Tag Archives: Fun with Kids in Northern Virginia

Events & Activities Around DC to Celebrate Black History Month (2024)

Statue of the Black Power salute at the NMAAHC

 

February is Black History Month, and there are many great events and activities throughout the DC area to celebrate it. Museum programs (including an entire museum), special events, tours and exhibits, and more will be enlightening and fun for all ages.  Here’s where they’re all happening over the next few weeks.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

Where to Go & What to Do During Winter Break 2023

 

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

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

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

 

Holiday Happenings

Special Exhibits & Museums

Must-See DC

#OptOutside

Show Time

Indoor Action

Weekday Programs

See Some Sports

Day Trips

Extra Tips

 

Holiday Happenings

The Season’s Greening train at the US Botanic Garden is always a delight

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

Season’s Greenings is a local must-do during the holiday season.  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 model train railway outside, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s pollinator theme is adorable, and kids will love seeing model trains chug around sculptures of insects, a lemur, and other creatures. For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on December 21 & 28.  Get a glimpse of the train, and for more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Santa Encounters
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

If you’re still hoping to hang with Santa around DC, you can find him at many places, often along with extra fun and treats. This post has a round-up of places he’ll be for the rest of the season, from free gatherings to special brunches to holiday shows to train rides to classic photo stops at the mall.

Search for Santa’s Critters
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: December 16-26, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $5/child

Santa’s animal friends are lost in the park and need rescuing! Go on a scavenger hunt to locate the critters so they can help Santa deliver candy and treats for the holidays! Appropriate for families and children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: Daily through 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.

Kwanzaa Party with the Culture Queen
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 27, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join Kwanzaa expert Culture Queen as she teaches your royal children super fun and festive ways to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa through interactive music, crafts, storytelling, games, and the world-famous “Kwanzaa Slide” line dance for which she co-created. This joy-filled Culture Kingdom Kids program is appropriate for all ages; and will leave participants feeling more excited to incorporate Kwanzaa into their family traditions for generations to come.

Holiday Festival of Trains
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Through December 31
Admission: $25/adult, $20/senior, $16/age 2-12, free/B&O members

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

Christmas at Gaylord National
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: Through 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, activities especially for little ones, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more.

Night Lights
Where: Around the DC area
When: Evenings through
Admission: Varies by locale

The many enchanting light displays that are a staple of the season always run through, even beyond, the holidays. And they make for a fun and sweet family activity.  Visit one of many parks or city corridors in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. Either way, expect to be dazzled.

 

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

 

 

Special Exhibits & Museums

A magical Encanto experience for kids

Disney Encanto x CAMP
Where: Tysons Corner | Tysons, VA
When: Through March
Admission: Starts at $32

The immersive experience inspired by the beloved movie is delivers on the magic for kids!   Tickets are very limited in December, but you might luck out and get them.  If not, then let this be your heads-up to snag them for a 2024 visit — they would make a great holiday gift!

Dopamine Land
Where: Friendship Center | Friendship Heights, DC
When: Through February 11
Admission: $22.50/adult, $16.99/child
This brand new multisensory experience combines media, technology, and play in one place. Bring the kids during the day for an interactive experience that wants everyone to embrace their inner child and explore all the colorful installations.

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

This phenomenal museum is a must-visit on the National Mall, and there are more opportunities to go while kids are off from school.  Timed entry passes are still required, and you can reserve in advance through the website.  Same-day passes are also released beginning at 8:15am daily.  Before you go to the museum, be sure to read the KFDC guide for visiting with kids.

Back to Natural History
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall
When: Daily, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

The National Museum of Natural History is one of DC’s most popular museums, and for good reason: There are exhibits galore that fascinate visitors of all ages, from dinos to insects (and more creatures in between) to geological wonders to human origins to oceanic discoveries. Two special exhibitions are also currently on view — one about cell phones and their connection to the natural world and another about the night sky and light pollution.  [PS: Of course, all the Smithsonians are fantastic and worth a visit… find logistics for all of them here.]

Off the Beaten Museum Path
Where: Around DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by museum

If you don’t veer from the well trodden path of the National Mall now and then, you could miss out on some amazing museum exhibits and experiences. This round-up of some these places in DC that may not be on your museum radar — but should be. They’ll be great places to stay warm too!

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

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

Hot Wheels Champion Experience
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $25-115 (a family pack is also available)

Another exciting immersive experience for kids opens just in time for Winter Break!  The Hot Wheels Champion Experience combines exhilarating digital and hands-on play in a 16,000-square foot interactive environment for all ages. Collect exclusive digital badges, video, and other digital memorabilia across 10 exciting challenges.  Look for a review with more details soon!

Allegre Mente/Happy Brain
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 18 – February 22
Admission: $15.95

The current visiting exhibit at the National Children’s Museum celebrates loving, playful connections through dance, storytelling, and more.  Set in a whimsical forest full of families of all kinds, both human and animal, is in both English/Spanish exhibit. Of course, plan to explore the rest of the Museum’s exhibits, too — read more about them here.

An O-So-Cool Adventure
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle
When: Daily, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Starts at $26.50

Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of one of the coolest spots in DC: The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, secondhand store, and hotel all in one — and visitors are welcome to explore it all.  Admission can add up, so Winter Break is a great time to go if you’re looking for something special to do. Plus, it’s a unique adventure in a truly stunning space.

Check It Out
Where: MLK Jr. Memorial Library
When: Mon – Fri, 10am – 8pm | Fri-Sat, 10am – 6pm | Sun, 1-5pm
Admission: Free
So, it’s not a museum (though it does contain great exhibits!), but the MLK Library is so much more than your typical library, it seemed like a good one to feature here.  Along with books to browse and check out for all ages from all genres, there is a cafe, an exhibit space, study and meeting rooms, a large auditorium, a recording studio, a gorgeous rooftop terrace, and what little ones will love most: a SLIDE in the Children’s section to zip down. And there are always special activities for a variety of ages, too.  It’s a great place for the whole family  to visit!

An Art Tour for the T(w)een Scene
Where: Glenstone Museum | Potomac, MD
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

If you have kids 12 or older, Winter Break is a great time to take advantage of Glenstone’s Guaranteed Entry program, which admits students age 12+ and one accompanying adult without reserving tickets.  It’s an incredible indoor-outdoor art museum — just bundle up for the outside part!  Be sure to note that they don’t allow children under 12 at all, but it’s a wonderful place to visit with tweens and teens.

Mind Tricks
Where: Museum of Illusions | CityCenter, DC
When: Sun – Thurs, 10am – 8pm |Fri – Sat, 10am – 9pm
Admission: $42/adult, $18/age 5-12

This just opened venue sounds like a fun one to explore. It’s a “one-of-a-kind edutainment destination where you can immerse yourself in the wonderful world of illusions! Guests will enjoy more than 50 visual and educational exhibits featuring holograms, stereograms, optical illusions, and immersive rooms that are designed to tease the senses and trick the mind.”

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

If you haven’t been to the Spy Museum at the L’Enfant Plaza location, no is a good time to check it out! Go undercover to explore the intriguing world of espionage. Discover tricks of the trade, view gadgets used to keep secrets and disguises to hide identities, and learn about some of the most famous spies and their missions.  And don’t miss the super fun museum shop!

 

* Of course, there are the rest of the Smithsonians and National Gallery of Art, which always make for great outings!

 

Must-See DC

Capitol views from the Old Post Office Tower

 

Time for a Tour
Where: Old Post Office Tower | Downtown DC
When: Daily, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

See DC from a new vantage point at the Old Post Office Tower. Located within the Waldorf Astoria at 12th & Pennsylvania, NW, it’s free to visit and go up to the observation deck of one of the tallest structures in DC. It’s was kind of a secret for years, but lately has been more on the radar, so there may be a short line to get in, but worth the wait.  This post has info for visiting — be sure to read it for details on accessing the entrance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Bird’s Eye View
Where: Observation Deck at CEB Tower | Rosslyn, VA
When: Daily, but hours vary (closed 12/25 & 1/1)
Admission: Free

Gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a new perspective of DC. The 30+ story high space in Rosslyn offers breathtaking 360-degree panoramic vistas.  Read more about it here, but note that not all of the exhibits and immersive experiences are still there.  However, the spectacular views and the thrill of being up that high make it worth going.  This was only open to Arlington residents for awhile, but they’re once again welcoming the general public.  And even better now, admission is FREE!

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

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

 

 

#OptOutside

The festive skating scene at Washington Harbour

Skate the Day (Or Night) Away
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by rink

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

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

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

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

Grounds for Play
Where: Playgrounds around the DMV
When: Daily
Admission: Free

Let the kiddos burn some energy and get some fresh air at one of many awesome area playgrounds. BeauvoirClemyjontriWatkins Regional ParkHains Point, Cabin John Regional ParkWheaton Regional Park, plus loads of DC Parks and Rec locations are great places to swing, climb, run, slide, romp, and even more!

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

There’s a bound to be a few unseasonably warm days to make for good biking conditions (though you can layer up for a cold day ride, too).  Cruise along paths lined with scenic surroundings, ride to destinations that offer even more fun, and get some exercise.  This post has a bunch of pedal-worthy recs, with something for riders of all levels, and this particular route is ideal for the whole crew.

Go Disc Golfin’
Where: Courses around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free
Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy some family time outdoors. Not only is it fun and challenging, many of the courses are set up in scenic places. 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, Burke Lake Park in Burke, VA.

 

* Find even more places for outdoor adventures.

 

 

Show Time

Adventure Theatre’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will delight!

The Lion, the Witch , and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $25

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104
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).

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

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

Disney’s Frozen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 20 – January 21
Tickets: $35-185

From the producer of The Lion King and Aladdin, Frozen, the Tony® Award–nominated Best Musical, is now on tour across North America—and the critics rave, “It’s simply magical!” (LA Daily News). Frozen features the songs you know and love from the original Oscar®-winning film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters, Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez and EGOT winner Robert Lopez. It’s everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: Through 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.

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

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

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Ball
Where: Jammin’ Java
Tickets: December 31, 11am – 12pm
Admission: $10

Rocknoceros is returning to Jammin Java for their 15th New Year’s Eve Ball. The hour-long program will include live music from the area’s favorite family-jam band, interactive New Year’s resolutions, the Ball Drop, and a complimentary apple juice toast.

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

 

Indoor Action

Climb the day away at The St. James

 

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

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

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

Reach New Heights
Where: ClimbZone | Laurel, MD
When: Daily, 10am – 8pm
Admission: $27/child, $18/age 2-4

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

Skate & Swing (and more)
Where: Kraken | Penn Quarter & Bryant Street, DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activities
Play some pickleball, go roller skating, maybe do some axe throwing, and more at this one-stop shop for all those activities. Note that kids must be at least 13 to wield axes and go in the rage room. Be sure to make reservations!

Great Escape
Where: Escape the Room | Penn Quarter & Downtown, DC
When: Daily, various times
Admission: $35

Bring the whole crew to enjoy a challenge together! Experience a live-action adventure complete with mystery, hidden clues, and puzzles that help you escape dinosaur clones in DC, a spy situation, the depths of the earth, an Old West bank, a submarine, or a pandemic.

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

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

Movie & a Meal
Where: The Alamo | Northeast DC & Crystal City, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: $13/adult, $11/child, $12/senior
After 4pm – $15/adult, $13/child, $14/senior

The action here occurs on screen, but catching a flick is a great option during the cold winter break days, even better when you can enjoy a meal with your movie, too. The Alamo is the only theater in the city where you can do that — and it’s a good one! The theaters are nice, the seating is comfortable, and the food is tasty. See , what’s playing there now.

 

Weekday Programs

Investigate insects at the Natural History Museum

Play Date at NMNH: Investigating Insects
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the National Museum of Natural History for this special program for families all about insects! Make close observations of select pieces from the insect collection related, learn about what makes an insect an insect, and create your own take-home craft to help remember key physical traits of insects!

Storytime: Rosie Revere, Engineer
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: December 20, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Put on your red bandana and jointhe Hirshhorn a special Storytime. Look at the installation Belief+Doubt by artist Barbara Kruger, participate in a lively read-aloud of Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty, and engineer your own work of art!

Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: Temporary Takoma Park Library | Takoma Park, MD
When: December 21, 7-8pm
Admission: Free

The  Rock Creek Morris Women Dancers will delight all ages with their annual solstice dancing! Along with performances, enjoy storytelling and a campfire-themed craft. Refreshments will also be served.

Holiday Stop Hop
Where: Across the DC Metrorail system
When: Through December 22
Admission: Free

WMATA is presenting this first-ever scavenger hunt that takes place across the Metrorail system. Parents and kids aged 4-18 are invited to embark on this festive quest. Here’s how it works: Pick up your free passport through December 22 from Metro Headquarters at 300 7th Street SW. Visit the featured festive stations — 20 are included in the passport book — and pick up a sticker for your passport at each location. Go in any order! Look for a designated Holiday Stop Hop sign, where you can grab a sticker from the take-one rack at the kiosk close by. Once your passport is filled, drop it off at the designated dropbox in the Metro HQ lobby December 22-29 and claim your prize! Three grand prize winners, aged 4-18, will be selected at random to receive a prize pack of exclusive Metro swag.

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

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

Family Card Making with Habeebah Muhammad
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: January 1, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

Join for the last day of Kwanzaa to focus on the principle Imani. Habeebah Muhammad will lead a discussion on the importance of faith in the family. Participants will create and design cards to express what they are thankful for in each family member.

Library Activities
Where: Public Libraries in DC
When: Ongoing
Admission: Free

Our local libraries always offer free activities for kids (and adults), including over Winter Break.  Young children can join a music and movement session, teens can create zines, grade schoolers and tweens can do a Lego build, the whole crew can enjoy a family movie. Visit the DCPL events page to see what’s happening when at a library near you!

Fun at Fairfax Park
Where: Parks throughout Fairfax, VA
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events for guests of all ages on almost very day of the week. There are nature programs, activities that focus on the history of the area, special holiday celebrations, and more. View the calendar of events to see what is happening over Winter Break!

Park it in MoCo
Where: Parks in Montgomery County, MD
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by activity

Montgomery Parks also presents loads of special activities for visitors of all ages, from nature programs to crafts to holiday-inspired fun. Go here for details on what’s happening over the next couple of weeks.

 

 

See Some Sports

See some on-court action!

 

Wizards
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 15, 26, 27, 29, & 31
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards have a couple of home games over the break, so catch some exciting action on the court. They host the Indiana Pacers on December 15, Orlando Magic on December 26, Toronto Raptors on December 27, Brooklyn Nets on December 29, and Atlanta Hawks on December 31.

Capitals
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 20, 23, & 30
Admission: Ticket prices vary 

Hockey fans can see the Caps play a few games. The NY Islanders will be here on December 20, the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 23,  and Nashville Predators on December 30.

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

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

 

 

Day Trips

Spend a day on slopes within easy driving distance

 

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

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

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

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

Festive Road Trips
Where: Around the region
When: Through the holiday season
Admission: Varies by place
Mix it up with a quick getaway to a festive destination! When you feel like you’ve seen and done it all around DC, or just want to add a little extra magic to the season, road-trip-it to a locations less than three hours away from the DC metro area — and maybe make some fun stops on the way. This post have five suggestions for places to go.

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

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

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

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

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

Make a day of it in Calvert County, where you can visit a couple of places for fun, fascinating, hands-on adventures. Annmarie Sculpture Garden is full of artistic delights. Tour beautiful works, both indoors and out, play in the Fairy Lolly, and create some of your own art with inspiration from all you see there. Hours are 9am – 5pm in the gardens, and admission is a $5 suggested donation. Also out that way is the Calvert Marine Museum, where you can see interesting exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, plus live fish and other creatures. There’s also a play area and a real lighthouse to tour. Hours are 10am – 5pm, and admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free/4 & under.  You can enjoy some nature out there at Calvert Cliffs State Park, where you can hike and do a little fossil hunting. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is $8/car.

 

Extra Tips
* If you’re looking specifically for activities for foul weather days, see The Great Indoors round-up.
* And for where to enjoy time outside, check out The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids
* Created especially for the Covid Winter a few years ago, this post has even more ideas for things to do, all of them outdoors.
* This is a great time to sign up for volunteering opportunities with kids.
* Sometimes you just need a place to hang out for awhile, so why not make it a stunning one?
* And other times you just want a nice, peaceful place to chill out.
* Look for deals and discounts Goldstar.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2023, DC, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

The 2023 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

 

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


Enchant lights up Nationals Park during the holidays

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

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

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

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 17 – January 7
Admission: Free

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

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 17 – January 1
Admission: $8 just village ($10 on site), $20/with skating, free/under 2 

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

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

One of our faves, the Garden of Lights is a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there. [Note that it is not open November 20-23 and December 24-25.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

A holiday classic in the historic Ford’s Theatre

HOLIDAY SHOWS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center  | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 16 & 24
Tickets: $20-45

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 15-16
Admission: $48-60/adult, $26-38/child

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


The festive tree lighting at CItyCenter DC

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Tree Lighting + Santa Firetruck Parade
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 24, festivities begin at 6pm
Admission: Free

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! Join the Mosaic District to welcome the arrival of the holiday season with a merry and bright tree lighting. Bring your family and friends to experience the Jolly Man’s arrival on a firetruck. Visitors can also meet and greet Santa in the Target lobby after the tree lighting and enjoy live entertainment from 6-9pm and a holiday parade from 6:30-6:45pm. The Tree Lighting is at 7:15pm.

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

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

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

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

This year will be the 100th National Christmas Tree lighting! To attend this lighting you have to enter the lottery to win admission — which is open through November 8. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual ceremony that takes place on the Ellipse, just beyond the White House. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukkah started with the National Menorah Lighting

HANUKKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’ not officially on their calendar yet, but the Wharf has an annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah.  Plan to enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront while you’re there and maybe even go for a spin at the ice rink.

Kensington’s Annual Menorah Lighting
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: December 7, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

30th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 10-12
Admission: $9/age 13+, free/12 & under

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

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 17 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

1 Comment

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

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween Around DC in 2023

 

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 — starting this weekend. From no-fright fun to cool and creepy thrills, the 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!

Witchwartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: September 28 – October 29
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

Kids BOO Fest
Where: Six Flags Amrica | Landover, MD
When: September 28 – October 29
Admission: Starts at $45

Explore all ages spooky fun at the local amusement park. Enjoy family-friendly rides, a trick-or-treat. trail, fall activities, Halloween-themed shows, ghoulish food for every taste, and much more. This is an all-day affair with SO much to do!

Fall Festivals
Where: Around the DC area
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 much more!  See a list of seasonal celebrations here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA & Perryville, MD
When:  September 28 –  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 Williamburg in this KFDC post and this one about the new park in Perryville, MD.

The Tell-Tale Heart
Synetic Theater| Crystal City, VA
When: September 29 – November 5
Admission: $35-65 

This stage version of the Edgar Allen Poe classic a a perfect production to caputure the Halloween spirit… Sanity and madness blur on stage as two unlikely companions find themselves intertwined in complete isolation, with chilling results. Synetic’s reimagined tale explores the pitch-black depths of the human psyche, spiraling into madness and torment —and we ask ourselves “Who is the crazy one?” Recommended for teens and older.

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.)

“Eye Spy” Halloween Trains
Where: Cabin John & Wheaton Regional Parks | Bethesda & Wheaton, MD
When: Saturdays & Sundays, October 7-29
Admission: $6

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

Goblin Golf
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: October 7-29
Admission: Free

Halloween arrives early at the Burke Lake Park mini-golf course. Enjoy a festive themed experience with Halloween treats included. Ghosts and goblins will be appearing all day from 11am – 5pm. Bring a date, a friend, or the whole family; this mini golf experience is fun for everyone!

Lil’ Pumpkins Festival
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: October 14, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

BlackRock’s  4th Annual Lil’ Pumpkin Fest offers the Upcounty community a fun, free, and safe way to enjoy all the Fall and spooky festivities. Activities include a bouncy house, trick-or-treating, lil’ pumpkin painting, costume parades, spooky dance parties, an Artisan’s Market, and a biergarten for parents!  Later that evening, adults can enjoy a screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show w/live cast on the MainStage @ 6 & 9pm The day will conclude with a free outdoor screening of the fun family film, Pooh’s Heffalump Halloween Movie at sundown (approximately 6:30pm).

Spooky History Tour
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: October 17, 18, 22, 25, 28, 29, 31
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+.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: October 20-22, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $25/members, $35/non-members

The National Zoo’s annual not-so-spooky Halloween haunt, one of DC’s most beloved events for the kiddie crowd,  is back. With 30 treat stations, after hours animal viewing with habitats decorated for Halloween, and fiendishly decked out 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!

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 20-21 & 27-28
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

 

Can You Solve It? Family Mystery Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 21, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

This Family Day at the Library of Congress celebrates mystery stories in all their spine-tingling, curious forms. Enjoy two author events (for middle-grade readers in the morning and young adult book readers in the afternoon) , a mystery writing workshop, a day full of activities, and a scavenger hunt. Read more about the day’s activities in the website.

Halloween in the Garden
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: October 21, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $5

Dress the whole family and enjoy a day of trick-or-treating, art activities, and more!  Over 60 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 21, 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 21, 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 21, 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.

Family Costume Party
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: October 21, 5-7pm
Admission: $15

Enjoy the Haunted Lab after hours and wear your favorite costume! The whole family can enjoy not-so-spooky activities including creating ooey-gooey slime play, bugging out in our Bio Zone, watching a dissection by a mad scientists (STEM Educators), getting up close to a scaly creature, and engineering a Spider Launcher, and playing scary tunes on the piano. 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.

Harbor Halloween
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: October 22, 12-3pm
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.

Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade & Costume Contest
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: October 22, 11am – 12:30pm
Admission: $25/member, $35/non-member, $25/contest entry

Here’s a Halloween event for well-behaved dogs and their humans! Prep your pup for Howl-o-Ween, a parade and costume contest on the Hirshhorn Plaza. Join a morning of dress-up, art activities, and furry fun. Tickets include a puppy parade and contest, donuts and mimosas, and art activities for kids and dogs. Proceeds support the Museum’s art-for-all education programs. Register in advance!

17th Street High Heel Race
Where: 17th Street NW, btwn P & S | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 24
Admission: Free

The High Heel Race is a 36-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 Toddler Time
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 26, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

Bring your child to the B&O in their costumes for some Halloween-themed activities at this spooktacular session of Toddler Time. There will be crafts and destinations spread throughout the museum campus for trick-or-treating. They’ll also be reading Henry and the Ghost Train by Thomas & Friends followed by a costume parade to the Mile One Express Train Ride!

PumpkinPalooza
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: October 26, 4-9pm
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.

Halloween Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 27-31
Admission: $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.

Art Cart: Tricky Tree Hats
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC

When: October 27, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free
In celebration of the fall season and Halloween, join the museum for a tree-inspired Art Cart. Take a close look at artist Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Two Circles, check out nature-inspired books and materials, and create fall-inspired wearable works of art. Find the Art Cart on the Plaza and pick up your wearable materials.

Halloween Glow in the Park
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring | Sandy Spring, MD
When: October 27-28
Admission: $56

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 27, 3:30-5:30pm
Admission: Free

The Rosslyn BID and the Rosslyn Dog Owners Group  are teaming up for a Halloween-themed evening of dog-friendly activities, treats, and fun at the Gateway Park interim Dog Park.  There will be pet-themed vendors, raffles, giveaways, a beer and wine bar, and pet portrait sketches on-site! Dog costumes strongly encouraged for the annual Halloween dog costume contest!

Hill-O-Ween
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 27, 5-8pm
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.

Halloween on the Farm
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Clifton, VA
When: October 27-28, 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!

Halloween Night Hunt with Sweets
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 27-31
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.

Air & Scare 
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: October 28, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but tickets required

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. Tickets are required for the outdoor portion of the event — they will be available to reserve here on October 2.

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.

Pumpkins in the Park
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 28, 11am
Admission: Free

The 10th annual Pumpkins in the Park will feature an array of fun and seasonal festivities — pumpkin decorating, a giant moon bounce, a mobile photo booth, live music by popular local Zydeco band Little Red & the Renegades, a roaming magician, and seasonal beverages* for purchase. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, the first 150 registered guests to arrive will receive a free seasonal beverage (alcoholic and non-alcoholic options available) and a fresh apple cider donut. All ages are invited to join. Pumpkins available on a first come first serve basis. Advance registration recommended!

Halloween at The Boo-ro
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 28, 3-8:30pm
Admission: Free

The whole family is invited to get festive the Boro;s annual Halloween celebration, Halloween at The Boo-ro! Pull out all the stops and don your coolest costume for The Best In Show Costume Contest! Humans and dogs alike will strut the runway for a chance to win a gift card to a selected Boro retailer. Other activities will include a Monster Bash dance party, Halloween crafts for the kids, a spooky themed reading from Turning the Page, tarot card readers and Witch’s Brew cocktails from El Bebe. As the day turns to night, stick around for a spooky screening of the cult classic “Hocus Pocus.”  The movie night, sponsored by Tysons Community Alliance and Showplace Icon Tysons, will begin at 6:30 p.m. and include a popcorn bar offering movie snacks.

Pumpkin Scavenger Hunt Climb
Where: Climb UPton | Arlington, VA
When: October 28-29, 10am -9pm
Admission: $19.95-54.95

Climb UPton has tricks and treats for both young and old! Celebrate Halloween at Climb UPton — complete the 90-element course full of tricks of varying degrees of difficulty. If you find the hidden pumpkins during your climb you’ll be rewarded with a special treat.

Spooky Serpents
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: October 28, 3-4pm
Admission: $7

Looking to get spooked? Do you get the heebie jeebies upon seeing our slithery serpents? Come scare yourself silly and get an up-close look at our amazing snakes, and watch our Naturalist feed them some tasty mice! You’re bound to go hiss-terical at this program.

Monster Mash
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: October 28, 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, their annual costume contest parade for you and your pets, and more.

Hill Family Biking Halloween Ride
Where: Around Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 28, 4-5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the first ever Hill Family Biking Halloween ride! It will be start at the Maury Elementary Parking Lot (C& 12th Pl NE), but the route will be a mystery until the day of the ride! They’ll be using the Spooky Hill is Home map to ride the scariest blocks on the Hill. (You can contribute to that map here.) The ride will end at Lincoln Park for some spooky fun including a costume contest with prizes donated by The Daily Rider.

The Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt
Where: White House area | Downtown DC
When: October 28
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.]

Trick or Treat at Tudor Place
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: October 28, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $15/non-member, $10/member, $5/adult

Celebrate the fall season with games and crafts at Tudor Place. Wear your Halloween best to explore the garden’s meandering paths and find festive activities, fun and sugary treats. All ages are welcome; this program is best enjoyed by children ages 3-8. This outdoor event will take place rain or shine.

Día de los Muertos Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: October 28, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family for live entertainment, including traditional Mexican folk dance by Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, an exhilarating mariachi performance, and a showcase of different Latin American music genres and dances with Sol y Rumba. Kids 12 and younger can enjoy face painting throughout the day as well as Día de los Muertos-themed crafts. All ages can have fun exploring the museum’s stunning exhibition, Many Wests: Artists Shape an American Idea in a Día de los Muertos scavenger hunt.

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens | Mount Vernon, VA
When: October 28, 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!

Frankenskate
Where: Ridge Road Rec Park | Germantown, MD
When: October 28, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free to skate

This Halloween let the ghoul times roll with friends and family at the Ridge Road Recreational Park Inline Rink for Montgomery Parks’ Frankenskate. Come as you aren’t in your best Halloween costumes to enjoy an eerie-sistible afternoon full of music, lawn games, and treats. Bring your own skates (rentals will not be available) and boogie on down to the sounds of the DJ spinning spooky throwbacks. Refuel at the concession area with local food vendors.

Pumpin Rock ‘n Roll
Where: Warner Circle Park | Kensington, MD
When: October 28, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

The Pumpkin Rock ‘n Roll is back!  Warner Circle Park in Kensington will be transformed into a full-blown Halloween extravaganza.  Enjoy lots of family-friendly attractions, including live musical performances, pumpkin derby race, food trucks, and a hay maze.

Halloween Carnival
Where: Community Center | Falls Church, VA
When: October 28, 1-3pm or 3:30-5:30pm
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.

Día de los Muertos | Day of the Dead Celebration
Where: National Museum of the American Indian | National Mall, DC
When: October 28-29, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Bring the whole family to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian to participate in activities including dance performances, papel picadoartist demonstrations, the unique art of sawdust carpets, and paper marigold and mask making. Visitors are also invited to leave photos and mementos of their loved ones on the ofrenda (altar), or commemorate them by writing their names on a butterfly and attaching it to the memorial arch. Please note that some events will be ongoing, whereas others occur only at certain times.

Del Ray Halloween Parade
Where: Del Ray Neighborhood | Alexandria, VA
When: October 29
Admission: Free

One of Del Ray’s favorite traditions, the 27th 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 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, 5-8:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Portrait Gallery’s annual celebration of el Día de los Muertos, one of their biggest events of the year. Enjoy live music, dance performances by a local folk dance company, workshops, and a variety of activities for all ages. Artists MasPaz and Guache will project their live video artwork, “La Común Unidad: Caminando con los Ancestros,” highlighting the artists’ ancestral cultural heritage. Create calaveras and papel picado to decorate the community altar, get your face painted to look like la Catrina — and more!

Pumpkin Chunkin’
Where: Great Country Farm | Bluemont, VA
When: November 4-5
Admission: $14/child, $16/adult

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!

 

Step right up for some haunted fun

HAUNTED (SCARIER) EXPERIENCES

Fields of Fear
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Weekends through November 4
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: Fridays & Saturdays through November 4
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.

AVFD Station 7 Terror Trail
Where: | Gambrills, MD
When: September 30 – October 28
Admission: $25

Choose a scary trail or a family-friendly haunt here. The scary Terror trail is recommended for ages 8 and older or opt for activities for younger children at the ticket booth and the Boo Haunt loop geared for those under 8 years old. This supports the Arundel Volunteer Fire Department.

 

🎃 🎃 🎃

 

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
Home Depot
Target Costumes | Decorations
HalloweenCostumes.com

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Maryland, Virginia

From City Streets to Country Farms…Fall Festivals Around DC in 2023

Fun on the farm at Clarks Elioak

 

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 (almost) Fall!

* * * 

Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/child, $14-18/adult, 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 5
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 22
Admission: Thru 9/10: $24/age 16+, $12/age 7-15
9/16-10/22: $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. For more about Ren Fest, go herehereherehereherehereherehereherehere, or  here. Huzzah!

Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 10, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 45th Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.

Fall Fun Fest
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: Through October 31
Admission: $13/weekdays, $18/Sept wknds 20.25/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.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 16, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do.  The event always features loads of live entertainment, art exhibits, food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors, fashion shows, dancin’ in the street, moon bounces, and even more. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 16
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under

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

 

Younger days at Cox Farms… this little guy now measures over FARM

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 16-17, September 23 – November 6
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.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 16 – November 4
Admission: $17.95/weedays, $21.95/weekends

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.

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 16 – November 5
Admission: $14-19/weekdays, $19-38/weekends, 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 16, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $40-50 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 16 – November 5
Admission: $17.95/weekdays, $19.95-22.95/weekends

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. Admission is $14.95 on Wild Wednesdays.

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 16 – October 31
Admission: $15.50/weekdays, $19.50/weekends, $$15.50/seniors

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 ’23
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 16-17
Admission: $10/online, $12/at gate, free/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.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: September 23 – October 29, Wednesday – Sunday
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!

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 23, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 47th 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.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 23, 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 23-24
Admission: Free

Celebrate Latino culture at the 51st 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 23, 12-7pm
Admission: $15-115
Experience some Maryland’s best seafood in a fun, casual, waterfront setting at the 3rd 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 23-24
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.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: September 23
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.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 23 – October 29
Admission: $20/child, $5/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 23 – October 29
Admission: $17-25

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 23 – 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 23-24
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 250 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.

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.

Pumpkin patch & Sunflower Fields
Where: Temple Hall Farm | Leesburg, VA
When” September 30 – October 31, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $12/weekdays, $15/weekends

Enjoy a fun family outing at the farm where you can pick your own pumpkin and sunflowers, take a wagon ride around the farm, visit the farm animals, bounce on the inflatable pillows, slide down the hill slides, and more! Each paid admission includes one pumpkin and sunflowers.

Autumn Fun & Pumpkins
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends only, September 30 – October 29
Admission: $11

The farm known for its berry picking in spring and summer 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.

Takoma Park Street Festival
Where: Carroll Ave. to Carroll St. | Takoma Park, MD
When: October 1, 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.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $14-16/adult, $12-14/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.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: September 30
Admission: $10-22/age 13+, $5/age 3-12, free/ 2 & 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.

 

A favorite fall tradition

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October
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.

Taste of Bethesda
Where: Woodmont Triangle | Bethesda, MD
When: October 7, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but pay for samples

According to some stats, Bethesda has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the U.S. Accurate or not, DC’s suburban neighbor definitely has a food scene worth celebrating. The 31st year of Bethesda’s famous food and music festival will bring the best restaurants and five stages of entertainment to the downtown’s Woodmont Triangle. Along with delicious food samples and live entertainment, there will be a kid’s corner for face painting, arts & crafts, and more fun for young ones. Admission is free, and taste tickets are sold on-site.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 7, 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.

Art on the Avenue
Where: Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 7, 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 7-8, 28
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 8-9, 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 28 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 14-15
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.

Adams Morgan PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 14, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from 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 15, 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-6th St NW | Downtown DC
When: October 15, 11am – 6:30pm
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.

 

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend