Category Archives: Christmas

Autumn is for Families at Washington Revels

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[Note: This is a sponsored guest post written by Jo Rasi of Washington Revels]

A group of four- and five-year olds are marching down the hallway, waving ribbon sticks and singing an old traditional tune about apples. A dragon is resting on a nearby table while a volunteer sews one of its ears. Six teens are heading upstairs to rehearse with bells tied around their ankles, adding whimsy and celebration to the already joyful scene. And in the parking lot, a group of volunteers are leafing through a songbook choosing songs to share at the evening’s Community Sing.

This is just an ordinary autumn day at Washington Revels, a 35-year old cultural institution dedicated to celebrating cultural traditions through music, dance, storytelling, drama and more.

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There’s something for everyone — after-school workshops for PreK-8th grade, opportunities for children and teens to perform on stage, and family activities ranging from Community Sings, Pub Sings, concerts and parades, plus workshops (in music, dance and traditional crafts) – over 120 events each year. It’s a place where intergenerational interactions are a part of daily activities, a place where a family is invited to share in the joys of singing and community, and a place where traditions are honored, shared and created.

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And it’s the place where ages-old winter holiday traditions are recreated and reshaped every winter, and then performed at Lisner Auditorium in DC to over 10,000 people over two weekends in December. The Christmas Revels is the organization’s biggest annual event, and one that draws all ages and cultures from well beyond the DC area, and then encourages them to dance in the aisles (literally!) during the show. It’s easy to see why families make this event part of their annual holiday celebration.

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All three floors of the Revels’ Silver Spring building are ready for family activities. There’s a bright studio space for workshops and rehearsals, there are shelves and nooks filled with costumes, props, books and CDs, and tucked around the edges you’ll find colorful banners, a couple of dragons, a hobby horse, some jester hats and a Maypole. It’s a place where holidays and special days are celebrated and handed down to future generations, and a place always ready to create the shared joy of community.

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Kids and families refer to themselves as “Revelers” and might be heard saying “I’m reveling.” It’s what Washington Revels offers — a chance to revel in music, dance, drama, cultures, traditions and community. The Washington Post calls the DC-area Revelers “…one hundred of Washington’s most literate merrymakers, from kindergartners to senior citizens…” and notes that Washington Revels can create “…a celebration to make even the most incorrigible Grinch grin.”

Join in a Revels program to share in some singing, dancing, celebrating and grinning, and experience the spirit of Reveling! Try the September family-friendly free Community Sing, or enroll your children to be Little Dragons, Hobby Horses or Jesters after school, or consider having your 3rd-5th grader at the Children & Teen Christmas Revels Auditions.

Learn more about it all on the Washington Revels website!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Washington Revels, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under All ages, Christmas, Class, DC, Fall, Live Entertainment, Music, Seasonal, Theatre, Winter

The Weekend: December 25-27

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Just as I did this time last year, I’m keeping this round-up simple over the holiday weekend. But just because you don’t see the usual detailed recommendations for fun with the kids, that doesn’t mean you won’t find awesome things to do — the links below include loads of ideas for family activities, both holiday-inspired and just straight-up fun. Merry Christmas to all…. and to all a Happy Weekend!

KFDC 2015 Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

Winter Entertainment

Everyday Play

The Great Indoors

Indoor Playgrounds

The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend A Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Skaters Gonna Skate: Where to Hit the Ice this Season

Walks in the Woods

A few specific ideas…

Season’s Greenings at the Botanic Garden (Friday – Sunday)

WONDER at the Renwick Gallery (Saturday & Sunday)

Hometown Hockey: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens (Saturday)

Holiday Hoops: University of Maryland vs. Marshall (Sunday)


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Ongoing, Outdoor, Seasonal, Sports, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 21-25

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(Note: There was a correction to the Water Skiing Santa info. It will take place on Thursday, December 24, not Friday as originally posted.)

Monday – Skate under the sky before the weather takes a wet turn! Enjoy art as you glide at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. Several local rinks offer push aides to help newbie skaters. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area, including bonus activities to enjoy while you’re there.

Tuesday – Go bowling! It’s a perfect activity for what’s expected to be a rainy day. Take advantage of Tots Playtime at Pinstripes in Georgetown. From 10am – 12pm on weekdays, ALL kids can bowl for $5 ($5/shoe rental) and parents are free (limit 4 kids per adult)! Eat while you bowl or stay after for lunch — they have a good kids menu and a pretty extensive main menu, too.

Wednesday – Catch a performance of A Lump of Coal for Christmas at Adventure Theatre. Recommended for all ages, showtimes are 11am & 2pm. Tickets are $19.50, and you can look for a deal on seats here.

Thursday – Bounce on over to Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield for a super fun jump session. On Christmas Eve they are offering buy one get one free admission. Be sure to check the schedule, as times vary by age. And admission varies by time and age, but starts at $11. I recommend buying tickets and filling out waivers in advance to avoid lines when you get there. You can also watch Santa have some fun before his big night out, as he water skis his way up the Potomac along with knee boarding reindeer, flying elves, the jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy! You can view it all for free from the waterfront in Old Town Alexandria starting at 1pm sharp – the best viewing spots will be from King to Prince Streets.

Friday – Have a very merry Christmas… and enjoy some activities out of the house, too! The U.S. Botanic Garden and Mount Vernon are open. If weather permits, get out for a hike. Or do what’s a tradition for many who don’t celebrate Christmas and go out for Chinese food and a movie.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Outdoor, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

The Weekend Round-Up: December 18-20

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We’re kicking off Winter Break with a weekend full of ways to celebrate the season and then some. Holiday events, live entertainment, ice skating, college hoops, outdoor pursuits, and some movie about the force are all among this round-up of recs. Plus, the Everyday Play page has even more ideas for ongoing DC fun. Happy Weekend!

Season’s Greenings
Where: US Botanic Garden
When: Through the weekend
Admission: Free

The Botanic Garden’s annual holiday attraction never disappoints. 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 theme “Pollination Station ” features oversized flowers, bees, and butterflies in a scenic wonderland. A heads-up that it’ll probably be crowded, but the line usually moves quickly, and it really is a beautiful, fun, unique display to see!

Step Afrika!’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Tickets: $15-38

Put a little stomp in your step for the holidays! DC’s internationally-known percussive dance company invites you to celebrate the season 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! If you’re bringing the whole family, check out the Family Fun Pack: Four tickets, four snacks, four non-alcoholic drinks, all for $100!

Holiday Party & Puppet Show Anniversary
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: Saturday, 10am
Admission: Free

The Fairfax County Park Authority is celebrating its 65th anniversary with a family-friendly holiday party that includes puppet show performances, plus treats and visits with farm animals. Showtimes are 10:45am and 12:30pm. Inside the Visitors Center, guests can enjoy hot cocoa, cider, and cookies. Outside, they can visit with furry friends from Kidwell Farm.

Skaters Gonna Skate
Where: Local ice rinks
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

‘Tis the season for outdoor ice skating, so lace up and get gliding. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden; circle the rink at Washington Harbour; meander the paths at Canal Park; or do some holiday shopping then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, Rockville Town Square, or Reston Town Center. This post has details on alfresco (and indoor) ice skating options in the area. And note that both at Canal Park and Washington Harbor are hosting Cartoon Skate on Saturday morning!

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Gaylord National Resort’s annual holiday extravaganza has festivities galore that capture the spirit of the season. And the best part is that there are activities for all ages at varying price points (even free!), from dancing fountains and indoor snowfalls to a tour of amazing “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”-themed ice sculptures. Get details and a glimpse of it all here.

Rocknoceros Holiday Singalong
Where: Jammin’ Java
When: Saturday, 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

Get in the holiday mood and ready to sing as one of the area’s favorite kindie rock bands returns to Jammin’ Java for their 9th year of fun holiday songs and Rockno classics. Belt out the tunes along with them, and enjoy a full lunch and drink menu, too.

More Holiday Entertainment
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

Much of the live entertainment on local stages right now is holiday-inspired. 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. Enjoy A Lump of Coal for Christmas at Adventure Theatre or A Year with Frog and Toad at Imagination Stage. Get details on these shows and others in the 2015 Holiday Guide.

Showtime Beyond the Holidays
Where: Local theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by performance

– The Broadway hit Matilda the Musical just opened at the Kennedy Center
– The adorable Elephant and Piggies’s We are in a Play is also running there
Oliver! and Akeelah and the Bee are on the Arena Stage
– Catch a performance of How to Catch a Leprechan at The Keegan Theatre
– Faction of Fools presents Pinocchio is at the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
– See Seussical the Musical is at NextStop Theatre
– 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.
– Little ones will love Wake Up, Brother Bear at Imagination Stage

‘O’pen House Shopping & Tours
Where: Mansion on O Street
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Starts at $15

Take a holiday tour of one of the most wonderfully outrageous places in DC while its halls are bedecked with seasonal trimmings. At this one-of-a-kind mansion in the heart of Dupont Circle, explore fantastically-themed rooms, search for secret doors, and shop — just about everything there is for sale — while enjoying the season with family and friends. Read more about the Mansion on O Street in this KFDC post.

Night Lights
Where: Around the area
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday Evenings
Admission: Varies by locale

Twinkling lights forming enchanting displays are easily a holiday season favorite. Visit the Zoo or one of several parks 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. Either way, get ready to be dazzled.

College Hoops
Where: Local colleges
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Ticket prices vary

College basketball season begins this weekend, and with so many universities in the area, there’s always some good hoops action going on. The GW men’s team hosts St. Peter’s on Saturday, while the women welcome Iona on Sunday(tickets here). The Hoya men play UNC Asheville at the Verizon Center on Saturday (tickets here). At George Mason, the women play Air Force SAturday afternoon, and the men match up against Longwood Saturday evening (tickets here). Both Maryland teams are away this weekend, but they still get a ‘Go, Terps!’

Welcome to Beynia
Where: Mystic Emporium
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 5pm
Admission: Free (but $5 to play)

Remember Beyblades, the big toy trend a couple of years ago? They’re still a big thing with many who take them to tourney and compete for prizes. If your kid is (or was) an enthusiast, consider checking out this indoor tournament taking place in Silver Spring. Word has it the events are fun, inclusive, and a great bargain. See the website for registration and event times. Mystic Emporium is located at 7896 Georgia Ave. in Silver Spring.

Kids’ Fête de Noël
Where: Alliance Francaise
When: Saturday, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $8/non-member, $5/member

Celebrate the winter holidays with AFDC! With both French and English spoken, the event will feature an activity hour for kids and families, including a fun craft and caroling in French. Snacks will also be served to guests.

Challah Hootenanny!
Where: The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington
When: Sunday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $15

Join PJ Library, The Jewish Food Experience, and their partners for a celebration at a family-friendly morning of Jewish bluegrass music, crafts, food fun, and more, featuring a performance by Mama Doni and Eric Lindberg. Bring a new pair of adult-size socks or gloves to be distributed through D25: December 25th Day of Service. Location is 6101 Executive Blvd. in North Bethesda.

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

If you’re still working through your gift list, there are several special holiday markets around the area, where you can find unique presents by local vendors and then some. Head to Penn Quarter, National Harbor, or Alexandria for great seasonal markets or to Capitol Hill for a weekend institution. More info about all of them is available in the 2015 Holiday Guide. And if you need some gift ideas, be sure check out the KFDC Holiday Gift Guide!

Chill Out(side)
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Just because the temps are dropping, that doesn’t mean you can’t spend time outdoors – bundle up and enjoy some time in the fresh air under sunny skies! Roam free at Dumbarton Oaks (no admission fee this time of year). Hit the trail at Riverbend, Cunningham Falls, Rock Creek, and more. Explore the National Arboretum or Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Hang out at Hains Point. Hit the playground at Watkins, Cabin John, or ClemyjontriParks. Find even more ideas in this post about great outdoor pursuits with kids.

See the Force
Where: Local movie theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by theater

So, there’s this movie out that a bunch of people are pretty excited to see… If you’re planning to take the kids to see the new Star Wars film, check out these Washington Post recommendations for the best places in the DC area to see it. And buy your tickets in advance.

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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Christmas, Date Night, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Farm, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Movies, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: December 14-18

Exploring the wetlands at Huntley Meadows

Exploring the wetlands at Huntley Meadows



Monday – See an art show full of special works at the Hemp Hill Carroll Square Gallery in Chinatown. Presented by Tracy’s Kids Art Therapy Program, a non-profit that does art therapy with pediatric oncology patients, Who We Are showcases art created by the kids they help. This was recommended to me by a KFDC reader who is an art therapist for the organization, and I think it sounds wonderful. The Gallery is located at 975 F Street NW. Hours are 8am – 6pm. Admission is free.

Tuesday – Hike the woods and wetlands of Huntley Meadows Park in Alexandria. Look for little creatures along the way and stop to take in some gorgeous vistas. Bring along food for a picnic, or plan to grab a bite before or after — though it doesn’t feel like it while you’re there, the park is located close to a busy area with plenty of dining options. Open daily from dawn to dusk. Admission is free.

Wednesday – Do some shopping, enjoy a little live entertainment, and treat yourselves to some tasty eats at the Downtown Holiday Market. It’s like a little village in the heart of the city, where you can find all kinds of unique gifts, plus there will be live music from 12-2pm and 5-7pm. Make the most of your outing and pop into the National Portrait Gallery & American Art Museum, which are practically a backdrop for the market.

Thursday – Catch a colorful magic show with The Great Zucchini at Jammin’ Java. Doors open at 10am and the fun begins at 10:30am. General admission tickets are $5.

Friday – Visit Season’s Greenings, the U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual holiday exhibit on a weekday when the crowds thin out. See Pollination Station, the adorably whimsical model train display, easily one of the best around. Stroll the festively adorned conservatory and admire replicas of DC landmarks built entirely from plant materials. Be sure to pick up a plant scavenger hunt at the front desk for some fun as you tour the rest of the gardens. Hours are 10am – 5pm. Admission is free.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, Art, Christmas, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays