Sure, the District might be part of the Mid-Atlantic region, but it feels more like the North Pole during the holidays thanks to the National Christmas Tree, countless holiday markets, one-of-a-kind seasonal light displays and lots more. Here are some of the best, can’t-miss ways to experience the holidays in Washington, DC.
ZooLights at Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights, powered by Pepco, a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with two dazzling laser light shows set to music. And don’t forget to share your #DCZooLights experience on social media! ZooLights remains free and open to the public even during special event nights!
The Nutcracker Tea Party
Join your favorite Nutcracker characters for a magical morning or afternoon tea party at the grand Willard InterContinental Hotel. Guests will be transported to an enchanting winter wonderland where they will indulge in tea sandwiches, fresh scones, sweet treats, holiday teas, crisp champagne (for the adults), and pose for photos with the iconic Snow Queen and Sugar Plum Fairy. Experience tea time prior to or after the matinee performance of The Washington Ballet’s charmingly-DC The Nutcracker at the majestic and historic Warner Theatre.
Each Nutcracker Tea ticket includes a prime seat to the 1pm matinee performance of The Nutcracker creating the ultimate magical holiday experience.
Date: December 8, 2019
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice-Skating Rink
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice-Skating Rink opens November to mid-March weather permitting. View magnificent works of sculpture while skating in the open air and enjoying music from the state-of-the-art sound system. The ice rink remains a favorite DC destination, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
Join us as we celebrate the parade and see the beautifully decorated boats pass by. Sip hot cocoa and make s’mores at our fire pit. Visit our lighted Christmas Tree and enjoy other fun activities, including live music, skating on our ice rink and sampling winter drinks at our Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden.
The World’s Largest Christmas Light Maze and Market is coming to Nationals Park!
Prepare for your most captivating holiday season to date! An evening at Enchant is a storybook come to life. Glide along the ice-skating trail underneath light-adorned arches. Take in live performances and be serenaded by carolers. Enjoy a delicious cup of hot cocoa or mulled wine, visit with Santa, and listen to storytime with Mrs. Claus. With specially curated food experiences inside the Christmas Market, a visit to Enchant is a treat for all the senses. A world of Christmas wonder awaits. Tickets are on sale now – click here to purchase!
o Everyday | 4:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
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CityCenterDC is your one-stop shop for everything holidays
Walk under Palmer Alley’s signature stringed lights, stop by Centrolina and carbo-load on pastas made in-house, gorge on a holiday feast and shop to your heart’s content, all at this luxury shopping and restaurant destination. Starting in early December, fashion-themed ice sculptures, live music and warm drinks can be found throughout CityCenterDC. Our last piece of advice: don’t call it a night without admiring all of the holiday decorations, including one of the city’s best trees!
Catch Christmas spirit at National Harbor
An action-packed holiday schedule is the norm at National Harbor, a shopping, dining and amusement park-like landmark located just 20 minutes south of DC. Step inside the Gaylord National Resort for ICE! (Nov. 16 – Jan. 1), an indoor winter wonderland featuring two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, ice slides, a live carving area and a retelling of A Charlie Brown Christmas. Since you’re at National Harbor, you’ll also want to view the tree from atop the Capital Wheel, shop for gifts at the Tanger Outlets and experience unique weekend events like holiday markets, performances and movie screenings.
Pyjama Party at Tudor Place
Discover Tudor Place in Washington, D.C.: A historic estate packed with George Washington’s heirlooms, and its own nuclear bunker.
Curl up in your favorite holiday PJs for a cozy kickoff to the season! Enjoy a festive storytime, write a letter to Santa, create a handmade holiday card, and a wooden ornament.
To make reservations for Girl Scout troops and groups of 8 or more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Illusionists – Magic of the Holidays
Ring in the holidays with the mind-blowing spectacular THE ILLUSIONISTS – MAGIC OF THE HOLIDAYS, showcasing the jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible illusionists on earth. THE ILLUSIONISTS has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever seen on stage. This nonstop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.
Imbibe holiday-themed cocktails at the Miracle on 7th Street
It’s no secret that Derek Brown knows DC’s cocktail scene like the back of his hand. The famed mixologist’s pop-up bar concept on 7th Street in Shaw will be decking the halls for year four of the Miracle on 7th Street with more funky holiday decorations, from an Instagram-worthy ode to the National Zoo’s pandas to a mistletoe photo booth and Hanukkah-themed mural. Cool down at this cocktail winter wonderland in one of DC’s hottest