Tag Archives: Winter 2022

Review: The Day You Begin at the Kennedy Center

[Note:  This review was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, and here.]

It was a timely treat taking my kindergartner to the Kennedy Center to see The Day You Begin, a musical based on the bestselling children’s book by author Jacqueline Woodson. The plot: the first day at a new school with diverse new people; the setting: a familiar, yet more vividly modern elementary school classroom. The message? The day you truly “begin” is when you discover what makes you unique, but also the same as people who may seem so different.

The show, an age-appropriate 55 minutes in length, is immediately engaging and interactive. The teacher, Ms. Veve, asks the audience self-identifying questions: “Who wants to be a writer? Who wants to be a teacher? A basketball star?” It’s such a distinguishing topic of conversation for a kid. One student, Rigoberto, clearly wants to be a soccer star, running passionately down the aisle with his cardboard soccer ball and speaking his native Spanish.

The class is comprised of four students who are unlikely friends, but by the end, meant to be. For much of America, the diversity depicted in the book and musical is the new norm and something your child may already be navigating in school. Multi-cultural, multi-lingual, disabled, and more; very few are exactly alike. How fortunate that our kids are figuring out what makes them special yet what connects them at such young ages.

My daughter’s favorite part of the show is the lengthy lunch scene. Some days, there’s nothing more interesting to a kid than what everyone had (or bought) for lunch. Food is a big deal in a little kid’s world. The plot thickens when one student, Min, opens a canister of kimchi for lunch. It could not be more jarring to the others but Min stands proud. The kids figure out how to be kindly curious about what’s different, and also agree on what favorite fruit they share – a “beginning” moment to their friendship.

Ms. Veve leaves us with the following lesson: “go tell your stories.” Finding your place in the world and with others can begin with you opening up and being proud of what makes you you. Because “every new friend has something a little like you – and something else so fabulously not quite like you at all.” During the car ride home, my daughter just kept begging me for kimchi for dinner…

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Weekend, 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

HOLIDAY SHOWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

SPECIAL EVENTS & ACTIVITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: Late November
Admission: Free

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Get Hanukah started with the National Menorah Lighting

CHANUKAH

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light Up Arlington
Where: Chabad Alexandria-Arlington | Clarendon, VA
When: TBA
Admission: Free

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

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink | Pentagon City, VA
When: TBA
Admission: TBA

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

 

The Downtown Holiday Market sparkles in the evening

HOLIDAY MARKETS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

Leave a Comment

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

Five Things for Today: March 16, 2022

 

 

1.  On the National Mall through Friday, March 18, is a striking installation of small blue flags planted in the stretch between 3rd & 4th Streets.  I posted about “United in Blue” and why it resonates on IG here.  You can also learn more about it here.

 

2. A great, inspiring read:  In this Washington Post article, some of the real local women depicted in the #IfThenSheCan exhibit talk about which area museums and objects inspire them.

 

3. Looking for new books for your kids?  Check out the Kids Indie Next List for March/April 2022 with recs for a range of ages — and look for them at some of our local bookstores:
East City Book Shop on Capitol Hill,
Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle
Solid State Books  on H Street NE
Politics & Prose at Union Market, The Wharf, and Northwest
Hurray for Books in Old Town Alexandria
Loyalty Bookstore in Petworth and Silver Spring

 

4. In case you haven’t heard, Hamilton will be returning to the Kennedy Center this summer!  Tickets  currently are available only to members through the KC website, but Goldstar has discount pre-sale tickets.

 

5.  I had something else planned for this spot, but this now seems more important to share. (Warning: Part of it includes really sad, graphic images.)

 

Bonus: How people in the DC area can support Ukraine.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Five Things for Today

Five Things for Today: March 8, 2022

 

1. Happy International Women’s Day!  One cool way to celebrate:  See #IfThenSheCan – The Exhibit, the largest collection of statues of women ever  assembled together. You can view many of  the bright orange sculptures, all of them based on real women who work in STEM, at the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle.  They also, apparently, are spread out among the Arts & Industries Building, National Museum of Natural History, the National Air and Space Museum, and along the National Mall.  They will be on display through March 27 and free to view.

 

2. Speaking of Air & Space… This Saturday, March 12, the museum is celebrating 100 years of the aircraft carrier with a special in-person Family Day. Soar Together @ Air and Space On Site Family Day: Floating Airfields will run 10am – 2pm at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, the Chantilly, VA, “wing” of the Air and Space Museum. Meet aircraft carrier crew members and learn about their lives at sea, explore different jobs through hands-on activities, find out how to identify aircraft that land on carriers, and catch a free IMAX showing of Aircraft Carrier: Guardian of the Seas. Plan for time to explore the rest of the museum, too! Admission is free, though parking is $15.

 

3. Spring is on the way — and so is the dazzling array flowers that come with it!  Start getting ready to view them with Bloom Town: Where and When to See the Best Flower Displays Around DC, a post created back in 2018, but updated every year to reflect new dates for festivals and any other pertinent info. (And we have been to see all of the blooms, so all of the info and opinions come from actual experience!)

 

4. Later, Skaters!  Just about all of the outdoor ice skating rinks have closed for the season — the warm weather prompting early closure for at least one.  BUT if you want to get in one last glide under the sky, the Reston Town Center Ice Skating Pavilion is open through this Sunday, March 13.   Of course, you can also skate inside — this post lists indoor ice rinks around the area, too.

 

5. A group of local chefs led by Casey Patten of Grazie Grazie and Matt Adler of Caruso’s Grocery are coming together for a fundraiser to support Ukrainian refugees. Belly Full is a two-day Pizza Pop Up happening this weekend, March 12-13, 4-9pm, with 100% of proceeds donated World Central Kitchen to help feed Ukrainian refugees along the borders. You can order your pizzas in advance online and pick up at 804 V Street NW.

 

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Five Things for Today, Maryland, Virginia

Five Things for Today: March 1, 2022

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge lit blue and gold in support of Ukraine

 

1.  The Washington Post shares some organizations, to which you can donate to help people in Ukraine. One of them is our own DC chef José Andrés’ amazing World Central Kitchen — they are providing meals to thousands of Ukrainians who have fled their homes to seek safety in Poland and Romania (updates here).  I also shared a link in the last Weekend Round-Up for some other ways to help.

 

2.  Plan ahead for the weekend:  In celebration of  Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building is hosting two #WomensFuturesMonth events: On Saturday, Work It! FUTURES Career Day will highlight women who are changing the world and offer activities that show young guests (and us older ones!) how they can make a difference, too. On Sunday, Spark the FUTURES: Science Family Day will celebrate the power of girls and women in STEM. Meet real scientists and enjoy all kinds of related activities from special kid-friendly tours to hands-on demos to crafts and more.  Admission to both events is free — follow the links for more info and to RSVP.  And get a glimpse of the recently reopened Arts & Industries Building here.

 

3. Three Smithsonian museums that were temporarily closed due to Omicron are reopening this week!  The National Air and Space Museum (Thursday – Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm), National Postal Museum (Friday – Tuesday, 10am – 5:30pm),  and Anacostia Community Museum (Wednesday – Saturday, 11am – 4pm) will once again welcome visitors.  Admission to all of them is free.

 

4.  Washingtonian has a round-up of DC restaurants and bars that are fundraising for Ukraine.

 

5.  Perfect timing for Darcy’s 10 Happy Things for March 💛

 

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2022, DC, Five Things for Today