Tag Archives: Washington DC Kids Activities

Live Entertainment Around the DC Area this Winter

Photo: Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade (National Theatre)

 

As winter officially begins and cold weather sets in, plan to warm up with some entertainment indoors. There are all kinds of shows and performances to enjoy through the season, and this round-up has details on what you can see on stages and in arenas around the area.  (And keep in mind that tickets to these make for great holiday gifts!) Happy Viewing!

Holiday Entertainment
Where: Around the DC area
When: Through the holiday season
Tickets: Vary by show

If you’re looking for holiday-inspired entertainment to get into the spirit of the season, there’s plenty of it! There are several versions of The Nutcracker, storybook classics like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Adventure Theatre and A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage. You can also catch An Irish Carol at Keegan Theatre, and enjoy Fiddler on the Roof at Olney Theatre. Get details on these shows and many, many more in the 2023 Guide to the Holiday Season.

Swept Away
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: Through January 14
Tickets:
$79-149 (find discount)
When a violent storm sinks their whaling ship off the coast of New Bedford, Mass., the four survivors face a reckoning: how far will they go to stay alive? And can they live with the consequences? With music and lyrics from The Avett Brothers (“America’s Biggest Roots Band,” Rolling Stone), whose 2004 “Mignonette” was inspired by an 1884 shipwreck and the struggle of four men to survive, Swept Away is an electrifying, soul-stirring new musical exploring how facing tragedy can open the door to forgiveness…if only we’ll let it. Recommended for teens and older.

The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: Through January 7
Tickets: $25-35 (find discount)

When a kind, poor fisherman discovers a wish-granting fish, he selflessly releases the creature back into the ocean. While content with his simple life, his wife’s extravagant desires soon drive him to re-capture the magical fish and make her dreams a reality– but not without cost. Based on Alexander Pushkin’s tale, The Tale of the Fisherman and the Golden Fish weaves together themes of greed, love, and selflessness, told through Synetic’s striking imagery and expressive movement. Recommended for all ages.

Girl From The North Country
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 20 – January 21
Tickets: $35-185 (find discount)

Girl From The North Country is the Tony Award®–winning new musical that the Chicago Tribune declares is “a Broadway revelation!” It’s 1934 in Duluth, Minnesota. We meet a group of wayward travelers whose lives intersect in a guesthouse filled with music, life, and hope. Experience this “profoundly beautiful” production (The New York Times) brought to vivid life by an extraordinary company of actors and musicians.

Disney’s Frozen
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 20 – January 21
Tickets: $35-185 (find discount)

The Tony Award–nominated Broadway musical is now on tour across North America. Frozen features the songs you know and love from the original film, plus an expanded score with a dozen new numbers by the film’s songwriters. It’s everything you want in a musical: It’s moving. It’s spectacular. And above all, it’s pure Broadway joy. Recommended for ages 6+.

As You Like It
Where: Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 14
Tickets: $35-119 (find discount)

Shakespeare Theatre Company presents this production of the bard’s classic… It’s the 1960s and flower power, peace, and love are in the air. The free-spirited Rosalind is exiled from court and escapes to an alternative community, where everything is possible. Mistaken identities and mixed signals come together, melding the Bard’s verse with the beloved music of The Beatles in what Vancouver Presents calls “one of the clearest renderings of As You Like It that you will ever see.” This tuneful take on Shakespeare’s romantic classic will be “a total blast” (Chicago Tribune) for the holiday season, reminding us that in times of trouble, all you need is love. Recommended for teens and older.

Jungle Discovery
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: December 26 – January 16
Tickets: $19.50

Jungle Discovery is an engaging and immersive interactive experience for children ages 3-6 and their adults. Participants enter a fantastical jungle world where they may dress up as exotic creatures and explore the beautiful flora and fauna. Led by Jungle Guides, participants may choose to play in the jungle leaves, add flowers, play with sound using a rain stick, draw on the Mirror Mural, and make a warm nest to hide in. There will be plenty of fun surprises in this multi-sensory environment. Recommended for ages 1-6.

The Other Side
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 13-14
Tickets: $20

Education Artist-in-Residence Jacqueline Woodson’s simple yet powerful book comes to life in an evening-length dance piece from choreographer and Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor for Dance Education Hope Boykin. Don’t miss this special return engagement of the April 2022 Kennedy Center world premiere! Recommended for ages 5+.

Batman Live in Concert
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 19
Tickets: $38-115
This is a one-of-a-kind experience that is a mixture of going to the movie theater and a concert.  Watch the film projected onto a larger-than-life screen while an orchestra plays the film score live on stage in front of you.The Dark Knight of Gotham City begins his war on crime with his first major enemy being Jack Napier, a criminal who becomes a clownishly homicidal villain known as The Joker.

Mindplay
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: January 19 – March 3
Tickets: $41-95

Drama Desk Award–nominated theatermaker and mentalist Vinny DePonto guides the audience on an entirely new theatrical event in which your thoughts play a leading role. A “warmly inviting, nostalgia-ridden, gem of a performance” (BroadwayWorld), Mindplay masterfully blurs the line between illusion and reality. Escape into the expansive beauty of imagination and bask in the ephemeral and surprising nature of memory. Recommended for tweens and older.

Hansel & Gretel
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: January 20 – February 18
Tickets: $15

Join the Puppet Co. this classic German fairy tale about two kids who get lost in the woods and encounter a witch. Written by Len, Patricia, and Chrisopher Piper, this version of Hansel and Gretel is over 50 years old. Our musical tale, performed using marionettes, is sure to charm you and your little ones. Directed by Danny Pushkin. Recommended for ages 4+. Run time approximately 45 minutes.

Elena Moon Park and Friends
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 20, 11am & 1:30pm
Tickets: $20

Take an “unhurried journey” around the globe through song! Elena Moon Park and Friends performs folk and children’s music from East and Southeast Asia, reimagined to celebrate various musical traditions, languages, styles, and stories. Recommended for ages 7+.

Books Alive
Where: Highland Elementary School | Wheaton, MD
When: January 20, 11am & January 21, 2pm
Tickets: Free

Interact Story Theatre’s continues its Family Theatre Series in the new year, kicking it off with a Family Literacy Fiesta. Artistic Director Ali Oliver-Krueger will lead kids and adults in exploring a favorite folk tale together through movement, drama, and song. Everyone’s a part of the story in this Family Arts Workshop! Best for ages 3 and up.

Finding Nemo Jr. The Musical
Where: Thomas Jeffereson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: January 21 – 29
Tickets: $12-15

Encore Stage & Studio presents its signature theatre by kids for kids… This beloved story follows Marlin, an anxious and over-protective clownfish, who lives in the Great Barrier Reef with his child Nemo, who longs to explore the world beyond their anemone home. But when Nemo is captured, Marlin decides to face his fears and sets off on an epic adventure across the ocean. With the help of lovable characters such as the optimistic Dory, laid-back sea turtle Crush, and the Tank Gang, Marlin and Nemo both overcome challenges on their journey to find each other and themselves. Recommended for all ages.

Annie
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 23-28
Tickets: $44-139 (find discount)
Holding onto hope when times are tough can take an awful lot of determination, and sometimes, an awful lot of determination comes in a surprisingly small package. Little Orphan Annie has reminded generations of theatergoers that sunshine is always right around the corner, and now the best-loved musical of all time is set to return in a new production – just as you remember it and just when we need it most.

tick, tick…BOOM
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 26 – February 4
Tickets: $59-349
Before there was RENT… there was tick, tick… BOOM!, Jonathan Larson’s explosive musical about life, death, and the necessity of art. The semi-autobiographical story follows Jon, a composer struggling to break into New York City’s theater scene. Recommended for teens and older.

Monster Jam
Where: Capitol One Arena | Downtown DC
When: January 27-28
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, EL Toro Loco, Raminator, Rammunition, Over Bored, and Wild Side are among the vehicular beasts that will be tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall, DC
When: February 1-2 & 27-29, 10:15am & 11:30am
Tickets: $3-8

Beauty magnate Madame C.J. Walker, agricultural chemist and “peanut man” George Washington Carver, education pioneer Booker T. Washington, and even cranky chef George Crum, who accidentally created the potato chip, all take center stage in this vibrant living-history production. This original, interactive play, written by Jacqueline E. Lawton, honors the creativity and genius of African American entrepreneurs and inventors – and inspires the achiever in all of us. Come and join a science fair of Carver’s inventions using the peanut, hear Washington’s great oratory, and be inspired by the story of the world’s first female, self-made millionaire! Recommended for ages 7-11.

Junie B. Jones, The Musical
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: February 2 – March 30
Tickets: $25

It is Junie B.’s first day of first grade, and a lot of things have changed for her: Junie’s friend, Lucille, does not want to be her best pal anymore and, on the bus, Junie B. makes friends with Herb, the new kid at school. Also, Junie has trouble reading the blackboard and her teacher, Mr. Scary, thinks she may need glasses. Throw in a friendly cafeteria lady, a kickball tournament and a “Top-Secret Personal Beeswax Journal,” and first grade has never been more exciting. Featuring a tremendously loveable character and fun-filled songs, Junie B. Jones will capture your audience members’ hearts just as the books captivated an entire generation of students.

Paw Patrol
Where: EagleBank Arena | Fairfax, VA
When: February 2-4
Tickets: $25-185  (find discount)
X barks the spot in PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”! It’s Pirate Day in Adventure Bay, and Mayor Goodway is getting ready for a big celebration! But first, Ryder and his team of pirate pups must rescue Cap’n Turbot from a mysterious cavern. When they do, they also discover a secret pirate treasure map! The PAW Patrol set out over land and sea to find the treasure for Mayor Goodway’s celebration before Mayor Humdinger finds it first! The pups will need all paws on deck for this pirate adventure, including some help from the newest pup … Tracker!

The Girl Who Became Legend
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 2-11
Tickets: $20

The town of Dustbin is known for two things: rules and dust. But one day, Raina spies a cloud in the sky—and adventure ensues with Calamity Jane, Johnny Appleseed… and a thunderstorm! Coming to the Center from ZACH Theatre in Austin, TX, this charming new folktale takes the stage, packed with spirited tunes. Recommended for ages &+.

Dancing Our Way Through Books
Where: Highland Elementary School | Wheaton, MD
When: February 10, 11am & February 11, 2pm
Tickets: Free

Join Kelly King, InterAct Story Theatre teaching artist and founder of Contradiction Dance Theatre and The Movement Movement as you explore a kid-friendly folk tale through creative movement and dance. Kids get to practice reading skills while moving, dancing, and sharing stories with families and friends. No prior dance training needed…just bring your body and get ready to move. What a fun way to dance away the winter blues! Best for ages 3 and up.

Laurie Berkner Band
Where: Gordon Center for Performing Arts | Owings Mills, MD
When: February 18, 10am & 3pm
Tickets: $$45-70

Best selling children’s music artist Laurie Berkner is returning to the DC area for two shows. A true pioneer in children’s music, beloved by generations of children and parents for over twenty years, she’ll be playing well-loved hits like “We Are the Dinosaurs” and “Victor Vito,” plus popular newer songs, like “Chipmunk At The Gas Pump” and “Waiting For The Elevator,” and even some brand new singles! Kids should plan to bring their dancing shoes and a stuffed animal (for their heads). FYI: We took a toddler Owen to one of Laurie’s shows years ago, and it was a blast!

Romeo and Juliet
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: February 10 – March 4
Tickets: $35-65 (find discount)
Set amidst the whirring gears of a giant clock, Shakespeare’s timeless tale of star-crossed lovers unfolds as a bitter family feud sends the pair on a race against an ill-fated destiny. With masterful physicality and choreography, Synetic Theater’s Romeo and Juliet presents a unique and stunningly visual interpretation of a classic story, capturing emotion with every movement. Recommended for ages 8+.

Cinderella: A Salsa Fairytale
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: February 15 – April 5
Tickets: $12+
A bilingual Cinderella with a twist that kids will love! What will happen to Cinderella at the ball … game? That’s the surprising question in this contemporary Latin-American Cinderella musical that weaves subtle lessons on empathy, sportsmanship, and respect into an exciting, high-stakes story. An Imagination Stage original that broke new ground in bilingual children’s theatre. Recommended for ages 5+.

Kofi’s African Village
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall, DC
When: February 21-23, 10:15am & 11:30am
Tickets: $3-8

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

Omnium Circus Presents I’mPossible
Where: Capitol One Center | Tysons, VA
When: February 24
Tickets: Start at $39

Aerial artists soar over the stage making your heart pound with excitement. Hilarious antics make you laugh till you cry! Featuring a diverse mosaic of brilliant performers including gravity-defying aerial acts, mind blowing contortion, unbelievable acrobatics, hysterical comedy, dazzling dancers and much more. Fun for the entire family!

Magic Mirror
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: March 2-24
Tickets: $15

Magic Mirror is back after its special 40th Anniversary run in 2023! This production was the first show founders Christopher Piper and Allan Stevens worked on as the Puppet Co. Meet Toad, a young person destined for greatness in this mash-up story with lots of familiar fairy tales! Join us on this journey of dragons, monsters, and spirits of the woods. Recommended for ages 5+. Run time approximately 50 minutes.

Through the Sunken Lands
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 2-17
Tickets: $20

Tim J. Lord’s radio play transforms into a heartening world premiere musical that amplifies the voice of a commonly overlooked community. Follow Artemis—a young wheelchair user who’s determined to fight to save her dying town with the help of Aunt Maggie… and a talking heron! Recommended for ages 9+.

Inside Out and Backwards
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: March 2-31
Tickets: $19.50

It’s bedtime, and two children use their imaginations to turn their room inside out, into a wonderland of mess! While playing dress-up, a glove becomes a dancing fish, a shirt becomes a fantastical creature, and a sock dance rocks the closet! Recommended for ages 1-4.

The Monster at the End of this Play
Where: Highland Elementary School | Wheaton, MD
When: March 2, 11am & March 3, 2pm
Tickets: Free

A spooky forest. A mysterious letter. The worst villains in all of Fairytale Land. What could possibly go wrong? “The Monster at the End of This Play” is a lighthearted and humorous exploration of how the things we don’t understand are not always as scary as they seem. Best for ages 4 and up.

The Book of Mormon
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: March 5-17
Tickets: $89-219 (find discount)

This outrageous musical comedy follows the adventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. With standing room only productions in London, on Broadway, and across North America, THE BOOK OF MORMON has truly become an international sensation. Contains explicit language. Recommended for teens and older.

An Electromagnetic Adventure
Where: Discovery Theatre | National Mall, DC
When: March 7-8, 10:15am & 11:30am
Tickets: $3-8

The Science Guys of Baltimore explore what brings us together and what keeps us apart—what scientists call the laws of attraction and repulsion—through the force of electromagnetism! Launch rings into the air with an electromagnetic pulse generator, test your strength in an electromagnet tug of war, and watch sparks fly with a Van de Graaff generator! This promises to be a truly shocking science show! Recommended for ages 6-11.

Little Shop of Horrors
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Pen Quarter, DC
When: March 15 – May 18
Tickets: $41-77 (find discount)
Come down to Skid Row for a non-stop blast, sci-fi horror comedy, love story and rock musical that has become one of the most treasured pieces of American musical theatre. Recommended for ages 13+.

NSO Family Concert: Music of Duke Ellington
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 17
Tickets: $20
Take the A-Train to a special afternoon of music paying tribute to the beloved jazz composer and bandleader! Conducted by Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser, the National Symphony Orchestra performs this swinging session as part of the Kennedy Center’s season-wide Ellington 125 celebration. Recommended for ages 5+.

 

Do you know of any good shows coming to town that you don’t see listed here?  Let us know in the comments!

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Filed under 2023, 2024, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Virginia, Winter

The 2023 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

 

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Enchant lights up Nationals Park during the holidays

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

A holiday classic in the historic Ford’s Theatre

HOLIDAY SHOWS

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


The festive tree lighting at CItyCenter DC

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukkah started with the National Menorah Lighting

HANUKKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live Entertainment Around DC in Fall 2023

Cirque du Soleil ECHO is wowing under the Big Top in Tysons

 

 

Ready to be entertained this fall? If so, you’re in luck! There’s a great line-up of shows coming to area stages this season with something for audiences of all ages. This round-up has details, so you can start making plans and save your seats.  Happy Viewing!

Cirque du Soleil: ECHO
Where: Under the Big Top | Tysons II, VA
When: Through October 22
Tickets: Start at $33/child, 42/adult (look for a deal

This new Circque du Soleil show just made its US debut in DC and runs through October. Fueled by the power of change, the hope of the youth, and the value of empathy, ECHO follows an inquisitive young woman named FUTURE as she wanders into a fantasy world that explores humans’ sacred bond with animals and nature. When FUTURE and her best friend the DOG encounter a mysterious CUBE, they quickly learn how their actions have the power to shape this world, and if we come together, we can rebuild our planet to create the world we all want to live in.

Moulin Rouge: The Musical
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through September 24
Tickets: $45-199 (look for a deal)
Enter a world of splendor and romance, of eye-popping excess, of glitz, grandeur, and glory! A world where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows and revel in electrifying enchantment. Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film comes to life onstage, remixed in a new musical mash-up extravaganza. Recommended for ages 12+.

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

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.

Evita
Where: Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through October 15
Tickets: $54-145

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s production tells the story of Eva Perón’s meteoric rise to First Lady of Argentina.Sammi Cannold helms this groundbreaking revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s Tony Award-winning rock opera. Recommeneded for teens and older.

King of the Yees
Where: Signature Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: Through October 22
Tickets: $40-90

A vibrant, semi-autobiographical comedy about community, culture and the connection between fathers and daughters. Playwright Lauren Yee is rehearsing her newest show about her father (which she has not told him about), when he joyfully bursts through the doors and interrupts the actors. After he later goes missing, the younger Yee must embark on a quest through San Francisco’s famous Chinatown, beyond the iconic Dragon’s Gate, through a bustling maze of alleys and magical portals, to find him before it’s too late. Recommended for mature teens and older.

You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 21 – October 30
Tickets: $25

With charm, wit, and heart, You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown explores life’s big questions through the eyes of the Peanuts gang as they play baseball, fly kites, struggle with homework, swoon over crushes, and celebrate the joys of friendship. Growing up is serious business! Recommended for all ages. Through September 19, enter for a chance to win a Family 4-Pack of  tickets!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: September 22 – October
Tickets: $25-39

Using more than 70 beautiful, larger-than-life puppets and original music, this special event follows all your favorite characters from “Brown Bear, Brown Bear,” “The Very Busy Spider,” “10 Little Rubber Ducks,” and, of course, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.” Recommended for ages 3-8.

Not My Monkey
Where: Mont. College Cultural Arts Center | Silver Spring, MD
When: September 22 – October 1
Tickets: $14/adult, $11.50/child, free/3 & under

InterACT Story Theatre presents this show for kids… In Not My Monkey, the new circus leader wants to do a good job leading her zany crew of circus folk, but there’s a new problem every time she turns around, and no one wants to pitch in or even try to get along. “Not my circus, not my monkeys!” they say. To make matters worse, the monkeys have broken loose and are wreaking havoc everywhere! How can a community work together to solve its problems, when everyone thinks it’s not their problem to solve? And how can the community work together to stop the monkey madness? Everyone in the audience gets into the act right from where they’re sitting, becoming part of the community of performers and townspeople who need to tackle this hair-raising problem.

Wild Kratts Live! 2.0
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: September 24, 1pm & 4:30pm
Tickets: Start at $45

Wild Kratts Live 2.0 is a theatrical stage show based on the #1 animated television series Wild Kratts. Martin and Chris Kratt, stars of the Emmy-nominated Wild Kratts step out LIVE ON STAGE to engage the audience in a classic Wild Kratts story. [Note: This is almost sold out, but look for tickets from a third-party seller here.]

Witch Wartsmith’s Halloween Spooktacular
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: September 28 – October 29
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 may change year to year, so come back to see old and new friends alike!

Disney Junior Live On Tour: Costume Palooza
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: September 29
Tickets: Start at $32

Dress up and join the party! Mickey, Minnie, and their pals are getting ready to throw a huge costume party but mysterious weather keeps interrupting the fun. Can Team Spidey help save the Costume Palooza? The all-new show features the first appearance of characters from “Marvel’s Spidey and his Amazing Friends” in addition to Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Doc McStuffins, the Puppy Dog Pals, and more friends live on stage. The immersive, interactive concert experience includes singing, dancing, acrobatics and 3D special effects.

The Tell-Tale Heart
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: September 29 – October
Tickets: $35-65

Sanity and madness blur on stage as two unlikely companions find themselves intertwined in complete isolation, with chilling results. Synetic’s reimagined tale explores the pitch-black depths of the human psyche, spiraling into madness and torment —and we ask ourselves “Who is the crazy one?” With a mix of laughter, dread, and gleeful macabre, Synetic Theater sneaks into the world of Edgar Allan Poe’s famed, nightmarish tale, The Tell-Tale Heart. Recommended for teens and older.

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Live in Concert
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: September 30
Tickets: $35-134 (look for a deal)

Go back to where it all began with this concert event! Featuring a soundtrack that blends symphonic orchestral music with hip-hop, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse Live in Concert pairs a screening of the Academy Award®-winning animated film with live musicians and turntables featuring a DJ scratcher live on stage. Emmy® winner Daniel Pemberton composed a sprawling score of boundary-pushing original music that is complimented with song contributions by Post Malone, Lil Wayne, Jaden Smith, and Nicki Minaj. The hip-hop based score results in a sonic universe that is woven throughout the fabric of the film, supporting its themes of resilience and universal heroism.

Mrs. Doubtfire
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: October 10-15
Tickets: $59-139 

Everyone’s favorite Scottish nanny is headed to Washington, DC! Based on the beloved film, Mrs. Doubtfire tells the hysterical and heartfelt story of an out-of-work actor who will do anything for his kids.

Macbeth In Stride
Where: Klein Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: October 10-29
Tickets: $35-129

Something wicked this way comes by Shakespeare Theatre Company… Macbeth In Stride uses one of the Bard’s most iconic characters to examine just what it means to be an ambitious Black woman. Swathed in a mesmerizing tapestry of pop, rock, gospel, and R&B, the fatalistic arc of Lady Macbeth uplifts contemporary thoughts on Black female power, femininity, rage, and desire. This production bubbles with energy, humor, and swagger, bringing Lady M’s herstory into the 21st century. Recommended for teens and older.

POTUS
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: October 13 – November 12
Tickets: $56-105

When the Commander-in-Chief publicly calls his wife a “See You Next Tuesday,” all H-E-Double Hockey Sticks breaks loose. In this searingly funny Broadway hit, POTUS follows how seven women of dramatically different backgrounds minimize the damage done by male arrogance and political posturing, in an endearing homage to the women who keep things running behind the scenes. Recommended for teens and older.

Look Both Ways
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 14–29
Tickets: $20
This story was going to begin like all the best stories. With a school bus falling from the sky. But no one saw it happen—they were all too busy. Washington, DC-area native, best-selling author, and Kennedy Center Next 50 leader Jason Reynolds conjures 10 tales (1 per block) about what happens after the dismissal bell rings. Ten unique perspectives are brilliantly woven into one funny, piercingly poignant look at the detours we face on the walk home, and in life. Recommended for ages 7+.

Picasso
Where: GALA Hispanic Theater | 14th Street NW, DC
When: October 14-21
Tickets: $12/adultm $10/child

From the lush stroke of his paintbrush to the beat of his heart, the artful canvas of Picasso’s life unfolds through memories of cherished family and friends, his passion for bullfights, the circus, and the stage. Immerse yourself in the imagination of this creative genius.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day
Where: Hylton Center for the Arts | George Mason, VA
When: October 15
Tickets: $25

Daniel and all of his friends invite you for a brand-new adventure in Neighborhood of Make-Believe where Daniel learns just what it takes to be King. The beloved characters come alive on stage to captivate you with new songs to sing along to, magical moments, and SURPRISE guests along the way! It’s an event filled with “tiger-tastic” fun, teaching the valuable lessons of kindness, helping others, and being a friend. Don’t miss Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood LIVE: King for a Day!… a royally great time!

NSO Family Concert: Halloween Spooktacular
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: October 22, 2pm & 4pm
Tickets: $18-20
An October tradition! The Concert Hall transforms into a ghostly sight when ghoulishly attired National Symphony Orchestra musicians perform new and old classics to celebrate Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. Praised for his “easygoing and engaging podium presence” (Playbill), Daniel Bartholomew-Poyser leads this festive family concert. Recommended for ages 5+. [Note:  Remaining tickets are limited, but you can look for good seats here.]

The Wiz
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: October 24-29
Tickets: $59-139

This groundbreaking twist on The Wizard of Oz changed the face of Broadway—from its iconic score packed with soul, gospel, rock, and finger-snapping 70s funk to its stirring tale of Dorothy’s journey to find her place in a contemporary world. Audiences get to enjoy the epic grooves of such beloved, timeless hits as “Ease on Down the Road,” which became the show’s break-out single, and the bona fide classic “Home” in this spectacular revival.

The ABCs of Hip Hop with Baba Bomani
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: October 26-27
Tickets: $3-9

Baba Bomani uses rhythm and rhyme to illustrate basic reading and math concepts, such as recognizing syllables, and demonstrates how a rapper’s flow is simply a number bond math equation. Young audience members will pick up active-listening skills and have some fun learning how to rap the alphabet backwards. Recommended for ages 3-6.

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

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

Mystery at Shady Acres
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: November 10-19
Tickets: $12/child, $15/adult

Encore Stage * Studio presents its “by kids for kids” theatre with this fall production… The Shady Acres hotel staff is frantically preparing for the arrival of the prestigious Fairfaxes. Right from the start – everything seems to go awry! Just when the hotel manager Mr. Clifford thinks it’s all back to normal, Mrs. Fairfax’s diamond necklace is stolen! Who could it be? And who is the mysterious man lurking about? Uncover the mystery at Encore’s show!

Air Play
Where: Strathmore | Rockville, MD
When: November 11, 2pm & 5pm
Tickets: $28=48

Umbrellas fly, fabrics soar over the audience, balloons swallow people, and snow swirls, filling the stage. With stunning images and gales of laughter, Air Play bounces on the edge of definition: part comedy, part sculpture, part circus, part theater. A circus-style adventure of two siblings journeying through a surreal land of air, Air Play transforms ordinary objects into uncommon beauty. Great for all ages, Air Play creates beauty and inspires laughter across cultures and continents.

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: November 14 – January 7
Tickets: $25-39

A musical celebration of friendship and holiday fun! In this hit Broadway musical, two best friends with opposite personalities wake up from hibernation and enjoy hilarious adventures through the seasons. Light-hearted, with a sprinkle of nostalgia, this show is inspired by the acclaimed children’s books. Recommended for ages 4+.

The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: November 17 – January 7
Tickets: $25

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

The Dragon King’s Daughter
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 18 – December 17
Tickets: $20
Twelve-year-old Kenny Li is being bullied at school. When he finds a magical tablet, he is transported to the Jade Kingdom where he meets Xing, the Dragon King’s daughter. Together, they go on a quest to save the world, finding courage and friendship along the way. Chinese dragon mythology, martial arts, and stunning voices combine in this world premiere musical following an unlikely young duo on a daring adventure. Recommended for ages 5+.

Bluey’s Big Play
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: November 21-26
Tickets: $29-99

When Dad feels like a little bit of Sunday afternoon time out, Bluey and Bingo have other plans! This 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.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Theatre, Virginia

Show Time: Live Entertainment on Local Stages this Summer

Nate the Great (the non-cartoon one) is coming to Imagination Stage this summer!

 

Summer brings a whole new lineup of shows to local stages. And the timing couldn’t be better — it’s a perfect way to keep cool during long hot days and, at some venues, enjoy the outdoors on nice ones. Here’s where you catch all the live entertainment coming to the area over the next few months.  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.

DinoRock presents Dinosaur Babies
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: June 1 – July 9
Tickets: $15

DinoRock returns to the Puppet Co. with their life-sized, colorful prehistoric puppet friends. The show is sure to delight little ones who love dinos and musical fun! Run time approximately 45 minutes. Recommended for ages 5+.

New Squid on the Block
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: June 1-2
Tickets: $3-9

This brand new show from Barefoot Puppets celebrates creative thinking, problem-solving, friendship, and fun! Featuring penguins, a submarine, MORE PENGUINS, orcas, and a curious squid, this show takes the audience on an epic journey to Antarctica. On the way, we encounter unusual creatures in the depths of the ocean. Featuring beautifully handcrafted puppets, a magical set, and an original score by Ned Haskins, this comedic, wordless performance celebrates the ability to create connections despite our differences. Recommended for Ages 4-8

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

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.

Hadestown
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: June 6-18
Tickets: $60-150+ (look for discount)

Welcome to Hadestown, where a song can change your fate. Hadestown intertwines two mythic tales — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of King Hades and his wife Persephone — as it invites you on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Mitchell’s beguiling melodies and Chavkin’s poetic imagination pit industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love. Performed by a vibrant ensemble of actors, dancers, and singers, Hadestown is a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go. Recommended for ages 8+.

The Enigmatist
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: June 6 – July 2
Tickets: $35-89 (look for discount)

An immersive, interactive experience of puzzles and cryptology! Renowned magician and New York Times crossword constructor David Kwong brings his popular in-person show to the Kennedy Center. Recommended for ages 8+.

The Fisherman and His Wife
Where: Adventure Theater | Glen Echo, MD
When: June 8 – August 6
Tickets: $20.50

A fisherman hits the jackpot when he stumbles upon a magic talking fish in this interactive adaptation of the Brothers Grimm’s classic story. The simple, sweet fisherman is content to continue his way of life, but his ambitious wife is determined to take advantage of their good fortune. Narrated by Scat, the magical fish with a flair for jazz, this couple discovers the consequences of being greedy with the help of the audience. Recommended for all ages.

Arco Iris
Where: Theatre on the Run | Arlington VA
When: June 9, 15, 17, 22, & 24
Tickets: $10

In Arts on the Horizon’s summer production, Iris is excited about taking a trip to el parque with Abuela! But while getting ready, Iris has a hard time deciding what color outfit to wear. As Iris and Abuela explore each of the colors, they discover the different ways colors appear in the world and their own unique beauty. Abuela reminds Iris that each color lives inside everyone, so even if we choose one, the rainbow is always a part of us. Told through vibrant imagery, dynamic movement, and a beautiful soundscape, this sensory-rich production is inspired by a Zapoteca myth and Quechua legends about the rainbow. Recommended for ages 3-6 and families.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Select Saturdays
Tickets: FREE!

The free theatre program runs on select Saturdays with performances at 9:30am and 11:30am. Musicals, plays, storytelling, and comedy shows are all part of the live entertainment line-up. See the complete schedule of performances here. Tickets are distributed day of performances on a first-come, first-served basis. Everyone must be in line to receive a ticket.

Arco Iris
Where: The Lyceum | Alexandria VA
When: June 11, 18 & 25
Tickets: $10

In Arts on the Horizon’s summer production, Iris is excited about taking a trip to el parque with Abuela! But while getting ready, Iris has a hard time deciding what color outfit to wear. As Iris and Abuela explore each of the colors, they discover the different ways colors appear in the world and their own unique beauty. Abuela reminds Iris that each color lives inside everyone, so even if we choose one, the rainbow is always a part of us. Told through vibrant imagery, dynamic movement, and a beautiful soundscape, this sensory-rich production is inspired by a Zapoteca myth and Quechua legends about the rainbow. Recommended for ages 3-6 and families.

Seussical: The Musical
Where: Keegan Theatre | Northwest DC
When: June 17 – July 22
Tickets: $25/youth, $60/adult

A fantastical, magical, musical extravaganza for all ages, SEUSSICAL: THE MUSICAL lovingly brings to life all of our favorite Dr. Seuss characters, including Horton the Elephant, The Cat in the Hat, Gertrude McFuzz, lazy Mayzie and a little boy with a big imagination — Jojo. The colorful characters transport us from the Jungle of Nool to the Circus McGurkus to the invisible world of the Whos in a musical adventure which tests the powers of friendship, loyalty, family, and community. Recommended for all ages.

Step Afrika! Step Xplosion
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: June 19
Tickets: $35-75

Strathmore is marking Juneteenth with Step Xplosion, a celebration of the art form of stepping by Step Afrika! Honoring its rich roots in the African American fraternity and sorority experience, this show emphasizes the presence of stepping in the daily and future lives of students. This year’s collaborative production will feature the local premiere of The Movement, a new work choreographed by longstanding Step Afrika! performer Conrad Kelly II. Featuring dynamic performances from some of the most exciting and innovative step teams, Xplosion is a MUST NOT MISS event!

Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
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).

Nate the Great
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: June 22 – August 11
Tickets: $25-39

Art matters in this musical mystery! A boy who loves detective work and calls himself Nate the Great is thrust into solving not one, but two mysteries involving a cat, a dog, two friends, and a missing painting. Full of quirky characters and fun, this show brings the popular book series to singing, dancing life. Recommended for ages 5-11.

Disney’s The Lion King
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: June 22 – July 29
Tickets: $39-105

The much-loved musical returns to the Kennedy Center this summer! Based on the movie, The Lion King musical tells the story of the young lion prince, Simba, and his journey to become king of the jungle. Recommended for ages 6+.

1776
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: June 22 – July 29
Tickets: $39-105 (look for discount)

They knew they would make history, but not what history would make of them. This new production of the Tony Award–winning musical reexamines a pivotal moment in American history with a cast that reflects multiple representations of race, gender, and ethnicity. Recommended for ages 10+.

Tot Rock: Rainbow Rock Band
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: June 28-30
Tickets: $3-9

Are you ready to rock the rainbow? Join the Rainbow Rock Band as they entertain our youngest friends with tunes, laughs, and more! Their shows are a mix of musical genres from folk, pop rock to rockabilly, all while being educational and fun! The Rainbow Rock Band has been praised for its positive, high-energy music, which engages young listeners and gets them moving. Children will learn about shapes, colors, movement, and more. All the ‘rainbow rockers’ in the audience will be encouraged to participate – either on the mic or at their seat. Any which way you play it, your little one is sure to have fun!. Recommended for ages 2-7.

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.

Behind the Music with Jastin Artis
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: July 5-7
Tickets: $3-9

Join multi-skilled musical artist, entrepreneur, and teacher Jastin Artis as he reveals the magic, fun, and power of music-making. Enjoy selections of his original music that fuses hip-hop, spoken word, gospel, and other styles. Then, together with Jastin, explore the anatomy of a song and the artistry and skills that transform a musical inspiration into an onstage reality. You’ll leave with your creative juices flowing! Recommended for ages 7-16.

Olney Outdoors
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: July 7 – September 3
Tickets: Vary by performance

Return outdoors with over 25 summer programs to be held on the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion. From the opening weekend Applause Series performance of West Side Story to the closing concert featuring the legendary Chita Rivera, this promises to be our biggest summer ever. See the full schedule and show details here.

The REMIX with SOLE Defined
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: July 11-14
Tickets: $3-9

The REMIX is an action-packed, rhythmic rollercoaster, that explores the five elements of percussive dance (RHYTHM, ENERGY, MUSICALITY, IMPROVISATION, and secret X-FACTOR.)  This interactive performance fuses global music with tap dance and stepping, with everyone dancing along the way. Get ready to explore ways to create music with your body as we REMIX your summer!Recommended for ages 5-16.

Cyrano de Bergerac
Where: Synetic Theater | Crystal City, VA
When: July 12 – August 13
Tickets: $35-65

Cyrano has a larger-than-life personality….and a nose to match. He’s a man who has it all–except for the confidence to win the heart of his beloved Roxanne. This timeless tale features mistaken identities, breath-taking sword fights, unrequited love and acts of heroism – all expressed through Synetic’s signature silent style, with a commedia dell’arte twist, in a production that earned an astounding nine Helen Hayes nominations. Recommended for ages 6+.

Cambodian Rock Band
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: July 17 – August 20
Tickets: $66-105 (look for discount)

It’s 2008 and a father-daughter duo are heading to Phnom Penh; she to prosecute a notorious Cambodian war criminal, he 30 years after escaping then-Communist rule. In a psychedelic theatrical extravaganza set to some of the country’s most popular rock music, including from Dengue Fever, Cambodian Rock Band shines a light on the country’s vibrant ’70s rock scene and how an entire generation of musicians was purged by the Khmer Rouge, as it brings long-buried family secrets back to life. Recommended for teens and older.

All Together Now: An Electromagnetic Adventure
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: July 18-21
Tickets: $3-9

The Science Guys of Baltimore are back!  And they’re ready to explore what brings us together and what keeps us apart—what scientists call the laws of attraction and repulsion—through the force of  electromagnetism. Launch rings into the air with an electromagnetic pulse generator, test your strength in an electromagnet tug of war, and watch sparks fly with a Van de Graaff generator. This promises to be a truly shocking science show! Recommended for ages 5-12.

Beauty and the Beast
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: July 20 – August 27
Tickets: $15

Terry Snyder’s Beauty and the Beast features half height marionettes, a projected magic mirror, and two storytellers guiding our audience through a sweet retelling of the original Beauty and the Beast tale. Will they fall in love in time to break the curse? Run time approximately 45 minutes.Recommended ages 4+.

The Play That Goes Wrong
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: July 20 – August 13
Tickets: $39-139 (look for discount)

this classic murder mystery by award-winning Mischief is chock-full of mishaps and madcap mania! Welcome to opening night of The Murder at Haversham Manor, where things are quickly going from bad to utterly disastrous. With an unconscious leading lady, a corpse that can’t play dead, and actors who trip over everything (including their lines), it’s “comic gold” (Variety) sure to bring down the house. Recommended for ages 8+.

Freaky Friday
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: July 21-30
Tickets: $15/adults, $12/child

Encore Stage & Studio presents by kids for kids theatre… The new musical, Freaky Friday, is based on the beloved 1972 novel by Mary Rodgers and the hit Disney films about a mother and daughter who magically swap bodies and have one freaky Friday to get back to normal.

Taratibu!
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: July 25-28
Tickets: $3-9

The Taratibu Youth Association (TYA) is a sensational ensemble of young artists representing the performing arts of the African diaspora. With eclectic and diverse musical influences, they perform percussive dance styles from stepping to traditional South African Gumboot, modern dance to hip hop. TYA sings in Zulu and Sotho from South Africa, Kiswahili from Tanzania, Creole from Haiti, and Yoruba from Cuba. Their performances are educational and inspirational, telling stories of empowerment and cultural history. Learn a song in Zulu, steps from Taratibu; a Pan African drill or learn the history of ‘Ti Zwezo,’ the traditional song of Haiti. Recommended for ages 5-16.

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi in Concert
Where: Wolf Trap | Vienna, VA
When: July 29
Tickets: $42+

The National Symphony Orchestra performs John Williams’ iconic Oscar-nominated score from Return of the Jedi live along with the full feature film. The movie will be projected in HD onto screens in-house and on the lawn for a new musical experience of the iconic film.

Kidz Bop Never Stop Live Tour 
Where: WolfTrap | Vienna, VA
When: July 30
Tickets: $49 (look for discount)

KIDZ BOP Never Stop Live Tour is the ultimate family-friendly pop concert for children (and their parents!). Featuring awesome sets, costumes, choreography, and surprises, families can sing and dance along with the Kidz Bop Kids, as they perform today’s biggest hits on stage, including “Anti-Hero,” “About That Time, “As It Was,” and many more.

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Filed under 2023, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Summer, Virginia

The 2023 KFDC Guide to Summer Around the DC Area

 

The season may not be official on the calendar yet, but summer fun has begun around the DC area! Spray parks are open, outdoor movies are being screened, temps are warm enough for beach days, carousels are spinning, local sports are in full swing, exhibits are opening, crab feasts are being served, and more seasonal experiences are underway.  Even better, there’s still much more to come!  This annual guide, that I’ve been putting together in this version for 10 years, has all the info and inspiration you need to make the most of the season…starting now!  Happy Summer!

* * * 

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

* * * 

 

PLAY IN THE SPRAYS

Spray play at The Wharf

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

 

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

 

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

 

DC DPR Spray Parks opened 16 locations early on May 15 — they will be open daily from 12-4pm. All of the spray park will be open full hours starting Memorial Day Weekend, Saturday, May 27, through September 4, 10am – 8pm. Be sure to view the list, as open days vary by location.  See all of the locations throughout the city on this map on the DPR website.

 

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

 

Georgetown Waterfront Park, right next to the Washington Harbour, has a fountain with arcing sprays that makes for a fun, refreshing way to cool off on a hot, summer day.  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, Drew Park, and Mosaic Park, some of the area’s most popular spray parks, can be found in Arlington along with Penrose Square, which has an in-ground interactive fountain. Open Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day Weekend. Hours vary by park, so be sure to view the websites.

 

Our Special Harbor at Lee District Recreation Area in Alexandria gets raves for its Chesapeake-Bay themed sprayground complete with a spraying osprey nest, Chessie the sea serpent, misting sunflowers, and a lighthouse.  Open weekends Memorial Day – June 16, then daily June 17 – August 18, then only weekends again through September 4.

 

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

 

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

 

OUTDOOR POOL SEASON

That first jump into summer fun

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

 

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

 

For outdoor swimming outside of the city, Montgomery County outdoor public pools will open May 27 through Labor Day — the Department of Recreation website has locations and hours.

 

In Northern Virginia, there are several waterparks (see below) in Arlington with outdoor pools and much more for guests to enjoy, and the city of Alexandria has three outdoor public pools:  Memorial Pool at Charles Houston Rec Center open June 17 – August 20 and Old Town Pool and Warwick Pool are open May 27 – September 4.  Hours vary by days, so be sure to view details for all of them.

 

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

 

It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you want to enjoy a day at a nice hotel pool, the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Woodley Park offers Day Passes for $75/adult and kids with them are free. Purchase here.

 

BEACHES

Beach day at Calvert Cliffs State Park

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

 

Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County is known as a fossil hunting locale — as its cliffs erode, prehistoric remains of marine life are revealed — but it’s even better for beach fun, swimming, and hiking. To access the beach, you have to hike a couple of miles through woods (and there are even more trails if you’re up for it), but the walk is worth it for a dose of quintessential summer fun. Open daily sunrise – sunset, and admission is $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, $5/person weekends, and $4/person weekdays.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Lake Anna State Park in Spotsylvania, MD, is popular for weekend-long trips, but also good as a day trip destination, being less than two hours’ drive from DC. It’s especially great with little ones, since it’s very organized with a designated beach/swim area, lifeguards, a bathhouse for changing and restrooms, and a snack bar — all from Memorial Day to Labor Day (for the most part… the snack bar and bathhouse times will change starting August 11 due to renovations). Hours are 10am – 7pm weekends and holidays, 10am – 6pm weekdays May 27 – August 9. Admission  is $7/weekdays per vehicle, $10/weekends.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

WATERPARKS

Make splash at Soak City in Kings Dominion

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

* Ocean Dunes Waterpark at Upton Hill in Arlington, VA

* Great Waves at Cameron Run in Alexandria, VA

* Six Flags America in Bowie, MD

* The Water Park at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, MD

* The Water Mine in Reston, VA

* Atlantis Water Park at Bull Run in Centreville, VA

* Pirate’s Cove Waterpark in Lorton, VA

* Volcano Island Waterpark in Sterling, VA

* Splash Down Water Park in Manassas, VA

* Chesapeake Beach Water Park in Chesapeake Beach, MD

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

* Water Country USA at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA

 

 

BIG SCREEN UNDER THE STARS

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

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 bi-monthly on Fridays through July 21, with mostly family-friendly films. Get there as early as 6pm and have a bite to eat in the Market or bring food back to your car. Film start times vary, so be sure to check on that. Admission is $20/car, free for walk-ins. Advance purchase is recommended.

 

National Harbor’s Movies on the Potomac series is back through the September 28. Every Sunday (family night) at 6pm and Thursday (date night) at 7pm, guests can see a free film on the big outdoor Plaza Screen right on the waterfront. .Pack your chairs, grab food to go from one of the many eateries, and meet at the Plaza’s big screen for a FREE evening of fun and entertainment.

 

CiNOMAtic, the NoMa BID’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park is will screen “Villains We Love” films Wednesdays at sunset through June 7.

 

Adams Morgan Movie Nights  is back with free movies on Tuesday evenings from May 23 – June 27 with all comedies to ensure some summer  laughs.  Even more, each Movie Night will kick off with a stand-up feature from a local comedian before the movie begins! 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 each month: May 26: Moana, June 30: E.T. The Extra TerrestrialJuly 28: Boss Baby: The Family Business, August 18: Matilda.  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 —  May 18, June 22, July 6, August 24, and September 7 — all of them family-friendly.

 

At the Navy Memorial Plaza (7th & Pennsylvania Ave NW) catch Movies on the Memorial on Thursday evenings through October 12.  The series of Navy-themed films started in April and pays tribute to our rich maritime heritage.

 

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

 

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, this year themed “Tim Burton’s Summer of Sureal” will take place monthly at Congressional Cemetery on Capitol Hill, on June 2, July 7, August 4, and September 1.

 

The Library of Congress will host its sixth annual Summer Movies on the Lawn on Thursday evenings from July 7 – August 3. Films will begin at sundown on the southeast lawn of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building.  Music will be presented prior to each film, with live performances on July 6, July 20 and Aug. 3.

 

Films at the Stone hosts monthly screenings on Fridays, June 16, July 21, & August 25 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.

 

Georgetown Sunset Cinema presets movies on Tuesdays in the lovely Georgetown Waterfront Park, with the panoramic backdrop of the sunset, Potomac River, Kennedy Center, and Key Bridge.  Free and open to all. 2023 dates TBA.

 

SUMMER CONCERTS

Catch a summer concert at an iconic DC spot

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

 

The Bethesda Summer Concert Series’ Friday Night Streetery Concerts will run Fridays, 6-8pm, from May 19 – September 15. Enjoy music, food, and fun at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues.

 

Jazz in the Garden, the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s free concert series, is back. Experience live music amid art at every Friday from 6–8:30pm starting May 29, and there will be weekly shows through August 4. 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. NOTE: New this year is a lottery system! Each concert has its own lottery, which opens the week prior on Monday at 10am and closes that Friday at noon. Results will be emailed to all entrants the week of the concert on Monday at 110am. Registration is required for all ages 2+.

 

The U.S. Air Force Band’s Summer Concert Series brings outdoor concerts to National Harbor on Saturdays at 7pm and occasionally at other sites around the area starting June 3.

 

Rock the Dock at The Wharf on Transit Pier every Wednesday evening at 7pm from May 31 – August 30. R&B, Americana, Motown, Jazz, Reggae, Go-go, Country, and your favorite pop covers will be among the sounds you can hear, all for free.  There’s much more to enjoy on the Southwest Waterfront — read about it here.

 

The U.S. Navy Band is bringing back Concerts at the Capitol, performances on the west steps of the U.S. Capitol Building, on most Mondays, June 12 – August 28 at 8pm.  All performances are free and open to the public.

 

Glen Echo Park’s 2023 Summer Concerts Series presents free live music in the historic Bumper Car Pavilion on Thursdays at 7:30pm from June 15 – August 24. featuring a variety of local bands and musical genres, from country to reggae, swing to Latin jazz, African to Cajun and blues.

 

Friday Night Concerts at Yards Park will be back  for the 13th season from June 16 – August 24! The series will feature performances by popular local artists with cold beverages and  food available for purchase, lots of grassy space for hanging out, and the water features for kids to play in nearby to make it a bigger family evening out.

 

Rockville Town Square is bringing back its Summer on the Square concert series.Enjoy live music on Friday,s 6:30-8pm, fro June 16 – August 25.

 

Tysons Corner Center presents a Summer Concert Series as part of their Summer on the Plaza activities. Bring your dancing shoes and enjoy live music from 7-9pm on  June 17, July 15, and August 19.

 

Enjoy music Live from the Lawn at Strathmore on Wednesday evenings from July 5 – August 16.  (They also have Cool Concerts for Kids on select Thursdays!)

 

Starting June 2 through August 26, 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.

 

NaLa Fridays at the Park will bring live music and food trucks to Long Bridge Park at National Landing (formerly Crystal City, VA) on Fridays during the summer.  The concert schedule is TBA.

 

 

 

FESTIVALS & SPECIAL EVENTS

Kids always dig the big Truck Touch

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.

 

The 41st Annual Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park June 3-4 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.

 

The Mac Daddy of Truck Touch events around the area, the DC Department of Public Works’ Annual Truck Touch will take place on June 3, 8am – 1pm at RFK Stadium, Lot 8.  Tickets are free, but reserve a spot!

 

Sound Scene, an interactive sound and multi-sensory arts festival, will be back at the Hirshhorn June 3-4. The free, all-ages celebration of sonic and sensory arts will feature artists from DC and around the world. With a theme of  “After The End?” visitors can explore various concepts and issues through interactive art installations, live performances, and small group workshops.

 

Celebrate Capital Pride during the month of June, especially June 10-11 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.

 

Awesome Con, the Mid-Atlantic’s premier pop culture convention, takes place June 16-18 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.

 

Attend one of the biggest summer barbeques around June 24-25 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.

 

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival will take place this year June 29 – July 4 and July 6-9.  Every summer (well, except  during Covid), 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 Ozarks and Living Religions in the US this year, get ready for all kinds exhibits, demonstrations, live performances, talks, food, markets, and much more!

 

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

 

The lotus and water lilies in full bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens are such a ravishing sight it calls for a celebration. Along with the spectacular display of flowers, the annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival offers more ways to appreciate the flowers and park. This year the festival will take place over a couple of weekends, from July 15-22. View scenes from a previous bloom here.

 

The Hip Hop Block Party at the National Museum of African American History & Culture was so successful in its inaugural event last year, it’s returning this summer on August 12. Details have yet to be announced, but tickets went fast last year, so be ready to snag them!

 

It might run into fall, but it starts August 26, so the Maryland Renaissance Festival counts among the summer fun. Plus, if you’ve been reading KFDC while then you know it’s one of my very, very favorite annual events. (More confirmation on  that herehere, herehereherehere, here, here, and here.) I take a lot of pride in the number of people I have turned into Ren Fest believers.  So, go! I promise, it is the absolute best. (PS: I shared these tips last year, and they’ll be very helpful again.)

 

SEASONAL EXHIBITS

Find fairy houses in the woods at Annmarie Sculpture Garden

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

 

The National Children’s Museum will welcome the Curious George: Let’s Get Curious! exhibit to its Visiting Exhibit Hall, where children can explore math, science, and engineering concepts in interactive experiences inspired by the classic stories and television series. Its’ recommended for ages 3-7, and there will be a celebration of the exhibit’s opening on Saturday, May 27, with a day of special offerings, including a special story time, scavenger hunt, and tinkering activity.

 

On May 27, the National Building Museum will debut Brick City. Visitors can take a world tour of iconic architecture, all carefully recreated from LEGO bricks.  See lively streetscapes from Cartagena, Columbia; Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans; intricate temples from India to Mexico; imaginative castles from medieval Japan to modern Las Vegas, and more. Museum hours are Thursday through Monday, 10am – 4pm, and admission is $10/adult, $7/age 3-17.

 

Another LEGO exhibit, this one nature-inspired, will be at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley from May 27  – September 4Sean Kenney’s Nature Connects® Made with LEGO® Bricks looks worthy of the two-hour drive out there!

 

One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is still on view through July 16.  While it’s not exclusively a summer exhibit, it’s 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, is an annual exhibit. 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, in 2019 we hung out on the LAWN, and last year The Playhouse celebrated Shakespeare.  This summer LOOK HERE will “transform the Museum’s Great Hall with an elegant and provocative new installation.”  More details to come, but it will be open July 1 through Labor Day.

 

Throughout July, the beloved BubbleWorks will return to CityCenterDC. The immersive installation in The Plaza surrounds guests in a fantasy world of bubbles and lively music at the top of every hour Sunday – Thursday, 1-7pm and Friday – Saturday 1-8pm.

 

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, has extended the current, beautiful Pixelbloom: Timeless Butterflies exhibit through July 9. Get a glimpse of it! Admission is $20-25/adult, $17/age 4-15, $72/family 4-pack, free/under 4.

 

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

 

 

SPECIAL ENTERTAINMENT & PROGRAMS

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

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

 

The Regal Summer Movie Express presents flicks for kids on many Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 10am from late May 24 through early 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 — this year’s program details should be available soon!

 

National Harbor is hosting a free Kids Day on the Plaza every Tuesday at 10:30am at the waterfront plaza stage. The fun Tuesday mornings will run June 6 – August 29. Enjoy summer sunshine and cool river breezes along with a rotation of family-friendly activities.

 

After being on hiatus for the past year, the beloved Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo Park will be back in action, presenting the show The Fisherman and His Wife from June 8 – July 20!

 

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

 

The National Postal Museum is presenting a special Guest Artist Series on select dates from June 28 – August 30. Join the museum and artist John Parra, both virtually and in person, as they examine a collection of themes illustrated in his original stamp designs and illustrations through hands-on activities for all ages.

 

Millennium Stage Films is presenting several family movies — Hugo on June 9, The Iron Giant on June 30, Fantastic Mr. Fox on July 21 — all of them are FREE and will be screened at 8pm outside on the wall of The REACH.

 

Discovery Theater in the Ripley Center on the National Mall just reopened its doors (and stage) this spring after curtains closed for Covid — and they have programming for kids through July. View the full schedule!

 

Throughout summer on select dates from June 13 – August 12, Montgomery Parks is hosting Parks Playhouse Junior, an entrainment series for kids featuring live puppet shows, sing-alongs, and music lessons by performers that will keep kids moving and grooving, engaged, and informed.  (FYI: There is also Parks Playhouse that caters more toward adults —  see the schedule for dates and locations.

 

From June 20 through August 5, Wolf Trap presents the fantastic Children’s Theater-in-the-Woods, over 70 family-friendly performances at 10am Tuesdays through Saturdays. Amidst 117 rolling wooded acres and nestled in a shady grove, the stage is set for lively adventures in music, dance, storytelling, puppetry, and theater. All of the productions are recommended for children between Kindergarten and 6th grade, though I think kids even younger can enjoy them, too (mine did!). Read a KFDC review of the series from a past summer (it’s an old one, but still relevant!)

 

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

 

The Cinemark Summer Movie Clubhouse is back and offering fun $1 films for kids every Wednesday from June 19 – August 10. Check the schedule to see what’s playing at a theater near you!

 

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

 

The Broadway musical production of The Lion King is coming to the Kennedy center June 22- 29.

 

The Bethesda Summer Concert Series is presenting Concerts for Kids for the first time. Enjoy the free shows on Friday morning from June 30 – July 21 at the corner of Norfolk & St. Elmo Avenues in Bethesda.

 

UniverSoul Circus, the world-class, live entertainment attraction is coming back to National Harbor June 30 – late July.  The production celebrates the unique and familiar aspects of global cultures and ethnicities, blending circus arts, theater, and music — a fresh, cool, and hip approach to live family entertainment!  Tickets start at $27.50.

 

Olney Outdoors is back! Olney Theatre presents over 25 summer programs to be held on the newly renovated Root Family Stage at Omi’s Pavilion, this summer from July 7 – September 3.

 

Strathmore is hosting Cool Concerts for Kids on Thursdays July 13, July 20, July 27, and August 3 at 7pm.

 

See a Shakespeare play in the park! The Chesapeake Shakespeare Company presents its annual Shakespeare in the Ruins at the picturesque Patapsco Female Institute Historic Park in Ellicott City, MD. Macbeth will run June 16 – July 23.  Tickets are $65/adult, $33/age 19-25, and one kid is free with every adult.  Bring along a picnic to enjoy as you watch the play — there are no food vendors, but you can BYO fare, beer, and wine.

 

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!

 

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

Go for a spin on the beautiful Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park

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

 

Watkins Regional Park opened its Antique Carousel and Mini Golf (the Miniature Train is not open as it’s undergoing a restoration) on a limited schedule in early May, but come Memorial Day weekend, they can be enjoyed for extended hours almost every day of the week. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10am – 7pm; Sundays 12–5 pm, closed Mondays except May 29 (Memorial Day), July 4 (closes at 4pm) & September 4(Labor Day).  This along with all of the other fun features — Nature Center, Old Maryland Farm, and Wizard of Oz Playground!

 

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

 

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

 

At Glen Echo Park, the beautiful historic Dentzel Carousel is celebrating its 102nd season! Plan to go for a spin before or after a show at Adventure Theatre or The Puppet Co. From late April through August 27, 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 29 on weekdays 9:30am – 1pm and weekends 9:30am – 6:30pm. (Until then only on weekends) Cost is $3.50/weekdays, $4.50/weekends & holidays. Read more about Clemyjontri here.

 

National Harbor offers a couple of ways to go for a spin. Kind of like a London Eye of the U.S., The Capital Wheel is a great way to get a bird’s eye view of DC. The 42-gondola ride (all closed and climate-controlled with room for 8) soars 180 feet above the Potomac River waterfront, offering vistas of the White House and Capitol, the National Mall, Arlington Cemetery, and more amazing sites. Ticket prices are $17/age 13+, $13.50/12 & under. For an on-ground whirl,  The Carousel features a herd of whimsical creatures and the sparkling Potomac as a backdrop. It’s $7/ rider, and they can ride an unlimited number of times. Read about both rides and more National Harbor fun here.

 

Burke Lake Park’s Mini Train, Carousel, and Mini Golf are open daily from Memorial Day – Labor Day.  The train 11am – 5:45pm, the carousel 11am -5:30pm, and mini golf 11am – 8pm (last play 7pm). The park is free to access for Fairfax county residents. For non-county residents, the park is free on weekdays and has a $10 entrance fee on weekends/holidays for a car or large capacity van. Carousel rides are $3.50-4.50, train rides are $4.50-5.50, mini golf is $7-9. See more about the park here.

 

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

 

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

 

Lee District Family Rec Area in Alexandria offers ides on its Chesapeake Bay-themed carousel.  Open daily May 29 – August 19 (and weekends until May 28 and August 20 – October 29) — hours are 11am – 6pm Monday/Tuesday/Thursday, 11am – 5pm Wednesday, and 9am – 6pm Saturday/Sunday.  Cost is $3.50 per ride on Fridays, $4.40 per ride weekends & holidays.

 

 

SUMMER SPORTS

Show your Spirit for women’s soccer!

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Every summer, the Mubala Citi DC Open Tennis Tournament serves up exciting competition along with other fun activities for fans of all ages. See some of the sport’s top players in action and enjoy the thrills on and off the court at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center July 29 – August 6.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SEASONAL EXPERIENCES

A very snap-worthy bloom

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.

 

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

 

Join Anacostia Riverkeeper and Earth Conservation Corps on Friday evenings from June 23 – August 25 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.

 

 

CRAB FEASTS

One of the best treats of the season

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

* Cantler’s is an Annapolis institution for many.

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Stay close to the city at Quarterdeck in Arlington.

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

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

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

 


GEAR UP

Lawn games like Kadima elevate summer hangs

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

* Must-Haves for Keeping Kids Cool at the Pool

* 10 Outdoor “Lawn” Games for Extra Summer Fun

* Top Picks for the Best Beach Day

* Summertime Must-Haves for Little Ones

 

 

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

 

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