We first experienced Enchant, the holiday light extravaganza at Nationals Park, when it debuted in DC in 2019. As I relayed in this review, we all loved it then, finding the 90,000 square foot light maze beautiful, dazzling, and a really fun way to get into the spirit of the season. When we were invited to visit again this year, I was excited to return, though I wondered how my kids would like it now. Three years makes a big difference at their ages, 16 and 13, and what they liked at 13 and 10 could easily change.
I finally found out last night as we spent the early part of Christmas evening there. (I had hoped to get there sooner in the holiday season, but we’ve had a really busy few weeks, then weather thwarted our plans to go last week). Turns out both kids still really enjoyed it, just a bit differently than last time. This year, there was a story book theme that had you searching for stars to put a broken Santa’s Magic Timepiece back together. While 10-year-old Sasha was gungho about the scavenger hunt a few years ago, she wasn’t so interested this time at 13.
But we all had a fantastic time exploring the sprawling maze of illuminated areas on the ballpark field. There’s something about the twinkling scenes, some of them interactive, with delightful music playing, all where the Nats play that really is, well, enchanting.
Along with the maze, there is also ice skating (extra cost), concessions including yummy warm beverages, a “village” with shops to browse, areas for warming up, and plenty of photo ops. There are other experiences like photos with Santa, though they are no longer being offered.
You can get a better idea of what Enchant is all about in my post from a few years ago — I still think it’s a great holiday season activity if you’re up for a splurge. And just because Christmas is over, that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy some holiday magic.
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Through January 1
Admission: $25+/adult, $23+/age 3-17
Specials to Note: * On Wednesday, admission is FREE for children! * A Family-4 Pack is available that gets you 20% off admission * Night Owl tickets for admission from 8:30pm on start at $25
If you’re excited about holiday activities, DC is a pretty great place to be this time of year. There are so many fun, festive, and unique things to do around the area to celebrate the season — but not always enough time, energy, and — especially notable at this time of year — money to do everything. Costs add up quickly, especially on top of gifts and other holiday spending.
So, many of us want to be selective about the holiday activities we choose to do. Which is why I’ve been getting lots of inquiries about Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park. DC’s new big holiday attraction apparently is the world’s largest Christmas light maze and market — and somewhat of a splurge for a family of four to visit. A lot of people have been very intrigued, myself included, so of course our family had to go experience it.
I should start by mentioning that 1) I am a sucker for holiday light displays. I always find them kind of magical, whether walking through illuminated grounds or driving along roads lined by twinkling installations. 2) My family received complimentary admission to Enchant, which does alter the perspective since I could just enjoy without wondering if we wasted our money. (That said, I did keep in mind that I would be reviewing it for paying visitors.)
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Enchant and tried to go in with an open mind, despite being underwhelmed by other popular holiday spectacles in past years. Things started off well as we walked through the Center Field gate to see a tall, white lit-up tree with smaller light formations nearby. The vibe was warm and festive with lots of people walking by looking relaxed and smiling. And there were dogs — it was a Paws & Claus night, so many people brought their pups along. But it was the scene just beyond it all that took my breath away (remember, I am an absolute cornball about this kind of thing).
The field has been transformed into a beautiful illuminated wonderland, a towering bright white tree the centerpiece of it all with blue, gold, and purple light installations and walls of sparkling holly surrounding it. An icy trail meanders through a section, skaters gliding along. And more people can be seen walking through the glowing landscape below.
We were eager to be part of it all, so after a quick peek at some of the vendor stands, we made our way down to the maze entrance, where we were handed a postcard with scratch off circles. Enchant includes a little adventure to find all of the reindeer within the maze, and you scratch off a circle each time you encounter one. Sasha was very into this, and Owen helped her out (though he was a bit more into Snapping pics — it’s a very social-media-share-worthy event).
Once inside, we wandered around, taking in the sparkling scenes. Some installations are just really pretty to view, others are interactive offering some fun and play as well as great photo ops. And while there are plenty of other people there, it never felt too crowded or chaotic, a benefit of ticketed entry. We spent well over an hour walking around it all — looking for reindeer, getting intentionally lost, and making sure we’d been down every path (that was me, anyway… I didn’t want to miss any neat light displays).
From there, we headed to the rink, though the kids passed on ice skating since they’d done a lot it over Thanksgiving break. But it looked like a lot of fun, the ice trail circling an illuminated “forest” under arches of glittering holly. Skating is included with admission, but rentals are $5/kids & $10/adults, a fee you can avoid if you BYO skates.
A couple of drink stands are on the field area, including the Ice Bar & Lounge, plus roaming hot chocolate vendors for warming up. There are even more food and drink options on the concourse upstairs, Ben’s Chili Bowl and local food vendors among them, so you can grab a bite there (or head to one of several nearby restaurants afterwards like we did).
Also on the concourse is a stage with live entertainment, plus the Christmas Market with over 40 local artisans selling everything from jewelry to art to edible treats to wearable accessories. You can do some holiday shopping, to boot!
Okay, the big question: Is Enchant worth it? My opinion: Yes! It is a splurge, but if you want to do something special with the family, this is a good one. The light displays are quite dazzling, there are multiple activities to enjoy, you can spend a good amount of time there, and it really captures the spirit of the holidays. And maybe not as important, but something about being at Nationals Park during the off-season after the big World Series win adds some extra allure to the experience. 🙂
Enchant Christmas is running at Nationals Park every evening, Christmas included, through December 29. Admission varies by date, time, and age, so check the website for details and see tips below for getting the best deal.
KFDC Tips to help plan for your Enchant experience:
* There is a Family 4-Pack ticket that offers 20% off admission, and you can add on guests as needed.
* Rates vary by date and time, so check out a few different ones if you have flexibility.
* If you have ice skates, bring them to avoid a rental fee (and skate free!).
* Dress warmly — Enchant is all outdoors.
* And since it is all outdoors, it’s worth checking the forecast for the date you want to go.
* Tickets have been selling out, especially on weekends, so don’t wait until the last minute to get them.
* Strollers are not allowed in the maze, only up on the concourse. However, there is a stroller valet.
* There are Paws & Claus nights when dogs are welcome, so if you want to bring your pup or just like seeing them (some in festive wear), check the calendar for those dates.
* Garage parking is available for an extra charge (up to $22), but you can look for street parking in the area — I recommend trying on the other side of M Street and walking a couple of blocks.
* How could I forget? Santa is also there and available for photo ops. Pay for a professional photo, or snap your own for free.
A recent frolic at the National Arboretum, one of our very faves
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and has emerged from the food comas unscathed, because this is a weekend to relish. Not only is it an extra long one, but we get to it enjoy it amid blue skies, sunshine, and unseasonably comfortable temps. This will bode will for the many events and activities happening at outdoor locales, several holiday-themed ones among them. And if you’d rather shed the jackets at an indoor venue or you’re not quite in holiday mode, these recommended pursuits cover those preferences, too (just scroll to the end after the first rec). Here’s where you can find it all over the next three days. Happy Weekend!
Nights at the Museum – If you’re making the rounds at the museums on the National Mall, save Natural History and American History for last. The two Smithsonian favorites will have extended hours through the weekend, open until 7:30pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
Hit the Rink – It’s going to be perfect weather for outdoor ice skating these next couple of says, so lace up the skates and get gliding. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden or shop then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area.
Harbor Lights Festival – The kick-off of the National Harbor’s annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Light Show begins this evening at 5pm. Watch as the tree is illuminated in a spectacular display of colorful twinklers, listen to live music in National Harbor Plaza, and enjoy festivities throughout the evening. If you can’t make it tonight, you can catch the gleaming extravaganza every half hour until 10pm nightly through the season .
Alexandria Tree Lighting – Celebrate the city’s official start to the holiday season in Old Town’s Market Square this evening from 7-9pm. Along with the tree lighting, entertainment will include a visit from Santa, a performance of Santa’s Frosty Follies by the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center, plus caroling and a community sing-a-long.
Holly Trolley Fest – The National Capitol Trolley Museum in Silver Spring is hosting its first weekend of special holiday exhibits on Saturday and Sunday from 12-5pm. Along with the regular museum experience, guests can ride the streetcars with Santa and see the trains display in the Christmas Garden. Admission is $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 and includes unlimited rides. Admission without rides is $4.
ZooLights – See the National Zoo in a whole new light, literally, as thousands of environmentally friendly lights and animal exhibits transform the park into a holiday wonderland. Along with the lights, there will an “iceless” skating rink, train rides for kids, train displays, and more. Admission is free, but activities cost extra — $5/skate, $2/skate rentals, $3/train rides. Open Friday through Sunday from 5-9pm (and more dates later this season).
Holidays, Oh Holidays – There’s way more DC holiday fun to be had — Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Christmas on the Potomac, Christmas at Mount Vernon, wonderful train and light displays – and much of it begins this weekend. For the complete rundown on all of them, see this post about the best holiday events of the season.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – Adventure Theatre’s latest production following the wild adventures of a mouse, and elf, and a spunky little girl is a perfect holiday show for the whole family. We caught it last weekend (review on the way), and found it a delight from beginning to end. Tickets are $18 and still available for shows on Saturday and Sunday.
If you’re night quite ready to usher in the holiday hoopla, check out these posts for tried and true recreation: