Tag Archives: Washington DC Kids Activities

Fall into Winter with this Live Entertainment Lineup

See the Broadway classic, Cats, this winter! (Photo courtesy of National Theatre)

 

As cooler weather sets in, local stages are heating up with all kinds of shows for everyone in the family. Here’s the lineup to help you stay warm and entertained the rest of fall and through winter.  Shows are listed in order of start date with most descriptions coming straight from from their sources.  Keep in mind that tickets make for great holiday gifts.  Happy Viewing!

Holidays on the Stage
Where: Around the DC area
When: Throughout the holiday season
Tickets: Vary by show

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired shows to celebrate the season, you can find them all listed here. There are several productions of The Nutcracker, plays especially for children, shows about Chanukah, festive concerts and singalongs, dance performances, and more!

The Day You Begin
Where: The Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through December 18
Tickets: $20-25

This musical is based on the bestselling children’s book by author Jacqueline Woodson. The plot: the first day at a new school with diverse new people; the setting: a familiar, yet more vividly modern elementary school classroom. The message? The day you truly “begin” is when you discover what makes you unique, but also the same as people who may seem so different.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: Through January 8
Tickets:$12-39
It’s a new, high-energy musical to rock the holiday season! When clothing suddenly falls from the sky, Wilbur J. Mole Rat stuns the colony with his decision to get dressed! In a community where baring is caring and skin is in, can Wilbur find the courage to rock to the rhythm of his own electric guitar? Based on Mo Willem’s beloved picture book, the show explores what can happen when we have the courage to be ourselves. Recommended for ages 4-10.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: Most Wednesdays & Saturdays at 10am
Tickets: $8

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). Run times are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Through January 1
Tickets: $37-74

Last winter, Olney’s internationally acclaimed production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast won hearts and attracted the admiration of audiences from around the country. This year, be Olney’s guest along with several returning cast members 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.

Into the Woods
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: Through January 29
Tickets: $40-109 (find discount)

Escape into a fantastical fairytale adventure where dreams come true, but not free. A trove of storybook characters’ paths intertwine as they chase their deepest desires through an enchanted forest. However, once they receive their happily ever after, the unintended consequences of granted wishes unravel their worlds. Weaving a euphoric score with a darkly humorous book, Into the Woods is a sophisticated musical twist on beloved childhood fables. Running time is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, including one intermission. Parents should use discretion about what is age appropriate for their children.

Much Ado About Nothing
Where: Sydney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through December 11
Tickets: $35-125 (find discount)

The course of true love never did run smooth, especially when the ON AIR sign is lit. Shakespeare’s cherished romantic comedy lands in a cable newsroom, where sparring co-anchors Benedick and Beatrice trade barbs behind the news desk. This version of Much Ado About Nothing is promised to be the perfect blend of sparkling screwball comedy and revelatory romance. Recommended for teens and older.

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Theatre on the Run | Arlington, VA
Alexandria Country Day School | Alexandria, VA
When: Dec 2-4, 14-18 (Arlington) | Dec 10-11 (Alexandria)
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this holiday show for little ones… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals. Recommended for children ages 2-5 and their families.

Wicked
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: December 8 – January 22
Tickets: $59-349 (find discount)

The Broadway sensation looks at what happened in the Land of Oz…from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin—smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships… until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.” Recommended for ages 8+.

Bat Boy: The Musical
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: December 9-11
Tickets: $12

Inspired by a series of tabloid headlines published in 1992 by The Weekly World News, the award winning show Bat Boy: The Musical is a musical comedy/horror show about a half boy/half bat creature who is discovered in a cave near Hope Falls, West Virginia. For lack of a better solution, the local sheriff brings Bat Boy to the home of the town veterinarian, Dr. Parker, where he is eventually accepted as a member of the family and taught to act like a “normal” boy by the veterinarian’s wife, Meredith, and teenage daughter, Shelley. Bat Boy is happy with his new life, but when he naively tries to fit in with the narrow-minded people of Hope Falls, they turn on him, prodded by the schemes of Dr. Parker, who secretly despises Bat Boy. Shelley and Bat Boy, who have fallen in love, run away together from the ignorant town folk, but their happiness is shattered when Meredith arrives and reveals a secret. Soon the entire town arrives and hears the shocking story of Bat Boy’s origin. Funny, quirky, but also touching and poignant, Bat Boy’s story spans an incredible score encompassing the styles of rock, gospel, and musical theatre. Recommended for ages 11+.

A Soldier’s Play
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: December 13 – January 8
Tickets: $45–135 (find discount)

The Pulitzer Prize-winning thriller has rocketed back into the spotlight thanks to this 2020 Tony-winning Best Revival. In 1944, on a Louisiana Army base, two shots ring out. A sergeant is murdered, triggering a gripping barrage of questions about sacrifice, service, and identity in America. Broadway’s leading man Norm Lewis stars in the show Variety calls “a knock-your-socks-off-drama.” Recommended for ages 13+.

No Excuses, No Limits
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: January 13-15
Tickets: $20

Be inspired by ILL-ABILITIES™—the international all-star breakdance crew of seven of the world’s best differently-abled dancers. No Excuses, No Limits takes audiences on a journey of each dancer’s story through dance, music, audience interaction, and a gained understanding of the limitless possibilities that any person can hold. Recommended for ages 7+.

Ride the Cyclone
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: January 13 – February 19
Tickets: $66-115

Part comedy, part tragedy and wholly unexpected, this wildly imaginative story delivers surprises at every turn. The lives of six teenagers from a Canadian chamber choir are cut short in a freak accident aboard a roller coaster. A mechanical fortuneteller invites each to tell their story of a life interrupted, offering the chance to come to terms with their fates. At once quirky and smart, edgy and beautiful, Ride the Cyclone ultimately reveals the resilience of the human spirit in spite of senseless tragedy. Recommended for teens and older.

Beauty and the Beast Jr.
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: January 13-22
Tickets: $15/adult, $13/child

Encore Stage & Studio presents this “by kids for kids” show… The classic story tells of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, meeting a Beast, who is the young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. If the Beast can learn to love and be loved, the curse will end, and he will be transformed to his former self. If the Beast does not learn his lesson before the last rose petal falls, he and his household including Mrs. Pots, Lumiere and Mr. Cogsworth will be cursed forever. Join us for a tale as old as time in Encore’s production of Beauty and the Beast Jr!

Aquarium
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: January 14 – February 12
Tickets: $16.50

Enter a fantastical island world where fish soar through the air, lemons light up the sky, and sheep go parading by. With gentle music, puppets, and props, actors lead children and caregivers in an interactive exploration of a magical place of play. Recommended for ages 1-5.

Cats
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 17 – 22
Tickets: $55-105 (find discount)

Tony Awards winning musical CATS tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn.

Monster Jam
Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC
When: January 28-29
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.  Gravedigger, Magolodon,  Dragon, Just Get-Er-Done, Terminal Velocity, and Wild Side are among the vehicular beasts that will be tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

NSO Music for Young Audiences: Beauty and the Beat
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: February 4-5
Tickets: $20

See NSO principal second violinist Marissa Regni and NSO assistant principal timpanist/percussionist Scott Christian in an exciting program exploring the magic created when the violin and percussion join forces. This melodic and rhythmic ride proves that no matter how different the instruments are, they can come together to make some beautiful music. Recommended for ages 3+.

123 Andrés
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: February 11, 11am & 1pm
Tickets: $20

The Latin Grammy®-winning music duo is back by popular demand! Join Andrés and Christina on an exciting cultural exploration of Latin America through an introduction of language, music, and dance. The 11am show is a sensory-friendly performance. Recommended for ages 3+.

Sunset Boulevard
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: February 4-5
Tickets: $59-299

Alone in her Hollywood mansion with little more than celluloid memories, former silent-screen goddess Norma Desmond remains what she has always been: the greatest star of all. For Broadway Center Stage, Tony-winning powerhouse Stephanie J. Block takes on the iconic role. Based on the 1950 film noir, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece—winner of the Tony Award for Best Musical on its release—weaves a compelling tale of romance, obsession, and faded glory. Recommended for ages 12+.

How Old is a Hero?
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 7-10
Tickets: $3-9

Everyone can make a difference! This Discovery Theater original play infused with archival music of the Civil Rights era celebrates three young people who helped change the nation by their heroic actions. Meet Ernest Green of the Little Rock Nine, the first black student to graduate from an integrated high school; Claudette Colvin, who months before Rosa Parks, also refused to give up her seat on a bus; and Ruby Bridges, who was only six in 1960 when she stepped into first grade—and into history—as the first student to desegregate an all-white school in New Orleans. Their inspiring stories demonstrate that hope begins with the courage of young people. Recommended for ages 6-12.

Girlhood
Where: Roundhouse Theatre | Bethesda, MD
When: February 17-19
Tickets: $25

A show from the Round House Theatre Teen Performance Company… A patch of land beneath an abandoned overpass serves as a common, yet sacred, ground for a group of teenage girls as they navigate adolescence. Identity, sexuality, and their unique upbringings all play a part in how they transition from childhood to young adulthood and figure out what comes next. Girlhood explores the dreams, fears, humor, and heartache of coming of age in an intimate series of vignettes. Recommended for teens and older. Students age 13+ can request free tickets through their Free Play program.

Golden Girls: The Laughs Continue
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: February 23-26
Tickets: $24-103 (find discount)

Description from Hippodrome website… Miami’s sassiest seniors have returned for one more hurrah. 2022 finds Sophia out on bail, having been busted by the DEA for running a drug ring for retirees. Blanche and Rose have founded CreakN, a thriving sex app for seniors of Miami. And Dorothy is trying to hold it all together, with help from a new young lover. Relive the heartfelt hilarity of four ladies who never stopped being your friends! (This may be more of a mom’s night out show, but all ages are welcome!)

King Lear
Where: Klein Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: February 23 – March 26
Tickets: $35-110

Shakespeare Theatre Company presents this production… Caught in a carousel of memory, the head of a dysfunctional royal family grapples with power-hungry children and the threat of losing the empire he created. Real and imagined worlds coalesce, creating a political and personal horror that threatens to swallow the mind of the monarch. The incomparable Patrick Page returns to STC as the once-revered king caught in an emotional hurricane ravaging his home, head, and heart. Recommended for teens and older.

The Hula Hoopin’ Queen
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: February 25 – April 8
Tickets:

Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street in Harlem. But she has to prepare for Miz Adeline’s birthday party, and almost ruins the day. Until Miz Adeline confesses that she’s also got the itch–the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street.

INTERSECTIONS Festival
Where: Atlas Center for Performing Arts | H Street NE, DC
When: February 25 – March 12
Tickets: TBA, vary by show

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!

Kofi’s African Village
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 28 – March
Tickets: $3-9

Drummer Kofi Dennis brings the vibrant life of a West African village to the Discovery Theater stage though music, storytelling, and dance. Using authentic instruments, the Ghanaian native leads lively call-and-response songs, games, and movement that gets audiences on their feet in a high-energy exploration of African cultural traditions. Recommended for ages 3-6.

War of the Worlds
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: March 3 – April 8
Tickets: $20-60 (find discount)

In a world premiere, Synetic Theater brings its stunning and immersive style to H.G. Wells’ renowned novel of devastation and faith in the midst of catastrophe. This multimedia fusion of acrobatics, music, and movement makes us question who we are and what is truly worth fighting for.

The Mortification of Fovea Munson
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: March 4-19
Tickets: $20

Mary Winn Heider brings her uproarious book to musical life in this world premiere Kennedy Center commission. Fovea Munson is stuck working at her parents’ cadaver lab, but she is by no means Dr. Frankenstein’s snuffling assistant, Igor! That is, until three disembodied heads start talking. To her. Out loud. And they need a favor. March 18 at 11am is a sensory-friendly performance. Recommended for ages 10+.

Fitting In
Where: Theatre on the Run | Alexandria, VA
When: March 10-26
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this show for littles… Three siblings find themselves in a room full of possibilities and one not so simple task- to put things in their proper place. However, they soon discover that throwing this and that into a box is not the same as finding where it fits in. Through clowning, movement, and original music, three performers will transform everyday objects into something extraordinary. Is a blanket a blanket? Or is it the sail of a boat setting off on an epic voyage? Together, we can find the magic buried in the bottom of every box, and hidden inside the world around us! Recommended for ages 2-5.

Wake Up, Brother Bear
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: March 11 – April 8
Tickets:

Sister Bear and Brother Bear are back from hibernation to take little ones on an interactive journey through the seasons. Meet a curious butterfly, play in a rushing waterfall, and catch lightning bugs as the bears frolic through the forest in an unforgettable theatre experience. REcommended for ages 1-5.

Jagged Little Pill
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: March 14-26
Tickets: $55-105

Joy, love, heartache, strength, wisdom, catharsis, LIFE — everything we’ve been waiting to see in a Broadway show — is here in the exhilarating, fearless new musical based on Alanis Morissette’s world-changing music. Recommended for ages 14+.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC
When: March 18
Tickets: $25+
The Harlem Globetrotters 2023 World Tour is coming with game like never before! Your favorite Globetrotter stars are bringing out their amazing basketball skill, outrageous athleticism, and a non-stop LOL good time. Join the Globetrotters as they go head-to-head against the Washington Generals who will stop at nothing to try and defeat the world’s winningest team!

 

Are there any great shows coming up this winter that we missed?  If so, let us know in the comments!

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Filed under 2022, 2023, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Winter

The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

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An illuminated scene from a past Georgetown Glow

LIGHT DISPLAYS

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 11 – January 8
Admission: $30/car 

The early in the season opening offers more opprotunity to experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And what elevates this light display is the holiday village and carnival that’s included in admission.  Even more, from November 11-20, save $10 with the promo code early22 — valid every day including weekends.  And from November 21- December 15 save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with the code lights22.

Winter Walk of Lights
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 8, 5-10pm
Admission: $16-18/online, $20/on site, free/2 & under

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

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 18 – January 8
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 18 – January 1
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

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

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $10/age 5+

One of our faves, he Garden of Lights is a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes — a few of them new this year. 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.

Rhizome
Where: Bell Street Courtyard | Crystal City, VA
When: November 18 – January 2
Admission: Free

The Bell Street Courtyard, also known as Center Park, will house an installation by Light Art Collection’s Belgian artists, Tom & Lien Dekyvere. Consisting of a web of hundreds of meters of illuminated rope, Rhizome symbolizes the many ways in which human exchanges occur both on- and offline. This cocoon of light exchanges is reflective of our current society.

Winter City Lights
Where: 501 Olney Laytonsville Rd | Olney, MD
When: November 19 – December 31
Admission: $39-48/adult, $25-37/youth, free/4 & under

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

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

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

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When:  November 24 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go — and the course is refreshed with some new lights and a 150 foot screen. On November 27, December 6, and December 31 walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family (check website for pricing on those nights).

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo | Woodley Park, DC
When: November 25 – December 30, 5-9pm (select dates)
Admission: Free, but passes are required

This beloved FREE light display is back for the first time since Covid!  Thousands of environmentally-friendly lights and animal lanterns transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland in the evenings. There are also live music performances, tasty winter treats. and lots of opportunities for holiday shopping. Note that you must have passes to visit, and they’ll be available soon!

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/age 3-17

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

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $10/online, $15/at gate

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

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

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

DC Winter Lantern Festival
Where: Lerner Town Square | Tysons, VA
When: November 25 – February 12
Admission: $32/adult, $20/child (look for discount)

It says DC, but this new-to-the-area event is actually lighting up Tysons with its first Winter Lantern Festival. The illuminated display will transform Lerner Town Square into a dazzling world of light with over 1000 Chinese lanterns, all handmade by artisans with decades of experience. The lanterns and bright displays will light the night and bring warmth this holiday season!

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $15, free/2 & under

Bundle up for this magical holiday experience that is mostly outside. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into a twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous illuminations. Wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more are some of the sparkling scenes you’ll see.  Holiday pop-up shops, music, fun photo ops, and food and drink add to the seasonal cheer. Note that it’s closed November 28-29 and December 5, 6, 24, 25. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Commercial District | Georgetown, DC
When: November 26 – January 22
Admission: Free

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

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

This is the 7th 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 holiday season, Swinging Bells invites guests to become part of the artwork with interactive swings that animate the lights and amplify the cheerful sound of holiday bells. Fve, 13-foot tall bells will illuminate The Yards’ Sun Deck and are the perfect stop for taking photos and enjoying the holiday spirit.When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).  Get a glimpse of other previous Light Yards here, here, and here.

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

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 30th Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This iconic DC event will feature over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. Get into the spirit with holiday ornament decorating, family photos with Santa, and live music under thelighted Christmas Tree.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 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. The parade begins at 7pm.

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

The Nutcracker @ TheARC
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 12-13
Tickets: $30-60

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 31
Tickets: $25-104
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).

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center | Manassas, VA
When: November 25 & 26
Tickets: $35/adult, $25/child

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Tickets: $40-50 (look for discount)

In a season stuffed with varied versions of the classic yuletide tale, Paul Morella’s solo performance stands apart for its devotion to Dickens’ original language and storytelling genius. One extraordinary performer brings to life Scrooge and his specters, the whole Cratchit family, and celebrants of Christmases past, present, and future – more than 40 different characters in all. It’s why this production is a treasured annual tradition gathering more devotees than ever as it enters its 13th iteration.

Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: November 25 – December 230
Tickets: $48-140

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

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Snow Maiden
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: December 1-23
Tickets: $25 (look for discount)

In a frozen silver world, a lonely man builds a woman from snow. Based on a 19th century folk tale and created by Helen Hayes Award-winning choreographer and Synetic Co-Founder Irina Tsikurishvili, Snow Maiden is a story of love, hope, and the transformative power of dreams. This enchanting holiday show is for all audiences. Go early for winter-themed arts and crafts, holiday cheer, and more!

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Theatre on the Run | Arlington, VA
Alexandria Country Day School | Alexandria, VA
When: Dec 2-4, 14-18 (Arlington) | Dec 10-11 (Alexandria)
Tickets: $10

Arts on the Horizon presents this holiday show for little ones… One snowy winter morning, Mr. Gumdrop prepares for his annual holiday party! When an unexpected and curious mouse appears, Mr. Gumdrop’s routine is thrown for a loop. Can these two wildly different characters work together to get the holiday preparations done in time? This nonverbal, imaginative production captures the magic of making new friends and sharing ideas to accomplish big goals. Recommended for children ages 2-5 and their families.

The Christmas Angel
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: December 2-18
Tickets: $20-40

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!  Use code 4PK to purchase a Family 4-Pack for $80 (4 seats together)!

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 3
Tickets: Free

Kick off the holiday season at Wolf Trap’s Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long! This musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with local choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring along a few things: 1) A candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” 2) A new, unwrapped toy — Wolf Trap will be collecting them for Toys for Tots (donations are voluntary and not required). 3) Your holiday cheer!

Family Messiah
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When December 3, 12pm
Tickets: $45/adult, $25/child

Join Washington National Cathedral for Handel’s beloved “Messiah,” and experience this Christmas classic in a space as Handel would have intended. The Cathedral’s soaring architecture and Gothic splendor offers a space unlike any other in Washington to experience Handel’s masterpiece. This noon concert on December 3 is an abbreviated performance of “Messiah” highlights, perfect for busy families with young children. Experience the best of “Messiah” with the whole family.

A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol
Where: Gunston Arts Center | Arlington, VA
When: December 3-11
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child

Encore Stage presents this show by kids for kids… In this remake of a Christmas classic, your favorite fairy tale characters bring to life the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s magical Christmas Eve. Mother Goose lends her talents to narrate the story as the Big Bad Wolf takes on the humbugging lead role. Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Old King Cole, and many more help create a new twist on the traditional Dickensian story told every December.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 5-16 & 19-20
Admission: $3-9

This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is back this season for first time since 2019! Seeing this show is like a rite of passage for every true DC kid. A signature Discovery Theater show, it celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. Recommended for ages 5-10.  It always sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets!

Step Afrika! Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: December 9-18
Tickets: $56-95 

Taking place at Arena Stage for the first time this year, Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is the most vibrant holiday celebration in town! (And we know from many years’ experience!) This fun, family-friendly performance will have you stomping your feet and clapping your hands to energetic beats from Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The internationally-renowned percussive dance company has created a fantastic, contemporary holiday tradition, featuring friendly, furry characters, fun photo ops, and a festive dance party. A great deal is the Family Fun Pack: 4 seats for only $130!  Order by calling the sales office (202.488.3300) Tuesday – Sunday, 12-8pm.

Holiday Wishes from The Talent Machine Co.
Where: Indian Creek School | Crownsville, MD
When: December 9-23
Tickets: $20

Enjoy this high-energy holiday musical revue from The Talent Machine Company, a premier children’s theater program based in Annapolis. The show features an amazingly talented cast of kids ages 5 to 18. The Talent Machine’s holiday show, which has been delighting children and families for more than 30 years, features Rudolf, the Elves, Frosty the Snowman and, of course, the irrepressible Santa himself. A holiday tradition not to be missed. Note that there will be an ASL interpretation during the 7:30pm show on Saturday, December 10 – more details on the website. Details about show dates, times and the ASL interpretation are on the website:

Joy of Christmas
Where: National Cathedral | Northwest DC
When: December 10, 2pm & 6pm | December 11, 4pm
Tickets: $25-98

Trumpets, drums, and voices herald the coming of the Christmas season. As the cold of winter sets in, music of the holidays past and present will warm your spirit. CCS’s annual Joy of Christmas is a Washington tradition that all should experience.

Christmas Revels: Celtic Crossroads
Where: Lisner Auditorium | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 10-11 & 16-18
Admission: $20-55
The Washington Revels 40th annual Christmas Revels will be a homespun celebration of the holidays with music, dance and stories that echo from Celtic homelands to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Friends and neighbors living in a 19th-century “hollow” gather to prepare for “Old Christmas,” and the coming of the New Year. As the holidays draw close, they share music, warm family rituals that reflect ancestral roots, and stories of the journeys that led them to their Appalachian home. Scottish, Irish, German, Appalachian, and African American musical influences create a rich, uniquely American mash-up of toe-tapping reels, lush ballads and soaring spirituals, all culminating in a joyous Cèilidh and “breakin’ up Christmas.”

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: MGM National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 15-18
Tickets: $32-99

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

A Magical Cirque Christmas
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 16-18
Tickets: $50-120

Experience the enchantment of Christmas as Magical Hostess Lucy Darling takes you through an evening of dazzling performers and breathtaking cirque artists, accompanied by your favorite holiday music performed live. Get into the spirit of the season with this merry treat that’s perfect for the entire family.

Wonderful Time of the Year
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: December 16-31
Tickets: $60 (look for discount)

Emotions and gratitudes will overflow this holiday season at Olney Theatre Center’s world premiere event. The Most Wonderful Time of The Year features Olney superstars and a five-piece band, and the show will have something for everyone. From skits to audience sing-alongs, dancing, and even some disco, there is sure to be an abundance of the holiday spirit in the house every night. So bring your joy, your sorrows, your need for connection, and your prayers for the world as we journey the month of December and celebrate The Most Wonderful Time of The Year.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 10-11
Tickets: $27-30/adult, $22-25/12 & under

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

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: December 19-22
Tickets: $34-68

This holiday mash-up for the whole family is back by popular demand and celebrating its 10th anniversary season! The Hip Hop Nutcracker features Tchaikovsky’s classic score punched up by all-star contemporary and hip-hop dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop’s founding fathers, who opens the show with a short set. Innovative visual effects transform the landscape of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s beloved story from traditional 19th century Germany to the vibrant, diverse sights and sounds of modern urban life. Through this remixed and reimagined version of the holiday classic, The Hip Hop Nutcracker takes us on a journey that celebrates love and community.

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 15-31
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.

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: Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center | Rockville, MD
When: December 16-26
Tickets: $27-41

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 24, 11am
Tickets: $20-45 

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

 


The U.S. Botanic Garden’s delightful model trains will be back outdoors this year!

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens | Williamsburg, VA
When: November 11 – January 8
Admission: Starts at $27.99

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!

Holiday Movies on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 13 – December 18, Sundays
Admission: Free

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

Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse
When: November 19 – January 8
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
Admission: $17-30
ARTECHOUSE presents a holiday celebration with this exhibit that will run through the season.  Experience holiday joy brought to life through digital fantasy worlds, as you float among giant swinging bells, crash the party of a thousand nutcrackers, join a thrilling train ride through wreaths, take a spin in the candy cane carousel, and more in this interactive cutting-edge experience. Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse is intended to transport you into an immersive multiverse filled with magic and wonder — the perfect experience to share with your family and loved ones.

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 24 – January 2
Admission: Free

Easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction, Season’s Greenings is a local must-do.  The exhibit in the Botanic Garden’s conservatory features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s theme is . Even better (imo), it’s back outdoors in the National Garden!  For even more holiday magic at the garden, see it all twinkle as the USBG stays open until 8pm on Tuesday evenings.  Get a glimpse of a past exhibit in this post with scenes from the exhibit. For more on the seasonal favorite, see this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 29, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

ICE!
Where: National Harbor, MD
When: November 20 – December 31
Admission: Starts $27.99/child & $36.99/adult, free/under 3 

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

Enchant
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/age 3-17

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

The B&O Polar Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: November 25 – Decemeber 19, weekends
Admission: $47-67

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

The Polar Express Train Ride
Where: Western Maryland Railroad | Cumberland, MD
When: November 25 – December 24, mostly weekends
Admission: Starts at $35-380

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

Church Street Holiday Stroll
Where: Church Street | Vienna, VA
When: November 28, 6-8:30pm
Admission: Free

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

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

This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. 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: $28/adult, $15/age 6-11, free/5 & under 

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delights.  During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season. And if you want to get in on special events, there are Candlelight Tours on select dates (November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10, and 18) and Christmas Illuminations fireworks (December 16-17) — visit the website for more details and pricing.

Lantern Walks
Where: Around the DC Area
When: November 30 – December 4
Admission: Free

For 10 years, 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. 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.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: December 3, 12-4pm
Admission: $5

This will be an experience to remember as you watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport (it’s the world’s oldest continuously operating airport)! Make some holiday arts and crafts, then have your picture taken with Santa Claus after his big flight.

Super Stamps and the Season of Giving
Where: National Postal Museum | Union Station Area, DC
When: December 3, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

During a time of year when many are seeking opportunities to make a difference, visitors to “Super Stamps and the Season of Giving” will learn about how semipostal stamps issued by the United States Postal Service (USPS) fundraise for important causes. Together with other museums and charitable organizations, the National Postal Museum will explore the themes of community action and caring for others using a variety of performances and hands-on activities. Reserve a spot!

Holiday Family Day
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: December 3, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season with SAAM! Enjoy winter-themed crafting, face painting, and story time under the twinkle lights in the Kogod Courtyard. Enjoy a reading of The Nutcracker, groove to the beat of DJ Harry Hotter, and embark on a scavenger hunt in the galleries to find winter-themed artworks. Reserve a spot!

Pictures with Santa
Where: Ballston Quarter | Ballston, VA
When: December 3-24
Admission: Packages start at 39.99

If you want to get classic kids pics with Santa, book a session at Ballston Quarter. Embark on an enchanted adventure to take pictures and create magical memories for your family.

Bethesda Winter Wonderland
Where: Norfolk Avenue Streetery | Bethesda, MD
When: December 3, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

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

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

The Scottish Christmas Walk is back for its 51st year.  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 usually begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and ends 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.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum | Colesville, MD
When: Starting  December 3
Admission: $10/adults, $8/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)
Visit a unique DC area museum this holiday season. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus down themile-long woodland railroad, featuring a holiday ride on historic street cars. In addition, enjoy a holiday model railroad display in collaboration with the Washington, Virginia, & Maryland Garden Railway Society; a Live Steam demonstration (December 10 only), photo opportunities; and more.

Season’s Treatings: Holiday Gingerbread Decorating
Where: Canal Center Plaza | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3, 1-2:30pm & 3:30-5pm
Admission: $35-250

Join UpCycle Creative Reuse Center at Canal Center Plaza in North Old Town Alexandria for an afternoon of decorating fun and holiday arts market. Stay to watch the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac River (starting at 4:30pm). Each ticket includes one pre-made gingerbread house (suitable for 2 people), frosting, and unlimited access to an expansive candy buffet. Parking in underground garage is also included.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: December 3, 4pm
Tickets: Free

Kick off the holiday season at Wolf Trap’s Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long! This musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with local choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring along a few things: 1) A candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” 2) A new, unwrapped toy — Wolf Trap will be collecting them for Toys for Tots (donations are voluntary and not required). 3) Your holiday cheer!

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

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

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season and the 30th Anniversary of the District’s Holiday Boat Parade at The Wharf. This iconic DC event will feature over 60 beautifully decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. Get into the spirit with holiday ornament decorating, family photos with Santa, and live music under thelighted Christmas Tree.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina | Alexandria, VA
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 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. The parade begins at 7pm.

Holiday Fest
Where: Historic Downtown Occoquan, VA
When: December 3-4
Admission: Free

The town of Occoquan will be festively decorated starting in mid-November, but the weekend of December 3-4 will have lots going on for all ages. Visit with Santa, a gingerbread house contest, a holiday market, concerts in the park and more fun can be enjoyed by all ages. Vsit the website for details.

Annual Family Holiday Party
Where: Sandy Spring Museum | Sandy Spring, MD
When: December 4
Admission: $15/family

Head to the museum for seasonal fun! Enjoy visits with Santa and his elves, a kids’-only gift shop, hands-on kids craft stations, mountains of cookies and a hot cocoa bar, live holiday music, and the Fine Arts & Crafts Holiday Gift Show featuring one-of-a-kind items created by local artists.

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

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

DAR Holiday Open House
Where: DAR Museum | Downtown DC
When: December 7, 5:30-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Fifth Annual Winter Workshop
Where: Silver Oaks Cooperative School
When: December 10, 9am – 12pm & 1-4pm
Admission: $40

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could drop your kids off somewhere for three hours while you got some much needed time to yourself during this busy season? Wouldn’t it be even MORE amazing if they could make four different useful, homemade gifts along with spending time playing in a great setting? Silver Oaks Cooperative School thinks so, too… Their Kids Winter Workshop welcomes children ages 5-12 to the school for three hours to make four lovely gifts. Kids will wrap the gifts so they can stay a surprise until it’s time to open them. Use code Double before you select your tickets to get $5 off each ticket when you purchase two or more.

Tudor Tots: What Winter Holidays Do You Celebrate?
Where: Tudor Place | Georgetown DC
When: December 14, 10-10:45am
Admission: $5/child, free for accompanying adults

The winter season is filled with so many different holidays; come learn how different people celebrate during this time of year. Young learners aged 18 months to 4 years and their caregivers will explore the traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanza. Play games that are associated with the different celebrations, enjoy a group story about winter holidays, create a holiday craft and sing along to holiday songs.

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

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

Santa’s Workshop
Where: Women’s Club of Chevy Chase | Chevy Chase, MD
When: December 16-17, 10am – 1pm
Admission: $15

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

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 16-17
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.

Waterskiing Santa
Where: Columbia Island Marina | Arlington, VA
When: December 24
Admission: Free

Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he waterskies 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 at Columbia Island Marina in Arlington  — note that it’s a new spot from previous years!

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: TBA – tickets on sale November 7
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!

 


See the tree at the Library of Congress

TREE LIGHTINGS

National Harbor Nightly Tree Lighting
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 12 – December 31
Admission: Free

Watch the brand new 60-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. The Stars and Stripes Fair will also take place on the first night of the tree lighting.

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 18, 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, a giant slow globe, the holiday market, festive music, giveaways, and more.

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

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

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 29, 5pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

Holiday Tree Lighting + Santa Firetruck Parade
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 25, 4pm
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.

16th Annual Capitol Hill Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Eastern Market Metro Plaza | Capitol Hill, DC
When: November 26, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

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

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

This year will be the 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.

Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration
Where: CityCenter | Downtown DC
When: November 26, 5pm
Admission: Free
CityCenterDC’s beloved holiday tree lighting celebration returns for the ninth year, kicking off the holiday season with a spectacular 75-foot tree decked with over 155,000 lights and ornaments. The seven-piece dance band, Elan Artist’s The Revel, returns for a second year to perform contemporary and classic renditions of holiday favorites throughout the ceremony. More fun includes face painting and balloon art; sweet and savory treats; an exciting, interactive, photo experience for the crowd; and the Instagram-famous orange carpet on I Street for all your IG-worthy holiday photos.

Holiday Tree Lighting & Celebration
Where: Cathedral Commons | Northwest DC
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

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

Tree Lighting Festival
Where: City Ridge | Northwest DC
When: December 3, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

City Ridge is celebrating its first holiday season with fun, free seasonal activities all evening long for guests of all ages. Festivities for kids include face painting, glitter tattoos, Santa photos and a Letters to Santa station, crafts, roaming performers, holiday train rides, and more! There will also be carolers, pop-up opera performances, live ice carving demos, live music, fun photo ops, and giveaways — all of it culminating with a tree lighting ceremony featuring a performance and sing-along with a local choir.

Festival of Lights & Carols
Where: Old Town Square | Fairfax, VA
When: December 3, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

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


Get Hanukah started with the National Menorah Lighting

CHANUKAH

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

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

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 – January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

Boogie-Woogie Klezmer Brunch
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC | Downtown, DC
When: December 4, 10:3am (brunch), 11:30am (Concert)
Admission: $25/concert & brunch; $15/concert free/7 & under
Klezmer brunch is back and family friendly this December! Music lovers of all ages are welcome to join us for Boogie-Woogie Klezmer Brunch with Seth Kibel paired with the Music Pilgrim Trio & Daryl Davis. There will be concert seating for those who want it, but children will not be expected to sit quietly — dancing is encouraged!

Chanukah LEGOLAND
Where: Northeast Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 4, 3-4pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot

Does your child love Legos? Are you ready to get into the Chanukah spirit? Join us at the Northeast Neighborhood Library for a lego-themed party!
Enjoy Lego activities, Chanukah treats, and help build a giant lego menorah. Duplos will be available for the younger kids, regular lego for the older ones. This fills up, so be sure to sign up early!

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Berman Hebrew Academy | Rockville, MD)
When: December 10, 6:30pm
Admission: Free
Join PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy, Kehilat Pardes, and The Jewish Federation to celebrate how to bring more light into the world with Chanukah (the Festival of Lights) and Havdalah. After a warm, spirited Havdalah ceremony to end Shabbat, create lanterns for a lantern walk!

Menorah Workshop
Where: Home Depot |901 Rhode Island Ave NE, DC
When: December 11, 3-4pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot!

Join Chabad East DC for a menorah building workshop. Make a brand new, custom built Menorah for this Chanukah! Dreidel games and chocolate gelt will also be part of the fun. And kids can bring home their very own, hand-painted menorahs!

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 18
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

The Wharf Lighting of the Menorah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 18
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!

First Night of Hanukah
Where: metrobar | Northeast DC
When: December 18, 4:30pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot

Visit metrobar for the first night of the festival of lights! Join to light our menorahs (yes, it’s fine to BYO menorah too!), eat vegan donuts from Donut Run, and enjoy hot drinks with friends and fam. And they’ll be lighting the menorah the same time all week from December 21-24. (PS: metrobar is right next to The Alamo, so you can plan for a family movie after you light the menorah).

Kensington’s Annual Menorah Lighting
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: December 18, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

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

Northern VA Night of Lights
Where: Village at Leesburg | Leesburg, VA
When: December 18, 5:30pm
Admission: Free
Join a family-oriented, community-wide candle lighting event featuring holiday-themed activities, including latkes, dreidel playing, doughnuts, kids crafts, music, a photo booth, and more!

Chanukah Holiday Party
Where: Edlavitch JCC | Downtown DC
When: December 19, 7-8:30pm
Admission: $10

Bring family and friends for a festive night of celebrating Chanukah at the JCC! They’ll light candles, enjoy holiday music, play dreidel, and participate in other fun Chanukah-themed activities. Dinner and snacks will be served, too.

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: TBA
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 on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: TBA
Admission: TBA

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.

Chanukah Concert & Grand Menorah Lighting
Where: Sylvia S. Ely Auditorium | Rockville, MD
When: December 22, 7pm
Admission: Starts at $18

Join Chabad of Silver Spring for a special concert with Nissim Black on the 5th night of Chanukah. There will also be a menorah lighting along with the live music. Concessions will be available for purchase.

The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Museum Shop Holiday Market
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: November 11-13, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Suggested donation of $10
Start your holiday gift shopping with DC’s museums. Strathmore’s Museum Shop Holiday Market brings together the area’s best museum and cultural shops for three festive days. Every present is part of a larger purpose as your purchase supports nonprofit museums and arts organizations in our community. Find unique gifts from the shops at Strathmore, Brookside Gardens, the Supreme Court Historical Society, Hillwood, The Phillips Collection, GWU Museum & The Textile Museum, President Lincoln’s Cottage, and Woodend Nature Shop.

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

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

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 10 – December 11
Admission: $20-25

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

29th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 11-13
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 18 – 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.

Holiday Market
Where: The PARC | Tysons, VA
When: December 2-17, Fridays & Saturdays
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season with local makers, crafters, and artisans from the Fairfax area. Visit The PARC at Tysons the first three Fridays and Saturdays of December for a pop-up shop of local artisans and small businesses offering their unique holiday-inspired goods and gifts. You’re sure to find something for even the hardest-to-shop-for person on your list.

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: TBA
Admission: Free

Victura Park, the family-friendly wine garden on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, transforms into a festive Holiday Market during the season, 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.

Fall Bazaar
Where: Washington Waldorf School | Bathesda, MD
When: November 19
Admission: Free, but fee for activities 

Washington Waldorf School is bringing back its annual holiday market for the first time since 2019! For over 50 years, it has been offering one of the highest quality bazaars in the DC area with unique crafts and activities for children of all ages. They welcome many local artisans and offer an array of beautiful handcrafted items made by parents. There will also be live entertainment and tasty treats Entrance is free, but activities require tickets to be purchased. All are welcome!

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 19 – December 24
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult weekends, kids free

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

Heurich Christmas Markt
Where: Heurich House Museum | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 2-4
Admission: $10-16/ages 15+ and $2/ages 2-15

Heurich House’s annual holiday market, Christkindlmarkt, has evolved from a small garden fair to a block-wide celebration. This year, stroll through the festive German-style craft market from the Heurich House Museum’s garden up New Hampshire Avenue NW towards Dupont Circle with a Glühwein in hand and find the perfect holiday gifts for loved ones. The Markt will feature over 50 local small-scale makers, a mini exhibit about. the historic revival of the Chr. Heurich Brewing Co.’s Senate Beer, children’s ornament making, and more! Visits to the Christmas Markt not only support DC’s local craftspeople directly, but also helps the museum provide services to them all year long.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building | Downtown DC
When: December 8, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

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

Old Town Alexandria Christmas Market & Holiday Craft Show
Where: Carlyle Square | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 10
Admission: Free

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

DC Holiday Market
Where: Union Market – Dock 5 | Northeast DC
When: December 17-18
Admission: $10-15/adult, free/age 14 & under

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

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

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Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

The Live Entertainment Line-Up Around DC this Fall

Olney Theatre is bringing back a Disney classic

 

Autumn is on its way and bringing a whole new season of live entertainment along with cooler temps. Here’s the round-up of what you can catch on stages around the area, listed in order of opening date, with discounts noted where available.  Happy Viewing!

 

Milo the Magnificent
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: Through September 30
Tickets: $15

See a highly engaging puppet show about an aspiring magician. This wordless comedy, inspired by turn of the century vaudeville entertainers, is as highly physical as it is charming. Using stunningly innovative puppetry, Milo presents a variety of magic tricks which don’t always go as planned. Run time approximately 60 minutes. Recommended for ages 4+.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: Most Wednesdays & Saturdays at 10am
Tickets: $8

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). Run times are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Dear Evan Hansen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through September 25
Tickets: $79-199 (look for discount)

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. Recommended for age 12+. (This is one of my favorite shows of all time!  Read a KFDC review  from when it debuted at Arena Stage several years ago.)

Hamilton
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through October 9
Tickets: $59-379 (look for discount)

Seats are still available for the iconic show that began its run this summer.  Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. Recommended for ages 10+.

Host & Guest
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: September 12 – October 2
Tickets: $20-60

Based on a Georgian epic poem, Host & Guest tells the ancient story of a family who takes in a lost stranger to discover he is from an enemy clan, and their valiant attempt to save him when their village wreaks vengeance. Performed around the world, Host & Guest is a timely and relevant tale of war, strife, the beliefs that tear us apart, and the humanity that brings us together.

To Sail Around the Sun
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 17, 11am & 2pm
Tickets: $30

This National Dance Day, kids can take an enchanting trip across the globe to celebrate movement, music, and the planet we call home. To Sail Around the Sun caters to kids through dance, live music, and storytelling that takes audiences on one child’s journey to gather all four seasons before dinner time. The show travels beneath the springtime waves of the Australian shores, through the summertime rainforests of Argentina, among the autumn leaves of Japan, and in the wintry snows of Kazakhstan. Recommended for all ages, run time is one hour.

The Hero of Everything
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center | Silver Spring, MD
When: September 23 – October 2
Tickets: $13.50/12+, $10/age 4-11, free/under 3

This action-packed interactive play is performed by three actors on stage and a whole team of superheroes in the audience… Who needs a sidekick or a team when you can do everything yourself, and do it just the way it should be? Captain Everything loves saving the day and doesn’t need anyone’s help to do it. Sure, she has an Amazing Alliance of Superheroes, but no one minds if she just handles everything herself. Or do they? What happens when everyone else gets tired of being left out of everything and quits? And what happens when Captain Everything faces something she can’t do? Can she face her fears and cooperate with her team to save Citytown City? Or will it be too late? Recommended for ages 5 & up.

The Trip to Bountiful
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Downtown DC
When: September 23 – October 28
Tickets: $24-54 (look for discount)

Carrie Watts dreams of escape from the bustling city and of a return to simpler times in her beloved Bountiful, Texas. She sets out on a risky journey to her beloved hometown, with her family in hot pursuit. Along the way, she encounters kindness and compassion … and makes a remarkable discovery about the true meaning of home. One of the foremost interpreters of Horton Foote’s work, Michael Wilson directs Nancy Robinette as Carrie Watts with Joe Mallon as her son, Ludie, and Kimberly Gilbert as her daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. This classic American drama is a touching portrait of family, what we hold onto and what we leave behind. Recommended for ages 13+.

Dance Nation
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: September 28 – October 30
Tickets: $49-79 (look for discount)

The explosive off-Broadway smash is kicking off Olney Theatre Center’s 2022-23 season! The pre-teen dance team from Liverpool, Ohio is primed for competition, but 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 adolescent girls (and one boy) amidst their tween confusion, as well as their future adult selves in a dream play with moments of true terror, complete with fangs, blood, and wild, stylized, dance. Olney gives this an R rating, but it sounds like one older could enjoy.

Once on this Island
Where: Source Theatre | 14th Street NW, DC
When: September 29 – November 6
Tickets: $15-55 (look for discount)

As this show by Constellation Theatre Company opens, a child is terrified by a tropical storm and the community comes together to comfort her with a story. On an island where people are separated by color and class, the four Gods (Earth, Water, Love and Death) place a bet. A young girl leaves her humble upbringing to pursue her true love, the Prince, only to be faced with an impossible choice. With Calypso-flavored music and fantastical storytelling, Once On This Island is a celebration of hope and kindness that will nourish your soul.

Witch Wartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: October 1-31
Tickets: $15

Witch Wartsmith (the sister of Witch Wartsmith from our Legacy and touring 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. Some of our contestants will change year to year, so come back to see old and new friends alike! Run time approximately 45 minutes. Recommended for ages 4+.

Baba Bomani & The ABCs of Hip-Hop
Where: Publick Playhouse | Hyattsville, MD
When: October 2, 2pm
Tickets: $5

This workshop explains the reading, writing, and arithmetic of Hip-Hop performance. From learning to recognize vowels and syllables, to understanding the rhythm patterns that turn those syllables into raps over a beat, students will be engulfed in dance and song through this highly interactive presentation.

TINA – The Tina Turner Musical
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: October 4-23
Tickets: $60-130

This new musical reveals a comeback story like no other, of a woman who dared to defy the bounds of racism, sexism and ageism to become the global Queen of Rock n’ Roll. TINA – THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL is a celebration of resilience and an inspiration of triumph over adversity.

The Ballad of Emmet Till
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: October 4 – November 19
Tickets: $29-50 (look for discount)

With music and magic, Ifa Bayeza’s Edgar Award-winning drama recounts the last two weeks of Emmett Till’s life on his journey from Chicago to Money, Mississippi in 1955. We meet a young man with boisterous energy and boundless charm whose fateful encounter with Caroline Bryant changes his life and our country forever. Recommended for teens and older.

Ichabod: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: October 6-30
Tickets: $20-45

Journey back in time to a quiet glen called Sleepy Hollow, where the denizens of the town are anxiously awaiting the arrival of their new school master, Ichabod Crane. An adaptation of Washington Irving’s Classic tale of lore, love and the legendary Headless Horseman, this World Premier Musical by the critically acclaimed creative team Conner and Smith arrives just in time for autumn leaves, pumpkins, and ghost tales around the campfire.

Disney on Ice: Frozen & Encanto
Where: EagleBank Arena | Fairfax, VA
When: October 6-10
Tickets: $20-110

Two shows in one! Join the race to find Elsa and stop the eternal winter, dream about summer with Olaf, and sing-along with Kristoff and Sven. Then, celebrate the love of family in the new show everyone will be talking about! Experience Disney’s Encanto brought to life like never before. Sing and dance with Mirabel, her sisters, Isabela and Luisa, and more!

Master Chef Junior Live!
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: October 7
Tickets: $30-75 (look for discount)

This high-energy, interactive, stage production brings the culinary hit TV show MasterChef Junior to fans and foodies alike… LIVE on stage! Watch Season 8’s winner, finalist, and fan favorites as they take to the stage in head-to-head cooking demonstrations and fun (sometimes messy!) challenges with an overall immersive audience experience fun for all ages.

Guys and Dolls
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 7-16
Tickets: $59-299

Set in bustling 1950s Manhattan, Guys and Dolls follows a rowdy bunch of gamblers, gangsters, and sassy showgirls in a wild game of chance—then love sneaks in. The classic Broadway show is hailed by many as the perfect musical comedy. Recommended for ages 9+.

Holiday
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: October 7 – November 6
Tickets: $56-95 (look for discount)

An up-and-coming Wall Street lawyer from a working-class family aspires to quit his job and enjoy life once he’s made enough money to do so. The prospect doesn’t thrill his wealthy, well-born fiancée, but excites her more unconventional sister. Can his dreams survive his soon-to-be bride’s narrow view of affluence? Opposing societal hierarchies and differing views of success confront each other in this classic romantic comedy set in the 1920s, which became a beloved 1938 film starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, and which is still a timely commentary on how to pursue a life worth living. Recommended for teens and older.

Saturday Morning Live! At The National
Where: National Theatre | Downtown, DC
When: October 8 & November 12, 9:30am & 11:30am
Tickets: FREE

Fun takes center stage at the National Theatre for Saturday Morning Live! Join us Saturday mornings for wow-inspiring children’s entertainment of all sorts, from interactive performances, puppets, dance, and music – all designed to light up imaginations and celebrate a world of wonder. This season we’re back IN PERSON and better than ever. We’re all different in lots of wonderful ways, and our season lineup reflects that fact! It’s a season that’s all about the colors, words, and motion that make us unique. It’s free. It’s fun. It’s a great way to Saturday.

Wheaton Family Theater Series
Where: Highland Elementary School | Wheaton, MD
When: Throughout fall
Admission: Free

InterAct Story Theatre presents season eight of the Wheaton Family Theatre Series, a FREE public performing arts program for kids and families. For fall 2022, their touring version of The Hero of EVERYTHING will swoop in October 8-9, Grupo Rompe Cajón brings a fun weekend of song and Afro-Peruvian celebration and for November 12-13.

Masters of Illusion
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown De
When: October 12
Tickets: $36-59 (look for discount)

See cutting-edge illusionists perform sleight-of-hand, perplexing interactive mind magic, hilarious comedy, dangerous escapes and large scale illusions. These modern masters display skills that have taken a lifetime to perfect. Audience members will be baffled by the astounding skills of these modern illusionists.

Dracula
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: October 13 – November 6
Tickets: $20-60 (look for discount)

The sensuous and terrifying thriller arrives just in time for Halloween. With blood-sucking temptresses and creeping mists sure to send a chill up your spine, Stoker’s classic 1897 tale rises again. Dracula, the legend that inspired an entire genre of literature and film, explores the universal theme of good versus evil. As a bloodthirsty vampire terrorizes the countryside, an unlikely group fights to defend their home. Director Paata Tsikurishvili’s vision comes to life in this dark and menacing piece. Recommended for teens and older.

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: October 15-22
Tickets: $25-39

Adapted from the award-winning novel, this play tells the touching story of a young Chinese American girl and her family moving from China to the United States in 1947. Using humor and a rich multimedia staging, the play celebrates the bravery and sacrifice of those who bring new perspectives to our country. Recommended for ages 7+

NSO Family: Sleepover at the Museum
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 15, 2pm & 5pm
Tickets: $18
Imagine spending your birthday at the museum! Join Mason and his friends for a musical and scientific scavenger hunt through the many exhibits that make any museum special in this National Symphony Orchestra concert with music and story by Karen LeFrak based on her book of the same name. Recommended for ages 5+.

Sanctuary City
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: October 21 – November 27
Tickets: $76-95

Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok brings us the powerful story of two young DREAMers who fight to establish a place for themselves in America, the only country they know as home. Poignant, timely and highly theatrical, Sanctuary City illuminates the triumphs and challenges these lifelong friends face, and how much they are willing to risk for each other when they have everything to lose. Recommended for teens and older.

Disney Junior Live on Tour: Costume Palooza
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown De
When: October 22-23
Tickets: $36-59 (look for discount)

This show brings beloved Disney Junior characters and favorite Marvel Super Heroes live on stage for a jam-packed, concert-style show with singing, dancing, acrobatics, and more. It will feature favorite songs from hit Disney Junior series, as well as new original music. Mickey, Minnie, and their pals are getting ready to throw a huge costume party but mysterious green weather keeps interrupting the fun. Can Spidey and his Amazing Friends help save the Costume Palooza? Come join the party! Find ticket links here.

S.P.I.E.S. 2: Flight of the Hawk
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: October 29 – November 20
Tickets: $25

Join S.P.I.E.S. in person, where it is more interactive than ever! This follow-up to the online hit S.P.I.E.S. & the Lost Treasure of Atlantis combines live theatre and taped adventure scenes to create a collaborative and exciting experience where each audience gets to be the hero and solve the puzzles–and no two performances are alike. Recommended for ages 5-11.

Finding Rhythm: Go-Go Music
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 29, 11am & 1:30pm
Tickets: $20

Take a journey through the musical brain with Mother Dance, Father Rhythm, and the Curious Scientist! D.C.’s own Go-go music and brain science come together for this lively show that’ll have kids singing and dancing to the beat. Learn the origins of human rhythm, how rhythm grows the brain, and where children find the source of their own power AND connection. Music neuroscientist and show creator Dr. Jessica Phillips-Silver draws together a team of master musicians and teaching artists to tell this powerful, unifying story. Recommended for ages 5+.

The Princess and the Goblin
Where: Creative Cauldron | Falls Church, VA
When: November 4-20
Tickets: $20/adult, $18/student, $65/Family 4-Pack (look for discount)

When the always curious Princess Irene discovers a secret stair to the top turret of the castle, it leads to a wonderful revelation that she has a fairy grandmother. At the same time, the miner’s son Curdie overhears a fiendish plot by the goblins who live below the mountain. It will take all their strength and courage, and the help of Irene’s magic ring, to foil the goblin’s schemes. Adapted for the stage with music, humor and wit that has become the signature of Creative Cauldron’s Learning Theater productions, this show has appeal for every age.

Air Play
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 6
Tickets: $20-35 (look for discount)

Umbrellas fly, fabrics soar over the audience, balloons swallow people, and snow swirls, filling the stage. Air Play transforms ordinary objects into uncommon beauty through a wordless, magical adventure as two siblings journey through a surreal land of air. Created by circus performers in collaboration with a kinetic sculptor, this enchanting spectacle combines comedy, live sculpture, circus, and theater to fill both the young and young at heart with wonder. Recommended for all ages.

Diggin’ Puppets & Paleontology: A STEAM Event
Where: Publick Playhouse | Hyattsville, MD
When: November 6
Tickets: Free

The Dino Rock puppets are back at the Playhouse and bringing science with them. Join the dinosaurs and their friends as they sing and dance the scientific method and teach other fantastic fun facts for an entertaining afternoon of family fun.

Into the Woods
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: November 8 – January 29
Tickets: $40-109

Escape into a fantastical fairytale adventure where dreams come true, but not free. A trove of storybook characters’ paths intertwine as they chase their deepest desires through an enchanted forest. However, once they receive their happily ever after, the unintended consequences of granted wishes unravel their worlds. Weaving a euphoric score with a darkly humorous book, Into the Woods is a sophisticated musical twist on beloved childhood fables. Running time is approximately 2 hours 45 minutes, including one intermission. Parents should use discretion about what is age appropriate for their children.

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: November 9 – January 1
Tickets: $37-74

Last winter, Olney’s internationally acclaimed production of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast won hearts and attracted the admiration of audiences from around the country. This year, be Olney’s guest along with several returning cast members 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.

Much Ado About Nothing
Where: Sydney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 10 – December 11
Tickets:

The course of true love never did run smooth, especially when the ON AIR sign is lit. Shakespeare’s cherished romantic comedy lands in a cable newsroom, where sparring co-anchors Benedick and Beatrice trade barbs behind the news desk. This version of Much Ado About Nothing is promised to be the perfect blend of sparkling screwball comedy and revelatory romance. Recommended for teens and older.

Chicago
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: November 14-27
Tickets: $25-125  (look for discount)

After 25 years, Chicago is still the one musical with everything that makes Broadway shimmy-shake: a universal tale of fame, fortune, and all that jazz, with one show stopping song after another and the most astonishing dancing you’ve ever seen.

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 16 – January 6
Tickets:

When clothing suddenly falls from the sky, Wilbur J. Mole Rat stuns the colony with his decision to get dressed! In a community where baring is caring and skin is in, can Wilbur find the courage to rock to the rhythm of his own electric guitar? Mo Willem’s beloved picture book explores what can happen when we have the courage to be ourselves. Based on the book by Mo Willems, recommended for ages 4-10.

The Day You Begin
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 19 – December 18
Tickets: $20

This world premiere commissioned musical is based on the popular picture book by Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence Jacqueline Woodson. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet…but somehow you do it. The Day You Begin is a poignant and heartening musical about finding courage to connect, even when you feel afraid. Recommended for ages 7+.

Bluey’s Big Play
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 22-29
Tickets: $29-99 (look for discount)

When Dad feels like a little bit of Sunday afternoon time out, Bluey and Bingo have other plans! This brand-new theatrical adaptation of the Emmy Award-winning children’s television series features an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm and music by Bluey composer Joff Bush. This is Bluey as you’ve never seen it before—brought to real life! Recommended for all ages.

NSO Pops: Disney’s Frozen in Concert
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 25-26
Tickets: $39+ (look for discount)

Travel to Arendelle and experience Frozen like never before! Watch in high-definition as Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf set off to break Elsa’s icy spell and save the kingdom. Of course, enjoy all of the favorites — “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?,” “Let It Go,” “First Time in Forever,” and more performed LIVE by the NSO as the incredible score comes to life!

 

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Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Live Entertainment Around the DC Area this Summer

The UniverSoul Circus will be back at National Harbor this summer

 

Summer might bring the heat, but the line-up of live family entertainment coming to the DC area is pretty cool. Here are details on what you can catch on local stages, listed in order of start date,  with discounts noted where available. Happy Viewing!

Outdoor Summer Concert Series
Where: Throughout the area
When: Various day and times
Tickets: Almost always FREE

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. From Jazz on the National Mall to riverside entertainment to music amid the nature of local parks to shows in local shopping centers, the 2022 KFDC Summer Guide has a round-up of where and when you can enjoy the sounds of summer.

Drumfolk
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: Through June 26
Tickets: $36-75

Electrifying percussive dance fused with contemporary art forms fuels StepAfrika!’s latest production, Drumfolk, inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739 in South Carolina. As a result, state laws mandated that enslaved Africans could not assemble or use their drums which were used to signal the uprising. They took away the drums, but they could not stop the beat. This is the rich and “inspiring” (The New York Times) story of a movement that could not be stopped and transformed African American culture from then to the present day.

Little Red Riding Hood & the 3 Little Pigs
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: June 2 – July 3
Tickets: $15 (look for discount)

We all think we know the Big Bad Wolf from the classic fairytales, but what if it’s the same Wolf in both stories? What if there’s been a big mistake? What if the Wolf isn’t so big or so bad? Recommended for ages 4+. Run time is approximately 45 minutes. Read a KFDC review of the show from a bunch of years back.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: Most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $8 (look for discount)

The series presents puppet shows designed for the youngest theater patrons (ages 0-4). They are shorter, the lights stay on, and the doors stay open. They have an arsenal of shows that they switch up every performance, so be sure to check the schedule to see what’s playing when you go.

Birds of a Feather
Where: Leonadus K. Plenty Amphitheater | Alexandria, VA
When: June 8-26
Tickets: $10

Arts on the horizon presents this show esepcially for little ones… It’s a beautiful summer day when Fiddle, a camper, and Beeker, a birdwatcher, meet in a national park. One is adventurous ​and the other is a bit more reserved, but they quickly discover how to share the outdoor space. With Fiddle’s knowledge of the great outdoors and Beeker’s bird expertise, they work together to build a home for a bird… but will any birds come to visit? This whimsical outdoor adventure celebrates the joy of making new friends and the wonders of nature. Join us and discover what amazing things can be accomplished through friendship and collaboration! Recommended for ages 3-6.

Fantastagirl and the Math Monster
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: June 19 – August 21
Tickets: $25 (look for discount)

Fantastagirl, a second-grade superhero who uses words to save the day, comes face to face with her worst nightmare: the Math Monster! When confronted with problems too big for words alone to solve, Fantastagirl must accept help from her friendly, furry, fraction-loving foe. While Fantastagirl and Math Monster use words and numbers to help her friends and scientist moms, something far more sinister than Math brews on the horizon.

Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Where: Wolf Trap
When: June 21 – August 6
Tickets: $12

From late June through early August, Wolf Trap presents Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10:30am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. The productions welcome all ages, though most are geared toward younger children. The full schedule of shows is available on the Wolf Trap website. And you can read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer here (it’s an old post, but the series is still very much the same).

To Kill a Mockingbird
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: June 21 – July 10
Tickets: $49-199

All rise for Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning masterwork. The New York Times Critic’s Pick To Kill A Mockingbird is “the most successful American play in Broadway history” (60 Minutes).

Mr. Poppers Penguins
Where: Imagination Stage
When: June 22 – August 7
Tickets: $14

Mr. Popper, a painter of modest means, dreams of taking an Antarctic adventure. So he’s thrilled when a penguin named Captain Cook waddles out of a mysterious box left on his doorstep. The zookeeper donates a female companion and soon…the patter of 20 baby penguin feet! To feed all of these mouths, the imaginative Mr. Popper and his wife turn his talented penguins into a must-see traveling vaudeville act full of song and dance. But the rigors of performing take a toll on them all, and they must make a difficult decision. This musical play, featuring expert puppetry, depicts a wild and witty way to follow your dreams — and your convictions. Recommended for ages 3-10.

Blippi The Musical
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: June 25
Tickets: $35-55 (look for discount)

Blippi The Musical brings the energetic and loveable character Blippi off the screen and onto the stage with world-class production, audience engagement and amazing music. Children across the world have quickly taken to Blippi’s charismatic personality and innovative teaching lessons. In the live show they will continue to learn about the world around them while singing and dancing along with this one of a kind show.

Potted Potter
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: June 29 – July 11
Tickets: $49-100 (look for discount)

Potted Potter takes on the ultimate challenge of condensing all seven Harry Potter books (and a real life game of Quidditch) into seventy hilarious minutes. This fantastically funny show features all your favorite characters, endless costumes, brilliant songs, ridiculous props and a generous helping of Hogwarts magic! Even if you don’t know the difference between a Horcrux and a Hufflepuff, Potted Potter will make you roar with laughter.  Read a KFDC review of the show!

UniverSoul Circus
Where: National Harbor at the Plateau
When: June 30 – July 21
Tickets: $27.50

A big top spectacle of global proportions, the 2016 production of UniverSoul Circus takes fans of all ages on an unforgettable journey of light, sound and soul. Get ready for electrifying, edge-of-your-seat performances, including extreme motorsports, back-flipping canines, twirling bicycles, disco-dancing pachyderms, free-flying aerial acts and much much more.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: July 1-24
Tickets: $20-60

Synetic Theater, the home of American Physical Theater, presents this playful adaptation of Shakespeare’s timeless comedy. This fantastical, darkly playful game of love, mistaken identity, and the supernatural was honored with nine Helen Hayes Award Nominations when it was first produced in 2010, taking home the award for Outstanding Ensemble and Outstanding Resident Play. Since then, the production has performed to great acclaim in 2013 and 2015, and toured Mexico for the 2014 Festival Internacional.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Where: National Building Museum | Judiciary Square, DC
When: July 12 – September 5
Tickets: $20-50
The Folger Shakespeare Library and the National Building Museum are teaming up this year for the museum’s annual Summer Block Party:  The Playhouse will feature an Elizabethan-inspired festival stage in the cool comfort of the Great Hall. Guests will be able to enjoy Shakespearean activities like stage combat demos and hands-on fun during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Always a Shakespeare favorite…young lovers lost, the intrigues of fairies, and the hilarious machinations of mechanical players enchant through a delightful, romantic dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

Six
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: July 5 – September 4
Tickets: $65-150

From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st century girl power! This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over.

CHEER Live
Where: EagleBank Arena | Fairfax, VA
When: July 16
Tickets: $24-99
(look for discount)
The hit Netflix series is going on tour! CHEER Live features 14-time national champion coach, Monica Aldama alongside many cheer stars. The premiere athletes all make mat for the Ultimate Pop Concert for Cheer. Watch never-before-seen stunts, plus pyramids and dance performances that are sure to have fans on the edge of their seats. Without the restraints of score cards, judges and time limits, CHEER Live will transform the nail-biting sport of competitive cheerleading into a first-of-its-kind premiere athletic event staged with the epic production value of a live concert.

Sound of Music Sing-a-long
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: July 18
Tickets: $27

Sing-A-Long Sound of Music is a screening of the classic Julie Andrews film in glorious technicolor, complete with on-screen lyrics so everyone can sing along to “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Maria,” and more! A preshow costume contest invites audience members in costume on stage to show off their fantastic tailoring skills. Fancy dress is not obligatory but highly recommended.

Blue Man Group
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: July 19-31
Tickets: $49-129 (look for discount)

More than 35 million people around the world have experienced the smash hit phenomenon that is Blue Man Group, and now it’s your turn! It’s everything you know and love about Blue Man Group—signature drumming, colorful moments of creativity, and quirky comedy—the men are still blue but the rest is all new!

Cinderella
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: July 21 – August 28
Tickets: $15 (look for discount)

Rod puppets convey the classic tale of rags to riches, love at first sight (twice!), and getting what we all deserve. Don’t miss this fan favorite production, or your magical midnight curfew! Recommended for ages 5+. Run time is approximately 45 minutes.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in Concert
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: July 22-23
Tickets: $37+

Relive the magic of year six in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in Concert. With this film, based on the sixth installment of J.K. Rowling’s classic saga, fans of all ages can now experience the thrilling tale of Harry’s obsession with a mysterious potions book accompanied by the music of a live symphony orchestra as Harry soars across the big screen in HD!

Kidz Bop Live 2022
Where: Jiffy Lube Live | Bristow, VA
When: July 24
Tickets: $36-69 (look for discount)

Kidz Bop Live 2022 is back and bigger than ever! The ultimate pop concert for kids (and grown ups, too!) is coming, and it’s all new for 2022. Sing and dance along with the Kidz Bop Kids as they perform today’s biggest hits, live on stage, including “Good 4 U” and “Dance Monkey.”

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in Concert
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: July 29
Tickets: $42+

“You must feel the Force around you…” The battle for the galaxy intensifies in this thrilling fifth episode of the unfolding saga. The National Symphony Orchestra presents John Williams’s iconic Oscar-nominated score from The Empire Strikes Back performed live along with the full feature film.

Hamilton
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: August 2 – October 9
Tickets: $59-379

Hamilton is the story of America then, told by America now. Featuring a score that blends hip-hop, jazz, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton has taken the story of American founding father Alexander Hamilton and created a revolutionary moment in theatre—a musical that has had a profound impact on culture, politics, and education. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography. Recommended for ages 10+.

ABBA The Concert
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: August 7
Tickets: $37+

Sweden’s ABBA The Concert continues to be the top ABBA tribute group in the world, dazzling audiences with fantastic performances of ABBA’s iconic hits including “Mamma Mia,” “S.O.S,” “Money, Money, Money,” “The Winner Takes It All,” “Waterloo,” “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme,” and “Dancing Queen.”

Encanto: The Sing Along Film Concert
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: August 8
Tickets: $29+

Bring the whole crew to sing along with a family movie fave! Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Academy Award-winning film comes to life in a one-of-a-kind concert event, featuring the entire feature-length film and an on-stage band celebrating all the record-breaking hit songs from the beloved soundtrack.

Dear Evan Hansen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: August 30 – September 26
Tickets: $79-199

A letter that was never meant to be seen, a lie that was never meant to be told, a life he never dreamed he could have. Evan Hansen is about to get the one thing he’s always wanted: a chance to finally fit in. Dear Evan Hansen is the deeply personal and profoundly contemporary musical about life and the way we live it. Recommended for age 12+. (This is one of my favorite shows of all time! Read a KFDC review from when it debuted at Arena Stage several years ago.)

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Filed under 2022, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Summer, Virginia

The 2022 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

It’s time to bring back the annual guide to summer around the DC area!  I’ve mentioned before that this has always been one of my favorite posts to put together for a couple of reasons:  It reflects that wonderful shift from structured days to carefree time.  And it’s a reminder of all the summer fun to be had around the area, some of it back this year for the first time since the pandemic (and a few things still TBA so be sure to check back for updates).  Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of summer, so bookmark this post and start making plans. The 2022 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
Special Entertainment
Mini Trains, Carousels, Mini Golf, & a Ferris Wheel
Summer Sports
Crab Feasts
Seasonal Experiences

 

Cool off in the sprays at Canal Park

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS
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 28, through September 5, 10am – 8pm. Find locations — there are a bunch of them around the city — and see them all on a map on the DPR website.

Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood is a favorite for water play in the city with two levels featuring Dancing Fountains up top and the Canal Basin and Waterfall below, plus a great scenic location on the Anacostia River in the Navy Yard.  Grassy areas for hanging out and lots of nearby eateries make it a perfect place to spend a summer day. Read more about the water features at The Yards here. [Note: The water features are currently closed due to mechanical issues.]

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.

The Wharf in Southwest DC re-opened its in-ground fountain for the first time since the pandemic.  Kids can run through water shooting up from jets, play in mist spraying up in the center, and ride on waterproof rocking horses within all of it, all with the beautiful waterfront area as a backdrop.

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.  The rest of the park’s pretty green space along the Potomac is a nice, relaxing place to hang out, too.

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.

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse.  Open weekends Memorial Day – June 12, then daily June 13 – August 21, then only weekends again through September 5.

Potomac Yard Park, among the many city of Alexandria parks, has an interactive in-ground fountain that kids can play in — along th a couple of playgrounds and many other recreational features.  Even better, you can plan to do some shopping at he nearby Target while you’re out that way.

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

 

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 open on Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 28. They’ll operate on a weekend-only schedule (Saturday & Sunday) through  June 26. Starting Monday, June 27, all outdoor pools will operate on individual summer schedules, six days a week.  Days and hours vary from pool to pool so be sure to check schedules before you go.

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 28 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.

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.

 

Sand, swimming, and fossil hunting at the Purse Area in Charles County, MD

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 known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $8/vehicle.

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

Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis offers striking views of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge along with loads of beach fun.  At nearly 800 acres, it’s a big park with lots of recreational opportunities — swimming, picnicking, fishing, crabbing, hiking, and more. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are lifeguards on duty. And snack food and beach and picnic supplies are available. Hours are 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 Purse Area within the Nanjemoy Wildlife Management Area in Charles County, MD, is best if your main purpose is fossil hunting — it’s a great place to go for it — and you want to get in some “beach” time, too. The beach is narrow, and you’re on a river, but you still get  to enjoy sand and water.  Wear swimsuits, bring a picnic, and be sure to check the tide table 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 aware of other beach rules like no grills or dogs allowed. Open Memorial Day – Labor Day on Friday 4-7pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am – 7pm.

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

Dirty Dave’s Tiki Bar on Kent Island has a great beach area., where you can reserve spots on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays..  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!  You can 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 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
* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA
* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD
* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD
* The Water Mine in Reston, VA
* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA
* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA
* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA
* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA
* Chesapeake Beach Water Park
* 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. Even better, many of them are FREE! (*Before you make plans to enjoy any of the series, be sure to check schedules, as some movies may not be appropriate for children.)

Catch a flick on the big screen from the comfort of your car at the Union Market Drive-In Series, occurring monthly on Fridays 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 $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended. Runs through October.

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 30. Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .  Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free mnovies on Tuesday evenings from May 24 – June 21 with “The Road Less Traveled”  theme, showing movies that find the heroes on a quest. The program runs 8-11pm at Marie Reed Recreation Center’s soccer field (18th & California St, NW). Restaurants in the neighborhood will be offering special takeout meals that attendees can bring to the field.

Family Movies Nights take place on The Plaza at Tysons Corner Center monthly from May 27 – September 30.  They are free, and programming runs from 7-10pm.

Audi Field will transform into an outdoor cinema as Movies on the Pitch shows four films on the stadium’s jumbotron screen —  June 2, June 30, July 28, and August 25 — all of them family-friendly.

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings June 2 – September 1.  The series of Navy-themed films pay tribute to our rich maritime heritage.

Golden Triangle BID will host GLDN+ CINEMA on Thursdays in Farragut Square (17th & K, NW),  June 2-23.  The family-friendly films begin at sunset.

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

Cinematery will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 3, July 1, August 5, and September 2.

The Library of Congress will host its fifth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings in July and August 4. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.

Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings (June 16, July 21, & August 250 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

Georgetown Sunset Cinema is back with movies on Tuesdays from August 2 – September 6 starting at 8:30-8:45 in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge.  Free and open to all.

 

Friday Night Concerts return to the Yards Park boardwalk this summer

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.

Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 20, and there will be weekly shows through July22. Spread out a blanket, pack a picnic dinner or purchase food and drinks there, and enjoy the sounds of a variety of jazz artists. Note: Adult drinks are available from the pavilion; BYO alcohol is not permitted.

At the Bear Square Summer Concert Series at The Station at Riverdale, dance the night away and welcome the warmer season every Friday from 5-7pm from May 27 – June 24.

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

The U.S. Navy Band returns for its summer Concert on the Avenue Series at the Navy Memorial on Tuesdays, May 31 – August 16 at 7:30pm. All performances are free and open to the public.

Wednesday at The Wharf will feature free weekly concerts on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear June 1 – August 31.

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for its 12th season from June 10 – July 29! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and  food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.

NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA). Catch a concert every Friday from June 10 – October 5, 5-8pm.

On weekends, head to Tysons Corner Center for Live at the Plaza, where you can enjoy music Fridays & Saturdays, 6-8pm,  and Sundays, 5-7pm, featuring acoustic music spanning a variety of genres or a DJ playing popular hits.

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 13 – August 24.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

Glen Echo Park’s 2022 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion, featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues. Dates/times TBA!

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

The Kennedy’s Center’s Millennium Stage  continues to present free live performances on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 6pm, occasionally outside on The REACH plaza.  While you’re there, plan for time to hang out at Victura Park and food and drinks, too.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person on the National Mall!

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.  There are also a few smaller happenings to plan for in advance.

Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 3-5 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, celebrating all aspects of geekdom and pop culture with a wide assortment of engaging events, comic books, collectibles, toys, games, original art, cosplay and more.

The 40th Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 4-5 showcases the diversity of traditional music in Washington. All of the artists hail from the DC area, but cultures from around the nation, as well as the world, will be represented through music, dance, crafts, and stories. The free festival that is renowned in the folk community and the public is welcome to enjoy it.

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 11-12 at the annual parade and festival that culminates a week of gay pride events around the city. The Saturday parade is always a spectacular extravaganza of ornate floats, street performers, music and dancing, glitter and beads, and plenty of reveling. Sunday’s family-friendly festival, on Pennsylvania Avenue from 3rd to 7th Streets NW, features several stages of live entertainment, hundreds of exhibitors, and activities for all ages. It’s all a fun and fabulous opportunity to show support for the LGBTAQ community and join the celebration.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will be back in person this year (hurrah!) June 22-27 and June 30 – July 4.  Every summer (well, except for the past two), the National Mall becomes stomping grounds of folks from around the globe to celebrate living cultural heritage and community traditions at the annual event. Celebrating the United Arab Emirates and Earth Optimism this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 25-26 as the National Capital Barbeque Battle returns to pit some of the nation’s best barbequers against each other as they compete for big prizes. The reward for attendees: Samples from all the entrants (plus, more food), live music, cooking demos, kids’ fun, and more.

Independence Day in DC is a pretty big deal, the city being the nation’s capital and all, so the annual July 4th celebrations are pretty big. It starts with the National Independence Day Parade down Constitution Avenue — back for the first time in two years! Then, this year more festivities will take place at the Salute to America event by the Lincoln Memorial, the A Capitol Fourth concert at the U.S. Capitol, and fireworks at West Potomac Park.

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 the festival will take place over several weekends in July to better manage a return to in-person (follow previous link for activities on each date). View scenes from a previous bloom here.

It might run into fall, but it starts August 27, 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.  So, go!  I promise, it is the absolute best.

 

Make a wish at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden

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

While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a good one to catch during the season as kids are out of school, so there are more opportunities to take them.  Two infinity rooms, the yellow and black polka dot Pumpkin, and more artwork and elements about Kusama’s life are interesting, beautiful, and kinda trippy to experience.

In the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden,  Yoko Ono’s Wish Tree for Washington, DC, has returned once again. Through the summer, the public is welcome to write wishes on small cards and tie them to the tree’s branches. They’re collected regularly, then sent to Ono’s “Imagine Peace Tower” in Reykjavik, Iceland. Get a glimpse of past one here.

National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party started with indoor mini-golf, after that it was a giant maze, then came the super awesome Beach, followed by Icebergs, then Hive buzzed in, a couple of years ago we played in the Fun House, and in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN.  This year, Shakespeare joins the mix at The Playhouse. Presented in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, it will feature an Elizabethan-inspired festival stage in the cool comfort of the museum’s Great Hall. From July 1 – September 5, guests will be able to enjoy Shakespearean activities like stage combat demos and hands-on fun during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

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

ARTECHOUSE, the destination in southwest known for fusing art and technology, invites you to “walk alongside African kings and queens as you explore timeless questions of identity, power, and belonging” at Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies. Experience it June 11 – September 6. Admission is $16-20/adult, $8-10/12 & under.

Immersive cinematic exhibition at the National Geographic Museum’s Beyond King Tut, which takes visitors on a journey to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time. The exhibition celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. It runs June 17, 2022 – February 6, 2023. Tickets are $20/adult, $12/age 2-12, $16/student, military, senior, & educator.

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

 

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

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from May 24 – September 7. Admission is just $2! Be sure to check the website for the film schedule and theater locations, as it doesn’t run at all theaters every week.

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

Starting June 18, Arts in the Parks, a free children’s entertainment series from Fairfax County Park Authority on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10am.  Catch shows at Burke Lake Park, Frying Pan Farm Park, EC Lawrence Amphitheater, Mason District, and Waterfield Park.

Tysons Corner Center will get little ones grooving on The Plaza  at the Kids Summer Concert Series on the second Wednesday of the month. These take place mid-mornings on June 8, July 13, Aug 10, and Sept 14.

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 15 – August 3. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

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

Shakespeare Theater Company is bringing back the brilliant Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff , that condenses all seven Harry Potter books into one hilarious and clever show. It runs June 29 – July 17 at Sidney Harman Hall.  Tickets are $49.75-99.75.  Read a KFDC review of the show!

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – July 24.  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.

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 14, July 28 August 11 at 7pm.

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. Much Ado About Nothing will run June 17 – July 24.  Tickets are $54/adult, $27/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s annual Free For All will, hopefully, return 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!

 

Give the National Harbor carousel an unlimited whirl!

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 30 (Memorial Day), July 4 (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 weekends 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. After Memorial Day, it’s open Thursday – Sunday, but hours vary, so be sure to check the website..  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 101st season at Glen Echo Park. Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From May through August, it’s open Wednesday – Friday 10am – 2pm, and Saturday and Sunday 11am – 5pm. Tickets are $2/ride, $5/all-day pass.

The Clemyjontri carousel in McLean, VA, will be offering rides daily starting May 31 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. Cost is $3/weekdays, $4/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices 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/ 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 $3-4, train rides are $4-5, mini golf is $7-9.

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.

 

Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!

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

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

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

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

Every summer, the 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 30 – August 7.

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

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

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

 

 

Maryland’s finest

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.

 

Take to the high Chesapeake seas for a pirate adventure!

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.

Public boat rides along the C&O in Georgetown recently returned. They are available throughout the day, Wednesday – Sunday at 10am, 12pm, 2pm, 4pm through October, offering one-hour guided historical tours along the first mile of the C&O Canal National Historical Park. Cost is $15/adult, $10/senior, $8/child.

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. Get details on all of them in this post about our bloom town.

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

 

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

 

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