Tag Archives: Washington DC Family Activities

The 2024 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

The season may still be a few weeks from official on the calendar, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, carousels are spinning, local sports are in full swing, exhibits are opening, crab feasts are being served, and more seasonal experiences are underway.  Even better, there’s still much more to come.  This annual guide, that I’ve been putting together in this version for over 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season… starting now!

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Play in the Sprays

Outdoor Pool Season

Beaches

Waterparks

Big Screen Under the Stars

Summer Concerts

Festivals & Special Events

Seasonal Exhibits

Special Entertainment & Programs

Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel

Summer Sports

Crab Feasts

Seasonal Experiences

Gear Up

 

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PLAY IN THE SPRAYS

Scenic spray fun at Georgetown Waterfront Park

Kids can run through fountains and splash around at many of them around the area. Several are within the DC, MD, & VA Departments of Parks and Recreation, but some of the best are built right into the urban landscape, making the concrete jungle a cool place to hang out during the hottest months. Dates are TBD at some, but look for updates soon!

 

Canal Park in the Navy Yard is great for kids of varying ages with both a gentle, shallow fountain that is ideal for really little ones to enjoy, plus a bigger fountain with lots of sprays for more enthusiastic play where the ice rink is in the winter. Read more about Canal Park in this KFDC post.

 

The Wharf in Southwest DC has a nice in-ground fountain that opens before other nearby fountains and stay open longer.  Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

 

DC DPR Spray Parks will open will be open for the season daily 10am – 6pm starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 25, through Labor Day, September 2. Be sure to view the list, as open days vary by location.  See all of the locations throughout the city on this map on the DPR website.

 

Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city, with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.  Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. The water features turn on for the season on May 24! Note that they will be closed up to 48 hours these dates: June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5, August 19, and September 22. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.

 

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too. Read more about Georgetown Waterfront Park in this KFDC post.

 

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, Drew Park, and Mosaic Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain. Open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Hours vary by park, so be sure to view the websites.

 

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse.  Open weekends May 25 – June 14, then daily June 15 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 2.

 

Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along with a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features.  Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at the nearby Target and other big stores while you’re out that way. Open daily 10am – 9pm daily from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day, then 10am – 8pm through mid-October.

 

There’s an in-ground fountain on Capitol Hill at the C Street Plaza right across from Eastern Market. On most weekday afternoons during summer, there’s a small crowd of little ones playing in the gentle sprays.

 

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON

Rosedale pool in NE DC opens Memorial Day

Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun.  There are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee, plus a few other options for a nice pool day.

 

DC outdoor public pools will open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through  June 25. Starting Monday, June 26, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week.  Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.

 

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open weekends May 25 – June 14, then daily June 15 – August 11, then weekends again August 12 – September 2. See the MoCo Department of Recreation website for locations and hours.

 

In Northern Virginia, there are several waterparks (see below) in Arlington with outdoor pools and much more for guests to enjoy, and the city of Alexandria has three outdoor public pools:  Memorial Pool at Charles Houston Rec Center opens May 25 – August 9, and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 25 – September 2.  Hours vary by day, so be sure to view details for all of them.

 

Swimply, a service that started a few years ago, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

Hotel Pass: Some DC hotels offer days passes for  adults and kids to their outdoor pools. At Hyatt House at The Wharf they start at $50/adult, $30/child.  The Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park starts at $50/adult, $15/child. Hotel Zena in Downtown DC starts at $50/adult, $25/child.

 

BEACHES

Beach day at Calvert Cliffs State Park

Summer and beach trips go hand-in-hand, so why not hit one with the kids? There are a bunch of places where you can get a good dose of sand and surf that are within day trip distance from DC.

 

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $5/vehicle in-state residents, $7/vehicle out-of-state. Read more about Calvert Cliffs in this KFDC post.

 

Flag Ponds Nature Park, also in Calvert County, has a large sandy beach for playing and nice mellow waters for swimming.  It’s also a great spot for fossil hunting — look for shark teeth and other prehistoric remnants along the shores while you’re there, too.  Hours are 9am – 6pm on weekdays and 9am – 8pm weekends from Memorial to Labor Day (days/hours are reduced the rest of the year). Admission is $5/vehicle in-county residents, $15/vehicle non residents. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

 

Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun.  At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 7am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/person weekends, $4/person weekdays.

 

The Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get to enjoy sand and water.  Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table (read this post for details) so you can make the most of your time there. Open sunrise to sunset, and admission is free.

 

Mayo Beach Park in Anne Arundel County, MD, is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park on weekends must be reserved in advance.  Be aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.

 

Greenbrier State Park, just over an hour’s drive from DC in Boonsboro, MD, has a beach area on a man-made freshwater lake, where visitors can swim, paddle, boat, and fish. Swimming is only allowed from May through September in designated areas when swim ropes are in place, with lifeguards there Memorial Day to Labor Day, 11am – 6pm. Admission is $3/person weekdays, $5/person weekends.

 

Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, MD, is popular for weekend-long trips, but also good as a day trip destination, being less than two hours’ drive from DC. It’s especially great with little ones from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar.

 

Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but definitely doable as a day trip if you leave early, especially on a weekday when there is less traffic. We’ve done this and have had a fantastic day at the beach — packed up the car with a cooler and beach gear, got on the road early, and we were on the beach by 10:30am. Enjoyed dinner outdoors and ice cream in town before heading back, arrived home at 9:15pm. Totally worth the time in the car. Open daily, 8am – sunset, and admission is $10/vehicle out of state. Get a glimpse here.

 

They may not all be beaches, but this round-up of swim spots has a bunch more recommendations for places to take a dip around DC within day trip distance.

 

 

WATERPARKS

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Giant water slides, wave pools, waterfalls, sprays and splash pads…this is the stuff kids’ summer dreams are made of. There are some great water parks around the area offering many of these attractions, just about all of them opening Memorial Day weekend for limited hours, until they open daily a few weeks later. Here’s a quick list — visit the websites for more details.

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA

* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA

* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD

* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD

* The Water Mine in Reston, VA

* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA

* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA

* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA

* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA

* Chesapeake Beach Water Park in Chesapeake Beach, MD

* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA

* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

 

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the drive-in movie

Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition over the years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

 

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays through October 4, with mostly family-friendly films. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. Film start times vary, so be sure to check on that. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.

 

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 29. Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

 

CiNOMAtic, the NoMa BID’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park is screening “Epic Expedition” themed films Wednesdays at sunset through June 5.

 

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 21 – June 25 with all sports-themed films to get hyped for the summer Olympics. The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

 

New this year are Summer Film Nights at the Zoo, a free outdoor summer event series set to dazzle and entertain.  Movies will be shown on Lion-Tiger Hill, the grassy lawn located near the Harvard Street entrance to the Zoo, on May 16, June 20, July 18.  Reserve passes in advance.

 

Sunset Cinema at The Wharf presents free movies on Transit Pier on Thursday evenings starting at 7pm. There is a mix of action movies, rom-coms, blockbusters, and classics, so be sure to check the shedule to see what’s playing.

 

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings.  The series of Navy-themed films pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.  Look for the line-up soon.

 

Audi Field will once again transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen —  May 30, June 6, June 20, June 27, and July 18 — all of them family-friendly.

 

DowntownDC Summer Flicks presents the ultimate outdoor cinematic experience, where beloved films meet live scores by renowned guest DJs, on Thursdays from June 6 – July 18 at Franklin Square.

 

Join the Rosslyn BID this summer for the Rosslyn Cinema Series to enjoy your favorite movies on the lawn in Gateway Park on Fridays in June.

 

Cinematery, themed “Summer of Spirits” this year, will screen four iconic haunted films.  It takes place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on May 31, July 5, August 2, and September 6.

 

Enjoy Films in the Park in the Mosaic District will show movies in Strawberry Park every Thursday, 7-9pm, from June 20 to August 15.

 

Films at the Stone will host monthly screenings of family-friendly movies on Fridays, June 21, July 19, & August 16 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

 

The Columbia Pike Movie Nights series is returning. Enjoy free movies on Fridays nights at Arlington Mill Community Center and Saturday nights at Penrose Square stating July 5 through August 24.  The selection of 16 family-friendly films include animation, adventure, comedy, musicals, and more.

 

The Library of Congress will host its 7th annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 11 – August 8. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

 

Georgetown Sunset Cinema presents movies on Tuesdays in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge.  Free and open to all. 2024 dates TBA.

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

Friday night concerts at the Yards are a great start to summer weekends

Free music in the fresh air has become a staple of the season, and there are opportunities to enjoy just about every genre regularly at outdoor venues all around the DC-Metro.

 

The Bethesda Friday Summer Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 17 – September 20. Enjoy music, food, and fun at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues.

 

Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 31, and there will be weekly shows through August 9. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted. Registration is required for all ages 2+.

 

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area starting June 1.

 

Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 29 – August 28. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear, all for free.  There’s much more to enjoy on the Southwest Waterfront — read about it here.

 

Starting June 1 through August 31, enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, and concerts in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. There are many shows throughout the summer, so view the schedule here.

 

The U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, and other iconic spots around DC June 3 – August 26 at 8pm.  All performances are free and open to the public.

 

Glen Echo Park’s 2024 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 13 through August 29 featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.

 

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for the 13th season from June 28 – August 23. The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and  food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.

 

Rockville Town Square is bringing back its Summer on the Square concert series. Enjoy live music on Fridays 6:30-8pm, from June 7 – September 20.

 

Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Series as part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on  May 18, June 5, and July 20.

 

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 10 – August 21.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

 

The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage  continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS

Giant puppets at a past Folklife Festival

Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food.  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

 

From May 25-27,ViVa! Vienna!, a family and community oriented celebration of Memorial Day and the greater Vienna Community spirit,   will have amusement rides, food, crafts, vendors, and live entertainment.

 

The Mac Daddy of Truck Touch events around the area, the DC Department of Public Works’ Annual Truck Touch will take place on June 1, 8am – 1pm at RFK Stadium, Lot 8.  Tickets are free, but reserve a spot!

 

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 8-9 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.

 

At The Capital Car Show on June 15, see some of the world’s most exciting rare and classic cars.  This curated exhibition of 25 collector cars will be showcaed in  CityCenterDC.

 

The National Zoo will be hosting Science Solstice Saturday on June 22.  The free, fun-filled immersive scientific experience will offer opportunities to engage with scientists, researchers, and animal experts to learn how science is shaping the future of wildlife conservation.

 

Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 22-23. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a “Solstice” theme, visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.

 

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 22-23 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.

 

On June 15, get a close look at some of the most exciting aircraft at the Innovations in Flight Outdoor Aviation Day. The event takes place at the Steven C. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly arm of the National Air & Space Museum. View over 50 unique aircraft that  fly in for the day and be on display outside the museum. You can even go into some of the cockpits and cabins and talk with pilots. Admission is free, but tickets are required.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 26 – July 1.  Every summer, the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating Indigenous Voices of the Americas this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!

 

Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are significant. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue, then the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks launched from both sides of the Lincoln Memorial.

 

The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival offers more ways to appreciate the flowers and park. This year the festival will take place over a couple of weekends, from July 19-21. View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

July 27-28, the Downtown DC BID presents Kids World 2024, a celebration of youth and learning in Franklin Park . Free and open to all, the event will feature a variety of creative pop-ups, hands-on activities, performances by talented local youth,  playful installations, and more to entertain and educate young visitors and their families.

 

County fair season in the region starts in early August and goes through late September.  It starts with the Howard County Fair August 3-10,  then the Montgomery County Fair August 9-17, the Prince William County Fair August 11-19, the Arlington County Fair August 14-18, the Prince George’s County Fair (dates TBA), and the Anne Arundel County Fair (dates TBA).

 

The National Book Festival, one of the most anticipated annual events in DC, takes place on August 24, 9am – 8pm! Book enthusiasts, young and old, come from all over for the day of reading-related activities. Works by more than 70 authors, poets, and illustrators will be showcased, and the creators themselves will be at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for special appearances. See the website for more details. Admission is free. 

 

It might run into fall, but it starts August 24, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on  that herehere, herehereherehere, here, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers.  So, go! I promise, it is the absolute best. (PS: I shared these tips a couple of years ago, and they’ll be very helpful again.)

 

SEASONAL EXHIBITS

A fairy house find at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

Extraordinary installations, lovely annual exhibits, and kids’ programs during the school break are some of the special experiences at our museums and galleries to take take advantage of over the summer.

 

The National Children’s Museum will welcome the Mindbender Mansion exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall. It will be an eclectic place full of brainteasers and interactive challenges guaranteed to test the brain power and problem-solving skills of even the most experienced puzzlers. Visit it May 25 – September 2.

 

It’s not actually an exhibit, but the Folger Shakespeare Library will have several fascinating exhibits plus performances at its theatre plus a brand new space when it reopens to the public after a thre- year renovation on June 21! Hours will be 11am – 6pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and 11am – 9pm Thursday – Saturday.  Admission is free (suggested donation of $15).  Get an idea of what’s at the Folger in this KFDC post from pre-renovation.

 

National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN, in 2022 The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare, and last year it was LOOK HERE.  This year’s summer exhibition is still TBD, but it is sure to be exciting! It usually begins around July 1 and runs through Labor Day.

 

Annmarie Sculpture Garden is enchanting any time of year, but it’s especially so in the summer when the fairy and gnome houses are on display. The adorable collection of little whimsical abodes for spritely creatures are just fantastic to view and find throughout the grounds. Created by all ages, individuals and groups, each one has a different theme, but together they are a brilliant showcase of imagination and craftiness. Read more about it and view scenes from a past exhibit here and here.

 

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology will have a new exhibit for the summer.  Details will be shared soon! Admission is $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family 4-pack, free/under 4.

 

During the warm months, little ones can flex their green thumbs in the outdoor Children’s Garden at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Renovated a few years ago, the adorable outdoor area features dirt to dig in, plants to tend to, and a cute play structure to romp in. The rest of the USBG is great to explore, too!

 

 

SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT & PROGRAMS

You can’t beat the lovely outdoor setting of Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

From super cheap movies in local theaters to stay cool on hot days to live theatre at fun places, there are some great ways to keep kiddos entertained all season long.

 

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from late May 21 through August 27. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week — this year’s program details should be available soon!

 

The National Portrait Gallery is hosting Portrait Gallery Kids  on select Mondays, 11:30am – 12:30pm, from June 3 through August 26.  Children and families are invited to join museum educators to will look at art, do hands-on activities, listen to music, and participate in story time. Each session will explore a new topic and use different materials. Admission is free.

 

National Harbor hosts a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 4 – August 27. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.

 

The beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will present the show Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale from June 20 – August 18.

 

And the popular Imagination Stage is performing Miss Nelson is Missing from June 20 – August 10.

 

Millennium Stage Extraordinary Cinema is presenting several family movies — Jurassic Park on May 31, Elemental on June 21, Ratatouille on June 28, and The Lorax on August 2 — all of them are FREE and will be screened around 8:30pm outside on the wall of The REACH.

 

CityCenterDC and The Washington Ballet will present live performances in The Plaza at CityCenter.  See them for free June 8-10, 6:30pm-7:30pm. Seating is first-come, first-served.

 

Throughout summer on select dates from June 10 – August 10, Montgomery Parks is hosting Parks Playhouse Junior, an entrainment series for kids featuring live puppet shows, sing-alongs, and music lessons by performers that will keep kids moving and grooving, engaged, and informed.

 

From June 20 through August 3, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)

 

Starting mid-June, Arts in the Parks, Fairfax County Park Authority will present a free children’s entertainment series on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am.  Locations vary — catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

 

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 10 – August 15. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

 

Experience a real-life night at the museum at a Smithsonian Sleepover at the National Museum of Natural History.  Kids and parents can explore exhibits after dark, participate in games and challenges, and enjoy an overnight in a favorite DC place.  Follow the link for pricing and more details.

 

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, with locations in NoMa, Loudoun, and Woodbridge, welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($5) and benefits local charities, to boot.

 

Olney Outdoors is back  with over 25 summer programs to be held on the Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 5 – August 31.

 

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 11, July 18, July 25, and August 1 at 7pm.

 

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. The Merry Wives of Windsor will run June 14 – July 21.  Tickets are $65/adult, $33/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

 

See what regularly occurring museum programs for kids are happening this summer!

 

 

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!

Ride through the woods on the Watkins miniature train

These extra delights bring even more fun to several parks around the area that are already great outdoor places to hang with the kids.

 

Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Mini Golf (the Miniature Train is not open as it’s undergoing a restoration) on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 27 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 2 (Labor Day).  This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!

 

Cabin John Regional Park opened its Miniature Train on weekends only in early May, and will run on weekends through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $3.50. Plan to spend time at the wonderful Cabin John playground, too — read more about it here.

 

The Miniature Train and Ovid Hazen Wells Carousel at Wheaton Regional Park started taking guests for spins in early April on weekends and will be open through the summer. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website..  Rides are $3.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

 

At Glen Echo Park, the beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 103rd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August 31, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.

 

Get ready to kick some putt at The Wharf!  Pixar Putt, a mini golf course inspired by the stories, characters, and icons from some of Pixar’s most beloved films, is popping up at the southwest waterfront from March 25 to August 3.  Hours are Monday – Thursday, 12-8pm and Friday-Sunday, 10am – 8pm.  Note that tee times are age 18+ after 7pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission is $32/child, $34/adult, $108/family 4-pack.

 

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 27 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $4/weekdays, $5/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

 

National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices are $17.50/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. For an on-ground whirl,  The Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.

 

Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  The train 11am – 5:45pm, the carousel 11am -5:30pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $4-5, train rides are $5-6, mini golf is $7-9. See more about the park here.

 

Play Mini Golf in the District at East Potomac Park.  (Fun fact: It’s on the National Register of Historic Places listed as the oldest continually operating miniature golf course in the country!) Open Saturday and Sunday, 10am – 8pm. Admission is $6/kids and seniors, $7/adults. Read more about hanging out at East Potomac Park’s Hains Point. (FYI: You can also play Foot Golf there!)

 

Tee up at several NoVa Parks that have mini golf courses. Cameron RunUpton HillPohick Bay, and Algonkian Regional Parks all welcome guests to putt around.  Cost is $5/age 12 & under, $7/13+. Check websites for hours at each park.

 

Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria offers ides on its Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel.  Open daily June 15 – August 18 (and weekends until June 14) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $4 per ride on Fridays, $5 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

 

SUMMER SPORTS

Kick it at a DC United match!

Some of the season’s best action takes place in ballparks, stadiums, and arenas thanks to our local sports teams. Here’s where you can join the fan clubs.

 

A day at Nationals Park is all it takes to understand why baseball is America’s favorite pastime. Our family always enjoys catching a Nats game on a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. The excitement extends well beyond the diamond with games and activities in the park, a playground for kids, the Racing Presidents, fun in the stands, and more. Before you go, check out these tips on doing a Nats game without breaking the bank. And I highly recommend the Jr. Nationals Kids Club for children 12 and under. Just $20 gets them membership, which includes Nats swag, plus a coupon book with all kinds of offers and discounts.

 

Whether or not you’ve got a little soccer fan in your fam, DC United matches are fun experiences for all ages, and Audi Field is a great venue for watching them. Plus, since games only last 90 minutes, they’re not too long if young spectators get antsy.

 

Women’s pro soccer team, Washington Spirit, are playing their matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!

 

Can’t stand the heat? Head to the Entertainment & Sports Arena in southeast DC to see the Washington Mystics (w)hoop it up on the basketball court. Tickets start at $14.

 

Every summer, the Mubala Citi DC Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 27 – August 4.

 

Swing up to Charm City to see the Baltimore Orioles play. Camden Yards is a beautiful ballpark, and you can head to the Inner Harbor before or after to make a day of it up north.

 

If the Nats or O’s aren’t in town, or you want to see baseball on a smaller but still fun scale, you’ve got several great options around the area. Take ’em out to the minors to see the Bowie Baysox, Potomac Nationals, or Aberdeen Ironbirds play. Summer collegiate team Bethesda Big Train is also very popular for non-majors baseball action.

 

The Breeze, DC’s Ultimate Frisbee pro team,  plays at Catholic University’s Carlini Field.  It’s fast-paced, fun to watch, and there’s a welcoming family vibe — plus, kids 8 and under get in free!

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES

Blackberry picking at Homestead Farm

Some particularly cool activities and offerings are only possible this time of year. Sure, you can say that’s most of this guide, but these experiences that fall into the “other” category shouldn’t be missed.

 

On Thursday evenings and some Saturdays during late spring and summer, the Anacostia Watershed Society hosts their free Discovery Series, which include boat tours, paddle tours, and wetland walks at a few local parks. Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Anacostia Park, Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and 11th Street Bridge Park are locations for these jaunts.

 

For other adventures on the water, a bunch of places around the area rent kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and stand up paddleboards. Fletcher’s Boathouse is a popular place to go and has a great riverside area to hang out and picnic when you’re off the water. You can also row from Ballpark Boathouse near Yards Park. Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis has paddling options along with lots of other outdoor recreation. This post has a whole round-up of even more places to go with the flow on local waterways.

 

Pick your own produce at local farms. While it starts in the spring with strawberries, it carries on through summer with even more delicious fruits — blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, plus veggies and more produce you can gather yourself. Find out where you can PYO around the DC area.

 

Summer in the Parks will offer weekly events every Thursday evening 6-8pm at Carter Barron in June and at Fort Slocum in August in partnership with Rock Creek Park/National Park Service. The FREE, family-friendly events will have music from DJ Lance Reynolds and fun-for-all-ages games and activities.

 

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings 5-8pm  from June 21 – September 5 for Friday Night Fishing, their catch and release fishing program at the dock at Diamond Teague Park (located next to Yards Park). Rods, reels, bait, and instruction are free. No sign up is required.

 

Enjoy some fun in the trees navigating the best ropes courses in an aerial forest around! The Adventure Park at Sandy Spring is open in spring and fall, too, but summer is a great time to go when the kids are off school and weekdays are options too.  Read about  some of our experiences there here and here.

 

Aaaaaar, mateys! As the weather warms up and cruising conditions become more comfortable, pirate voyages are offered on local waters. In DC, take a Family Treasure Hunt Cruise on the Boomerang Pirate Ship. Head out to Annapolis for Pirate Adventures on the Chesapeake. Or go for a jaunt with Urban Pirates in Baltimore.

 

Some of the most spectacular flower blooms occur during the summer. View a whole park bursting with pink, white, and peach-hued lotus flowers and water lilies. Fields upon fields of sunflowers are sure to brighten any day. Stop and smell the roses at a favorite National Mall spot. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

 

Get rolling in Southeast! The Anacostia Park Skating Pavilion, the only skating pavilion within a national park, will officially welcome skaters daily from 9am – 5pm starting Memorial Day through Labor Day. Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! (You can still BYO skates and roll around the rest of the year.) And along with skating, Anacostia Park offers all kinds of recreation, including large fields for sports and running around, tennis, fishing, basketball, biking, running, and three playgrounds. Read more about the park in this KFDC post.

 

 

CRAB FEASTS

One of the best treats of the season

Crab feasting is easily one of the best activities during summer in Maryland and neighboring areas (this is where I get non-DC-centric because I have to give credit where it’s due). Here are some suggestions for places to get ’em, though the “best” is always a subject for debate.

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.

* Mike’s Crab House in Riva has a great tiki area if there’s a table wait.

* The Point in Arnold, MD, has become one of our favorite crabby spots.

* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.

* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.

* Skipper’s Pier in Deale is the most recent place we tried — and we all liked it.

* Enjoy a feast in the District at Ivy City Smokehouse.

* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.

* Eat crabs in the ‘burbs at Bethesda Crab House.

* Make it a day trip to Waterman’s in Rock Hall, MD.

* Pick up your own at The Fish Market at The Wharf. Buy them already steamed or get them while they’re still alive to cook at home.

 


GEAR UP

Lawn games like Kadima elevate summer hangs

There are some items that help enhance your summer experiences, whether you’re going to the pool, headed to the beach, or just enjoying a day outdoors in the sunshine. These KFDC posts have great recommendations for gearing up for summer fun.

* Amazon Picks for Spring & Summer Adventures with Kids

* 10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

* Must-Haves for Keeping Kids Cool at the Pool

* Top Picks for the Best Beach Day

* This past post and this one with Prime Day picks also include lots of summer recommendations.

 

 

Have I left out anything really good? If you think so, let me know in the comments below!

 

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Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Summer, Virginia

Easter Events and Activities Around DC in 2024

Get ready for eggcellent fun around DC!

 

Don’t put your eggs all in one basket when it comes to Easter celebrations around the DC area!  Numerous places host egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, and much more spring fun this time of year. Even if you’re not big on the holiday, there are attractions and activities beyond bunnies and candy-filled eggs that will have the whole family hopping with joy. Here’s where you can find them, listed in order of start date. (And note that some require advance registration, so sign up before they sell out.). Happy Easter!

Easter Egg Hunts
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: March 22 – April 1
Admission: $10-14/child, $12-16/adult + $7.99/hunt

After a long cold winter, nothing chases away the chill like a visit to the farm. The Easter Bunny has hidden some eggs  filled with treats to enchant the children, and you can help us find them!  While you’re there, see the  spring chicks and baby animals, take a wagon ride, and enjoy the season. Be sure to get advance tickets  — these Egg Hunts Sell out every year!

Bunnyland
Where: Butler’s Orchard
When: March 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, April 1, 6, 7
Admission: $12-15/online, $15-18/at gate

One of the more popular spring festivals in the area, Butler’s has all the trappings for seasonal fun: bunnies, eggs, and other Easter-related treats to get young guests in the holiday spirit. Attractions include hayrides down the Bunny Trail, egg hunts, the Rubber Ducky Derby, giant slides, a jumping pad, and a small petting zoo. Face painting, pony rides, and mini-digger riding are offered for an extra fee. Concessions are available, and there are also plenty of picnic tables if you prefer to pack a lunch.

Easter Eggstravaganzas
Where: Garfield Elementary | Springfield, VA
Where: Lincoln Park | Capitol Hill, DC
When: March 23, 10am – 12pm (VA) & 12-3pm (DC)
Admission: Free

For more than 20 years, National Community Church has hosted these festivals with no other reason than to be a blessing to families in our neighborhood and to put a smile on the faces of kids. They are held in a couple of neighborhoods around the area offering all kinds of Easter fun – egg hunts, Easter bunny visits, face painting, yummy treats, games, prizes, and more.

Bunny Train Ride
Where: Walkersville Southern Railroad | Walkersville, MD
When: March 23, 24, 30

Admission: Starts at $22/adult, $21/senior, $20/age 1-12
All aboard for a trip back in time with the Easter Bunny! Travel over track that the Pennsylvania Railroad originally built in 1872. See Walkersville Southern’s turn-of-the- century railroad station and tool house, then visit with the Bunny on the train (who will also give each child an Easter gift!). Ride in vintage 1920s passenger cars or on an open flatcar as your rail excursion runs past a 100-year-old lime kiln, and then out into picturesque Maryland farm country. Enjoy juice and Uncle Ralph’s cookies in the museum after your ride. Reservations required!

Bull Run Egg Scavenger Hunt
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: March 23-31, 8am – 6pm
Admission: $8/child

Spring is just a hop around the corner, and the egg scavenger hunt is returning at Bull Run! This is a self-guided event, so just pick up your egg hunt sheet at the Camp Store, hop around the park to complete the scavenger hunt, and then return to the Camp Store with your completed sheet for a prize!

Spring Egg Hunts
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: March 23-31, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $8

Enjoy a delightful egg hunt adventure at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens! Embark on a self-guided hunt through the gardens as you search for treasures — giant eggs! Start your quest at the Visitor Center where you’ll receive your egg scavenger hunt sheet, your key to unlocking the fun. Hop along winding paths through the Spring gardens. When you find a giant egg, draw its design on your egg hunt sheet. Once you have found all of the eggs, show your completed egg hunt sheet to our staff and receive an EGGcellent prize!

Spring Egg Hunt
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: March 23-24 & 26-31, 11am – 4pm
Admission: $8

Spring is here, and the egg hunt is back at Potomac Overlook! Drop in to take part in this ongoing event… just pick up your egg hunt sheet at the nature center, explore the park on a scavenger hunt, and then return to the nature center with your completed sheet for a prize! Hop on over and experience a new kind of egg hunt for you and your family!

Egg Hunts Galore
Where: Clark’s Elioak Farm | Clarkesburg, MD
When: March 23-31
Admission: $8

Little ones (in groups for ages 1-3 and 4-6) will have a chance to hunt for eggs throughout the day on weekends at this Maryland Farm that looks like something out of a story book! After hunting, they get to turn the eggs in for a goodie bag. The petting farm, rides, and play areas will be open for all to enjoy, too, along with gem mining and geode cracking. Be sure to take a look at the website for a heads-up on how the egg hunts will run, so you can make the most of your day there. Read more about Clarks Elioak in the KFDC post about the best outdoor places in the area.

Easter Bunny Hosts Kids & Family Festivals
Where: Shipgarten | Tysons, VA
When: March 24, 12-6pm
Admission:

Step into a world of family-friendly fun at Shipgarten, Tysons Corner top restaurant for families! Enjoy a day of excitement, including FREE face painting and arts & crafts, egg hunts, live music, great drinks, moonbounces, and a full outdoor playground to ensure everyone has a blast. Dogs are more than welcome at Shipgarten, too, whether on-leash or in our off-leash dog par — treat furry friends to Pup Cups and Kongs filled with peanut butter for a delightful family treat. See the website for the full schedule and to reserve a spot.

Eggstravaganza!
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: March 29, 10am – 12pm (only date still open)
Admission: $18/child non-member, $13/child member, $8/adult

Join Tudor Place for their annual for Eggstravaganza!, a favorite spring tradition. Children of all ages can take part in a lively Easter egg hunt and egg roll on the South Lawn. Afterwards, make crafts and take a picture with the Easter Bunny. The egg hunt begins at 10:30am and the egg roll begins at 10:45am Each child must bring a basket, hard-boiled egg, and spoon to participate.

Easter Tour & Candy
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: March 29 – April 1

Admission: $50
Don your favorite Easter bonnet and celebrate spring with a fun filled treasure hunt! Search for special Easter & spring-themed items found only at The Mansion. Enjoy candy, explore themed rooms, search for secret doors, and try to win a prize for best bonnet. BYO shopping bags, because everything is for sale. Read more about the Mansion on O Street in this KFDC post.

Family Funday: Easter Egg Hunt
Where: metrobar | Shaw, DC
When: March 30, 12-5pm
Admission: $5/family

Enjoy Easter fun for the whole family at metrobar at their annual outdoor table-side Easter Egg Hunt — BYOB (bring your own Easter basket)! All children will receive a candy egg upon arrival. The Easter Egg Hunt begins at 2:30pm and will last for approximately 15 minutes, or until all eggs have been collected. Also, celebrate local Black children’s book authors with story time, raffles, and other activities. Register in advance!

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny
Where: St. James | Springfield, VA
When: March 30, 9am – 1pm
Admission: $25-30

Enjoy a morning of breakfast, crafts, and pictures with the Easter Bunny! Tickets include a photo op with the Easter Bunny (BYO camera), a delicious breakfast buffet, a mimosa for adults, and an Easter candy goody bag. Sign up for a time slot! Guests and children over 4 are required to purchase tickets.

Bunny Hop
Where: Stead Park Field | Northwest DC
When: March 30, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: Free

We will have all the fun you have come to enjoy – games, crafts, snacks, face painting, egg collecting and photos with the Bunny! If you haven’t seen the new recreation center – you are in for a treat! Take a tour while at the Bunny Hop. The event is free, but we ask that you register so we know how many are coming!

Egg Dyeing Egg-stravaganza
Where: Brentwood Arts Exchange | Hyattsville, MD
When: March 30, 2-4pm
Admission: Free

Join the annual Egg Dyeing Egg-stravaganza and celebrate the season by creating bright, beautiful, and colorful eggs. Participants will receive two eggs to paint and design at this FREE family-friendly workshop.

Falls Church Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Where: Cherry Hill Park | Falls Church, VA
When: March 30, 9:15-11am
Admission: Free

Join this annual family celebration hosted by the city’s Recreation and Parks Department. Children dressed in their spring finest can hunt for candy and special eggs in Cherry Hill Park and have their photo taken with a special guest, the Easter Bunny! BYO basket — they’ll supply the candy, fun, and happy springtime memories. In addition to scrambling for eggs and photo ops, children ages 11 and younger can participate in a make-your-own-candy-bag craft project.

4th Annual Easter Eggtravaganza
Where: Bladensburg Waterfront Park | Bladensburg, MD
When: March 30, 12-6pm
Admission: $1-10 (depending on age)

Come and enjoy a day of fun activities with The Easter Bunny and Friends. Get ready for an eggstraordinary experience at our upcoming Easter Event! Your admission fee covers a day filled with joy, laughter, and delightful surprises. We are thrilled to share that, as part of your admission, you’ll enjoy an array of fantastic offerings, making this celebration truly unforgettable! Admission varies by age: $1/age 0-3, $2.50/age 3-5, $5/age 6-8, $7.50/age 9-11, and $10/age 12+.

Egg Hunt & Easter Bunny
Where: Astro Beer Hall | Shirlington,VA
When: March 30, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Astor Beer Hall will host an Egg Hunt for families on the Saturday before Easter. Children participating in the egg hunt will be provided a basket to collect eggs filled with Easter candies and goodies. They can win prizes like candy, doughnut keychains, doughnut stickers, space stickers, and coupons for complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and mini doughnuts. There will also be a hidden golden egg with a $100 gift card for the winner. Families can meet the Easter Bunny, who will be on site then, too!

Baskets & Bunnies
Where: Burke Lake Park | Burke, VA
When: March 30, 10:30am
Admission: $5

Children ages 5-7 can hop on down to Burke Lake Park and get egg-cited to participate in a timed egg hunt. Egg Hunt tickets go on sale through two days before the event. Only children participating in the egg hunt need to purchase an egg hunt ticket; one parent is allowed to accompany each child for this egg hunt age range.  [Note: For ages 1-4, sign up here. And for a sensory-friendly hunt, sign up here.]

Easter Monday
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: April 1, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Easter on Monday at the Zoo!  HEad to the Great Meadow area for a special Easter egg scavenger hunt! This kid and family-focused activity takes you through 15 interactive tables that unveil the wonders of the zoo, introduce you to scientists, and shed light on exciting animal career opportunities. Don’t miss the chance to get a special prize at the end of the scavenger hunt!

White House Easter Egg Roll
Where: White House Lawn | Downtown DC
When: April 1
Admission: Free, tickets required

The annual White House Easter Egg Roll requires tickets won through lottery for admission. If you entered, you should have found out by now if you were “successful” in scoring them or not. Unofficial tip: I’ve heard in the past that people have been at the entrance giving away extra tickets they may have. While I can’t confirm that’s always the case, if you’re going to be in that area and really want to go, it wouldn’t hurt to stop by and see if someone might have tickets for you. Note that entries are timed, so while it goes all day, guests only stay for their designated amount of time.

🐰Items and treats to elevate your Easter fun🐰
* Sweet Easter outfits.
* A super cute egg dying kit.
* Adorable personalized baskets.
* An amusing book.
* A fun serving piece for Easter brunch.
* Non-candy basket stuffers like rainbow pencils, cool dino egg toys, a craft kit, and an Easter Lego set.
* Candy!

 

Do you know of other good Easter events happening that you don’t see here?  Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under 2024, DC, Maryland, Spring, Virginia

The 2023 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

 

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Enchant lights up Nationals Park during the holidays

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

A holiday classic in the historic Ford’s Theatre

HOLIDAY SHOWS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


The festive tree lighting at CItyCenter DC

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukkah started with the National Menorah Lighting

HANUKKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween Around DC in 2023

 

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Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonus of getting extra mileage out of costumes and having more excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are gobs of ways to get into the spirit during the days leading up to the grand event — starting this weekend. From no-fright fun to cool and creepy thrills, the annual KFDC round-up has all of the details on where and when you and the kids can have a wicked good time around DC and even a bit…beyond.  Happy Halloween!

Witchwartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: September 28 – October 29
Admission: $15/age 2+

The wonderful Puppet Co. has reopened and just in time for Halloween! Witch Wartsmith (the sister of Witch Wartsmith from our Legacy show Rapunzel,) hosts the annual Halloween Spooktacular and you get to vote on the winner! Part contemporary competition show, part vintage telethon, and part punpalooza, this spooky variety show will tickle your funny bone. Don’t miss this year’s performances, because some contestants will change year to year.  Shows are performed Thursdays and Fridays at 10:30am, Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30am & 1pm

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

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

Fall Festivals
Where: Around the DC area
When: Through early November
Admission: Varies by locale

Many of the fall festivals around the area incorporate Halloween fun into their offerings. Pick out potential jack-o-lanterns, do Halloween-themed crafts, go on rides, and much more!  See a list of seasonal celebrations here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Great Wolf Lodge | Williamsburg, VA & Perryville, MD
When:  September 28 –  October 31
Admission: Rates vary

Enjoy a Halloween-themed family getaway to Great Wolf Lodge, where there will be spooktacular fun all month. Kids and parents alike can enjoy special activities including a Trick-or-Treat Trail, Howl-O-Ween House, Costume Parade, Monster Bash Dance Party, Spooktacular Story Time, and much more. This, plus the ongoing fun and indoor waterpark will make for an extra special and spooky Halloween! Read more about Great Wolf Lodge Williamburg in this KFDC post and this one about the new park in Perryville, MD.

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

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

Book Some Halloween Fun
Where: DC Public Libraries | Around DC
When: Several October dates
Admission: Free

Story times, crafts, and children’s parties all with Halloween themes are taking place at libraries around the city. Drop in for the fun — all of the activities are free! Be sure to check age recommendations to confirm they’re appropriate for your child as they vary by event. (Follow the link then search keyword Halloween.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spooky History Tour
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: October 17, 18, 22, 25, 28, 29, 31
Admission: $15/member, $18/student, $20/non-member

Explore the haunting legends of the National Building Museum through stories collected over the decades. Hear tales of the historic site which defy easy explanation, while exploring the hidden features of the breathtaking structure. These after-hours tours are recommended for ages 13+.

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

The National Zoo’s annual not-so-spooky Halloween haunt, one of DC’s most beloved events for the kiddie crowd,  is back. With 30 treat stations, after hours animal viewing with habitats decorated for Halloween, and fiendishly decked out trails, this frightfully fun evening is a treat for the whole family. And the souvenir tote bags they give out will be brimming with goodies for all ages. Costumes encouraged!

Soul Strolls
Where: Congressional Cemetery | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 20-21 & 27-28
Admission: $35/adult, $15/child

Immerse yourself in the world of criminal sin and discover the secrets of Congressional Cemetery’s interred residents in this year’s Soul Strolls.  The annual twilight tours, explore the stories of individuals buried there through guided tours and costumed interpreters. Experience the history of the hallowed ground exactly the way it should be experienced in October – in twilight and darkness, encountering vignettes and individuals led by an expert guide.  Hour-long tours depart every 15 minutes from 6-9:30pm.

Meet some of the souls of Congressional Cemetery

 

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

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

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

Dress the whole family and enjoy a day of trick-or-treating, art activities, and more!  Over 60 local businesses and organizations will be handing out treats for the kids, plus there will be fun and games, a DJ dance party, food trucks, and lots of other festivities.  Read more about Annmarie here and here.

Spooky Science
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: October 21, 12-4pm
Admission: $26.95/adult, $20.95/ages 3-12

Take your Halloween costume out for a trial run and visit the Maryland Science Center, if you dare, for an afternoon filled with spooktacular science fun! Experiment with ghoulishly glowing lights. Creatively cast a spine-tingling shadow. Use leverage and elasticity to launch creepy catapults, and more!

Halloween Pumpkin Carving Bash
Where: Potomac Overlook Park | Arlington, VA
When: October 21, 2-4pm
Admission: $20

Get in the Halloween spirit by carving or painting a pumpkin with your friends at Potomac Overlook! We’ll provide tools, paint and of course a pumpkin for some holiday fun. You’ll also enjoy some candy, a Halloween craft, and visits from several of our spooky nocturnal critters from the nature center!

Spooky Pooch Howl-o-ween Celebration
Where: Hillwood Museum & Gardens | Northwest DC
When: October 21, 4-6pm
Admission: $13/adult, $8/member $5/age 6-18, free/under 6

Hillwood’s Halloween event for pooches (and their people) is back!  Bring your “best friend” for Halloween fun — explore Hillwood’s 25 acres of landscaped gardens and lush natural woodlands with your four-legged friend, while enjoying a costume competition and yappy hour.  Interesting tidbit:  This event is inspired by Marjorie Post’s affection for dogs and the memorial dog cemetery she created.

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

Enjoy the Haunted Lab after hours and wear your favorite costume! The whole family can enjoy not-so-spooky activities including creating ooey-gooey slime play, bugging out in our Bio Zone, watching a dissection by a mad scientists (STEM Educators), getting up close to a scaly creature, and engineering a Spider Launcher, and playing scary tunes on the piano. Prizes will be awarded for creative and original ideas, so dress up and show up for a frightfully good time! Read more about the Lab (during non-Halloween) in this KFDC post.

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

National Harbor is hosting an afternoon full of spooktacular fun for the whole family, including Trick-or-Treating at select restaurants and retailers, a Halloween Movie, a Chef Pumpkin Carving Contest, and a Pet Pawrade. Visit the website for the full schedule of the day’s events.

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

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

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

The High Heel Race is a 36-year DC tradition, with a rich history of “Crossing The Line Since 1986.” On the Tuesday before Halloween, thousands of spectators pack the Dupont Circle Neighborhood to watch hundreds of costumed drag queens show off their extravagant outfits and race down Historic 17th Street, NW. There’s also live entertainment, a parade, and more festive fun!  The race begins at 9pm, but people start gathering at 6pm.

Halloween Toddler Time
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: October 26, 10:30am
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 2-12

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

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

NoMa’s free annual community-wide celebration of Halloween returns with live entertainment, yummy food, music, a seasonal scavenger hunt, and, of course, the free “pick-your-own” pumpkin patch!  A screening of Hocus Pocus (6:45 pm) and a show by children’s entertainer, The Great Zucchini will also be part of the fun.  This year’s event also includes a pop-up beer garden (21+ only).  Be sure to register in advance for pumpkins and to attend the beer garden.

Halloween Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 27-31
Admission: $50
Celebrate the BOO season on this zany treasure hunt as the Mansion is decorated for Halloween. Have fun searching for Autumn & Halloween themed items found only at this legendary spot that contains over 100 rooms and 70 secret doors! They guarantee you can see at least 60 of the rooms, but be warned secret doors are tricky to find — if you find 2 or 3 you are an above average sleuth! Read more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

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

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

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

Enjoy a spooky halloween-themed night of climbing and ziplining under the neon colored lights while listening to music throughout the Park. Glow start times are available every 10 minutes 6-8:20pm, and tickets are good for a 2 hour + 40 minute adventure. Costume encouraged but refrain from capes, masks that cover your eyes, and any super loose garments. Reserve in advance online — this event tends to sell out. Ages 5 & up are welcome! Read more about the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring here.

Howl-O-Ween
Where: Gateway Interim Dog Park | Rosslyn, VA
When: October 27, 3:30-5:30pm
Admission: Free

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

Hill-O-Ween
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 27, 5-8pm
Admission: Free
Capitol Hill’s annual neighborhood event is legendary for little ones!  Count on live pumpkin carving and a DJ spinning tunes for a spooky dance party.  More details are still to come, but for past events the block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market is closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. There have been moon bounces, goody giveaways, face painting, wagon rides, and more exciting festivities. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

Halloween on the Farm
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Clifton, VA
When: October 27-28, 5-8pm
Admission: $10

Trick or treat on the farm! Visit with farm animals, create crafts, play games, tour the decorated farmhouse, and enjoy the fall on the farm. The program runs in three one-hour time slots. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Register in advance!

Halloween Night Hunt with Sweets
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: October 27-31
Admission: $50

Celebrate the BOO season on a zany treasure hunt at one of the neatest places in the city.  Dress in costume, pick up your complimentary bag of Trick or Treat candy, and have a spooktacular time exploring the 100 room Mansion — decorated special for Halloween. Look for some of the 70 secret doors — be warned they are tricky to find! — and check out the eclectic collection of secondhand items, all of them for sale.  Learn more about the Mansion on O Street here.

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

The annual Air & Scare event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is back with activities inside and out!  Details TBA, but past events have included trick or treat stations, creepy crafts, spooky experiments, and other Hallloween-themed activities; special story times and puppet shows; photo ops; and costume contests. Tickets are required for the outdoor portion of the event — they will be available to reserve here on October 2.

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park | Glen Echo, MD
When: October 28, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities

It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Details still to come, but past event activities for families have included pumpkin decorating, arts & crafts, face painting, trick-or-treating, and a costume parade around the Park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster Mash
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: October 28, 3-6pm
Admission: Free

The Village at Leesburg is back with its Annual Monster Mash! Join the fun including live-action professional pumpkin carvers, Trick or Treating around the Village, pumpkin decorating, their annual costume contest parade for you and your pets, and more.

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

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

The Haunted Washington Scavenger Hunt
Where: White House area | Downtown DC
When: October 28
Admission: $22

Do you believe in ghosts? You just might after this spooky tour that reveals the stories of the restless souls you might disturb. On teams, you’ll follow clues to ghost-plagued buildings near the White House and answer tricky questions about what you find. Possible cameos by the spirits of Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Dolley Madison, Abigail Adams, Andrew Jackson, the (allegedly) suicidal Mrs. Henry Adams, and losing duelist Stephen Decatur. The hunt is a bit spooky, a bit macabre, a bit goofy, and a lot of fun. It’s also a bit slower paced than Watson’s regular hunts because the questions are longer, in order to fill you in on the eerie events that transpired at each location. For teens and older. [Note: For private groups, there is a Kids Edition of this ghoulish game, suitable for ages 7 and up.]

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

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

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

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

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens | Mount Vernon, VA
When: October 28, 2-6pm
Admission: $17-25/adult, $9-15/child

Trick-or-treat at Mount Vernon as George Washington’s estate open its gates for Halloween fun and spook-tacular activities. Along with collecting candy around the historic grounds,  enjoy live entertainment, check out a chocolate-making demo (and get a taste!), watch sparks fly in the Blacksmith Shop, learn about wool carding and spies, stop at selfie station, and more!

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

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

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

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

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

The City of Falls Church has been hosting the annual Halloween Carnival for over 30 years, welcoming babies through elementary-aged kids to enjoy all kinds of fun activities. Enjoy a spooktacular family fun Halloween Carnival in Cherry Hill Park for kids 2 to 11 years old!  This year’s event will include games, inflatables, live music, and snacks.

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

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

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

One of Del Ray’s favorite traditions, the 27th Annual Del Ray Halloween Parade begins at Mt. Vernon Avenue, south of E. Bellefonte, and continues down to the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center play fields at Mt. Vernon and Commonwealth Avenues. It’s a family friendly affair that invites costume-clad kids, pets, moms, and dads to march down Mt. Vernon Ave from E. Bellefonte Ave to the Mount Vernon Rec Center field. The event ends with live music and an award presentation.

Halloween at the Park
Where: The Parc | Tysons, VA
When: October 31, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Tysons is hosting a Halloween party at the Parc at Tysons. Kids and dress up and enjoy face painting, balloon art, mad science, and of course, trick or treating.

Día de los Muertos Festival & Outdoor Projection
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 2, 5-8:30pm
Admission: Free

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

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

Continue the Halloween fun after the holiday!  Bring your leftover jack-o-lantern to Great Country’s smashin’ station and let it fly! The Silo Drop and the Zip Wire Sploosh let you do the smashin’ yourself or opt for the Pumpkin Drop Zone and add it to the upside down “fireworks display” as  pumpkins are dropped from a 40-foot lift — so fun to watch! (What happens to all those smashed pumpkins? The pigs and cows love to eat them and GCF composts the rest.) There will also be live music, marshmallow roasting, and cider press demos, plus The Roosteraunt concession stand will be open. Of course, plan to enjoy the farm’s playground, full of fun, too!

 

Step right up for some haunted fun

HAUNTED (SCARIER) EXPERIENCES

Fields of Fear
Where: Cox Farms | Centreville, VA
When: Weekends through November 4
Admission: $20-35 (purchase in advance online)

When night falls on Cox Farms, it’s time for Fields of Fear — for ages 12 and up! The Dark Side Hayride feature The Lost Circus, a circus abandoned in the early 1900s that now comes to life when the living approach. The friendly Imaginature Trail takes a dark turn for Fields of Fear, transforming into The Forest: Back 40, which consists of half a mile of fear. The Forest joins two other haunted attractions at Fields of Fear, the Dark Side Hayride and the Cornightmare. The Firegrounds feature several bonfires, a six-lane slide, music, karaoke, entertainment, tasty treats, Foamhenge, and more!

Fright Fest
Where: Six Flags America | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: September 24 – October 30
Admission: $43+

Fright Fest is back at Six Flags America. It’s a spooky time of year as zombies and ghouls take over the park. Enjoy thrills and activities for the whole family throughout the day and go back for a truly frightening evening of fun after the sun goes down. Fright Fest offers a wide variety of places to get your scare on, including several haunted houses and scare zones located throughout the park. The stuff of nightmares lurk around every corner as the dark of night washes over the park. The ghouls are set free for their daily hunting rituals.

Laurel’s House of Horror
Where: Laurel, MD
When: Fridays & Saturdays through November 4
Admission: $25 and up

Our family digs this creepy and fun haunted experience.  Built inside an abandoned movie theater, it’s sensory overload with a lot to look at and listen to and several good jump scares.  There’s always chilling sense of anticipation as you get ready to round the next corner. There are also escape rooms open all year during the weekends, and for private parties and special dates. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

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

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

 

🎃 🎃 🎃

 

Halloween Decor & Costumes
Getting into the spooky spirit at home can be just as fun as going out for it! Elevate the experience for your fam and neighbors by decorating the front yard and adding some festive accessories inside. Here are quick links to find Halloween supplies to help with that:
Amazon
Michael’s
Home Depot
Target Costumes | Decorations
HalloweenCostumes.com

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Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Maryland, Virginia

The 2023 County Fair Season Around the DC Area

 

Where do you get carnival rides and games, farm animals, the junk food gamut, live entertainment, pony rides, piglet races, and wares for sale all in once place? Down at the county fair. The season for them runs from early August through mid-September, and this post has the lowdown on this year’s events around the area. Happy Fairing!

 

Howard County Fair
The 77th annual fair started this past weekend, and you have through this coming Saturday to enjoy rides, magic shows, musical entertainment in the evenings, pig races and pony rides, the Kids & Critters barn, Demolition Derby, a pro rodeo, and more. Most of the rides cost extra, and packages are available, so be sure to check out the website to see what’s available if you plan to go.
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When: August 5-12, grounds open 8am – 10pm daily, though most exhibits open at 10am,. Activity times vary, so be sure to check schedules.
Where: 2210 Fairground Road | West Friendship, MD
Cost: $10/ages 13+, $5/seniors, free for age 12 and under. Rides and games are extra.

 

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Montgomery County Fair
This fair is a family fave. (You can get a glimpse of one of our experiences there and read a review from a several years ago), so trust me when I say that there is so much to do, you have to see the schedule on the website for yourself to get the full scope. Highlights include lots of 4-H exhibits and demos, including opportunities to visit with some of the animals; animal races, pony rides, a KidZone with interactive games and activities, tons of carnival and kiddie rides, arts & crafts, monster trucks and a demolition derby, and much more.
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When: August 11-19, times vary by day so check the website for specifics.
Where: Montgomery County Fairgrounds | 501 Perry Parkway, Gaithersburg, MD.
Cost: Admission is $12/advance $15/at gate for age 12+, free/11 & under. Tickets for rides cost extra. A one-day all-u-can-ride carnival wristband is available for $30/online until 8/10 ($35-40 at gate), $25/for 8/14. And note that parking is $15 at the fairgrounds, but FREE parking and shuttle bus service are available from Lakeforest Mall, located at Lost Knife Rd. and Odenhal Ave.

 

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Prince William County Fair
Virginia’s largest annual county fair includes 4-H exhibits, rides, contests (think pie eating and water balloon tossing), animal shows, craft demos, the Children’s Barn, Kid’s Zone, live performances, and more. Note that August 9 is Kid’s Friday when all admissions are $6. And there are other special days with all kinds of promos, so be sure to check the schedule for details.
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When: August 11-19, Hours vary by day, so check the daily schedules.
Where: Prince William County Fairgrounds | 10624 Dumfries, Manassas, VA.
Cost: Admission is $15-20/age 14-64, $8-10/seniors and age 5-13, free/4 & under. Check for package deals and daily specials, too!

 

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Arlington County Fair
We’ve been to this fair and have had a great time. It’s big enough for a fun-filled day, but not so huge that it’s overwhelming and you feel rushed to get to everything. There are carnival rides for everyone from toddlers to adults, and the kids especially loved the pony rides and piglet races when they were younger. You can also check out competitive exhibits, enjoy live entertainment, cheer on a variety of racing animals, view outdoor movies, and take little ones to the Kids’ Court for moon bouncing, face painting, and more.  There’s also a beer garden for adults,
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When: August 16-20, hours vary by day, so check the schedule for specifics.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Center | 3501 Second St., Arlington, VA. Get parking/shuttle information here.
Cost: Admission is FREE. But, of course, you need to buy tickets for rides and other activities: In the past it’s been $1/ticket, $20/24 tickets, $40/48 tickets. There is an online special of 72 ride tickets for $55.

 

Prince George’s County Fair
A variety of entertainment and attractions for all ages — 4-H exhibits magic and dance shows, pig and duck races, a horse pull competition, a chain saw artist, a K-9 show, and much more.
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When: September 7-10, hours vary by day.
Where: Showplace Arena | 14900 Pennsylvania Ave., Upper Marlboro, MD.
Cost: Admission is $6/age 13-54, $5/age 6-12 & 55+, free/5 & under. Rides and games are extra.

 

Anne Arundel County Fair
Carnival rides and games, animal exhibits, monster trucks, pony rides, garden tractor pulls, pig races, pie eating contests, a talent show, live music and much more.
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When: September 13-17, check the website for hours.
Where: Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds | 1450 General’s Highway, Crownsville, MD
Cost: Admission is $10/age 10+, free/9 & under. Rides and games cost extra.

 

The Great Frederick Fair
Rounding out the county fair season, this one in Frederick has many of the same offerings as the others, so if you can’t make it to a fair earlier in the season (or even if you can), keep this one on your radar. There are agricultural events, rides and games, live performances, a Kids Zone with free entertainment, and much more including a concert with the Gin Blossoms, Sugar Ray, Tonic & Fastball on September 15.
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When: September 15-23, 3-10pm the first day, then 9am – 10pm daily
Where: Frederick Fairgrounds | 797 E Patrick Street, Frederick, MD
Cost: $8/advance, $10/gate for ages 11+. Free/age 10 & under. Tickets for rides and special activities are extra.

 

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