Tag Archives: November 2018

Giveaway: Enter to Win Tickets to “Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas” at Adventure Theatre!

It’s almost the holiday season, and Adventure Theatre is getting into the spirit with a new show that brings an adored children’s book character to life on stage. Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas will be a perfect holiday entertainment for the whole family — and you have a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see it!

What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles-and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Oohlala! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous?

Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas opens November 16, 2018 and runs through January 6, 2019. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online or at the Box Office. You can also try winning them through the giveaway below!

Want to make your theatre outing extra special? On December 8, Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas Festival will include a bunch of fun activities along a performance of the show:
* Make your own extraordinary Tree Topper (just like the heirloom in the book)
* Create the most dazzling holiday-licious headband you’ve ever seen
* Craft a glamorous glitter ornament with your name on it
* Enjoy caroling with friends from Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas
* Decorate delicious Christmas sugar cookies with delectable frosting
* Have your holiday family photo taken

Plus, there will be hor d’oeuvres, a hot chocolate bar, games, music, and plenty of splendiferous holiday cheer. Tickets are $100 dollars, or $350 for a family-four pack.

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas at Adventure Theatre, simply leave a comment below with your preferred date and time to see the show. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Thursday, November 15, 2018, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!

This post is sponsored by Adventure Theatre, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


Filed under 2018, All ages, Christmas, Festival, Giveaway, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Seasonal, Special Event, Sponsored Post, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

The 2018 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. Model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive among them. 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 in DC, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all. Happy Holidays!

Holiday Shows


Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Light Displays

Holiday Markets


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

Elf the Musical
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 9 – January 6
Tickets: Start at $59 (look for a discount)

Based on the hit Will Ferrell movie, Elf the Musical has quickly entered the pantheon of holiday classics, and for good reason. This warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby who grows up believing himself to be an elf, despite his large size and sub-par toy-making. Upon learning the truth from Santa, Buddy journeys to New York to find his father and help the jaded city folk rediscover the wonder and joy of the Christmas season.

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Visit
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 15-20
Tickets: $3-8

Grandma has arrived for the holiday—and that can only mean making puppets, cooking together, washing the car, and learning lots of fun new things! This musical play with a great big heart brings the whole audience into the family with singing, fingerplay, and call-and-response as we all give thanks for being together. Recommended for ages 3-7.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 15 – December 30
Tickets: $32-101

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 Washington stage actor Edward Gero returns to play Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

Fancy Nancy’s Splendiferous Christmas
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 16 – January 6
Tickets: $19.50 (look for a discount)

What could be fancier than Christmas? Presents with elegant wrapping paper, festive decorations, Christmas cookies with sprinkles-and who could forget the tree? After all, there is no such thing as too much tinsel. Oohlala! This year, Nancy is especially excited. After selling some of her old gowns and accessories, Nancy has enough money to buy a brand-new sparkly tree topper. She can’t wait to decorate the Christmas tree. But when things don’t turn out the way Nancy planned, will Christmas still be splendiferous? Recommended for all ages.

Jingle ARRGH the Way!
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: November 16-18 & November 30 – December 9
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for a discount)

Encore Stage & Studio’s presents this by kids for kids. A mysterious message left in the crow’s nest of their ship brings Captain Braid Beard and his pirate mates back to North Beach to seek out young Jeremy Jacob to help solve a riddle and find the Christmas treasure. Favorite characters, a rollicking story, great songs, and a trip to the North Pole to find “you know who” – makes Jingle ARRGH the Way! a wonderful holiday show for the whole family. Based on a story by Melinda Long, author of How I Became a Pirate. We recommend this musical for ages 4 and older. Recommended for ages 4+.

Children’s Series: Nutcracker
Where: Classic Ballet Theatre Studios | Herndon, VA
When: November 17-18
Tickets: $15

The Children’s Series is designed to be an introduction to the enjoyment of the art of ballet to the young and the young-at-heart alike. Every programs that we bring into the series are condensed ballet classics with all of their essence and costumes and enchantment of the originals. Make the Children’s Series a part of your tradition that you want to share with your loved ones.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 23 – December 30
Tickets: $40-50 (look for a discount)

Experience the unforgettable characters and vivid imagery as Charles Dickens originally intended – in his own words – and rediscover this timeless classic presented in a masterful solo performance. Adapted from Dickens’ original novella and reading tour, Morella’s solo version will transport you back to Victorian England and into the heart of this classic morality tale.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 23-24
Tickets: $37/adult, $25/child

Virginia National Ballet presents The Nutcracker — the first of the season! With beautiful sets, costumes, and special effects, the traditional choreography shines, as a stellar cast of professional award-winning, international dancers and the students of the Virginia National Ballet School enchant audiences. At family-friendly prices, this is an event no to be missed!

Tiny Tots: Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 23 – December 30
Tickets: $6

This marionette version of the holiday classic is geared toward the smallest of audience members. Tiny Tots shows are designed for theater patrons ages 0-4. They are shorter, the lights stay on, the doors stay open, and the show is set up on the floor.

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 24 – December 30
Tickets: $12 (look for a discount)

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat and Washington tradition for 30 years! 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. Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 24-25
Tickets: $30-55, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

Join THEARC for DC’s perennial favorite and some holiday magic! The Washington Ballet modifies this critically acclaimed production a bit at the Anacostia theatre, making it more enticing for young theatre-goers. The set is scaled-down, and performances are shorter. This celebrated production is set in historic Georgetown with historical figures and whimsical touches. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historic characters including George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the menacing Rat King! Join again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with loved ones.

The Nutcracker
Where: Ernst Community Cultural Center | Annandale, VA
When: November 24-25
Tickets: $35

The Classical Ballet Theatre performs this holiday favorite with a beautiful production that includes all the costumes, scenery, and magic to bring Clara’s dream to life. Join Clara on her magical journey with her Nutcracker Prince to the Kingdom of Sweets, where she is greeted by the majestic Snow Queen, the exquisite Sugar Plum Fairy, and other enchanted dancing characters in the Kingdom. Join them for this wonderful holiday tradition!

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 29 – December 28
Tickets: $30-130 (look for a discount)

DC’s perennial favorite! Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from a few years ago. (And note that even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version.)

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 1, 4pm
Tickets: Free

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-A-Long is an annual musical celebration hosting a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. Parking is free, but limited, so plan on arriving early. Bring along a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots, a bell for a “Jing-A-Long” during the singing of “Jingle Bells,” and a candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”

MCYO of Strathmore: Symphonic Devotions
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 1, 2pm & 7pm
Tickets: $15-$25

The talented youth of the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra perform beautiful music to bring joy to the holiday season. This concert features MCYO’s full orchestras performing works by Verdi, Schubert, Vivaldi, plus Cucchiara’s suite from Vanara (US premiere), Farr’s “Te Papa” for singers, Maori Chant, and orchestra (US premiere), and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 4 (Romantic).

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 3-21
Tickets: $3-8

Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 19th season, this signature Discovery Theater show 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. This show sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Recommended for ages 5-10.

The Second City’s Love, Factually
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 4-31
Tickets: $49-75

Cue the cue cards and carols! From the twisted minds at The Second City comes this fast-paced romp that mingles the classic movie’s most beloved (and despised) characters and moments in an original take sure to warm your icy heart. Love, Factually is a holiday satire that blasts the December holiday time of life and love. After experiencing this mashup of parody, original comedy, music, improv, and audience participation, we’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that funny actually is all around. Recommended for ages 13+.

Madeleine’s Christmas
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 6-23
Tickets: $26/adult, $16/under 12

“In an old house in Paris, covered in vines, lived 12 little girls in two straight lines.” And with that familiar phrase, author and illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans sets in motion the adventures of the brave and resourceful Madeline! In this musical adaptation, Madeline’s schoolmates and tutor are all sick in bed on Christmas Eve, unable to go home for Christmas to be with their families. So it’s Madeline to the rescue! And with the help of a magical rug merchant she takes her friends on a Christmas journey they will never forget.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 7-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $18-75

It’s not Christmas without The Washington Chorus! Featuring brass, organ, sing-alongs, and the magnificent Candlelight Processional, A Candlelight Christmas includes your favorite songs such as The Dream Isaiah Saw, Hallelujah Chorus, and more Christmas favorites to fall in love with.

Christmas Revels: An Elizabethan Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 8-16
Admission: $12-60

Spend a festive holiday evening with the Queen — Elizabeth the First, that is! The year is 1599, England is swept up in a flowering of music and drama, and master Shakespearian actor and fool Will Kemp has become an overnight sensation by Morris dancing from London to the town of Norwich in just nine days! Queen Elizabeth herself is also on the way to Norwich, and the locals enlist Kemp’s help as they prepare a Winter play worthy of Her Majesty. But Elizabeth has left the trappings of court far behind — and she has much more rustic entertainment in mind. Mummers plays meet A Midsummer Night’s Dream in this boisterous blend of high and low, city and country, art and folk, along with timeless Revels favorites: rousing carol sing-alongs, dancing in the aisles, children’s singing games, the eerily hypnotic Abbots Bromley horn dance, and the glorious tones of the Washington Revels Brass.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: Peace, Paz, Shalom
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 9, 4pm
Tickets: $15-25

More than 200 voices join together to pay homage to the world’s finest female composers through the annals of song. Strathmore’s Children’s Chorus (SCC) presents an eclectic program including a chant by German Benedictine writer Hildegard von Bingen, a Romantic-era piece by acclaimed pianist Clara Schumann, and contemporary works by American composers Victoria Ebel-Sabo, Emma Lou Diemer, Nancy Hill Cobb, and Andrea Ramsey.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 8-9
Tickets: $23-25/adult, $18-20/10 & under

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

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 12-13
Tickets: $30-60

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City.

Movie Screening & Sing-a-long: The Snowy Day
Where: Discovery Theater
When: December 12-14
Tickets: $3-8

Enjoy an exclusive screening of The Snowy Day, based on Ezra Jack Keats’ 1962 classic story, narrated by Laurence Fishburne and voiced by Regina King, Angela Bassett and Jamie-Lynn Sigler. The film follows young Peter’s magical, snowy walk to his Nana’s house to bring home their Christmas Eve dinner. One the way, he meets some new (and diverse) friends who come together to celebrate many traditions. To make the morning super-fun, Discovery Theater is adding sing-along holiday songs and a special host! To top it off, each family and classroom receives a copy of this beloved children’s book — donated to audiences by Penguin Random House. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Holiday Family Opera: The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 14-16
Tickets: $49-79

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!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 14-30
Tickets: $25-45

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! 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. Over the last six years, this internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a contemporary holiday tradition at the Atlas, featuring friendly, furry characters, pre-show instrument-making workshops, photo ops, and even a dance party. Why celebrate the holidays sitting still when you can step with Step Afrika!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 14-23
Tickets: $34-38/adult, $27-32/12 & under (look for a discount)

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

Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Wilson High School | Northwest DC
When: December 15-16, 3pm & 7pm & Sunday, 3pm
Admission: $23/adult, $14/child

Momentum Dance Theatre, a Capitol-Hill based dance studio is presenting its nineteenth annual holiday show – the Jazz Hip Hop Nutcracker.  Momentum’s professional performers are joined by students as young as age 5 for this contemporary interpretation of the classic Nutcracker, set to music from Duke Ellington’s Nutcracker Suite, plus hip hop, contemporary and classic pop, funk, and salsa . Not your mother’s nutcracker!

The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 16, 8pm
Tickets: $39-65

Experience this timeless holiday classic with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Fairfax Ballet — a holiday tradition your family will always cherish. Enjoy a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and epic battles between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. A perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre | Foggy Bottom DC
When: December 16
Tickets: $15-30, kids free with adult

Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to join Coyaba Academy, Coyaba Dance Theater and special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa. *During the Family Series, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

The Elves and the Shoemaker
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 22-30
Tickets: $15 (look for a discount)

Eric, the lone shoemaker of Grimmsville, makes shoes that are miserably uncomfortable and impossible to walk in… leaving a lot of barefoot villagers and Eric without a means to provide for his family. While alone in the woods, his daughter Shannon is confronted by a stranger who offers her the deal of a lifetime: In exchange for her torturous pair of shoes, she is given a magical medallion that holds the charm of the elves. Wanting to help her family, Shannon tries the chant. Her words beckon a pair of elves that show up night after night at the shoemaker’s home creating the most fabulous shoes EVER! With his shoes now wanted throughout the land, Eric and his family have more gold than they can count. But they quickly begin to realize that all the money in the world doesn’t necessarily buy happiness.

The Washington Chorus Family Christmas
Where: GMU Center for Performing Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 23
Tickets: $66/adult, $20/12 & under (look for a discount)

Bring the entire family for a fun, festive afternoon! This 70-minute performance features everyone’s favorite carols, joyful sing-alongs, and a special appearance by Santa Claus.

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 24
Tickets: $20-45 (look for a discount)

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 holiday sing-alongs and 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 and up.

Celebrate Kwanzaa with with Harambee and Lesole Dance Project
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: December 28
Admission: Free

Bring the entire family for the museum’s annual Kwanzaa celebration program. Enjoy energetic and interactive introduction to Kwanzaa with Harambee, Baba Ras D. Additionally there will be a rhythmic dance extravaganza by LeSole Dance Project. The audience participatory program includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes, and lively characters designed for young children and adults alike. During the performance and afterwards, kids can also enjoy making Kwanzaa-inspired arts and crafts from a variety of materials. Workshops will be led by artist/educators Brian Barber and Alma Robinson. Free fun for the entire family!

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 12

Come light the Menorah at the Ellipse on December 2


Menorah Workshop
Where: Home Depot | Northeast DC
When: November 18, 2:30-4:30pm
Admission: Free

Get into the Chanukah spirit at a Menorah Workshop with American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad). Kids can build and paint their very own Menorah at the Home Depot in Northeast DC. There will also be dreidel fun and gelt (chocolate coins). Space is limited so be sure to sign up in advance! RSVP to shana@jewishwashington.com.

Hipster Hannukah Holiday Market
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: November 28
Admission: $6

Shop handmade goods from independent artists, from holiday cards to jewelry to baked goods. It’s Etsy IRL! Along with shopping, hang out in the lounge and enjoy musical performances, DIY crafts, a hot chocolate bar and doughnuts.

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD
When: December 1, 6:30–7:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Chanukah AND Havdalah in your pajamas with a festive singalong Havdalah service led by Rabbi Uri Topolosky, followed by stories, de-light-ful activities, crafts and snacks. Please bring a NEW pair of warm socks or gloves to be donated to people experiencing homelessness. They can be adult or child-sized. This program is a collaboration of PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy and Kehilat Pardes. Good for all ages!

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown DC
When: December 2, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun! Join PJ Library, the Edlavitch DCJCC, the Milton Gottesman Jewish Day School of the Nation’s Capital, Federation’s Jewish Food Experience and the interfaith program, Love and Religion, for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 2 and older.

Tot Sized Taste of Chanukah
Where: Shaare Torah Early Childhood Center | Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878
When: December 2, 4:00–5:30 pm
Admission: Free

Join with Shaare Torah and PJ Library for an awesome fun afternoon learning and celebrating Hanukkah! This program is designed for children aged 0-6 and will feature crafts, treats and a special reading of Queen of the Hanukkah Dosas by author Pamela Ehrenberg. Open to the full community! Registration is free but requested in advance.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 2, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

First Night of Hanukkah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Head to the District Pier at the Wharf as they light the first candle on the Menorah to celebrate the Festival of Lights. Extend your evening there with some ice skating, a bite to eat, and to stroll around and enjoy the riverside scene.

Menorah Lighting
Where: Bethesda Row | Bethesda, MD
When: December 2, 5-6:30pm
Admission: Free

Bethesda Lane will celebrate the start of the Festival of Lights with the Annual Chanukah Menorah Lighting in partnership with Chabad of Bethesda.

Chai Treasure Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through December 31
Admission: $30

Celebrate life and be stumped finding clues for Jewish customs on this heartfelt down-memory-lane treasure hunt. Have fun searching for specific items donated to the O Museum in The Mansion. Includes self-guided tour through themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4, 6:30pm
Admission: Free

Share in the joy and spirit of Chanukah at the Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting in
Old Town Alexandria. Along with a giant menorah lighting, enjoy a free light stick for every child, latkes, gelt, dreidle, a free raffle, and lively music.

Be the Light: Helping Others on Chanukah
Where: Giant Food | Silver Spring, MD
When: December 4, 5-8pm
Admission: Free, just pay grocery donations

On Chanukah, we can spread the light of the holiday with others by giving back. Bring your family and your friends to purchase food to donate to Manna Food Center so they can help more families in need. We will have lists with suggested items for you and your family to select and purchase. Families can come any time during this program, and we will gather for snacks and a special candle-lighting at 6:15 pm and 7:45 pm. This is a program of Pop-Ups to Pop In, funded by the Phyllis Margolius Family Foundation.

Chanukah Playdate
Where: Gymboree | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 5, 3-4:30pm & 4:30-6pm
Admission: $10/Gymboree members, $15/non-members (per family)

Celebrate Chanukah with PJ Library, DC Gymboree, and the Edlavitch DCJCC! Come for an open gym session that will feature all your Gymboree and Chanukah favorites: Lots of bubbles, lots of play, music fun, parachute fun, stories, and crafts. Best for ages 5 and under. Register for the 3pm time slot here, and for the 4:30 slot here.

Chanukah Story Time
Where: Montgomery Mall | Bethesda, MD
When: December 6, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join The Story House – Bookstore on Wheels for a Chanukah celebration in lower level Nordstrom court. Enjoy a story time reading of the PJ Library books, The Queen of Hanukkah Dosas (read by author Pamela Ehrenberg) and Meet the Latkes, as well as a musical sing-along and an arts and crafts table. See’s Candies will provide complimentary kosher lollipops.

Annual Hanukkah Party
Where: National Museum of American Jewish Military History | Northwest DC
When: December 6, 6:30-8:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Museum’s annual Hanukkah Party with latkes, jelly doughnuts, gelt, and song! Explore the museum and eat, play games, and sing. They’ll also look at the ways Jews in the American military have continued the tradition of the Maccabees. Go early to tour the museum at 6pm before the party begins at 6:30pm. BYO menorah for a group lighting.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 8, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $10-$13r

Celebrate Chanukah with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but food will be sold separately — hot latkes, Kosher hot dogs, and refreshments will be available.

Giant Lego Menorah Build
Where: Northeast Neighborhood Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 9, 3-4pm
Admission: Free

Join American Friends of Lubavitch (Chabad) for some Chanukah fun! Along with helping build a giant Lego menorah, guests can enjoy even more festivities, including Chanukah crafts, a photo booth, hot latkes and doughnuts, and a Lego dreidel to take home. RSVP to let them know you’re coming.

The bright and festive tree lighting at National Harbor

Tree Lighting Celebration & Street Party
Where: Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 10
Admission: Free

The annual event in Downtown Silver Spring always includes the unveiling of a one-of-a-kind holiday tree on the Fountain Plaza. And this year’s tree, the “CommUNITY Tree,” is no exception! Embraces diversity and unity through visual harmony, four artists have come together to create an illuminated mural with images of a diverse congregation of people ringing the bottom half as prismatic energy organically flows from them and dances towards a mobile color sculpture at the top. Other fun festivities of the evening will include live entertainment, bites and drinks, art stations, games, and more!

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 10, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. Spend the afternoon with Santa at the Carousel and Capital Wheel. Catch a screening of Frosty’s Winter Wonderland. The tree lighting ceremony starts at 5:30pm — followed by fireworks!

2017 Light Up
Where: Fairfax Corner | Fairfax, VA
When: November 16
Admission: Free

Fairfax Corner is beginning the holiday season at their annual Light Up celebration. Festival goers will enjoy a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and holiday activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, horse & carriage rides (donations encouraged!), live entertainment, balloon art, giveaways and more!

Rockville Tree Lighting
Where: Rockville Town Square | Rockville, MD
When: November 16,6-9pm
Admission: Free

Join Rockville Town Square for a tree lighting celebration! This free, family-friendly event includes the lighting of the Christmas tree, visits with Santa, live music, strolling entertainment, a live dance performance by Dawn Crafton Dance Connection, and more!

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, & Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center | Reston, VA
When: November 23
Admission: Free

Reston Town Center launches the festive season at the annual Reston Holiday Parade with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade along Market Street also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. The Clauses will return for the Fountain Square Tree Lighting and Sing Along at 6pm. Afterwards, on Market Street, horse-drawn carriage rides and more fun continues.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: The Park at CityCenter | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24
Admission: Free

CityCenterDC will kick off the holiday season with an exciting evening of celebrations, including a joyful music performance by The Washington Chorus and an official lighting ceremony and countdown emceed by NBC4’s Eun Yang. Families will be entertained with balloon artists, face painters, holiday activities and more. Enjoy the dazzling 75 foot holiday tree, our two resident 25-foot reindeer, and the return of our Palmer Alley overhead holiday display!

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: November 29
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

To attend this lighting, you had to have entered a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. 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.

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: November 29
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 ad will be lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening will also feature the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a holiday pop-up concert that showcases some of D.C.’s beloved hometown musical acts. There will also be a simulcast of Yo-Yo Ma performing Bach Cello Suites at the Washington National Cathedral.

15th Annual Tree Lighting
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welcomes the public to enjoy its annual tree lighting! Filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, the courtyard becomes a glittering crystal garden the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Families can take the chill off with complimentary hot chocolate and cookies as they listen to the award-winning Georgetown Visitation Madrigals perform holiday classics. Children can enjoy decorating holiday cards, members of the United States Marine Corps Reserves will perform a presentation of colors, and Santa Claus and Rudolph will make a special guest appearance. All families are welcome to take a photo with Santa in his Winter Wonderland Suite. Sign up for free tickets here.

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

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! You might not be able to sit close up, but you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. For now, follow the tree as it journeys from Oregon, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive November 26, and the lighting will likely take place December 5. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

The Season’s Greening train display is always full of wonder and whimsy!

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden | Wheaton, MD
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Free

Part of Brookside Garden’s annual Garden of Lights exhibition, the South Conservatory comes to life with a landscape in miniature, as trains and trollies wind their way through town and country scenes, past one-of-a kind models of the Brookside Gardens Conservatories, the Dentzel Carousel and the Chautauqua Tower of Glen Echo Park. Colorful plantings complement it all — winter may rule the outside landscape, but the conservatories will be bright with color and active with sound and motion to match the festive feeling of the season.

Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden | National Mall Area, DC
When: November 22 – January 1
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year, All Aboard! for a ride through America for a showcase of train stations! Plant-based recreations of iconic train stations from across the United States will be represented in the train room. Explore classic stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, Detroit’s Michigan Central Station, Maui’s Lahaina Station, and many more, plus fantasy Dinosaur and North Pole stations. And for even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. Get a glimpse of it all in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Santa’s Suite
Where: The Fairmont | Georgetown, DC
When: Weekends starting November 24, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free (Donation to Horton’s Kids suggested)

Sleigh bells will be ringing at The Fairmont when Santa checks into his DC residence bringing comfort and joy to all who believe in the magic of the holiday season. All naughty and nice children are invited to stop by Santa’s suite, with their parents to enjoy yummy treats and a holiday keepsake to commemorate the visit. Those writing a letter to Santa, while in his suite, will receive one back.

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: December 1-31
Admission: $20/adult, $17/senior (60+), $12/ages 2-12, free/B&O members

This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 15 – December 22
Admission: $5/adults, $3/senior, $2/age 2-18, free/under 2

During the holiday season the College Park Aviation Museum gets ready for the festivities as miniature trains, villages, tunnels, and depots spark the imagination and bring history to life. The National Capital Trackers bring a fascinating and constantly moving display of model railroads.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: TBD
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.

Frozen slides at the ICE! exhibit

Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner | McLean, VA
When: November 6 – December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

The newly revamped Santa HQ experience will offer an immersive journey featuring state-of-the-art digital technology featuring two new experiences — the Magic Mirror that virtually allows visitors to try on the Santa HQ elves’ favorite holiday outfits and an Elf ID station where kids can create a personalized Elf Academy ID card. Along with these new enhancements, guests also will have a custom photo opportunity with Santa Claus and will enjoy pastime favorites by hopping on the Naughty or Nice O’Meter, exploring Santa’s Observatory with Elf-Ray Vision, and enjoying the synchronized holiday light show featuring over 10,000 individual lights orchestrated to the tune of Carol of the Bells.

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November
Admission: $35

Give thanks and learn a bit about Thanksgiving traditions on this heartfelt treasure hunt. Have fun searching for Thanksgiving themed items found only at The Mansion. This includes a self-guided tour of the many themed rooms and secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Santa Photo Experience
Where: Fashion Centre | Pentagon City, VA
When: November 9 – December 24
Admission: Free

Eager children and their families can experience the joy and magic of the holiday season with a visit to the Simon Santa Photo Experience at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City. Save time, avoid the line with Santa by Appointment. On December 2 from 9-11am, special needs children and their families have an opportunity to enjoy this time-honored holiday tradition through a sensory-friendly Caring Santa event in partnership with Autism Speaks. Reserve a FREE Caring Santa session here.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

Where: National Harbor
When: November 16 – January 1
Admission: Starting at $24/child & $32/adult, free/under 3

Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. 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 couple of years ago, but I’ll be honest: We were all underwhelmed. However, people seem to have varying opinions. This year is “A Charlie Brown Christmas” theme, and you walk through frozen holiday scenes depicting the story and slide down small ice slides — all kept at a very chilly 9 degrees. 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.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 17, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The streets are being overrun with turkeys, dinosaurs, penguins, and reindeer! No, the zoo hasn’t opened their gates — it’s the Annual Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade! With marching bands an Latin dancing groups, floats, giant characters and balloons, and over 120 units, the Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade is the only Thanksgiving Parade in the metro DC area. Held in downtown Silver Spring, the exciting parade traditionally heralds the start of the holiday season. The parade steps off from Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street and proceeds south on Georgia Avenue, ending at Silver Spring Avenue. It also is televised live on News Channel 8 and re-run on Thanksgiving Day.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 17 – January 5
Admission: Start at $20/ages 3+

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

Ritz-y Celebrations
Where: Ritz Carlton | Pentagon City, VA
When: Throughout the holiday season
Admission: Varies by activity

The Ritz Carlton has a delightful holiday season planned with a variety of festive events on the calendar. Breakfast with Santa, Holiday Tea, Thanksgiving Brunch & Dinner, a Gingerbread House Workshop, Christmas Eve Brunch, and Christmas Dinner are just some of the ways you can celebrate at the luxury hotel.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 23 – December 31
Admission: Online – $18/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free/ 5 & under

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season.
The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. There are also Candlelight Tours on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

Holiday Train Rides
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: Weekends November 23 – December 23
Admission: Starts at $54/adult, $46/child (look for a discount)

Take a one-of-a-kind train ride through Winter Land aboard the Western Maryland. During this 3-hour expedition, you will meet Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves as you join in on reindeer games and more. Each child will have one-on-one time with the jolly guy and will enjoy some Christmas Treats, too! Dining guests will enjoy a traditional turkey dinner aboard one of the vintage dining cars, and a snack bar is available to all passengers.

Festival of Trees
Where: Maryland State Fairgrounds | Timonium, MD
When: November 23-25
Admission: $14/adult, $6/child, free/4 & under (look for a discount)

Kick off the holiday season by welcoming Santa Claus to a winter wonderland at the annual Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees! The East Coast’s largest holiday-themed festival will return to the Maryland State Fairgrounds with decorated trees, a gingerbread town, shopping, breakfast with Santa, endless holiday activities, and non-stop entertainment for children of all ages!

Winter on the Farm
Where: Ticonderoga Farm | Chantilly, VA
When: November 23 – December 23, Fri-Sun
Admission: $11.95/age 2+

The annual festival includes hayrides to the white pine fields with access to all of the farm attractions — swings, forts, slides, tunnels, and more. Fire pits are inviting to keep you warm and make some s’mores or roast hot dogs. Christmas trees directly from Sweet Providence Farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains will be available for purchase, too. (Note: No admission fee to purchase trees or greens!) Read more about the winter fun at Ticonderoga in this post about one of our experiences there.

Snowland Celebration
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 24 – January 4
Admission: Rates vary

Snowland welcomes your family to the winter holidays in proper north woods style. Great Wolf Lodge is transformed into a magical winter wonderland complete with spectacular decorations, visits with Santa, Snow ‘N’ Glow Dance Parties, North Pole University activities, and a life-size gingerbread house big enough to dine in! Bring joy to your family this holiday season with uninterrupted time together under the enchanting spell of Snowland’s twinkling lights, holiday trees, and indoor snow showers that melt into perfect 84-degree basking weather in our water park. Read about a KFDC stay at Great Wolf Lodge (though not during the holidays).

Winter WonderLandsdowne
Where: Landsdowne Resort & Spa | Leesburg, VA
When: Throughout the holiday season
Admission: Rates vary

The Resort and Spa in Leesburg will transform into a whimsical holiday experience celebrating the spirit of the season. Feast on Thanksgiving Brunch. Attend a tree lighting on November 24. Shop a special market modeled after the famous Chriskindl markets of Europe. Enjoy elf tuck-ins that include treats and a story. Bring Fido for the Santa Paws 5k. Participate in an Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt. And even more. It’s a fun, festive, and convenient holiday getaway!

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: President’s Park | National Ellipse, DC
When: November 28 – January 1
Admission: Free

This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a brilliant holiday scene. There are often musical performances throughout the season, too. Unfortunately, the adorable Santa’s Workshop once again is not back this year (you might recall there was confusion about it in the past), but go enjoy everything else.

Shirlington Light Up The Village
Where:The Village at Shirlington, VA
When: November 29, 6pm
Admission: Free (donations for some activities)

The shopping center will kick off the holiday season with its ​2018 Light Up the Village Holiday Celebration​​. Festivities start with ​a holiday performance by the children’s ensemble of ​Billy Elliot​ by the ​Signature Theatre​​, followed by a tree lighting in the outdoor plaza. After the tree is lit, attendees are encouraged to stop in for pictures with Santa at Hardwood Artisans, and enjoy a performance by the Bishop O’Connell High School Choir. From horse and carriage rides (with monetary or non-perishable food item donations to Arlington Food Assistance Center) starting at 6:40pm, to a snowman photo board station, face painting, balloon twisting, strolling carol entertainment, to live musical performances and retail specials and promotions, the Light Up the Village Holiday Celeb​ration is a can’t miss celebration for the entire family.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: November 30 – December 2
Admission: Varies by activity

Christmas in Middleburg is a spectacular community event that includes a tree lighting, parade, Breakfast with Santa and Silent Auction, and the Middleburg Hunt Review creating a spectacular sight as 100 horses, riders in pink coats, and dozens of hounds come through the town. Throughout the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Christmas in Middleburg Craft Show, the Middleburg Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Show at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, as well as shopping and dining in the town’s shops and restaurants. The Middleburg Christmas Parade begins is a highlight, with a unique assortment of floats, troops, and musical groups marching by. Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Sheraton Tysons Hotel | McLean, VA
When: December 1-2
Admission: $15/child, $10/adult (look for a discount)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns! Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, Kids in the Holiday Kitchen activities, visits from Santa, kids’ crafts, cupcake decorating, and more.

Santa’s Elves Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Throughout December
Admission: $35

Help Santa find special goodies found only at O Museum in The Mansion on this festive holiday treasure hunt. Explore the many themed rooms and search for secret doors. Bring your own shopping bags — the mansion essentially is a 30,000 square foot gift shop! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 1-2
Admission: $39/adult, $29/child (look for a discount)

The annual weekend-long festival featuring Nationals players, coaches, and front office staff, will return to Nationals Park as a celebration of baseball and the holidays. This year’s event will have both indoor and outdoor activities including autograph sessions, curling stations, interactive games, clubhouse tours, batting cages, and of course photo opportunities with your favorite Nationals mascots, the Bullpen Cart, and Santa! Enjoy these activities and more with s’mores, adult hot chocolate, and other specialty food items at the home of your Washington Nationals!

Holiday Ballet Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays with SAAM and The Washington Ballet. Acclaimed Artistic Director Julie Kent gives an introduction of how the ballet of the nation’s capital puts on their annual performance of The Nutcracker before dancers perform excerpts from the charming holiday classic. Enjoy holiday crafts, a scavenger hunt, and tasty winter treats from the Courtyard Cafe.

Story Time with Santa
Where: Kramerbooks | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Saturdays in December, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $30/child

Make it a storybook holiday season this year and join Kramerbooks for Story Time with Santa! Gather ‘round to hear Santa tell your favorite festive holiday tales AND receive: Two Polaroid Instax mini photos of your child with Santa, a double-sided holiday ornament frame for each child, cider and hot chocolate for the kids (and nice parents), and spiked cider (for the naughty parents). This will take place every Saturday through December, and only 20 children’s tickets are available for each Saturday, so secure your spot now!

Deck the Halls: A Family at Christmas
Where: Tudor House | Georgetown, DC
When: December 1, 1-4pm
Admission: $10/child, $5/adult

Celebrate holiday traditions at Tudor Place, and discover ways the Peter family contributed to relief efforts after World War I, like Nannie Peter and her lady’s maid Miss Duvall continuing to knit socks to send to soldiers overseas. Enjoy an interactive open house, send cheer to a servicemember, join carolers in song, make a festive stocking ornament, and sample sweets from 100 years ago. In the spirit of the Peters’ postwar service, Tudor Place will be collecting Toys for Tots, and new, warm men’s crew socks that So Others Can Keep Striding will distribute to the homeless community.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 48th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: December 1, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. The celebration features holiday performances, a live ice sculpting presentation, and a visit from Santa Claus in Veterans Park.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 1
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.

Holly TrolleyFest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: December 1-23 + 29-30 Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

Guests can ride with Santa on the street cars and enjoy the model garden railway and holiday village inside the museum. Of course the rest of the museum, offering a glimpse into the history of street cars, including a Hall displaying different cars from around the region and Europe. Note: Santa will not be there the last weekend. Visit the website for directions to the museum.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays and see the beautifully decorated boats pass by. Get into the spirit as you decorate cookies and craft your own boat. Warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Take the kids ice skating, and adults can sample winter drinks at our Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Frost Fest
Where: Pentagon Row | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 2
Admission: Free

Join the holiday celebration featuring an on-ice firework display with a special Santa Claus appearance, live entertainment, music played by the popular DJ Har-V, food samples, a $500 shopping spree giveaway, and more.

Chocolate Binge Festival
Where: Downtown Annapolis, MD
When: December 2, 12-5pm
Admission: $5

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

Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 6, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

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

Winter in Washington
Where: CityCenterDC | Downtown DC
When: December 7-9
Admission: Free

CityCenterDC is excited to bring to life the DC landscape in a dreamy winter wonderland! The installation features monuments towering over 12 feet high, built with over 50,000 pounds of ice. Washingtonians can fulfill their subzero dreams for a weekend. Follow along on social media with @CityCenterDC #CCDCHolidays for weather updates and more.

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 7-22 Fridays & Saturdays, 6-9pm
Admission: $9.95

Celebrate Christmas with the Critters at the Animal Park’s evening holiday event! Activities include photos with Santa Claus, themed arts & crafts, live animal encounters + holiday photos with them, a kids’ indoor play zone, bonfire & marshmallow roasting, pony rides, nativity scene, animal petting & feeding, and thousands of holiday lights. Christmas trees & wreaths will be available for purchase at the Farm Market, too.

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum | Near Union Station, DC
When: December 8-9, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season by creating one-of-a-kind handmade cards. The National Postal Museum provides beautiful holiday stamps from all over the world, along with a variety of crafts supplies to both inspire your creativity and decorate your cards. We’ve attended this annual event several times, and its always very well organized and tons of fun. After making your cards, visit the museum’s stamp store to send the cards to your loved ones with a special Museum postmark. And plan to stay and tour the exhibits, many of them interactive and interesting for all ages. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: December 8, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the Park’s annual Winter’s Eve event. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios.

Russian Winter Festival
Where: Hillwood Estate | Upper Northwest DC
When: December 8, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $12-18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

Celebrate Sviatki, the festive winter season, in traditional Russian style! Meet Grandfather Frost, Russia’s Santa Claus, and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden in a fun family play, based on traditional Russian stories, produced by Flying V Theatre. Create and wear your own kokoshnik (lady’s headdress) or Russian gentleman’s winter hat to dress in the style of boyars (old Russian nobles). Join in the playful antics of mummers parading in animal costumes and discover what the new year has in store from fortunetellers strolling the estate, presented by Happenstance Theater. Enjoy lively music performed by Samovar Russian Folk Music Ensemble and festive dances performed by Kalinka Dance Ensemble.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

WinterFest in Occoquan
Where: Historic Occoquan, VA
When: December 8, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

WinterFest in Occoquan is fun for the whole family! Visitors can enjoy heart-warming fire pits with marshmallow roasting, listen to the talented Dunbar Saxophone Quartet at the Town Hall, sing holiday carols with the Woodbridge Community Choir, sample free hot chocolate, and delight in a special visit from Santa Claus! Visitors are also invited to browse the town’s unique shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and cafes to experience all that Occoquan has to offer. Many businesses will be open late for visitors to complete their holiday shopping!

Mistletoe Magic
Where: Parkridge Center | Mannassas, VA
When: Decemeber 8, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

It’s the second annual Mistletoe Magic holiday festival! This free, family-friendly event will feature a stationary hot air balloon, winter-themed games, crafts, holiday music, a festive train ride, s’mores, hot chocolate bar and a Meet and Greet with Mr. Claus himself!

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 14-15
Admission: $30-35/adult, $20-25/child

Kick off the holidays with an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music, with fireworks beginning around 8:30pm. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides. George and Martha Washington will also be on site to greet Mount Vernon’s holiday guests. Tickets: $35 adult/$25 youth with Mansion tour, $30 adult/$20 youth.

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 22, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy the sounds of the season, featuring the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, and join in as they sing holiday songs to spread the Christmas spirit all along the waterfront. While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree.

Christmas Eve Breakfast Tour
Where: The Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 24
Admission: $39

They deck the halls and fill the stockings with seasons greetings and holiday cheer that will create lasting memories for the entire family at the Mansion on O Street! Enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour the wonderful themed rooms and search for secret doors. Be sure to bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction this KFDC post.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: $25 ’til 11/30, $30 12/1-30, $35 on 12/31 free/12 & under
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!

Strolling through Brookside’s wonderful Garden of Lights

LightUp Fest
Where: One Loudoun | Ashburn, Va
When: November 8 – January 2
Admission: $29.99/adult, $19.99/child (look for a discount)

LightUP Fest, a culture-rich lights exhibit that combines traditional Chinese lanterns with modern lighting technology, is making its debut in the Washington Metro area. With 77 stunning, differently-themed installations, it promises to be a magical experience for all. LightUP Fest will also feature daily performances from acrobats, dancers and musicians. An eclectic array of unique cuisines will also be available for purchase. And an interactive craft and art section will showcase the intricate culture and tradition of craftsmanship with hands-on activities such as sugar puppet making, calligraphy, portrait sketching and rice carving for all age groups to participate in.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 9 – January 6
Admission: $14/adult, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a discount)

Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark’s renowned gardens as over 500,000 LED lights and displays bring the gardens to life and transform it into a winter wonderland. Stroll by perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk — and look for new displays this year, too. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire (available for purchase at Light Refreshments concessions).

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 16 – January 1, with noted exceptions
Admission: $25/car Mon-Thurs, $30/car Fri-Sun (look for a discount)

The Garden of Lights celebrates its 20th season as a DC area family holiday tradition! Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from our visit there last year.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 17 – January 1
Admission: $15/car (look for a discount)

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 24th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. Lights on the Bay has something for everyone in the family. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. And Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day!

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 22 – December 30, Wednesdays-Sundays
Admission: $25/car

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. And the Symphony of Lights is the largest annual fundraising event benefiting Howard County General Hospital, the only hospital in Howard County.

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 21 – January 6
Admission: Mon-Thurs $15/car, Fri-Sat $20/car(look for a discount)

Every year from Thanksgiving until just after New Year’s Day, you can 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. After viewing the lights, bring head to the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments, and of course, photos with Santa Claus (holiday village open select nights). The festival happens annually at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia. Avoid crowds and get a discount by going Monday through Thursday — look for a special online coupon here.

Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 23 – January 1, 5-9pm (Closed 12/24, 25, 31)
Admission: Free

Every year, thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland. The highlights are dozens of animal light displays, a dazzling light show set to music, and snow-less tubing. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment, a special train ride for children, a whirl on the Conservation Carousel, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and more “wild” holiday fun. The Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center and Think Tank are open every night. And new this year: A free, glow-in-the-dark play zone for children, Rides and parking cost extra.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 23 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $10/car, FREE on December 25

This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – bring a thermos of hot chocolate, pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 23 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Mon-Thurs, $17/car Fri-Sun (look for discount)

The 23rd Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The 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.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: November 29 – January 1
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. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 650,000 LED 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.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 30 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & under

This magical tour takes visitors on a beautiful trip through the glittering woods. As you stroll the protected path, you will be transported to a fantastical place of spectacular lights and amazing “light sculptures” depicting mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more. Don’t forget to ask for a “Holiday I Spy” program. After your walk, warm up in the Arts Building where you will find nightly entertainment, beautiful exhibits, great shopping, and a holiday cafe!

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Throughout Georgetown, DC
When: December 1 – January 6
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through January 6, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community, the region’s only curated outdoor public light art experience. 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.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays and see the beautifully decorated boats pass by. Get into the spirit as you decorate cookies and craft your own boat. Warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Take the kids ice skating, and adults can sample winter drinks at our Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 1
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 19th annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 4-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a DIY holiday wood ornament craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria, and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. Parade-goers are invited to step into the Torpedo Factory Art Center, located at the Alexandria City Marina, for their annual holiday festivities from 2-8pm.

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 8
Admission: Free

For the or its fourth year, The Yards will shine during the holidays innovative light art, and this year there will be two installations: The Pool, by New York-based Jen Lewin Studio and Angels of Freedom, by Israel-based OGE Group. The Pool welcomes visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light, and as multiple visitors play in it, their movements will come together to create a giant canvas of shifting and fading colors in mesmerizing patterns. Angels of Freedom aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors angels, letting them pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos.

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: November 8-11
Admission: $10 suggested donation

This annual market brings the best of the area’s finest museum gift shops all to one place. At Strathmore’s Museum Shop Around you’ll find toys, jewelry, one-of-a-kind gifts — some handmade, all art-inspired — for yourself and everyone on your holiday list.

Christmas Bazaar
Where: St. Jane de Chantal | Bethesda, MD
When: November 10, 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Get started on holiday shopping at St. Jane de Chantal’s 13th Annual Christmas Bazaar, a fundraiser to benfit the school Kick off the Christmas season and shop local! Unique items from more than 40 vendors with jewelry, home decor, accessories, personalized gifts, and much more. There will also be a thrift shop, children’s book fair, food trucks, bake sale, raffles, and free pictures with Santa just in time for holiday cards. Located at 9525 Old Georgetown Rd, Bethesda.

Holiday Shops
Where: Dock5 at Union Market | Northeast DC
When: November 16-18
Admission: $5-50

Holiday Shops is more than a unique shopping experience; it is also one of the Junior League of Washington’s major fundraisers. Proceeds from the event support the League’s ongoing efforts to improve the Washington, DC, community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers and by awarding annual grants to local nonprofits. Each year, they welcome thousands of shoppers throughout the weekend. Merchants will help you find those special gifts for your family and friends, and with each purchase, you will know you are making a positive impact on the community.

A Crafty Way to Support Bethany House
Where: Bethany House | Alexandria, VA
When: November 17, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $5/adult

Join friends and supporters of Bethany House for coffee, tea, light refreshments, and an opportunity to purchase hand-crafted wooden items for holiday gifts or personal use. Bethany House will be hosting Tom Huber, a local woodturner, in a one man show of his hand made items. These items include a large array of bowls, platters, plates, boxes, pens, holiday ornaments, and kitchenware made from local hardwoods. One hundred percent of the proceeds of these items will be donated to the support of the Bethany House mission.

Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar
Where: Connelly School of the Holy Child | Potomac, MD
When: November 17-18
Admission: Free

Holy Child’s 15th annual Mayfield Market Christmas Bazaar, always the weekend before Thanksgiving, is a shopping extravaganza you won’t want to miss. Start your holiday shopping early in a festive atmosphere with more than 60 vendors selling their jewelry, clothing, home décor, children’s presents, hostess gifts, personalized items, holiday decorations, and much more to make your shopping the easiest and best ever. Plan to stay for lunch from the food trucks.

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 22 – December 24,
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult on weekends

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, gingerbread house making, a bratwurst eating contest, 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.)

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 23 – 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 a great 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.

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 (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

Bazaart Holiday Art Market
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 23-24
Admission: Free

The Museum’s annual holiday art market returns! Shop hundreds of original creations by regional artists and craftspeople, including paintings, sculpture, paper crafts, metalwork, jewelry, textiles, mixed media, apparel, and other work that simply defies categorization! Shop local on #SmallBusinessSaturday and support these original makers! Entry is free, and the rest of the museum, the Sideshow gift shop, and the 3rd floor restaurant at AVAM, Encantada will be open (regular admission for those).

Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: November 30 – December 2
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/ages 2-12

Do some shopping at Christkindlmarkt, an annual holiday artisan market and festive house tour, honoring the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour. This year they are offering two new ticket options, in addition to general admission: An early access ticket that will give holiday shoppers a less crowded extra hour on Saturday or Sunday from 10-11am and a limited edition 2018 tote bag. Shoppers may also purchase a VIP ticket which also includes the tote.

Holiday Glow
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 1, 2-8pm
Admission Free

The Torpedo Factory Artists invite shoppers into their studios to find original gifts of art and enjoy festive activities, too. Enjoy the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights from the riverfront, then warm up inside the Art Center for more programming and after-hours art.

Holiday Maker’s Markets
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: December 1, 8, 15, & 22
Admission: Free

Get a jump on holiday shopping with all things handmade, homemade, or homegrown! Ceramics, stained glass, hanging baskets, wood and leather crafts, organic skincare products, local distillery products, baked goods, batik and fleece clothing, handmade soaps and candles, herbal teas, ornaments, folk art, and more. Each market will feature a new set of vendors.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Arlington Science Focus School | Arlington, VA
When: December 8, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, children with learning challenges are getting new books, a homeless shelter is getting fresh blankets, orphans in Haiti are getting formula, and dozens of other acts of kindness are happening around the world. This also includes a Children’s Fair with dance performances, sensory activity, interactive demos, and face painting.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: December 7-9
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free/11 & under

This seasonal fair showcases works by more than 300 top artisans. Pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home and garden décor, furniture and home accessories, and photography will be on display — and for sale. The best part is that the award-winning festival is a family affair. Parents can shop, and children can enjoy an interactive puppet theater and watch live-demonstrations of iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting, and other media by the master craftspeople themselves. Not to mention, gourmet goodies hand-made by specialty food vendors always leave everyone wanting more. Tickets are good for all three days of the Festival.

* * * * *

Holiday prep at home is super fun, too!

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


Filed under 2018, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, New Years, Outdoor, Seasonal, Shop, Special Event, Theatre, Trains, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 5-9

The best activity you can do this week: Vote.

Monday – Get in the election spirit on a tour of the U.S. Capitol. You can usually get on a guided tour day of, but even if you can’t there are still plenty of interesting exhibits and statues to see in the Visitor’s Center, which is open 8:30am – 4:30pm daily. Both admission to the Center and tours are free. Before you go, be sure to read these guidelines on what you can and can’t bring with you.

Tuesday – VOTE! And bring the kids along, so they can experience democracy in action. When your civic duty is done, take the money tour at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. It’s a great outing with kids on a day off from school, since tours are only offered on weekdays. Tours run every 15 minutes 9am – 2pm right now. Admission is free, but tickets are required, and you can pick them up at the booth on Raoul Wallenburg Place starting at 8am. Read more about the experience in this KFDC post about our first outing there.

The Arboretum is gorgeous with fall color!

Wednesday – Spend the day at the National Arboretum, where the fall foliage is peaking right now. There are so many ways to enjoy it, too. Explore the plant collections on nature walks, view the bonsai exhibit (many of the tiny trees turn colors, too!), visit the Washington Youth Garden and romp on the natural playground, see the old Capitol columns with a gorgeous backdrop of autumn colors, picnic in the Grove of State Trees, and so much more. Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free. Read even more about the Arboretum in the round-up of the best places to spend a day outdoors — it tops the list!

Thursday – Join a Story Time session at Solid State Books on H Street NE. Spend the morning listening to stories read by staff in the adorable children’s section. From 10:30-11:30am, they’ll read a few books, sing songs, and do some activities to keep everyone moving. Admission is free. After (or before), grab a snack at the cafe there, or plan on lunch at one of the many nearby eateries on H Street NE.

Friday – Enjoy mountains of indoor adventures at Badlands Play Space. From active fun to creative explorations to learning experiences to relaxation options, the enormous facility in Rockville has it all! Hours are 9am – 6pm (Tuesday – Sunday). Admission is $20/child and $10/toddler.

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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Fall, Maryland, Outdoor, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up:
November 2-4

Kids and adults will dig Pulse, a brand new exhibit at the Hirshhorn

UrbanSitter. Unlock Your Sitter Network.

Happy Weekend!

Feel the Pulse
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This new exhibit that just opened at the Hirhhorn will capture your heart, kind of literally. It’s comprised of three large-scale installations that use heart rate sensors to produce audiovisual experiences from visitors’ own biometric data. It’s beautiful, thought provoking, and unlike any exhibit I’ve experienced before. With interactive elements, cool visuals, and an interesting combination of science and art, kids and adults alike will be wowed. Full KFDC review of it coming very soon!

Hocus Pocus at the Drive-In
Where: Union Market | Northeast DC
When: Friday, 8:15pm (lot opens at 5:45pm)
Admission: $10/car, free for walk-ups

Catch one last family-friendly flick at the drive-in! Hocus Pocus is the final featured film at Union Market’s outdoor movie series. Watch three witch sisters on the big screen from the comfort of your car in the UM parking lot. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The lot closes at 7:30pm, and the film begins at 8pm. Advance purchase is recommended.

Pumpkin Chunkin’
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $10/adult, $8/child

What to do with your jack-o-lantern now that Halloween is over? Bring it to Great Country’s smashin’ session and let it fly! The Silo Drop and the Zip Wire Sploosh let you do the smashin’ yourself, or bring your pumpkin to the Pumpkin Drop Zone and add it to the upside down “fireworks display” as the pumpkins are dropped from a 40-foot lift. What happens to all the smashings? The pigs and cows love to eat them, and the rest are composted. Along with the smashing, enjoy a whole playground of farm fun! The Roosteraunt Concession stand will open 11am – 3pm, and the Cider Donuts are not to be missed.

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This weekend is the last to enjoy free artistic adventures of the European variety, thanks to the annual Kids Euro Festival. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the many, many exciting acts that are performing at a variety of venues through Sunday. See what’s on the schedule over the next few days.

Watch the Wizards
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Friday, 8pm & Sunday, 6pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

The Wizards will be hosting at home this weekend with games Friday and Sunday evenings. See them work their magic on the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks. And be sure to look for a ticket deal through Certifikid for Sunday’s game — along with the discount seats, you’ll also get a Wizards T-shirt!

Virginia Tech Maker Festival
Where: VT Northern Virginia Center | Fall Church, VA
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm

The 4th Annual Virginia Tech Maker Festival will be a full day of creativity, engineering, and discovery! Get ready for hands-on experiences, live performances, and interactive demonstrations that will inspire a wonder in science for all ages.

Shake Up Your Saturday
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Saturday, 10-11am & 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Shake up your Saturday with a workshop at the Folger! These programs occurring on the first Saturday of every month encourage families to experience Shakespeare’s language together. This session, bite into Shakespeare’s words and Elizabethan table manners at a “Cram thee with more food” themed session. Register here. And read a KFDC write-up about the Folger here.

Maryland Emancipation Day
Where: MoCo Parks | Montgomery County, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Celebrate Maryland Emancipation Day, which commemorates the adoption of the 1864 Maryland Constitution that abolished slavery in the state of Maryland. Join Montgomery Parks for free activities that take place all weekend long, such as hikes on the Underground Railroad Experience Trail, living history demonstrations, hands-on activities, and tours of historic sites. Some events require registration.

Smithsonian Food History Festival
Where: American History Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy a day of hands-on learning, live demonstrations, talks, and stories exploring the past, present and future of regional food cultures in America. Talented chefs, local organizations, experts, museum curators, students, and more will be on hand to spark conversation, lead activities, and dig into food history with museum visitors of all ages.

T(w)een Scene: Long Way Down
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $25-35

Based on the award winning novel by Jason Reynolds, this one-man show for middle school ages and older presents the story of Will, a 15-year-old boy who is about to seek revenge for his older brother’s murder. It’s powerful and riveting with an amazing performance by Justin Weaks, who plays multiple characters. Read a full KFDC review here.

Show Time
Where: Venues around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by show

* Register for free tickets to Michael Shwedick: Reptile World, this weekend’s Saturday Morning at the National show
* Anything Goes is opening at Arena Stage on Friday
* It’s the first weekend for Cinderella at Imagination Stage
* It’s the final weekend to see Sleepy Hollow at Synetic Theater
* Hansel & Gretel is the Main Stage production at The Puppet Co.
* Little ones will love Imaginary Friends, this week’s featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theatre.
* Beetlejuiceis running at National Theatre
* See a local school’s production of Alice in Wonderland, Jr.

African American Stamp Collecting
Where: Anacostia Community Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the art of stamp collecting with an emphasis on African American philately. The day’s events will include a dress-up and reading station, a black stamp showcase, stamp expert speakers, a chance to make a stamp quilt, and more.

Native American Stories Family Day
Where: National Archives | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

From the Cherokee to the Pueblo, 573 Native American tribes today are legally recognized by the U.S. Government. Learn about Native Americans and their relationships with the United States. And try your hand at deciphering Navajo code, creating a storyboard for a movie on athlete Jim Thorpe, or delving into treaties between the United States and Indian nations.

Creativity Workshop
Where: The Phillips Collection | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $18/adult & child, $15/members ($5/additional person)

Let your creativity fly at the Phillips’ new art-making stations — it’s an art materials “petting zoo” for the whole family! The workshop includes an Artful Wellness Kit for parents and caregivers. Geared toward families with children ages 2 to 8.

Apples & Pie in AdMo
Where: 18th & Columbia NW | Adams Morgan, DC
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 1pm
Admission: Free

You don’t have to head out to an orchard or farm to celebrate apple season. The 5th Annual Apple Pie Contest & 10th Annual Licking Creek Bend Farm’s Heirloom Apple Tasting will take place right here in the city on Saturday. Taste a variety of apples along with pies made with the fall fruits by local amateur bakers.

Harry Potter Wizard School Scavenger Hunt
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 2-4pm
Admission: $17.50/ages 10-17, $19.50/adult

Join Watson Adventures on a unique Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt that kids and adults will love! Follow in the footsteps of young wizards on a field trip to the National Gallery in search of art that echoes characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. The hunt is not an addition to or variation on Harry’s adventures, but instead references to the books will provide a surprising bridge to many strange and wonderful works of art. This hunt is designed for kids and adults to do together (but all-adult teams are allowed to compete separately) Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Read about this super fun adventure in this KFDC post.

Side Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Saturday, 5-9pm
Admission: Free

The fifth annual sideshow extravaganza, Side Yards, is back at The Yards! The evening of quirky amusement will feature an aerialist, escape artists, a fortune teller, sword swallower, tight rope walker, and more attention grabbing acts — thrills and entertainment the whole family can enjoy. Food and drinks will be available for purchase or plan to dine at one of many nearby eateries.

Sweat & Shop Sunday
Where: TD Bank | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Sunday, 9:30am
Admission: Free

Fit4Mom DC is partnering with FRESHFARM farmer’s market for a pop-Up Stroller Strides class on Sunday. Bring the whole family for a workout and then shop the market goodies after class! The first 15 people who join the class will receive a $2 gift token to spend at the market, which is held on 20th St NW, right next to the class, and features fresh produce, smoothies, and ready-to-eat foods from local vendor. Register here. TD Bank is located at 1753 Connecticut Ave NW.

Story Time with the Author
Where: Solid State Books | H Street NE, DC
When: Sunday, 10:30-11:30am
Admission: Free

Join author and illustrator Kevin Cornell as he reads his new book Lucy Fell Down the Mountain about a little girl who’s falling down a mountain, running into a silly cast of characters until she lands safely at a hot cocoa chalet. This book will have readers laughing out loud about bad moods. Plan to stick around after and enjoy the adorable children’s section at the book store. (And FYI: There’s also a story time and sing-a-long with Bear Song on Saturday.)

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Parks in Fairfax County, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages. Enjoy craft activities at Sully Plantation. Take kids trout fishing at Lake Fairfax Park. Join a fall foliage boat ride at Burke Lake Park. Details and registration links for these and more activities this weekend and beyond are available here.

Fall Farm Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place

Just because you’re not picking out a potential Jack o’ lantern, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun on the farm. Many area farms have way more to enjoy than just pumpkin patches. Whiz down slides, bounce on giant jumping pillows, visit farm animals, and loads more. This list of fall fests has details to get started — Ticonderoga, Cox, Clark’s Elioak, and Great Country Farms are all good bets for a great time.

Leaf Peep on the Trail
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Take in the brilliant color spectrum of autumn and get a little exercise, to boot, on a family hike. From right here in the city to country locales, you’ve got your pick of places where you can enjoy the fall foliage and some time outdoors. This post about good area hikes with kids started in the early KFDC days, and with many new recommendations added since, there are lots of great trails to make for happy trampers.

The Ins and Outs of DC
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by adventure

With a mix of weather in the forecast, these posts that are chock full of evergreen pursuits are great to have bookmarked:
The Great Indoors
The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

* You have through Friday, November 2, to enter the giveaway for a chance to win tickets to Creole for Kidz at BlackRock Center for the Arts.
* You can also try to win tickets to the American Pop Orchestra’s A Very Silly Vaudeville at Arena Stage!
* Kid Up and Go just shared an amazing list of places that can help with your holiday meals, whether you need a quick side dish or a whole Thanksgiving spread.
* If you have stuff you want to give away, but don’t know where to take it, check out this list of DC charities that accept donations.
* Election Day is this coming Tuesday, November 6! This post has good info to help you prepare to vote.

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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Fall, Free, Maryland, Special Event, Virginia, Weekend

Where to Play on the Weekdays: October 29 – November 2

A Megalodon replica at the Calvert Marine Museum

Monday – Take a day trip out to Solomons, MD, to visit the Calvert Marine Museum, which highlights the environment and maritime history of the Chesapeake Bay. Fascinating exhibits, including display cases full of fossils and artifacts, live fish and other creatures, and a real lighthouse to tour are engaging for all ages. There are things to see both indoors and out, including beautiful scenic views. And you can bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy by the water. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is $9/adult, $4/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under.

Tuesday – Spend the day at Roosevelt Island, where you can enjoy a hike and a dose of history in one fell swoop. The trails are easy for little legs to tramp, and you can explore the Memorial Plaza to learn about the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt. The entrance to the park is located right off the GW Parkway, just past the Roosevelt Bridge, and accessible only from the northbound lanes. Hours are 6am – 10pm, and admission is free. Get a little more of the KFDC take on it in this post about local walks in the woods with kids.

Wednesday – Join The Art League Gallery Staff for an exciting “Mini Makers” art activity for children 5 years and under (with an adult caretaker). The session takes place 10:30-11:30am in Alexandria. Admission is free, but spaces are limited, so RSVP is required. Coffee and light refreshments will be served. Costumes are encouraged for this first meeting!

You can also celebrate Halloween and autumn at the Downtown DC Fall Festival! All ages are welcome to Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Regan Building for some FREE fun, including a petting zoo, pumpkin decorating, face painting, the DC Public Library Book Bike, musical entertainment, food vendors, hot cider, a hay bale maze, costumed stilt walkers, and giveaways. Wear Halloween costumes for photo ops!

Thursday – Take advantage of The Beauvoir School’s day off and head to their super fantastic playground, open to the public when class is not in session. It’s open all day (Friday, too!), and admission is free.

Friday – Explore a true local hidden gem: The National Museum of the U.S. Navy. Located on base in the Navy Yard, it’s a trove of fascinating exhibits. See an amazing collection of model ships, peer into a real periscope, sit in the gun seats of old fighter planes, view naval artifacts hundreds of years old, and much more. Hours are 9am – 5pm. Admission is free. *Be sure to note requirements for access to the base and museum.

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Filed under 2018, All ages, DC, Fall, Halloween, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays