Tag Archives: What to do with Kids in Washington DC

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.

* * * * *

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

The 2022 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season Around DC

 

 

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Tree Lightings

Chanukah

Holiday Markets

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


An illuminated scene from a past Georgetown Glow

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

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

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

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: Free

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

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 18 – January 1
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

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

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

One of our faves, he Garden of Lights is a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, sparkling fountains, and whimsical winter scenes — a few of them new this year. Afterwards, warm up inside the Visitors Center — sip hot cocoa and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC Tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid crowds. View scenes from one of our past visits there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This new-to-the-area event will be lighting up Tyson 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!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. The parade begins at 7pm.

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Based on a little-known 1910 novel by Abbey Farwell Brown, this tale about an elderly spinster and her heartwarming transformation into the Christmas spirit echo Dickens and the journey of Ebeneezer Scrooge. Our award-winning creative team, Conner and Smith, put their signature stamp on what is sure to become another classic Christmas show!  Use code 4PK to purchase a Family 4-Pack for $80 (4 seats together)!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Irish Carol
Where: Keegan Theatre | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 15-31
Tickets: $51/adult, $46/senior, $41/under 25 

Returning for its 10th season! An original work by Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, An Irish Carol is an homage to Dickens’ classic – told as only the Irish can. This comic and touching play, set in a modern Dublin pub, follows one evening in the life of David, a wealthy pub owner who has lost touch with his own humanity in the interest of self-protection and material success. But on this Christmas Eve – challenged by a voice from the past, provoked by those in the present, and faced with the reality of a lonely future – David’s life may change forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For 10 years, Tinkergarten families and friends have walked with homemade lanterns to welcome winter’s darkness. This inspiring and beloved tradition helps children learn to embrace change and remember that, when they are in community with the natural world and with one another, they have the strength and light to overcome any challenges. Families can register to attend their local Lantern Walk, find out how to make their own lanterns, or even order sweet lantern-making kits here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scottish Christmas Walk is back for its 51st year.  Once again, the parade will be a showcase of marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade usually begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and ends at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandria’s harbor will also shine as dozens of brightly lit boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront for the 21st annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights. Enjoy festivities out on the dock 2-7pm, including a Letters to Santa postcard pop-up, a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati, and a beer garden from Port City Brewing Company. And stop in the Torpedo Factory were there will be a holiday festival, too. The parade begins at 7pm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Brunch with Santa
Where: Watermark Hotel | Tysons, VA
When: December 11
Admission: $49/adults, $29/age 6-12, free/5 & under
Enjoy a bountiful and delicious brunch buffet with the season’s most popular celebrity, Santa! This jolly brunch at the Watermark Hotel includes signature favorites like scrambled eggs, bacon, breakfast potatoes, sausage, and other delightful bites. Chef Yo is also putting a twist on his trademark Tokyo Chicken dish by adding waffles and whipping up his famous fluffy chocolate chip pancakes. Top it all off at the hot cocoa bar and delight in soft serve ice cream for dessert. Adults are also invited to join in on the holiday fun with mimosas, bellinis, and build-your-own bloody marys ($12 each). During brunch, guests are invited to share their holiday wishes with Santa, take a photo with him, and enjoy the hotel’s festive holiday decor. Seatings are available at 11:30am, 12pm, 1:15pm., and 1:45pm. Reservations required, make them on Open Table under Experiences.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 16-17
Admission: $48-60/adult, $26-38/child

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

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

Watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he waterskies his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free at Columbia Island Marina in Arlington  — note that it’s a new spot from previous years!

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: TBA – tickets on sale November 7
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!

 


See the tree at the Library of Congress

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

Watch the brand new 60-foot tree come to life nightly with a breathtaking light show in the heart of the Waterfront District. The show runs on the half an hour from sunset to 9pm. The Stars and Stripes Fair will also take place on the first night of the tree lighting.

Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 18, 6pm
Admission: Free

Tysons Corner Center will bring the community together to join Santa in kicking off their 2021 Holiday Season. Programming will include Santa lighting the holiday tree, community performances, complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate station, a giant slow globe, the holiday market, festive music, giveaways, and more.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! Join the Mosaic District to welcome the arrival of the holiday season with a merry and bright tree lighting. Bring your family and friends to experience the Jolly Man’s arrival on a firetruck, a Santa meet and greet, and catch a screening of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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

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

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

This year will be the 99th National Christmas Tree lighting! Historically, to attend this lighting you have to enter a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual ceremony that takes place on the Ellipse, just beyond the White House. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukkah started at the National Menorah Lighting

CHANUKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wharf continues their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights!  Plan to enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront while you’re there and maybe even go for a spin at the ice rink!

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

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

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

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

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

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When:  December 18
Admission: $13

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

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When:December 20
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.

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

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

Chanukah Firetruck Parade & Menorah Lighting
Where: Around Olney & Sandy Spring, MD (see details below)
When: December 20, 5:25pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the third night of 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!

Lights & Ice: Hanukkah Skate Night
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 21, 6-8pm
Admission: $10-12

The Festival of Lights is back at the Canal Park Ice Rink! The first 100 attendees to glide around the outdoor menorah will get FREE skate rentals along with complimentary donuts, dreidels and gelt. And the first 75 attendees will get a signature Capitol Riverfront holiday beanie! Reserve a spot for the free rentals!

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

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

Chanukah Story Trail & Gelt Drop
Where: Lincoln Park | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 25, 4-5pm
Admission: Free, but reserve a spot!
Bundle up nice and warm and join us for a Chanukah Story trail and gelt drop in Lincoln Park! Follow along the story trail to hear the Chanukah Story “If the Candles Could Speak” accompanied by lively music. After the story trail, gather for the Giant Gelt Drop — watch gelt drop from the top of a fire truck! The program will wrap up with lighting the Menorah and singing Chanukah songs.Fun for all ages!


The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

29th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 11-13
Admission: $8/age 13+, free/12 & under

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

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 18 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: December 10-11 & 17-18
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The holiday season in DC really may be the most wonderful time of the year. You can embrace the spirit around the area with all kinds of festive experiences, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Light displays dazzle visitors as they stroll or drive among them. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. Special markets offer unique gifts along with a good time.  And an array of events and extravaganzas, several at iconic locales, bring holiday cheer and activities that thrill and enchant kids — and the kid in all of us adults.

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

 

Light Displays

Holiday Shows

Special Events

Chanukah

Tree Lightings

Holiday Markets

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


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

LIGHT DISPLAYS

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

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

Winter Walk of Lights

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

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at S’more Snacks Shop).

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

Opening earlier than usual this year, there’s a little more time to experience the Festival’s 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And back this year is the holiday village and carnival with even more fun to accompany the lights show.  Avoid crowds more and get a discount by going Monday through Thursday and use the code LIGHT21 for a discount on those days.

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: November 19 – January 6
Admission: Free

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

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 19 – January 2
Admission: $9 just village, $22/with skating, free/under 2 

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

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 19 – January 2
Admission: $10/person

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 26 – December 31
Admission: $15/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the 6th year that the Yards is presenting a special light exhibition during the holidays, which always features large-scale illuminations that are interactive and really beautiful!  This season will be a whimsical, 22-foot glowing trees light installation from Amigo & Amigo, the same artists who created last year’s stars.  Trimmed top to bottom in holiday decor and festooned lights, they’ll cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful, colored patterns.  When you go, plan for dinner at one of the nearby restaurants then stay to play and enjoy the lights (or vice versa).  Get a glimpse of other previous Light Yards here and here.

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

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

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

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

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 24 – December 27
Tickets: $36-124
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed actor Craig Wallace returns to play Ebenezer Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Nutcracker on Strings
Where: The Puppet Co.| Glen Echo, MD
When: November 26 – January 3
Tickets: $15/age 2+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cirque Dreams Holidaze
Where: Theatre at MGM Grand | Oxon Hill, MD
When: December 16-19
Admission: $32-99

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

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

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

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

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

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

Returning for its 10th season! An original work by Keegan company member Matthew J. Keenan, AN IRISH CAROL is an homage to Dickens’ classic – told as only the Irish can. This comic and touching play, set in a modern Dublin pub, follows one evening in the life of David, a wealthy pub owner who has lost touch with his own humanity in the interest of self-protection and material success. But on this Christmas Eve – challenged by a voice from the past, provoked by those in the present, and faced with the reality of a lonely future – David’s life may change forever.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Enchant Christmas is back at Nats Park this season!

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza | Downtown Silver Spring, MD
When: November 20, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gaylord National Hotel at National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! has always been the big attraction, but there has always been plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment (and that’s not even happening this year — see below).. The atrium of the resort is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.) This year there will also be Ice Bumper Cars, a Snow Factory “Snowball Build & Blast,” The Greatest Story Stage Show, and the #LIT Holiday Light Show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Christmas at Mount Vernon

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Scottish Christmas Walk will be back this holiday season!  Once again, the parade will be a showcase of marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

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

Christmas in Middleburg is back, and  it’s the perfect setting for evoking the Christmas spirit — tree lighting, a Christmas parade, shopping, caroling, and so much more. Stay at one of the picturesque inns or the incomparable Salamander Resort & Spa. Relax in the countryside without missing a moment of the Christmas magic.Join one of the most fun-filled family festivals of the year in Middleburg with activities, special events, great eats, the famous Middleburg Hunt Review, a mile-long Christmas parade. Afterwards, experience a Middleburg evening in our bistros, cafes, pubs, and restaurants joining in the Spirits of Middleburg. See the schedule of events for details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas Illuminations
Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
When: December 17-18
Admission: $48-60/adult, $26-38/child

Kick off the holidays with an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music, with fireworks beginning around 8:30pm. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides. George and Martha Washington will also be on site to greet Mount Vernon’s holiday guests. Tickets: $35 adult/$25 youth with Mansion tour, $30 adult/$20 youth.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


The National Menorah Lighting from a Chanukah past

CHANUKAH

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

Hanukkah comes early this year, starting on November 28 through December 6. PJ Library, a non-profit program that delivers more than 630,000 books to kids around the world (including Russia!) each month, has tips and resources to help you plan for and celebrate the holiday. Their Hanukkah Hub has child-friendly versions of the Hanukkah story along with craft ideas, recipes, and lots of educational and fun printables. You can also listen to their podcasts for kids and broswe their shop on Amazon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Wharf  continues their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights!  Plan to enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront while you’re there and maybe even go for a spin at the ice rink!

Kensington’s Annual Menorah Lighting
Where: Kensington Town Hall | Kensington, MD
When: November 28, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

Kensington is celebrating the first night of Chanukah with its annual Menorah Lighting at the Kensington Town Hall. All are welcome to join. Check back on the website for any updates on festivities.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The US Capitol tree is lit nighty during the holiday season

TREE LIGHTINGS

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

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

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

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

Holiday Tree Lighting [*new listing!]
Where: Mosaic District | Fairfax, VA
When: November 25
Admission: Free

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! Join the Mosaic District to welcome the arrival of the holiday season with a merry and bright tree lighting. Bring your family and friends to experience the Jolly Man’s arrival on a firetruck, a Santa meet and greet, and catch a screening of Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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

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

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

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

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

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting if you don’t win tickets — or even if you do! While you can’t get close to the lighting ceremony,  you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. Until then, you can follow the tree as it journeys from  the Six Rivers National Forest in California, where it was harvested, to DC. It it expected to arrive November 19, and the lighting will likely take place December 1. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

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

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

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

This year will be the 99th National Christmas Tree lighting! Historically, to attend this lighting you have to enter a lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s annual ceremony that takes place on the Ellipse, just beyond the White House. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree. (Note: Details are still to come… this may be all virtual again due to Covid, and there likely will be vaccination requirements if it is in person.) 

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill area, DC
When: December 3
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. The tree is always huge and beautifully adorned, and will be lit by the ambassador of Norway, a gift symbolizing both gratitude for the assistance Norway received during World War II and appreciation for the continued strong friendship between the two countries. The evening will also feature performances by The String Queens, whose members have collaborated with artists such as Ledisi, Janelle Monáe, and Common, and the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir.

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

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

 

Shopping and a little seasonal magic at the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

Lucketts Holiday Open House
Where: Lucketts Store | Leesburg, VA
When: November 11 – December 12
Admission: $25

Join Lucketts for their fabulous Holiday Design House and decked out Store. A magical holiday event filled with Christmas shopping, fun holiday murals + photo vignettes, Vanish wine garden and more. In order to have a safe and cozy shopping experience, this is a fully ticketed season. Your ticket gets you entry to the Design House, a 19th century farmhouse that Lucketts transforms into a winter wonderland. All decor inside is available for purchase and additional surprises will take place throughout each weekend.

28th Northern Virginia Christmas Market
Where: Dulles Expo Center | Chantilly, VA
When: November 12-14
Admission: $8/age 13+, free/12 & under

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

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 19 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

Christmas Village
Where: West Shore Park, Inner Harbor | Baltimore, MD
When: November 25 – December 24
Admission: Free weekdays, $5/adult weekends, kids free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

 

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

The 2020 KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC

The 2020 DC holiday season is a little bit off this year 😉

 

Like most things in 2020, the holiday season in DC will look a lot different this year.  Many beloved annual events and shows that so many of us look forward to have been cancelled,  favorite family traditions interrupted. But there still are enough happening to make the season bright (literally, at some places).  Holiday light displays, that you drive or walk through outdoors, are as dazzling as they are great for social distancing.  In-person celebrations have extra safety precautions in place. Holiday shows are going virtual, many of them for free.  Christmas trees and menorahs are lit through the season, so you can visit at your leisure.  Seasonal markets are prepped for safety or bringing the shopping online. ‘Tis not the season we’re used to, but it still can be a wonderful time of the year.  This annual KFDC Guide to the Holiday Season in DC will help you plan for it all.

Light Displays

Trees & Lightings

Chanukah

Special Events & Activities

Holiday Shows

Holiday Markets

 

Drive or walk through the festive Symphony of Lights

LIGHT DISPLAYS

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centreville, VA
When: November 6 – January 10
Admission: $20-30/vehicle (look for discount)

Experience 2.5 miles of colorful holiday light displays. As you drive the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. It started early this year and online ticketing were added to provide minimal contact. Take advantage of a discount for purchasing online — use promo code WEB20 for $5 off the Monday-Thursday rate.

Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, VA
When: November 11 – January 3
Admission: $15/adult, $9/ages 2-12 (look for discount)

Bring your family and friends to be dazzled by the magical Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia. Every year from mid-November until just after New Year’s Day, the garden is transformed into a half-mile, walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the animated Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition.

Winter Wine-derland
Where: Bluemont Vineyard | Bluemont, VA
When: November 19 – January 3
Admission: $12-30

Enjoy a family friendly outing at the whimsical Winter Wine-derland, located at Bluemont Vineyard’s The Stable event venue, nestled among the vines half way up the mountain. At the exclusive holiday pop-up, families can decorate gingerbread while sipping hot cocoa, roast marshmallows fireside and craft inimitable cork ornaments. Adults can enjoy indulging in a cup of mulled wine or exploring a Wine and Cookie pairing of Christmas cookies, crafted by local Knead It Bakery, paired with their favorite Bluemont Vineyard wines. Check out the website for even more ways for adults to celebrate there!

Ice & Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, VA
When: November 20 – January 3
Admission: See details below(look for discount)

Glide across the ice at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia. The waterpark is transformed into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music and more. Visit Slice n’ Ice for hot chocolate, coffee and cold beverages, pizza, hot dogs, and delicious donut holes. Admission to the village is $7.95, with 1-hour skating and skate rental is $19.43, ice skating & rental only is $12.19. Ice skating tickets are available online only.

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

Driving through Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park has become a tradition for many area families for the past decade. The scenic drive along the shores of the Chesapeake Bay features more than 60 spectacular animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. The holiday light show is sponsored by the SPCA of Anne Arundel County.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods at Merriweather | Columbia, MD
When: November 25 – January 1
Admission: $20/vehicle

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. On November 29, the Family Festival welcomes visitors to walk through the lights + enjoy activities for the whole family ($12/guest).

ZooLights Express
Where: Around DC
When: See dates below
Admission: Free

ZooLights Express, powered by Pepco, is bringing the colorful glow of DC’s beloved National Zoo holiday tradition into the community. The 24-foot ZooLights Express truck will hit the road, festively decorated with light displays and featuring “Panda Claws,” and visit one District ward each Friday and Saturday night from 6-8pm:
Friday, 11/27 | Ward 1
Saturday, 11/28 | Ward 2
Friday, 12/4 | Ward 3
Saturday, 12/5 | Ward 4
Friday, 12/11| Ward 5
Saturday, 12/12 | Ward 6
Friday, 12/18 | Ward 7
Saturday, 12/19 | Ward 8

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 27 – January 1,
Admission: $8-10/vehicle

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. Purchase tickets in advance online and pay only $8.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park | Gathersburg, MD
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: $12-15/car Mon-Thurs, $17-20/car Fri-Sun

The 25th Annual Winter Lights Festival is a glowing 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting of Seneca Creek State Park. The route takes you past more than 450 illuminated displays and beautifully lit trees that light up the night.  Note that it’s closed on Christmas.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Solomons, MD
When: November 27 – January 1 (closed 12/1, 7, 8, 24, 25)
Admission: $10-12/person, free/3 & under

This annual holiday light show is getting a makeover in light of COVID-19 guidelines with everything outside to keep everyone safe, so bundle up a magical holiday experience. The grounds of Annmarie are transformed into an outdoor twinkling wonderland that will transport your family to an enchanted world where they will discover glowing “light sculptures” and wondrous light installations. Discover wild animals, wintery wonderlands, musical holiday scenes, deep sea treasures, magical creatures, glowing trees, and more.  New this year: An outdoor Holiday Market with shopping, music, fun holiday photo opps, and food and drink.

Winter Glow
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Alexandria, VA
When: November 27-29, December 11-13/26-28, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $25-30/youth, $40-45/adult

Enjoy an enchanting evening of winter lights at Mount Vernon. See the estate illuminated with soft lights and holiday patterns as you listen to Christmas carolers and visit an 18th-century winter encampment.

DC Holiday Lights
Where: Around DC
When: December 1-31
Admission: Free

During December, 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. You can also take a guided tour of the lights with Free Tours By Foot!

Light Yards
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 7 – January 12
Admission: Free

Light Yards is returning for its fifth year at The Yards! The annual holiday installation will feature the premiere of the installation “Stars” by Australian-based immersive light design sculptors Amigo & Amigo . The larger-than-life stars constructed from metallic mesh feature dancing lights and play festive music, making for a perfect socially-distanced stroll for guests of all ages who want to safely experience some holiday cheer. Plan to enjoy dinner or cocktails al fresco amongst the Stars or pair your visit with a take-out pick-up from one of the many eateries at The Yards.

Holiday Lights on the Farm
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
When: December 11-12 & 18-19
Admission: $20

Brighten your season with a driving tour of Holiday Lights on the Farm at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon. Tour the park in the safety and warmth of your vehicle on a one-mile route to see the farm animals, wooded wonders, and luminous lights decorating the pastures and historic buildings. On-line registration required.

43rd Annual Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple | Kensington, MD
When: December 11-28, 6-9pm
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. During the holiday season the grounds glow with more than 400,000 lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy, though this year in a modified way that puts safety and health first. The 2020 Festival of Lights will open as a drive-through experience. The tour begins at the entrance of the Temple grounds and end at the Temple Visitors’ Center with Christmas music transmitted over short-range FM radio.

 


Stop and see the Capitol tree

TREES & LIGHTINGS

Nightly Holiday Tree Light Show
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: November 14 – January 3
Admission: Free

Ignite your holiday spirit with the nightly lighting of the 56-foot tree and two million twinkling lights in the National Harbor Waterfront District. The tree light show takes place every evening, every half hour from sundown to 9pm. On weekends — Friday, Saturday, and Sunday — there will be snowfall over the tree during the light show. This year, in order to maintain social distancing, guests will be asked to form a line and follow the directions.

Lighting of the Wharf Tree
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Friday, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Kick off the holiday season at The Wharf as they officially light their Christmas tree and transform the waterfront into a winter wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights. Bring the family for photos by to the 45-foot pine tree on District Pier, then enjoy dinner together at one of the many restaurants. End your evening by roasting s’mores around the firepit at Camp Wharf!

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol | Capitol Hill, DC
When: December 2, 5pm
Admission: Free

A great alternative to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Technically, this lighting is not open to the public and will be broadcast live on C-Span.org, but you could view festivities from right across the street by the Reflecting Pool (be sure to social distance). I recommend going on another evening, though, when you can view the tree from a closer vantage point.  After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

National Christmas Tree & Holiday Trees
Where: President’s Park | The Ellipse, DC
When: December 3-31
Admission: Free

The lighting of the National Christmas Tree on December 3 will not include a live audience this year, but the illumination and performances can be viewed virtually.  After that, the tree will be lit nightly, and visitors are welcome to see it on the Ellipse along with trees representing each state and territory and the District though December.


The National Menorah Lighting on the Ellipse

CHANUKAH

Chanukah in a Box
Where: Online/Zoom
When: December 6 (order by 12/4)
Admission: $15/box

Join Chabad for virtual Chanukah fun for the whole family! You will receive a box of supplies before the online carnival, and then log in to create Chanukah masterpieces together on Zoom! (Or if you prefer, you can do it all on your own — instructions included in the box.) Receive an action-packed box with Chanukah activities, including a menorah kit, Chamukah cookie cutters, a dreidel craft, a foil card, and popcorn for snacking. Order by 12/4 and use the code KFDC to ensure you get your box in time!

Chanukah Carnival in a Box
Where: Online/Zoom
When: December 6
Admission: $15/box

A super fun Chanukah carnival, in YOUR living room! Receive an action-packed box of Chanukah activities and treats, including supplies needed to make your own tie-dye Menorah, Chanukah cookie cutters and a recipe card to make delicious Chanukah cookies, popcorn and chocolate Chanukah gelt for a Chanukah party, a unique wooden Dreidel craft – fun for all ages, and a DIY foil press Chanukah card! You will receive your box of supplies before the virtual carnival, and then join to create Chanukah masterpieces on Zoom. Zoom link will be provided after registration. Chanukah in a Box will be ready for pickup on Thursday, December 3, at a central location in Alexandria or Arlington. While they prefer that you pick up the box, if you are unable to they will happily deliver it anywhere in Alexandria or Arlington!

Chanukah Grandfriend Program
Where: Online
When: December 8, 4pm
Admission:

Gather around the menorah for a multi-generational event for kids and their “grandfriends.” Jpin PJ Library and others to make Chanukah-inspired churros and dipping sauces, hear a story, and celebrate joyfully together. The recipe and ingredients list to bake along will be shared when you register.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: President’s Park | The National Ellipse, DC
When: December 10, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

This is the Jewish counterpart to the National Christmas Tree Lighting. Every Chanukah, the National Menorah is lit in a ceremony on the Ellipse. Usually, along with the lighting, there is live entertainment, menorah kits and dreidels to take home, and latkes and donuts. This year, details about those festivities are TBD.  Tickets are free, but you need to order them in advance through the website starting November 16.

Lighting of the Menorah
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: December 10-18, 5-6pm
Admission: Free

The Wharf is continuing their annual tradition of lighting the menorah in District Square for each night of Hanukkah — join them to celebrate the Festival of Lights! Plan to dine out while you’re there and enjoy an evening stroll along the beautiful waterfront.

Where: Zoom with Hurray for Books 
When: December 6, 1pm
Admission: Free

Join author Laura Gehl for an interactive Hanukkah storytime via Zoom featuring her new book HAPPY LLAMAKKAH! Laura will read the story, followed by Hanukkah and llama trivia and other interactive fun for ages 0-8.  Register here to receive the Zoom link.

8 Nights of Lights
Where: Zoom
When: December 10-17, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Join your friends at Bender JCCGW, Edlavitch DCJCC, and Pozez JCC to light up Chanukah! Bring your Chanukiah (Menorah) to light with them. NOTE: The Friday, December 11, lighting will occur at 4:30pm, before Shabbat, followed by a Shabbat candle lighting.

The Drive-thru Chanukah Experience
Where: 6011 Executive Blvd | Rockville, MD
When: December 12-13
Admission: $25/vehicle + $2/person

The Chanukah Story comes to life with an epic audio-visual presentation in a Covid-safe manner, thank to Chabad Centers of Montgomery County. From the safety of their cars, families will literally drive-thru the Chanukah story as multiple illustrations, props, and actors bring the 2500-year-old Chanukah story to life. Guided by a professionally created soundtrack, they will experience the Chanukah events as it would be happening in real-time. Participants will meet, at a distance, the Chanukah characters and pick up souvenirs and treats as they move through the Chanukah story.The Chanukah Drive-thru Experience will bring the joy and excitement of Chanukah at a time when it is most needed.

Chanukah Havdalah in Pajamas
Where: Zoom
When: December 12, 6pm
Admission:

Join PJ Library, Berman Hebrew Academy and Kehilat Pardes to start a new week with Havdalah and then light your family chanukiyah (Chanukah menorah) together as a community on the third night of Chanukah. Rabbi Uri Topolosky will sing songs, share a story, and help everyone have a joyful start to a new week.

Be the Light: Helping Others on Chanukah
Where: Virtual & Temple Shalom | Chevy Chase, MD
When: December 13, 11am – 12pm & and 4–5:30pm
Admission: Free

On Chanukkah, spread the light of the holiday with others by giving back. Encourage your child to dedicate one night of Chanukah as a Tzedakah Night, purchasing items for others instead of receiving a gift. Bring a donation for DC Diaper Bank (see wish list) in the morning. Later that day, join on Zoom for a bake-along with Paula Shoyer! Make blue-and-white cookies, ending with the menorah lighting together at 5:30 PM. You can pick up an activity kit for your family when you drop off your donation or arrange an alternate option by contacting us. (Note: Drop off donations in the morning & the bake-along is virtual.). Register by December 10.

Clarendon Menorah Lighting & Community Celebration
Where: Chabad Lubavitch | Arlington, VA
When: December 13, 5pm
Admission: Free

Experience the Festival of Lights! Join the lighting of a giant 9-foot menorah and enjoy hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, chocolate gelt, live Chanukah music, and dreidels for all. Capacity is limited, so register in advance here. Masks are required at this outdoor event.

Chanukah Festival
Where: The LYCEUM | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: December 15, 6:30pm
Admission: Free

Share in the spirit and joy of Chanukah at the grand Menorah Lighting in Old Town Alexandria. See the lighting of a 6-foot menorah, and enjoy latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, gelt, dreidels, an lively Chanukah music. Every child will receive a free light stick, too. Capacity is limited, so register in advance. This outdoor event will be socially distanced and masks are required.

Author Talk: The Ninth Night of Hanukkah by Erica Perl
Where: Zoom
When: December 16, 4pm
Admission: Free

Join the JCCs for a Hanukkah afternoon as local author Erica Perl shares her latest story. It’s Hanukkah, and Max and Rachel are excited to light the menorah in their family’s new apartment. But, unfortunately, their Hanukkah box is missing! Signed copies will be available through Politics and Prose for folks attending the Zoom program.


Crystalline at ARTECHOUSE evokes a winter vibe

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

Crystalline
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: Through January 3
Admission: $12-17/child, $19-24/adult

ARTECHOUSE, known for its visually stunning digital art, has transformed the gallery into a blue-hued haven intended to evoke calm and peace during a turbulent time. Like all of the exhibitions there, just about all of it is interactive, as the images change with viewers’ motions, encouraging play.  Immersing into the depths of the color, even just for a little while, is a  dazzling and delightful escape from the bizarre Covid world outside.

The Virtual Enchanted Forest
Where: Online
When: November 21
Admission: Varies by activity

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns virtually this year. Activities include storytime with Santa, an online auction, call with Santa, cooking classes, arts and crafts, yoga, and more fun for the family.

Season’s Greetings
Where: Hillwood Estate | Northwest DC
When: November 24 – January 10
Admission: Suggested donation $18/adult, $5/child, free/under 6

Hillwood remains a safe way to enjoy the holiday splendor with precautionary measures in place. Enjoy time outside as the gardens reveal another aspect of their ever-changing beauty during the holiday season. The gardens, as revealed in the publication A Garden for All Seasons: Marjorie Merriweather Post’s Hillwood, are the inspiration for glamorous Christmas trees and festive décor across the estate. Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm.

The Grinch’s Grotto
Where: Tysons Corner Center | Tysons, VA
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: $50

If taking traditional cheerful holiday photos with the family is exactly what you don’t feel like doing, check out The Grinch’s Grotto, an imaginative take on holiday photo shoots that will give guests a fun way to show off a bit of their grumpiness during what is still the most wonderful time of the year.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 27 – December 31, 9am – 4pm
Admission: $20/adult, $12/age 6-11, free/5 & under

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season. The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. It’s open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years.

Tenley WinterFest
Where: Throughout Tenleytown, DC
When: November 27 – December 5
Admission: Free

This eight-day celebration of the holiday season is designed to showcase local businesses, community groups, and the neighborhood — all with a unique Tenleytown flair and lots of yetis. Get special deals at restaurants, join a Yeti Scavenger Hunt, checkout festive storefronts, and take a self-guided walking tour.

Holiday Movies at The Wharf
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: Weekends
Admission: $60

Join The Wharf throughout this holiday season for a pop-up outdoor movie theatre on Transit Pier where you can enjoy all the Christmas classics from your private firepit in front of a 20′ LED screen. They’re showing all the best holiday classics, including Home Alone, The Grinch, A Christmas Story, Elf, and more at 2pm and 6pm showtimes. In advance of the event, reserve your fire pit, which seats up to four people. Drinks (both hard and soft) and snacks are available throughout the movie from Cantina Bambina. Each seating includes a special stocking stuffed full of great offers and holiday treats from Wharf restaurants, merchants, and partners.

Occoquan HolidayFest
Where: Online & Historic Occoquan, VA
When: November 30 – December 13
Admission: Free

Enjoy the upcoming festive season with virtual and socially distanced celebrations in historic Occoquan! The Town of Occoquan and the Occoquan Merchants Guild are pleased to present a three-week event including in-person and online activities, including a virtual tree lighting, family fireside night, in-person market, a gingerbread contest, and trivia night. See the website for dates and details.

Make & Take Holiday Crafting
Where: Paper Source | Tysons, VA
When: December 2, 9, & 16
Admission: $10

Looking for the perfect way to kick off the holiday season? Unleash your inner artist this season with a series of ornament making fun for the whole family! Purchase a $10 crafting experience and receive a $10 gift card to Paper Source, in addition to your Paper Source ornament craft. Stop by Paper Source to pick up your crafting kit AND a $10 Paper Source gift card for $10. Join The Boro’s destination for all things creative, Paper Source, for seasonal crafting all through December.

Christmas Village
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: December 4/5/6, 11/12/13, 18/19/20, 22/23, 6-9pm
Admission: $10.95 9$12.95 at door)

Celebrate Christmas with the Critters at the Animal Park’s evening holiday event! Activities include photos with Santa Claus, themed arts & crafts, live animal encounters + holiday photos with them, a kids’ indoor play zone, bonfire & marshmallow roasting, pony rides, nativity scene, animal petting & feeding, and thousands of holiday lights. Christmas trees & wreaths will be available for purchase at the Farm Market, too.

Georgetown History & Holiday Lights Tour
Where: Throughout Georgetown DC
When: Starting early December
Admission: Pay what you want

Join Free Tours by Foot for a special evening Historic Georgetown tour that brings you the history through the holiday window displays of Georgetown businesses and restaurants. It’s a unique way to learn about the art and the neighborhood itself. Explore the industrial and some of the oldest residential parts of the neighborhood by the water and along the canal. Note: All sites and homes will be viewed from the street.

Letter to Santa Watercolor Workshop
Where: Online (Supplies pick Up at The Station in Riverdale, MD)
When: December 19
Admission: Free

Santa is pulling into The Station! Join Santa’s crafting workshop and unleash your inner elf with a Letter to Santa watercolor workshop. Pick up your complimentary crafting kit at The Station PLUS a $10 gift card from participating restaurants at The Station. Pick up your free watercolor kit at The Station on Saturday, December 19 from from 11am – 2pm, then tune in for a workshop at 4pm with local artist and maker. Can’t make the workshop live? They’ll send a recording to all registrants. Santa will be here before you know it, so you can drop off your letter to Santa at participating restaurants at The Station and share on Instagram (tag @thestationrp) to be included in a drawing for a $50 gift card to Burtons Grill at The Station!

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

They’ve decked the halls and walls and filled The O with season’s greetings & holiday cheer to create lasting memories for all. On the Breakfast Tour, enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour through the themed rooms and search for secret doors. On the Dessert Tour, tour the mansion, then take home an assortment of tortes, cakes, and sweets — includes hot coffee, hot tea, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate (cash bar). See more about this wonderfully unique DC attraction in this KFDC post.

Joy Around the World: Virtual Holiday Scavenger Hunt for Kids
Where: Watson Adventures Online
When: December 28
Admission: $19

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

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station | Capitol Hill Area, DC
When: TBD
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.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31
Admission: $25 ’til 11/30, $30 12/1-30, $35 12/31, free/12 & under
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region is ON for 2020. Organizers are planning a hybrid experience that will include both online and live performances around Alexandria. More details to come soon!

 


Catch Step Afrika’s magnificent Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show online for free!

VIRTUAL HOLIDAY SHOWS

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap Online
When: December 5 & 19, 4pm
Tickets: Free

Wolf Trap continues their wonderful community tradition of the Holiday Sing-A-Long — with a virtual twist. Traditionally, this event combined a festive instrumental performance by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band (USMB) and a sing-a-long of traditional holiday carols led by more than 500 local singers. This year’s event will be presented in a digital format, and you can join from the comfort of your home. The pre-recorded performances by the USMB at The Barns at Wolf Trap, will each begin with a short prelude of festive instrumentals followed by a series of favorite holiday sing-a-longs.

The Snow Queen
Where: Imagination Stage Online
When: December 12 – February 28
Admission: $25-29/household

In this adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s famous winter fairy tale, a powerful friendship is put to the test as four narrators bring to life the story of Gerda and Kai, life-long best friends whose relationship is broken by the unfeeling Snow Queen. Can Gerda save Kai before his heart is frozen solid? Imagination abounds in this magical story of courage, wit, and unshakable resilience! Recommended for ages 5+.

The Nutcracker
Where: The Washington Ballet Online
When: TBD
Tickets: TBD

Experience moments of joy and magic from The Washington Ballet’s charmingly-DC The Nutcracker – virtually! While we can’t be in the theatre to celebrate the joy of The Nutcracker and the holiday season, The Washington Ballet is working on putting together a delightful virtual Nutcracker experience with behind-the-scenes content, interviews, special performances, and more.

A Season of Reveling
Where: Washington Revels Online
When: Through December 20
Admission: Varies

This December’s Christmas Revels will not take place on a stage… but Washington Revels will celebrate nonetheless! They’ve been hard at work imagining the possibilities of a virtual Christmas Revels. Much more information is coming soon! Right now we are excited to share that we will not only present a virtual Winter Solstice Revels, but also we are also planning an ongoing “suite” of Fall programming — “A Season of Reveling.“

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Step Afrika! Online
When: December 16, 7:30pm
Admission: Free
As the world’s first holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping, the Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is a feast for the eyes and ears. Fabulous and furry friends from the Arctic Kingdom – Popper the Penguin along with polar bear twins, Pinky and Polo-ensure a fun and exciting experience for the entire family! Recognizing the challenges faced by so many families due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Step Afrika! is offering this year’s holiday show free of charge. Tune in as the celebrated performers of Step Afrika! spread holiday cheer to audiences all over the world. Register in advance.

ASO Live! Holiday Classics
Where: Strathmore Online
When: December 18
Admission: $49

The holidays are a time spent with friends and family, both near and far, celebrating togetherness. Enjoy a concert that will warm your heart on a cold winter’s night with holiday favorites and classical others. This concert is sure to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night. selections by Arcangelo Corelli, Johann Strauss, Scott Joplin, and Leroy Anderson, among others. This concert is sure to warm your heart on a cold winter’s night.

The Nutcracker Storybook
Where: Maryland Youth Ballet Online
When: Starting December 19
Admission: $10 to rent, $20 to purchase

Given the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland Youth Ballet is excited to announce a reimagined production of its traditional holiday favorite, The Nutcracker, with a NEW video production. The Nutcracker Storybook follows the storyline of the timeless holiday classic with “Uncle Drosselmeyer” narrating and guiding viewers through a storybook come to life. The performance will be pre-recorded with a broadcast premiere on December 19.

Coyaba Dance Theater: In Spirit of Kwanzaa
Where: Dance Place Online
When: December 29, 6:30pm
Tickets: Free

Join Coyaba Dance Theater West African Dance Company in celebrating 15 years! This high-energy virtual presentation is based on the 7 Principles (Nguzo Saba) of Kwanzaa: Umoja, Kuchjichagulia, Ujima, Ujamaa, Nia, Kuumba, Imani. Kwanzaa is an African-American holiday from December 26 – January 1. In gathering, we commemorate and recommit to our families, community economics, and Faith. This show will lift your spirits and warm your hearts.

 


Strolling the Downtown Holiday Market

HOLIDAY MARKETS

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW | Penn Quarter, DC
When: November 20 – 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 a great 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. Treats and coffee drinks are available for purchase, too.   KFDC Tip: Plan to visit the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market after you’ve done your shopping.  Reserve timed-entry tickets here. (The museums are currently closed due to rising Covid-19 rates.)

Victura Park Winter Holiday Market
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: November 27 – December 20
Admission: Free

This winter, Victura Park, the pop-up wine car on the grounds of The REACH at the Kennedy Center, transforms into a festive Holiday Market! The outdoor market will feature an amazing line up of local artists, craftspersons, and other specialized vendors, including the Kennedy Center Gift Shop pop-up shop. Support small businesses by purchasing gifts, prepackaged treats, and one-of-a-kind artworks for the perfect holiday celebration! Sip on seasonal classics such as spiked cider and hot cocoa or choose from the signature menu of beer and wine, light snacks, and delicious food hot from the grill. Holiday hours will be Friday 4 – 8pm, Saturday 12– 9pm, & Sunday 12 – 8pm.

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 (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Online
When: November 23 – December 18
Admission: Free

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

Holiday Freedom Market
Where: Online
When: November 22 – December 5
Admission: Free

Looking for ethically and sustainably made holiday gifts this season?  Visit the Holiday Freedom Market, an online pop-up launching on Saturday and running for two weeks. They’ve has partnered with brands that employ fair trade and sustainable practices (including local brand Hon’s Honey), many of which support anti-human trafficking initiatives or employ at-risk individuals or survivors of exploitation, to bring you incredible gifts options that you can shop with a clear conscience.   COVID-19 has made things exponentially worse for those who are vulnerable or currently being trafficked. All net proceeds will go to Justice Ventures International, an organization that fights human trafficking.  Local pick-up options will be available.  Note that the website will not go-live until this Saturday, but you can catch a sneak-peek by visiting their Instagram and Facebook pages.

First Sunday Arts Festival Holiday Edition
Where: Calvert & West Streets | Annapolis, MD
When: December 6, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Shop an array of items in person from 50 artists in downtown Annapolis (or shop online from over 200 vendors). Booths will be spread out to make social distancing easier. They ask that masks are worn when inside a vendors tent and that only one household enter a tent at a time. Bring hand sanitizer for convenient hand washing.

Virtual Markets
Where: Online
When: Throughout the season
Admission: What you spend!

Most annual markets have moved online due to Covid-19, which might even make shopping easier. So many of them offer unique finds that make for perfect holiday gifts, plus they often support wonderful organizations, places, and people in the community. Here are some to browse from the comfort of your couch:
Smithsonian Holiday Market
Strathmore Shop Around
Heurich House Christkindlmarkt
Sideshow at the American Visionary Art Museum
Waldorf School Fall Bazaar

 

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

 

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Filed under 2020, 2021, All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Christmas, Coronavirus, COVID-19, DC, Fall, Holidays, Maryland, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Live Entertainment for Families Around DC this Winter

The set of Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Peter Pan and Wendy” is as magical and creative as the classic story


As it gets cold outside, plan to warm up with some entertainment indoors. There are all kinds of shows and performances to enjoy through the season. Here are details on what you can see on area stages, starting with currently running shows, then listed by start date, with most production descriptions coming straight from the sources. (KFDC Tip: Tickets to these could make for great holiday gifts!) . Happy Viewing!

Holidays on the Stage
Where: Around the DMV
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 Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Imagination Stage. You can stomp along with Step Akrika!, catch An Irish Carol at Keegan Theatre, and enjoy a Candlelight Christmas at the Kennedy Center. Get details on these shows and many, many more in the 2019 Guide to the Holiday Season.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical)
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through January 5
Tickets: $20

Whatever you do, don’t let the Pigeon star in his own musical production! Starring an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs, and feathers, this world premiere Kennedy Center commission features a script by Mo Willems, creator of the best-selling “Pigeon” picture books, along with Muppet Babies executive producer Mr. Warburton, plus music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, the composer of Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play! Recommended for ages 5+.

Singin’ in the Rain
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: Through January 5
Tickets: $54-$99 (find discounts)

The greatest movie musical of all time comes to life on the Mainstage and for once, rain during the holidays is guaranteed to make you smile. Comden and Green’s ingenious tale of Hollywood’s transition from the silent era is buoyed by the thrill of live singing and dancing to some of the greatest songs in the American canon including “Good Mornin’,” “Make ‘em Laugh,” and “Moses Supposes.” Our biggest production of the year is certain to impress Broadway regulars and enchant kids meeting this musical for the first time. If this were a film it would be rated G.

Newsies
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: Through December 29
Tickets: Start at $66

In the summer of 1899, the newsboys of New York City took on two of the most powerful men in the country — Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst — and won. Inspired by true events, the Broadway smash hit is a testament to the power of standing up and speaking out. The Tony Award-winning musical features fan-favorites like “Carrying the Banner,” “King of New York” and “Seize the Day.” Newsies is “a winning, high-energy musical” (Entertainment Weekly) just in time for the holidays and perfect for the whole family.

Peter Pan and Wendy
Where: Sidney Harman Hall | Penn Quarter, DC
When: Through January 11
Tickets: $35-120/adult, $35/14 & under (find discounts)

Bold, budding scientist Wendy Darling dreams of earning a Nobel Prize. When Peter Pan arrives at her bedroom window, she takes a leap and leaves finishing school behind, chasing adventure among the stars. Facing down fairies, mermaids, and the dastardly Captain Hook, Wendy, Peter, and their friends discover the power of standing up together for what’s right. J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan is reimagined for a new generation of theatregoers.
This beloved tale of adventure and wonder is sure to delight adults and children alike this holiday season. Recommended for ages 5+.

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Lab at Convergence | Alexandria, VA
When: December 5-21
Tickets: $10

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

Jersey Boys
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: December 17 – January 5
Tickets: $39-99 (find discounts)

They were just four guys from Jersey, until they sang their very first note. They had a sound nobody had ever heard… and the radio just couldn’t get enough of. But while their harmonies were perfect on stage, off stage it was a very different story — a story that has made them an international sensation all over again. Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons in the Tony and Grammy Award®-winning true-life musical phenomenon, Jersey Boys. From the streets of New Jersey to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this is the musical that’s just too good to be true. Recommended for ages 12+.

My Fair Lady
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: December 17 – January 19
Tickets: $39-159 (find discounts)

From Lincoln Center Theater comes “a sumptuous new production of the most perfect musical of all time” (Entertainment Weekly), Lerner & Loewe’s My Fair Lady. Director Bartlett Sher’s glowing production is “thrilling, glorious and better than it ever was” (The New York Times). Boasting such classic songs as “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “The Rain in Spain,” and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” My Fair Lady tells the story of Eliza Doolittle, a young Cockney flower seller, and Henry Higgins, a linguistics professor who is determined to transform her into his idea of a “proper lady.” But who is really being transformed?

Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE
When: December 27-31
Tickets: $15

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

Pete the Cat
Where: Olney Theatre | Olney, MD
When: January 11-12
Tickets: $20

For Pete the Cat, life is an adventure no matter where you wind up. So the minute the groovy blue cat meets The Biddles, he gets the whole family rocking. That is, except for young Jimmy Biddle, the most organized second grader on planet Earth. But when Jimmy draws a blank in art class during the last week of school, it turns out Pete is the perfect pal to help him out. Recommended for K – 5th grade.

Narnia
Where: Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre | Arlington, VA
When: January 10-19
Tickets: $15/adult, $12/child (find discounts)

Encore Stage & Studio presents its signature theatre By Kids For Kids… When the four Pevensie children stumble upon an old wardrobe, little do they know they will discover the magical world of Narnia. Full of mystical creatures, talking animals, and great escapes, this action-packed story by C.S. Lewis depicts the triumph of Aslan, the great lion and ruler of Narnia, over the White Witch. Join the adventure as four brave kids, one great lion, and an entire kingdom fight for what is right. We recommend this musical for ages 4 and older.

Mouse on the Move
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: January 11 – February 16
Tickets: $12

Nellie and Amelia are two adventurous mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse-hole. They decide to go to the moon, since it is cat-free and made entirely of delicious, mouth-watering cheese (so they have heard). In this interactive play, the audience becomes part of the story through multi-sensory activities. Join us as we all try to reach beyond the stars. Recommended for ages 1-5.

Step Afrika! Step Xplosion
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: January 12
Tickets: $35-75

Strathmore is proud to welcome back Step Afrika!, the first professional organization dedicated to the African American tradition of stepping. This performance begins with a showcase of the region’s finest step squads featuring lightning-fast footwork, percussive chants, and incredible synchronicity. In addition to Step Xplosion, Step Afrika! showcase a portion of their new work, Drumfolk, commissioned by Strathmore. Drumfolk honors the heritage of step and places the evolution of this vibrant art form in its historical context. Tracing step’s roots to the African American percussive traditions of patting juba, hambone, ring shout, and tap, Drumfolk reflects on the harsh realities of the American South and celebrates the fortitude of enslaved Africans who practiced these transcendent musical forms. Recommended for ages 8+.

The Merry Wives of Windsor (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Folger Theatre | Capitol Hill, DC
When: January 14 – March 1
Tickets: $27-85

Some appetites never go out of style. The pursuit of money is bound to backfire when the targets are smarter than their gold-digging schemer. Falstaff’s dubious plan to woo Windsor’s wealthy housewives is met with hilarious retaliation, when the ladies devise a plot to teach him a lesson he won’t soon forget. The comedic comeuppance is an absolute treat in Shakespeare’s delightful comedy on love, money, deception, and the power of women.

Once Upon a Moon at Udvar-Hazy
Where: Udvay-Hazy Center | Chantilly, VA
When: January 16-17
Tickets: $3-9

Let’s go to the moon! Celebrate the spirit of the Apollo landing in this exciting, interactive show for our youngest audiences. Performers and exquisite puppets spin new and old stories about the moon’s magic, create a “living exhibit” of its phases, and introduce the amazing science that brought us to its surface. You might even get the chance to be a moonwalking astronaut. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Rapunzel
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: January 17 – February 16
Tickets: $12

A “bewitching” tale by Duane T. Bowers, adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairytale. Witch Wartsmith wants a baby, and after bargaining for little Rapunzel, must go to great lengths to keep her out of the hands of a handsome prince. The Puppet Co. uses “coloring- book” charm and the simplicity of hand puppets in a production designed to delight its younger audiences. Recommended for ages 3.5-9.

The Pied Piper
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: January 18,
Tickets: $32 (find discount)

American Pop Orchestra’s The Pied Piper will add a musical element to the classic story by placing the Piper in a town where music and dancing aren’t allowed. Piper, reimagined as a woman in this production, will have a tricky time convincing the locals that music can solve their rat problem, but if they keep their promise of a hefty reward, things just might work out!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
Where: Warner Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 19, 2pm & 5:30pm
Tickets:

Daniel Tiger and all his friends from the beloved Emmy Award winning PBS KIDS television series are hopping back aboard Trolley for Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Neighbor Day. Daniel Tiger and his family along with O the Owl, Miss Elaina, Katerina Kittycat, Prince Wednesday, and more familiar friends will take audiences on an interactive adventure to the Neighborhood of Make Believe, sharing stories of friendship, helping others and celebrating new experiences. The live show features new songs and fan favorites series, including the beloved Wont You Be My Neighbor? The live theatrical production is filled with music, dancing, and wonderful surprises.

Here We Go, Team!
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: January 22-23
Tickets: $3-9

This Discovery Theater original scores big with a musical play about sharing and taking turns, the importance of personal space, and the awesome power of teamwork. Five-year-old Bobby and Casey are aspiring soccer stars and best friends—but they’ve ended up on separate teams! Through a mishap on the field, they discover that helping people is cool, thanks to another kind of team—their favorite teacher and coach who make it all OK.

Monster Jam
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: January 25-26
Tickets: $29-110

The world’s largest and most famous monster truck tour featuring the biggest names in monster trucks will thunder its way into DC. Alien Invasion, El Toro Loco, Grave Digger, Max-D, Megalodon, Monster Mutt, Soldier Fortune, and Zombie are among the vehicular beasts you’ll see tearing up the indoor terrain this year.

Happy Theater: Five Spoons
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: January 25 – February 2
Tickets: $15-20

Interactive community building theater piece for adults and children alike. Five miniature stories are creatively told and woven together into a greater story about our personal connection to the world and to each other. Through physical theater, storytelling, audience interaction and object-based theater we meet five people who live next to us – people who may be living without vision, or hearing, who have movement limitations, or are lonely, angry, sad…. How do they see, hear or feel the world, and how do we see, hear or feel them? Recommended for ages 10+.

Capital City Symphony’s Symphonic Dancing
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: January 26
Tickets: $15-20

This fun, interactive family concert will have every family member on their feet! The program explores the expressive, dance-like melodies of William Grant Still’s Danzas de Panama, and Scott Joplin’s The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag. Come enjoy this energetic concert for all ages! Join 30 minutes before the performance for an Instrument Petting Zoo!

Glimpse
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 11-12
Tickets: $20

What do colors sound like? Who can understand the moon? How do you sing a tree? This concert presented by Dutch music company Oorkaan transports young audiences to an enchanted world in which music, artists, images, and technology interact with one another. Jazzy melodies mix with bright visuals, forming a captivating new way to relate to music and sounds. Recommended for ages 2–4.

A Thousand Splendid Suns (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: January 17 – March 1
Tickets: $56+

Adapted from the New York Times bestselling novel by Khaled Hosseini (Kite Runner), the lives of two Afghan women are inextricably bound together. In the war-ravaged Kabul, Miriam and Laila become unlikely allies in the face of the insurmountable odds of a brutal and oppressive way of life. Hopes of a new life lead to an unselfish and shocking decision, changing the course of their futures forever. Called “emotionally stirring” (Los Angeles Times), this gripping and heart-rending fight for survival will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.

NSO Music for Young Audiences: Beauty and the Beat
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: January 18-26
Tickets: $20

See NSO principal second violinist Marissa Regni and NSO principal percussionist Eric Shin in an exciting new program exploring the magic created when the violin and percussion join together. Eric may have a vast array of percussion instruments, but Marissa shows how versatile the violin can be. This melodic and rhythmic ride for families proves that no matter how different the instruments are, they can come together to make some beautiful music. Recommended for ages 3+.

The Big Meow
Where: Theatre on the Run | Arlington, VA
When: January 25, February 1 & 8
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child, $45/family of 4 (find discount)

Presented by the Jane Franklin Dance Company… Little Cat is an ever-hopeful fluff ball who desperately wants to belong to the band of neighborhood cats. The Big Meow is a story of a Little Cat’s hope, disappointment, courage and need for belonging. These simple themes are part of every neighborhood, but in this wonderful tale told through the experiences of Little Cat, a potential weakness is a unique strength. The performance incorporates spoken word, movement, music, and an interactive participatory introduction for young children.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: January 31 – February 1
Tickets: $59-99

This immersive concert-style theater show chronicles the amazing journey shared by folk-rock duo Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. It tells the story from their humble beginnings as Tom & Jerry to their incredible success as one of the best-selling music groups of the ‘60s to their dramatic split in 1970. It culminates with the famous “The Concert in Central Park” reunion in 1981 with more than half a million fans in attendance. Using huge projection photos and original film footage, the show also features a full live band performing all of their hits, including “Mrs. Robinson,” “Cecilia,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Homeward Bound,” and many more. Recommended for ages 4+.

Tot Rock
Where: Jammin’ Java | Vienna, VA
When: Ongoing
Tickets: $5/weekdays, $10/weekends

Tot Rock is Jammin’ Java’s super-popular kids music concert series, providing wholesome family entertainment at one of the DC Metro area’s finest music clubs. Local acts perform every Friday, and touring performers drop by on many weekends. Check the calendar often to see when your favorite act is performing, and for other calendar updates.

Saturday Morning at the National
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: Most 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.

Boogie Babes
Where: Miracle Theater | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Thursdays, 10:30am
Tickets: $6/child, free for sibling 6 months and under

This weekly sessions of musical fun were started by two friends of mine back when all our our babes were, well, babes. While it’s changed hands since then, it still brings entertainment especially for little ones to Capitol Hill, and children can boogie along with their favorite local musicians. Plan on grabbing lunch after at one of the many nearby eateries or Eastern Market.

Tiny Tots
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, MD
When: Most Wednesdays, Saturdays, & Sundays at 10am
Tickets: $5

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.

Millennium Stage
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Ongoing daily, 6pm
Tickets: Free

The Kennedy Center presents these free, no-tickets-required performances every day at 6pm, and the public is welcome to enjoy them. The acts span the genres — you can see everything from contemporary dance to folk music to puppetry to comedy shows to opera scenes. Millennium Stage showcases everyone from local youth choirs to internationally known bands (They Might Be Giants performed there a few years ago). This is a great series to keep in mind for whenever you’re looking for some free, easy entertainment.

Rise+Rhyme
Where: BusBoys & Poets | Brookland, DC & Hyattsville/Takoma Park, MD
When: Mondays
Tickets: $5

The weekly series welcomes children 5 and under with their caregivers to enjoy a morning of performances and stories from 9:30-11am. Go to one of three locations: Brookland in DC or Takoma Park or Hyattsville in MD. Plan on breakfast, too — full service is available while the little ones are grooving.

Children’s Arts & Entertainment
Where: BloomBars | Columbia Heights, DC
When: Ongoing
Tickets: Varies by show/activity

The arts center in Columbia Heights offers a variety of enriching, entertaining, and cultural activities and performances for children. From Harambe sessions to puppet shows to musical theatre to sing-a-longs, there’s something going on for little ones just about every day of the week.

Phantom of the Opera
Where: Synetic Theatre | Crystal City, VA
When: February 5 – March 1
Tickets: $35+, $15-25/under 30

Gaston Leroux’s timeless supernatural classic gets a fresh update as Irina Tsikurishvili brings her captivating presence and virtuosic skill sets to the title character of The Phantom of the Opera. When tragedy strikes, a talented but now scarred ballerina takes refuge deep beneath the Paris Opera House. Years later, she becomes enraptured with the ingenue Christine in the corp de ballet. Known only as the Phantom, she terrorizes the opera house and manipulates Christine, cultivating her talent and demanding she be cast in more prominent roles. Synetic’s adaptation of The Phantom of the Opera will honor the pathos and beauty of this classic French tale while examining longing, legacy, and the tragedy of unrealized dreams.

The ABC’s of Percussion with Uncle Devin
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 6-7
Tickets: $3-9

Join Uncle Devin on a musical journey through the wide, wonderful, and boisterous world of percussion instruments. From West African agogo bells to a Chinese lithophone (made of stone!) to Brazil’s zabumba drum, learn how each unique instrument brings global beats to vibrant life. Uncle Devin makes the sounds and rhythms of percussion the perfect way to reinforce the alphabet for the youngest learners.

Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth
Where: Imagination Stage | Bethesda, MD
When: February 8 – March 22
Tickets: $25-35

Zomo — one hip-hoppity rabbit — is taking on Washington, DC. When Zomo is dissed and dismissed by the other tricksters in town, he turns to the Sky God for more power. The Sky God sends him on an impossible quest taking him from the breakdancing fish on the DC Waterfront, to the graffiti artist cow at the National Zoo, and finally to the DJ Leopard in Adams Morgan. Will Zomo find the power he’s seeking? Or will he wise up? This high-energy hip-hop adaptation of a Nigerian folktale, originally commissioned by Imagination Stage in 2009 (Helen Hayes-Nominated Outstanding Production- Theatre for Young Audiences), puts a local spin and lots of silly humor on the global tradition of trickster tales. Recommended for ages 4+.

Into the Great Unknown: African American Adventurers and Explorers
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 11-13
Tickets: $3-9

Leadership, courage, and adventure take center stage in this inspiring Discovery Theater original. From Matthew Henson, co-discoverer of the North Pole, to astronaut Mae Jemison, meet a century’s worth of bold men and women who challenged the Western frontier, the highest of mountains, and the vastness of outer space—and triumphed. In the histories and heroism of these explorers and adventurers, young audiences find models to help them reach their own highest goals. Recommended for ages 6-12.

The King’s Speech
Where: National Theatre | Downtown DC
When: February 11-16
Tickets: $54-114 (find discounts)

The King’s Speech is based on the true story of King George VI’s struggle with a speech impediment and the friendship he formed with his unconventional speech therapist, Lionel Logue. With the Nazi threat looming and civil unrest at home, royal secrets explode around the King as he’s thrust onto the world stage. David Seidler’s original play – which inspired the 2010 Oscar-winning film starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush – will make its long-awaited U.S. debut in a production The Mail proclaims “A right royal treat.” Recommended for ages 13+.

Disney on Ice: Celebrate Memories
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: February 13-17
Tickets: Start at $15 (find discounts)

Your favorite Disney stories come to life at Disney On Ice presents Celebrate Memories. Sail along with Moana on her high-seas adventure and dance with Woody, Buzz and all the Toy Story friends. Feel inspired when love wins in Frozen and dreams come true for the Disney Princesses. Share the excitement and make new memories the whole family will treasure forever!

The Snowy Day & Other Stories by Ezra Jack Keats
Where: Adventure Theatre | Glen Echo, MD
When: February 14 – April 1
Tickets: $23 (find discount)

This beautiful show follows the character of Peter and his friend Archie around the neighborhood in four of Ezra Jack Keats’ beloved tales, The Snowy Day, Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, and A Letter to Amy. Renowned for his tender personality, the character of Peter faces relatable everyday challenges to which children of all ages will find delightfully entertaining. Recommended for all ages.

NSO Family Concert: Girl Power! Celebrating Women in Music
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 16
Tickets: $15-18 (find discounts)

Don’t miss a special showcase of female composers, conductors, and performers to mark 100 years since the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. The program is to include works by Florence Price, Joan Tower, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Jessie Montgomery. Recommended for ages 5+.

Going the Distance
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: February 20-21 & 26-28
Tickets: $3-9

Race to the finish line with two black Olympians who changed history! Soaring music and the exhilaration of world-class sorts motivate us to greatness in this vivid portrayal of the lives of Jesse Owens and Wilma Rudolph. Join them as they them overcome childhood illness, infirmity, and poverty to become the world’s fastest man and woman, winning the greatest honor in all athletics: the Olympic gold medal. The John Cornelius II score speaks to the heart and soul of the winner in all of us.

Beauty and the Beast
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo, DC
When: February 20 – March 29
Tickets: $12

A romantic tale of a handsome prince, and his love, Beauty, set in a great forest in old Russia. There are curses, conflicts, hopes, wishes, dreams, and exciting adventures, all the things that make a happy ending that much sweeter. Imaginative settings and beautiful costumes support this large-scale marionette version of the classic love story. Winner of a Citation of Excellence from the American Center of the Union Internationale de la Marionette, it has played successfully to children and families nationwide. Recommended for ages 5+.

Imagination Stage’s Mouse on the Move
Where:Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: February 21 – March 1
Tickets: $15

Nellie and Amelia are two adventurous mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse-hole. They decide to go to the moon since it is cat-free and made entirely of delicious, mouth-watering cheese (so they have heard). In this interactive play, the audience becomes part of the story through multi-sensory activities. Join us as we all try to reach beyond the stars.

Mark Nizer 4D
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: February 22
Tickets: $20

The only live 3D show in the world! Okay, technically any on-stage performance is a live 3D show, but this world-champion juggler uses lights, music, special effects and his own incredible skill to put on a dazzling performance with thrills and outrageous laughs. Special 3D glasses available to the audience give a surreal sensation of depth that take this family-friendly show beyond anything you’ve ever seen on stage before!

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NSO Music for Young Audiences: Mozart Mash-Up
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 22-23
Tickets: $20

Share the magic and music of Mozart in a special family concert! A string quartet featuring members of the National Symphony Orchestra plays its favorites from the prolific composer. At age 3, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart could be found observing his big sister Nannerl at the keyboard. By 4 or 5, he had written his first compositions, and by age 7 his first symphony. Mozart continues to inspire audiences and performers today—some of whom experienced his music when they were just as young as the composer! Recommended for ages 7+.

Celia and Fidel (KidFree Suggestion!)
Where: Arena Stage | Southwest DC
When: February 28 – April 12
Tickets: $72+

Can one woman change the mind of a man and the fate of a nation? Fidel Castro’s most trusted confidant and political partner, Celia Sánchez, is never far from his side as he grapples with how to move his country forward. It’s 1980 and a failing economy has led 10,000 Cuban citizens to seek asylum at the Peruvian Embassy in Cuba. Castro must decide what kind of a leader he wants to be: merciful or mighty. Imbued with magical realism, Arena Stage’s seventh Power Play imagines a conversation between Cuba’s most influential female revolutionary and its most notorious political leader in a contest between morality and power.

YAO YAO
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: February 29 – March 1
Tickets: $20

Yao is a mischievous little girl who loves to play, but hates when her Daddy picks up his briefcase and goes off to work. One day, Yao grabs Daddy’s overcoat and accidentally pulls a thread that leads to the start of a magical world. South Korea’s Brush Theatre uses interactive screen art technology and live music to capture the whimsical adventure that follows. What Yao finds at the end of the thread playfully blurs reality and imagination. Recommended for ages 3-7.

Laurie Berkner Band
Where: Gordon Center for Performing Arts | Owings Mills, MD
When: March 1, 11am & 3pm
Tickets: $36-65

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 “Bumblebee (Buzz Buzz)” and “We Are the Dinosaurs” along with newer songs. 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!

Hot Peas ‘N Butter
Where: Center for the Arts | George Mason University, VA
When: March 1, 1pm & 4pm
Tickets:$15/adult, $10/child

Praised by the Los Angeles Times for their “hot and mellow multicultural groove,” Hot Peas ‘n Butter will have you and your whole family on their feet dancing with their infectiously fun global music celebration. This Parent Choice Award-winning, family music ensemble blends together traditional Latin music, Afro-Caribbean rhythms, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock to create a “rainbow of color and sound.” (NY 1 TV). Singing in English, Spanish, French, Korean and Hebrew, Hot Peas ‘n Butter aims to show multi-cultural interconnectedness. Their repertoire of songs like “Number 1” and their signature Latin beat tracks “Somos Familia,” “Amistad,” “Que Llueva,” and “Round the World” enjoy radio play nationwide. Recommended for ages 2-6.

The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!
Where: Center for the Arts | George Mason University, VA
When: March 1, 1pm & 4pm
Tickets: $15/adult, $10/child

Witness the impossible with top illusionist Bill Blagg in his new mind-bending and hilarious magic show The Magic of Bill Blagg Live! “Unbelievable!” raves USA Today, and “Absolutely Incredible!” echoes The Chicago Tribune. The whole family will rub their eyes in disbelief as the “Houdini Times Ten” (NBC), makes objects disappear, teleports across the theater, levitates in mid-air, and so much more. Don’t miss your chance to experience this thrilling, action-packed, and interactive show that will leave you and your family breathless. Bill Blagg is changing reality one city at a time, and Fairfax is next! Recommended ages 8+.

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 4-6
Tickets: $3-9

Meet the grocer, the baker, the pizza-dough maker, and all of the friendly people who make our neighborhoods terrific places to live every day. Recycled crafting, interactive songs, literacy and numeracy elements make this community day the perfect blend of learning and just plain fun.

Story Tapestries: The Fastest Plane
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: March 5-7
Tickets: $10-15

Travel the World with Story Tapestries’ Family Artists and The Giggling, Wiggling Bookworm. Dive into the ocean, soar above the mountains and fly through the jungle. Leave the program swinging like a monkey, singing like a bird and eager to celebrate stories from around the world!

NSO Music for Young Audiences: 123 Andrés
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 7-8
Tickets: $20

Andrés and Christina are Latin Grammy Award®–winning teaching artists who get kids and families excited about learning and moving together in Spanish and English! Join Andrés on an exciting cultural exploration of Latin America through an introduction of language, music, and dance. Families sing, shake, and sound out. Children can use their imaginations to ride an imaginary airplane and join in singing and dancing while practicing new vocabulary. Recommended for ages 3-6.

Science Tellers: Escape from Earth
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 12-13
Tickets: $3-9

Two curious kids venture into the forest to investigate a meteor shower and find themselves mixed up with a family of visitors from another planet. They risk everything to rescue their new friends and get them to their spaceship before it’s too late. Audiences get to learn the science behind the show’s out-of-this-world special effects.

Arts on the Horizon’s Drumming with Dishes
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center | H Street NE, DC
When: March 11-15
Tickets: $15

What happens when you invite someone very different from you to come over to play? Such an adventure awaits an energetic child when she introduces her shy imaginary friend to a very special kitchen. But instead of food, they’ll cook up beautiful music! This gentle, whimsical adventure celebrates friendship and turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Join us and discover what wonders can be accomplished through friendship! Recommended for ages 2-5.

Jazz Doodle Jam! Jason Moran & Bandwagon + Mo Willems
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 13-14
Tickets: $20

Jazz Doodle Jam! is an intimate jazz concert where you collaborate with the band! Sit down at a table covered with paper, grab a marker or crayon, and join host Mo Willems for a new kind of participatory musical experience. Kids and grown-ups doodle to music played onstage by Jason Moran and The Bandwagon. The band reacts and improvises to the audience’s explorations, jamming together with pictures and music, blurring the lines between artists and audience. All ages welcome!

St. Paddy’s Day with Pete Moss and the Bog Band
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 12-13
Tickets: $3-9

Join Pete (aka Mitch Fanning) and his troupe of talented young musicians as they pick up their fiddles and bodhran drums to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. Spirited music, lively step dancing, and a dash of Irish musical history guarantee “a rattlin’ good time!” Recommended for ages 5-12.

Happy Theater: Nest
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts | Gaithersburg, MD
When: March 14, 21, & 28
Tickets: $25-45

An interactive, multi-sensory show about the life cycle of a bird for families with children from 6 months to 4 years old… In a nest in a tree, an egg is kept warm. Then a Baby Bird hatches! The Baby is fed and nurtured by the Tree Fairy, and both the Baby and the Fairy begin to explore what it means to grow up, and to learn how to fly, and what it means to be a parent. They feel sunshine and rain, smell flowers, taste berries, and see butterflies. There are surprises. One day, the Baby learns to spread its wings and fly. Where will it go? Will it leave the Tree Fairy?

Once Upon a Moon
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: March 19-20
Tickets: $3-9

Let’s go to the moon! Celebrate the spirit of the Apollo landing in this exciting, interactive show for our youngest audiences. Performers and exquisite puppets spin new and old stories about the moon’s magic, create a “living exhibit” of its phases, and introduce the amazing science that brought us to its surface. You might even get the chance to be a moonwalking astronaut.

Harlem Globetrotters
Where: Capital One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 21
Tickets: $25 and up (find discounts)

The Original Harlem Globetrotters are on the road for their action packed tour! A star-studded roster will have fans on the edge of their seats to witness the ball handling wizardry, basketball artistry and one-of-a-kind family entertainment that thrills fans of all ages. There will be new high-flying dunks, hilarious stunts, a new record-breaking attempt and unforgettable family moments.

Is there a great show running soon that you don’t see listed here? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll add it!


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Filed under 2019, 2020, All ages, Date Night, DC, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Seasonal, Special Event, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter