Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Northern Virginia

The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

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


An illuminated scene from a past Georgetown Glow

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

The early in the season opening offers more opprotunity to experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And what elevates this light display is the holiday village and carnival that’s included in admission.  Even more, from November 11-20, save $10 with the promo code early22 — valid every day including weekends.  And from November 21- December 15 save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with the code lights22.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One of our faves, he Garden of Lights is a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes — a few of them new this year. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go — and the course is refreshed with some new lights and a 150 foot screen. On November 27, December 6, and December 31 walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family (check website for pricing on those nights).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It says DC, but this new-to-the-area event is actually lighting up Tysons with its first Winter Lantern Festival. The illuminated display will transform Lerner Town Square into a dazzling world of light with over 1000 Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of experience. The lanterns and bright displays will light the night and bring warmth this holiday season!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is back this season for first time since 2019! Seeing this show is like a rite of passage for every true DC kid. A signature Discovery Theater show, it celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. Recommended for ages 5-10.  It always sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 19-22
Tickets: $34-68

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction, Season’s Greenings is a local must-do.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s theme is . Even better (imo), it’s back outdoors in the National Garden!  For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings.  Get a glimpse of a past exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. And if you want to get in on special events, there are Candlelight Tours on select dates (November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10, and 18) and Christmas Illuminations fireworks (December 16-17) — visit the website for more details and pricing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: TBA – tickets on sale November 7
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!

 


See the tree at the Library of Congress

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This year will be the 99th National Christmas Tree lighting! Historically, to attend this lighting you have to enter a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual ceremony that takes place on the Ellipse, just beyond the White House. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukah started with the National Menorah Lighting

CHANUKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 18
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Leave a Comment

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

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween Around DC

Go big on fun this Halloween!

 

Shop Now

 

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 1-30
Admission: $6/Cabin John, $8/Wheaton

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 11am – 6pm, and it’s best to purchase tickets in advance online to guarantee a ride (only a limited amount are available onsite.) Purchase for Wheaton here and Cabin John here.

Witchwartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: October 1-31
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.  Shows are performed Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30am, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am & 1pm

Haunted Lab
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: October 1-31, Saturdays & Sundays
Admission:

Join the Haunted Lab if you DARE for frightfully fun science! Special activities include Frankenslime, Bug Out, Monster Genetics, and more. Costumes are welcome. Read more about the Lab (during non-Halloween) in this KFDC post.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When:  Through October 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.

Book Some Halloween Fun
Where: DC Public Libraries | Around DC
When: Several October dates
Admission: Free

Story times, crafts, and children’s parties all with Halloween themes are taking place at libraries around the city. Drop in for the fun — all of the activities are free! Be sure to check age recommendations to confirm they’re appropriate for your child as they vary by event. (Follow the link then search keyword Halloween.)

Spooky History Tour
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: Several October dates
Admission: $15/member, $18/student, $20/non-member

Explore the haunting legends of the National Building Museum through stories collected over the decades. Hear tales of the historic site which defy easy explanation, while exploring the hidden features of the breathtaking structure. These after-hours tours are recommended for ages 13+.

Ichabod: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: October 6-30
Admission: $20-45

Journey back in time to a quiet glen called Sleepy Hollow, where the denizens of the town are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new school master, Ichabod Crane. An adaptation of Washington Irving’s Classic tale of lore, love and the legendary Headless Horseman, this World Premier Musical by the critically acclaimed creative team Conner and Smith arrives just in time for autumn leaves, pumpkins, and ghost tales around the campfire.

Halloween Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 6-31
Admission: $35-50
Celebrate the BOO season on this zany treasure hunt as the Mansion is decorated for Halloween. Have fun searching for Autumn & Halloween themed items found only at this legendary spot that contains over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors! They guarantee you can see at least 60 of the rooms, but be warned secret doors are tricky to find — if you find 2 or 3 you are an above average sleuth! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post. [Note that admission is $50 on Halloween weekend.]

Dracula
Where: Synetic Theater| Crystal City, VA
When: October 13 – November 6
Admission: $20-60 

The sensuous and terrifying thriller arrives on the Synetic stage just in time for Halloween. With blood-sucking temptresses and creeping mists sure to send a chill up your spine, Stoker’s classic 1897 tale rises again. Dracula, the legend that inspired an entire genre of literature and film, explores the universal theme of good versus evil. As a bloodthirsty vampire terrorizes the countryside, an unlikely group fights to defend their home. Recommended for teens and older.

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 14-15 & 21-22
Admission: $35/adult, $15/child

Immerse yourself in the world of criminal sin and discover the secrets of Congressional Cemetery’s interred residents in this year’s Soul Strolls.  The annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried there through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of the hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October – in twilight and darkness, encountering vignettes and individuals led by an expert guide.  Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes from 6-9:30pm.

Meet some of the souls of Congressional Cemetery

Halloween Family Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 22, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Head to the Library of Congress for a very exciting, non-spooky Halloween event! Enjoy a day family-friendly activities including a very special program at 2pm with beloved authors R.L. Stine, author of the “Goosebumps” series, and Mary Pope Osborne, author of the “Magic Tree House” series. Free timed-entry passes are required, so be sure to reserve them in advance! There will also be“spooky” art activities, stories available in a reading corner, creepy music, and fantastical images from the Library’s collections. Halloween costumes welcome. And note that the program with Stine and Osborne will feature spooky elements, including eerie lights, frightening characters, and surprises for the audience. The event will be livestreamed on the Library’s YouTube page. (PS: Check out this sweet video of Owen interviewing Mary Pope Osborne at the National Book Festival when he was 6!)

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: October 22, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $5

Dress the whole family and enjoy a day of trick-or-treating, art activities, and more!  Over 50 local businesses and organizations will be handing out treats for the kids, plus there will be fun and games, a DJ dance party, food trucks, and lots of other festivities.  Read more about Annmarie here and here.

Spooky Science
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: October 22, 12-4pm
Admission: $26.95/adult, $20.95/ages 3-12

Take your Halloween costume out for a trial run and visit the Maryland Science Center, if you dare, for an afternoon filled with spooktacular science fun! Experiment with ghoulishly glowing lights. Creatively cast a spine-tingling shadow. Use leverage and elasticity to launch creepy catapults, and more!

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Bash
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: October 22, 2-4pm
Admission: $20

Get in the Halloween spirit by carving or painting a pumpkin with your friends at Potomac Overlook! We’ll provide tools, paint and of course a pumpkin for some holiday fun. You’ll also enjoy some candy, a Halloween craft, and visits from several of our spooky nocturnal critters from the nature center!

Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration
Where: Hillwood Museum & Gardens | Northwest DC
When: October 22, 4-6pm
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.

Calabash Carnage: Family Pumpkin Carving
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange | Hyattsville, MD
When: October 22, 2-4 pm
Admission: Free, but pumpkins are $5

Carve up pumpkins at Brentwood Arts Exchange’s annual pumpkin carving extravaganza that has become a favorite tradition in the community.  Get creative with family, friends, and neighbors and join in the family-friendly fun.

Monster Mash
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: October 22, 3-6pm
Admission: Free

The Village at Leesburg is back with its Annual Monster Mash! Join the fun including live-action professional pumpkin carvers, Trick or Treating around the Village, pumpkin decorating, and their annual costume contest parade for you and your pets.

Costume Party
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: October 22, 5-7pm
Admission:

Enjoy the Haunted Lab after hours and wear your favorite costume! The whole family can enjoy not-so-spooky activities including creating ooey-gooey Frankenslime, bugging out in our Bio Zone, or watching a mad scientists (STEM Educators) dissect a real sheep brain. Prizes will be awarded for creative and original ideas, so dress up and show up for a frightfully good time! Read more about the Lab (during non-Halloween) in this KFDC post.

Día de los Muertos
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 23, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Day of the Dead at The Wharf. They’re bringing live music, street food, a beer garden, face painting, sugar skull decorating, and more to District Pier in partnership. Dress for the day — they’re giving out prizes for most authentic outfit!

17th Street High Heel Race
Where: 17th Street NW, btwn P & S | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 25
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.

Halloween at DPR
Where: DPR locations around DC
When: October 26-30
Admission: Free

It’s Halloween in DC, and the Department of Parks and Rec is hosting events in all eight wards to celebrate. Enjoy a family Halloween movie, tour a haunted house, join a little monster parade, bring you pup to Howl-o-Ween, and much more. Visit the website to see where all the spooky fun is happening and sign up to attend!

Halloween Art Cart
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: October 27, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free
Bring little ones to get inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s creativity for Halloween and create their own wearable work of art. Guests will learn about Kusama’s life and process (including her love of pumpkins), explore monochromatic materials, and get into the holiday spirit. Bonus points if you arrive with your own obliterated accessory from the Obliterate Yourself art project.

Halloween Toddler Time
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 27, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

Bring little ones in costume for this spooktacular session of Toddler Time, as the B&O celebrates Halloween. 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.

PumpkinPalooza
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: October 27, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

NoMa’s free annual community-wide celebration of Halloween returns with live entertainment, yummy food, music, a seasonal scavenger hunt, and, of course, the free “pick-your-own” pumpkin patch!  A screening of Hocus Pocus (6:45 pm) and a show by children’s entertainer, The Great Zucchini will also be part of the fun.  This year’s event also includes a pop-up beer garden (21+ only).  Be sure to register in advance for pumpkins and to attend the beer garden.

Spooktacular Movie Night
Where: Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 27, 7pm
Admission: Free

Join neighbors & friends for a Halloween Movie Night! Capitol Riverfront BID presents a showing of Ghostbusters (1984) at Yards Park. Bring your picnic blankets, favorite fall snacks, and sit back and get ready to be spooked by an all-time Halloween classic movie.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: October 28-30, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $25/members, $35/non-members

The National Zoo’s annual not-so-spooky Halloween haunt, one of DC’s most popular events for the kiddie crowd, is back in person. With 30 treat stations, after hours animal viewing, a dance party, and decorated trails, this frightfully fun evening is a treat for the whole family. And the souvenir tote bags they give out will be brimming with goodies for all ages. Costumes encouraged!

Halloween Glow in the Park
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: October 28-29
Admission: $42

Enjoy a spooky halloween-themed night of climbing and ziplining under the neon colored lights while listening to music throughout the Park. Glow start times are available every 10 minutes 6-8:20pm, and tickets are good for a 2 hour + 40 minute adventure. Costume encouraged but refrain from capes, masks that cover your eyes, and any super loose garments. Reserve in advance online — this event tends to sell out. Ages 5 & up are welcome! Read more about the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Gateway Interim Dog Park | Rosslyn, VA
When: October 28, 1-5pm
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, raffles, and giveaways to share with your pups. Dog costumes are strongly encouraged for the annual Halloween dog costume contest. The winner will be announced at Gateway Park East at 7pm, ahead of the final movie of the Rosslyn Cinema series, Scooby-DooE. njoy food trucks and a beer and wine bar while gearing up for a Halloween weekend with your pets!

Día de los Muertos | Day of the Dead Celebration
Where: National Museum of the American Indian | National Mall, DC
When: October 28
Admission: Free

Celebrate the return of the ancestors with a special Día de los Muertos concert featuring Grammy award-winning band Quetzal, a bilingual rock group with roots in the cultural and social justice landscape of East Los Angeles. Their goal is to create great music that tells the stories of marginalized people’s struggles and resistance. From October 26 to November 2, an ofrenda (altar) will be featured in the museum’s atrium, where visitors can also create paper butterflies for a display in honor of their loved ones.

Hill-O-Ween
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 28, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free
Capitol Hill’s annual neighborhood event is legendary for little ones!  Count on live pumpkin carving and a DJ spinning tunes for a spooky dance party.  More 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. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: October 28, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities

It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Details still to come, but past event activities for families have included pumpkin decorating, arts & crafts, face painting, trick-or-treating, and a costume parade around the Park.

Halloween Scavenger Hunt
Where: Meadowlark Botanic Garden | Vienna, VA
When: October 29-31, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $7

Search for all things Halloween in Meadowlark’s Children’s Garden with our self-guided Scavenger Hunt around our log cabin, children’s veggie garden and pavilion. Show your completed Hunt sheet to our Greeter/Treater Volunteers to receive a treat — no tricks! After, follow the Book Walk Trail that leads to the Children’s Garden to Read about spiders. Halloween apparel is encouraged, and there will be spots for great photo ops. Read more about Meadowlark in this KFDC post!

Pumpkins in the Park
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 29, 11am
Admission: Free

Join a pumpkin party as the Canal Park Middle Block is transformed into the neighborhood’s very own pumpkin patch! Enjoy all kinds of seasonal festivities — pumpkin decorating (while supplies last), a giant moon bounce, festive photo booth, live music, magic show, and seasonal beverages (for 21+). All ages are invited to join. Pumpkins will be available on a first come first serve throughout the event, so go early to get yours!

Halloween on the Farm
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Clifton, VA
When: October 29, 5-8pm
Admission: $10

Trick or treat on the farm! Visit with farm animals, create crafts, play games, tour the decorated farmhouse, and enjoy the fall on the farm. The program runs in three one-hour time slots. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register in advance!

STEM Halloween Workshop For Kids
Where: Follies Art Studio | Georgetown, DC
When: October 29, 10:30-1:30am
Admission: $14

Join this workshop at the beautiful Follies Art Studio in Georgetown for a morning of Halloween STEM fun. Children will work together to engineer their own large size haunted house using The Canvas Set from Follies then learn about electronic circuits by adding lights and other fun elements to their house. This workshop is for children ages 4 – 7 only.

The Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt
Where: White House area | Downtown DC
When: October 29
Admission: $22

Do you believe in ghosts? You just might after this spooky tour that reveals the stories of the restless souls you might disturb. On teams, you’ll follow clues to ghost-plagued buildings near the White House and answer tricky questions about what you find. Possible cameos by the spirits of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Dolley Madison, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, the (allegedly) suicidal Mrs. Henry Adams, and losing duelist Stephen Decatur. The hunt is a bit spooky, a bit macabre, a bit goofy, and a lot of fun. It’s also a bit slower paced than Watson’s regular hunts because the questions are longer, in order to fill you in on the eerie events that transpired at each location. For teens and older. [Note: For private groups, there is a Kids Edition of this ghoulish game, suitable for ages 7 and up.]

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.

Trick or Treat at Tudor Place
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: October 29, 10-11am
Admission: $15/non-member, $10/member, $5/adult

Kids can wear their Halloween costumes and search for treats (not tricks) in every corner of the garden. Enjoy crafts, activities and period games amid lovely autumn plant life. This outdoor event will take place rain or shine.

Nature Spooktacular
Where: Long Branch Nature Center | Arlington, VA
When: October 29, 5:30-7pm
Admission: $7

Families are invited to join us a ‘Spooktacular’ evening of fun learning about nighttime animals and cultural festivities surrounding nature this time of the year. This earlier time slot will be more fun and less spooky for families with young children. Registration Required.

Spooky Seconds Sale
Where: Brookland Arts Walk | Brookland, DC
When: October 29, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Head to Brookland a couple of days ahead 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. Go early for the best selection of the sales!

Air & Scare 
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: October 29
Admission: Free

The annual Air & Scare event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is back with activities inside and out!  Details TBA, but past events have included trick or treat stations, creepy crafts, spooky experiments, and other Hallloween-themed activities; special story times and puppet shows; photo ops; and costume contests.

Halloween Party & Storytime
Where: Commonwealth Baptist Church | Alexandria, VA
When: October 29, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: $5/child, free for adults

JoinArts on the Horizon for a fun and festive Halloween party and interactive storytime! Explore the wonders of the fall season and all things Halloween using music and creative movement to experience new and exciting stories. After the storytime, stick around to create some fun Halloween and fall themed crafts. Wear your Halloween costumes (adults, too!) and get ready to move and groove with stories, music, and movement. Commonwealth Baptist Church is located at 700 Commonwealth Ave. in Alexandria. Register in advance!

Día de los Muertos Virtual Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: October 29, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum in celebrating Día de los Muertos! Bring the whole family to see exciting live performances from Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, Mariachi Aguila DC, and Sol y Rumba. Enjoy face painting and Día de los Muertos–themed crafts for all ages. If you are unable to make it in person, or want to continue the celebration online, visit their Family Zone for more crafts, coloring pages, and performance videos.

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens | Mount Vernon, VA
When: October 29, 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!

Parks Spooktacular
Where: South Germantown Recreational Park | Germantown, MD
When: October 23, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free
Little goblins and ghouls can celebrate the spooky season with Montgomery Parks Spooktacular at the park’s Adventure Playground. Check out some magic tricks at the magician’s corner, add to your costume at the face painting area, and create a Halloween art project at the craft station. Live entertainment, bouncy fun, slides and a maze will be part of festivities, too. Halloween costumes are encouraged!

Lil’ Pumpkins Festival
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: October 29, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

BlackRock’s  3rd Annual Lil’ Pumpkin Fest offers the Upcounty community a fun, free, and safe way to enjoy all the Fall and spooky festivities. Activities include trick-or-treating, photo booth, lil’ pumpkin painting, free pumpkins for children under the age of 11, beer garden, and costume parade! Later that evening, adults can enjoy a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show w/live cast on the MainStage @ 6 & 9pm

Best in Show at The Boro
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 29, 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 us anyways for some fall family fun! This spooktacular day will be filled with trick-or-treating, games, and Halloween crafts. It is guaranteed to be a paws-itively wonderful day! The show doesn’t end there! Join us at 6:30pm in The Sandlot for a spooky screening of Scooby Doo (2002) on the big screen complete with a popcorn bar!

Halloween Carnival
Where: Community Center | Falls Church, VA
When: October 29, 1-5pm
Admission: $1

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. Enjoy a spooktacular family fun Halloween Carnival in Cherry Hill Park for kids 2 to 11 years old!  This year’s event will include games, inflatables, live music, and snacks.

Ghost Town
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: October 29-30
Admission: Free

On the weekend leading up to Halloween, celebrate with a festival of fun at Burke Lake Park. Play goblin golf, ride the carousel and train, paint a pumpkin, bounce around, and visit a trick-or-treat house.  All ages welcome, and advance tickets purchase is recommended, as the event is expected to sell out.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: October 30, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $25-35/age 6+ & pups, free/5 & under

Well behaved dogs are invited to lead their families to Hirshhorn Howl-O-Ween, a costume parade in the Sculpture Garden emceed by Mx. Noir. Furry guests may “paws” for peanut butter portraits and more courtesy of District Dogs. Kids will discover hands-on art-making activities in the outdoor galleries. Adults can saddle up to the mimosa and coffee bars. Mid-morning treats will be provided for all.

Del Ray Halloween Parade
Where: Del Ray Neighborhood | Alexandria, VA
When: October 30
Admission: Free

One of Del Ray’s favorite traditions, the 26th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade begins at Mt. Vernon Avenue, south of E. Bellefonte, and continues down to the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center play fields at Mt. Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues. It’s a family friendly affair that invites costume-clad kids, pets, moms, and dads to march down Mt. Vernon Ave from E. Bellefonte Ave to the Mount Vernon Rec Center field. The event ends with live music and an award presentation.

Halloween at the Harbor
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: October 30, 12:30-3pm
Admission: Free

National Harbor is hosting an afternoon full of spooktacular fun for the whole family, including Trick-or-Treating at select restaurants and retailers, a Halloween Movie, a Chef Pumpkin Carving Contest, and a Pet Pawrade. Visit the website for the full schedule of the day’s events.

Fall-O-Ween
Where: Common Good City Farm |
When: October 30, 1-4 & 5-7
Admission: Free – $35

Join Common Good on the farm to celebrate all things Fall and Halloween at Fall-o-Ween!m. During the FREE Fall Fest from 1-4 they’ll have free Chili and other snacks (veggie options, too), JB humble pies to try, a costume contest, face painting, pumpkin decorating and other kids activities, a pumpkin patch, and more. While the event is free, donations are encouraged. Stick around for a fundraising cocktail hour and karaoke ($35) happening the same day from 5-7pm!

Halloween at the Park
Where: The Parc | Tysons, VA
When: October 31, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Tysons is hosting a Halloween party at the Parc at Tysons. Kids and dress up and enjoy face painting, balloon art, mad science, and of course, trick or treating.

Día de los Muertos Festival & Outdoor Projection
Where: National Portrait GAllery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 2, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Join the Portrait Gallery’s annual Día de los Muertos celebration, an indoor festival with music, dancing, and art activities that will take place in the Kogod Courtyard. There will be a community altar, where you can place artworks, photographs, and other offerings on as a tribute to loved ones. Food and drink inspired by Día de los Muertos traditions will be available for purchase. At 6:30pm, artists MasPaz and Guache will present their live video artwork on the museum’s G and 9th St. facade. The performance combines MasPaz’s distinctive murals with Guache’s vibrant digital paintings and will be accompanied by compelling sounds.

Pumpkin Chunkin’
Where: Great Country Farm | Bluemont, VA
When: November 5-6
Admission: $TBD

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: Weekends 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!

Fright Fest
Where: Six Flags America | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: September 24 – October 30
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 5
Admission: $25 and up

Our family digs 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.

Shocktober Haunt Party with TMBG
Where: Paxton House | Leesburg, VA
When: October 8
Admission: $40-125 

Join Shocktober’s ghoulish ghosts for this PG-13 extravaganza where Haunt-themed costumes are encouraged! They Might Be Giants and their barnstorming live band will deliver fan  favorite songs plus some unexpected surprises. Food and beverages will be available for purchase on site. Tickets are $40 general admission, $50 arena seat, $65 premium arena seat, or $125 per person for the Really Important People “R.I.P.” package, including exclusive access to RIP Party, front of stage seating, food, and two drinks.

Halloween Decor & Costumes
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
HalloweenCostumes.com

4 Comments

Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Halloween, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

From City Streets to Country Farms… 2022 Fall Festivals Around the DC Area

Clarks Elioak Farm is a fall favorite!

 

Fall is just about here and so are the scores of festivals that come along with it.  And in the DC area, they celebrate everything from the season to communities to cuisine to historic times. Enjoy local art and culture, take a hayride to the pumpkin patch and play on the farm, savor local and international food, take a time trip back a few centuries…  Some of the fun has already begun, and even more will start over the next few weeks. This list of festivals, ordered by start date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

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 the 12-acre play area, and in the Stories from the Stars Corn Maze where you can learn about the constellations of the Zodiac. 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 6
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.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 23
Admission: Thru 9/11: $24/age 16+, $12/age 7-15
9/17-10/23: $30/age 16+, $15/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

It may not be your typical fall festival with hayrides and pumpkins, but this medieval time trip that began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as the best annual events of the season.  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!

Fall Fun Fest
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through October 31
Admission: $12.50/weekdays, $17.50/Sept wknds 19.75/Oct wknds

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 60 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 17-18, September 24 – November 7
Admission: $10-25 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.

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 17, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 46th 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.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
Admission: $16.95-21.95

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. 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 17, 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.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 17-18
Admission: $28/adult, $15/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! Read more about Mount Vernon here.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 17 – November 6
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 7-acre corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 17, 9am – 6pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $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 and a petting zoo, 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 17 – November 6
Admission: $16.95-20.95/adult, $14.95-17.95/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.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 17 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$20.50

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 ’22
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 17-18
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under

Celebrate the visual and performing arts at this event that brings together the country’s most accomplished artists for a fabulous weekend extravaganza of the arts! Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the beautiful woods of Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Artsfest is a unique art experience with a multitude of artist booths, 35 performers on four stages, creative fun for kids, artist demos, and great food and drink. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: September 17
Admission: Free

Celebrate Oktoberfest early at The Boro. Join an afternoon of fall-themed festivities, including outdoor games, crafts, and a special Polka concert by The TKO Band (dirndls and lederhosen optional!). Embroidered pins, a glitter tattoo station, pretzel necklace making, and plenty of IG-worthy photo ops will be part of the fun. Registration is encouraged.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 11am – 5pm
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.

Celebrate Latino culture at Fiesta DC!

Fiesta DC
Where: Pennsylvania Ave. 9th to 14th Streets | Downtown, DC
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

Celebrate Latino culture at the 50th Annual Fiesta DC.  On both days of the weekend, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Navy Memorial Plaza to Freedom Plaza will be filled will lively festivities, including stages featuring a variety of performances, children’s activities, international cuisine, arts & crafts, and more!

Susquehanna Wine & Seafood Festival
Where: Concord Point Lighthouse | Havre de Grace, MD
When:September 24, 12-7pm
Admission: $15-115
Experience some Maryland’s best seafood in a fun, casual, waterfront setting at the 2nd Annual Susquehanna Wine & Seafood Festival. The family-friendly event will feature 20+ local restaurants and food trucks, each serving signature seafood dishes. Along with the culinary offerings, the festival will feature live music, a family zone, cooking demos by local chefs, wine pairings, mixology demos, unique shopping, and more fun.

Mosaic’s Fall Festival
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: September 24-25
Admission: Free

The big shopping enter in Fairfax is hosting a fall event. Festivities include live entertainment and musical performances; the FRESHFARM Farmers Market with 50+ vendors; the URBNmarket with 90 handmade and vintage vendors; beer and wine gardens; kids activities like bouncy fun, balloons, and face painting; plus more special activities for all.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 30
Admission: $28/child, $7/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.

PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 24 – November 7
Admission: $15-25

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, pick out a pumpkin, watch piggies race, bounce around, 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 24 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $12/Saturday & Sunday

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 24-25
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! The historic town will close its street and host over 200 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 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 24 – October 30
Admission: $10-12/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: $3 (extra fro 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. The good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is cheap! 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
Admission: $12/age 13+, $5/ages 3-12, free for 2 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.

Art on the Avenue
Where: Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 1, 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.

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 8-9-10 & 22
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.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 8-9
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.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 15, 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 2022 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.

Adams Morgan PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 15, 2-6pm (rescheduled from Oct 1)
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 about 70 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood.  At the corner of Adams Mill and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day, pick up a music map and free wristband that will get you discount at over 30 Adams Morgan businesses.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 16, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

It’s that time of year… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your Dachshund, and head to The Wharf for  free Oktoberfest festivities. The highlight:  Cheer on the dogs competing in the 10th Annual Wiener 500 Dachshund Dash to benefit Rural Dog Rescue. Throughout the weekend, enjoy German fare, Bavarian decor and costumes, and Sam Adam Octoberfest beer for adults.

Turkish Festival
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: October 16, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Turkish heritage and culture on the streets of DC!  The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, kids games, arts & crafts, cultural events, and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.

Takoma Park Street Festival
Where: Carroll Ave. to Carroll St. | Takoma Park, MD
When: October 23, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The streets of Takoma Park will be filled with music, artisans, community groups, kids activities, food vendors and a variety of green companies at the city’s 41st annual festival. Get a jumpstart on your holiday shopping — over 150 vendors will be selling all kinds of artistic wares. Music lovers will enjoy three stages hosting 18 bands playing all day.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
Admission: $9

The farm known for its 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!

 

Another glimpse of the Clarks Elioak fun

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Farm, Festival, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Fun Ways to Celebrate Father’s Day Around DC

All adoring eyes on dad this weekend

 

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 suggestions, with something to suit every honoree. Happy Father’s Day!

Take Dad Out to the Ballgame
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront & Shaw, DC
When: June 16-19
Admission: Ticket prices vary

For Dads who are Nats fans, take them to the ballpark for a game against the Phillies. They are hosting them Thursday through Sunday, so if the actual Father’s Day doesn’t work, you’ve got your pick of other days — and there are special promos and activities on some of them, including Ryan Zimmerman’s retirement ceremony on Saturday.

Walk in the Woods
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Ongoing
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 DC area
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by place

Just mentioned above, but these specific recommendations for hikes are great if you want to extend the day to include food and drinks to celebrate, too.  A few awesome combos for that: Sky Meadows State Park and Barrel Oak WinerySugarloaf 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.

Free Beer!
Where: All Purpose Pizza | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: June 19
Admission: Cost of your meal

According to All-Purpose Pizza, “all he wants is a hot slice (or 5) and a cold beer, trust us … we know.” Both their Riverfront and Shaw restaurants will have their respective brunch menus on offer; even better, they are gifting dads with a pint of their DC Brau collab, Full Count Lager — on the house!  And their brunch is delicious — trust me.  Make a reservation here

Columbia Pike Blues Fest & Juneteenth Walk
Where: Arlington, VA
When: June 18-19
Admission: Free (some activities are extra)

If your honoree likes the blues, take him to the annual Columbia Pike Blues Festival. Starting on Saturday at 1pm and going through Sunday, the event will feature performances by many local blues bands and artists along with more family-friendly activities. Interact with the Arlington Art Truck, and enjoy food, beverages, arts, and a KidsZone. On Sunday, join a Historic Juneteenth Walk through the neighborhood in collaboration with the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and Walk Arlington from 9-10am, visit the Columbia Pike Farmers Market for the live performance of Rick Franklin, followed by a special “Blues Brunch Menu” at Café Sazó. Close the weekend with a free screening of the musical-comedy The Blues Brothers at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse at 3pm.

Father’s Day Fish-a- Rama
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: June 19
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 from 9am – 2pm. 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.

Food & Drink Filled Festivities
Where: Around the DC Area
When: June 19
Admission: Cost of your meal

You really can’t go wrong with plans focused around food and drink, and there are a bunch of restaurants and other places around DC that are offering something special for the big day, from Juneteenth-inspired menus to five-course feasts to whiskey evenings to meals that you can pick up and enjoy at home.  This Washingtonian article has a great round-up of them.  And if you just want to go out for a good, fun meal with the fam, here are a few of my recs:  Ivy City Smokehouse, The Salt Line, Lupo Marino, Cactus Cantina, and Farmers Fishers Bakers, and Tabard Inn. Be sure to make reservations.

Fun in the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: Ongoing
Admission: Starts at $42

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 — it is hands down the best aerial ropes course in the area.  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 favorite adventures in the area — read more about it here.)

Juneteenth Freedom Celebration
Where: National Harbor, | Oxon Hill, MD
When: June 19, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate dad and Juneteenth at National Harbor, where there will be performances on the Plaza stage from the Prince George’s County Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate, local dancers, live music, artists, and more. The property is partnering with the Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council for a day of education, reflection and celebration. Food truck Mardi Gras Tyme will add to the festivities and offer a variety of southern cuisine samples, plus there are dozens of nearby restaurants. And there are even more fun activities to enjoy at National Harbor — read more about all of them here.

Thee Phantom and the Illharmonic Orchestra
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: June 19
Admission: $27

This show family-friendly show celebrating Juneteenth is a great evening activity on dad’s big day. Hip-hop and classical music collide when Thee Phantom and The Illharmonic Orchestra come to Wolf Trap for a special performance. The all-star lineup features some of the most outstanding Black orchestral musicians from across the country performing works by Beethoven, Donny Hathaway, Jay-Z, Rossini, Wu-Tang Clan, Mozart, Mary J Blige, and William Grant Still.

Take Dad Out to the Minors
Where: Prince George’s Stadium | Bowie, MD
When: Throughout Father’s Day weekend
Admission: Starts at $16

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 Binghamton Rumble Ponies all weekend, and there’s extra fun and special promos to enjoy — post-game fireworks, a Roberto Clemente Latin celebration on Saturday, and giveaways among them.

Go With the Flow
Where: Around the DC area
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.   The Wharf is a great starting place for a paddling excursion.  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 (the post is about a Mother’s Day excursion, but can obvi be for Father’s Day, too).  For even more recommendations, see this round-up of places for recreation on the water.

Disc Golfin’
Where: Parks Around the DC Area
When: Ongoing
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.  This post has info about our favorite in College Park, and there are also great courses at Patapsco Valey State Park in MD,  Pohick Bay Regional Park in Lorton, VA,  Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg, MD, and Burke Lake Park in Burke, VA. 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: Ongoing
Admission: Cost of your 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 2022 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.

 

Leave a Comment

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

The 2022 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

It’s time to bring back the annual guide to summer around the DC area!  I’ve mentioned before that this has always been one of my favorite posts to put together for a couple of reasons:  It reflects that wonderful shift from structured days to carefree time.  And it’s a reminder of all the summer fun to be had around the area, some of it back this year for the first time since the pandemic (and a few things still TBA so be sure to check back for updates).  Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so bookmark this post and start making plans. The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer Around the DC Area has details and inspiration to help you get going.  Happy Summer!

 

* * * * *

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Beaches
Waterparks
Big Screen Under the Stars
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Seasonal Exhibits
Special Entertainment
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences

 

Cool off in the sprays at Canal Park

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!

DC DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season daily starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28, through September 5, 10am – 8pm. Find locations — there are a bunch of them around the city — and see them all on a map on the DPR website.

Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.  Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here. [Note: The water features are currently closed due to mechanical issues.]

Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter.

The Wharf in Southwest DC re-opened its in-ground fountain for the first time since the pandemic.  Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Drew Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain.

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse.  Open weekends Memorial Day – June 12, then daily June 13 – August 21, then only weekends again through September 5.

Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along th a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features.  Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at he nearby Target while you’re out that way.

There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons during summer, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.

 

That first jump into summer fun

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through  June 26. Starting Monday, June 27, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week.  Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 28 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.

In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim — check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool. But note that all outdoor public pools will open June 26.

 Swimply, an online service that started last year, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

Sand, swimming, and fossil hunting at the Purse Area in Charles County, MD

BEACHES
Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip distance from DC.

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.

Flag Ponds Nature Park, also in Calvert County, has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming.  It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too.  Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day (days/hours are reduced the rest of the year). Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun.  At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.

The Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get  to enjoy sand and water.  Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance.  Be aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.

Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but definitely doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $8-10/vehicle. Get a glimpse here.

Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar on Kent Island has a great beach area., where you can reserve spots on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays..  Don’t let the name fool ya, it’s family-friendly and very fun.  The beach is right behind Kentmorr, the excellent crab house, so if you plan well, you can make a day of it there with some beach time and a crab feast!  You can hang and enjoy fare from Dave’s. Be sure to read details — pricing, hours, rules, etc. — on the website.

They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC within day trip distance.

 

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Make a splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

WATERPARKS
Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA
* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA
* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD
* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD
* The Water Mine in Reston, VA
* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA
* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA
* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA
* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA
* Chesapeake Beach Water Park
* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA
* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. This year, they are are skipping the dramas in favor of action, comedy and cult classics. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended. Runs through October.

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 30. Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .  Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free mnovies on Tuesday evenings from May 24 – June 21 with “The Road Less Traveled”  theme, showing movies that find the heroes on a quest. The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

Family Movies Nights take place on The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center monthly from May 27 – September 30.  They are free, and programming runs from 7-10pm.

Audi Field will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows four films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen —  June 2, June 30, July 28, and August 25 — all of them family-friendly.

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings June 2 – September 1.  The series of Navy-themed films pay tribute to our rich maritime heritage.

Golden Triangle BID will host GLDN+ CINEMA on Thursdays in Farragut Square (17th & K, NW),  June 2-23.  The family-friendly films begin at sunset.

Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Park on Fridays in June!

Cinematery will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 3, July 1, August 5, and September 2.

The Library of Congress will host its fifth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings in July and August 4. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings (June 16, July 21, & August 250 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Georgetown Sunset Cinema is back with movies on Tuesdays from August 2 – September 6 starting at 8:30-8:45 in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge.  Free and open to all.

 

Friday Night Concerts return to the Yards Park boardwalk this summer

SUMMER CONCERTS
Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 20, and there will be weekly shows through July22. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.

At the Bear Square Summer Concert Series at The Station at Riverdale, dance the night away and welcome the warmer season every Friday from 5-7pm from May 27 – June 24.

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area.

The U.S. Navy Band returns for its summer Concert on the Avenue Series at the Navy Memorial on Tuesdays, May 31 – August 16 at 7:30pm. All performances are free and open to the public.

Wednesday at The Wharf will feature free weekly concerts on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear June 1 – August 31.

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for its 12th season from June 10 – July 29! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and  food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.

NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA). Catch a concert every Friday from June 10 – October 5, 5-8pm.

On weekends, head to Tysons Corner Center for Live at the Plaza, where you can enjoy music Fridays & Saturdays, 6-8pm,  and Sundays, 5-7pm, featuring acoustic music spanning a variety of genres or a DJ playing popular hits.

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 13 – August 24.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

Glen Echo Park’s 2022 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion, featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues. Dates/times TBA!

Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, and concerts in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. There are many shows throughout the summer, so view the schedule here.

The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage  continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza.  While you’re there, plan for time to hang out at Victura Park and food and drinks, too.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person on the National Mall!

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 3-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, celebrating all aspects of geekdom and pop culture with a wide assortment of engaging events, comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay and more.

The 40th Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 4-5 showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The free festival that is renowned in the folk community and the public is welcome to enjoy it.

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 11-12 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person this year (hurrah!) June 22-27 and June 30 – July 4.  Every summer (well, except for the past two), the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating the United Arab Emirates and Earth Optimism this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 25-26 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.

Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are pretty big. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue — back for the first time in two years! Then, this year more festivities will take place at the Salute to America event by the Lincoln Memorial, the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks at West Potomac Park.

The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival  features traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly pursuits. This year the festival will take place over several weekends in July to better manage a return to in-person (follow previous link for activities on each date). View scenes from a previous bloom here.

It might run into fall, but it starts August 27, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on  that herehere, herehereherehere, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers.  So, go!  I promise, it is the absolute best.

 

Make a wish at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

SEASONAL EXHIBITS
Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, and kids’ programs during the school break are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a good one to catch during the season as kids are out of school, so there are more opportunities to take them.  Two infinity rooms, the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin, and more artwork and elements about Kusama’s life are interesting, beautiful, and kinda trippy to experience.

In the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden,  Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, has returned once again. Through the summer, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected regularly, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Get a glimpse of past one here.

National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, and in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN.  This year, Shakespeare joins the mix at The Playhouse. Presented in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, it will feature an Elizabethan-inspired festival stage in the cool comfort of the museum’s Great Hall. From July 1 – September 5, guests will be able to enjoy Shakespearean activities like stage combat demos and hands-on fun during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, invites you to “walk alongside African kings and queens as you explore timeless questions of identity, power, and belonging” at Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies. Experience it June 11 – September 6. Admission is $16-20/adult, $8-10/12 & under.

Immersive cinematic exhibition at the National Geographic Museum’s Beyond King Tut, which takes visitors on a journey to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. The exhibition celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. It runs June 17, 2022 – February 6, 2023. Tickets are $20/adult, $12/age 2-12, $16/student, military, senior, & educator.

During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated a few years long ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG is great to explore, too!

 

A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

Entertainment especially for kids at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

Special Entertainment
From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from May 24 – September 7. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.

From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)

Starting June 18, Arts in the Parks, a free children’s entertainment series from Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am.  Catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

Tysons Corner Center will get little ones grooving on The Plaza  at the Kids Summer Concert Series on the second Wednesday of the month. These take place mid-mornings on June 8, July 13, Aug 10, and Sept 14.

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 15 – August 3. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (now in NoMa as well as Loudoun and Woodbridge!) welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($5) and benefits local charities, to boot.

Shakespeare Theater Company is bringing back the brilliant Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff , that condenses all seven Harry Potter books into one hilarious and clever show. It runs June 29 – July 17 at Sidney Harman Hall.  Tickets are $49.75-99.75.  Read a KFDC review of the show!

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – July 24.  The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment!  Tickets start at $27.50.

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 14, July 28 August 11 at 7pm.

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is bringing back its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Much Ado About Nothing will run June 17 – July 24.  Tickets are $54/adult, $27/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, return this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of.  Look for more info about it soon!

 

Give the National Harbor carousel an unlimited whirl!

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Miniature Train on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September  (Labor Day).  This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!

Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only back in April, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $2.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.

The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website..  Rides are $2.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 101st season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 31 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Cost is $3/weekdays, $4/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices start at $15. For an on-ground whirl,  The Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.

Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  The train 11:20am – 5:40pm, the carousel 11:25am -5:25pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $3-4, train rides are $4-5, mini golf is $7-9.

Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park.  (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point.

Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses. Cameron RunUpton HillPohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around.  Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $6/13+. Check websites for hours a each park.

Ride the Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel at Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria. Open daily through August 29 — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3 per ride on Fridays, $4 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!

SUMMER SPORTS
Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Our family always enjoys catching a Nats game on a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with all kinds of offers and discounts.

Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.

Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, will have several matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!

Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in southeast DC to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $14.

Every summer, the Citi Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 30 – August 7.

Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.

If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.

The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team,  plays at Catholic University’s Carlini Field.  It’s fast-paced, fun to watch, and there’s a welcoming family vibe — plus, kids 8 and under get in free!

 

 

Maryland’s finest

CRAB FEASTS
Easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.
* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.
* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
* In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.
* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.
* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.
* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.
* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.

 

Take to the high Chesapeake seas for a pirate adventure!

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

Public boat rides along the C&O in Georgetown recently returned. They are available throughout the day, Wednesday – Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm through October, offering one-hour guided historical tours along the first mile of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Cost is $15/adult, $10/senior, $8/child.

For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings From July 9 – August 27 for Friday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.  Dates still to come — will keep you posted!

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! (You can still BYO skates and roll around the rest of the year.) And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.

 

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

4 Comments

Filed under 2022, DC, Maryland, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia