The Weekend Round-Up: December 4-6

Headed to a wonderland of ICE! at National Harbor

Headed to a wonderland of ICE! at National Harbor



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Holiday cheer is abundant this weekend with all kinds of events and activities that celebrate the season, from Smithsonian’s big festival to Bethesda’s annual event to Chanukah fun on the first night to lights and trains and markets and more. If you’re doing some holiday shopping, check out the first-ever KFDC Gift Guide for some unique and local ideas. And if you’re still not quite ready to embrace the spirit, head up to Baltimore for Dollar Days or find some ongoing DC fun. Happy Weekend!

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian Museums
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at Smithsonian Museums — Air & Space Museum, Natural History, American History, Freer-Sackler, American Art, American Indian, African American Art, the Postal Museum, the Hirshhorn, and Smithsonian Castle! This Holiday Festival has tons going on, something for everyone in your crew — concerts by the U.S. Air Force’s Max Impact, Silver Wings, and Celtic Aire; Mars Chocolate demons; a Star Wars C-3PO costume exhibit; the world’s largest LEGO American Flag; family holiday photo ops; free film screenings; trunk shows featuring apparel, jewelry and art; book signings; festive food; and hours of additional family-friendly entertainment. See the schedule for more details.

Holiday Happenings
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

There are so great activities running through the season to celebrate the holidays in DC. See model trains and a gorgeous botanic display at Season’s Greetings. ICE! it up and enjoy and atrium full of spectacular decor and cute activities at Christmas on the Potomac. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. If you hope to hit ‘em all, get on it now. For the complete rundown on all the area’s holiday happenings, see the 2015 KFDC Holiday Guide.

Fun for a Buck — or Free
Where: Baltimore
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free or $1

In the spirit of the holidays, the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore presents Dollar or Less Days on this weekend when participating attractions will open their doors offering free or $1 admission! The Maryland Science Center, Babe Ruth Museum, Port Discovery, National Aquarium, Historic Ships of Baltimore, Christmas Village, and more exciting places will be welcoming guests to take advantage. Go here for the full list of participating venues.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland is back, turning Bethesda Row into an outdoor street bazaar. The celebration features holiday performances, a live ice sculpting presentation, and a visit from Santa Claus in Veterans Park.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 5, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 45th consecutive year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade will showcase marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus, and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wilkes Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Winter Wonderland
Where: Burke Lake Park
When: Saturday
Admission: $15/advance, $20/at event

Celebrate the season with a train ride on the Holiday Express at Burke Lake’s Winter Wonderland. Enjoy a tour on the U.S.S. Reindeer, then take a spin on the Carolers Carousel, experience the Snowman’s Wagon Ride, play Gingerbread Man’s Golf, or warm yourself by the fire and toast s’mores. Hot chocolate, spiced cider and candy canes will also be available. And don’t miss a visit with Santa!

Grand Opening Celebration
Where: Bright Horizons Rockville
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Bright Horizons recently opened its early education center in Rockville, and they are hosting a party to celebrate the launch! On Saturday, parents and children are invited to enjoy all kinds of family fun and get a first look at the new location. Festivities will include carnival style activities, games and prizes, and a ribbon cutting ceremony courtesy of the Rockville Chamber of Commerce.

Italian Holiday Family Festival
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the wonders of the holiday season and Italian culture at SAAM. Enjoy performances by The Italian Fairy, The Flusso Dance Project, seasonal music by The Capital Hearings, and traditional Italian bagpipers, as well as festive craft activities, face painting, café specials, and more. Mention “Buone Feste” and receive a 10% store discount.

Children’s Holiday Shopping
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Kids can do some of their own gift shopping during the park’s annual Children’s Holiday Shopping. Volunteers help children shop for everybody on their holiday list. The Country Store stocks many unique items in all price ranges. Free wrapping assures surprises for family and friends. No reservations are required. Meet at the Old Floris School House.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Key Elementary School in Arlington
When: December 5, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair.

Holidays on the Stage
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Much of the live entertainment on local stages right now is holiday-inspired. Enjoy A Lump of Coal for Christmas at Adventure Theatre or A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage. See the ultimate holiday classic The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre or catch a tot-friendly version at The Puppet Co. Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead Scrooge on A Christmas Carol journey at Ford’s Theatre. Get details on these shows and others in the 2015 Holiday Guide.

Show Time (that isn’t holiday inspired)
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by performance

For shows without the seasonal trimmings, there’s Elephant and Piggies’s We are in a Play at the Kennedy Center (so cute!), Oliver! and Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage, and if you’re looking for a date night idea, Kiss Me, Kate is at Sidney Harman Hall. Read more about all of them in this list of live entertainment through winter.

Artfête Weekend
Where: The Art League’s Madison Annex
When: December 4-6
Admission: Free

Join The Art League as they kick-off the holiday season with live music, great artwork, artist demos, and more. Shop for handmade ceramics and jewelry, view artwork, enjoy instructor demos and live music, watch a wearable art runway show, and check out exciting art classes. Food and drinks will also be for sale.

Parcel Market
Where: Canal Park
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

PARCEL Market returns to Canal Park for its 2nd year! Featuring the 1,000 square-foot Canal Park Ice Rink, the Market urbanizes the holiday market with three city blocks of hand-made modern styling, interactive art, musical talents, activities, and a showcase of emerging independent brands, chefs, and retailers.

Tenley WinterFest
Where: Around Tenleytown
When: Through December 5
Admission: Free

The fourth annual Tenley WinterFest offers fun for all ages in Area schools, the library, fire station, shops, and restaurants are working together to create another unique, yeti-themed seasonal celebration for the community. Festivities include a scavenger hunt, a drawing project, historic walking tours, dining specials, story time, a kids movie screening, and more winter fun.

The Measure of Our Lives
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 12pm & 2pm
Admission: Free

See portraits of significant individuals who have influenced American history and culture brought to life on this special tour. Students from the University of Maryland, College Park’s Theatre Department choose a person from the museum’s collection who inspires them, then develop monologues that tell key moments in the subject’s life.

National Lionel Train Day
Where: Side Track Hobbies – Leonardtown, MD
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Helping to kick off the holiday season and commemorate its 115th anniversary, Lionel, the iconic model train company, is introducing its first-ever National Lionel Train Day. The public is invited to join Lionel at Side Track Hobbies to help celebrate with a variety of activities for kids and families. Operate model train layouts; collect conductor hats, temporary tattoos, enter raffles, and pre-order a collectible boxcar!

Winter Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farms
When: Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $9.95/person, free for children under 2

The annual festival includes hayrides to the white pine fields with access to all of the farm attractions — swings, forts, slides, tunnels, and more. Fire pits are inviting to keep you warm and make some s’mores or roast hot dogs. Cut down your Christmas tree while you’re there or buy one from the lot. Read more about the Festival in this post about one of our experiences there.

Holiday Festival & Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria
When: Saturday, 4-9pm
Admission: Free

Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. Before and after the parade, stop in to the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Holiday Open House between 4-9pm to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Choral Society plus gift shopping in open artist studios.

Here Comes Chanukah!
Where: Around the area
When: Sunday
Admission: Varies by activity

It’s almost time to light the menorah! The first night of Chanukah begins Sunday at sundown, but you can start the celebration a little early in the day at a couple of area events, including the National Menorah Lighting on the Ellipse. There are also family activities, plus Matisyahu in concert at Strathmore (I highly recommend seeing him live). The 2015 KFDC Holiday Guide has details on all of the Chanukah fun.

Night Lights
Where: Around the area
When: Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit one of several parks or gardens (or the Zoo!) in the area that has transformed into a sparkling wonderland. Some you can walk through for an up-close experience, others you tour by car. If you opt for the latter, dress the kids in PJ’s, turn up the holiday tunes, and bring along a thermos of hot chocolate — it doesn’t get much cozier than that!

Out & About
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Crisp, sunny weather will make it a great time to be outside, so browse the list of The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids and take advantage.


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