallery hand painted by Anderson with sketches, quotes, poems, and passages are among the collection of multimedia works. I’d recommend the exhibit for tween ages and up, though younger children could definitely tag along — there are visual elements that would appeal to them, too. (Plus, art can always be presented to them as something that was in someone’s imagination that they have made real… that is what I did, anyway, when my kids were younger and we encountered art that was over their heads.)

Alif Ba Exhibition
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 18 – February 22
Admission: $15.95

A new visiting exhibit that explores the Arabic alphabet is coming to the National Children’s Musem. Named for the Arabic term for the “ABCs,” the Alif Ba Exhibition brings the Arabic alphabet and language to life with 28 hands-on letter displays in the Museum’s Creative Corner. The interactive experience invites Dreamers to touch and explore the letters, and listen to the sounds they make and the words they begin. Dreamers can also spend time practicing tracing and writing the Arabic alphabet. Of course, you can explore the rest of the Museum’s exhibits, too — read more about them here.

Life of a Neuron
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 2
Admission: $16-20/adult, $13-15/senior, $8-10/child

Art meets science in this new exhibit at ARTECHOUSE, taking us on an artistic journey inside the brain. Trippy, captivating scenes swirl around the walls and floors, and side galleries have some interactive elements. Read more about it in this recent review.

Mission: Fun
Where: International Spy Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $26.95/age 13+, $16.95/7-12, free/6 & under

If you haven’t been to the Spy Museum at the L’Enfant Plaza location, this is a great time to check it out! Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions.

African American History & Culture
Where: National Museum of African American History & Culture
When: Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free with timed-entry passes

This phenomenal museum is a must-visit on the National Mall.  Timed entry passes are still required, and while they aren’t available to reserve in advance, you can try for same-day passes.  They are released daily starting at 8:15am and can be reserved here. Before you go to the museum, be sure to read the KFDC guide for visiting with kids.

* Of course, there are the rest of the Smithsonians — see hours and open days for them here — and more local museums to check out.

 

Must-See DC

A view of the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress

A Local & National Treasure
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Explore the largest library in the world and one of DC’s most iconic attractions. The Library of Congress is a trove of knowledge, art, history, and culture — and the public is welcome to enjoy it all, and for free!  Walk-ins are sometimes welcome, but it’s best to reserve free tickets in advance.

A Monumental Experience
Where: Washington Monument | National Mall, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The Washington Monument is super fun to tour — you can go up inside to check out interesting exhibits and take in DC views. Advance reservation tickets for the next day are available online for a nominal processing fee. Same-day, free tickets are also be available on a first-come, first-served basis daily starting at 8:30am at the Washington Monument Lodge, located on 15th Street NW, between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW.  Get a peek of the experience from the inside here.

Abe’s Last Days
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free – $3

Ford’s isn’t just a place to catch live entertainment. The site of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination highlights its historic significance through exhibits about the president, the circumstances surrounding his assassination, and that fateful night at the theatre. The National Historic Site features a museum, theatre walk-throughs and a presentation, and guests are welcome to explore it all. Best for about ages 8 and up. Reserve tickets online in advance for $3 or get them at the Box Office for free.

Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Be a tourist in your hometown (unless you’re visiting, then just be a tourist). Take the opportunity to visit the many memorials on the Mall and around the Tidal Basin. Not only are the structures themselves marvel-worthy, there’s a lot to be gleaned from them, too. Learn about some of our country’s presidents and leaders — George, Abe, Tom, FDR, & MLK — from displays, park rangers, and in the Visitors Centers. And walk or bike among them all to add some exercise (and extra fun) to the venture!

 

 

#OptOutside

Hike right in the city at Rock Creek Park

Ready, Set…Hike!
Where: Around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by locale

If you agree with the saying, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing” like I do, there are no excuses for not getting outdoors during winter. And a great, easy way to do so is on a hike. Hit the trail in places with scenic views, tramp and explore history at interesting locales, and enjoy a day of active fun. This post has a a bunch of recommendations for good walks in the woods and other places with kids.

Ice It
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

Enjoy a quintessential winter activity: Ice skating under the sky! Take in art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; glide over the Potomac on The Wharf’s awesome rink; circle around Washington Harbour as you enjoy river views; meander along the Figure 8 path at Canal Park; or do some shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area.

Fossil Hunting
Where: Calvert & Charles Conties
When: Varies by place
Admission: Varies by place
Just because it takes place along beach areas, that doesn’t mean it’s a warm-weather-only activity. As long as you’re dressed for it — waterproof boots are a must! — searching for millions-of-years-old fossils can be just as fun and compelling in winter as it is in summer. There are several places to go in the region, all about an hour drive from DC. This post has a round-up of spots to check out.

Two-Wheel Time
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Given all the unseasonably warm days we’ve had recently, there’s bound to be one great for a bike ride. (Though cold weather can be fun, too — just bundle up!) Cruise along paths lined with scenic surroundings, ride to destinations that offer even more fun, and get some exercise.  This post has a bunch of pedal-worthy recs, with something for riders of all levels, and this particular route is ideal for the whole crew.

Let There Be Lights
Where: Around the DC area
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

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

* Find even more places for outdoor adventures.

 

 

Show Time

Enjoy a Disney classic at Olney Theatre

 

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theater | Olney, MD
When: Through January 2
Tickets: $42-79

Be their guest this holiday season as the classic animated story comes to life on the Olney Theatre Mainstage. It’s a tale as old as time, but it gets a new look from Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.  Olney’s biggest show of the year brings the whole family together for a magical and memorable musical about the redemptive power of love. Join Belle, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and the rest of the gang in the Beast’s cursed castle for an escape to a world where beauty is more than skin deep and happily ever after is just a rose petal away. Rated G.

Cinderella
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: Through December 26
Tickets: $15-30

Cinderella is joining the Synetic family series repertoire and stepping into her own shoes! Led by an all-female team of Syneticons, this innovative take on the classic fairytale is a perfect fit for audiences of all ages.

Corduroy
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 24
Tickets: $28

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. Recommended for ages 3-9.

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

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

* See what else is on stages now (or coming soon), and find holiday-themed entertainment here.

 

Indoor Action

Climb the day away at The St. James

Super, Awesome, and Amazing Fun
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: Thurs-Fri, 3-8pm | Sat-Sun, 9am – 8pm
Admission: Starting at $15/hour 

The Super, Awesome, and Amazing (that’s what it’s called) 30,000 square foot activity center in the St. Jame sports complex is filled with all kinds of climbing structures, trampolines, and obstacle courses. Kids can don harnesses and clip onto wires to climb, rappel, and navigate walkways 20 feet above the ground. They can bounce, flip, and execute acrobatic moves. They can swing from bars and on large platforms and crawl through tunnels. Essentially, every element in the space is conducive to active fun, and there is something for kids from toddler to tween ages to enjoy. Admission is $15 Monday – Thursday before 3pm. After 3pm and on Friday & Saturday, they are $23/hour.

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $25/child, $12/toddler (find discount)

The enormous facility is filled literally floor to ceiling with colorful themed climbing walls and moon bounces. Climbers can ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, scale Jack’s bean stalk, negotiate a rope wall, and experience peak fun on a variety of other climbing areas.

Play in the Zone
Where: ZavaZone | Rockville, MD & Sterling, VA
When: Daily, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Starts at $23.50

Guests have their pick of fun at this indoor adventure park for ages 5-105. There are ninja courses, ropes courses, trampolines, climbing challenges, zip lines, and more under one soaring roof. Usually just open in the afternoons during the week, morning time slots will also be available during Winter Break week.

Spring Time
Where: Flight Trampoline Park | Springfield, VA
When: Daily
Admission: Starts at $14

Kids of all ages can jump, play, even flip for joy at Flight Trampoline Park. The huge space resembles a skate park, with an industrial look of exposed pipes and cinder block walls sprayed with graffiti. But where you’d find ramps, rails, and concrete to facilitate skills and tricks, there are trampolines instead. Be sure to check the schedule for any special jumping times, and buy tickets/sign waivers in advance online to avoid a line there.

Tee Up
Where: Top Golf | National Harbor & Gaithersburg, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Starts at $27/bay
Practice your swing, enjoy a bite, and have some indoor/outdoor fun.  At Top Golf, you drive balls from climate controlled (ie, heated) sheltered bays, so you can still enjoy fresh air and be comfy.   Plus, there ’s a full service restaurant and bar (for parents, obvi) to make a full experience of it.

 

 

See Some Sports

Cheer on our local teams!

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 26 & 30, January 1
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a few home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the  Philadelphia 76ers on December 26, Cleveland Cavaliers on December 30,  and Chicago Bulls on January 1.

All Caps
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 19, 27, & 29
Admission: Ticket prices vary (look for a deal)

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a few games. The Los Angeles Kings will be here on December 19, the Ottawa Senators on December 27, and the Nashville Predators on December 29.

Hoops, NCAA-Style
Where: Universities around the DC Area
When: Throughout the break
Admission: Ticket prices vary

With so many universities in the area, there’s always some good college hoops action going on. Here’s where you can check out schedules and look for tickets:
University of Maryland (Go, Terps!)
George Washington University
Georgetown University
American University
Howard University
George Mason University
Catholic University

 

 

Day Trips

Spend a day on slopes within easy driving distance

 

Hit the Slopes
Where: Around the region
When: Through winter
Admission: Varies

A fun, active way to take advantage of winter: Skiing!  There are a bunch of resorts within a few hours’ drive that are great for young, newbie skiers (and veteran swooshers, too).  Some resorts to check out that are within day trip driving distance: Liberty, Whitetail, Roundtop, and Bryce.

Charm City, Hon!
Where: Baltimore, MD
When: Daily
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are lots of great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art around at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Tour the historic ships moored at the Inner Harbor. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry. The KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids has info for all of these adventures, plus dining recs and more to explore!

Go Underground
Where: Luray Caverns | Luray, VA
When: Daily, 9am – 7pm
Admission: $32/adult, $16/ages 6-12, free/5 & under 

Behold the spectacular underground world of stalagmites, stalactites, and other amazing limestone formations in the massive cave system at Luray. Afterward, make your way through the Garden Maze or check out vintage rides in the Carriage and Caravan Museum. Admission does not include attractions beyond the cavern. KFDC Tip: Be sure to make a pit stop before going into the caverns, because it can be a long walk out to a restroom, and once you’re out, you may not be able to go back in.

Go East
Where: Annapolis and Eastern Shore, MD
When: hours vary by place
Admission: Varies by Place

Who says it has be warm to head out toward the Eastern Shore and enjoy adventures by the water? Drive over the Bay Bridge for a great hike at Wye Island Natural Resources Management Area on this side of the bridge at Quiet Waters. And while it’s not the best season for crabs, you can still enjoy yummy meals at places that are known for them. Try Kentmorr or The Jetty after Wye, Cantler’s or Mike’s closer in. Of course, you can also enjoy a day walking around the charming downtown area in Annapolis.

Art & Maritime Explorations
Where: Calvert County, MD
When: Daily, except Christmas
Admission: Varies by locale

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is a $5 suggested donation. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.

 

 

Extra Tips
* Created especially for last year’s Covid Winter, this post has even more ideas for things to do, all of them outdoors.
* It didn’t fit into the above categories, but this is a great time to sign up for volunteering opportunities with kids.
* If you’re looking specifically for activities for foul weather days, see this list of indoor spots.
* And for where to enjoy time outside, check out The Best Places to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* Sometimes you just need a place to hang out for awhile, so why not make it a stunning one?
* Look for deals and discounts on CertifiKid and Goldstar.

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Filed under 2021, 2022, All ages, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

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

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


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 on the Potomac
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, 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 (look for discount)

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.

* * * * *

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

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween Around the DC Area

 

Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonus of getting extra mileage out of costumes and having more excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are gobs of ways to get into the spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From no-fright fun to cool and creepy thrills, this annual KFDC round-up has all of the details on where and when you and the kids can have a wicked good time around DC and even a bit…beyond.  Happy Halloween!

“Eye Spy” Halloween Trains
Where: Cabin John & Wheaton Regional Parks | Bethesda & Wheaton, MD
When: Saturdays & Sundays, October 2-31
Admission: $6

Hop on board the Halloween Trains! All ages can take a ride through “Trainslyvania” on Montgomery Parks’ Cabin John Miniature Train and the Wheaton Miniature Train.  They’ll run every Saturday and Sunday in October 10am – 6pm, and it’s best to purchase tickets in advance online to guarantee a ride (only a limited amount are available onsite.)

Drive-In “Spooky” Movie Nights
Where: DC Party Box | Rockville, MD
When: Many dates through October
Admission: $15/adult, $10/13 & under

Enjoy Spooktacular theater at this drive-in, featuring an LED screen, FM broadcasting, and spooky surprises. There are two showings each night, a family-friendly film at 6pm and a classic or scary movie 8pm. Different movies are shown every night, so check the website to see what’s playing. A Family Movie Bundle is available that includes 2 adult tickets, 2 child tickets, popcorn, drinks, and priority parking. Reserve in advance online, one reservation per car.

Witchwartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: Thurs-Fri, 10:30am |Sat-Sun, 11:30am & 1pm
Admission: $15/age 2+

The wonderful Puppet Co. has reopened and just in time for Halloween! Witch Wartsmith (the sister of Witch Wartsmith from our Legacy show Rapunzel,) hosts the annual Halloween Spooktacular and you get to vote on the winner! Part contemporary competition show, part vintage telethon, and part punpalooza, this spooky variety show will tickle your funny bone. Don’t miss this year’s performances, because some contestants will change year to year!

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamnsburg, VA
When:  October 1-31
Admission: Rates vary

Enjoy a Halloween-themed family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, where there will be spooktacular fun all month. Kids and parents alike can enjoy special activities including a Trick-or-Treat Trail, Howl-O-Ween House, Costume Parade, Monster Bash Dance Party, Spooktacular Story Time, and much more. This, plus the ongoing fun and indoor waterpark will make for an extra special and spooky Halloween! Read more about Great Wolf Lodge in this KFDC post.

Halloween Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays through October
Admission: Free
Throughout October, National Harbor will be screening Halloween-inspired films for their Movies on the Potomac series. They are shown every Sunday from 4-6pm, and all are welcome to grab food (or not) from one of the many eateries and head to the Plaza to enjoy the free showing. Here’s the line-up: October 3: Nightmare Before Christmas, October 10: Casper, October 17: Addams Family, October 24: Hocus Pocus, October 31: Goosebumps.

Pumpkins & Pours
Where: West Grove Urban Park | Chevy Chase, MD
When: October 16, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

There’s something for the kids and adults at this event! Local craft beer, pumpkins, pizza, and more will be part of the festivities at this event to in the fall and Halloween spirit. Join for drinks from 7 Locks Brewing, delicious food from Flame and Cones Food Truck, and while you’re at it, grab a FREE pumpkin from Maynes Tree Farm and get decorating. Lawn games and picnic seating will also be available to make an afternoon and evening of it. All ages are welcome, so bring the whole fam!

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 16-17 & 23-24
Admission: $35/adult, $15/child

Trespass into the past and discover the secrets of some of Congressional Cemetery’s “residents.” Soul Strolls, the Cemetery’s annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried here through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of this hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October – in twilight and darkness, happening upon vignettes and individuals under the guidance of one of our “Dozen Decent Docents.” Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes 7-10pm on Fridays, and 6-10pm on Saturdays.

Meet some of the souls of Congressional Cemetery

PumpkinPalooza
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: October 28, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

NoMa’s free annual community-wide celebration of Halloween returns to in-person this year with live entertainment, free food, music, a seasonal scavenger hunt, and, of course, free “pick-your-own” pumpkin patch! This year’s event also includes a kids’ costume contest with amazing prizes and a special performance by the award-winning children’s entertainer, The Great Zucchini. Capping off the celebration is a special showing of everyone’s favorite Halloween movie, Hocus Pocus from 6:30–8pm. Registration is encouraged to confirm your free pumpkin.

Mystery Mansion and Bonfire Bash
Where: Woman’s Club of Chevy Chase | Chevy Chase, MD
When: October 22-23 & 29-30, 5-9pm
Admission: $5-15

This Halloween experience for the entire family has it all — a Haunted House, Bonfire Bash, Pumpkin Patch, and Costume Shop. The Bonfire Bash will feature live entertainment, food sales, outdoor Halloween movies, photo backdrops, and fire pits with s’mores. A hay bale maze and spooky surprises will add to the festival atmosphere. The Women’s Club of Chevy Chase is locate at 7931 Connecticut Ave.

Glow in the Park
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: October 29-30
Admission: $42

Celebrate in the trees at a special Halloween themed night of climbing under the stars, complete with neon colored lights and lively music!  Wear your costume (just make sure it’s comfortable & safe to climb in, no capes or masks). Start times will be available every 10 minutes between 6pm & 8:20pm, and tickets are good for two hours of climbing & ziplining + 40 minutes for the safety briefing and getting geared up. Online reservations are highly recommend, as this event tends to sell out. Ages 5 & up are welcome!

Halloween Toddler Time
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 21, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

Bring little ones in costume for this spooktacular session of Toddler Time, as the B&) celebrate the end of this year’s program Halloween-style. Featuring festive fun, hear a reading of The Spooky Express Maryland by Eric James, before joining a trick-or-treating parade around the Museum’s campus.

Scarea 51: Haunted Car Wash Experience
Where: Splash In ECO Car Wash | Clinton, MD
When: OCtober 21-24 & 28-31, 6-10pm
Admission: $29

“Scarea 51” is a Prince George’s County first! Haunted car washes are a trend coming out of the pandemic and are created to provide car owners and their families with a socially distanced haunted house experience — all while getting their car scary clean. Splash In’s custom-designed experience of surprising and startling moments is sure to deliver an evening of family-fun and spooky (splashy) scares. Splash In is located at 7509 Old Branch Avenue in Clinton, MD.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Gateway Interim Dog Park | Rosslyn, VA
When: October 22, 3-7pm
Admission: Free

The Rosslyn BID and the Rosslyn Dog Owners Group are teaming up for a Halloween themed celebration of Rosslyn’s new Interim Dog Park at Gateway Park West! Rosslyn’s pet community is invited to enjoy local pet-themed vendors, speakers, a social media dog costume contest and giveaways. After the event, all guests (humans & dogs) are encouraged to walk over to Gateway Park East to enjoy onsite food and drinks beginning at 5pm for Rosslyn Cinema.

Halloween at DPR
Where: Multiple DPR locations around DC
When: October 22-31
Admission: Free

It’s Halloween in DC, and the Separtment of Pars and Rec is hosting events in all eight wards to celebrate. Enjoy a family Halloween movie, pick up a costume accessory kit, join a boos and ghouls parade, tour a House of Horrors, play some Halloween tennis, and much more. Visit the website to see where all the spooky fun is happening and sign up to attend!

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: October 23, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $2

Dress the whole family and enjoy a day of trick-or-treating, art activities, and more!  Timed-entry tickets and activities spread out across the park’s 30 acres will make this a fun and safe event.  More than 50 local businesses and organizations will be here handing out treats for the kids, plus there will be fun and games, a DJ dance party, food trucks, and lots of other festivities.  Masks are required for all guests over the age of 2 (more safety info here).  Read more about Annmarie here and here.

Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration
Where: Hillwood Museum & Gardens | Northwest DC
When: October 23, 3-5pm
Admission: $13/adult, $8/member $5/age 6-18, free/under 6

Hillwood’s Halloween event for pooches (and their people) is back!  Bring your “best friend” for Halloween fun — explore Hillwood’s 25 acres of landscaped gardens and lush natural woodlands with your four-legged friend, while enjoying a costume competition and yappy hour.  Interesting tidbit:  This event is inspired by Marjorie Post’s affection for dogs and the memorial dog cemetery she created.

Haunted Tales: The Online Halloween Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Online | Watson Adventures
When: October 23 & 30, 6-7pm
Admission: $19

Are you prepared to Zoom with ghosts? Kids and adults team up to explore real places that are said to be haunted, and you’ll learn the tales of the ghosts who linger there. You’ll follow a trail of clues across eerie websites, in search of answers to tricky questions. Ghost-plagued places include the Hollywood Hotel where Marilyn Monroe and other celeb ghosts haven’t checked out; the White House in search of presidential ghosts, and the Salem Witch Trial Memorial where you’ll learn the chilling fate of Giles Corey, just to name a few. For ages 10 and up. No previous knowledge is required. Teams of up to six can play together or remotely, and each team must have one adult.

Día de los Muertos
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 24, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Day of the Dead at The Wharf! Head to the District Pier for a free afternoon of activities, including live music, street food, a beer garden, and more. If the season has your creative juices flowing, decorate a sugar skull or get your face painted!  Read more about The Wharf.

17th Street High Heel Race
Where: 17th Street NW, btwn P & S | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 26, 9pm
Admission: Free

The High Heel Race is a 30+ year DC tradition, with a rich history of “Crossing The Line Since 1986.” On the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators pack the Dupont Circle Neighborhood to watch hundreds of costumed drag queens show off their extravagant outfits and race down Historic 17th Street, NW. There’s also live entertainment, a parade, and more festive fun!  The race begins at 9pm, but people start gathering at 6pm.

Bethesda Row Trick or Treat
Where: Bethesda Row | Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 27, 5-7pm
Admission: $5

Bring all the little ghosts and goblins and other cute costumed kids to Bethesda Row for an early trick or treating experience and some retail scare-apy! Tickets are required, and all proceeds will go to the Capital Area Food Bank.

Día de los Muertos | Day of the Dead Festival
Where: Online | National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 28
Admission: Free

The museum’s annual Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration will be online again this year. In recorded presentations by two renowned Mexican families, the program will showcase two traditions central to Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos): The art of making figures from sugar and papier-mâché. These two presentations will take place in Spanish.

Hill-O-Ween
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 29, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free
Capitol Hill’s annual neighborhood event that is legendary for little ones will be back this year! Details are still to come, but for past events the block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market is closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. There have been moon bounces, goody giveaways, face painting, wagon rides, and more exciting festivities (some of it very likely to change this year). The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

BOO-Thru
Where: 3 Locations in PG County, MD (see below)
When: October 29, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

From the safety of your vehicle, enjoy touring through a unique holiday themed drive-thru (or a spooky themed trail with lots of scenes to view)! This will take place at three locations in PG County: Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Cosca Regional Park in Clinton, and Glenn Dale Community Center. Children will receive a goody bag, a pumpkin (while supplies last), and more! T Please register your vehicle for the event, not each participant. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis and will be limited to the first 500 registered vehicles (sign up through links).

Trick or Treat at Piscatoway Park
Where: Piscatoway Park | Accokeek, MD
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

It’s Halloween weekend in Piscataway Park and the Accokeek Foundation wants to see your costumes. Dress up and drop by the Visitor Center for a special treat: Make your own magical potion bottle using herbs grown on the farm!  This activity is free to costumed visitors this weekend only. And they don’t want humans to have all the fun — costumed canines will receive a special Halloween treat as well. Woof!

Halloween Night Hunt with Sweets
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 29-31
Admission: $50

Celebrate the BOO season on a zany treasure hunt at one of the neatest places in the city.  Dress in costume, pick up your complimentary bag of Trick or Treat candy, and have a spooktacular time exploring the 100 room Mansion — decorated special for Halloween. Look for some of the 70 secret doors — be warned they are tricky to find! — and check out the eclectic collection of secondhand items, all of them for sale.  Learn more about the Mansion on O Street here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: October 30, 9:30-11am
Admission: Free

The Hirshhorn is hosting its first-ever dog-friendly event, just in time for Halloween! Join with (or without) your dog for a morning of costumes and coffee in the Hirshhorn’s outdoor Sculpture Garden. Dress up your pup, and if they’re feeling fierce, sign them up to strut their stuff in a furry fashion contest ($25 to register, free for Hirshhorn Insiders) for the chance to win a few special prizes. Local experts District Dogs will be there to keep the dog party going with free activities like peanut butter portraits. This event is open to all ages, and kids are encouraged to join in on the fun with Hirshhorn-inspired creative projects geared toward little artists.

Haunted Halloween Hunt
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: October 30, 10-11am
Admission: $15/non-member, $10/member, $5/adult

Experience Halloween at Tudor Place with a spooky one-of-a-kind scavenger hunt. Wear your costume and join with your friends and family. Create a creepy craft to take home, then explore our garden to discover bats, spiders and other outdoor Halloween secrets. Scavenger hunt finishers will receive a special prize. Recommended for ages 7–12. Capacity is limited, so reserve tickets in advance.

Spooky Seconds Sale
Where: Brookland Arts Walk | Brookland, DC
When: October 30, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Head to Brookland on the eve of Halloween for a Spooky Seconds Sale! Grab seconds, samples, mystery grab bags, one-offs, and more made by the artists and makers of the Brookland Arts Walk. Plus, enjoy some Halloween festivities like a fall crafts and coloring station with Only Make Believe from 10am-1pm, trick-or-treating at the studios, and more. Go early for the best selection of the sales!

Air & Scare Outside
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: October 30
Admission: Free

The annual Air & Scare event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will be back this year and taking place outdoors with lots of fun festivities: Trick or treat stations with free candy and snacks; creepy crafts, spooky experiments, and other Hallloween-themed activities; special story times and puppet shows for the youngest Halloween revelers; photo ops with your favorite Star Wars characters; and a chance to enter a costume contest to win sweet prizes (get all the details and rules).   For those who aren’t comfortable going to the event in person,  there are be digital treats to enjoy, too.

Día de los Muertos Virtual Family Celebration
Where: Online | American Art Museum
When: October 30, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Celebrate Día de los Muertos online with Ballet Folklórico Mi Herencia Mexicana and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. There will be fun for the whole family during the virtual performance. Watch as ballet group demonstrates several Mexican folk dances including El Toro Viejo from Sinaloa and the popular, El Son de La Negra from Jalisco. Learn more about Día de los Muertos as the dancers perform and explain the history behind their dance traditions.

Family Day Piano Show
Where: Bobby McKey’s | National Harbor, MD
When: October 30, 4-6pm
Admission:

It’s a Family Show at Bobby McKey’s on Halloween weekend, so it’s likely to celebarte the spooky season, too (ie, go ahead and dress up!)Head down to the National Harbor for 2 hours of all request live piano music, plus food and drinks, and of course encouragement of singing along and wiggling in your seats! Bar is open for non-driving parents.​

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens | Mount Vernon, VA
When: October 30, 2-6pm
Admission: $17-25/adult, $9-15/child

Trick-or-treat at Mount Vernon as George Washington’s estate open its gates for Halloween fun and spook-tacular activities. Along with collecting candy around the historic grounds,  enjoy live entertainment, check out a chocolate-making demo (and get a taste!), watch sparks fly in the Blacksmith Shop, learn about wool carding and spies, stop at selfie station, and more!

Nightmare on Elm Street Urban Park
Where: Elm Street Urban Park | Bethesda, MD
When: October 30, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

You won’t find Freddy Kreuger there, but Montgomery Parks’ FREE Nightmare on Elm Street Halloween event at Elm Street Urban Park will have spooky, silly fun for everyone! Go on a “Trick or Treat Trails” scavenger hunt, play lawn games, enjoy clices and scoops from O’Boy Pizza & Ice Cream, get into the spooky groove with a Halloween DJ. There will be also be lots of Halloween props and decorations for snapping pic and plenty of picnic seating.

Lil’ Pumpkins Festival
Where: Black Rock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: October 30, 11am-5pm
Admission: Free

BlackRock Center for the Arts, providing opportunities to explore, celebrate and engage in the arts, is hosting a day of spooktacular celebration! Family programming includes free pumpkins, improv workshops, exhibits, trick-or-treating, visual arts, haunted hip-hop, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and more. All guests must be masked when entering BlackRock’s facility, and all persons above the age of 12 entering the facility must show proof of vaccination status.

Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The St. James | Springfield, DC
When: October 30
Admission: $15, $10/members, free/2 & under

The St. James is hosting a fun-filled, safe Halloween evening. BYO blanket for socially-distanced family movie night in Field House. Guests cal also join for trick-or-treating, a costume contest, pizza, popcorn, and more. Additional food, plus beer and wine for adults, will also be available for purchase. Read more about The St. James here.

Best in Show at The Boro
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 30, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join The Boro for the ultimate dog costume contest at Boro Park! Pets will be able to strut the doggy catwalk and pose for judges with one winner crowned “Best in Show”. The top three looks will take home a prize-packed doggy gift basket. Don’t have a dog? Join anyway for some fall family fun! The spooktacular day will be filled with trick-or-treating, games, and Halloween crafts. It is guaranteed to be a paws-itively wonderful day! Free, but registration required.

Halloween Carnival
Where: Community Center | Falls Church, VA
When: October 30, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $2/children ages 2 and up (adults free)

The City of Falls Church has been hosting the annual Halloween Carnival for over 30 years, welcoming babies through elementary-aged kids to enjoy all kinds of fun activities.  More details for this year’s event to come soon, but it will all take place outdoors.

Halloween Mystery at the Cabin
Where: Riverbend Park | McLean, VA
When: October 30
Admission: $10

Can you solve the history mystery at Riverbend Park? Meet people of the past and discover their secrets to uncover the mysteries along the Potomac on a walk through the woods. A sweet treat will reward your success. The program runs from 3:15-4:30pm, 4:45-6pm, and 6:15-7:30pm.

Frames of Fear
Where: Around Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 30
Admission Free

Where do your favorite monsters shop? When the stores go dark, what creatures come to life? Join the 5th Annual Frames of Fear from DC in Motion, a community that strives to cater to all things motion graphics/animation in the DC area. Animators, illustrators, and motion designers were invited to create wicked windows showcasing all-things-spooky, from possessed novels flying around bookstores to zombies thrifting for fashion. Now, these visions from both local and national artists will be brought to life via looped animations projected onto the storefronts and buildings throughout Adams Morgan. At sunset, projections will begin to reveal themselves on numerous storefronts, windows, and walls at the following Adams Morgan locations. Visit the website for where you can see them!

Family Dance Party
Where: Hi-Lawn @ Union Market | Northeast DC
When: October 31, 11-1pm
Admission: $10

The Rumpus Room, DC’s only daytime dance party for families, returns for Halloween! They’ll be getting (slightly) spooky outdoors under the sun, so put on your costumes and go boogie! Get ready for dance floor filled with little ghosts, goblins, witches, dragons, and pumpkins of all ages. Adults can relive their night-life glory days and show off those rusty moves with little ones in tow. The soundtrack for the day will be a family-friendly mix of dance floor and Halloween classics, all at a kid-friendly volume. Use promo code SPOOKYSEASON for an early bird discount (limited time only).

Pumpkin Chunkin’
Where: Great Country Farm | Bluemont, VA
When: November 1-2 & 6-7
Admission: $16/adult, $14/child

Continue the Halloween fun after the holiday!  Bring your leftover jack-o-lantern to Great Country’s smashin’ station and let it fly! The Silo Drop and the Zip Wire Sploosh let you do the smashin’ yourself or opt for the Pumpkin Drop Zone and add it to the upside down “fireworks display” as  pumpkins are dropped from a 40-foot lift — so fun to watch! (What happens to all those smashed pumpkins? The pigs and cows love to eat them and GCF composts the rest.) There will also be live music, marshmallow roasting, and cider press demos, plus The Roosteraunt concession stand will be open. Of course, plan to enjoy the farm’s playground, full of fun, too!

Fall Festivals
Where: Around the DMV
When: Through early November
Admission: Varies by locale

Many of the fall festivals around the area incorporate Halloween fun into their offerings. Pick out potential jack-o-lanterns, do Halloween-themed crafts, go on rides, and more. See a list of seasonal celebrations here.

 

Step right up for some haunted fun

HAUNTED (SCARIER) EXPERIENCES

Fields of Fear
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Fridays & Saturday through November 6
Admission: $20-35 (purchase in advance online)

When night falls on Cox Farms, it’s time for Fields of Fear — for ages 12 and up! The Dark Side Hayride feature The Lost Circus, a circus abandoned in the early 1900s that now comes to life when the living approach. The friendly Imaginature Trail takes a dark turn for Fields of Fear, transforming into The Forest: Back 40, which consists of half a mile of fear. The Forest joins two other haunted attractions at Fields of Fear, the Dark Side Hayride and the Cornightmare. The Firegrounds feature several bonfires, a six-lane slide, music, karaoke, entertainment, tasty treats, Foamhenge, and more!

Shocktober
Where: Paxton House | Leesburg, VA
When: October 1-30
Admission: $40-60 

Paxton Manor is Northern Virginia’s only REAL Haunted House. Brand new this year, the first 3 levels of the haunted manor have turned into Paxton Hall, a horrifying and haunted boarding school. Encounter new characters, including rebellious students and frightening teachers, as you unravel the dark and mysterious past of Paxton Hall. The haunt also includes Carnival of Souls, the basement of Paxton Manor, an attraction full of creepy clowns and carnival carnage. These haunted attractions are not for the faint of heart; this annual event is PG-13 Scary Fun.

Fright Fest
Where: Six Flags America | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Select days through October 31
Admission: $43+

Fright Fest is back at Six Flags America. It’s a spooky time of year as zombies and ghouls take over the park. Enjoy thrills and activities for the whole family throughout the day and go back for a truly frightening evening of fun after the sun goes down. Fright Fest offers a wide variety of places to get your scare on, including several haunted houses and scare zones located throughout the park. The stuff of nightmares lurk around every corner as the dark of night washes over the park. The ghouls are set free for their daily hunting rituals.

Laurel’s House of Horror
Where: Laurel, MD
When: October 1 – November 6
Admission: $25 and up

We all enjoyed this creepy and fun haunted experience.  Built inside an abandoned movie theater, it’s sensory overload with a lot to look at and listen to and several good jump scares.  There’s always chilling sense of anticipation as you get ready to round the next corner. There are also escape rooms open all year during the weekends, and for private parties and special dates. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

A neighborhood yard transformed for the holiday

Halloween Decor
Getting into the spooky spirit at home can be just as fun as going out for it! Elevate the experience for your fam and neighbors by decorating the front yard and adding some festive accessories inside. Here are quick links to find Halloween supplies to help with that:
Amazon
Michael’s
Target
Home Depot
World Market

 

Did I leave out any good events? Let me know in the comments!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Halloween, Maryland, Virginia

The KFDC Guide to the 2021 Fall Festival Season

Autumn delight at Clarke’s Elioak Farm

 

Fall is right around the corner, and so are the many festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to art to historic times. You can have a blast on a farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst gorgeous autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date (and mostly reprised/updated from previous years — I’ve been posting fall fest round-ups for a decade!), will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 24
Admission: Thru 9/12: $21/age 16+, $11/age 7-15
9/14-10/20: $28/age 16+, $13/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century tudor village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Huzzah!

Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under

September may mean back to school for many, but at Great Country it means back to the farm for freshly pressed cider and apple picking. You can celebrate it with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in our 12-acre play area, and some educational fun in the What’s Regenerative Agriculture Corn Maze. As you meander the paths, learn about how the deep roots in the soil can keep the farm’s food and environment as healthy as possible. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races,  and cider pressing demos, too!

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 7
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: September 3 – October 31
Admission: $11/weekdays, $15-17/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD, with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more. Dates to note: September 11-12: Military and First Responders Appreciation Weekend | September 18-19: Touch a Tractor | September 25-26: Apple Harvest Festival | October 1-31: Pumpkin Harvest Festival.

DC Walls
Where: NoMa, DC
When: September 8-18
Admission: Free

For six days, this international mural festival brings together local, national, international artists for a 10-day outdoor festival to create larger than life works of art. The goal is to “make the city a brighter and more vibrant place, while sharing art and creativity from around the world.” Find wall locations on this Google Map to see works in progress, and plan to join the family-friendly opening event at Alethia Tanner Park (227 Harry Thomas Way NE) on September 12 from 12-4pm.

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 11, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 45th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations.  This year’s event also includes a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic inside the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). Fairfax Health will offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer Vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up from 11am – 4pm.

Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 12, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.

National Dance Day Festival
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 16-18
Admission: Free

Celebrate the joy of dance and movement at the Kennedy Center! Head to The REACH plaza for the 12th year of the National Dance Day Festival which includes free performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more from local organizations.

National Book Festival
Where: Online
When: September 17-26
Admission: Free

This may be the event that I’m most bummed won’t be back in person this year, but it’s one that definitely warrants inclusion here. The Library of Congress’ wonderful annual National Book Fest will be virtual, but offering an extended 10 days of book-related events and opportunities onlines. Audiences are encouraged to create their own festival experience during the “Open a Book, Open the World”-themed event. Over 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be participating — view the list of them here.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
Admission: $14.95

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. This year’s Sunflower Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field will be open September 17-26 (closed Monday). Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 18, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is returning! This one is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do.  In past years, the event has featured loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 18-19, September 25 – November 7
Admission: $7-20 depending on dates

This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling grounds that contain multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and much more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 18-19
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as experts demonstrate period crafting techniques. And you can see General Washington in the General’s Tent. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 18 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. Some of the festivities are add-ons, so plan to spend extra.  They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the big corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $35-40 for the 5k

Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. There will be arts and crafts, pony rides, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 18 – Ocotber 31
Admission: $15.95-19.95/adult, $13.95-16.95/child, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups, and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more. It’s also a great place for a fall birthday party. Get $2 off Mon-Thurs admission after 2pm by subscribing to their email list!

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 18 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$17.50, depending on time/day

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Artsfest ’21
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 18-19
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under

Enjoy a fabulous weekend of the visual and performing arts with 160+ artists booths, 35 performers on four stages, activities for kids, great food, wine & beer, and much more. Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the 30 acre sculpture garden, explore the excitement of the Tent Circle and the Arts Building, then wander the shady Wooded Path to find artists and activities nestled in the beautiful woods. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Weekends September 24 – October 31
Admission: $10

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more! Note: They are now offering Farm Fun Fridays with hours 1-6pm.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $28/child, $6/adult

Celebrate the season and have fun at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the whole fam for all kinds of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, a learning maze,  bouncy fun, and more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions on weekends. Visits will be offered in 90-minute sessions.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 25
Admission: Free

This free neighborhood festival is organized by and for the residents of Petworth, but all are welcome to enjoy. Celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods, festivities include Petworth history storytelling, live music and performers, kids activities, tasty food, and a dog show. View the schedule here.

PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 25 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 25 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $8/Friday, $10/weekends

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and note that only pumpkin picking and pony rides are available Monday – Friday.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 25-26
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 50th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, September 25 – October 31
Admission: $10-15/weekdays, $12-17/weekends 

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Oinkintucky Derby pig races; a cow train; wagon rides to pick pumpkins; five mazes; big slides; rope swings; tractor rides; and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, one of the largest u-pick patches in the area. See allllll of the many activities here.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $8/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds once again will be transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 2
Admission: Free

It’s that time of yea… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your dachshund, and head to The Wharf to celebrate Oktoberfest! Join a day of German-inspired food and specials at the many riverside restaurants and shops. There will be food and drink specials to enjoy — more deets to come soon!

Oktoberfest: Battle of the Polka Bands
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 2, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Break out your lederhosen and dirndls and head to The Boro to celebrate Oktoberfest featuring a Battle of the Polka Bands! This unique, family-friendly fete will feature a battle of the bands-style competition where traditional and modern polka groups will go head-to-head to be crowned the fan favorite! Guests of all ages are invited to take part in even more themed activities, like photo booths, craft stations, and a variety of outdoor games located all around the park.
Turkish Festival
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 3, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

The American Turkish Association of Washington, DC, is bringing Aegean Türkiye to the District. Join them on District Pier for the free Turkish Festival with a theme this year of Turkaegean, meaning Coast of Happiness. The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, fortune telling, cultural events and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.

PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 2, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 60 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day. RSVP if you’re planning on going!

Art on the Avenue
Where:Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 2, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Numerous artists — jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians — will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival — there will be crafts especially for young festival-goers to enjoy and take home. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 9, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family. Details for 2021 are still to come, but past years have included live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, a variety of performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and much more.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 9-10
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District is transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation. “Art Fair Sourcebook” and “Sunshine Artists” have recognized the event as one the most important in the country, and over 45,000 attendees agree! In the past there has been a Kids’ Tent with art activities especially for them, but it remains to be seen if that will return this year (will share updates!).

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 9-10 & 23
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 9-10, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: multiple varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 23 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Venues around the District
When: October 9 & 16
Admission: Free

You don’t have to cross the pond to enjoy European entertainment! Consider your passport to continental entertainment as the 14th Annual Kids Euro Festival brings art and cultural events right to DC. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the exciting acts that perform, Usually in-person over several weeks, the festival is modified this year due to Covid. There will only be two Family Days on October 9 & 16 featuring live acts and activities hosted by performers from a variety of EU Member States! You can enjoy even more online.

OctROWber Fest
Where: 8th Street SE |Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 23
Admission: Free

There’s no Barracks Row Festival this year; instead, you can support local 8th Street SE businesses this October, Munich-style. Join for a day of live music from a traditional Oompah band and more fun. To keep neighbors safe and adhere to social distancing recommendations, they won’t be closing down the street or having outside vendors.

Pumpkins in the Park
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 30
Admission: Free

The 8th Annual Pumpkins in the Park is back. The middle block of Canal Park will be transformed into the neighborhood’s very own pumpkin patch as the community is invited to pick their pumpkin in a safe, socially-distanced fashion (no more than 15 people in the pumpkin patch at one time) while supplies last. After selecting your pumpkin and enjoying live music, free take-home decorating kits will be available (also while supplies last), so that you can make your pumpkins your own.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
Admission: TBD

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too. More details available soon!

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!

 

An early Cox Farms visit … this little guy now measures up to FARM!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Fun Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day Around the DC Area

 

How about a little trail dancing on a Father’s Day hike?  😉

 

It’s a special day for the dads this coming weekend, and there are a bunch of great ways for the whole fam to celebrate if you’re still looking for ideas. This round-up has a variety of them with something to suit every dad . Happy Father’s Day!

Take Dad Out to the Ballgame
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: June 20, 1:05pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

For Dads who are Nats fans, take them to the ballpark for a game against the Mets. There’s an afternoon game on Sunday (that includes a t-shirt giveaway for kids). Nationals Park is now operating at 100% capacity, so you can cheer the team on with 40,000+ other fans.  Plus, the playground is open again for little ones to have some extra fun.

Take Dad Out to the Minors
Where: Prince George’s Stadium | Bowie, MD
When: Father’s Day Weekend
Admission: Starts at $10

The Nats aren’t the only team in town for some Father’s Day baseball. The Bowie Baysox, one of the local minor league teams, are hosting the Akron Rubber Ducks all weekend, and there’s extra fun and special promos to enjoy — post-game fireworks, Witch & Wizardry Night on Saturday, and giveaways among them. On Sunday, the first 500 dads will get a #1 Dad Baysox T-shirt, plus kids and dads can run the bases and play catch on the field post-game.

Walk in the Woods
Where: Around the DMV
When: All the time
Admission: Varies by locale

Celebrate the day and dad on the trail! Tramp in places with scenic views, walk and explore history at interesting locales, try to spot wild creatures, and enjoy a day of active fun. Bring along a picnic for lunch al fresco, too. This go-to KFDC post has a bunch of recommendations for good places to hit the trail with kids.

Hike+
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place

Just mentioned above, but these specific recommendations for hikes are great if you want to extend the day to include a fun meal to celebrate, too.  A few awesome combos for that: Sky Meadows State Park and Barrel Oak Winery. Sugarloaf Mountain and The Comus Inn or Sugarloaf Mountain VineyardGreat Falls (MD side) and The Old Angler’s InnPatapsco Valley State Park and the Guinness Brewery.

Father’s Day Fish-a- Rama
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: June 20
Admission: $15/child, $17/adult

Treat Dad to a fun-filled weekend with BBQ and catch-and-release fishing. Guests can compete in the Fish-a-Rama contest, fishing for catfish, bass, and blue gill in the stocked ponds, and prizes are on the line for the largest fish hooked and the most fish caught during the power hour. Bring your own pole and gear to fish (no drag hooks). GCF has worms for purchase in the country store. The amusement continues on the five-acre farm-style playground featuring the Giant Jumping Pillow, Triple Threat slide, corn bin, animal barnyard and loads more fun for all.

Kids, Eggs & Kegs
Where: City-State Brewing Company | Northeast DC
When: June 19 & 20, 10am
Admission: Free, but plan to purchase food and drinks

City-State brewing is launching family-focused events this weekend — just in time to toast the dads! Kids, Eggs & Kegs will be held every Saturday and Sunday and includes food trucks, games, and toys, plus tasty non-alcoholic beverages. While City-State is always family-friendly, this event is specifically tailored to families with young children. Options for kids include: board games, arcade games, sidewalk chalk, toys for toddlers, DC-themed coloring pages, free Goldfish snacks, and tasty kid-friendly beverages. City-State has changing tables in the restrooms. The fun starts at 10am at the brewery located at 705 Edgewood St NE.

Fun in the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: June 20
Admission: Starts at $42, Dads are FREE!

For adventurous dads who love the outdoors, particularly being in the trees, an afternoon in the aerial adventure forest of the Adventure Park at Sandy Springs is the perfect way to spend the day.  There are still some tickets available for Sunday, but if you can’t score them for that day, think Father’s Day gift and reserve for another day! (FYI: This is one of our very favorite adventures in the area — read more about it here.)

BBQ & Bowl (or Bocce)
Where: Pinstripes | Georgetown, DC
When: June 20, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $29/adult

Treat dad to a special barbeque brunch buffet this Father’s Day! Pinstripes’ grand brunch buffet usually includes made-to-order omelets, bottomless mimosas, a waffle bar, carved prime rib, fresh seafood, salad bar, and a chocolate fountain and delectable dessert station. Plus, they grill summer favorites like BBQ ribs, Italian sausage, pesto. Reserve a lane for some bowling or bocce after your meal (extra cost)!

Brunch Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: June 20
Admission: Cost of your meal

You can’t really go wrong with a good meal, and there are a bunch of places around DC to enjoy an especially great one for the big day. Washingtonian has a round-up of places offering special meals just for the day, and there’s something to satisfy all food cravings.

Go With the Flow
Where: Around the DMV
Admission: Varies by locale

Spend quality time with the man of the hour on the water, where you can paddle and explore. A bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and pontoons. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go. Quiet Waters Park showcases beautiful nature in Annapolis that you can view from the South River. Bladensburg Waterfront Park also has vessels for rent for a great all-day deal.  And if you want to go a little bigger, consider a Solomons Island pontoon boat rental.  For even more recommendations, see this round-up of places for recreation on the water.

Disc Golfin’
Where: Parks Around the DMV
When: Father’s Day weekend (or anytime)
Admission: Varies by locale (usually free)

Celebrate the day by hitting the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to savor a day outdoors with the family. We’ve outings at Calvert Road Park in College Park, Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, and Burke Lake Park. Not only is it fun and challenging, the courses are set up in pretty parks with opportunities for more recreation at all of them. Bring along a picnic for lunch in the fresh air, too.

A Grand Feast
Where: Crab houses around the area
When: June 20 (or any day)
Admission: Cost of the meal

Steamed crabs, cold beer, scenic views… that’s a recipe for a great Father’s Day for at least one dad I know. The 2021 Summer Guide has several suggestions on where to feast on Maryland’s best dish. I recommend making reservations if possible — this is always a popular way to celebrate.

 

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Filed under 2021, DC, Holidays, Weekend