Holiday events are still running strong, and there are special museum programs and children’s shows to round out this weekend’s options for family fun. And, of course, DC’s tried and true activities are always a good bet — scroll right down the page for a slew of recommendations. Happy Weekend!
Celebrate the Season – If you’re looking for ways to embrace the holiday spirit, you have your pick: visit Santa in his workshop, drive or stroll through holiday lights, view nature and DC-inspired seasonal exhibits, see intricately constructed model train displays, experience the holidays on ICE! This guide to DC’s best holiday events has details on all of them.
Holidays on Stage – All of the classics are at our local theatres. This post has a review of The Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre, and you can read my write-up of Adventure Theatre’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. For even more holiday shows, see this post for a listing of the season’s favorites.
Rockin’ Hanukkah Concert – Yosi and the Superdads play an interactive and humorous family concert filled with klezmer, rock, ska and rockin’ Hanukkah tunes at the McClean Community Center on Sunday at 3pm. Tickets are $10/McLeanresidents, $15/non-residents. The show is recommended for ages 3 and up.
Elmo Makes Music – In Sesame Street Live’s latest production, everyone’s favorite red monster and his friends make their own music with instruments that they never knew existed. Join them as they share their love of music on the Patriot Center Stage now through Sunday. Tickets range from $15-50 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Up, Up & Away – The Corcoran is hosting a Family Workshop for children ages 8-12 on Saturday from 10:30am – 12pm. Guests will discover what the average person would need on a journey to Mars in the NOW exhibition Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro: Are We There Yet? After that create a personalized jet pack using recycled materials for your own adventure into outer space.
Holidays Around the World: Christmas – Drop in at the National Children’s Museum Launch Zone on Saturday from 11am – 4pm to learn how people all over the world observe Christmas. Through a variety of activities, guests can journey to Colombia, the Philippines, and Croatia for a multi-cultural Christmas celebration. Admission is free.
Family Portraits – Learn about people who have influenced American history and culture through a variety of ongoing programs and activities offered by the National Portrait Gallery. This weekend’s subject will be Pablo Picasso in two different workshops. On Saturday from 2-4pm, kids ages 5 and up can join Facing History: Be the Artist Youth and Family Program to view portraits, hear stories, and create art. Admission if free, but registration is required. On Sunday from 2-5pm, guests of all ages can drop in for Portrait Story Days to hear a tale about Picasso and do an art project. For a fun DIY adventure at the Gallery, Portrait Discovery Kits are available on Sunday from 2-5pm. They include “Seek and Find” cards, “Portrait Detective” and “Historian Guides,” and a “Compare and Contrast” activity using a doll. Visitors can check out kits at the education center, room E151, on the first floor. Kits need to be returned prior to 4 p.m. on Saturdays or 5:00 p.m. on Sundays.
American Indian Art – Sculpture artist and painter Gregg Analla will be at the National Museum of the American Indian on Saturday from 10:30am – 12:30pm to lead a workshop on Pueblo pottery and symbolism. Recommended for kids ages 5-12, the sessions will last about an hour and welcome guests on a first-come, first-served basis. They will take place in the imagiNATIONs Activity Center, which is also a fantastic place to explore American Indian culture through a variety of interactive exhibits. Admission to both the workshop and museum is free.
And for tried and true DC pursuits, check out these links:
The Puppet Co.'s whimsical interpretation of The Nutcracker
The holidays are just around the corner, and along with them some of best traditions of the season — and our local theatres. Take your pick of The Nutcracker productions, see Ebenezer Scrooge on stage, rock out or sing along to holiday tunes, discover celebrations around the world — there are shows to suit all theatre preferences, ages, and wallets. Here’s the line-up of holiday shows, listed by opening date (and most descriptions pulled straight from the websites). Tickets for most are already on sale. And if you have a show to recommend that’s not listed here, feel free to do so in the comments section.
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Where: Adventure Theatre When: November 18 – January 2 Tickets: $17
“‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.” But wait! A mouse is stirring – because Santa missed his house last year. Before you can say “Merry Christmas!”, we’re off on the wild adventures of a mouse, an elf and a spunky little girl who just won’t take no for an answer. Don’t miss this joyful tribute to the holiday season from three-time Tony nominee and Olivier Award winning playwright Ken Ludwig. Recommended for ages 4 and up.
A Christmas Carol Where: Ford’s Theatre When: November 18 – December 31 Tickets: $30-65
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.
The Nutcracker Where: The Puppet Co. When: November 25 – December 31 Tickets: $10
Tchaikovsky’s musical adaptation of the E. T. A.Hoffman story is brought to life by the magic of The Puppet Co. “The Nutcracker” is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s adventures with her favorite toy. The larger-than-life-size costume characters and marionettes delight Clara-Marie, and the audience, on her magical journey through the “Land of the Sugar Plum Fairy.” Recommended for Kindergarten age and older.
The Washington Ballet: The Nutcracker Where: Thearc Theater When: November 25-27 Tickets: $29
Celebrate The Washington Ballet’s golden anniversary with their holiday classic! For fifty years, generations of Washingtonians have grown up loving—and introducing loved ones to–Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker. In this 50th anniversary year, Septime Webre pays homage to Washington Ballet founder Mary Day’s 1961 production, restaging her original, a historic jewel, in his lush Washington-themed staging. Discover, rediscover, and celebrate this one-of-a-kind Nutcracker production set in 1882 Georgetown and starring George Washington as the Nutcracker, King George II as the Rat King, Anacostia Indians, frontiersmen, and all-American delights. Whimsical waltzes, glittering snowflakes, and gorgeous music, The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker is a magical journey not to be missed!
Nutcracker Fantasy Where: The Puppet Co. Tiny Tots When: November 26 – December 31 Tickets: $5
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.
Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker Where: Warner Theatre When: December 1-24 Tickets: $40-110
The grand, full-scale version of Septime Webre’s production, performed by the Washington Ballet.
Seasons of Light Where: Discovery Theater When: December 1-23 Tickets: $3-8
Discovery Theater’s seasonal favorite captures the warmth of many holidays filled with light, in this joyous interactive celebration. Explore the history and customs of Devali, Ramadan, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice. Recommended for ages 5-10.
A Beatrix Potter Holiday Where: Publick Playhouse When: December 1, 10:15am & 12pm Tickets: $5
Atlantic Coast Theatre for Youth from Florida presents the famous author at her annual holiday party. Stories including The Tailor of Gloucester and The Rabbit’s Christmas Party come to life on stage with the help of the audience, and Peter Rabbit may even make a surprise appearance.
Annual Holiday Sing Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center When: December 4, 4pm & 7pm Tickets: FREE ($2 service fee to reserve)
The annual free Holiday Concert at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, in collaboration with Capital City Symphony the Congressional Chorus, the American Youth Chorus, and the Atlas Performing Arts Center. An H Street holiday tradition!
Tickets are free but must be reserved ($2 per ticket service fee). Tickets must be collected on the day of the performance at least 30 minutes before the performance. All tickets that have not been collected 30 minutes prior to the performance will be distributed to patrons on the wait list.
Holiday Sing-a-Long Where: Wolf Trap When: December 4, 4pm Tickets: FREE
Kick off the holiday season with family and friends at Wolf Trap’s 2011 Holiday Sing-A-Long! This annual musical celebration hosts 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.
A Christmas Carol Where: Publick Playhouse When: December 8, 10:15am & 12pm Tickets: $5
Mr. Scrooge, the ghosts, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the whole Dickens gang gather for a spirited musical version of the holiday classic performed by Theatre IV of Richmond. Recommended for all ages.
American Ballet Theatre: The Nutcracker Where: Kennedy Center When: December 8-11 Tickets: $29-100
Magical toy soldiers, shimmering snowflakes, mischievous mice, and all the enchanting inhabitants of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s whimsical world descend upon the Kennedy Center for the DC premiere of Alexei Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker. American Ballet Theatre’s artist-in-residence and former Artistic Director of Bolshoi Ballet, Mr. Ratmansky choreographed this new production, which premiered at Brooklyn Academy of Music in December 2010 to rave reviews. Performed with a live orchestra, together with extraordinary sets and costumes by Tony Award winner Richard Hudson (The Lion King), Ratmansky’s new version of Tchaikovsky’s classic unites more than 100 superb performers for a sublime retelling of the beloved story. Join young Clara and her famous wooden prince for the sweetest of all family holiday dreams. Even if you’ve already seen 50 Nutcrackers, you will not want to miss this one by Alexei Ratmansky. This Kennedy Center tradition is the most cherished in DC.
A Children’s Nutcracker Where: Battlefield High School, Haymarket, VA When: December 10 Tickets: $15-20
This production from the Gainesville Ballet School features local talent ranging from three years of age through adult professionals. It’s a show you don’t want to miss, with the traditional dances, such as Snow Flake and Sugar Plum Fairy, plus some very special dances with the young ballerinas, such as Blue Bird and Angels. There are two performances, at 1:30pm and 5pm.
Christmas Dreams from The Nutcracker Where: National Theatre When: December 10 Tickets: FREE
Saturday Morning at the National, the theatre’s free program for children, has a classic its line-up of weekly performances. Snowflakes and Sugar Plum Sweets will be in the air as the Virginia Ballet Company and School present selections for their magical, glittering Nutcracker. Familiar music, lively dances, lovely costumes and charming characters from Tchaikovsky’s classic confection bring us elegant holiday cheer. Performances take place at 9:30am and 11am, and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are distributed half an hour prior to the start of shows on a first-come first-served basis. Only one ticket per person, and all attendees must be standing in line to receive a ticket. Children must be accompanied by an adult who remains present for the entire performance. Seating is limited, so get there early.
The Mini-Nut Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center When: December 10-11 Tickets:$15/adults, $10/children 12 and under
The Maryland Youth Ballet presents a sweet treat with a delightful, 50- minute, abbreviated presentation of their classic production. Performance takes place at Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus.
The Nutcracker Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center When:December 16, 17, 18, 22, 26 Tickets: $25/adults, $20/children
This is the 22nd season of the Maryland Youth Ballets beloved, full-length classic. Performances will tale place at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center of Montgomery College in Rockville.
Step Afrika! Holiday Party Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center When: December 14-18 Admission: $38/adult, $25/seniors & students, $15/child
Come make music with Step Afrika! in the company’s first ever holiday show! Bring the family and experience the best holiday party with the artists of Step Afrika! Who wants to sit still and be quiet for the holidays? Come ready to make some noise and bring in the festive season with a bang!
Rockin’ Hannukah Concert Where: Alden Theatre When: December 18, 3pm Tickets: $15, $10/McLean residents
Yosi and the Superdads play an interactive and humorous family concert filled with klezmer, rock, ska and rockin’ Hanukkah tunes. Recommended for ages 3 and up.