The Weekend Round-Up: November 14-15

That National Arboretum is a superb place to enjoy a mid-autumn day

That National Arboretum is a superb place to enjoy a mid-autumn day

Experience the WONDER of art, kick off your holiday season, get outdoors, catch some live sports action, enjoy a stage production…these are just some of the ways you can enjoy the weekend with the kids. And be sure to check out the recently returned Calendar for listings of ongoing programs. Happy Weekend!

Renwick Opening Festival
Where: Renwick Gallery
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the re-opening of the Renwick! Experience the Gallery as never before, with craft making, artist demonstrations, musical performances, games, and more. See the new, amazing contemporary art installations of the WONDER exhibition and enjoy a fun-filled day with activities for all ages.

Holiday Cheer
Where: Throughout the area
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by locale

If you think it’s too early to start celebrating the holidays, think again! Events that embrace — and emit — the holiday spirit are beginning around the area. Re-Imagine the holidays at a tree lighting in Silver Spring. Kick off the season at National Harbor. Take a holiday tour at at an O so cool mansion. Visit Santa’s HQ at Tysons Corner. Go holiday shopping at an international bazaar, Strathmore, and Mosaic District. Stroll through Meadowlark Garden’s Winter Walk of Lights. The 2015 KFDC Guide to the Best of the Holidays in DC has ALL you need to help make the season bright.

Ice It
Where: Local ice skating rinks
When: Throughout the weekend (& winter)
Admission: Varies by rink

Glide the day away as several area outdoor ice rinks open for the season. Meander your way around Canal Park Ice Rink and stop in the Park Tavern for some hot chocolate and a bite to eat. Skate in Silver Spring at Veteran’s Plaza. Do some shopping and snacking along with your skating at Pentagon Row in Arlington. Practice your axles and triple lutzes at Reston Town Center. Circle the largest outdoor ice skating rink between Baltimore and DC at Rockville Town Square. This post has details on all of our local skating venues.

Hirshhorn Family Day
Where: Hirshorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
When: Saturday, 11am – 3:15pm
Admission: Free

Visitors young and old are invited to a day of family fun inspired by the exhibition Marvelous Objects: Surrealist Sculpture From Paris to New York. Collaborative drawing, exhibit tours, an animation workshop (registration required – sign up here) ,and a screening of Alice in Wonderland will be part of the day’s events.

Show Time
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* You’ll want some more after seeing Oliver! at Arena Stage
* Watch acrobatic artistry in A Simple Space at BlackRock Center for the Arts
* Take toddlers and preschoolers to see Arts on the Horizon’s Point A to Point B at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
* ¡Ratón en Movimiento!, a bilingual version of Rats on the Move is on the Imagination Stage
* Barynya showcases rich traditions and culture of Russia at this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performance
* Encore Stage & Studio presents the classic tale of Hansel & Gretel
* Catch a classic story on strings as The Puppet Co. present Aladdin (and his wonderful lamp)
* And World on a String is the featured Tiny Tots shows at the Glen Echo venue
* Take the kids to rock out at Signature Theatre’s Girlstar (best for ages 10 and up…look for discount tickets)

Horses & Hounds
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday
Admission: $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free for 5 and under

Discover the sporting side of George Washington during this new Mount Vernon new event! Watch a simulated fox hunt on the estate. (Unlike in Washington’s time, no foxes will be hurt.) During the hunt, learn about the sport of foxhunting and why Washington was known as the greatest horseman of his age. Observe a cavalry demonstration and meet animals involved in the event as well as the rest of the animal residents at the estate’s modern livestock. Close the day by watching The Washington Cup, where horses and riders compete in series of judged skill competitions.

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

College basketball season begins this weekend, and with so many universities in the area, there’s always some good hoops action going on. The GW men’s team hosts Lafayette Friday evening, while the women welcome Grambling State on Saturday (tickets here). The Hoya men play Radford on Saturday (tickets here). The George Mason Patriots men’s team plays Colgate on Friday (tickets here). And finally, the lady Terps play UMass Lowell on Saturday, and the men play Mount St. Mary’s tonight (tickets here). Fear the Turtle!

Local Pros
Where: Verizon Center
When: Friday & Saturday
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Both the Washington Capitals and Wizards are playing at home this weekend. See the action on the ice and court — the Caps host the Calgary Flames Friday night, and the Wizards and Magic tip off on Saturday evening. Look for a deal on the hockey match here and one on select seats for the basketball game here.

Grand Opening
Where: Mom’s Organic Market Arlington
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: Free

Celebrate the opening of the area’s newest Mom’s Organic Market. The event will include live music on Saturday and Sunday, local tastings, goodie bags, and henna art. And MOM’s will donate 5% of Grand Opening sales to Moms Clean Air Force, a community of moms and dads united against air pollution and climate change. The new location is at 1901 N. Veitch Street in Arlington.

Trash to Treasure Green Craft Fair
Where: Watkins Nature Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Do some eco-friendly shopping while the kids have fun at this special event featuring vendors selling items made from recycled, organic, or sustainable materials. Along with local artists selling their handmade wares, there will be non-profit environmental groups and crafts for kids, a book exchange booth, and more. Don’t miss a chance to win some loot from the multi-item raffle to benefit the nature center. And be sure to make some time to enjoy other Watkins attractions, including the nearby Wizard of Oz themed playground and the animals at Old Maryland Farm.

Holiday Bazaar
Where: First Baptist Church, Alexandria
When: Saturday, 11am – 6pm
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. Get tickets in advance here.

Living, Loving, Laughing
Where: Church of the Epiphany
When: Saturday, 7:30 – 9:30pm
Admission: $33

The 85-voice Congressional Chorus opens its 29th season in DC by joining forces with Joy of Motion Dance Center, Afromoda Dance Theater, Capitol Movement, spoken word artists from American Youth Chorus, and the NorthEast Senior Singers alongside a live 10-piece instrumental ensemble in a unique, multi-sensory performance that celebrates the emotions and the seasons of our lives. From poignant and tender ballads to toe-tappin’ and roof-raisin’ production numbers, it will be a night of pure joy. Experience the energy and the power of an eclectic mix of music and dance in the stunning acoustics of the beautiful and historic The Church of the Epiphany located at 1317 G Street, NW.

The Emporiyum
Where: Union Market
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $15-40

The Emporiyum, an event designed to introduce people with a passion for food to a curated selection of artisans from across the local Mid-Atlantic region and from around the US, is coming back to DC to Union Market’s Dock5. The two-day marketplace brings together a lineup of food and beverage purveyors you will not find anywhere else. Meet the people behind the brands, taste and learn about their products, and shop for unique edible gifts.

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 on the trail. This post about good area hikes with kids might be from the early KFDC days, but new recommendations have been added and the old ones are still relevant for happy trampers.

Get Out
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

With a great forecast for the next few days, it’s going to be a great weekend to be outdoors. The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids has loads of ideas for taking advantage of the glorious autumn weather.

25% off holiday greeting and invitation orders using the code FIRSTLOOK25, 8/12-8/18

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


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

Holiday Shows

Model Trains

Special Events


Light Displays

Holiday Markets


Holiday Shows


A Christmas Carol
Where: Ford’s Theatre
When: November 19 – December 31
Tickets: $44-91
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. Acclaimed Washington stage actor Edward Gero returns to play Scrooge. Recommended for ages 5 and up. Performance is two hours (including a 15-minute intermission).

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

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

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

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

The Puppet Co.’s annual holiday treat! The Nutcracker is the festive story of Clara-Marie’s favorite toy and their adventures together in the land of the Sugarplum Fairy. Music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet blends with marionettes and costume characters to create this unique production. Don’t miss it! Recommended for children ages 5 and up.

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

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

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

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

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

Joy, warmth, and community illuminate seasonal holiday celebrations the world over. Back for its 16th season, this signature Discovery Theater show celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations’ tradition of the Winter Solstice in an interactive event that bridges communities and cultures. This show sells out early, so don’t wait to get your tickets! Recommended for ages 5-10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maryland Youth Ballet’s Mini-Nut is a delightful abbreviated version of their classic, award-winning, The Nutcracker, designed to introduce children to the magic of this family favorite. This beloved holiday tradition with soaring music by Tchaikovsky promises to hold the attention of even the youngest theatergoer. Suitable for all ages, this version is less than an hour and performed by cast members from MYB’s full-length production. A perfect holiday mini-treat!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Model Trains

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

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

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

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

Season’s Greenings

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station
When: TBD
Admission: Free
Every year, DC’s grand train station hosts a wonderful Holiday Train Display, on view in the Main Hall. Featuring a Norwegian landscape, the displays are intricate and fun to stop by and see if you’re at the station during the holiday season.

Special Events

Holidays on the Ellipse

Holidays on the Ellipse


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas at Mount Vernon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holidays on the Ellipse
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 4 – January 1
Admission: Free

This has a permanent spot on many a DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a brilliant holiday scene. Bonus: there will also be musical performances throughout the season this year. Unfortunately, the adorable Santa’s Workshop is not back this year (you might recall there was confusion about it last year), but go enjoy everything else.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland
Where: Downtown Bethesda
When: December 5, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but concerts and events cost extra

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

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

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

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

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

Where: Ronald Reagan Building
When: December 9, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Explore the world and do some holiday shopping — all during the lunch hour! This lively midday festival is a celebration of international culture, travel, tourism and trade. It has the atmosphere of an international bazaar with each country showcasing their culture and traditions via visual arts displays, foods, handcrafts, as well as travel and tourism information.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instead of giving another tie or candle this year, how about boxing up hope and happiness? At a Gifts That Give Hope event, you can support the community and find unique and meaningful gifts for loved ones, co-workers, teachers and holiday hosts. Learn more about 16 locally based nonprofit organizations, enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, visits with Santa, face painting, and other children’s activities. Shoppers of all ages are making GTGH an annual tradition, and young shoppers in particular come back each year to learn the true meaning of giving by participating in the Children’s Gift Fair. The Key School is located at 2300 Key Blvd in Arlington.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: December 31
Admission: $15 until 12/17, $20 after, kids 12 and under are free
The largest family-focused and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event in the region. See more than 100 performances on indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria. Entertainers include blue grass musicians, honky-tonk bands, clowns, magicians and classical musicians. End the evening with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street!


Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6

Come light the Menorah on the Ellipse December 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light Displays

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

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

Winter Walk of Lights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Lights Festival

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

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

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

It’s official name is the Washington DC Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but most Washingtonians know it as the Mormon Temple that you can see driving on the outer loop of the Beltway near Bethesda. During the holiday season the ground glow with more than 600,000 LED lights that visitors are welcome to enjoy. There are also free nightly performances in an indoor theater, Christmas trees decorated in international themes, an exhibit of crèches from around the world, and a life-sized outdoor nativity.

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

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

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights

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

Experience one of the region’s most beloved holiday traditions! At sundown on the day of the Scottish Christmas Walk parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront, led by Alexandria’s fireboat Vigilant and Washington, DC’s fireboat John Glenn. Before and after the parade, stop in to the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Holiday Open House between 4-9pm to enjoy performances by the Alexandria Choral Society plus gift shopping in open artist studios.

Holiday Markets

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

The Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This one, to me, is the holiday market in DC. It’s not even so much about the merchandise for sale (though there’s always a great variety of gift items – I never leave empty handed). There’s something about the usually bustling block in the middle of Penn Quarter transforming into an open air market for a few weeks that is so charming and kind of magical, making our big city feel like a small town. A bonus is the free live entertainment along with treats and coffee drinks available for purchase. And after you’ve done your shopping and enjoyed a snack and music, you can pop into the National Portrait Gallery/American Art Museum that are literally right next to the market.

Eastern Market
Where: 7th Street SE, between South Carolina & Penn Aves.
When: Year-round Saturdays & Sundays
Admission: Free

The outdoor flea market at the centerpiece of the Capitol Hill community is practically a year-round weekend institution for locals. And during the holiday season, it’s a go-to for shoppers seeking unique gifts along with a fun outing. Nearly 200 vendors are there, selling everything from original artwork to fun T-shirts, to handmade jewelry and accessories, to home décor to custom-made and used furniture – and much, much more. If you’re cooking up a holiday meal, you can get fresh produce from farmers’ stalls outside and butchered meats, fancy cheeses, baked goods, pasta, fresh produce, and more inside the actual Eastern Market. Even more, there is often live music courtesy of buskers around the area, and if the kids want some play time afterwards, you can hit one of several parks or playgrounds in the neighborhood (Lincoln Park, at 11th and East Capitol, is the largest and most popular among them).

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

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

Gifts That Give Hope Gift Fair
Where: Calvary United Methodist Church
When: December 5, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

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

Where: Canal Park
When: December 5-6
Admission: Free

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

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

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


Filed under All ages, Animals, Annual, Art, Chanukah, Christmas, DC, Eats, Educational, Fall, Farm, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, New Years, Outdoor, Parade, Party, School Event, Seasonal, Shop, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend, Winter

Where to Observe Veterans Day & Other Activities on the Day Off


Looking for things to do on Veterans Day? Whether you want to pay tribute to those who have served or are looking for ways to keep the kids entertained on the day off from school, these suggestions should have you covered.

Tour the Memorials
Where: National Mall
When: Throughout the day
Admission: Free

Observe the holiday by visiting the sites that honor our nation’s veterans. Make the rounds on the Mall at your leisure or attend special ceremonies — they will take place at the World War II Memorial at 9am and at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 1pm, and the Korean War Memorial is a short walk from both.

National Veterans Day Ceremony
Where: Arlington Cemetery
When: 11am
Admission: Free

The National Veterans Day Ceremony begins at 11am with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and remarks from dignitaries. Free and open to the public, attendees are encouraged to get there by 10:30am. Read more about Arlington Cemetery in this post about a KFDC experience there.

Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans
Where: Mount Vernon
When: 9am – 4pm
Admission: Free for military; $17/adult, $9/child, free for under 5

Special activities at George Washington’s former estate include a wreath laying ceremony, a patriotic community concert by the barbershop chorus The Harmony Heritage Singers, and a performance by the United States Air Force String Orchestra. Mount Vernon honors all active duty, former, or retired military personnel with free admission, plus a concert by the all-veteran barbershop chorus, The Harmony Heritage Singers.

Museum Tour
Where: U.S. Navy Museum
When: 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

There may not be a special event happening, but it’s an apropos day to visit the museum dedicated to the history of the Navy. The fascinating displays range from replicas to the real thing — model ships, genuine periscopes, images from major exhibitions, and much more. Be sure to read this post about our experience there for more insight and an inside look.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: All day
Admission: FREE

It’s the last fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no entrance fee where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school; hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, take a ride on Skyline Drive to see the mountains covered in autumn colors, or visit Harpers Ferry.

Where: National Theatre
When: 10:30am
Admission: Tickets are $14-38

Veteran’s Day is the last chance to see The BFG at National Theatre. Based on the beloved Roald Dahl book, the production integrates magnificent puppetry, rich visuals, and imaginative storytelling as it presents the tale of the world’s only friendly giant who brings good dreams to humans.

Baltimore, Hon!
Where: Charm City attractions
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Zip up I-95 for some fun in our sister city, where there are several great places to spend a day off. Play the day away at Port Discovery. Explore the exhibits and loads of hands-on activities at the Maryland Science Center. See some of the quirkiest, coolest art ever at the American Visionary Art Museum. Get an eyeful of the underwater world at the National Aquarium. Or learn about Baltimore’s early business days at the Museum of Industry.

Climb On
Where: ClimbZone
When: 10am – 8pm
Admission: $12/ages 2-5, $25/ages 6 and up

Kids and adults will have a blast scaling the many colorful, whimsically-themed walls at this indoor climbing center in Laural, MD. Ascend Mt. Rushmore, reach the Jolly Roger on a pirate ship, conquer a game of Tetris, shimmy up a giant guitar, and experience peak fun in even more ways!

Archaeological Adventures & Animal Portraits
Where: National Geographic Museum
When: 10am – 6pm
Admission: $15/adult, $10/ages 5-12, free for 4 and under

Interesting and entertaining, Indiana Jones & the Adventure of Archaeology exhibit at Nat Geo is great exhibit for kids ages 8 and up. The exhibit showcases props, video, and fun facts from Indy’s cinematic adventures along with fascinating artifacts and details about real-life archaeological studies and discoveries. All ages can enjoy Photo Ark, a stunning collection of portraits of the world’s species. before they disappear and to inspire people to care. Captured by photographer Joe Satore, each image is a visual connection between the animals and people who can help protect them.

Out & About
Where: Around the area
When: All day
Admission: Varies by activity

It’s forecast to be a gorgeous day on Wednesday, so browse The Best Places in the DC Area to Spend a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids for all kinds of ways to take advantage of the weather and the day off.

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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Holidays, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Nature, Outdoor, Park, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

Where to Play on the Weekdays: November 9-13

Roam the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks for free through mid-March!

Roam the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks for free through mid-March!

Monday - Roam the enchanting gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown. The grounds don’t open to the public until 2pm, but you can play at nearby Montrose Park or grab a bite to eat on M Street beforehand. I promise, it’s worth waiting for the afternoon visit. And admission is free to both — there’s never an entry fee at Montrose, and Dumbarton waives it from November 1 – mid-March.

Tuesday – Locate secret doors, see outrageously fabulous themed rooms, and browse a trove of secondhand treasures on a tour of The Mansion on O Street. The Dupont Circle landmark is a mansion, museum, restaurant, vintage store, and hotel all in one. And visitors are welcome to explore it all. Open daily 11am – 4pm. Self-guided tours start at $15. Purchase tickets in advance online.

Wednesday - Go from Point A to Point B with Arts on the Horizon at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. This world premiere, nonverbal production that explores different modes of transportation in new and exciting ways is inspired by the America on the Move exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. Recommended for ages 2-5, showtimes are 10am and 11:30am, and tickets are $9.

Thursday - Jump the morning away at Flight Trampoline Park in Springfield, Va. This bouncy nirvana hosts Kid Flight sessions for children 46″ tall & under from 10am – 12pm Monday through Friday for $10/hour (includes accompanying adult).

Friday - Celebrate the reopening of the Renwick Gallery! Enjoy live music, book signings, and building tours throughout the day. Explore the opening exhibition WONDER, complete a scavenger hunt that explores the installations, and take home a souvenir print of the Renwick. Hours are 10am – 5:30pm. Admission is free.

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Filed under All ages, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Free, Indoor Play, Museums, Outdoor, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays

The Weekend Round-Up: November 7-8


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It’s an interesting mix of events this weekend! Explore and enjoy everything from spaceflight to sideshow performers — with art programs, live entertainment, skate sessions, farm fun, and outdoor adventures in between. Want more options? The Everyday Play page is loaded with ideas for family activities around the area. Happy Weekend!

Spaceflight America Museum Open house
Where: Spaceflight America Museum
When: Saturday, 1-9pm
Admission: Free

Here’s a chance to check out a museum showcasing science and technology. See displays telling spaceflight stories from the beginning of America’s manned spaceflight to current operations. Be among the first to explore the all new International Space Station exhibit, a 2,700 cubic foot, walk-through replica of astronauts’ quarters on the ISS. View historical items like Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin’s military flight suit. There will also be hands-on activities and guests speakers at this special event.

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 8. See what’s on the schedule over the next few days.

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

Are you ready to glide under the sky? Many outdoor ice skating rinks are welcoming guests to skate the day away. This post has details on all of them (and indoor venues, too), though I recommend calling ahead to make sure the spate of warm weather hasn’t affected their open skate schedules.

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

Scope out bargain prices on children’s toys, clothes, games, and other items all sold by those who know them best…the kids! Whether you plan to get your holiday shopping done early or fill the toy chest with new goods, help support local youths’ entrepreneurial ventures.

Celebrate Diwali
Where: Freer | Sackler Gallery
When: Saturday, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Join the museum showcasing Asian art for a special Open Studio Saturday to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of light. Visitors of all ages are invited to discover the Sackler’s collection of South Asian and Himalayan art through family-friendly tours and hands-on activities.

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

The second annual sideshow extravaganza will be an evening of quirky amusement and wonder as the east coast’s top sideshow performers commune at Yards Park. Three stages of entertainment will showcase the unusual talents of contortionists, magicians, jugglers, escape artists, snake handlers, fire breathers, sword swallowers, and more exciting acts. Live music, delicious eats from neighborhood hot-spots, a photo booth, and a beer garden will round out the evening of carnival delights.

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.

Show Time
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue

* Single Carrot is this week’s Saturday Morning at the National performance
* Catch a classic story on strings as The Puppet Co. present Aladdin (and his wonderful lamp)
* And Bunny Business is the featured Tiny Tots shows at the Glen Echo venue
* Take the kids to rock out at Signature Theatre’s Girlstar (best for ages 10 and up…look for discount tickets)
* The Reston Community Players present Shrek the Musical at CenterStage through Saturday
* Rock out in Ralph’s World at Jammin’ Java on Saturday morning
* See Elksa at the Alden Theatre in McLean on Sunday
* Mount Vernon Community Theatre presents Mary Poppins
* Darius & Twig is on stage at the Kennedy Center (look for discount tickets)
*Listen to master storyteller Diane Macklin’s Succotash Stories as part of InterAct Story Theatre’s new series at Wheaton Library
*Enjoy Vishwa Rangana, a Sri Lankan dance performance presented by CityDance at Strathmore

“New to You” Yard Sale
Where: Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten
When: Saturday, 7:30am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Want to score some great items that are “New to You?” Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten (LANK) in Reston is holding their annual community yard sale featuring tons of baby and children’s gear donated by nearly 100 local families. They sell infant and children’s clothing up to size 10, strollers, highchairs, bikes, toys, exercisers, books, DVDs, children’s furniture, bottles and much more! Get there early for the full selection, and get 50% off some of what’s left from 12-1pm. Any unsold merchandise will be donated to charity at the conclusion of the sale. Lake Anne Nursery Kindergarten is located at 12021 N. Shore Drive & Wiehle in Reston.

Bilingual Book Fair
Where: Oyster Adams Bilingual School
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Bring your young readers for a unique festival of bilingual literacy. Browse and shop more than 500 Spanish and bilingual children’s book titles, plus hundreds of the newest children’s titles in English will be available for purchase in the school cafeteria. Proceeds benefit the school’s primary and secondary library programs. The Oyster Campus is located at 2801 Calvert Street NW.

Movies at the Art Museum
Where: National Gallery
When: Saturday & Sunday, 10:30am
Admission: Free

Young film buffs can enjoy two Dutch films at the National Gallery this weekend. Presented as part of the Kids Euro Festival, there will be a screening of The Amazing Wipala on Saturday and Finn on Sunday. Both are recommended for ages 10 and up, and descriptions are available on the website.

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.

Portrait Stories & Discoveries
Where: National Portrait Gallery
When: Saturday, 1-4pm & Sunday, 2-5pm
Admission: Free

Drop in at the Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about Pocahontas and complete a hands-on activity. When you’re done there, pick up a Portrait Discovery Kit to explore the museum. For more about the program, see this post about one of our experiences there.

Salute to America
Where: DAR Constitution Hall
When: Sunday, 2pm
Admission: Free but tickets are required

As a prelude to Veteran’s Day, the national non-profit organization Help Hospitalized Veterans presents Salute To America — Washington, the fifth and final stop in the 2015 HHV Salute To America Concert Series honoring America’s veterans and their families. The family-friendly concert starts with preconcert activities beginning at 2pm with the live entertainment following.

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 recent post.

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Filed under All ages, DC