Category Archives: Festival

The 2016 KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC

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Embrace the holiday spirit at these 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

Tree Lightings

Model Trains

Special Events

Chanukah

Light Displays

Holiday Markets

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Holiday Shows

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A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: November 17 – December 31
Tickets: $22-92
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).

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
Where: Imagination Stage
When: November 19 – January 15
Tickets: $10+

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of this beloved film by attending the live performance at Imagination Stage this holiday season! Packed with memorable tunes like “Be Our Guest”, “Human Again”, and “Beauty and the Beast”, this holiday musical has something for the entire family! Once upon a time, in a French provincial town, Belle is the bookish daughter of a hapless inventor. She narrowly avoids the amorous advances of the bully Gaston only to find herself imprisoned in the castle of a terrible Beast. While the servants Cogsworth, Lumiere, Mrs. Potts and Chip conspire to make Belle fall in love with their bewitched master, she gradually wins over his heart by virtue of her kindness and patience. Excitement builds as Gaston gathers a mob to rid the community of the ugly Beast and to claim Belle for himself alone. Needless to say, after much high drama, silly laughter, exuberant singing and dancing, love wins the day!

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Where: Adventure Theatre
When: December 2-31
Tickets: $19.50 (Enter to win a Family 4-Pack!)
Join Adventure Theatre for this snowy, holiday classic featuring just a two-person cast! Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are sent to live in the countryside home of professor Digory Kirke. As Lucy explores the house, she discovers a secret portal to a magical world called Narnia. With an evil White Witch ruling the kingdom, can Lucy, her new friend Mr. Tumnus, and her family band together to save Narnia?

The Nutcracker
Where: The Puppet Co.
When: November 25 – December 30
Tickets: $10 (look for discount tickets)

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 25 – 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.

Virginia National Ballet’s The Nutcracker
Where: The Hylton Performing Arts Center
When: November 25
Tickets: $20-35

Virginia National Ballet/Gainesville Ballet are excited to announce two performances of The Nutcracker this season! The full-length ballet features Virginia National Ballet’s outstanding roster of American and international dancers, special guest Nurlan Abougaliev, and the students of Gainesville Ballet School. This Nutcracker is the first in the region, starting on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season

The Washington Ballet presents: Septime Webre’s The Nutcracker
Where: THEARC Theater
When: November 26-27
Tickets: $30-50, $15/Ward 7 & 8 residents

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.

The Second Shepherds’ Play
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library
When: November 27 – December 21
Tickets: $29-60

This magical retelling of the Nativity story combines beautiful music and a moving story for the holiday season. Revived by Folger Consort from its 2007 production, which the Washington Post called “a lovely seasonal surprise,” this engaging medieval mystery play and its festive English music of the period beautifully weaves together the stories of the shepherds, a sheep thief and his cunning wife, and the miracle in a humble manger in Bethlehem.

Seasons of Light
Where: Discovery Theater
When: November 30 – December 20
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.

Adventures with Mr. Bear
Where: The Lab at Convergence & Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 1-17 & December 18-30
Tickets: $9, 12 months and under are free

Arts on the Horizon presents this winter show at two area theatres! The wonder and magic of a child’s imagination are brought to life in this charming world premiere. One cozy winter afternoon, a young girl and her favorite stuffed animal, Mr. Bear, play a game of hide and seek which evolves into a series of exciting adventures. Together, they embark on a journey of endless possibilities – all from the comfort of her playroom! Cuddle up with your favorite stuffed animal friend and join us for a delightful holiday production. Recommended for children ages 2-6.

Septime Weber’s The Nutcracker
Where: Warner Theatre
When: December 1-24
Tickets: $35-101 (look for discount tickets)


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.)

A Christmas Carol Memory
Where: Creative Cauldron
When: December 1-20
Tickets: $15-30

A young orphan girl being raised by a warm but eccentric aunt is spending a tender first Christmas without her parents. While searching the attic for ornaments to decorate her aunt’s tree, she discovers a theatrical trunk once used by her puppeteer grandfather. When the extended family gathers on Christmas Eve, the contents in the trunk reawaken memories and spur the renewal of a long forgotten family tradition—the re-enactment of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. A production that breathes fresh new life into a timeless holiday classic.

A Fairy Tale Christmas Carol
Where: Gunston Arts Center
When: December 2-4
Tickets: $10

In Encore Stage & Studio’s remake of a Christmas classic, your favorite fairy tale characters bring to life the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s magical Christmas Eve. Mother Goose lends her talents to narrate the story as the Big Bad Wolf takes on the humbugging lead role. Cinderella, the Three Little Pigs, Old King Cole, and many more help create a new twist on the traditional Dickensian story told every December. Recommended for ages 4 and up.

Holiday Sing-A-Long
Where: Wolf Trap
When: December 3, 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.”

Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras of Strathmore: Enchanted Visions
Where: Strathmore
When: December 4, 4:00pm
Tickets: $15-$25

The region’s top young musicians perform classics and holiday music for all to enjoy, featuring the Philharmonic playing Prokofiev’s Cinderella & Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Revelers will also enjoy Dvořák plus holiday chorus music with the Symphony, the Chamber Ensemble with Britten’s Simple Symphony, and Young Artists with Gliere and more Tchaikovsky.

Into the Woods
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 6 – January 8
Tickets: $45-175 (look for discount tickets)

Venture back Into The Woods, a unanimously acclaimed, Tony Award(r)–winning musical classic by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine . This witty and wildly theatrical re-invention is Into The Woods as you’ve never seen it before! Mind the wolf, heed the witch, and honor the giant in the sky in this extraordinary musical about the power of wishes–and what really happens after they come true. Recommended for ages 6 and up.

Strathmore Children’s Chorus: This Shining Night
Where: Strathmore
When: December 6, 7:30pm
Tickets: $16

Make this extraordinary annual event your family’s holiday tradition. Join the astonishingly talented Strathmore Children’s Chorus—the cream of the pre-professional musical crop—in concert with guests the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Choirs for a concert that celebrates the joys of the season in song.

Sleeping Beauty
Where: Synetic Theatre
When: December 7 – January 8
Tickets: $15-55

Synetic’s award-winning ensemble takes on the classic tale of a princess, an evil sorceress, and a centuries-long sleeping curse in this darkly elegant adaptation of one of the Grimm Brothers’ most beloved stories. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

The Nutcracker
Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts
When: December 9, 8pm
Tickets: $39-65 (Save 10% with code SAVE10)

Experience the magic of the season as the Fairfax Ballet Company joins forces with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra to present a special Nutcracker at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts. Tchaikovsky’s timeless masterpiece brings you on a journey through a winter wonderland of dancing snowflakes, sugar plum fairies, and an epic battle between heroic toy soldiers and mischievous mice. It’s the perfect holiday treat for the entire family!

The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens (KidFree Suggestion!))
Where: Kennedy Center
When: Dec 9-31
Tickets: $39-69 (look for a discount tickets)

The Second City parodies Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol for an interactive experience that Scrooge–and the audience!–will never forget. The legendary comedy troupe brings its improvisational skills and sketch comedy mastery to “the night before Christmas.” For ages 16 and up.

Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice in Music, Dance & Drama
Where: Lisner Auditorium
When: December 10-18
Admission: $12-60

Join the Washington Revels on a journey into the wonders of Nordic winter traditions! As our families from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden gather to celebrate the season, let the haunting melodies, breathtaking dance, epic folk legends, and joyful carols get you into the holiday spirit! Discover mythic drama from Finland’s epic Kalevala. As the moon lights the snow, watch the spirited Icelandic Vikivaki as a mysterious stag looks on. Celebrate the Swedish “bringing of the light” by Sankta Lucia with her crown of candles. Watch dancers twirl in the hypnotic Telespringar and thrill to the spectacular leaps of Norway’s Tom Løvli in the Halling dance. Be enchanted by the songs and dances of our children, and participate in their retelling of a beloved Norwegian fairy tale. Delight as the tree is decorated with traditional woven hearts and raise your voice in festive Danish toasts and carols. *December 16 is Family Friday — get 25% off youth tickets

The Gift of the Mad Guy
Where: Annapolis Friends Meeting House
When: December 10
Tickets: $8/online, $10/door, free for 2 and under

The Gift of the Mad Guy, the story of a gift-crazed child who believes that Christmas is about giving specifically to HIM until he is promised a REALLY big gift if he gives three of his gifts to others. Will Jack learn that the holidays are about more than getting? Join Building Better People Productions for a day of theater for the whole family and find out!

Virginia Ballet Company & School: Selections from The Nutcracker
Where: National Theatre
When: December 10
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.

Family Joy!
Where: Washington National Cathedral
When: December 10
Admission: $25/adult, $15/child, $765/family 4-pack

Join the Cathedral Choral Society at 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. To receive the discount on a Family 4-pack (2 adults and 2 children), use code SAVE at check out.

The Mini-Nut
Where: Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center
When: December 10-11
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!

11th Annual Holiday Sing-Along
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 11
Tickets: $8.50

Join in the H Street tradition! 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 Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe
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 this dramatization of C.S. Lewis’ classic. Set in the land of Narnia, the show recreates the magic and mystery of Aslan, his struggle with the White Witch, and the adventures of four children who inadvertently wander from an old wardrobe into the exciting, never-to-be-forgotten Narnia. The supporting characters are also here: Tumnus the faun, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the Unicorn, the Centaur and other forest animals, as well as Father Christmas. This is a story of love, faith, courage and a triumph of good over evil.

Candlelight Christmas
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 11-22 (family show December 17)
Tickets: $18-72

Each year, The Washington Chorus delights DC audiences with its Candlelight Christmas concerts — resplendent affairs comprisin (Family night December 17)g a candlelight processional, brass, organ, and audience sing-alongs. This year’s concerts will feature star tenor and DC native Carl Tanner as soloist. Also joining TWC are the Northwest High School Chamber Singers and the H-B Woodlawn Chamber Singers as part of the Side-by-Side program. *The December 17 concert will be a B.Y.O.Baby Night, with discounted tickets for families, designated seating and baby play areas, a pre-concert backstage tour, and other treats for the whole family.

Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical
Where: National Theatre
When: December 13-31
Tickets: $48-128 (look for discount tickets)

Discover the magic of Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale as it comes to life on stage. Featuring the hit songs “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and “Welcome Christmas,” The Grinch discovers there’s more to Christmas than he bargained for in this heart-warming holiday classic. Max the Dog narrates as the mean and scheming Grinch, whose heart is “two sizes too small,” decides to steal Christmas away from the Whos, an endlessly cheerful bunch bursting with holiday spirit. Celebrate the holidays with the show The New York Times calls “100 times better than any bedside story!”

Wicked
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 15 – January 8
Tickets: $99-349

The Broadway sensation looks at what happened in the Land of Oz… but from a different angle. Long before Dorothy arrives, there is another young woman, born with emerald-green skin–smart, fiery, misunderstood, and possessing an extraordinary talent. When she meets a bubbly blonde who is exceptionally popular, their initial rivalry turns into the unlikeliest of friendships… until the world decides to call one “good,” and the other one “wicked.”

Holiday Singalong with Rocknoceros
Where: Discovery Theater
When: December 15-16
Admission: $3-8

Who’s having a holiday party? Coach, Williebob, and Boogie Bennie, that’s who! The area’s favorite kid-rock band has a great big musical present for you. Join them as they lead audiences in seasonal songs and Rockno classics. It’s a bash you just can’t miss!

Step Afrika!’s Magical, Musical Holiday Step Show
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 15-30
Tickets: $18-40

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!

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
Where: Strathmore
When: December 16
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.

Shine a Light: A Solstice Circus
Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center
When: December 17-18
Tickets: $25/adult, $15/ages 11 and under

In the darkest winter days, one young man discovers that he has the power to bring light and inspire joy in even the most surprising places. This holiday show is an uplifting, delightful spectacle that will amaze the whole family. Featuring acrobats, aerialists, jugglers, and other dazzling performances – the spirit is sure to be contagious! Start a new and unique holiday tradition by coming to the circus! Appropriate for all ages.

A Family Christmas Concert
Where: Kennedy Center
When: December 17
Tickets: $20-45

Songs of Santa, Frosty the Snowman, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer fill the Concert Hall with the joy of the season. This one-hour, highly participatory concert is a holiday treat for the whole family. Perfect for children age 5 and older… and don’t forget the grandparents!

Kwanzaa Celebration – Family Series
Where: Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre
When: December 18, 4pm
Tickets: $25/adult in advance, $30/at door, kids free with adult

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 16-27
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.

Annual Kwanzaa Day Celebration: Kujichagulia Live with Culture Queen!
Where: Fort Stanton Recreation Center
When: December 27-28
Admission: Free

Anacostia Community Museum invites you to join Culture Queen (Jessica Smith) as she brings to life the Kwanzaa principle Kujichagulia which means “self determination” through live music, interactive movement and storytelling the whole family will enjoy!



Tree Lightings

The National Tree from a Christmas past.

The National Tree from a Christmas past.

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Where: National Harbor
When: November 13, 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, card-making for the Troops, a holiday movie on the Plaza, live entertainment, Santa at the carousel, fireworks, and more!

Light Up 2016
Where: Fairfax Corner
When: November 18
Admission: Free

Fairfax Corner is beginning the holiday season at the annual Light Up 2016 celebration. Festival goers will enjoy a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and holiday activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating with Cupcakes Actually, a performance by The Oaktones, and store giveaways.

Merry & Bright Holiday Tree Lighting
Where: RIO Washingtonian
When: November 18
Admission: Free

Rio Washingtonian will begin the holiday season with their annual Merry & Bright Holiday Tree Lighting celebration. Festival goers will enjoy cheerful activities including a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus (arriving at 6:0pm and leaving promptly at 8pm), strolling holiday entertainment, horse and carriage rides, carousel rides presented by Adventist Health Care Shady Grove Medical Center, and store giveaways.

Reston Holiday Parade, Tree Lighting, Sing Along
Where: Reston Town Center
When: November 25
Admission: Free

Kicks off the festive season at the 26th 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.

Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: Union Station
When: November 30, 6pm
Admission: Free

One of the most popular and often first of the major DC tree lighting ceremonies. This year’s tree will be adorned with hundreds of custom made polar bear ornaments and will be lit by the ambassador of Norway. Santa will be on hand with presents for the kids and The Carolers of Greater Washington (CGW) will perform.

National Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: President’s Park, The Ellipse
When: December 1
Admission: Free, but you must win tickets via lottery

This is easily one of the holiday season’s hottest tickets in DC, but you had to have entered the lottery to win admission. If you do, you get to be part of the National Park Foundation and National Park Service’s 95th annual National Christmas Tree Lighting. Popular entertainers and a United States military band add to the celebratory evening when the President of the United States lights the National Christmas Tree and brings a message of peace to the nation and world.

Community Tree Lighting
Where: Monroe Street Market
When: December 2, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

Monroe Street Market will host its inaugural community Tree Lighting event, bringing a Winter Wonderland to Brookland with a flurry of activities sure to ripen your holiday spirit! As sounds of the season fill the air, mingle through a variety of family-friendly activities, including a performance from Only Make Believe at 6pm. Other festivities include performances by Catholic University’s acapella group “Take Note” and DC’s own “Word of Mouth” acapella group, free photos with Santa (pets are welcome, too!), face painting, crafts, and delicious holiday flavors you don’t want to miss. Event will take place on the Cornerstone Plaza, located in front of Busboys & Poets. The countdown to the tree lighting starts at 8pm.

Tree Lighting & Seasonal Fun
Where: Cathedral Commons
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Cathedral Commons, a mixed-use development located on Wisconsin Avenue, will kick off the holiday season with its second annual Holiday Tree Lighting Event. Join Santa along with festive holiday music performed by Lafayette Elementary School children and Thomas Circle Singers. There will be food from the fabulous array of Cathedral Commons restaurants. Santa will be available for free photos with families including the four legged family members (cats and dogs only), and children will receive a FREE festive giveaway. The event will culminate with the official lighting of the 24’ foot holiday tree at 7pm in front of Giant Food.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting
Where: West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol
When: December 6
Admission: Free

If you don’t win lottery tickets to see the National Christmas 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 Idaho, where it was harvested, to DC. It’s expected to arrive in a couple of weeks, and the lighting will take place December 6. After the lighting, the tree will be lit every evening for all to enjoy until January 1.



Model Trains

Season's Greenings

Trains whiz through the always delightful Season’s Greenings display



Season’s Greenings

Where:U.S. Botanic Garden
When: November 24 – January 2
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 National Parks and Historic Sites theme will feature mini trains chugging through the Grand Canyon, Old Faithful Inn, the Gateway Arch, Mount Vernon, the Statue of Liberty, and many more. And 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.

Magical Holiday Express
Where: B&O Railroad Museum
When: December 3-31 & January 2
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 sure to look for special events like North Pole Adventures, Winter Royal Adventures, Frosty Fest, and WinterFest Wonderland on the website.

Garden Railway Exhibit
Where: Brookside Garden
When: November 28 – 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 17 – December 23
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

Last year's ICE! exhibit at Christmas on the Potomac

Last year’s ICE! exhibit at Christmas on the Potomac

 

Positivi-Tree Lighting and Street Fest
Where: Downtown Silver Spring
When: November 12, 6-8pm
Admission: Free

The 5th Annual event is Downtown Silver Spring’s official Tree Lighting and Street Fest. And this year it will feature the lighting of Positivi-Tre, an impressive 35-foot-tall public art installation comprised of hundreds of illuminated and multi-colored umbrellas! Other fun festivities of the evening will include food tastings, live entertainment, ice sculpting, 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 the HQ to 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 Santa himself!

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: November 19 – January 1
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 19 – January 1
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’ve been a couple of times, and I recommended reading my reviews here and here before you go. This year has a “Christmas Around the World” theme, and you can delight in the celebration of cultures through holiday scenes and travel to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves. Experience the magic of more than TWO MILLION pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures and slide down two-story ice slides — all kept at a chilly 9 degrees! 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 19, 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. Be sure to get a family photo: Right next to the ice rink, you can take a pic 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 19-20
Admission: $15/kids, $10/adults (look for a ticket discount)

The Junior League of Northern Virginia’s annual Enchanted Forest returns! Stroll through the whimsical forest of theme decorated trees available for silent auction, while enjoying live entertainment, hands on cooking demonstrations, and Kids in the Holiday Kitchen activities, a visit from Santa, a model train display by Capital Trackers, kids crafts, gifts for purchase, premium events for adults and kids, and much more. Proceeds benefit the JLNV’s community initiatives through the Kids in the Kitchen programming. By supporting The Enchanted Forest you are helping the JLNV empower families to make healthy eating and active living a priority, and supporting 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 25 – January 6
Admission: Online – $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free 5 and under
 (look for discount tickets

The holidays are full of delight at George Washington’s estate. During the day, tour the Mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the Camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Years. So bring the entire family to the home of George and Martha Washington this holiday season.

Festival of Trees
Where: Krieger Institute
When: November 25-27
Admission: $15, adult, $7/child, free for 4 and under

Kick off the holiday season by welcoming Santa Claus to a winter wonderland at the annual Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Festival of Trees! The East Coast’s largest holiday-themed festival will return to the Maryland State Fairgrounds with decorated trees, a gingerbread town, shopping, breakfast with Santa, endless holiday activities, and non-stop entertainment for children of all ages!

Christmas Town
Where: Busch Gardens
When: November 25 – January 2
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!

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 1 – 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 once again is not back this year (you might recall there was confusion about it in the past), but go enjoy everything else.

Christmas in Middleburg
Where: Middleburg, VA
When: December 2-4
Admission: Varies by activity

Christmas in Middleburg is a spectacular community event that includes a tree lighting, parade, Breakfast with Santa and Silent Auction, 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.

Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian Museums on the National Mall
When: December 3 & 4
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, Sackler Gallery, National Museum of the American Indian, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of African American Art, and The Smithsonian Castle! They’ve got special events galore to help you get in the holiday spirit, including musical performances, book signings, trunk shows, activities for kids, and more!

Deck the Halls: A Family at Christmas
Where: Tudor House
When: December 3, 1-4pm
Admission: $10/child, $5/adult

Bring the family and celebrate the festive season at Tudor Place! Explore the historic mansion as a History Detective, finding decorations and clues to Christmas celebrations past. Nibble on cookies, write a letter to Santa, sing with carolers, make yuletide crafts, and enjoy refreshments throughout an afternoon of warm merriment.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 3, 11am
Admission: Free

For the 46th 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 3, 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.

Santa Fly-In
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: December 3
Admission: $5

This will be an experience to remember as you watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport (it’s the world’s oldest continuously operating airport!). Make some holiday arts and crafts, then have your picture taken with Santa Claus after his big flight.

Frost Fest
Where: Pentagon Row
When: December 3
Admission: Free

Join the holiday celebration featuring an on-ice firework display, live entertainment, music by the popular DJ Saucee, a shopping spree giveaway, food samples, and more. The grand finale fireworks show will take place on the ice at 7:30pm.

Family Gingerbread Workshop
Where: National Building Museum
When: December 3-4
Admission: $75/house

Get in the holiday spirit and construct your own gingerbread house with your family and friends! Turn gingerbread walls and royal icing into a delicious masterpiece. One house is appropriate for a group of 2-4 people. Members can register online beginning November 7 at 10am. General registration opens on November 14, and space is limited, so it may sell out.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum
When: December 3-18, 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 7, 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.

Winter’s Eve
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: December 10, 4-7pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the holiday season at the Park’s annual Winter’s Eve event. Enjoy free activities including holiday crafts, sing-alongs, story-telling, open studios, and a hot chocolate bar. Browse and buy fine artworks at the Holiday Art Show and artist studios.

Nationals Winterfest
Where: Washington Convention Center
When: December 10
Admission: $33/adult, $23/child, under 2 are free

The annual festival is full of interactive holiday and baseball activities for fans of all ages. Join clinics with Nationals players and coaches, watch a Homerun Derby featuring the Nationals mascots, make a snow fort, take batting practice, hear a winter or baseball themed story read by a Nationals player, ride down The Slider – a giant slide reminiscent of a sledding hill, and more. Guests can also meet and greet their favorite Nationals players and mascots, take a photo with Santa, strike a pose at the life-size snow globe photo station, and donate a toy to a child in need.

Italian Holiday Festival
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: December 10, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

There’s no place like SAAM for the holidays. To celebrate the vibrant culture of Italy, Simona Rodano returns as The Italian Fairy to engage kids with the beauty of her native language. Along with Nutcracker ballet and winter-themed crafts, this festival will have all the music and Italian flair you’ll need to get in the spirit of this joyful season.

“Yes, Virginia” Family Day
Where: Newseum
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: FREE for kids (details below), $19.50/adult

Celebrate the season with the Newseum at its 18th annual “Yes, Virginia” Family Day. Join for a reading of the heart-warming editorial, Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus. Afterward, the One-and-Only Macy’s Santa Claus will make a special guest appearance to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” and pose for photos with good boys and girls as Figgy Puddings Holiday Carolers from the Washington National Opera provide entertainment. Kids 18 and younger will receive free admission that day if they bring a letter to put in Macy’s Believe Mailbox. (There will also be a table outside the Newseum where youth can fill out a letter on the spot). Macy’s will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish® for every letter collected. For more about the museum, see this KFDC post.

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School in Arlington
When: December 10, 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.

Holiday Cookie Decorating
Where: The Watergate
When: December 10 & 17, 11am – 1pm
Admission: $20/child

Chef Celia from Kingbird will demonstrate cookie decorating with the kids and then help them decorate cookies of their own! Each child will also receive their own Toque Blanche or chef’s hat that they will decorate, too. Food and beverages will be offered along with a parent’s buffet. RSVP to dining@thewatergatehotel.com or 202-716-9308.

Winter Festival
Where: Ticonderoga Farm
When: December 11-13 & 18-20
Admission: $9.95

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.

Culinary Kids: Holiday Cookies & Treats
Where: Hill Center
When: December 17
Admission: $49 & $65

Sign the kids up for a cooking class to make some holiday goodies with Jake and Sara Addeo, professional chefs who have worked in renowned restaurants in DC, Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco and Italy. Along with having some holiday fun, they’ll learn some useful kitchen skills! Tho programs are being offered: Cookie Exchange is for ages 6-8, and Holiday Treats for 9-12.

Cookies & Cocoa with Santa
Where: Topgolf Alexandria
When: December 17, 9-11am
Admission: Free

Santa Claus is coming to town and this year he’s bringing Cookies & Cocoa! The free event for families with children 12 and under will feature cookies to snack on, a hot chocolate bar, a holiday-themed gift, and kids’ activities. Santa will be present for complimentary photos with the children, and all pictures taken will be available for download on the Topgolf Alexandria Facebook page after the event.

Christmas Eve Breakfast Tour
Where: The Mansion on O Street
When: December 24
Admission: $39

They deck the halls and fill the stockings with seasons greetings and holiday cheer that will create lasting memories for the entire family at the Mansion on O Street! Enjoy a delicious continental breakfast (sweet breads, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit hot coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate) then tour the wonderful themed rooms and search for secret doors. Be sure to bring your own shopping bags — everything is for sale! Read more about the Mansion on O in this KFDC post.

Christmas Eve Service
Where: Waterfront Church
When: December 24, 6-7:15pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Christmas and sing a few carols as you join with others on Christmas Eve for a candlelight service at 6pm. All are welcome and childcare will be provided for children 3 and under. Waterfront Church is located at 1000 New Jersey Ave. SE.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 31
Admission: $20 until 12/12, $30 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



Sunday at the Studio: Make Your Own Menorah
Where: Gary Rosenthal Collection
When: November 13
Admission: $22.50/family

Get ready for Chanukah with glass artist Gary Rosenthal! Get a fascinating tour of Gary’s studio (he’ll show how the glass is made!); make your own dreidel, menorah, mezuzah, candlesticks or tzedakah box; learn a bit with PJ Library’s own Sarah Rabin Spira; and enjoy a tasty snack. Gary’s studio is located at 4218 Howard Avenue in Kensington.

Make Room for Latkes!
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: December 4, 10:30am – 12pm
Admission: $10/family in advance, $15 at door

Chanukah is coming and with it, eight nights of family fun! Join PJ Library, the DCJCC, InterfaithFamily/DC, the Jewish Primary Day School, the Jewish Food Experience, the Jewish Social Service Agency, (JSSA) and the interfaith program, Love and Religion, for hands-on Chanukah activities including crafts, cooking, singing, candle lighting, latkes, a mitzvah (good deed) project and take-home goodies. It’s a perfect morning for Jewish and interfaith families with children ages 3 and older. Cost: $10 per family in advance; $15 at the door.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 25, 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.

Chanukah Festival
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel in Alexandria
When: December 25, 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.

Chanukah on Ice
Where: Pentagon Row Ice Rink
When: December 21, 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.

Family Chanukah Party
Where: Congregation Har Tzeon-Agudath Achim
When: December 25
Admission: Free

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.

Community Chanukah Candle Lighting
Where: Edlavitch DCJCC
When: December 28
Admission: Free

Come light the Menorah in the EDCJCC’s Jack and Ina Kay Community Hall! Join us as we light the candles, and then celebrate wtih latkes, donuts, dreidel games, music, crafts, and more! Celebrate with all ages, levels of religious observance, sexual orientations/gender identities, and abilities — part of the Inclusion & Disabilities programming at the Edlavitch DCJCC.


Light Displays

A stroll through Brookside's Garden of Lights

A stroll through Brookside’s Garden of Lights



Winter Walk of Lights

Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: $13/adult, $8/ages 3-12

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!

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion
When: November 23 – January 4, 6-10pm Weds-Mon
Admission: $20/car, $25 on Saturdays (look for discount tickets)

Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 100 all new larger-than-life, animated and stationary light creations is a local holiday tradition for many. Cruise along the 1.4-mile route through the Symphony Woods in downtown Columbia and enjoy the twinkling lights as you go. And the Symphony of Lights is the largest annual fundraising event benefiting Howard County General Hospital, the only hospital in Howard County. (Note that it’s closed on December 31.)

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park
When: November 23 – January 8
Admission: Monday- Thursday $15/car, Friday-Saturday $20/car (look for discount tickets)

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 25 – January 1, with noted exceptions
Admission: $20/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun
 (look for discount tickets)

This spectacular, 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 25 – January 1, 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 snow-less tubing. 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 more “wild” holiday fun. 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 25 – 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 – bring a thermos of hot chocolate, 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 25 – December 31
Admission: $12/car Sun-Thurs, $15/car Fri-Sat

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 3
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 grounds 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.

Georgetown GLOW
Where: Georgetown neighborhood
When: December 2 – January 1
Admission: Free

See Georgetown in a whole new light – literally. Every evening through January 1, the neighborhood will sparkle with modern light art installations on exhibit throughout the bustling community. Works of local, regional, and international artists will be on display in both public and privately-owned spaces, including M Street, along the C&O Canal, and more nearby places. Take the family dinner, then go for a stroll to check them all out.

Garden in Lights
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: December 2 – January 1 (closed 12/5, 6, 7, 12, 13, 24, 25)
Admission: $6, free for ages 3 and under

This magical tour takes visitors on a beautiful trip through the glittering woods. As you stroll the protected path, you will be transported to a fantastical place of spectacular lights and amazing “light sculptures.” Guests will be surrounded by mythical beasts, wild animals, airplanes, pirates, princesses, circus performers, dinosaurs, and more. Because all the “light sculptures” are made at Annmarie, the designs are one-of-a-kind; nothing in this show is commercially available. It is all made just for visitors to Annmarie Garden In Lights! Enjoy the “Holiday I Spy Game,” nightly entertainment, special discount nights, sweet treats, and other fun activities.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

Where: Alexandria City Marina
When: December 3
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 10-13
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 18-19
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.

Merry & Bright Shopping Preview
Where: Mosaic District
When: November 12, 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.

Downtown Holiday Market
Where: 8th & F Streets NW
When: November 25 – 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. Over 100 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).

Christkindlmarkt
Where: Heurich House Museum
When: December 2-4
Admission: $10/ages 13+ and $2/ages 2-12

Do some shopping at Christkindlmarkt, an annual holiday artisan market and festive house tou, honoring the Heurich family’s German heritage by recreating a traditional outdoor German Christmas market in its Castle Garden. Dupont Circle’s only holiday market will feature goods from over 40 local artisans, including jewelers, ceramicists, chocolatiers, and makers of housewares, clothing, and more. Visitors will also have the opportunity to explore the seasonally decorated historic mansion on a self-guided tour.

Alexandria’s Holiday Market
Where: Carlyle District in Alexandria
When: December 3-22 (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.

Holiday Bazaar
Where: Children’s Weekday Program
When: December 3, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy and shop a family-friendly bazaar featuring local craft and gift vendors, a chance for children to visit with Santa, a silent auction, children’s activities, a bake sale, cake walk, and much more. The event is on the second floor in the great hall. New packages of diapers will be collected for the D.C. Diaper Bank. Children’s Weekday Program is located at 716 S. Glebe Road in Arlington.

Holiday Festival & Art Market
Where: Torpedo Factory Art Center
When: December 3, 2 – 6 pm
Admission Free

The Torpedo Factory Artists invite shoppers into their studios to find original gifts of art. Handmade jewelry and ornaments, original ceramics, couture finds, objet d’art, and other fine works will be available to browse and buy. Special holiday promotions and discounts will be available from dozens of artists and galleries. The afternoon will also feature a children’s scavenger hunt, live music with the Alexandria Choral Society and Braddock Brass, and a visit from Santa.

Carpe Noctem
Where: St. Jerome Academy in Hyattsville, MD
When: December 3
Admission: $5/adult, free for kids

Seize the Night while you sip and shop, perusing the aisles for beautiful, unique gifts. The event supporting the students of St. Jerome Academy features two levels of shopping fun. In addition to many talented vendors and live music throughout the evening, Carpe Noctem has various dinner options, wine, beer, tasty desserts, and warm drinks for kids available for purchase. Children can enjoy face-painting, a photo op with St. Nicholas, and coloring activities. Customers will receive a complementary drink with their paid

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Discovery Elementary School, Arlington
When: December 10, 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.

Rosslyn Holiday Market
Where: Gateway Park
When: December 9-10
Admission: Free

Hosted by the Rosslyn Business Improvement District, the market will boast more than 25 local boutique vendors selling everything from handmade jewelry and clothing to pottery and chocolate. The Friday schedule is geared towards an adult crowd, and Saturday will feature activities kicking off with the Great Chocolate Race, a 5-mile scenic run through Rosslyn. There will also be storytelling, free pictures with Santa Claus, and gingerbread house workshops for the whole family.

Sugarloaf Craft Festival
Where: Dulles Expo Center
When: December 9-11
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.

How we do the holidays in our house

How we do the holidays in our house



Know of a great DC holiday event that you don’t see here? Let us know in the comments below!


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The Weekend Round-Up: November 5-6

A beautiful dose of nature for these city kids at Prince William Forest Park

A beautiful dose of nature for these city kids at Prince William Forest Park



Autumn is is hitting a sweet spot this weekend with a combo of vibrant fall hues and gorgeous weather — a perfect backdrop for all of the fun, enriching events and activities happening around the DMV. Here are details on all of them, and I highly recommend some time outdoors, too. Happy Weekend!

Leaf Peep on the Trail
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Take in the brilliant color spectrum of autumn and get a little exercise to boot on a family hike. From right here in the city to country locales, you’ve got your pick of places where you can enjoy the fall foliage and some time outdoors. This post about good area hikes with kids started in the early KFDC days, and with many new recommendations added since — Prince William Forest Park, the most recent — there are lots of great recommendations for happy trampers.

Back, East
Where: National Gallery of Art – East Building
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

After a long renovation, the galleries in the East Building of the National Gallery of Art recently reopened! Enjoy it all at this Community Celebration, a special fun and art-filled weekend featuring sketching, performances, face painting, and a photo booth. Activities are for all ages, unless noted otherwise. Auditorium programs are on a first-come, first-seated basis. And it’s all free!

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Around the DC-Metro
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

This weekend is the last to enjoy free artistic adventures of the European variety, thanks to the annual Kids Euro Festival. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the many, many exciting acts that are performing at a variety of venues through November 6. See what’s on the schedule over the next few days.

Ikea Cook and Eat Your Way
Where: Ikea Stores
When: Saturday
Admission: Free

Cook and eat your way Ikea! This event taking place at stores across the country welcomes all for a day of fun, food, and family. There will be all kinds of giveaways, special offers, workshops — enjoy a Swedish American breakfast for just $1.50, sample Swedish treats, get kitchen design tips, and more!

Dia Day los Muertos Family Day
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Day of the Dead with the American Art Museum! Enjoy traditional Mexican folk dance performances throughout the day, add your own artwork to their mural, and leave your handmade ofrendas (offerings), including paper marigolds, calaveras (skull masks), and paper monarch butterflies on the Day of the Dead altar.

DC Author Festival
Where: Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Meet your favorite local author, snag a signed book, and hear authors speak on variety of topics at this festival that showcases the talents of area writers! And a KFDC tip: Go at 3pm to hear Rebecca Green of Not-So-SAHM speak and sign her fabulous book Banish Boredom!

hiSTORYtime
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Drop by the American History to listen to delicious stories about food! Then, children can participate in food games and crafts, and touch cookware from the collection. This new program aims to boost early literacy, while introducing young visitors ages 0-6 to objects in the museum’s collection. It will also take place on November 12 and 19.

Rocking Romeo and Juliet
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Shake up your Saturday with a workshop at the Folger! These programs occurring on the first Saturday of every month, encourage families to experience Shakespeare’s language together. This session, dive into the Bard’s most famous love story of bitter feuds, banishment, betrayal, and doomed lovers. Ages 5-7 go 10-11am, and 8-14 from 11am – 12pm. Register here.

Children’s Flea Market
Where: McLean Community Center
When: Saturday, 11am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Scope out the bargain prices at this annual flea market! Children’s toys, clothes, games, and other items will be sold by those who know them best…the kids! Whether you plan to get your holiday shopping done early or want to fill the toy chest with goods, get some good deals and help support this entrepreneurial venture by local youths.

Wizard School Scavenger Hunt for Harry Potter Fans
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 2pm
Admission: $17.50/ages 10-17, $19.50/18 and up

Join Watson Adventures on a unique Harry Potter-themed scavenger hunt for kids 10 & up! Follow in the footsteps of young wizards on a field trip to the National Gallery in search of art that echoes characters, places and enchanted objects in the famed Harry Potter books and movies. Wizards and muggles alike can play and enjoy this hunt. The hunt is not an addition to or variation on Harry’s adventures, but instead references to the books will provide a surprising bridge to many strange and wonderful works of art. It’s a great way to discover—or rediscover—the museum. This hunt is designed for kids and adults to do together, but all-adult teams will be allowed to compete separately. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. Advance purchase is required. Questions? Call 877-9GO-HUNT.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Reserve free tickets for Jon Sands’ Slam Poetry for Kids, this week’s Saturday at the National show
* Join InterAct Story Theatre for African drumming and dancing at Highland Elementary School on Saturday!
* Peter and the Wolf is at Arts Barn for one show only
* Catch Looking for Roberto Clemente at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
* Where Words Once Were opens at the Kennedy Center (get discount tickets)
* The Olney Theatre presents Mary Poppins
* Hansel & Gretel are the current stars on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Animal Crackers is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* This weekend if your last chance to catch the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s fantastic production of Romeo & Juliet (recommended for older children or make it a date night)
* See Miss Nina’s Rap, Rock, and Read Show at Jammin Java on Saturday morning
* The Okee Dokee Brothers are playing a Sunday show at Alden Theatre
* ANNIE Jr. opens at Summit Church today for a two weekend run
* It’s opening weekend for Oliver Twist at Creative Cauldron
* See the superbly acted The Little Foxes at Arena Stage (recommended for teens and up)

Dog Pool Dip
Where: Washington Hilton
When: Saturday, 12-3pm
Admission: $5 suggested donation

Four-legged friends and their people are welcome for the Washington Hilton’s annual dog pool dip, when the community is invited to bring their dogs for a swim after the pol closes for the season and before it’s drained and winterized. This event benefitting the Humane Rescue Alliance has seen upwards of 150 dogs splash in the large outdoor 75-80 degree heated, saline-treated pool. There is also a children’s wading pool for smaller dogs who want to join the fun as well! The current forecast for this Saturday is 63 and SUNNY! Are you interested in joining the pawrty?

Side Yards
Where: Yards Park
When: Saturday, 6-10pm
Admission: Free

The third annual sideshow extravaganza, Side Yards, is back at The Yards Park! An evening of all-ages quirky amusement and wonder beckons DC to let loose while taking in the sights and sounds of the East Coast’s top sideshow performers. Stages of entertainment will showcase the unusual talents of contortionists, magicians, jugglers, escape artists, snake handlers, fire breathers, sword swallowers and more attention-grabbing acts.

Shanghai Nights
Where: George Mason Center for the Arts
When: Friday, 8pm & Saturday, 2pm & 8pm
Admission: $30-50

The Shanghai Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China will delight the whole family with this thrilling exhibition! Trampoline artists and aerial acrobats fly through the air with the greatest of ease, while jugglers, contortionists, and martial artists demonstrate the exacting precision of their skills. Through jaw-dropping feats of acrobatics, impeccably timed stunts, and beautiful costumes, performers merge the hustle and bustle of contemporary Shanghai with China’s rich cultural heritage to produce this celebration of their native land.

Maryland Emancipation Day
Where: Montgomery County Parks
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Celebrate Maryland Emancipation Day, which commemorates the adoption of the 1864 Maryland Constitution that abolished slavery in the state of Maryland. join Montgomery Parks for free activities take place all weekend long, such as hikes on the Underground Railroad Experience Trail, living history demonstrations, live musical performances, and tours of historic sites.

Fall Back to Bethesda
Where: Rock Creek Mansion
When: Sunday, 12-4pm
Admission: $10

Celebrate fall with fun for the whole family while raising critical funds for NIH Charities, Bethesda Fire Department and MetroBethesda Rotary Foundation. Kids pre-K – 8th grade can enjoy unlimited inflatables, face painting, and interactive FUN from Activity Rocket, an dall can enjoy food, music, games, and the beautiful Rock Creek Mansion setting.

Dancing with My Baby
Where: NOVA Natural Birth Center
When: Sunday, 10:30-11am
Admission: Pay what you can

This program allows families the opportunity to connect through movement, dance, yoga, and the expressive arts through simple dance steps and routines set to music. Families can enjoy a fun way to support the parent-child bond while making memories together. Classes are offered on a “Pay What You Can” basis. Register online here.

Disc Golf
Where: Calvert Road Park
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy a nice fall day outdoors with the family. Not only is it fun and challenging, the courses, many of them set up in scenic places, are lovely this time of year. This post has info about one in College Park, and there are also great courses at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg and Burke Lake Park in Burke.

Farm Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place

Just because you don’t need to pick out a potential Jack o’ lantern, that doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun on the farm. Many locales have way more to enjoy than just pumpkin patches. Whiz down slides, bounce on giant jumping pillows, visit farm animals, and loads more. This list of fall fests has details to get started — Ticonderoga, Cox, Clark’s Elioak, and Great Country Farms are all good bets.

Hiking & History
Where: Harper’s Ferry
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free ($10 if you park in lot)

Get some fresh air and exercise as you take in autumn hues and historic sites. Harpers Ferry is an easy day trip or weekend destination from DC, and fall is a great time to go. For more about a visit there, see this KFDC post.

O Say Can You See
Where: Fort McHenry
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $10/adult

Venture up to Baltimore to explore the birthplace of our National Anthem! Fort McHenry makes for a very interesting, informative, and enjoyable outing for all ages. Engaging exhibits range from historical objects and structures to multimedia displays and interactives. And the grounds located right on the Chesapeake are lovely to stroll on a nice day. Read about our recent experience there.


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The Weekend Round-Up: October 28-30

A traditional Día de los Muertos performance at the American Indian Museum

A traditional Día de los Muertos performance at the American Indian Museum



Halloween events, autumn celebrations, Euro-style entertainment, a day of horsing around, art adventures, plus great fall weather that offers loads of possibilities for family outings…. all options for fun over the next few days. Happy Weekend!

Wicked Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Break in the costumes and prep for Halloween on Monday all weekend long. There are so many events and activities that celebrate the spooky spirit. Some are detailed below, and this post has details on even more events where the tricks and treats are happening.

Día de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free

I always say this museum hosts great festivals, and Día de los Muertos doesn’t disappoint. The celebration of the dead is one of the most lively you’ll experience this Halloween. The performances alone are fantastic with traditional dances, stirring music, and dramatic costumes — you might even get some ideas for your own get-up. The event also includes hands-on activities, artist demos, and more Day of the Dead fun.

All Aboard for Halloween
Where: Cabin John & Wheaton Regional Parks
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $6

Take a Halloween-themed train ride through the woods. Opt for the not-so-scary mini-train at Cabin John (recommended for kids under 8) or go for a spookier journey at Wheaton (recommended for 8 and up). Enjoy more activities while you’re there – see details on the event pages.

Halloween-Themed Storytime
Where: Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply
When: October 29, 11am
Admission: Free

Join 826DC at Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Company for a scary (but not too scary) storytime. Join for age-appropriate readings of Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart” or one of their favorites, “The Hairy Toe,” while you shop for last minute Halloween costumes at the store full of magically fun items. Recommended for ages 6-12.

Fall-O-Ween Country Fair
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 3:30pm
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up

Dress up the little ones in their favorite costumes and join Port Discovery’s annual festival. Enjoy not-so-scary, family friendly programs and performances including science-themed activities, crafts, live entertainment, arts & crafts, face painting by Landres SFX and more!

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Around the DC-Metro
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Consider this your passport to two weeks of artistic adventures, as the 9th Annual Kids Euro Festival brings continental entertainment right to DC. This is the first weekend of the event that will present more than 125 free performances all around the metro area. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the exciting acts that will perform at a variety of venues through November 8. See what’s on the schedule over the next few days.

Annmarie After Hours
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden
When: Friday, 6-9pm
Admission: $5/adult, $3/child,free for members

The Arts Center in Calvert County is hosting a special family-friendly after-hours event on Friday in celebration of the opening of the Games: From marbles to Minecraft exhibit. Start your weekend with an evening of game-inspired art, a great variety of board games, and appetizers by Mission BBQ. It’s a gathering where great art and great food come together for a relaxing and fun evening out! Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Gardens in this KFDC post.

Kids’ Day at the Washington International Horse Show
Where: Verizon Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy a meet and greet both ponies and horses at a Washington International Horse Show event especially for children and families to share the joy of horses with the DC community and teach kids and their families about horses and equestrian sport. Participate in more than a dozen hands-on educational and fun activities, including pony rides, the Animal Planet Horseless Horse Show, the Horse Stars Hall of Fame interactive exhibit, horseshoe painting, face painting, pony brushing lessons, plus giveaways from Paisley Pony magazine and Georgetown Cupcake. Klinger, the famous horse from the U.S. Army Caisson Platoon, often attends as a special guest to greet the children. There’s even a pony kissing booth with Leo The Magnificient, the mini pony!

Food History Festival
Where: National Museum of American History
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Head to the museum on the Mall for free day of hands-on learning, live demonstrations, talks, and stories exploring the past, present and future of food and community in America. Talented chefs, local organizations, experts, museum curators, students, and more will be on hand to spark conversation, lead activities, and dig into food history with museum visitors of all ages. TNote: events in the Warner Bros. Theater require free registration.

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: Saturday, 1-4pm

Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Daytime activities for families will include pumpkin decorating, arts & crafts, face painting, trick-or-treating, and a costume parade around the Park.

Pottery on Wheels
Where: Hill Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The Hill Center is hosting their annual Pottery on the Hill show featuring some of the country’s top potters. And this year, they’re also welcoming the Pottery on Wheels! truck, where kids — and their parents — can participate in the Make a Cup, Take a Cup program. Work with a potter to make a cup on the wheel, then trade it in for one that’s already been glazed and fired — all for free!

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Saturday is your last chance to see Flowers Stink, a adorable show about appreciating nature at the U.S. Botanic Garden
* Reserve free tickets for Traveling Lantern’s Ben Franklin, this week’s Saturday at the National performance
* Catch a Halloween SPOOKtacular concert at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop
* The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on the Imagination Stage
* Join Mr. Jon and Friends for a Halloween party at Jammin Java
* Catch the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s fantastic production of Romeo & Juliet (recommended for older children or make it a date night)
* Little ones will love Aquarium at the Atlas
* Hansel & Gretel are the current stars on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Imaginary Friends is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* The Olney Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank
* See the superbly acted The Little Foxes at Arena Stage (recommended for teens and up)
* Ruthless, The Musical is running at Creative Cauldron

Fall Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Celebrate the season at one of many area festivals. From pumpkin patches and apple picking to corn mazes and hayrides to giant slides and jumping pillows, there are activities galore to help folks relish in the fun autumn brings. This post has details on autumn fun happening around the region.

Movie at the Museum: The Little Prince
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday, 10:30am
Admission: Free

In this animated update inspired by Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s beloved novella, an overscheduled girl befriends an eccentric aviator. He regales her with tales about the adventures of an unusual boy who lives on an asteroid. English–language version. Recommended for ages 7 and up.

Science & Engineering Showcase
Where: National Geographic
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Science enthusiasts of all ages will love the 2016 Broadcom MASTERS Science and Engineering Project Showcase, the premier science fair competition for middle school students! Join the Top 30 sixth, seventh and eighth grade scientists and engineers at the National Geographic Society as they share their original projects with students, teachers, parents, and members of the public.

Harry Potter Marathon
Where: National Air & Space Museum
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $13.50/youth, $50/8-movie pass

Have you missed a Harry Potter movie or just want to go on a wizard watching binge? Head to the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum, where for the first time ever, you can experience all eight Harry Potter movies in IMAX! Plus, you can also catch an IMAX exclusive peek of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which hits IMAX theaters this November. Everyone is invited…even muggles.

Parents Paint, Kids Create
Where: Arris at Yards Park
When: Sunday,
Admission: $30/adult, $15/child

Parents, bring your kids for an afternoon of watercolor painting, cocktails for adults, and mocktails for kids! The class will include fun fall-themed line art and watercolor instruction by artist and illustrator Marcella Kriebel and beverages by mixologist Gina Chersevani. Adults must be 21+ and must accompany their child.

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

Looks like it’s going to be one of those weekends that beckons you outdoors. Take a hike, hit a playground, do some fossil hunting, explore a garden…The Best Places to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids has lots of suggestions to make the most of a nice day outside.

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The Weekend Round-Up: October 21-23

Toddler Owen stakes his claim on a past fall visit to Homestead Farms

Toddler Owen stakes his claim on a past fall visit to Homestead Farms



With the leaves beginning to turn colors, seasonal celebrations in full swing, Halloween creeping up, and crisp, cool weather in the forecast, this weekend practically screams autumn. Immerse in it all at one of many events that embrace fall or just enjoy the season as a backdrop to another fun activity — you’ve got your pick of ’em. Happy Weekend!

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members

The National Zoo’s annual not-so-spooky haunt is one of DC’s most popular Halloween events for the kiddie crowd. With more than 40 treat stations, animal demonstrations, keeper chats, live entertainment, and decorated trails, this frightfully fun evening is a treat for the whole family. Costumes encouraged!

Air and Scare
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 6pm

See the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 11th Annual Air & Scare! Arrive in costume for safe indoor trick-or-treating. Participate in creepy crafts, spooky science experiments, and other Halloween-themed activities. Bring the tiniest visitors by the Tot Zone to play dress-up and hear a story. Fun for the whole family!

More Wicked Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

This time of year is always a scream with loads of ways to get the Halloween party started early. From mini train rides through the woods to haunted tours to festivals inspired by the holiday, details on where the tricks and treats are happening can be found in this annual post.

Fall Fun on the Farm
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Celebrate the season at one of many area festivals on the farm. From pumpkin patches and apple picking to corn mazes and hayrides to giant slides and jumping pillows, there are activities galore to help folks relish in the fun autumn brings. This post has details on many fall festivals happening around the region.

Welcome, REI!
Where: DC REI, 201 M Street NE
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Free

Join REI for 3-day Block Party to celebrate the Grand Opening of the DC Flagship store! Doors open Friday at 10am with some big band fanfare (hint, hint) and the party will continue all day. Saturday and Sunday they’ll expand the bash to a main stage with tons of live entertainment, Outdoor School classes, s’mores, screen printing, a climbing wall, beer gardens, and more. All three days the first 500 people in line receive a custom DC Camelbak bottle with a gift card, plus there will be free breakfast and coffee each morning. Everybody who attends all weekend can help REI decide how to split up $100,000 among 5 regionally focused outdoor non-profits.

National Trademark Expo
Where: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
When: Friday, 10am – 5pm & Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

This free, family-friendly event is designed to educate children, small business owners, and the general public about trademarks and their importance in the global marketplace. The Expo features children’s workshops, an kids’ area with arts & crafts and other hands-on activities, costumed characters, a scavenger hunt. Outside, a Ford Model T, UPS Truck, the The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile, and Mr. Peanut Nutmobile will be on display. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is located at 600 Dulany Street in Alexandria.

East of the River Book Festival
Where: Rocketship – DC
When: Saturday, 11am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Readers of al ages can enjoy a literary event that highlights the work of self-published authors and small presses — the perfect place for diverse books. The day will be full of dramatic presentations from readers, storytellers, poets and word-artists. Attendees are encouraged to dress up as their favorite book character or author, so get your costume ready (it is the week before Halloween)! Rocketship – DC is located at 2335 Raynolds Place, SE.

Under the Big Top Family Day
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

The circus is in town, right in the Kogod Courtyard! Smithsonian American Art Museum takes you under the Big Top for an afternoon of dazzling feats with performers from Acrobatic Conundrum (hope you’re not afraid of heights!), plus carnival games, bag of popcorns, circus animal-inspired mask making for guests.

Hirshhorn Fall Fest
Where: Hirshhorn Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 6pm
Admisson: Free

Gather with friends and family for a museum-wide festival celebrating the return of fall, DC’s rocking music scene, and Hirshhorn’s immersive new exhibition, Ragnar Kjartansson. Bands will play throughout the day, unique tours of the exhibit will be offered, and a bier garden will welcome the 21+ crowd.

Fall Harvest Family Days

Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adults, $8/kids 6-11, children 5 and under are free

Celebrate the autumn season at George Washington’s old digs! Watch as a replica of one of Washington’s boats launches into the Potomac River with a costumed crew. Enjoy autumn activities, including wagon rides, wheat treading in the 16-sided barn, 18th-century dancing demonstrations, a straw bale maze, farrier (blacksmithing), corn husk dolls demonstrations and early-American games and music. And Potomac River sightseeing cruises are half-price this weekend only!

Outdoor Movie Night
Where: Hemlock Overlook Regional Park
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Admission: Free

Join Adventure Links for their October Halloween Movie Night series under the stars. Every Friday night in October they’ll be showing a Halloween movie on an outdoor movie screen — this week it’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Bring a blanket and enjoy a free movie! You can see their site, meet the staff, and even sign your kids up for summer camp.

Sweden Festival
Where: House of Sweden
When: Saturday, 12-4:30pm
Admission: Free

House of Sweden welcomes the public to help them celebrate 10 years as the flagship of Sweden’s public diplomacy in the United States – it was in 2006 that they opened their doors as the flagship of Sweden’s public diplomacy in the United States . The festival will feature concerts, interactive family fun, Swedish food, artist talks, games and more. And it all takes place at the beautiful Georgetown Waterfront, where house of Sweden is located.

Pint-Sized Pumpkins
Where: Brookland Pint
When: Saturday, 9am
Admission: $5

It’s breakfast designed with little ones in mind! This event features a free Pint Sized Breakfast for the kids, storytime with Barnes & Noble, an interactive performance by Only Make Believe, and Pint Sized Pumpkin Painting. Seating is first come, first serve. Your $5 ticket purchases your child’s Pint Sized Pumpkin; the rest of the morning’s activities are included with it. Limited quantity is available, so get yours pumpkin today!

Game on, Greater Washington
Where: FedEx Field
When: Saturday
Admission: Free (but some activities are extra)

The American Diabetes Association is teaming up with the Washington Redskins for this one-of-a-kind festival featuring activities for the entire community, from rappelling and zip lining, to biking and fun runs, and everything in between. Including a ton of family and kid friendly events (kids’ zone with glitter tattoos, inflatable bounce and slide and so much more), the adventure-filled day is designed to raise funds for diabetes education, programs, research and advocacy. Registration fees vary depending on activity but the Kids’ Zone and entrance is free, and it’s an awesome opportunity to check out the Redskins stadium like never before, all while having fun for a good cause.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* This weekend is your last chance find Knuffle Bunny at Adventure Theatre
* Catch the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s fantastic production of Romeo & Juliet (recommended for older children or make it a date night)
* Reserve free tickets for Discovery Theater’s Fabluous Fairytales, this week’s Saturday at the National performance
* The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on the Imagination Stage
* See (and smell?) Flowers Stink, a collaboration between the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Kennedy Center
* Hansel & Gretel are the new stars on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Imaginary Friends is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* The Olney Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank
* See the superbly acted The Little Foxes at Arena Stage (recommended for teens and up)
* Enjoy The Best Haunted House Ever, Encore Stage & Studio’s theatre by kids for kids
* Make it a date night to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Kennedy Center
* Ruthless, The Musical is running at Creative Cauldron

Last Call for Merriment
Where: Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $22/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15, free for 6 and under

It’s the final weekend of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, the annual faire that recalls medieval times with an English Tudor village full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. I highly, highly recommend going if you haven’t been yet. And I recommend getting tickets online in advance — they sold out last weekend and had to turn folks away. Huzzah!

Disney on Ice Presents Follow Your Heart
Where: EagleBank Arena
When: Through Sunday
Tickets: $15-80 (look for a discount)

Follow your heart straight to adventure at Disney On Ice! Characters from many of the beloved films make appearances — and perform lots of thrilling feats — on ice. Inside Out‘s emotions, Dory and friends, Elsa and Anna, are just some of the fan faves who will delight and wow.

Fibre Arts Festival
Where: Glover Park-Burleith Farmers Market
When: Saturday, 9am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Local fiber farms and yarn spinners will be attending the Glover Park-Burleith farmers’ market with hand spun yarn from Maryland! Plus the opportunity to use an antique loom and purchase hand knitted hats, scarves, pet toys and more! There will also be 2 sheep for a mini petting zoo! Perfect for people of all ages – there will be live music, tons of fresh local produce, sustainably raised meat and eggs, fresh cut flowers, baked goods, plus breakfast and lunch options. Additionally, there will be bike repairs and sales and free yoga from 10am to 11am!

Earth Celebration and Re-Use It Sale
Where: Woodend Nature Sanctuary
When: Saturday, 8-11am
Admission: Free

The Audubon Nature Preschool brings the gift of wonder to children and you can help support it at their annual Earth Celebration and ReUse It Sale. Go on family nature walks, shop for gently used children’s items, enjoy naturally delicious homemade treats and a morning cup of coffee, and make connections with Nature Preschool staff and families. Read more about Woodend in this KFDC post.

River Park Yard Sale
Where: Eastern Market in front of Rumsey Pool
When: Saturday, 8am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Score some deals (and treats!) at the annual River Park Nursery School’s Yard Sale and Bake. Find great bargains on kids items, including baby gear, clothes, sports gear, puzzles, games, toys and delicious baked goods while supporting a Capitol Hill nursery school! Proceeds support River Park Nursery School, which has a 50-year tradition of providing quality instruction that encourages individual growth and development. Rumsey Pool is located at at 635 North Carolina Ave. SE.

Dance for the Floor
Where: Joe’s Movement Emporium
When: Saturday, 7pm
Admission: $25

Dance the night away with Joe’s Movement Emporium! Dance for the Floor: A Joe’s Movement Emporium Fundraiser, with a goal of raising money to install a new hardwood dance floor in the theater.The evening will feature three studios worth of Hand Dance, salsa and swing dancing with a “floor-raising” program in the theater featuring Joe’s dancers of all ages. Admission includes dance lessons, open dancing, and light fare Purchase tickets online or at the door.

Ride with Recess Outings
Where: Capitol Hill
When: Sunday, 10am & 4pm –
Admission: $40/On a Recess bike, $30/BYOBike

Join Recess outings on a bike ride! Opt for To Market, To Market at 10am, designed for anyone up for a leisurely exploration of DC, with world-class markets serving as the bookends along the route as you meander from Eastern Market to Union Market and back again. You can also try Underrated Anacostia, an 8-mile ride from Capitol Hill then along the river highlighting the beautiful Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Get more details about both rides here.

Celebrating French Animation
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Sunday, 11:30am
Admission: Free

Let little imaginations soar with a selection of animated shorts by French filmmakers. Kids can discover the surrealist poetry of Robert Desnos creatively visualized in a series of nine films, including The Sun of Bagnolet Street, Once Upon a Leaf, and Paris. Recommended for ages 7 and up, all films are in French with English subtitles. The program lasts approximately 55 minutes.

Friends Community School Fall Fair
Where: Sunday, 12-4pm
When: Friends Community School
Admission: Free

Friends Community School welcomes the public to enjoy a day of fun activities at their annual Fall Fair. The event will include student-run old-fashioned games, a moon bounce, a toy and book sale, entertainment, and plenty of good food prepared by local restaurants and school families. The fair will take place rain or shine. The school is located at 5901 Westchester Park Drive in College Park, MD.

Yummy Yummie Pop-Up
Where: The Escape Lounge
When: Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

Score some adorable kids clothes this Sunday! The Escape Lounge on H Street is hosting a Yummy Yummy Goodness Pop-Up Shop, featuring lots of fall and winter specials. Stop in to browse & buy and, perhaps, stay for an Escape the Classroom challenge — Sunday only, get a FREE escape game for children with a $50 purchase from the pop-up! Read more about the Escape Lounge in this KFDC post.

Get Out
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by locale

Looks like we have a beautiful fall weekend ahead! Take advantage of the crisp, sunny weather with some time outdoors — go on a hike, explore a garden, play in the trees, find a new playground, go fossil hunting, tour a historic site. This post has an extensive list of places and ideas for al fresco fun.

Seedling - Design your own Halloween costume


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Date Night, DC, Discount, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Fundraiser, Halloween, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, School Event, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: October 15-16

The forest lights up for evening climbs at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring

The forest lights up for evening climbs at the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring



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Wowza, this weekend is jam-packed with fun things to do! Awesome museum programs, loads of live entertainment, opportunities to check out cool vehicles, fall festivals, nature celebrations, a Harry Potter movie binge, early Halloween fun, and so much more. No matter what you do, be sure to throw some outdoor time in the mix, because the forecast practically demands it. Happy Weekend!

The Big Build
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Any kid (or adult, for that matter) with an interest in building and construction will dig the National Building Museum’s big annual event celebrating all things, well, building. The Great Hall will be full of different stations where guests of all ages aren’t just welcome, but encouraged, to try their hand at all kinds of construction and design techniques alongside experts demonstrating their craft. There will opportunities to build a brick wall, carve stone, and hammer nails, as well as build a LEGO skyscraper, do some virtual reality welding, and create an architectural masterpiece. It’s all totally free and, as we know from several years’ experience, totally fun!

Truck Touch
Where: Suburban Nursery School
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $5, free for under 2

It’s scary how much kids love big vehicles—and Halloween! Combine the two at Suburban Nursery School’s 9th Annual Truck Touch for a chance to get up close and personal with fire trucks, police cars, off-road vehicles, construction rigs, delivery trucks, emergency vehicles, busses, and other cool things that GO! Additional activities include pumpkin decorating, bake & snack sale, bouncy fun, truck crafts, and face painting. Enjoy *spooktacular* eats from local food trucks, too.

Outdoor Movie Night
Where: Hemlock Overlook Regional Park
When: Friday, 7:30pm
Admission: Free

Join Adventure Links for their October Halloween Movie Night series under the stars. Every Friday night in October they’ll be showing a Halloween movie on an outdoor movie screen — this week it’s Hocus Pocus. Bring a blanket and enjoy a free movie! You can see their site, meet the staff, and even sign your kids up for summer camp.

18th Century Autumn Market Fair
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $8/adults, $3/ages 3-12, free for 2 and under

Enjoy the splendor of autumn at the Claude Moore Colonial Farm’s Autumn Market Fair. Watch colonial Virginia tradesman such as the blacksmith and try crafts such as spinning and dyeing. Learn to dip candles or turn a piece of wood on the carpenter’s lathe. See heritage breed animals including turkeys, pigs and chickens. Enjoy music, games, and dancing as well as interacting with colonial family members in costume and character. Savor spit roasted chicken, sausages, hearty breads and cheeses, roasted olives, pies and other desserts. Colonial Tavern offers cask ale, beers, wine and mulled wine as well as authentic ginger ale. Period food, beverages, and wares available for purchase. It’s a fun and educational experience for the whole family!

Bonsai & Beyond
Where: U.S. National Arboretum
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm & 6-9pm
Admission: Free (fee for evening)

It’s the 40th anniversary of the the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum at the National Arboretum, and they’re celebrating with the Aki Matsuri Autumn Festival: Bonsai & Beyond and a traditional Japanese moon viewing. Festivities will include tram tours of the Asian Collections, fun family activities, a kimono fashion show, bonsai book signings, Asian food trucks, and a demonstration by Japanese bonsai master Tohru Suzuki. The evening moon viewing (otsukimi) will include haiku readings, origami, music by Japanese koto players and moon-shaped dumplings. Register for the evening event, which has a fee, and order a obento dinner, here.

Show Time
Where: Local Theatres
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Find Knuffle Bunny at Adventure Theatre
* Catch the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s fantastic production of Romeo & Juliet (recommended for older children or make it a date night)
* Reserve free tickets for Valerie Branch’s The People We Meet and the Friends We Keep!, this week’s Saturday at the National performance
* Join InterAct Story Theatre for ‭The Legend of Pufferfish Pat: A Tall Tale for Mad Times‭, their first performance in Season 2 of the Wheaton Family Theatre‬‬‬‬
* The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is on the Imagination Stage
* See (and smell?) Flowers Stink, a collaboration between the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Kennedy Center
* Hansel & Gretel are the new stars on the Main Stage at The Puppet Co.
* And Merlin’s Magic is the featured Tiny Tots show at the puppet theater
* The Olney Theatre presents The Diary of Anne Frank
* See the superbly acted The Little Foxes at Arena Stage (recommended for teens and up)
* Enjoy The Best Haunted House Ever, Encore Stage & Studio’s theatre by kids for kids
* Make it a date night to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Kennedy Center
* The Man Who Planted Trees is playing at Alden Theatre
* Ruthless, The Musical is running at Creative Cauldron
* Take the whole fam to The Miraculous, Magic Balloon at Synetic Theatre
* Building Better People Productions brings We Got It! to the Den at Anacostia Arts Center
* Get into All the Way Live!, an interactive Hip Hop show at the Kennedy Center
* Hear Ghoulishly Good Music at the Atlas Performing Arts Center

Wildlife Festival
Where: Patuxent Wildlife Refuge
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Discover groundbreaking research conducted at Patuxent! Activities include live animal displays, children’s crafts, tram tours, research exhibits, and behind-the-scenes tours of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center to see endangered whooping cranes and much more!

Bull Run River Cleanup
Where: Hemlock Overlook Regional Park
When: Saturday, 9am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join Adventure Links for a Bull Run River cleanup day to help keep the waterway free of trash and to keep Fairfax County’s watershed healthy. The whole family can participate and enjoy a morning outdoors helping to better the environment!

Fall Fun on the Farm
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Celebrate the season at one of many area festivals on the farm. Enjoy Fall Harvest Days and Carnival Fun at Frying Pan Farm Park. Play all day at Great Country Farms’ Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival. Get into Fall Adventures at Summers Farm. From pumpkin patches and apple picking to corn mazes and hayrides to giant slides and jumping pillows, there are activities galore to help relish in the fun autumn brings. This post has details on many of the fall festivals happening around the region.

Zip through the Trees
Where: Adventure Park at Sandy Spring
When: Friday, 3-10pm & Saturday/Sunday, 8am – 10pm
Admission: Varies by age

Get the best vantage point for leaf peeping — up in the trees — and have a total blast! At the Adventure Park at Sandy Spring, kids as young as 5 years old can experience fun on the ropes courses and ziplines in the park’s aerial adventure park forest, the largest in North America. Children ages 5-6 and an accompanying adult have access to two of the easier courses. Older kids can do even more. It may seem like a pricey venture, but it’s so worth it. Trust me. Read more about this KFDC fave here and here.

Make STEM Magic
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15

Join the Air & Space Museum for Making STEM Magic, a new program that introduces young visitors to engineering in a fun and creative way. This month, learn more about electricity as you design circuits and get a charge out of their October design challenge!

American Girl Day
Where: National Museum of the U.S. Navy
When: Saturday, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Learn about how women have influenced naval history and enjoy some American Girl-inspired fun. With a Great War theme as the WWI Centennial approaches, there will be activities featuring that era. There will also be American Girl products — dolls, books, clothing, games, even furniture — to browse and buy. And AG book author Valerie Tripp will be on hand to sign autographs and talk with visitors about the American Girls. Note that non-military must check in at the Washington Navy Yard’s Visitor Center (11th and O Street) and present a government-issued photo ID.

Hispanic Heritage Month Family Day
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage in the United States, from South American folk traditions to the fusion of contemporary Latino and North American art and music. Dance to live music from across Latin America, enjoy original works of art from local artists experimenting with portraiture, and create your own works of art inspired by Hispanic artists and sitters featured in the National Portrait Gallery.

World of Wheels
Where: Dematha High School
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) of Prince George’s County is hosting its 5th annual World of Wheels for CASA, a touch-a-truck event and family festival. All kinds of cool vehicles will be on site and open for guests to explore. Adding to the excitement will be food, music, and an assortment of activities for kids of all ages, including moon bounces, games, crafts, face painting. And Game Truck mobile gaming will be there from 10am-12:30pm! Proceeds from the event will help to raise funds to recruit and train more volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children. Dematha High School is located at 4313 Madison St. in Hyattsville, MD.

Raise a Flag for Your Next President!
Where: Textile Museum
When: Saturday,
Admission: Free

How do you show your support for your favorite presidential candidate? Join the Textile Museum at the height of today’s historic presidential election for an all-ages family day that explores how people have demonstrated their allegiance to candidates past. Enjoy presidential storytelling, play campaign games, and create your own campaign flag inspired by the rare nineteenth-century flags and patriotic textiles on view in the exhibition. It’s a perfect time for kids (and adults) to discover this wonderful off-the-beaten-Mall-path museum.

STEM Career Fair
Where: University of the District of Columbia
When: Saturday, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Kids can check out careers in STEM! Science, Engineering and Mathematics Link Inc. (SEM Link) is hosting its 1st Annual DMV Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Career Fair and Exhibition at UDC. The fun, family event gives K-12 students an opportunity to explore STEM careers and meet and interact with professionals in the fields. UDC’s Student Center is located at 4200 Connecticut Avenue, NW. While free and open to the public, pre-registration is strongly suggested.

Harry Potter Marathon
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: $15/adult, $13.50/youth, $50/8-movie pass

Have you missed a Harry Potter movie or just want to go on a wizard watching binge? Head to the Chantilly arm of the Air & Space Museum, where for the first time ever, you can experience all eight Harry Potter movies in IMAX! Plus, you can also catch an IMAX exclusive peek of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which hits IMAX theaters this November. Everyone is invited… even muggles.

Air Show Baltimore
Where: Inner Harbor & Martin State Airport
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Free

Nearly two dozen aviators including the Navy’s famed Blue Angels flight demonstration team will take to the skies over Charm City this weekend, as part of Maryland Fleet Week and Air Show Baltimore October. There’s more on the ground, too — an open house free festival, including meet-and-greets with pilots, will take place at Martin State Airport in Baltimore County. Approximate airshow hours are 1-4pm over the Middle Branch of Baltimore’s Harbor adjacent to Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. Key viewing areas for the air show include Fort McHenry and areas in and around Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

World of Montgomery Festival
Where: Montgomery College, Rockville
When: Sunday, 12- 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the rich cultural heritages of the DC area at the 8th annual World of Montgomery Festival with multicultural music, food, dance, exhibits and hands-on activities. Indonesia, Germany, Korea, the Caribbean, India, Ukraine, El Salvador, Ethiopia, China, and more nations will represent their cultural traditions in the International Village organized by KID Museum. Two entertainment stages, ethnic food vendors, and festivities for all ages ensure a fun, enriching day for the whole family.

Aidan Montessori Book Fair
Where Politics & Prose/Comet Ping Pong
When: Saturday, 9am – 10pm & Sunday, 9am – 8pm
Admission: Free

Buy books and eat pizza to benefit a local school! Aidan Montessori School is holding its annual book fair event at Politics & Prose Bookshop and Comet Ping Pong on Saturday and Sunday. Twenty percent of book sales at Politics & Prose will go to the school if you mention “Aidan” at the register, and 15% of sales at Comet Ping Pong & Pizza will go to help the school if you write “Aidan” on your check. You can also purchase books to donate to Aidan classrooms and to Bright Beginnings, a local organization serving under-housed families. Multiple opportunities to give back!

Merriment and More
Where: Revel Grove in Crownesville, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $24/ages 16 and up, $10/ages 7-15, free for 6 and under

There are only a couple of weekends left to enjoy the bounty of merriment at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. The annual faire recalls medieval times with a village full of fun and entertainment for the whole family. This is one of my very favorite events in the DC area, and it could very well become one of yours, too. Huzzah!

Leaf Peep on the Trail
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

The leaves are just beginning to turn, plus it’s going to be a gorgeous autumn weekend, so get out and enjoy on a family hike. From right here in the city to country locales, you’ve got your pick of places where you can enjoy the foliage, the lovely weather, and some time on the trail. This post about good area hikes with kids will help make for some happy trampers.

Soul Stroll
Where: Congressional Cemetery
When: Sunday, 6-9pm
Admission: $20/adult, $10/child

Get into the Halloween spirit on Capitol Hill as you explore Congressional Cemetery and the stories of those laid to rest there on these special guided after-hours tours. Congressman, carpenters, suffragists, and bootleggers are among the graveyard residents, and they all have a unique tale to tell.

More Wicked Fun
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

Get the Halloween party started with activities and events that celebrate the spooky spirit. This post has details on where the tricks and treats are happening.


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Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Date Night, DC, Eats, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Fundraiser, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Park, School Event, Seasonal, Theatre, Virginia, Volunteer, Weekend