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
I know, I know… it’s Halloween, and I’m talking holiday season. But I promise this post comes with helpful intentions. The annual KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC will be posted very soon. In the meantime, I wanted to give folks a heads-up on a few holiday events that are already offering tickets that 1) start early in the season 2) tend to sell out 3) have discounts available and/or 4) have tiered pricing with the lowest going fast. So, just think of this as a useful distraction while you’re awaiting this evening’s festivities. Happy very early holiday season (and Halloween)!
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 25 – December 230
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.]
The Nutcracker @ TheARC
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 12-13
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!
Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 11 – January 8
The early in the season opening offers more opprotunity to experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And what elevates this light display is the holiday village and carnival that’s included in admission. Even more, from November 11-20, save $10 with the promo code early22 — valid every day including weekends. And from November 21- December 15 save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with the code lights22.
Winter Walk of Lights
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 8, 5-10pm
Admission: $16-18/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under
The Winter Walk of Lights start dazzling in mid November, as the beautiful garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights in the evenings. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).
Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2
Glide the evening away at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria. The waterpark is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music, and more! Grab a slice of pizza, roast a marshmallow over the fire pits, and enjoy the winter village.
Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $10/age 5+
The Garden of Lights is celebrating its 24th season as a DC area family holiday tradition! One of our faves, it’s 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.
Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $10/online, $15/at gate
This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes. This has been one of our family traditions since the kids were babes! For more about Watkins Regional Park, including all there is to enjoy during the day, see this KFDC post.
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/age 3-17
Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review(from the first season it was here) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.
Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 5-16
This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is back this season for first time since 2019! Seeing this show is like a rite of passage for every true DC kid. A signature Discovery Theater show, it celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. Recommended for ages 5-10. It always sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets!
Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+
It’s Hanukkah on strings once again at The Puppet Co. this year! In this puppet play, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the community, but the Queen and King of the Goblins have forbidden the lighting of the candles. Can Hershel save the day and lift the curse for this shtetl (village)?
Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: December 9-18
Taking place at Arena Stage for the first time this year, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! (And we know from many years’ experience!) This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a fantastic, contemporary holiday tradition, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party. A great deal is the Family Fun Pack: 4 seats for only $130!Order by calling the sales office (202.488.3300) Tuesday – Sunday, 12-8pm.
Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November & December
Admission: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under (look for discount)
Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. And if you want to get in on special events, there are Candlelight Tours on select dates (November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10, and 18) and Christmas Illuminations fireworks (December 16-17) — visit the website for more details and pricing.
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: December 17, 2-3:30pm
Admission: $25/non-members, $15/members
One date for this workshop has already sold out, so get in on this quickly! Tudor Place is hosting a family-friendly gingerbread house workshop. Enjoy a brief, kid-friendly tour of Tudor Place that focuses on holiday traditions & architecture, then build your own gingerbread house, cottage or mansion with supplies provided.
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.