Lights, Skates, & Santa Sightings


It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is upon us - but it is! All the area light shows, skating rinks, holiday markets, teas, and pop-ups are back along with the cinnamon, sugar, and spice of the season specifically here to to tantalize all your senses. Coat optional for the moment:

Let There Be Lights: 

Bull Run Festival of Lights: This holiday season, enjoy the Bull Run Festival of Lights, a 2.5 mile drive-through featuring festive light displays, walk-through Christmas Village and Carnival. The show is open through Thursday, January 7th. Tickets available in advance for $30 per vehicle, or $40 per vehicle at the door. To purchase a ticket, click here.

Fireworks from the Capital Wheel : Fireworks start at National Harbor at dark (about 5:30 p.m.) and show every Saturday until December 30th. One of the best ways to view the fireworks is inside one of the climate-controlled gondolas. Get a bird’s eye view of the spectacular firework display from National Harbor while nice and cozy on The Capital Wheel. Learn more here

Winter Village at Cameron Run: The Winter Village at Cameron Run offers a fun, unstructured outdoor family experience, just a short drive from Old Town Alexandria. Explore unique light displays, snap family pictures or selfies with a variety of displays and take a spin on the outdoor ice rink. Find out more information here

Georgetown GLOW: GLOW, the free, popular holiday celebration in Georgetown featuring public light art installations, returns for its 9th edition, with works lit from 5:00 – 10:00 p.m. nightly through Sunday, January 7th. The works will be in outdoor locations throughout the Georgetown commercial district. The signature winter event is the only light art exhibition of its kind in the region, featuring artists with a diverse range of backgrounds and perspectives. For more information, click here.

The Garden at Hook Hall Transformed Into Northern Lights: The garden at Hook Hall has been transformed into its winter theme, Northern Lights, paying homage to the dancing waves of lights of the Aurora Borealis. The entire garden is draped in iridescent fabrics, accented by large pine trees, fire pits, and thousands of twinkling lights throughout. Highlighting the space is a private cabana with a hot tub that may be reserved for up to 8 guests. For more information, click here.

11th Annual Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens: Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights is an elegant garden trail decorated with thousands of sparkling lights. The half-mile walk through the enchanting Meadowlark Botanical Gardens features lighted nature themes and animated displays along a paved trail. Stay warm by sipping on a hot beverage (with or without spirits) as you walk and s’mores to finish out the evening. Admission $8 - $16 per person. The Gardens will be open daily from 5:00 - 10:00 p.m. To purchase a ticket, click here

Enchant DC at Nationals Park: The world’s largest Christmas light maze and village, Enchant, is returning to DC for a 4th year, filling Nationals Park with millions of lights through Sunday, December 31st. The holiday spectacular returns with an all-new maze adventure, Reindeer Games. This year, Enchant will have special themed nights, including Thursday, December 7th (military night), Sunday, December 10th (ugly holiday sweater night), Friday, December 15th & Thursday, December 28th (college student nights). Tickets begin at $32 per adult and $24 per child. To purchase a ticket, click here

DMV Winter Lantern Festival in Tysons Corner: The Winter Lantern Festival comes to Washington DC for its first immersive DC Winter Lantern Festival. From New York with 150,000 annual guests, 3 years in a row, this is an experience you don’t want to miss! Through Monday, February 12th, they’ll transform Lerner Town Square into a dazzling world of light with over 1000 Chinese lanterns; all handmade by artisans with decades of experience. To purchase a ticket, click here

Winter City Lights: A unique and magical holiday experience of over 1 million twinkling lights spread across 18-acres of winter wonderland where it is guaranteed to “snow" every night. The largest light show in the Washington DC, Virginia and Baltimore areas, Winter City Lights is one of the most technologically advanced Christmas light experiences in the country. Complete with 33 bonfires, Winter City Lights includes an enchanted 1.5-mile long trail of Christmas lights and displays through the woods, a 52-foot tall programmable Christmas lights tree with light shows, a 200-foot diameter canopy of Christmas lights, an 8-lane Snow Tubing Ride, tasty concessions, s’mores, hot chocolate, funnel cakes, fried Oreos, BBQ sandwiches, fresh hot pizza, amazing soft pretzels, adult drinks, light up toys & more. The Winter City Lights will be open through Saturday, December 30th. To purchase tickets, click here.

8th Annual Light Yards at The Yards: Yards Park will be merry and bright with the eighth-annual return of Light Yards, an interactive light installation free to the public every night, this year longer than ever before through Sunday, January 7th. Back by popular demand, Swinging Bells returns to The Yards, 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. For more information, click here.

Grab Your Skates

Holiday Fun at ColorBurst Park: As the temperatures drop and the holiday season nears, Color Burst Park in Downtown Columbia is the perfect place to kick off the holiday season. The Merriweather District has transformed into a winter wonderland filled with activities for the whole family to enjoy including the grand opening of Color Burst Ice Rink, where visitors will be surrounded by festive decorations as they skate through Downtown Columbia. Tickets here. 

ICE! at The Gaylord National: ICE!, the annual holiday tradition at Gaylord Hotels, returns to Gaylord National Resort through Sunday, December 31st. Using more than two million pounds of ice, the classic 1964 Christmas animated television special, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, will be brought to life by a team of 40 ice artisans to create the nearly 20,000 square-foot frozen attraction. For more information, click here

Sculpture Garden Ice Rink at The National Gallery of Art: A beloved winter tradition returns! The 2023-2024 Sculpture Garden Ice Rink season runs through March 3rd. During the ice rink season, Pavilion Cafe hours are Sunday - Thursday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Registration for group and private lessons as well as season passes is open. For more information, click here

National Landing Ski Weekend : ‘Tis the season to celebrate at National Landing. Join the National Landing BID at The Lodge, a ski-themed holiday festival to ring in the most wonderful time of year. Community members can come to Met Park to celebrate the season with festive Instagrammable moments, activities and bites featuring National Landing’s most beloved businesses. Enjoy the Bunny Hill: For some kid-friendly fun, visit Bunny Hill for glitter tattoos and face painting, and find out if they’re on the naughty or nice list with Santa! Balloon artists, train rides, crafts, and more will be available for our littlest guests, the Black Diamond: Adults can ring in the holiday season at the Ugly Sweater Aprés Ski, try axe throwing, or stop by the DC Fray Summit Bar for a spiked hot chocolate or merry mulled wine, and more. More info here

Ice Skating Rink at The Washington Harbour: Enjoy scenic views of the Potomac River, Kennedy Center, Key Bridge, and historic Georgetown while ice skating at the Washington Harbour. The ice skating rink is even more magical at night with twinkling snowflakes and decorations lighting up the rink. Enjoy a nice meal or drinks at the surrounding restaurants before or after skating. Georgetown ice skating rink offers skate rentals, lessons, and open skating in 90 minute increments. Tickets cost $11 per adult and $9 per child (12 years old and under). The rink is open through Sunday, February 25th. For more information, click here.

Santa Sightings

Tea with Santa at Hank's Oyster Bar Old Town: Join Hank's Old Town for magical moments and celebrate the holiday season with enchantment and joy. You're invited to their special "Tea with Santa" event on four festive days in December. Kick off the festivities as parents and children gather for a memorable performance by the delightful 𝑮𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝒁𝒖𝒄𝒄𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒊 (Saturday, December 23rd). The performances begin at 11:15 a.m. Santa Claus himself will make a grand entrance to greet the little ones and spread holiday cheer. Make sure to have your cameras ready to capture this magical moment with Santa Claus. After the enchanting performances and Santa's visit, indulge in a delightful spread of tea sandwiches and sweets for children and adults alike. Tickets cost $65 per person. To purchase a ticket, click here.

Breakfast with Santa in Old Town Alexandria: Breakfast with Santa will take place every weekend in December from 8:00 - 10:00 a.m. in three fabulous locations in Alexandria: Joe Theismann's Restaurant, Mia's Italian Kitchen, and Ada's on the River. Tickets range from free to $65 and include a hearty and festive breakfast feast and a special visit from Santa Claus himself. Children will take home treats and adults can indulge in some Prosecco, as well as capture a priceless moment of their child. To purchase a ticket, click here.

Holiday Markets

Holiday Market at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar, & Eatery: The Holiday Market is back by popular demand at Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar, & Eatery through Sunday, December 24th. Get ready to stock up with decorative, custom-designed boxes and bags with special confections. Hand-crafted by Chef David Guas and his team, from Peppermint Bark to Heavenly Hash.

19th Annual Holiday Market in Downtown DC: This year’s Downtown Holiday Market, presented by DowntownDC Business Improvement District (BID and Diverse Markets Management, returns for its 19th year. Once again, the market will be taking two entire blocks of F Street NW between 7th and 9th Streets NW. The entrance will be located on the sidewalk outside the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This year, visitors can enjoy a new line up of entertainment, over 70 exhibitors, food vendors and festive decor and lights throughout the season.  Admission to the Downtown Holiday Market is free and open to the public with daily hours from 12:00 - 8:00 p.m. For more information, clichere.

Holiday Season Pop-Up at Salt & Sundry: Founder Amanda McClements and her  team at Salt & Sundry have curated a tasteful mix of fun holiday-centric gifts exclusive to the Holiday Shop, including quirky ornaments, holiday candles + scents, furry blankets, gift wrap, sparkly glassware and more. Salt & Sundry’s Holiday Shop will remain open daily throughout the season, with plans to close the first week of January 2024. The pop-up’s inventory will feature beloved Salt & Sundry makers, along with new brands like Otherland and Cody Foster. Guests of the holiday pop up can enjoy personalized shopping experiences as well, including custom gift box curation and wrapping. For more information, click here

Other Holiday Offerings

Colada Shop's Holiday Bar: Colada Shop's holiday bar is officially here. Step into a festive wonderland with an explosion of decorations and a menu of holiday cocktails that will have you grooving to the rhythm of Latin music. Don't miss out on sipping on festive concoctions like The Havana Boulevard, The Pineapple Tamarind Cider, The Coquito Monaco, and Jingle Bells Tiene Tumbao. All cocktails are $14. For more information, click here.

“Dreamland: The Nutcracker Inspired Bar" at Duke's Grocery Navy Yard: Duke's Grocery is celebrating the season in merriment and style with "Dreamland: The Nutcracker-inspired Bar" – a holiday pop-up at its Navy Yard location. Dreamland will provide you with an unforgettable experience filled with over-the-top expressions of holiday joy and a lineup of imaginative libations. The Duke’s Grocery Navy Yard team has tapped the “Queen of Christmas Bars”, Adriana Salame-Aspiazu, for the project. You will be transported into an ornately-adorned world created by Salame-Aspiazu who decorated the restaurant with decorations inspired by the beloved short story and ballet. The festive décor will be paired with a delightful and spirited cocktail menu featuring classic holiday flavours with nods to The Nutcracker, such as “Clara’s Peppermint Mocha” and the “Gingerbread House”. “Dreamland: The Nutcracker-inspired Bar” will run through the holidays.

Frozen Festive Afternoon Tea at Fairmont DC: Fairmont DC is offering Frozen Festive Afternoon Tea on Saturday December 23rd, from 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. Tea served in the whimsically decorated Loggia, overlooks the holiday lights in the courtyard. Disney's Frozen, performing at the Kennedy Center (through January 21st) will provide some festive decor to enhance the ambiance. Children are encouraged to wear Frozen-themed attire. Executive chef Jordi Gallardo, Executive Sous Chef Jason Rowley and Executive Pastry Chef Claus Olsen's savory and Frozen-themed holiday delights will please palates of all ages. Each child will receive a Frozen-themed gift. Tickets $90 per adult, including a glass of champagne, or $39 per child; for reservations, please email the hotel directly at [email protected] or call 202.457.5020.

Holiday High Tea at The Hay-Adams: Through Sunday, December 31st, The Hay Adams will be hosting a holiday-themed high tea on Sunday afternoons from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. Reservations are required and must be made up to 48 prior. Tickets cost $75 per person or $100 per person + a glass of Veuve Clicquot. To view the full menu, click here.

Holiday Cocktail Menu at Jane Jane: To mark the arrival of winter temperatures and holiday celebrations, Jane Jane has introduced a small menu of hot cocktails. Some highlights from the menu include Mulled Cider ($16), Orchard Toddy ($15), and Monte Carlo Toddy ($16). You can enjoy the warm cocktails all Winter long, but only have until the end of December to take in the retro holiday decor. 

 Blitzen Pop-Up Bar at Makers Union: Makers Union Reston and The Wharf are in full festive mode with its holiday pop-up bar, Blitzen Bar. Until Christmas, the restaurant will be blasting curated holiday tunes and serving up 12 festive cocktails including The Old Man's Leg and The Naughty or Nice, which is determined for you via envelope. For more information, click here.

Winter Wonderland at Maxwell Park: At Maxwell Park, the entire menu will be dedicated to Muppets Christmas- wine making styles of the past, present, and future. You can also get excited for modern artist Christmas music throughout the month. 

“Whoville Hideaway” Pop-Up Bar at Tap99:  Tap 99 has transformed into the Whoville Hideaway, a one-of-a-kind immersive holiday pop-up bar experience featuring Christmas beers, holiday cocktails and shooters, a Holly Jolly Happy Hour and other weekly events, over-the-top holiday décor, and the occasional Grinch appearance. You can also enjoy their holiday-themed beverages amidst lavish holiday décor – an abundance of wrapped presents and oversized ornaments, festive garland and lights hanging from the ceiling, allowing patrons to enjoy the holiday season just outside the main gates of the Nationals Park.