Tag Archives: Washington DC Kids Activities

Live Entertainment Around the DC Area in Late Fall & Winter

Join the Wheaton Family Theater Series for a FREE Urban Artistry performance!

 

As we head into the cold season, you may be starting to think about indoor options for activities, especially now that younger kids are getting vaccinated — and good timing as more and more live entertainment is returning to local venues!   Plays, musicals, concerts, puppet shows, basketball magic, and even monster truck battles are among the line-up coming to stages and arenas soon. Even better, tickets to see them make for great holiday gifts!   Here’s a round-up of all the entertainment, listed in order of start date, and most descriptions from theatre websites. Be sure to check Covid policies, as many venues require proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test.  (And note that this round-up does not include holidays shows — you can find those in the Holiday Guide).  Happy viewing!

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theater | Olney, MD
When: Through January 2
Tickets: $42-79

Be their guest this holiday season as the classic animated story comes to life on the Olney Theatre Mainstage. It’s a tale as old as time, but it gets a new look from Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.  Olney’s biggest show of the year brings the whole family together for a magical and memorable musical about the redemptive power of love. Join Belle, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and the rest of the gang in the Beast’s cursed castle for an escape to a world where beauty is more than skin deep and happily ever after is just a rose petal away. Rated G.

Rent
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: November 2 – January 2
Tickets: $40-108 | Find Discount

La Vie Boheme! The iconic rock musical’s pure rush of adrenaline, passion, energy, and joy is boldly and immersively reimagined in Signature style for a triumphant reopening. At the end of the millennium, a group of bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggle with gentrification, love, loss, and legacies amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis. Through songs such as “Seasons of Love,” “One Song Glory,” “I’ll Cover You,” “Out Tonight” and more, they embrace hope, find strength and survive. Recommended for teen ages and up.

Aesop’s Fables
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: Through November 21
Tickets: $20/adult, $18/student | Find Discount

The lessons learned in Aesop’s simple fables like The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Tortoise and the Hare, and the The Lion and the Mouse, have weathered the test of time. The Learning Theater crew brings them to life with a 21st century twist and their classic heart. Great for the whole family! Music by Conner & Smith.

Urban Artistry: Let the Rhythm Hit Em
Where: Highland Elementary | Wheaton, MD
When: November 13, 11am & November 14, 2pm
Tickets: Free!

InterAct Story Theatre presents FREE performances and events for kids and families with the Wheaton Family Theatre Series! This session welcomes Urban Artistry: Celebrate the diverse communities and influences that contribute to urban dance culture through music and dance. The emcee, DHG and dancers tell the story of where, when and how these dance styles were developed through storytelling, dance demonstrations, call-and-response games and interactive dance workshops. Recommended for all ages.

Acoustic Rooster’s Barnyard Boogie: Starring Indigo Blume
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 18-27
Tickets: $20 | Find Discount

Best-selling author Kwame Alexandr brings two of his beloved children’s books, Acoustic Rooster and Indigo Blume, to the stage in a world premiere Kennedy Center commission. The show tells a story about being scared, being brave, and believing in yourself. With special guests like Duck Ellington and Ms. Dairy Parton—plus Preston appearing as Acoustic Rooster—this musical adaptation will have children (and families) dancing in their seats. Recommended for ages 5+. Following shows on November 18 & 19 at 7pm and November 20 at 1:30pm, audience members can ask questions and hear stories with Kwame Alexander, writing partner Mary Rand Hess, and more of the show’s artists.

NSO Pops: Disney & Pixar’s Up in Concert
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy bottom, DC
When: November 26-27
Tickets: $29+ | Find Discount

The unforgettable animated classic returns to the big screen with Michael Giacchino’s Oscar®- and Grammy Award®-winning score performed live to the film! Follow the unlikely duo of a curmudgeonly 78-year-old balloon salesman and his 8-year-old stowaway on this hilarious, heartwarming journey to a lost world filled with danger and surprises.

Seven Guitars
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: November 26 – December 26
Tickets: $56-95

The 1940s Pittsburgh is the backdrop for August Wilson’s fifth cycle play and the second production in the August Wilson Festival. Seven lives are interconnected when old friend and blues singer Floyd Barton vows to turn his life around after a surprise windfall leaves him hopeful for a second chance. Infused with deep and soaring blues rhythms, this “rich and exceptionally vivid” (Variety) play pits the desire for a better future against the harsh realities ultimately leading to heartbreaking and inescapable circumstances.

Cinderella
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: November 27 – December 26
Tickets: $15-30

Cinderella is joining the Synetic our family series repertoire and stepping into her own shoes! Led by an all-female team of Syneticons, this innovative take on the classic fairytale is a perfect fit for audiences of all ages.

Once Upon a One More Time
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 30 – January 2
Tickets: $82-145 | Find Discount
In this highly anticipated world premiere of the Broadway-bound musical, beloved classic fairytale princesses gather for their fortnightly book club, longing for a new story. When a rogue fairy godmother drops The Feminine Mystique into their corseted laps, it spurs a royal revelation: there is more to life than bird-made dresses and true love’s kiss! Powered by the chart-topping anthems of the Princess of Pop herself, Britney Spears—including “Oops!… I Did It Again,” “Lucky,” “Stronger,” and “Toxic”—Once Upon a One More Time sends audiences on a heartwarming and uproarious musical adventure about smashing the glass slipper and reclaiming your own happily ever after.

The Miraculous Magical Balloon
Where: Highland Elementary | Wheaton, MD
When: December 4-5
Tickets: Free!

InterAct Story Theatre presents FREE performances and events for kids and families with the Wheaton Family Theatre Series! This session welcomes Synetic Theatre: A series of hilarious pantomime sketches incorporates music, ballet, clowning, and audience participation in this theatre assembly. In The Miraculous Magical Balloon, students will discover the art of acting without words, opening the door to their imaginations. Expressed through body and facial masks, pantomime illusions, and unique choreography, The Miraculous Magical Balloon tells a wonderful story of a traveling actor and his magical trunk of tricks and toys.

Tootsie
Where:National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 7-12
Tickets: $50-95+ | Find Discount
Call it “musical comedy heaven” (Rolling Stone). Call it “the most uproarious new musical in years!” (The Hollywood Reporter). Call it TOOTSIE! This laugh-out-loud love letter to the theater tells the story of Michael Dorsey, a talented but difficult actor who struggles to find work until one show-stopping act of desperation lands him the role of a lifetime.

Corduroy
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: December 11 – January 24
Tickets: $28

We all need a friend, and Lisa is instantly drawn to the perfectly imperfect teddy bear on display at the department store. If only she can convince her stressed-out mother to buy Corduroy for her! Meanwhile, Corduroy is determined to find his missing button and become worthy of going to a real home. After the store has closed, he goes on a hilariously destructive search–with the Night Watchman in comical pursuit. Full of mischief and clowning, this story of unconditional love captures both the humanity and the merriment of the holiday season. Recommended for ages 3-9.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 14 – January 2
Tickets: $49-149 | Find Discount
Long before she was Carole King, chart-topping music legend and 2015 Kennedy Center Honoree, she was Carol Klein, Brooklyn girl with passion and chutzpah. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and, by the time she reached her 20s, had the husband of her dreams and a flourishing career writing hits for the biggest acts in rock ’n roll. But it wasn’t until her personal life began to crack that she finally managed to find her true voice. Recommended for ages 11+.

Pretty Woman: The Musical
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 28 – January 2
Tickets: $50-95+ | Find Discount
Based on one of Hollywood’s most beloved romantic stories of all time, Pretty Woman: The Musical stars Broadway superstar and Tony Award®-nominee Adam Pascal as Edward Lewis and rising star Olivia Valli as the charming and charismatic Vivian Ward.  The show springs to life with a powerhouse creative team led by two-time Tony Award®-winning director and choreographer Jerry Mitchell (Hairspray, Kinky Boots, Legally Blonde).

The Prom
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 4 – 16
Tickets: $49-139 | Find Discount
Everyone’s invited to the joyous Broadway musical that inspired the hit Netflix adaptation. New York Magazine calls it “smart and big-hearted” and The New York Times says the show “makes you believe in musical comedy again!” The Prom is a new musical comedy about big Broadway stars on a mission to change the world and the love they discover that unites them all. You belong at The Prom! Recommended for ages 10+.

Dinosaur World Live
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: January 9
Tickets: $24-58

When is the last time you took a t. rex for a walk or got to groom a microraptor? Never? Well, now is your chance! Dinosaur World Live takes your family on an adventure across unchartered territories to discover a prehistoric world of astonishing (and remarkably life-like) dinosaurs. Meet a host of impressive creatures, including every child’s favorite flesh-eating giant, the tyrannosaurus rex! Plus, special appearances by triceratops, giraffatitan, segnosaurus, and more. Stick around after the show for the dino meet and greet!

Show Way
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 27 – February 20
Tickets: $20

Soonie’s great-grandma was just seven years old when she was sold to a big plantation without her ma and pa, with only some fabric and needles to call her own. She began to stitch a Show Way, a quilt with secret meanings to show enslaved people the way to freedom. As each generation passes, the Show Way shines a light on the past and paves a road to the future, stitching together possibility and promise.

Monster Jam
Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC
When: January 29-30
Tickets: $25+
The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in monster trucks will thunder its way into DC.  El Toro Loco, Grave Digger, and Hooked are confirmed for the event, and more soon-to-be-announced vehicular beasts  will be tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 29-30
Tickets: $55-95+
The immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the amazing journey shared by the folk-rock duo, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60’s to their dramatic split in 1970. It culminates with the famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 with more than half a million fans in attendance.

Make Way for Ducklings 
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Eco Park, MD
When: February 4 – March 27
Tickets: $25
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard are exhausted from their search for a starter home when they land in the Boston Public Garden as a potential home. Surprised by a few conditions in the Garden, the Mallards move on to continue their search until their baby ducklings are born. When the ducklings begin to explore the world around them. The challenges of parenthood in the busy Boston environment create a fun bit of family drama. A classic story for all ages, this world premiere musical celebrates family, Boston, children, and the beings who make an unfamiliar place a home. Recommended for all ages.

Disney on Ice: Let’s Celebrate
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: February 17-21
Tickets: Coming soon!

Grab your Mickey ears and get ready for non-stop fun when 50 of your favorite Disney friends come to life through world-class ice skating.

Our Town
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: February 17 – March 20
Tickets: $35-110
Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Our Town continues to leave audiences awestruck with wonder and a shared sense of our humanity. Guided by an amiable stage manager, the theatre becomes turn-of-the-century Grover’s Corners, where the occurrences of everyday life reveal universal truths about community and love, life and death.

Jesus Christ Superstar
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 22 – March 13
Tickets: $49-159 | Find Discount
Jesus Christ Superstar is set against the backdrop of an extraordinary series of events during the final weeks in the life of Jesus Christ as seen through the eyes of Judas. Reflecting the rock roots that defined a generation, the legendary score includes “I Don’t Know How to Love.” Recommended for ages 10+.

INTERSECTIONS Festival
Where: Atlas Center for Performing Arts | H Street NE, DC
When: February 26 – March 4
Tickets: TBA

The Atlas’ signature event, this performing arts festival presents work that impacts our society, culture, and world by informing, inspiring, educating, and entertaining. INTERSECTIONS is about presenting excellent art that inspires a connected community, engages artists and audiences alike, and creates a vibrant neighborhood, city, and world. More details about the festival to come!

P.Nokio – A Hip-Hop Musical
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: February 26 – April 10
Tickets: Coming soon!

G.Petto is an ingenious computer games designer who one day discovers that his newest game character, P.Nokio, can live outside the computer! G.Petto is thrilled at the prospect of having a “son,” and with the help of the Graffiti Fairy, he teaches P.Nokio how to become a real boy. But, P.Nokio falls in with con artists and finds himself in a web of lies that endangers his father. To save G.Petto, P.Nokio must wise up, keep it real, and learn that words and truth are the mightiest weapons of all. Recommended for age 5-11.

Dance Nation
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: March 2 – April 3
Tickets: $79/adult, $74/17 & under

The pre-teen dance team from Liverpool, Ohio is primed for competition, but in Clare Barron’s explosive script the stakes are much higher than just a first place trophy. Lives are at stake, future happiness lays in the balance, emerging sexuality strikes with the power of a thousand lightning bolts, and every interaction in the tight-knit group is suffused with threat, risk, and the urgency of adolescence. Adult actors of all ages portray the girls (and one boy) amidst their tween confusion and as their future adult-selves in a dream play with moments of true terror, complete with fangs, blood, and wild, stylized, dancel.

Catch Me If You Can
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: March 4 – April 17
Tickets: $66-105 | Find Discount
Humor, music and dance drive this rousing musical based on true events and a critically acclaimed film. See how a charming, young con man posed as an airline pilot, a lawyer and then escaped police custody all before he turned 22. Helen Hayes Award-winning actor Corbin Bleu returns to Arena Stage to take on the role of this young con man Frank Abagnale Jr. The Tony-nominated musical comedy is jam-packed with dynamic numbers such as “Don’t Break the Rules,” “Live in Living Color” and “Doctor’s Orders.” Catch Me If You Can is “a high-flying musical comedy” (The Hollywood Reporter) packed with glamour and delight for the entire family. Where else, but Washington, D.C., could a musical about con men and being conned be the perfect story we need right now? Recommended for tweens and up.

NSO Music for Young Audiences: I Dream of the Moon & Xavier’s New Friends
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 5-6
Tickets: Currently on sale to members only

Discover the range of percussion instruments through two imaginative stories featuring assistant principal timpanist of the NSO, Scott Christian. I Dream of the Moon (A Young Boy’s Adventure Through Space) by Keeghan Fountain tells the story of a young boy’s journey from his own backyard to the furthest reaches of the moon in a non-verbal performance on the vibraphone with projected images of original artwork by Nehemiah Russell. Xavier’s New Friends by Peter Gilbert introduces the main percussion family instruments through Xavier the Xylophone as he searches for percussion friends to join his band. Local musicians will join Scott and other NSO percussionists to tell this story and highlight the rhythmic and melodic facets of the percussion section. Recommended for ages 5+.

Mother Goose
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: March 11 – April 10
Tickets: $12

A brand new, music-filled piece by the creators of Wake Up, Brother Bear and Mouse on the Move! Mother Goose leads the audience through some of her most beloved nursery rhymes, using puppets and props to bring to life Humpty Dumpty, Old King Cole, the Eensy Weensy Spider, and more. The magical Mother Goose invites your little ones to join in with each rhyme’s story – teaching them that the very best way to do what needs to be done is to do it together.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC
When: March 19
Tickets: $25+
The Original Harlem Globetrotters are on the road for their action packed tour! A star-studded roster will have fans on the edge of their seats to witness the ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that thrills fans of all ages. There will be new high-flying dunks, hilarious stunts, a new record-breaking attempt and unforgettable family moments.

NSO Family Concert: Because
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 20
Tickets: On Sale March 20

Because Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Mo Willems wrote a powerful story of how chance, discovery, and persistence changed the Amber Ren related to the hero of the story, she created magical illustrations. Because the book moved them, the NSO wanted to turn it into an orchestral piece. Because acclaimed composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery was also changed by music as a young person, she composed the score. Because is a world premiere symphonic exploration that you and your loved ones want to see and hear to become part of the story. Recommended for ages 5+.

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Filed under 2021, 2022, All ages, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Theatre, Virginia, Winter

The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in the DC Area


The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive among 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.

A few local favorites unfortunately aren’t back this year due to Covid, but there still are more than plenty to make the season fun and festive for all.  This annual guide to the holiday season in the DC area, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all. (Note: Details for some events have yet to be released, but I wanted to get this out, as some activities are starting very soon, plus tickets are on sale and there are some early bird discounts. Check back soon for more info and additional events.)  Happy Holiday Season!  [Note:  There have been some updates to the guide as more info and events are announced, and all are indicated.]

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Chanukah

Tree Lightings

Holiday Markets

*************************************************************


Enjoy a family stroll through Brookside’s magical Garden of Lights

LIGHT DISPLAYS

LuminoCity
Where: Roer’s Zoofari | Vienna, VA
When: Through January 2, 6-9pm
Admission: Start at $5-66 (look for discount)

The area’s newest light display is already open and immersing visitors in a world lit up with towering luminescent sculptures. Guided by Lumi, the LuminoCity mascot, see unicorns and other glowing characters and scenes throughout the experience. The event is all outdoors and timed-entry.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 2
Admission: $16/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. 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).

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 11 – January 2
Admission: $30/car 

Opening earlier than usual this year, there’s a little more time 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 back this year is the holiday village and carnival with even more fun to accompany the lights show.  Avoid crowds more and get a discount by going Monday through Thursday and use the code LIGHT21 for a discount on those days.

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 19 – January 6
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 19 – January 2
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

Glide across the ice at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia. The waterpark will be 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 19 – January 2
Admission: $10/person

The Garden of Lights is back this year and celebrating its 23rd season as a DC area family holiday tradition! (FYI: This is one of our faves!) Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

Lights on the Bay
Where: Sandy Point State Park | Annapolis, MD
When: November 21 – January 2
Admission: $20/car 

Head to the Chesapeake for some holiday fun! SPCA of Anne Arundel County presents the 26th annual Lights on the Bay light show that features a two-mile scenic drive along the Bay with 70 festive displays illuminating the roadway. Lights on the Bay has something for everyone in the family. Children can participate in a nightly scavenger hunt, challenging them to find items within the show, answer display-related questions and enter a drawing to win prizes. And Santa will make an appearance on Thanksgiving Day!

Enchant Christmas
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 26 – January 2
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones, a Christmas market,  and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review (from the last season it was here) of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When:  November 25 – January 2
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On November 28, December 2, walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 26 – January 12
Admission: $8/online, $10/on site, FREE on December 25


This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car — bring a thermos of hot chocolate, 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 26 – December 31
Admission: $15/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun

The 25th 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!

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 26 – January 1 (closed 12/3, 4, 24, 25)
Admission: $7, free/3 & under

This annual holiday light show is keeping everything outside, so bundle up for a magical holiday experience. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into an outdoor twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. Wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more are some of the sparkling scnes you’ll see.  An outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink add to the seasonal cheer.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: A few alleys in Georgetown, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: Free

This GLOW is actually an extension of the summer edition, which has been brightening up Georgetown since July.  See parts of the neighborhood in a whole new gorgeous light — literally. Every evening through November 30, a few alleys will sparkle with modern light art installations by four local artists. Take the family to dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Get a glimpse of a past light show here.

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 1 – January 1
Admission: Free

This is the 6th year that the Yards is presenting a special light exhibition during the holidays, which always features large-scale illuminations that are interactive and really beautiful!  This season will be a whimsical, 22-foot glowing trees light installation from Amigo & Amigo, the same artists who created last year’s stars.  Trimmed top to bottom in holiday decor and festooned lights, they’ll cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful, colored patterns.  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 and here.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays at The Wharf and see the beautifully decorated boats cruise by on the Potomac along with more activities. Decorate ornaments to get into the spirit, go ice skating (the rink will be back!), plus warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too.

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

Back to Thanksgiving
Where: Keegan Theatre | Northwest DC
When: November 6, 7, 13, 14
Tickets: $10 (look for discount)
When an experiment on the last turkey on earth goes awry, a chase through time begins. Can Doc and his ragtag team of assistants find the turkey in time to save Thanksgiving? Sure hope so! This hilarious one-hour play is sure to be fun for kids and parents alike.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 18 – January 2
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings at The Puppet Co.! 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)?

Winterfest
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Tickets: $20.50

Adventure Theatre is celebrating the holiday season with three shows this year. Uri & Ora Light the Menorah focuses on Chanukah, Each year, siblings Uri and Ora look forward to Chanukah—gathering with friends and family, eating Bubbie’s latkes, and no homework! When things don’t go the way they want, will they be able to repair the holiday—and their relationship?Connection celebrates friendship builds bridges from the Philippines to America, and Cranky Penguin is a tale finds the fun in winter.

Enchanted Bookshop Christmas
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: November 19 – December 5
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (look for discount)

Encore Stage presents this show by kids for kids… It’s four days before Christmas and Miss Margie, the scatterbrained owner of the shop, is thrilled to have two very special guests — her serious-minded sister Ellen and book-loving niece Annabelle. Ellen was recently laid off from her position as an astronomy professor, and she’s certain she’ll never find a job again. Her luck changes, however, when high-tech billionaire Philip Brantley stops in at the shop and Margie convinces him to hire Ellen for his new space project. With Ellen out shopping, Margie has a brainstorm to wrap the bookmark that Philip wrote his phone number on and give it to Ellen as a Christmas present. After all, what could possibly go wrong? Ha! When the present disappears, it’s up to our come-to-life book characters to solve the mystery of the missing bookmark and save the day for Ellen — all without giving away their magical existence.

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24 – December 27
Tickets: $36-124
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).

Joy Around the World: The Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Watson Adventures Online
When: November 26-27, 5-6:30pm | December 11-12, 7-8:30pm
Admission: $19

Wishing you could find a way to celebrate the holidays with far away friends and family? Join Watson Adventures on a virtual sleigh ride across the internet! This virtual scavenger hunt takes you to holiday markets and festivals, amazing museums and many scenic places around the world, in search of answers to fun, holiday-related questions. Whether it’s for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or even Boxing Day, it’s a fun game to unite families and friends. Guaranteed to delight any Grinch! For ages 10 and up. Teams of up to six can play together or remotely. Advance booking is required.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 27
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

Start your holiday season with NVB’s traditional and family-friendly production of The Nutcracker. Featuring guest artists and the international award-winning dancers of NVB/ARB, the performance includes exquisite costuming and Russian-produced sets.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: National Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 23 – December 5
Tickets: $54-114 (look for discount)

In this holiday musical, sets and costumes inspired by Dr. Seuss’ original illustrations help transport audiences to the whimsical world of Whoville for thetimeless story of the true meaning of Christmas. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the holiday-loving Whos. It’s been a Broadway hit hailed as an “extraordinary performance” by the New York Times!

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 26 – January 3
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.

A Christmas Carol 2021
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 26 – December 26
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discount)

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

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 27 – December 26
Tickets: $48-137 

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

The Elf on the Shelf
Where: Capital One Hall | Tysons, VA
When: November 28
Tickets: Start at $32.95 (look for discount)

The Elf on the Shelf: The Musical is the thrilling spectacle of music and dance that transports audiences to the North Pole to glimpse the magical lives of Santa’s Scout Elves. Featuring an original story and score, dazzling sets and costumes, and heartfelt moments that will bring the family together, this joyous and uplifting celebration will leave audiences captivated by the splendor of the season.

A Very Electric Holiday [*new discount!]
Where: GMU Center for the Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: November 28
Tickets: $19 (look for discount)

Make your season bright with Lightwire Theater’s A Very Electric Holiday. Gather the whole family for this imaginative story cleverly told with cutting edge electroluminescent puppetry, live dancers, and a lively mix of classical, jazz, and pop music. Follow a young bird, Max, who gets separated from his flock while flying south for the winter during a snowstorm. Lost and alone in the North Pole, Max embarks on an odyssey to be reunited with his family, and along the way encounters dancing poinsettias, caroling critters, Nutcracker soldiers, mischievous mice, and an evil rat king. Treat the whole family to this breathtaking live production that will leave everyone in awe and filled with a sense of wonder. Recommended for ages 4-12.

Cinderella
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: November 29 – December 26
Tickets: $15-35 (look for discount)

Just in time for the holidays, Cinderella joins Synetic’s family series repertoire — and she is stepping into her own shoes!  Productions at this theatre are always unique and very artistic with wonderful physical theater that mesmerizes and delights. This one sounds like it will follow suit!   Led by an all-female team of Syneticons, this innovative take on the classic fairytale is a perfect fit for audiences of all ages. Be sure to note Covid safety policies.

CSI: Christmas Scene investigators
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 6-15
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child

In this by kids for kids production by Encore Stage & Studio, Santa Claus is missing! During the last rehearsal for the annual Christmas Show, the action comes to a screeching halt when the cast discovers that the Santa Claus statue has been stolen! Mrs. Dickens calls in the Clue Club — a group of ambitious and eccentric students who take mystery and detection into the realm of science. Full of more surprises than a fruitcake, the Clue Club finds they have successfully fulfilled their duty as “Christmas Scene Investigators” when they discover the true meaning of Christmas. Recommended for ages 4+.

Family Concert: Handel’s Messiah
Where: National Cathedral | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 4
Tickets: $25

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 matinee concert is an abbreviated performance of “Messiah” highlights, perfect for busy families with young children.

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


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

The Christmas Angel
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 9-19
Tickets: $35/adult, $20/child

Based on a little-known 1910 novel by Abbey Farwell Brown, this tale about an elderly spinster and her heartwarming transformation into the Christmas spirit echo Dickens and the journey of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Our award-winning creative team, Conner and Smith, put their signature stamp on what is sure to become another classic Christmas show!

Step Afrika’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: December 9-19
Tickets: $25-45 (look for discount)

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 contemporary holiday tradition at the Atlas, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party.

Christmas Revels: An American Winter Solstice Celebration
Where: The Spanish Ballroom | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 10-12 & 17-19
Admission: $20-55
This Winter season, travel back to December 1870 and the elegant DC parlor of Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels — the first African American to serve in the U.S. Congress. The holidays have arrived and the Revels family has invited colleagues and friends for a party! With joyous carols, heartfelt spirituals and toe-tapping dances, guests gather to celebrate with joyful reunions, all sharing the hope that long years of national struggle are over. After months apart, celebrate the season with beloved traditions that bring us closer — Welcome Yule!

Courderoy
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: December 11 – January 23
Tickets: See website for ticket package prices

We all need a friend, and Lisa is instantly drawn to the perfectly imperfect teddy bear on display at the department store. If only she can convince her stressed-out mother to buy Corduroy for her! Meanwhile, Corduroy is determined to find his missing button and become worthy of going to a real home. After the store has closed, he goes on a hilariously destructive search–with the Night Watchman in comical pursuit. Full of mischief and clowning, this story of unconditional love captures both the humanity and the merriment of the holiday season.

Joy of Christmas
Where: National Cathedral | Woodley Park, DC
When: December 11, 2pm & 6pm
Tickets: $25

From all corners of Washington National Cathedral, voices rise, filling the arches with echoes of holidays past and the wonder of things to come. Surround yourself with feelings of comfort and warmth that come when the weather is cold and the music is bright. It’s time to restart the tradition of singing together in a space of beauty and community. Note: Link above is for the 2pm show; get tickets for 6pm here.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: Theatre at MGM Grand | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 16-19
Admission: $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.

Fairfax Symphony Orchestra & Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker
Where: GMU Center for Arts | Fairfax, VA
When: December 18-19
Tickets: $54-94 (look for discounts)

The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra joins the Fairfax Ballet in their sixth collaboration to present the timeless class holiday favorite, The Nutcracker. This production is unique in the Washington metropolitan region as one of few presented with live musical accompaniment. The Fairfax Ballet Company dances to Tchaikovsky’s score performed live by the Fairfax Symphony. Enjoy a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies and epic battles between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. It’s the perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 20-22
Tickets: $34-68

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand! The Hip Hop Nutcracker reimagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. It’s brought to life by a powerhouse cast of a dozen all-star dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Let all the dynamic performers of The Hip Hop Nutcracker take you on a journey that celebrates love, community and the magic of the holiday season.

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 10-31
Tickets: $51/adult, $46/senior, $41/under 25 

Returning for its 10th season! An original work by Keegan company member 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.

Season of Hope
Where: The Theater at The MGM | National Harbor, MD
When: December 11 & 12
Tickets: Free

Celebrate this holiday season with The United States Air Force Band as they present “Season of Hope.” This concert will feature Air Force Band’s Concert Band and Singing Sergeants performing timeless renditions of holiday favorites and a visit from a special guest! Free and open to the public, but tickets required. Tickets will be available starting November 19 at 9am.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Strathmore  | Bethesda, MD
When: December 16, 17, & 23
Tickets: $10-73

It’s not Christmas without The Washington Chorus! Featuring brass, organ, and special guests, delight in the signature candlelight processional; raise your voice in an audience carol sing-along; and leave humming with a candy cane and a heart filled with holiday cheer.

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 17-27
Tickets: Coming soon!

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

A Family Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 18, 2pm & December 24, 11am
Tickets: $20-45 (look for discount)

Bring the kids for an unforgettable holiday experience as the Choral Arts Chorus fills the concert hall with holiday classics just for them!

 


Enchant Christmas is back at Nats Park this season!

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Outdoor Holiday & Train Display [*new listing]
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Through January 2
Admission: Free

Just when we thought the USBG’s wonderful annual model train exhibit would be on hiatus for another year, it’s coming back — but outdoors in the gated National Garden. It officially opens November 24, but some elements will be viewable earlier, as it’s installed. This one is made up of farming scenes, once again all constructed from plant materials. And, as always, so delightful!  Along with the model trains,  there will be more festive adornments, winterberries, lighted trees and shrubs, plus conifers and greenery placed throughout the Garden.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 12 – January 1
Admission: Starts at $49

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

Christmas Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays, November 14 – December 12
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 20, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

Tinsel!
Where: | Loudoun County, VA
When: November 19 – January 22
Admission: $28

This new event in the region out in Loudoun County is a fully interactive winter destination. Rekindle the sparkle and playful spirit of the season for this outdoor festival. Expect a unique and collection of light displays, entertainment and fun activities that appeal to one and all, and amazing food and drink from popular area food trucks and Loudoun County’s incredible wineries and breweries. A Washington Capitals experience.

Give Thanks Hunt
Where: Mansion on O Street | Dupont Circle, DC
When: Through November 30
Admission: $35

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

Enchant Christmas
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 26 – January 2
Admission: $20-34/adult, $17-27/age 14-17, $15-25/age 4-13

Explore a 90,000 square foot Christmas Light Maze and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating trail, live entertainment, food and drink, a Play Place just for little ones,  a Christmas market and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review of this newer-to-DC holiday attraction from its 2019 run.

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: November 26 – December 31
Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! has always been the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment (and that’s not even happening this year — see below).. 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 about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.) This year there will also be Ice Bumper Cars, a Snow Factory “Snowball Build & Blast,” The Greatest Story Stage Show, and the #LIT Holiday Light Show.

I Love Christmas Movies
Where: Gaylord National Resort | National Harbor, MD
When: November 26 – December 31
Admission: Starts $25/child & $33/adult, free/under 3 (look for discount)

The annual ICE! exhibition at the Gaylord isn’t happening this year because travel restriction are preventing the ice artisans from coming here.  Instead, the Gaylord is presenting an “I Love Christmas Movies” interactive experience:  Walk through the most iconic scenes from your favorite Christmas films in their multi-sensory exhibition! Experience moments with the characters and sets you know and love while interacting with more than 13 fully-immersive scenes, complete with replicas of film props, audio, and more. I Love Christmas Movies features five beloved films, including: The Polar Express, Elf, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, A Christmas Story, and The Year Without A Santa Claus.

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: November 26 – December 23, mostly weekends
Admission: Starts at $35

Take a one-of-a-kind train 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.

Jingle Journey
Where: Online & Del Rey | Alexandria, VA
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: TBA

Arts on the Horizon, the wonderful theatre company for the youngest audiences, invite you and your little one(s) to join them for a magical scavenger hunt through the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria! Find clues, visit new places, and piece together the story of their newest holiday adventure: Jingle Journey, an online video to set you on a real-life adventure. Featuring vibrant imagery and playful choreography, the nonverbal scavenger hunt production is underscored by whimsical original music. ​Solve each of the clues and you’ll find the way home! Each clue will take you to a new location where you can engage your senses and get the clue for the next Jingle Journey video! ​Best for children ages 3-6 and their families.

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


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

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November – December
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under (look for discount)

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate.  The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. There are also Candlelight Tours (November 26-27, December 3-4, 10-11, & 19) fireworks (December 7-18) on select dates, plus even more seasonal activities — visit the website for details.

Winter in Washington
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: November 27 – January 30
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
The annual holiday event at the museum is a little different this year, but you can still check out Winter in Washington, a special exhibit celebrating the season with street cars in the Nation’s Capital.  Trolley rides will also be offered, and who knows… maybe Santa will make an appearance, too.

Vienna Holiday Stroll
Where: Church Street | Vienna, VA
When: November 29
Admission: Free

Historic Vienna Inc. and Church Street businesses celebrate the merriest season of the year and welcome Santa to Vienna. Enjoy favorite holiday tunes performed by school choruses and others as well as s’mores, children’s activities, and more. Among the activities will be an open house by the Northern Virginia Model Railroader — a chance to see the model train display at the historic train depot in downtown.

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3-4, 11am
Admission: Free

The Scottish Christmas Walk will be back this holiday season!  Once again, the parade 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 begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 3-4
Admission: Varies by activity

Christmas in Middleburg is back, and  it’s the perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling, and so much more. Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the incomparable Salamander Resort & Spa. Relax in the countryside without missing a moment of the Christmas magic.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 schedule of events for details.

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.

Winter Festival [*new listing]
Where: National Children’s Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 4
Admission: $30/adult, $15/child

Join the museum for a special holiday event featuring festive refreshments, a photo opportunity with Santa, plus other holiday friends and cheer!

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holidays at The Wharf and see the beautifully decorated boats cruise by on the Potomac along with more activities. Decorate ornaments to get into the spirit, go ice skating (the rink will be back!), plus warm up by the big fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. Bring the whole fam to meet Santa and make memories during this annual DC tradition!

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 4
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 20h annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company.

Holiday Festival 2021
Where: Torpedo Factory | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 4, 2-8pm
Admission: Free

Torpedo Factory Art Center joins the fun on Alexandria’s most festive weekend of the year! Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by fire boat around 3:30pm on the Waterfront. Music fills the halls and the Waterfront, beckoning people to browse three floors of open artists’ studios. Santa will even take a spin on the famous Torpedo Bike. Masks are required for all visitors over the age of 2, regardless of vaccination status.

Lantern Light Tour
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown, DC
When: December 7, 9, 14, & 16
Admission: $25/non-members, $15/members

Celebrate the holiday season at Tudor Place! Alongside friends and family, explore the Historic House by candlelight to discover celebrations of winters past. Then, journey through the lantern-lit gardens on a guided-tour as you learn about the Peter family’s Christmas traditions. Capacity is limited and pre-registration is required. (Note that Kids Night is December 16!)

Lantern Walks
Where: Around the DC Area
When: December 11 & 12
Admission: Free

For nearly a decade, Tinkergarten families and friends have walked with homemade lanterns to welcome winter’s darkness. This inspiring and beloved tradition helps children learn to embrace change and remember that, when they are in community with the natural world and with one another, they have the strength and light to overcome any challenges. DC area Lantern Walk events will take place December 11-12 this year. Families can register to attend their local Lantern Walk, find out how to make their own lanterns, or even order sweet lantern-making kits here.

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 thee.

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 17-18
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. Tickets: $35 adult/$25 youth with Mansion tour, $30 adult/$20 youth.

Winter Village
Where: The PARC | Tysons, VA
When: December 28
Admission: Free

The PARC, a community event venue in Tysons, will be transformed into a festive winter village. It will feature a local holiday market, an iceless skating rink, and other snowtastic activities for the whole family to enjoy!

Christmas Caroling
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 21, 5-8pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy music from strolling Christmas carolers and a meet-and-greet with Santa and one of his elves! While you’re there, treat yourself to s’mores at the fire pit and visit the lighted Christmas Tree. More info to come.

Waterskiing Santa
Where: Old Town Waterfront | Alexandria, VA
When: December 24
Admission: Free

Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he water skis his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria starting at 1pm sharp — the best viewing spots will be from the Torpedo Factory to Point Lumley Park.

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

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

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

 


The National Menorah Lighting from a Chanukah past

CHANUKAH

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

Hanukkah comes early this year, starting on November 28 through December 6. 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.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 18 – January 2
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on strings at The Puppet Co.! 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)?

Uri & Ora Light the Menorah
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Tickets: $20.50

Adventure Theatre is celebrating this holiday season with Winterfest, a series of three shows (for the price of one!), including Uri & Ora Light the Menorah… Each year, siblings Uri and Ora look forward to Chanukah — gathering with friends and family, eating Bubbie’s latkes, and no homework! When things don’t go the way they want, will they be able to repair the holiday—and their relationship?

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: November 28, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

This is the Jewish counterpart to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Chanukah, the National Menorah is lit in a ceremony on the Ellipse. Along with the lighting, there will be live entertainment, plus menorah kits and dreidels to take home. And if you don’t mind waiting in line afterward, there should be latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to reserve them in advance through the website — they will be available staring October 28.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The LYCEUM | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: November 28, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

CHANUKAH FESTIVAL – Old Town Alexandria
Experience the festival of lights with Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington on the first night of Chanukah. Along with the liighting of a giant 6-foot Menorah, there will be other fun festivities and treats. Hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, get, dreidels, lights sticks for kids, and lively Chanukah music. The event is free, but register in advance.

The Wharf Lighting of the Menorah [*updated info!]
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: November 28 – December 6, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

The Wharf  continues their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights!  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: November 28, 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. Check back on the website for any updates on festivities.

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: November 30, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington to celebrate Chanukah! After they liht 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.

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

Celebrate the third night of Chanukah with a Firetruck Parade and Menorah Lighting! The procession will stops in Norbeck Grove, Olney Mill, and Fair Hill Shopping Center, culminating at Sandy Spring Volunteer Station 4 (17921 Brooke Road in Sandy Spring). There, enjoy the Menorah Lighting along with refreshments.

Lights & Ice” Hanukkah Skate Night [*new listing!]
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 2
Admission: Regular skate cost

Celebrate the Festival of Lights at the Canal Park Ice Rink with the Capitol Riverfront BID! It’s a special night of skating around the Canal Park menorah. The first 100 attendees get free skate rentals, plus there will be a live DJ, fried donuts, and giveaways.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: $10-13

The Chanukah celebration returns to the ice at Pentagon Row this year! Celebrate the holiday with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but a kosher dinner will be sold separately for $5 and includes hot latkes, Kosher hot dogs, donut, and water. Prepay by November 25, admission is $10, after it’s $13.

Family Chanukah Party
Where: EDCJCC | Northwest DC
When: December 5, 10-11am
Admission: $25/family

Join us at the EDCJCC for a fun morning celebrating Hanukkah. We will have arts and crafts, music, science and a community service opportunity. This program will take place in the JCC parking lot and inside the building. All visitors over the age of 12 entering the EDCJCC’s building are required to show proof of vaccination.

Community Menorah Lighting
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: December 5, 5-7pm
Admission: Free

The JCC of Northern Virginia is bringing the celebration to you on the last night of Chanukah. Join for the menorah candle lighting, sing songs, enjoy entertainment, spin the dreidel, and more! This will all take place at Strawberry Park in the Mosaic District.


The US Capitol tree is lit nighty during the holiday season

TREE LIGHTINGS

National Harbor Nightly Tree Lighting
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 13 – DEcember 31
Admission: Free

Watch the 54-foot tree come to life nightly with a breathtaking light show in the heart of the Waterfront District. The show runs on the half an hour from sunset to 9pm.

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 19, 6pm
Admission: Free

Tysons Corner Center will bring the community together to join Santa in kicking off their 2021 Holiday Season. Programming will include Santa lighting the Holiday tree, community performances, complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate station, kids crafts, specialty market featuring our retailers, holiday beverages by Barrel + Bushel, festive music, giveaways, and more.

Holiday Tree Lighting [*new listing!]
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 25
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, a Santa meet and greet, and catch a screening of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Light Up The Wharf [*updated info!]
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: November 26, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season at The Wharf as they officially light the Christmas tree and transform the waterfront into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights. Make an evening of it and have a family dinner at one of the many eateries there, too.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration [*new listing!]
Where: CityCenter | Downtown DC
When: November 27, 6pm
Admission: Free

Join the 8th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration was the 75-foot tree, one of the largest in the city and decorated with more than 150,000 lights and 4,500 ornaments, is illuminated to kick off the holiday season. Other festivities will include live entertainment, face painting, balloon art, sweet and savory treats, and a few surprises along the way that will have everyone dreaming of a whimsical snow-filled holiday.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 1 (to be confirmed!)
Admission: Free

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! While you can’t get 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  the Six Rivers National Forest in California, where it was harvested, to DC. It it expected to arrive November 19, and the lighting will likely take place December 1. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

Tree Lighting Benefiting Horton’s Kids
Where: Fairmont Washington | Georgetown, DC
When: December 1
Admission: Free

The Fairmont hotel welcomes the public to enjoy its annual tree lighting! The lobby and courtyard will be filled with tiny white lights and shimmering Christmas trees, becoming the perfect venue for a holiday celebration. Enjoy holiday classics performed by the Georgetown Visitation Madrigals.  Kids can decorate holiday cards,and  families will be entered to win prizes. Santa will make a special appearance along with the hotel’s Canine Ambassador, and families are invited to take a photo with him. This free event benefits Horton’s Kids, and all families and guests are encouraged to bring a popular toy such as Legos, basketballs, footballs dolls, books, games or arts and crafts to help spread holiday cheer to over 500 children, ages 5 – 18.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 2
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

This year will be the 99th National Christmas Tree lighting! Historically, to attend this lighting you have to enter a lottery to win admission. 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. (Note: Details are still to come… this may be all virtual again due to Covid, and there likely will be vaccination requirements if it is in person.) 

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill area, DC
When: December 3
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 will be lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening will also feature performances by The String Queens, whose members have collaborated with artists such as Ledisi, Janelle Monáe, and Common, and the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir.

Festival of Lights & Carols
Where: Old Town Square | Fairfax, VA
When: December 4, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

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

 

Shopping and a little seasonal magic at the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Czech Christmas Market
Where: Embassy of Czech Republic |
When: November 6, 9:30am – 6pm
Admission: Free

start your holiday shopping at the Embassy of the Czech Republic — all are invited to enjoy the magic of the season in person at the annual Czech Christmas Market. Browse stands filled with beautiful handcrafted ornaments, Bohemian crystal, exquisite bead and glass jewelry, fine art, Moravian wines and traditional liquors. Savor the taste and smell of mulled wine as well as an assortment of delicious Czech pastries and gingerbread, and savory cuisine. Adore an array of live animals from the Nativity scene for selfies. There’s entertainment, too — hear the children of American Sokol Washington, DC, and Slavic American Sokol performing Czech Christmas carols and live music by the folk band Orchester Praževica.

Museum Shop Holiday Market
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: November 11-13, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Suggested donation of $10
Start your holiday gift shopping at 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, Jewish Museum of Maryland, and International Spy Museum.

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 11 – December 12
Admission: $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. In order to have a safe and cozy shopping experience, this is a fully ticketed season. 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.

28th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 12-14
Admission: $8/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 19 – 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.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: December 10-12 & 17-19
Admission: Free

Victura Park, the family-friendly wine garden on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, will once again transform into a festive Holiday Market, featuring a line-up of local artists, craftspersons, and other specialized vendors, including the Kennedy Center Gift Shop pop-up shop. Support small businesses by purchasing gifts, prepackaged treats, and one-of-a-kind artworks for the perfect holiday celebration!  Sip on seasonal classics such as spiked cider and hot cocoa or choose from the signature menu of beer and wine, light snacks, and delicious food hot from the grill.

Outdoor Holiday Market
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Germantown, MD
When: November 20, 10m – 10pm
Admission: Free
Join BlackRock Center for the Arts at its all day (and evening) outdoor holiday market plucked right out of a European folktale!  Even better, it will be followed by a live indoor concert of jazzy holiday standards with the Eric Byrd Trio at 8pm. Food, games, photos with Santa, holiday music, crafts, games, and surprises, this festive season kickoff only needs one thing — your family — to complete its winter wonderland magic.

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 25 – 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.) An for more to do in Charm City see the KFDC Guide to Exploring Baltimore with Kids.

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.

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 3-5
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

Huerich House Museum’s annual holiday artisan market and festive house tour is back in person this year.  Christkindlmarkt honors the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour.

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

Just in time for the holidays, check off your shopping list at the market in Old Town! From arts and crafts to jewelry and baked goods, to body and hair care, vendors have items galore that will make for great gifts for love ones. Register online.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Online
When: Through the holiday season
Admission: Free

This Fair puts a new spin on gift-giving. The concept is simple: Make a donation to a locally-based nonprofits, personalize a Gifts That Give Hope greeting card for a loved one, and give that act of kindness as a gift. Thanks to generous shoppers, Gifts That Give Hope is supporting acts of kindness around our community and the world this holiday season.

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

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

Live, In-Person Entertainment to Enjoy Around DC this Fall

The NSO at the Kennedy Center…enjoy their free performances around DC and MD this month!

 

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am so excited for the return of live, in-person entertainment!  Most local theatres are easing back into it with fewer shows in the line-up for now (more planned come winter and spring🤞), but this round-up includes entertainment for everyone — children’s shows, family concerts, teen-appropriate plays, KidFree suggestions, community programs for all, and more.  Note that many venues require proof of vaccination from audience members ages 12 and up, and some ask for negative Covid tests from children, so be sure to check on this.  Shows are listed in order of start date (beginning early September, even though it’s technically not yet fall) with most descriptions coming from websites. Happy Viewing!

 

DC Jazz Festival
Where: Venues around DC
When: Through September 5
Tickets: Vary by performance

The annual DC Jazz Fest is back with in-person performances during the first week of September. Shows are taking place at several venues around DC, including the Wharf, The Hamilton, and Phillips Collections (unfortunately, the fantastic Jazz ‘n Fun Family Days is not happening this year, but you can still enjoy performances at the museum). See the website for the schedule of shows.

A Wind in the Door
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 2-11
Tickets: $20

A cosmic mission is unfolding! Don’t miss the onstage debut of the exciting sequel to Madeleine L’Engle’s beloved A Wrinkle in Time. Recommended for ages 9+, this one-hour show takes place indoors in the Family Theatre. Patrons 12 and older must show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 – with a physical or digital copy of their vaccination card and government-issued ID with the same name. Children under 12 must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours before performance time. Recommended for ages 9+.

A Raisin in the Sun
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: September 2-4
Tickets: Pay-What-You-Can

The members of the Younger family dream bigger than the small house where they live on the south side of Chicago in the 1950s. When their deceased father’s insurance money comes through, those dreams might actually become reality. Walter Lee wants to run his own business and earn financial independence, but his sister Beneatha dreams of attending medical school. Meanwhile, their mother Lena wants to move them all to a bigger home in a white neighborhood. What will finally allow the Youngers to move up in the world, and who will have their dreams deferred? National Players is honored to portray this award-winning drama with a universal story about an African American family dealing with prejudice, history, and a world where everything changes. Common sense media recommends this for ages 12 and up.

NSO in Your Neighborhood
Where: Several communities in DC & MD
When: September 3-22
Tickets: Free

The National Symphony Orchestra’s annual program is back! Over three weeks in September, NSO musicians will perform free concerts within the uptown DC neighborhoods of Ward 4, Takoma Park, and downtown Silver Spring. This year’s IYN has 17 events, including two full NSO performances. Events will be offered both indoors and outdoors — at parks, coffee shops, taverns, schools, and more local venues. All concerts and events are free to the public with first-come, first-served seating. See the website for the full schedule.

Broadway in the Park
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: September 3
Tickets: $32+ (look for discount0

Signature Theatre and Wolf Trap present this celebration of the return of live musical theater with a joyous evening of Broadway’s greatest hits under the stars. Starring Broadway’s Renée Elise Goldsberry (Hamilton, The Color Purple) and Brian Stokes Mitchell (Ragtime, Man of La Mancha) and a cast of Signature Theatre favorites, enjoy tunes such as “Don’t Rain on My Parade,” “I Am What I Am,” “The Schuyler Sisters,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” and many more.

Toni Stone
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: September 3 – October 3
Tickets: $64+ (look for discount)

History is filled with trailblazers and Toni Stone was one of them. Considered a pioneer, Toni Stone is the first woman to play baseball in the Negro Leagues, also making her the first woman to play professionally in a men’s league in the 1950s. Against all odds, Stone shattered expectations and created her own set of rules in the male-dominated sports world. Based on Martha Ackmann’s book Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone, award-winning playwright Lydia R. Diamond (Smart People, The Bluest Eye) tells the dynamic story of Stone’s journey of perseverance and resilience just to do what she loved the most — play baseball. This production is rated PG-13. It contains coarse and mature language that may not be appropriate for younger audiences.

Rosslyn Jazz Fest
Where: Locales around Rosslyn, VA
When: Through September 18
Tickets: Free

Jazz is back in Rosslyn with a three-week celebration of music, food, and fun! The Rosslyn BID’s annual Jazz Fest has been reimagined with live performances around the neighborhood (mostly pop-ups on Wednesdays), culminating in an all-day event in Gateway Park on September 18, featuring Three Man Soul Machine, Aaron Myers and Sin Miedo. Enjoy the soulful sounds of local musicians, including Crush Funk Brass Band, Akua Allrich, Kingman Island Orchestra, and Cristian Perez, live from some of Rosslyn’s favorite outdoor venues. Attendees can expect themed giveaways, prizes and restaurant deals throughout.

Kids Concert & Family Happy Hour
Where: The Hill Center | Capitol Hill, DC
When: September 10, 5-7pm
Admission: $5/adult, $10/child
Join us for a casual, outdoor happy hour for parents and tots!  Favorite local kids band, King Bullfrog, will hit the stage with high-energy original, folk and blues songs carefully tailored to get children dancing and delight grownups. This is a great opportunity to meet new friends and gather with old. Kids under 2 are free. Register in advance. A *quiet space* will be provided for those who need a break.

Come From Away: In Concert at the Lincoln Memorial
Where: Lincoln Memorial | National Mall, DC
When: September 10, 6pm
Tickets: Free

In honor of the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ford’s Theatre presents a free one-night-only concert version of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Come From Away on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The show tells the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers on September 11, 2001, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them — spurring unexpected camaraderie in extraordinary circumstances. Featuring a rousing score of folk and rock, Come From Away honors the better angels of our nature, revealing hope and humanity in a time of darkness. Members of the Come From Away company will star in this 100-minute concert. Recommended for ages 10+.

By the Seashore
Where: Lee District Park | Alexandria, VA
When: September 10-18
Tickets: $10

Art on the Horizon’s By the Seashore takes you on a magical journey to a place children love to visit – the beach! Young audience members are invited to explore all the amazing things we find on the shore, in the ocean, and in the sky; from birds and fish, to sand and water, and everything in-between! Using an imaginative mix of puppetry, movement, and sound, this sensory-filled production is specifically designed for our youngest audience members ages 0-3. It takes place outdoors at Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater in Lee District Park.

Luchadora!
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 17 – October 31
Tickets: $20.50

The discovery of a worn pink wrestling mask prompts Nana Lupita, a Wisconsin grandmother, to share her tale about growing up in 1960s Texas. As her tale unfolds, Lupita’s life as a teen tomboy comes alive—bike riding with her friends Leopold and Liesl, working at her father’s flower stand and lucha libre. When a World Championship match is announced, Lupita anticipates seeing it until she discovers her ailing father is one of the wrestlers. With the help of a magical mask maker, Lupita secretly trains to take her father’s place. She soon finds it difficult keeping her secret from her friends and, most importantly, her father. This production will take place outdoors in the grassy field next to ATMTC and the Irish Inn (BYO blanket!), and strict COVID protocols will still be followed — see website for details.

Dueling Piano Kids’ Day Shows
Where: Bobby McKee’s | National Harbor, MD
When: September 25 & October 30
Tickets: $25/age 3+

An afternoon family activity, where kids are actually encouraged to wiggle in their seats and dance in the aisles! Kids’ Day at Bobby McKey’s is a perfect outing for the whole crew with two hours of all request live music, plus lunch and unlimited fountain drinks.

Celia and Fidel ((KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: October 8 – November 21
Tickets: $72+

It’s 1980s Cuba and the revolution has reached a crazed tipping point. Fueled by a stagnant economy, 10,000 citizens have fled to the Peruvian Embassy in Cuba seeking asylum. As Fidel Castro grapples between his desire to maintain power and do what is best for his country, he turns to his closest confidant and political partner, Celia Sánchez for answers. What kind of a leader is he? Merciful or mighty? Imbued with magical realism, Eduardo Machado’s Celia and Fidel — Arena Stage’s seventh Power Play — imagines a fight between Cuba’s most influential female revolutionary and its most notorious political leader.

The Madness of Poe
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: October 11-31
Tickets: $20-60

Join Syentic back in the theater for an evening Edgar Allan Poe’s classic stories envisioned as a kaleidoscopic tapestry of terror. Featuring a re-imagining of the theatre’s 2007 hit adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher” plus other tales from the inventor of American horror, “The Madness of Poe” is suspenseful, sinister, sensual – classic Synetic in every way. Recommended for teen ages and up.

Hadestown
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 13-28
Tickets: $45-175 (look for a discount)

Welcome to Hadestown, where a song can change your fate. Intertwining two mythic tales—that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone—Hadestown is a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go. Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards® including Best Musical and the 2020 Grammy Award® for Best Musical Theater Album, this acclaimed new show by celebrated singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell and innovative director Rachel Chavkin (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812) is a love story for today…and always. Recommended for age 8+.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theater | Olney, MD
When: November 5 – January 2
Tickets: Currently part of membership package

Be their guest this holiday season as the classic animated story comes to life on the Olney Theatre Mainstage. It’s a tale as old as time, but it gets a new look from Tony-nominated director Marcia Milgrom Dodge.  Olney’s biggest show of the year brings the whole family together for a magical and memorable musical about the redemptive power of love. Join Belle, Lumiere, Cogsworth, and the rest of the gang in the Beast’s cursed castle for an escape to a world where beauty is more than skin deep and happily ever after is just a rose petal away. Rated G.

Witch Wartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 30 – October 31
Tickets: Coming soon!

Performances return to The Puppet Co. just in time to get ready 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 of the contestants will change year to year!

My Lord, What a Night
Where: Ford’s Theater | Downtown DC
When: October 1-24
Tickets: $20-35

Ford’s presents this new drama based on the real-life friendship between contralto Marian Anderson and physicist Albert Einstein. After performing in Princeton, NJ, acclaimed contralto Marian Anderson is denied lodging at the Nassau Inn because she is Black. Physicist Albert Einstein invites her to stay at his home, and the two form a profound friendship based on their love for music and their commitment to human rights. This production takes the audience into Einstein’s home and imagines the conversations and circumstances that led to Anderson’s historic concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Recommended for ages 12+.

Rent
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: November 2 – January 2
Tickets: Coming soon!

La Vie Boheme! The iconic rock musical’s pure rush of adrenaline, passion, energy, and joy is boldly and immersively reimagined in Signature style for a triumphant reopening. At the end of the millennium, a group of bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggle with gentrification, love, loss, and legacies amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis. Through songs such as “Seasons of Love,” “One Song Glory,” “I’ll Cover You,” “Out Tonight” and more, they embrace hope, find strength and survive. Recommended for teen ages and up.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 Live: Time Bubble Tour
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 7, 7:30pm
Tickets: 35+
The “Time Bubble Tour” features the beloved returning cast of the 2019 “Great Cheesy Movie Circus Tour,” Emily Marsh, Conor McGiffin, Nate Begle, and Yvonne Freese, along with the world’s only movie-riffing robots, Tom Servo, Crow, and GPC. The show features the film Making Contact and will include all the tour signatures: hilarious riffing, wisecracking robots, and silly sketches. Recommended for ages 10 and up.

Various Concerts
Where: Several music venues in DC & MD
When: Throughout fall
Tickets: Vary by show

For a bigger line-up of concerts coming to the area, check out the IMP website, which covers shows at 9:30 Club, The Anthem, Merriweather Post Pavilion, and Lincoln Theatre. Whether you want to go sans kids or bring them along (kids welcome at many concerts!), there’s a lot of great live music to enjoy over the next few months.

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Filed under 2021, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Music, Theatre, Weekdays, Weekend

National Children’s Chorus Academy – Apply Now for Fall 2021!

 

The National Children’s Chorus Academy based in Washington, D.C., provides children ages 5 to 17 the opportunity to learn and grow in an extraordinary musical environment. The country’s leading music educators work with students in small groups weekly to develop their vocal and musicianship skills from the most basic concepts through the college level. Tone quality, breath support and musical expression are cultivated within the individual singers, while working together as an ensemble culminates in an exciting array of performances, presenting world premieres and collaborating with an exceptional roster of professional artists from around the world.

 

Additionally, students have the exclusive opportunity to participate in annual international summer tours, opera camp, and national concerts at premier venues such as Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. With a spectacular musicianship curriculum to accompany its first-rate vocal training, the National Children’s Chorus is an unparalleled educational resource for children who love to sing! If your child has musical ability, don’t waste another minute.

Set up a virtual audition todayChildren ages 5 to 17 are invited to apply.

 

Virtual & In-Person Curriculum Includes:
Ensemble Training • Individualized Coachings with Conductors • Musicianship & Kodály Method • Voice Class • Advanced Ear Training • Advanced Sight Singing • Masterclass Series

APPLY NOW to book a virtual audition and attend the online information presentation on August 8!

 

This post is sponsored by the National Children’s Chorus, however, I only promote programs, events, and places that I genuinely believe in and think would appeal to KFDC readers.

 

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The 2021 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

 

 

 

This annual guide to summer fun around the DC area has always been one of my favorite posts to put together for a couple of reasons:  It reflects that awesome shift from structured days to carefree time.  Plus, it’s a reminder of how much fun summer is around the area.  And even though the guide isn’t quite as robust as previous years — some activities and events are still on hold — the joys of summer are still abundant, from water-inspired fun to movies in the open air to special exhibits to seasonal programs, and so much more.

Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so bookmark this post and start making plans. The 2021 KFDC Guide to the Best of Summer Around the DC Area has details and inspiration to help you get going.  Happy Summer!

* * * * *

Play in the Sprays
Outdoor Pool Season
Beaches
Waterparks
Big Screen Under the Stars
Summer Concerts
Festivals
Seasonal Exhibits
Entertainment
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences

Water features and fun will be back ON at The Yards!

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
Most spray parks will be back this summer!  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!

DC DPR Spray Parks will be open for the season daily starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 29, through September 6, 10am – 8pm. Find locations and see them all on a map on the DPR website.

The 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. (Opening date to come!) Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here.

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day. It’s run by the National Park Service, but I heard from the Georgetown BID that it’s supposed to open this summer, but still awaiting word on when.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.

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.

Lyon Village Park, Hayes Park, Virginia Highlands Park, and Drew 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.

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

 

That first jump into summer fun

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON
Nothing says summer like swimming under the sun, and there are plenty of public pools in the area where you can jump in for free or a small admission fee.

DC outdoor public pools will reopen at full capacity on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 29. Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check the schedules before you go.  They will be open weekend  only thorough June 27  10am – 6pm (and on Memorial Day, May 31).  Starting Monday, June 28, pools will open six days a week 10am – 6pm.  Locations and a map are on the linked DPR website. Admission is free for DC residents.

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will release pool hours and schedules for the 2021 season on Saturday, May 29. Check the Department of Recreation for those details.

In Northern Virginia, Arlington’s Upton Hill has a whole water park for guests to enjoy, and Alexandria has several places where the public is welcome to swim — check the City of Alexandria website for hours, as they vary by pool. But note that all outdoor public pools will open June 26.

 Swimply, an online service that started last year, lets you search for private pools to rent. You can find pools at residences all over and pay to use them by the hour.

 

Day trip to Cape Henlopen State Park… worth every second of the drive there

BEACHES
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 nice dose of sand and surf that are within day trip-distance from DC.

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is well 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 some quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.

Also in Calvert County,  Flag Ponds Nature Park 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. Admission is $8/car. Be sure to read more about Flag Ponds for tips and get a glimpse here and here

Enjoy views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge from the beach at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis. At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big beach 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 6am – sunset. From May 1 through September, admission is $5/Maryland resident, $7/non-resident on weekend, and $4/ Maryland resident, $6/non-resident on weekdays.

The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get sand and water at the Purse area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD. This 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. Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table 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 is open for swimming in summer to enjoy some sand and surf. Passes to access the beach park must be reserved in advance.  Be sure to know other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm. Admission is

Cape Henlopen State Park is a little over two hours from DC in Lewes, DE, but still 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 $8-10/vehicle.

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, you can reserve a beach spot at Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar on Kent Island.  Don’t let the name fool ya, it’s family-friendly and very fun.  The beach is right behind Kentmorr, the excellent crab house,  so if you plan well, you can make a day of it there with some beach time and a crab feast!  Or you can just hang and enjoy fare from Dave’s. Be sure to read details — pricing, hours, rules, etc. — on the website.

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 and within day trip distance.

 

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

Make a splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

WATERPARKS
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
* Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro, MD
* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA
* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD
* 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
* Soak City Water Park at Kings Dominion in Doswell, VA
* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

Sit back, relax, and enjoy a film outdoors at the Union Market Drive-in

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS
Outdoor movies have become a DC summer tradition in the last few years with films al fresco in several neighborhoods. And during the past Covid year, more drive-ins popped up to allow for social distancing, some of the continuing this season.  (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

The Alexandria Drive-In Movie is a fun way to enjoy some outside entertainment with the fam.  Movies are shown on the big outdoor screen on Friday and Saturday nights at 8pm at least through June. Food trucks are there offering savory and sweet concessions with online ordering through Goodfynd! Purchase movie tickets in advance! Admission if $40/acr

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays throughout the summer, with several family-friendly films in the mix. This year, they are are skipping the dramas in favor of action, comedy and cult classics. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. The film starts at 8:30pm. Admission is $10/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended. Runs monthly through October.

Every Tuesday in June at 8:30pm, catch Downtown DC Summer Flicks — Can I Kick It? on the west lawn of the National Building Museum.  With “The Future” as its theme, weekly screenings will travel through time and space.  And each film will be scored with an original music soundtrack of hip-hop, soul, and more mixed by weekly guest DJs, including Shaolin Jazz’s own DJ 2-Tone Jones.

The Bowie Baysox and Prince George County organizations are presenting Drive-In Movies at Prince George’s Stadium. Starting June 4, the program will run Fridays through the month.  Admission is $30/vehicle, and tickets must be purchased in advance.

On Thursdays throughout the summer, Sunset Cinema at The Wharf will feature a variety of classic on the 20′ LED screen on Transit Pier. The series is free, but you must reserve a ticket, which includes seats for up to six people. Each movie starts at 8pm with seating available beginning at 7:30pm.  BYO food from restaurants at The Wharf, but drinks (both hard and soft) must be purchased from Cantina Bambina.

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series will run on Thursdays at 7pm in June.  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.

Enjoy Summer in the Parks at the Rock Creek Carter Baron Amphitheater! Join the fun and entertainment on Thursday evenings in June, starting at 5pm, for music from DJ Lance Reynolds, food trucks, and themed activities.

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!

Moonlit Movies: Flashback Fridays, presented by the City of Greenbelt and Old Greenbelt Theatre, feature nostalgic favorites on Braden Field, behind the Youth Center. Reserve a 10-foot circle for up to 5 people for $25.  Pre-order concessions from the movie theater, follow the link above. Contactless pick-up at the movie theater will be available before each showing.

The Library of Congress will host its fourth annual “LOC Summer Movies on the Lawn” outdoor film festival. The series of five movies will be presented on Thursday evenings at sundown from July 8 to August 5 on the north lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, across the street from the U.S. Capitol.

Adams Morgan Movie Nights will present free films every Monday evening from July 12 – August 9. Movies, all with a “Made in DC” theme, are shown about 30 minutes after sunset at the Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field at 18th and California Streets, NW. Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

 

A past US Air Force Band concert at an iconic DC spot

SUMMER CONCERTS
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 Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage is back with free outdoor performances on Thursdays – Saturdays from May 27 through October 2.  On The REACH plaza, there will be films, live shows, arts vendors, dance and yoga lessons, plus food and drinks for sale at Victura Park!  Register in advance.

Jammin Java’s 20th Anniversary Outdoor Concert Series includes a variety of free all ages shows. Check the website to see what’s coming up and reserve your complimentary tix.

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series is returning. Enjoy outdoor concerts on Fridays at the Air Force Memorial at 7:30pm, and Saturdays at National Harbor at 7pm.

Every third Wednesday of the month from June to August at 7pm, catch the U.S. Marine Band playing in Yards Park while you picnic and take in the views of the Anacostia River. Admission is free.

Tysons Corner Center‘s Summer Concert Series doesn’t actually begin until September, but they will have live performers on the Plaza all summer before that on Thursdays and Fridays 4-7pm and Saturdays and Sundays.  As you grab a bite to eat and hang out, enjoy shows from the blues to ballet, funk to folk, pop to poetry 2-7. More family-friendly entertainment will also be there on Saturdays 4-7pm — think caricature and balloon artists, face painters, walking performers.

Glen Echo Park’s 2021 Summer Concerts Series will take place every Thursday at 7:30pm from  July 1  – September 9. Concerts will be held in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion and are free and open to the public, 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 its 11th season from July 9 – August 13! The six-week series will feature performances by popular local artists and cold beverages on the boardwalk from 7-9pm each week.

Olney Theatre Center will present Olney Outdoors on its Root Family Stage from July 2 – August 25, featuring free Shakespeare, an in-person edition of its popular online series “Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism,” jazz concerts, theatre for young audiences and more.

Enjoy music in Northern Virginia parks! The Fairfax County Park Authority presents their Summer Entertainment Series, a summer-long calendar of family-friendly shows, concerts, and movies held in local parks. Bring a picnic dinner, blankets, and lawn chairs to enjoy the best local and regional entertainers. More details to come!

The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, VA, presents its annual Summer Concert Series, featuring three military bands performing American hits and patriotic classics, each in their own style. The free performances will be held at 7pm on July 8 and 22, and August 26, outdoors on the grand entry plaza, weather permitting.

Huzzah for Ren Fest, which begins in late summer

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS
Several stand-out events are anticipated around the area this time of year, celebrating everything from music to art & culture to neighborhoods to food (some of them going virtual in 2021).  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

The Yards is hosting its first-ever Garden Party. The event June 4-6 will features socially-distanced floral themed pods designed to accommodate 6-8 guests, each with Instagram-worthy areas with drinks, snacks , and garden-inspired decor in an exclusive section of the Sun Deck. Reservations include garden baskets priced at $50-150 for different drink and snack offerings from local restaurants. Family-friendly reservations are available Saturday and Sunday mornings; it’s 21+ afternoons and evenings. Reserve via Tock or at theyardsdc.com.

Celebrate Capital Pride during Pride Month June.  While the annual, much loved parade and other events aren’t happening in quite the same way, there still are things to do to celebrate and support the LGBTQ community. From June 1-12,  Paint the Town Colorful invites residents and businesses to decorate the public facing space (building fronts, yards, patios, balconies), to express Pride.  On June 12, the Pridemobile Parade will travel around DC, its colorful caravan of cars led by the Pridemobile trolly spreading joy, resilience, and Pride throughout the city.

The National Park Service DC announced that Independence Day will be celebrated with fireworks on the National Mall.  Like previous years, they’ll start shortly after 9pm, though this time they’ll be set off by the Lincoln Memorial.  It remains to be seen what kind of access the public will have to see them, but many folks views them from across the river and rooftops around the city.

It’s not quite as big as previous years, but the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party is back for the season!  This year’s exhibition is very family-friendly, featuring a handful of smaller projects and programs both in the museum and on the West Lawn that are better for the early post-pandemic era of smaller gatherings and social distancing aptly titled Inside Out, the Block Party includes Maze of Knowledge, a wooden maze filled with books; a hand-built cathedral truss; interactive art; outdoor films; and more! And for memories’ sake, have a look at some of the past Summer Block Parties: The Big MazeThe BeachIcebergs, HiveFun HouseLawn. (Whew! I’ve been at this a long time.)

The annual Capitol Hill July 4th Parade will be back, when the neighborhood turns out to view and participate in a fun procession down Barracks Row that showcases many community organizations, schools, and city groups.

It might run into fall, but it starts in August, 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, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers!  As of now, the faire is ON, and the merriment is scheduled to begin August 28 and will continue every weekend through October 24. Go!  I promise, it is the absolute best.

Virtual this year:

The Washington Folk Festival that usually takes place at Glen Echo Park the first weekend after Memorial Day is not happening IRL this year.  Instead, there will be a free livestream concert and dance from Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom on June 6 at 7:30pm.

In late June and early July, the National Mall usually becomes stomping grounds of people from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. However, this year’s event on June 26-27 will be all digital.

Independence Day in DC is always a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are significant. This year, though, the National Independence Day Parade will be live streamed, and the Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol will not be open to the public.

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  features traditional Asian and African dancing and drumming, gardening workshops, park tours, arts & crafts, and other family-friendly pursuits. This year, however, it’s going virtual.  View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

A fairy house find in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

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

See Georgetown in a whole new, cool light — literally! Georgetown Glow, an exhibition of modern light art installations, runs through June 27.  You can take the fam to dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out. Artworks will be viewable by day, but obviously much brighter at night. It’s free to tour, and you just go and see them at your leisure.  Special talks and walks are available, too. Get a glimpse of a past Glow here.

Forces of Nature at the Renwick Gallery is a great exhibit to check out with kids.  Striking and intricate works take up entire galleries and make you want to examine them from all angles. Even little ones will dig seeing the big pieces that sparkle, look like giant flowers, resemble a rain storm, and sometimes make you feel like you’re within the art. On view until August 15.  Renwick hours are Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm, and free, timed-entry passes are required for admission.

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.

A cascade of 2,000 origami doves makes up Les Colombes (The Doves) at the National Cathedral. The beautiful art installation symbolizing hope looks like it’s suspended in midair in the magnificent space. Tickets for some June dates are available. Plan to spend time in the lovey Bishop’s Garden outside while you’re there.

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, is dazzling with Renewal 2021. Inspired by DC’s annual cherry blossom bloom, it aims is to promote hope amid the global pandemic and concerns of climate change. Experience it through Sept 6. Admission is $16-20/adult, $8-10/12 & under.

So, it’s not necessarily a special exhibit, but the rest of the Smithsonian Museums will be reopening over the summer. June 18: National Museum of Natural History; July 16: National Museum of African Art & National Museum of Asian Art Freer Gallery; July 30: National Air and Space Museum & Smithsonian Institution Building (Castle); August 6: Anacostia Community Museum; August 20: Hirshhorn Museum; August 27: National Postal Museum. Free timed-entry passes will be required for admission — be sure to snag yours, as they go fast!

 

A setting as great as the entertainment at Children's Theatre in the Woods

Entertainment especially for kids at Wolf Trap’s Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods

SPECIAL ENTERTAIMENT & PROGRAMS
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.

Wolf Trap is bringing back  Children’s Performances with slight changes this year.  Instead of the theatre-in-the-woods setting, the family-friendly shows will take place at the Filene Center to offer guests more space, with tickets sold in socially-distanced “pods” of 2 to 8 tickets. Enjoy lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, and more. 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). Tickets are available now!

Starting June 7, enjoy Arts in the Parks, a free children’s entertainment series from Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am beginning.  Catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from May 25 – September 8. Admission is just $1. Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 16 – August 4. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Ashburn welcomes families to Kids Camp, a movie series that is inexpensive ($1-3) and benefits local charities, to boot.

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor July 1 – August 8.  The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment!  Tickets start at $27.50.

Olney Theatre Center will present Olney Outdoors on its Root Family Stage from July 2 – August 25, featuring free Shakespeare, an in-person edition of its popular online series “Just Arts: A Celebration of Arts and Activism,” jazz concerts, theatre for young audiences and more.

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company is bringing back its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. The Adventures of Pericles will run July 1 – August 2.  Tickets are $19, 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.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, be back this summer. The Washington tradition offers free performances of a Shakespearean classic to the public, with tickets available through an online lottery or a limited number given out day-of.  Look for more info about it soon!

 

Go for a spin on the carousel at Watkins Regional Park

MINI TRAINS, MINI GOLF, CAROUSELS, & A FERRIS WHEEL!
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 Miniature Train 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 31 (Memorial Day), July 4 (July Fourth Holiday; closes at 4pm) & September  (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 back in April, and will run on weekend through September 10am – 6pm. Rides are $2.50. 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. Hours are 3-7 on Friday, 10am – 7pm on Saturday & Sunday.  Rides are $2.50.  Plan to stay and play at the super fun Wheaton playground — read more about it here.

The beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 100th season at Glen Echo Park and recently reopened!  Plan to go for a spin through June 13 on Saturday & Sunday, 10am- 6pm.   Then from June – August 29, it will be open Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm  and Saturday-Sunday, 10 am – 6 pm.

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1:00pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Cost is $3/weekdays, $4/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

There are a couple of ways to go for a spin at National Harbor. 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 start at $15. For an on-ground whirl, the Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7 for each 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 11:20am – 5:40pm, the carousel 11:25am -5:25pm, 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 $2-3, train rides are $3-4, mini golf is $7-8.

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.

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, $6/13+. Check websites for hours a each park.

Ride the Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel at Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria. Open daily through August 29 — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3 per ride on Fridays, $4 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

Kick up the summer fun at a Washington Spirit match!

SUMMER SPORTS
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. Catching a Nats game is one of our family’s preferred ways to enjoy a nice summer (or spring) day (or evening), anyway. And Nationals Park will open at full capacity again starting June 10!   Before you go, check out 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 (there’s also a free version), which includes Nats swag, plus all kinds of other cool offers. Even a few months into the season, it’s worth it!

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, will have several matches at Audi Field this season — and they are always very exciting to watch!

Every summer, the Citi 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 31 – August 8.

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 Carlini Field (CUA).  It’s fast paced, fun to watch, and there’s plenty of space to spread out in the bleachers.  Even better, there’s a welcoming family vibe, and kids 12 and under get in free!

The Fish Market at The Wharf has all you need for a DIY crab feast

CRAB FEASTS
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.
* Enjoy great crabs and an awesome beach area at Kentmorr.
* The Jetty on Kent Narrows has crabs, scenic views, and a fun beachy vibe.
* In Baltimore, Bo Brooks on the Canton Waterfront is popular.
* 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.

 

A paddling excursion on the Potomac

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES
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.

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings From July 9 – August 27 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.  Dates still to come — will keep you posted!

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 (if it’s open again). 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 June 17 (but you can roll around there before that). Even better, both admission and skate rentals are FREE! 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.

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

 

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Filed under 2021, DC, Maryland, Summer, Virginia