Category Archives: Chanukah

The Weekend Round-Up: December 11-13

Make a stop at Pollination Station, the model train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Make a stop at Pollination Station, the model train display at the U.S. Botanic Garden



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Hanna Andersson


Whether or not you think it’s the most wonderful time of the year, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have a wonderful time with so many awesome events and activities going on, both holiday-inspired and not. Happy Weekend!

Building Museum Birthday Bash
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: FREE

To celebrate 35 years of operation, the National Building Museum welcomes the public to enjoy special activities and visit ALL of their exhibitions free of charge! Enjoy PLAY, WORK, BUILD; explore the Building Zone; tour House & Home; and get new perspectives of DC in Scaling Washington. Join in a LEGO® community build, where families, visitors of all ages, and built environment professionals build and rebuild a collective structure over the day. There will also be a giveaway of special treats (limited quantities) for Museum members to enjoy!

‘Tis the Season
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

There are so many great activities running through the season to celebrate the holidays in DC. Watch model trains buzz around the Pollination Station-themed display at the Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greetings exhibit. ICE! it up and enjoy and atrium full of spectacular decor and neat activities at Christmas on the Potomac. View holiday planes and trains at the Aviation Museum. See the National Menorah and National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse. Take a street car ride with Santa at the Holly Trolley Fest. If you hope to hit ‘em all, you better get on it! For the complete rundown on all the area’s holiday happenings, see the 2015 KFDC Holiday Guide.

“Yes, Virginia” Family Day
Where: Newseum, 9am – 4pm
When: Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015
Admission: FREE for kids (details below), $19.50/adult

Celebrate the season with the Newseum at its 17th annual “Yes, Virginia” Family. Enjoy holiday treats and crafts, train rides, music by the Figgy Puddings Holiday Carolers, a visit from the One-and-Only Macy’s Santa Claus ,and more on a day inspired by the most reprinted newspaper editorial in history. Youth 18 and under will receive free admission to the Newseum when they bring a “letter for Santa” to put in the Macy’s Believe Mailbox – Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish® for every letter collected. For more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Holiday Card Workshop
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season by creating one-of-a-kind handmade cards. The National Postal Museum provides beautiful holiday stamps from all over the world, along with a variety of crafts supplies to both inspire your creativity and decorate your cards. We’ve attended this annual event a few times, and its always very well-organized and tons of fun. Plan to stay after to tour the exhibits, many of them interactive and interesting for all ages. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

EdFEST
Where: DC Armory
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Explore the city’s many public school PK3-12 options for your child. Representatives from DC public schools (DCPS) and DC public charter schools will showcase their programs, just in time to help you make informed school selections for the 2016-17 school year common lottery. The event will also feature many free services and fun activities for the whole family, including games and entertainment; sports activities; story time; and flu shots, immunizations, and dental services.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: December 12, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Get into the holiday spirit at Glen Echo Park’s annual Winter’s Eve celebration. It’s free, open to the public, and visitors of all ages can enjoy performances, arts & crafts open studios, hot chocolate, and a holiday sing-along. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios. Kids and adults can create gifts to share in the holiday-themed craft rooms.

Nats Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: Saturday & Sunday, 11:30am – 4pm
Admission: $30/adult, $20/ages 12 and under (increases at door)

Get your Nats fix during the off-season! The annual Winterfest event features interactive holiday and baseball activities for fans of all ages. Enjoy meet-and-greets with your favorite Nationals players and mascots, get a photo with Santa, join clinics with players and coaches, take a swing at batting practice, and tons more activities throughout the day!

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.

Family Joy!
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: December 12
Admission: $25

Join the Cathedral Choral Societyat the Washington National Cathedral,for a special Christmas Concert. This one-hour program has something for all ages, including a kids-only sing-along. Bring the whole family and get swept up in the sounds of the season.

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 and Bright Star is at the Kennedy Center. Read more about all of them in this list of live entertainment through winter.

Family Piano Duel
Where: Bobby McKeys at National Harbor
When: Saturday & Sunday, 1:30-3:30pm (doors open at 1)
Admission: $18/ages 2 and up

The whole family can enjoy an afternoon of fun at one of Bobby McKey’s dueling piano shows. It’s two hours of all-request live music paired with a lunch buffet that’s sure to make everyone happy. This is a performance where kids are encouraged to wiggle in their seats and dance in the aisles!

All Aboard for a Model Train Holiday Open House
Where: Historic Vienna Depot of the W&OD Railroad
When: Saturday, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Chug on down to Vienna this holiday season to watch model train activities that realistically depict an actual railroad that existed in North Carolina in the 1950′s, the Western North Carolina (WNC). Every hill, town, building, locomotive, rail car, and industry in this layout is modeled after those places and things as they looked in that era. Well, almost everything. Since the holidays are here, the Polar Express makes an appearance, and Thomas the Tank Engine (and a few of his friends) can also be seen chugging around among the bigger steam and diesel locomotives. The Vienna Depot is located at 231 Dominion Road NE in Vienna, Virginia just down the street from the red caboose. It is sponsored by the Northern Virginia Model Railroaders. Check out a virtual tour here.

Colonial Wassail
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under

Stand fast, root! Bear well, top! God send us a howling crop! In the dead of winter the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s apple trees need encouragement to bear well in the coming year. Gather in the Farm’s orchard to wassail the trees with singing, dancing and chants to ensure a “howling crop.” Enjoy hot spiced cider, sugar cakes, a roaring bonfire, and 18th century games. Weather permitting.

Art and Me: Playful Fish Prints
Where: Freer | Sackler Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-2pm, 3-4pm
Admission: Free

Make your own waves as you explore Sōtatsu: Making Waves. Begin with an educator-led tour of the exhibition then use authentic materials to make your own gyotaku (Japanese for “fish print”). This program is designed for children ages 3–5 with adult participation. Registration is required.

Open House
Where: New Mormons on the Hill Chapel
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Head over to Capitol Hill for an open house to celebrate the opening of a new chapel for Mormons on the Hill. Join them to celebrate with food, holiday crafts, carol sing-alongs, building tours (with a scavenger hunt), and to meet and talk with neighbors who will call this new chapel home.

Brunch with Santa
Where: Pinstripes Bistro Bowling and Bocce
When: Sunday, 9:30am – 3pm
Admission: $34/adult, $15/child 6-12, 5 and under eat free

Just in time for the holiday season Santa is stopping by Pinstripes’ brunch that is sure to get the whole family in the holiday spirit! Spread the cheer on Sunday and don’t forget to snap a photo with Santa. And plan for some bowling or bocce while you’re there!

Family Chanukah Celebration
Where: WDCJCC
When: Sunday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $20/family ($18 Discounted Member Rate)

Grab your socks and your yarmulke, it’s time to bounce for Chanukah! The Washington DC JCC welcomes families to celebrate at this year’s rockin’ Chanukah party, which will feature a moon bounce, games, crafts, treats and plenty of fun for all ages.

Family Kwanzaa Celebration
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre
When: Sunday, 4pm
Tickets: $25/adult in advance, $30/at door, $15/ages 17 and under

Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to join Coyaba Academy, Coyaba Dance Theater, and special guests to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa. During this special Family Series performance, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

Pictures with Santa
Where: Courtyard Marriott Navy Yard
When: Sunday, 4-8pm
Admission: Free

Waterfront Church invites you to celebrate the holidays with Santa, Olaf, Sven, and other characters kids adore. Each family will receive a picture with Santa time when they arrive, and then can head upstairs to hang out with his friends, enjoy jumpers, activities, cookies, and hot cocoa. And guests will leave with two 5×7 photos of their picture with Santa. The Courtyard Marriott Navy Yard is located at 140 L Street SE.

Night Sky in Daytime
Where: Rock Creek Park Planetarium
When: Sunday, 1-2pm
Admission: Free

Explore the night sky while the sun shines outside! The Rock Creek Park Planetarium, located witin the Rock Creek Nature Center, uses high-tech Spitz software to project the image of the night sky onto a large, dome-shaped ceiling. Then, Rangers lead you on a journey of exploration into our solar system, galaxy, and beyond. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Read more about the experience in this KFDC post.

Holiday Shop
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Mostly free

Get through your gift list and have a good time! There are several special holiday markets around the area, where you can find unique presents and then some. Head to Penn Quarter, National Harbor, or Alexandria for great seasonal markets or to Capitol Hill for a weekend institution. Or shop a local school’s holiday pop-up. More info about all of them is available in the 2015 Holiday Guide. And if you need gift ideas, be sure to check out the KFDC Gift Guide!

Let There Be Holiday 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. Either way, be prepared to be dazzled!

On the Calendar…
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Did you know the KFDC Calendar is back? Along with big events, it lists many ongoing activities that might not make it to the Round-Up, so be sure to have a browse to see what else is going on!


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, School Event, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

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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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, Date Night, DC, Discount, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Fundraiser, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

The 2015 KFDC Holiday Gift Guide

Presents!

Presents!



As we head into the thick of the season, many of us are still searching for those perfect gifts for family and friends. For the first time ever on KFDC, I thought I’d share some things I’ve really enjoyed and/or think would make wonderful presents for a variety of people. This also gives me a chance to highlight a few local businesses offering unique products and experiences as well as other organizations that are doing great things. And then there are some ideas that are simply fun and enriching. None of these recommendations are sponsored; they’re just things that I truly like and think you and yours might, too. Happy gifting!

Tinker Crate's DIY Fiber Optic Stars project

Tinker Crate’s DIY Fiber Optic Stars project

Craft, Doodle, and Tinker!
I first recommended Kiwi Crate, the monthly subscription craft box a few years ago. And now I’m endorsing them with even more fervor. The original kit comes with all the supplies needed to make an adorable craft. Now, Kiwi Crate offers even more: Koala Crate (age 3-5), Doodle Crate (age 9-16+), and Tinker Crate (age 9-16+). While Sasha still enjoys the Kiwi and continues to create all kinds of fun crafts, Owen has been receiving Tinker for the past year, and it’s amazing. Among the many cool projects, he’s constructed a trebuchet, built a drawbot (a robot that draws, of course), and most recently made his own Orion constellation with fiber optics.


An activity bag ready to be delivered

An activity bag ready to be delivered

Craft and Give Back
Similar to Kiwi Crate, but with a philanthropic twist, Little Loving Hands provides pre-packaged children craft kits where the end product is used to contribute towards supporting a philanthropic cause, such as activity bags for patients at the Children’s Inn at NIH. The company’s mission is to provide a fun and educational method for parents and caretakers to engage children in learning about the importance of being kind and giving back to others. Each kit contains materials for the project, as well as documents and other fun items to reinforce what the children are working on and how they are helping others. (Disclosure: We haven’t tried this out yet — our kit is on the way — but I thought the concept was so great, I wanted to include it here.)


Ready for Elephant & Piggie at the Kennedy Center

Ready for Elephant & Piggie at the Kennedy Center

Theatre Tickets
There are so many wonderful shows both currently running and coming to local stages soon, that would make fantastic presents for kids and adults. A few that I highly recommend right now are Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play at the Kennedy Center (age 3+), Akeelah and the Bee at Arena Stage (age 8+, look for discount tickets), and Kiss Me, Kate at Sidney Harman Hall (for adults, look for discount tickets). And coming soon are Matilda at the Kennedy Center (age 6+), Annie at National Theatre (age 4+), and Bright Star at the Kennedy Center (for adults, look for discount tickets). For even more ideas for the gift of theatre, see this listing of live entertainment on stages through winter.


The beach is a year-round destination when you're fossil hunting

The beach is a year-round destination when you’re fossil hunting

A Family Fossil Hunting Adventure
If your crew likes searching for shark teeth and other millions-of-years-old marine fossils, then you’ll definitely dig this: Ruddy Duck Adventures offers day-long outings in Calvert County that include a fossil hunting excursion with an extremely knowledgeable guide, plus hot chocolate on the beach; a visit to the fantastic Calvert Marine Museum, including lunch brought to you there; and dinner at one of their restaurants with a beer tasting for the adults. We recently enjoyed the Island Tour — detailed post to come soon — and it easily was one of our favorite new experiences this year. When you consider all that you get, the cost is more than worth it for a unique, fun, enriching family adventure. View their packages and note that they offer tours year-round!


This can be your playground

This can be your playground

Adventure in the Trees
If your kids like a thrilling outdoor challenge, consider a gift certificate, or even a season pass, to the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, one of our favorite outdoor places to play. It’s an exciting aerial forest experience, where adventure-goers navigate ropes courses in the trees, crossing over bridges, whizzing down ziplines, and scaling ladders to get from platform to platform, all many (in some cases, many, many) feet above the ground. There are courses for kids as young as 5 years old — and even more for us older kids grown-ups! Check out their gift options for the 2016 season, and read more about the adventure in this KFDC post.


Hello, Port Discovery?  I'd like a membership, please.

Hello, Port Discovery? I’d like a membership, please.

Play on at Port Discovery
For children who aren’t old enough to zip through trees or appreciate the fossil hunt, a membership to Port Discovery in Baltimore will have them covered. The interactive children’s museum has myriad hands-on, curiosity-peaking, educational, fun exhibits that keep kids engaged for hours. Family memberships for the year starts at $109, making it a great deal if your family of four were to go a couple of times, anyway (admission is $14.95/person). Even better, right now they are offering 10% off, plus one month free if you purchase by December 23!


Find Chew and more at Air & Space

Find Chewy and more at Air & Space

Star Wars at the Smithsonian
In honor of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens opening next month, the National Air and Space Museum is featuring Star Wars themed gifts for kids and adults including Darth Vader, Ewok and Chewbacca beanies, Yoda plush toys, and M&M Star Wars Light Up Lightsaber. A great time to purchase them is this weekend, December 5 & 6, at the annual Smithsonian Holiday Festival. And you can shop for many more unique items at some of the other museums over the two-day event!


Get your game on at Labyrinth

Get your game on at Labyrinth

Game Time
For board games, you can’t beat Labyrinth Game Shop on Capitol Hill. This is my go-to for birthday party presents and always a stop for some holiday gift shopping. Since I first wrote about the store when it opened five years ago, it’s gotten even better. They have something for everyone — all ages, every interest. And the service is just as great as the inventory. Give them a few details about who you’re shopping for, and they’ll show you just the right game to buy.


Let imagination lead with Nene puzzles

Let imagination lead with Nene puzzles

Nene Imagination Puzzles
Last year, I wrote about these unique puzzles that go beyond the usual putting-pieces-in-their-places jigsaw. With Nene’s Puzzles Without Borders (for younger children) and Tiles of Infinity (for older kids), each piece fits every other piece, so you can make all kinds of configurations. And they’re just as pretty to look at as they are fun to build. Even better, the tiles are magnetic, so you can put them on the fridge. We keep some there, and just about every kid (and some adults) who enters the kitchen makes some kind of playful pattern. The puzzles are available for purchase online for $21.99 or you can find them at local retailers.


Baseball & DC on a T

Baseball & DC on a T

T’s that Salute DC
If you’re looking for a fun “DC” gift for an adult, check out Sneekis. I learned about this local T-shirt company that specializes in DC-themed wear through Instagram. Their clever designs incorporate local sports and recreation, and a zeal for the District that giftees can proudly boast across their chests.


Soft as a scarf, snuggly as a blanket

Soft as a scarf, snuggly as a blanket

Denada Designs
Another Instagram discovery, these scarves, hats, and other handmade knit accessories are just gorgeous, a perfect gift for an adult in your life. While the company is local, the designs are Peruvian-inspired and made from alpaca blend wool, so they are really soft. I recently received an aptly named blanket scarf as a birthday gift, and it’s as sumptuous as it is pretty, probably the coziest scarf I’ve ever owned.


Build like a LEGO master

Build like a LEGO master

LEGO Architecture
LEGO sets are growing up with our kids. Owen just got the LEGO Architecture Louvre as an early Chanukah present, and it is pretty awesome. Even though it’s for 12 and up, younger kids can definitely tackle it, too (Owen is just shy of 10). There are many iconic landmarks available, including the White House, if you want to put a DC spin on the gift.


Give as a gift and get one for yourself

Give as a gift and get one for yourself

Humans of New York Stories
If you follow KidFriendly DC on Facebook you might be aware that I’ve been kind of obsessed with Humans of New York for the past couple of years. I share the posts from time to time because the stories accompanying the portraits are some of the most heartwarming, heart wrenching, thought-provoking, and inspirational reflections of the human spirit. This hardbound version captures it all in one beautiful book.


gift_gtghGifts That Give Hope
How about boxing up hope and happiness this year? 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, while enjoying festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. The Arlington Fair will take place this Saturday, December 5, at Key Elementary School from 10am – 2pm.


Love these T's!

Love these T’s!

Spread the SuperLove
I love the shirts from SuperLoveTees, not only because they’re supercute, but because they spread a good vibe with positive, inspiring messages. They are also super soft and comfy, and made to order with Fair Labor Practices. It makes me happy to wear the one I have and to see others wearing the ones I have given. (PS: The “Teach Peace” tee would make a perfect gift for a teacher.)


Kids' clothes that make a statement

Kids’ clothes that make a statement

Empowering Threads
Cute clothes with cool messages aren’t just for adults. Svaha makes them for children – and they do so with unique, bold flair. The company was started by local mom, Jaya Iyer, after she couldn’t find an astronaut shirt for her space-obsessed daughter. Offering “clothing to empower your children” with apparel that plays with gender stereotypes, you’ll find butterflies and prism rainbows on boy shirts, dresses with cars and soccer ball prints, even pink and purple underpants for boys (dinos for girls!). These are gifts that kids and adults can appreciate for many reasons.


A box of Italy for kids!

A box of Italy for kids!

Surprise Ride
We just had the opportunity to sample this subscription service of monthly curated activities for kids, and it’s pretty fantastic. Everything is a surprise when it arrives (hence, the name), so you don’t know what you’re going to get, but that adds to the excitement. The box my kids received was Italy-themed, and included a little booklet with facts and other info about Italy, a mosaic tile project, an Italian architecture charcoal drawing kit, a Magic Treehouse Book about Leonardo DaVinci, a soccer ball toy, and even an Italian-inspired snack. Fun, artsy, and educational…I’ll likely surprise my kids with a subscription myself!


Experience the wonder...

Experience the wonder…

Give Freely
Of course, not all gifts have to come with a hefty price tag. There are so many magical yet still inexpensive experiences to be had in the DC area, some without even spending a dime. You can creatively package them up — perhaps a big, fun card with a photo — and promise a visit. Some suggestions: The new WONDER exhibit at the Renwick, the Fairy Lolly and art experiences at Annmarie Sculpture Gardens, the Wizard of Oz playground at Watkins Regional Park, the awesome displays at the U.S. Navy Museum, the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks, a hike at Huntley Meadows. And there are so many more right in our backyard.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Chanukah, Charity, Christmas, Date Night, DC, Discount, Educational, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Outdoor, Product, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia

A Great Tiny Prints Discount to Start Your Season’s Greetings!

Tiny Prints - Black Friday Sale

It’s that time of year when we all start scrambling to get our holiday cards done in time to greet the season. We’ve got the perfect photo of the kids (after many, many attempts), now we just need the right card to showcase it.

Tiny Prints is a great way to find that fit — not only do they have a huge selection of holiday cards to choose from, right now they are offering a fantastic discount of 40% off everything. That’s all cards, holiday and others, plus items that make great gifts, from calendars and photo books to stationary and ornaments. Just use the code BLACKFRI40 when you check out. This awesome deal expires tomorrow, November 29, at 11:59pm, so take advantage now!

Disclosure: KidFriendly DC is an affiliate of Tiny Prints, and thus gets a tiny commission from any sales generated by this post. However, I only promote products and programs that I would use myself and/or think would appeal to KFDC readers.


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Filed under Chanukah, Christmas, Discount, Holidays, Product, Professional Service, Seasonal

The KFDC 2015 Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

capitol_xmastime

The holiday season is hitting DC! Starting as soon as this weekend, you can embrace the spirit at area events, many that have become family traditions for Washingtonians. Local stages come alive with holiday shows. Model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages. Light displays dazzle visitors as they walk or drive among them. Special markets offer unique gifts along with good time. And all kinds 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 KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC, categorized and listed by starting date, will help you plan for it all.

Holiday Shows

Model Trains

Special Events

Chanukah

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

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


Holiday Shows

nutcracker_warner

 
A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: November 19 – December 31
Tickets: $44-91
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 Washington stage actor Edward Gero returns to play Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

A Lump of Coal
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: November 20 – December 31
Tickets: $19.50
It is Christmastime! The hilarious and heartburning, uh, heartwarming holiday adventure of a Lump of Coal who wants to be an artist. Traditionally the dreaded stocking stuffer for children on the Naughty List, this Lump turns one child’s worst nightmare into a dream come true. This stage adaptation by Norman Allen will delight audiences young and old with its story of unlikely friendships and holiday miracles.

A Year with Frog and Toad
Where: Imagination Stage
When: November 24 – January 10
Tickets: $10+

A Year with Frog and Toad: A Holiday Musical Escapade of Friendship Through the Seasons presents the story of two best friends with completely opposite personalities wake up from hibernation, and enjoy hilarious and heartwarming adventures through the seasons. When Frog learns that Toad doesn’t receive mail, he quickly writes him a letter and asks the Snail to deliver it. Several uproarious Vaudeville vignettes ensue in which the friends go swimming, fly a kite, bake cookies, tell scary stories, and go sledding down a steep hill. Will the Snail successfully complete his journey to deliver the letter and a smile to Toad? Recommended for ages 4 and up.

The Nutcracker
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: November 27 – December 30
Tickets: $10

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat! 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. Don’t miss it! Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

Nutcracker Fantasy
Where: The Puppet Co. Tiny Tots
When: November 27 – December 30
Tickets: $5


This marionette version of the holiday classic is geared toward the smallest of audience members. Tiny Tots shows are designed for theater patrons ages 0-4. They are shorter, the lights stay on, the doors stay open, and the show is set up on the floor.

The Washington Ballet: The Nutcracker
Where: THEARC Theater
When: November 28-29
Tickets: $30-50

The Washington Ballet modifies Septime Webre’s critically acclaimed production a bit at the Anacostia theatre, making it more enticing for antsy little theatre-goers. The set is scaled-down, and performances are shorter. This celebrated production has become a DC perennial holiday favorite, set in historic Georgetown with historical figures and whimsical touches. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historic characters including George Washington as the Nutcracker and King George III as the menacing Rat King! Join us again with family and friends or start a new holiday tradition with your loved ones.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 30 – December 17
Tickets: $3-8


Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 16th season, this signature Discovery Theater show 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. This show sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Recommended for ages 5-10.

Snow Day
Where: The Lab at Convergence & Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 3-8 & December 12-20
Tickets: $9, 12 months and under are free

Arts on the Horizon presents this winter show at two area theatres! One cold December morning, a young girl named Skip wakes up to find the entire neighborhood covered in a thick, dazzling blanket of white snow. A playful (if not a little mischievous) winter elf takes her on an adventure – showing her just how magical snow can be! Join Skip as she experiences all the excitement, joy, and wonder of her very first snow day. This nonverbal world premiere production features live music and lots of wintertime fun, just in time for the holiday season. Recommended for children ages 2-6.

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre
When: December 3-27
Tickets: $35-101 (look for a ticket discount)


Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays. Read a KFDC review of the production from a few years ago. (Note: Family Day is December 6, with an hour pre-performance activities before the 1pm show.)

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore
When: December 3
Tickets: $29-54

A holiday mash-up for the whole family, The Hip Hop Nutcracker re-imagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City.

Swing Machine Big Band Christmas Extravaganza
Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center at George Mason
When: December 3
Tickets: $15

Bring in the holiday season…Big Band style! Swing Machine is an 18-piece Big Band with members from the USAF Airmen of Note, Army Blues, Navy Commodores, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, and a Grammy-nominated vocalist. And back by popular demand: The Combined PWC High School Chorus, and Randolph Macon Academy Chorus will join the band for a few songs.

‘Tis the Circus: A Holiday Party on High
Where: Atlas Perfroming Arts Center
When: December 4-6
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/child

The holidays can be a circus – quite literally, at this holiday party! As the guests arrive, one couple’s living room is transformed as acrobats, aerialists, jugglers and other performers dazzle with spectacular routines celebrating the magic of the holiday season. Fun for the whole family – prepare to be delighted, amazed and inspired. A unique and new holiday tradition for all ages.

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

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-A-Long is an annual musical celebration hosting a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Admission is free, and no tickets are required. Parking is free, but limited, so plan on arriving early. Bring along a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots, a bell for a “Jing-A-Long” during the singing of “Jingle Bells,” and a candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”

Virginia Ballet Company & School: Selections from The Nutcracker
Where: National Theatre
When: December 5
Tickets: Free

Saturday Morning at the National presents its annual holiday show, the Virginia Ballet Company and School’s selections from Tchaikovsky’s glittering confection. Visions of snowflakes and sugarplums dance through the air and gingerbread soldiers triumph over the evil Rat King as you follow Clara into the land of sweets and holiday cheer. Performances take place at 9:30am and 11am, and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are distributed half an hour prior to the start of shows on a first-come first-served basis. Seating is limited, so get there early.

Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
Wen: December 6
Tickets: $15-21

This December celebrate the holiday season with Fancy Nancy in this hour-long musical based on the popular children’s book. In this piece Fancy Nancy learns despite all the presents, decorations, parties, and other fancy holiday things, family and especially her sister Jojo are more important than any fancy stuff that she could buy. Filled with catchy, charming songs, this energetic and colorful holiday indulgence is appropriate for children of all ages.

Step Afrika!’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 10-22
Tickets: $15-38

A new take on the holiday season! DC’s internationally-known percussive dance company invites you to celebrate the holidays with clapping, stomping, and all around fun for all ages featuring their furry friends from the Animal Kingdom, and a special dance party with DJ Frosty the Snowman! Taking the whole family to Step Afrika! Magical Musical Holiday Step Show? Get the Family Fun Pack: Four Tickets, Four FREE Snacks, Four FREE non-alcoholic drinks, all for $100!

It’s a Wonderful Life
Where: Dr. A.J. Ferlazzo Building in Woodbridge, VA
When: December 11, 12, 18, & 19
Tickets: $12/adult, $8/4-13, free for 3 and under

Homeschool Theatre Troupe presents It’s a Wonderful Life, the story of George Bailey, the Everyman from the small town of Bedford Falls, whose dreams of escape and adventure have been quashed by family obligation and civic duty. On Christmas Eve, George’s guardian angel, Clarence, shows him what the world would have been like had he never been born, and George is saved from despair by realizing that his has been, after all, a wonderful life.

Holiday Family Opera: Hansel and Gretel
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 12-20
Tickets: $59-75

Once upon a time, two children found themselves lost in a dark forest, until they happened upon a house made entirely of sweets. What happens next, well that’s the story of Hansel and Gretel! Complete with a cackling witch, enchanted fairies, dancing animals, and an oversized gingerbread oven, the timeless Grimm brothers’ fairy tale returns for the holidays in WNO’s whimsical and neon-colored production. REecommended for ages 9 and up.

A Family Christmas Concert
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 13
Tickets: $15-45

A holiday treat for even the littlest fan, this one-hour, highly participatory concert delights with songs of Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, filling every soul with joy. Perfect for children ages 5 and older … and don’t forget the grandparents!

Dicken’s Tale
Where: National Theatre
When: December 12
Tickets: Free

Saturday Morning at the National presents this free production from Bright Star Theatre. Gather ‘round as Bright Star Theatre recreates Victorian England in this beloved retelling of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Join Old Scrooge, bumbling Bob Cratchit, one hilarious beggar woman and all the delightful ghostly visitors in this heartwarming tale of friendship and generosity. Performances take place at 9:30am and 11am, and tickets are required for admission. Free tickets are distributed half an hour prior to the start of shows on a first-come first-served basis. Seating is limited, so get there early.

Family Joy!
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: December 12
Admission: $25

Join the Cathedral Choral Societyat the Washington National Cathedral,for a special Christmas Concert. This one-hour program has something for all ages, including a kids-only sing-along. Bring the whole family and get swept up in the sounds of the season.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: December 12-13
Tickets: $20/adults, $15/10 and under in advance | $20/at door


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!

10th Annual Holiday Concert & Sing-Along
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 13, 4pm & 7pm
Tickets: $8.50

An H Street holiday tradition is back! Enjoy holiday favorites at the Atlas performed by the Capital City Symphony and sung by the Congressional Chorus and American Youth Chorus. Join in the singing during an audience sing-along. The celebration continues in the Kogod Lobby with complimentary cookies and good cheer following the performance.

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre
When: December 13, 4pm
Tickets: $25/adult in advance, $30/at door, $15/ages 17 and under

Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to join Coyaba Academy, Coyaba Dance Theater and special guests celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa. During this Family Series, reserve 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult!

The Nutcracker
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: December 18, 19, 20, 23, 26, 27
Tickets: $31/adults, $26/children in advance; $36/adults, $31/children at door


This is the 22nd season of the Maryland Youth Ballets beloved, full-length classic. Performances will tale place at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center of Montgomery College in Rockville.

Winter Wonderland Puppet Show
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: December 22
Tickets: $5/county resident, $7/non-resident

Bring your holiday guests and join master puppeteer Bob Brown in a holiday production of Winter Wonderland. Join the lively marionettes as they frolic in a magical winter wonderland of snow. After the show, stroll the Park and visit our animals or shop at the Country Store. Children must be accompanied by a paid, registered adult.

Bone Soup, a Kwanzaa Musical
Where: Anacostia Community Museum
When: December 26
Tickets: Free

Bring the entire family for Day One of the museum’s annual 3-day Kwanzaa celebration. This year, Culture Kingdom Kids presents the original play Bone Soup. This energetic and interactive introduction to Kwanzaa includes dancers, singers, music, colorful costumes, and lively characters.



Model Trains

Trains whiz around the delightful display  - made of plant materials! - at the US Botanic Garden

Trains whiz around the delightful display – made of plant materials! – at the US Botanic Garden



Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum
When: November 21-22 & December 1 – January 3
Admission: $18/adults, $16/seniors (60+), $12/ages 2-12, free for B&O members


This is a venue dedicated to locomotives, so you know the holiday model train exhibit is going to be special. Trains are magical during the holidays, and the museum invites all aboard the B&O’s Magical Holiday Express, a spectacular celebration in the B&O Roundhouse devoted to trains of all sizes and shapes, holiday festivities, and a winter wonderland of family fun and activities. There is something to see and do every day at this annual holiday event! Be sue to look for special events like Santa’s Lego Party, Frosty Fest Weekend, and Breakfast with Santa on the website.

Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden
When: November 26 – January 3
Admission: Free

If my blog stats are any indication, this is easily DC’s most popular holiday attraction; the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit is always among the top searches that lead readers here. And I can’t say I’m surprised. Season’s Greenings is an annual delight for all ages. The conservatory exhibit features Washington landmarks constructed from plant materials and one of the city’s largest Christmas trees. But the highlight, hands-down, is the garden railway, which never fails to impress and enchant with intricate, imaginative designs. This year’s Pollination Station will feature oversized flowers, bees, and butterflies in a scenic wonderland. For even more holiday magic at the garden, there are concerts most Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December, when the USBG stays open until 8pm. For more on the seasonal favorite, read this post and this one about some of our Season’s Greenings experiences.

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden
When: December 5 – January 3
Admission: Free

Brookside’s South Conservatory will come to life with a landscape in miniature, as trains and trollies wind their way through town and country scenes, past one-of-a kind models of the Brookside Gardens Conservatories, the Dentzel Carousel and the Chautauqua Tower of Glen Echo Park. Colorful plantings will complement it all — winter may rule the outside landscape, but the conservatories will be bright with color and active with sound and motion to match the festive feeling of the season.

Holiday Trains and Planes
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: December 12 – December 19
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, under 2 are free

During the holiday season the College Park Aviation Museum gets ready for the festivities as miniature trains, villages, tunnels, and depots spark the imagination and bring history to life. The National Capital Trackers bring a fascinating and constantly moving display of model railroads.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station
When: TBD
Admission: Free
Every year, DC’s grand train station hosts a wonderful Holiday Train Display, on view in the Main 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.


Special Events

Holidays on the Ellipse

Holidays on the Ellipse

 

Holiday Tours & Shopping
Where: Mansion on O Street
When: November – January
Admission: Starts at $15

Mansion elves begin decking the halls in spectacular mansion style starting in November. Take a holiday tour of one of the most wonderfully outrageous places in DC to infuse you with holiday spirit. Explore themed rooms, search for secret doors, and shop for unique holiday gifts while you celebrate the season with family and friends. Read more about the Manon on O Street in this KFDC post.

Re-Imagining the Holidays
Where: Downtown Silver Spring
When: November 14, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

The 4th Annual “Re-Imagining The Holidays” event is Downtown Silver Spring’s official Tree Lighting and Street Fest. And this year it will include Foodie Festivus, a 35’ holiday tree comprised of recycled glassware and welded food service items including spatula snowflakes, plate and saucer ornaments, takeout containers, utensil tinsel – “utinsel” – and an impressive star topper constructed from blue glass bottles. Other festivities of the evening will include food tastings, live music, ice skating, and more!

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor
When: November 14, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

Join National Harbor for a full day of holiday fun, topped off by their annual tree lighting. They’ll have tons of holiday activities, including the opening of the holiday market, car-making for the Troops, a holiday movie on the Plaza, live entertainment, Santa at the carousel, fireworks, and more!

Santa HQ
Where: Tyson’s Corner
When: November 14 – December 24
Admission: Free, but portrait packages start at $30

Discover holiday wonderment in this immersive and innovative experience with visual elements that transport you straight to the North Pole. Enter HGTV’s Santa HQ and be scanned by the digital Naughty or Nice O’Meter, snap an “Elfie Selfie” in Santa’s workshop and star in your own holiday video. Then onto the North Pole Observatory to experience Elf-Ray Vision in a 3D environment…all before meeting the big man in red himself!

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: November 21 – January 3

Admission: Free, though some activities cost extra
National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s also plenty to do there to warrant a visit without the frozen entertainment. Most of it takes place in the Gaylord National Resort, which is transformed into a winter wonderland, complete with a spectacular glass Christmas tree, nightly tree lightings, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about a KFDC experience there during a Christmas season past.)

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 21 – January 3
Admission:
$28-35/adult, $20-28/child, 2 and under are free
Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. We went a few years ago, and I recommend reading my review before you go. And since it features a new “Learn how Santa Claus started giving toys to good girls and boys in the retelling of the classic television special, Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, celebrating its 45th anniversary this year. Our ice sculptures and ice slides are fun for the whole family and part of Christmas on the Potomac at our at our National Harbor resort.” 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.

Montgomery County Thanksgiving Parade
Where: Silver Plaza, Downtown Silver Spring
When: November 21, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The line-up of over 100 parade units features an inflatable penguin and turkey, a massive dinosaur, a portable skating rink, and more colorful dancing groups than you have ever seen. Emcee ABC 7 Meteorologist Brian van de Graaff will introduce glittering floats, a wide variety of high school, college, and professional marching bands; beauty queens; clowns; fire engines; and performing dog and rescue animal groups. As always, the Parade will end with Santa’s float playing holiday music and showing the smiling, rosy cheeked man in a red suit who loves to hang out with elves and give out candy canes. And new this year is a place to take your family holiday photos. Right next to the ice rink, you can take your photo with a Frozen inflatable Elsa, a 10-foot tall turkey, or with Hanukkah or Christmas décor.

The Enchanted Forest
Where: Westin Tysons Corner
When: November 21-22
Admission: $15 (workshops are extra)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest will features a beautiful ‘forest’ of more than 100 theme-decorated holiday trees for silent auction, live entertainment by several of the area’s most celebrated children’s performers, a model train display, hands-on children’s activities, and a festival holiday marketplace. Proceeds from this event directly support the JLNV’s community initiatives, which are focused on empowering families to make healthy eating and active living a priority, and support the development of women who will build better communities for years to come.

Christmas at Mount Vernon

Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 27 – January 6
Admission: $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under


The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. Join for candlelight tours of the Mansion, a dazzling display of fireworks set to Christmas music, dancing, fire-side caroling, Aladdin the Christmas camel, and so much more! See the website for all of the holiday happenings at the historic home.

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center
When: November 27
Admission: Free

Kicks off the festive season at the 25th annual Reston Holiday Parade with Macy’s-style balloons, musicians, dancers, antique cars, characters, community groups, dignitaries, special guest emcees, and much more. The one-of-a-kind, one-hour, half-mile parade also welcomes the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus in a horse-drawn carriage. The day also includes Gingerbread Man Mile races for kids, visits and photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, mini-train rides, ice skating, and street entertainment. The tree lighting and sing-along is an evening highlight.

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens
When: November 27 – January 3
Admission: $27/ages 3 and up

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

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station
When: December 1, 6pm
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies, the 2015 Annual Norwegian Christmas at Union Station will have a theme of music this year. The tree will be decorated with CD’s while streaming music will be featured in the area around the tree at the lighting ceremony.mAlaska Senator Lisa Murkowski will light the tree, and the Norwegian Embassy will provide beverages and light refreshments. Santa will be on hand with presents for the kids and The Carolers of Greater Washington (CGW) will perform.

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

If don’t win lottery tickets to see the National Tree Lighting, consider going to this one at the Capitol. You might not be able to sit close up, but you can view festivities from right across the street, and it’s just as lovely from the area by the Reflecting Pool. For now, follow the tree as it journeys from Alaska, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive in a couple of weeks, and the lighting will take place during the first week of December (date still TBD). After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 4 – 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. Bonus: there will also be musical performances throughout the season this year. Unfortunately, the adorable Santa’s Workshop is not back this year (you might recall there was confusion about it last year), but go enjoy everything else.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 4-6
Admission:

Christmas in Middleburg is a spectacular community event that includes a Breakfast with Santa and a silent auction event and the Middleburg Hunt Review creating a spectacular sight as 100 horses, riders in pink coats, and dozens of hounds come through the town. Throughout the day there are hayrides, choir performances, the Christmas in Middleburg Craft Show, the Middleburg Garden Club’s Christmas Flower & Greens Show at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, as well as shopping and dining in the town’s shops and restaurants. The Middleburg Christmas Parade begins is a highlight, with a unique assortment of floats, troops, and musical groups marching by. Santa brings up the rear riding on a beautiful horse drawn coach.

Christmas on Wheels
Where: Around DC
When: December 4-20 (Friday – Sunday)
Admission: See details below

For the first year ever, Bike and Roll DC will be offering Washington’s first-ever Christmas tour by bike and Segway. Tour highlights will include the Botanical Gardens Holiday Showcase, a hot chocolate stop, the exquisite decorations at the Willard Hotel, and of course, the Capital and National Christmas Trees. Families and children of all ages are welcome on the bike tour — trailer tandems and burleys are available for younger children. Riders must be 16 for the Segway tour. Cost for the bike tour is $39/adults, $34/ages 12 and under and $64/person for the Segway tour.

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall
When: December 5 & 6
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of American History, and Freer-Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of the American Indian, National Museum of African American Art, National Postal Museum, the Hirshhorn, and Smithsonian Castle! Enjoy concerts by the U.S. Air Force’s Max Impact, Silver Wings, and Celtic Aire. The Festival will also include Mars Chocolate demonstrations, a Star Wars C-3PO costume exhibit, the world’s largest LEGO American Flag exhibit, family holiday photo opportunities, free film screenings, trunk shows featuring apparel, jewelry and art, book signings, festive food, and hours of additional family-friendly entertainment.

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 – rain or shine. There will also be other festive events throughout the weekend — see the website for details.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: December 5, 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.

Holidays Through History Open House
Where: Dumbarton House
When: December 5
Admission: $8-20 (details below)

Make your merry way among three historic houses featuring period installations from the Federal period to the 1960s. Dumbarton House, Anderson House, and Woodrow Wilson House all offer a festive evening of elegance, refreshments, and ornaments to make at each site.
Tickets: Museum Members: $8 in advance, $10 at the door; Children: $10; Adults: $16 in advance, $20 at the door.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum
When: December 5-26, Saturdays & Sundays only
Admission: $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 (includes unlimited rides)

Guests can ride with Santa on the street cars and enjoy the model garden railway and holiday village inside the museum. Of course the rest of the museum, offering a glimpse into the history of street cars, including a Hall displaying different cars from around the region and Europe. Note: Santa will not be there the last weekend. Visit the website for directions to the museum.

Winternational
Where: Ronald Reagan Building
When: December 9, 11am – 2pm
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.

Ugly Sweater Run
Where: National Harbor
When: December 12, 9 am
Admission: $50 (look for a deal here)

Rummage up the Ugliest Sweater you can find and celebrate the holidays in an active way by participating in the Merriest 5K of the year. Join thousands of runners, walkers, and prancers through National Harbor. The start line includes massive inflatables, photo stations, games, and cheerful holiday music. Once on course, you’ll find holiday themed stations at every mile.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: December 12, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Get into the holiday spirit at Glen Echo Park’s annual Winter’s Eve celebration. It’s free, open to the public, and visitors of all ages can enjoy performances, arts & crafts open studios, hot chocolate, and a holiday sing-along. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios. Kids and adults can create gifts to share in the holiday-themed craft rooms.

Tea with Santa
Where: Dumbarton House
When: December 12
Admission: $25/adult member, $30/non-member, $20/child

Sit back, relax and let Santa’s helpers serve you during this magical holiday experience. Visit with Santa and hear a special holiday story. Families enjoy a delicious holiday tea complete with special holiday tea blends, hot apple cider, sandwiches and desserts. After taking tea, children decorate their own gingerbread cookies to take home.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Key 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. The Key School is located at 2300 Key Blvd in Arlington.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 31
Admission: $15 until 12/17, $20 after, kids 12 and under are free
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!


Chanukah

Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6

Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6



National Menorah Lighting
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 6, 4pm
Admission: Free, but you must request tickets

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

Make Room for Latkes
Where Washington DCJCC
When: December 6, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $10/family in advance; $15/family at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun. Join PJ Library and partners for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project, and take-home goodies. CityJews programs are designed with interfaith families in mind.

Family Celebration of Hanukkah
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: December 6, 1-3pm
Admission: Free

This Family Celebration of Hanukkah will feature community performances, festive crafts, and kosher food and drink options from the Kosher Pastry Oven. The event will take place at Newark Avenue NW at Cathedral Commons near the Giant Food.

Matisyahu in Concert
Where: Strathmore
When: December 6
Admission: Tickets are $28-48

Reggae, rap, hip-hop, and alt rock — Matisyahu does it all, blending beat-boxing techniques with artful jazz and the ancient traditions of Judaism. This show on the first night of Chanukah will highlight it all. (And I can tell you firsthand that he is amazing to see live!)

Chanukah Festival
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria
When: December 6, 5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Chanukah a day early with a giant menorah lighting, free light stick for every child, latkes, donuts, a raffle, and music! The lighting will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Old Town Alexandria located at 901 N Fairfax Street. For more info, go to www.chabadAA.org or call 703-370-2774.

Family Chanukah Party
Where: Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim
When: December 6
Admission:

Spin a dreidel, eat latkes and applesauce, have your children do arts and crafts, spend time with community and learn how to dance… Israeli style. Whether you are 2 or 92, be a part of this family Chanukah celebration! The Congregation is located at 1840 University Blvd. W. in Silver Spring.

Spin the Tale: Chanukah Story Hour
Where: Barnes & Noble, 12089 Rockville Pike
When: December 8, 4-5pm
Admission: Free

Warm up your winter with a Chanukah story time at Barnes & Noble. Hear a story, make a unique dreidel with creative materials, and then play dreidel with the staff!

Max’s Lotsa Latkes
Where: Max’s Kosher Café and Marketplace
When: December 9, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: $15/adult, $7/ages 3-10, free for 2 and under

Join for all-you-can-eat latkes (three delicious kinds!) and sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) at Max’s Kosher Café and Marketplace (2319 University Blvd. W. in Silver Spring). Enjoy the tasty Chanukah treats as well as children’s activities, dreidel games, recipes, and gelt galore. Regular menu and drinks available a la carte. Kosher dietary laws observed. Space is limited — purchase your ticket early before they sell out.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink
When: December 8, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $10 in advance, $13 at door

Celebrate Chanukah with a giant menorah lighting, holiday treats, raffles, and ice skating! Ice skate rentals are included, but food will be sold separately. Purchase advance tickets online at www.chabadAA.org or call 703-370-2774.


Light Displays

Brookside's spectacular Garden of Lights is back after a break last year

Brookside’s spectacular Garden of Lights is back after a break last year



Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
When: November 13 – January 3
Admission: $13/adult, $8/ages 3-12 (look for a deal here)

Imagine the beauty of Meadowlark’s renowned gardens as over 500,000 LED lights and displays bring the gardens to life and transform it into a winter wonderland. Marvel at the two-story animated fountain, stroll past the Gingerbread Village, and explore the beauty of nature like you’ve never seen it!

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park
When: November 18 – January 3
Admission: Monday- Thursday $15/car, Friday-Saturday $20/car (look for a deal here)

For more than 14 years the Bull Run Festival of Lights has drawn thousands of visitors to the park to delight in its winter wonderland. Get a sneak preview of it on the website, where a video of Santa’s Enchanted Lights, with over 40,000 animated lights set to music, is merely a fraction of what you’ll find there.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: November 27 – January 3, with noted exceptions
Admission: $20/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun


This spectatcular, festive light show is back after a break last year. Visualize close to one million twinkling colorful lights shaped in imaginative displays throughout the gardens. Enjoy the four seasons illuminated as giant summer sunflowers, autumn leaves, winter snowflakes, spring flowers, rain showers, and more. Walk along the easily accessible paths and you’ll see what sets this light show apart from others; it’s the hundreds of wrapped trees and shrubs, beautifully lighted gazebos, cascading fountains, and the individually formed displays in the shapes of blooming flowers and wild animals. Look for moving displays such as a flock of geese, or an 11-foot giraffe covered with 9,000 lights. Open Sunday – Thursday 5:30-9pm, with last car admitted at 8:30pm, and Friday/Saturday 5:30-10:30pm, with last car admitted at 9:30pm. View scenes from one of our visits there.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo
When: November 27 – January 2, 5-9pm (Closed 12/24, 25, 31)
Admission: Free

Every year, thousands of environmentally-friendly light and animal exhibits transform the Zoo into a holiday wonderland. The highlights are dozens of animal light displays, a dazzling light show set to music, and “Zoo Tubing” on Lion/Tiger Hill (they should just call it Liger Hill) on two 150-foot snow tracks. Guests can also enjoy live entertainment, a special train ride for children, a whirl on the Conservation Carousel, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and the Gin-Grrr-Bread Habitat Competition. The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm will be open every night. Rides and parking cost extra.

Festival of Lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park
When: November 27 – January 1, 5-9:30pm nightly
Admission: $5/car, FREE on December 25


This spectacular holiday drive-through event of more than one million twinkling lights has been dazzling holiday-goers for over 25 years. This is great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – pop some holiday music into the CD player, turn on the seat warmers, and take in the adorably festive illuminated scenes.

Winter Lights Festival

Where: Seneca Creek State Park
When: November 27 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Sun-Thurs, $15/car Fri-Sat (loof for a deal here)

The 19th Annual Winter Lights Festival will feature more than 365 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through beautiful Seneca Creek State Park. Theme areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, North Pole, Toyland, and Penguin Cove. Special prism glasses to are available for $2 to heighten the experience. Proceeds Benefit Local Charities. Hours are Sunday – Thursday 6-9pm and Friday-Saturday 6-10pm.

Festival of Lights
Where: Mormon Temple
When: December 3 – January 1
Admission: Free

It’s official name is the Washington DC Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the ground glow with more than 600,000 LED 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.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: December 4 – January 2 (closed 12/7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 24, & 25)
Admission: $6, free for ages 3 and under

The award-winning holiday light show will run twenty-three nights this season. The show features hundreds of handmade light sculptures scattered along a glittering Wooded Path. As guests stroll the protected path, they’ll be surrounded by princesses, mythical beasts, wild animals, dinosaurs, outer space, sea creatures, and more. New this year, the show has been expanded into new areas of the sculpture garden. Explore the moonlit magic of the Council Ring, the Surveyor’s Map, and the Women’s Walk, each lit and decorated for the holidays.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina
When: December 5, 5:30pm
Admission: Free

Experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions! At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, 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.


Holiday Markets

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter



Museum Shop Around
Where: Strathmore
When: November 12-15
Admission: $9

This annual market brings the best of the area’s finest museum gift shops all to one place. At Strathmore’s Museum Shop Around you’ll find toys, jewelry, one-of-a-kind gifts — some handmade, all art-inspired — for yourself and everyone on your holiday list.

Bethany House Holiday Bazaar
Where: First Baptist Church Alexandria
When: November 14
Admission: $5/suggested donation $10/family

Get an early start on your holiday shopping at this bazaar benefiting Bethany House, a domestic violence shelter in Northern VA that serves women and children survivors of domestic violence. The bazaar features regional artisans, crafters, and unique businesses. Browse international gift items, such as jewelry, paintings, essential oils, home décor, and more.

Harbor Holiday Market
Where: National Harbor
When: Weekends November 14 – December 20
Admission: Free

National Harbor invites you to deck the halls with ideas from their Holiday Market, located on American Way, featuring live trees, handmade holiday ornaments and decorations, tasty holiday treats such as cookies and roasted chestnuts, and much more.

Merry & Bright Shopping Preview
Where: Mosaic District
When: November 14, 4-9pm
Admission: Free

Get your gift shopping started at the Northern Virginia center. Many stores and restaurants in the Fairfax community are offering discounts and other specials to help patrons ring in the the holiday shopping season.

Sugar Plum Bazaar
Where: The Washington Ballet Headquarters
When: November 20-22
Admission: Free

The Washington Ballet’s Women’s Committee is hosting a weekend of merriment, food, artisanal shopping, silent auction, and holiday activities. On Saturday, families can enjoy “Cookies and Cocoa,” featuring dancer meet & greets and special treats (tickets for this are $40). Proceeds will benefit The Washington Ballet.

Handmade Holiday Craft Fair
Where: TC Williams High School
When: November 21,10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

A local school fair with a great cause! TC Williams High School will be hosting their 6th Annual Handmade Holiday Craft Fair. Over 50 local vendors will sell items such as handmade soaps, jewelry, stationary, and much more. There will be food sales, baked goods, and live music from the TC jazz band. This free event raises money for Joining Hearts and Hands, an organization that promotes economic and social improvements in Kenya and Tanzania. Over the past five years, students have helped raise enough money to build a fourth grade classroom in Tanzania! You can view our list of vendors here. The high school is located at 3330 King St. in Alexandria.

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW
When: November 27 – December 23, 12-8pm
Admission: Free

This one, to me, is the holiday market in DC. It’s not even so much about the merchandise for sale (though there’s always a great variety of gift items – I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city feel like a small town. 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.

Eastern Market
Where: 7th Street SE, between South Carolina & Penn Aves.
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. Nearly 200 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

Alexandria’s Holiday Market
Where: Carlyle District in Alexandria
When: December 4-23 (but not everyday, see the website)
Admission: Free

This annual signature event transforms the Carlyle District into a lively European Festival similar to the infamous Christmas Markets taking place in Germany or France. Shop for unique art and craft items, and enjoy live entertainment, traditional European food and sweets, hot wine, and hot cocoa. Be sure to visit the children’s corner for kid’s activities to learn more about European traditions and culture. The Market is located at 300 John Carlyle Street in Alexandria.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Calvary United Methodist Church
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.

PARCEL Market
Where: Canal Park
When: December 5-6
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.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center
When: December 11-13
Admission: $8/advance, $10/at door, free for 11 and under

This seasonal fair showcases works by more than 300 top artisans. Pottery, sculpture, glass, jewelry, fashion, home and garden décor, furniture and home accessories, and photography will be on display — and for sale. The best part is that the award-winning festival is a family affair. Parents can shop, and children can enjoy an interactive puppet theater and watch live-demonstrations of iron forging, papermaking, stone sculpting, and other media by the master craftspeople themselves. Not to mention, gourmet goodies hand-made by specialty food vendors always leave everyone wanting more. Tickets are good for all three days of the Festival.


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