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Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween in 2014

jackolantern

Costume choices are nearly finalized, front yards are being decked out with fake cob webs and creepy decor, grocery store shelves are chock full of candy… Halloween is here! We may have a few weeks to go before the actual day, but prepping for the festivities is half the fun, right? Even more, events and activities that capture the spooky spirit are happening all month long. And this annual KFDC list has all the details on where and when you can scare up a good time and celebrate one of the best holidays of the year (and if it looks familiar, that’s because it’s last year’s list updated). Happy Halloween!

“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 11, 12, 17-19, & 24-26, 29-30 & Nov. 1
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-8pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends. Purchase tickets online here.

Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 11, 12, 17-19, & 24-26, 29-30 & Nov. 1
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it “very scary” (and this is part of the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train and carousel run 6:30-9:30pm each night. Purchase tickets online here.

Haunted Museum Historic Ghost Tour
Where: National Building Museum
When: Sundays, October 12-28, 8pm & 9pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free

Take a nighttime tour of the National Building Museum’s historic home. Guests will wander the dark and lonely halls by lantern light, being regaled by ghost stories and other curious tales. Who are the mysterious figures wandering the halls after hours? What causes the giant columns to swirl with ghostly figures? Also learn about a gruesome murder and sinister characters immortalized in sculptural busts. This tour is recommended for ages 10 and up. Tickets are limited and sell out quickly.

Trick or Treat at Tudor Place
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 18, 10am – 12pm
Admission: $7/members, $10/non-members, $3/adults

Costumes too great to wear just once deserve a preview! Celebrate a Spooktacular Halloween at Tudor Place. Children in Halloween costumes are invited to trick-or-treat through the enchanting north gardens on the estate and participate in pumpkin painting, crafts, face painting, and games.

Boostravaganza
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 23, 6-8pm
Admission: $8/child

Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so sign up soon!

Spooky SPY Family Night
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 24, 6-9pm
Admission: $14

Ditch your Halloween costume and change your while identity at the Spy Museum’s annual Halloween event! Has your brother been spying on you? Is grandma really a secret agent? Does dad really have lethal ninja skills? Now’s your chance to find out as your family of spies gains exclusive after-hours access to the Museum. Test your family’s spy skills as you run top secret missions, go deep undercover and transform your appearance with the help of professional make-up artists, challenge yourself in Code Cracker competitions, and enjoy SPY snacks and a chance to explore all forms of spy tradecraft. Come in disguise as your favorite spy! For ages 5 and up, includes exclusive after-hours admission, SPY snacks, scavenger hunt, prize competitions, and more! Space is limited — advance registration required.

Halloween Festival
Where: Bethesda Row
When: October 30, 5-7pm
Admission: Free

Ghosts, goblins, and ghouls of all ages can participate in some retail scare-apy and trick-or-treating while enjoying the last evenings of fall. The Halloween festival offers families the chance to walk shop-to-shop trick-or-treating with their littles, while enjoying live entertainment and unprecedented deals on fashion, food, housewares and more. Guests will be treated to an evening of frights and bites, and can enter to win $100 to Paper Source.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 24-26, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members

Princesses, mythical creatures, kid-wizards, and other costumed guests are invited to join the National Zoo’s annual Halloween event. With nearly 40 not-so-spooky treat stations, animal demonstrations, keeper chats, and decorated trails, this event is frightfully fun for the whole family. Boo treat bags will be brimming with goodies at the end of the evening — traditional chocolates, healthy snacks, souvenirs, and other items will be handed out to guests. Costumes encouraged!

The Haunted Toy Shop
Where: Bradley Farm in Herndon
When: October 24 & 25
Admission: $5

Looking for a some spine tingling fun this Halloween? The Bradley Farm Haunted House promises everyone a ghoulishly fun time, and for a good cause — proceeds from the community fundraising event help Herndon – Reston FISH bring emergency help to folks in our community. This year’s “Haunted Toy Shop” theme promises fright and fun! On Friday and Saturday evening from 6-10pm, it offers a dark and scary adventure that’s perfect for tweens, teenagers, and adults. For the younger crowd, there’s a non-scary version on Saturday afternoon from 1-5pm that will include trick-or-treating inside the haunted house for children 10 and under. Local vendors have provided many giveaways for “monsters” to hand out to the children along the haunt. After you brave the Haunted House, visit the concession stand to chase away your “chills” with warm caramel apples and hot cider. Food and entertainment will also round out the fun.

Spooky Trick-or-Treat
Where: Rhode Island Row
When: October 25, 4-6pm
Admission: Free

Head to DC’s Brentwood neighborhood for a center-wide trick-or-treating event. Kids can enjoy free face painting, balloon artists, and live entertainment, while they also trick-or-treat at restaurants and retailers. Rhode Island Row is a new urban community of apartments, restaurants, shops, and a Main Street scene located at 2300 Washington Place NE.

Halloween Carnival
Where: Falls Church
When: October 25, 6-8:30pm
Admission: $2/children ages 2 and up (adults free)

The City of Falls Church is scaring up family fun at the annual Halloween Carnival that’s been running for over 30 years! Take a frightful walk down a Haunted Trail, then shake out the Halloween jitters in the Moon Bounce. If scary dares are not for you, enjoy the many carnival games and craft activities that are sure to provide a great time for children and parents alike. Halloween candy and snacks will be plentiful, with far more treats than tricks. A live Creepy Creature Show featuring some of Mother Nature’s spookiest critters will take place twice during the evening, once at 6:30pm and again 7:30pm, and is suitable for all ages.

Halloweenville
Where: Village at Leesburg
When: October 25, 3-7pm
Admission: Free

You know Fido is dying to debut his Halloween costume early, so bring him to this pet-friendly Monster Mash celebration and enter him into the pet costume contest! The rest of the family can enjoy free hayrides, costume contests, trick-or-treating, and plenty of other (not so) frightful fun!

Haunted Hangar
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 25, 7-9pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2

Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.

Air and Scare
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 25, 2-7pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 6pm

Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 10th 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. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars or Ghostbuster character!

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 25, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities

It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. And new this year are pumpkin-themed kiddie games with prizes. The Halloween celebration will end with a costume parade through the Park at 3:30pm.

Trick or Treat with the Boo-tiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 25, 11am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Bring your little ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.

Spooky Science
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: October 25, 12-4pm
Admission: $16.95/adult, $13.95/ages 3-12

Celebrate the chills and thrills of Halloween at MSC’s 6th annual Spooky Science, where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. There will be hair-raising activities, creepy crafts, and fangtastic demonstrations. Visitors can look forward to making gooey, glowing slime, decorating pumpkins and trick or treat bags, playing mummy bowling, and exploring mystery boxes filled with eerie items. Save room for more spooky fun with Reptiles Alive! Their live animal show will feature slithering snakes, terrifying toads, beaded dragons and more. Shows will be at 1pm and 3pm. Costumes encouraged!

Falloween Family Festival
Where: Port Discovery
When: October 25, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up

Dress the kids up in their favorite costumes and join Port Discovery’s annual festival! Enjoy not-so-scary, family friendly programs and performances include nature-themed activities, crafts, tutu making, wildlife adventures, spooky science, live entertainment, and more.

Haunted Chocolate House Workshop
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 25, 1:30-3pm
Admission: $12/members, $15/non-members, $3/adults

Enjoy a Spooktacular family friendly tour through the historic gardens. After the tour, children participate in a chilling chocolate workshop to create their own 3D haunted chocolate houses to take home! Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Monster Mash
Where: National Children’s Museum
When: October 25, 10am – 4pm
Admission: $10, under 12 months are free

Wear your favorite costume for a day of non-spooky fun! The NCM is planning special Halloween programming, including a dance party, and hands-on activities like making masks, bats, spiders, and paper bag pumpkins, and much more! If that’s not enough, the Museum’s theatre staff will debut a brand new show, The Adventures of L.G. and I.F. I.F. will show L.G. what can happen when we use our imaginations to play – no tablets, no phones, no TVs required, just imagination and you!

Falloween
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 25, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy some Halloween and fall fun at the shopping center, a petting zoo, face painting, the festive photo stop, pumpkin decorating, treats and tastes from restaurants and retailers and much more! Don’t miss featured musical performances are by DC-region favorites, Mr. Knick Knack at 10am and Rocknoceros at 11:45am.

Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 26, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumed child, $10/adults accompanying children

Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.

NSO Family Concert: Halloween Whodunit
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 26
Admission: $15-18

There’s a mystery in the Concert Hall on All Hallows’ Eve! For this frightfully fun third chapter in the NSO’s popular Spooktacular concert series, don your freaky-deakiest costumes and join all the ghoulishly attired musicians for a wickedly wacky, music-filled whodunit. When the NSO’s Stephen Dumaine alerts the orchestra that his tuba has been stolen, NSO Assistant Conductor Ankush Kumar Bahl asks the audience to help them rewind time, follow the clues, lure out the “thief,” and crack the case! Go early for trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Then take your seats for spine-tingling classics, including Adam Glaser’s March of the Little Goblins, the “Infernal Dance” from Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird, and Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, plus new favorites like “Let It Go” from Frozen, a special appearance by 13-year-old NSO Youth Fellow and tuba player Diego Stine, and plenty of Halloween surprises!

Family Halloween Party
Where: Courtyard Marriott Navy Yard
When: October 26
Admission: Free

The Waterfront Church invites families to join them for an evening of good, clean fun. There will be games, pumpkin painting, candy and more. Enjoy a safe, fun, local, and free fun event for kids.

Halloween at the Harbor
Where: National Harbor
When: October 26, 11am – 2pm
Admission: Free

Join the Spooktacular family event that will include activities for everyone. Go trick-or-treating at select stores and restaurants. Visit the Pumpkin Patch at the Miller Farms Farmer’s Market to buy a jack-o-lanter-to-be. Enjoy a showing of Hocus Pocus on the Plaza Big Screen (movie will begin at 11:15am). And take advantage of free rides on the Capital Wheel for kids 12 and under dressed in costume (with adult purchase)!

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens
When: October 31, gates open at 3:30
Admission: $10/adult, $5/child

Join Mount Vernon’s costumed cast for a special opportunity to trick-or-treat in the historic area. Guests can participate in a Halloween craft activity in the greenhouse; go on a scavenger hunt; view special trade demos, like 18th-century wool carding, spinning, and fish net making. There will also be Halloween-themed stories in the straw bale amphitheater, colonial games, dancing demonstrations, and wagon rides. All young guests are invited to join in the children’s costume parade around the Mansion at 6pm. Prizes will be awarded for the best “George” and “Martha” costumes!

Hilloween
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free

Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

Halloween Yoga
Where: lil omm
When: November 1, 2:30-3:30pm
Admission: $20/family

Do some post-Halloween poses to work all the frights out. It’s an Oh-So-Omm Halloween party for families with kiddos ages 2 and up. Kids are encouraged to wear costumes for the afternoon of spirited yoga, dance, and movement with lil omm friends, Pleasance and Rhiannon. Be sure to register in advance!

Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: November 1-2
Admission: Free

Join the American Indian museum for its annual Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), a celebration originating in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America, to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. Learn and take part in this centuries-old tradition, which includes pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs alike.

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Wicked Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween

Dracula and Fairy Butterfly Princess on Halloween 2012

Dracula and Fairy Butterfly Princess, Halloween 2012



Why wait until the actual day to celebrate one of the best holidays of the year? Besides the bonuses of getting more mileage out of costumes and having extra excuses to indulge in sweets, Halloween festivities are a treat any day. And there are loads of ways to get into the spooky spirit during the days leading up to the grand event. From no-fright fun to wicked cool thrills, here are the many ways you can scare up a good time this Halloween season. (Be sure to note that a few events will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Spooky SPY Family Night
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 11, 6-9pm
Admission: $14

Has your brother been spying on you? Is grandma really a secret agent? Does dad really have lethal ninja skills? Now’s your chance to find out as your family of spies gains exclusive after-hours access to the Museum, including the new exhibition Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains. Test your family’s spy skills as you run top secret missions, go deep undercover and transform your appearance with the help of professional make-up artists, challenge yourself in Code Cracker competitions, play VINGO (Villain Bingo), and enjoy SPY snacks and a chance to explore all forms of spy tradecraft. Come in disguise as your favorite spy! Includes exclusive after-hours admission, SPY snacks, scavenger hunt, prize competitions, and more! Space is limited — advance registration required.

“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-8pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends. Purchase tickets online.

Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 12, 13, 19, 20, & 24-30
Admission: $5 and a can of food

Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it “very scary” (and this is part of the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train runs 6-9pm each night. Purchase tickets online.

Planet Spooky & Trick-or-Treat with Dinos
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
A brand new event at Kings Dominion, Planet Spooky will feature all of the treats (but no tricks) for little ones to enjoy! Some of adventures include a pumpkin painting patch, petting zoo, foam pit, pedal tractors, a hay maze, live shows and more, that all take place in the new Planet Snoopy at Kings Dominion – which features 18 rides, with many of the rides designed for families to experience together. During Planet Spooky, all of the rides in Planet Snoopy will be open. The park also unveiled its all-new Trick or Treat with Dinosaurs! Kings Dominion has a 6-acre animatronic dinosaur park called Dinosaurs Alive, with 39 life-sized dinosaurs that make sounds and move as if it was 65 million years ago. New in 2013, Kings Dominion will dress up several of these dinosaurs in costume and offer children a chance to trick-or-treat through Dinosaurs Alive with their families before Halloween!

Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 6-27
Admission: Free
Join the American Indian museum for its annual Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”), a celebration originating in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Central America, to commemorate the lives of the dearly departed and welcome the return of their spirits. Learn and take part in this centuries-old tradition, which includes pre-Hispanic and Spanish customs alike. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Boostravaganza
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 17, 6-8pm
Admission: $8/child

Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up.

The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 19, 1pm
Admission: $14
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 25-27, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
Princesses, mythical creatures, kid-wizards, and other costumed guests are invited to join us at our annual Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo. There’s no safer or more exciting way for families with children ages 2-12 to trick or treat. A ticket is required for all attendees 2 years and older. Enjoy animal encounters and festive decorations along with tasty candy and delicious snack foods from more than 30 treat stations throughout the Zoo. Take a ride on our Conservation Carousel, too! Tricks optional. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Fall Harvest Festival Halloween Weekend
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under

The farm’s annual seasonal festival includes Halloween fun for the weekend, when guests are encouraged to come in costume. Celebrate and create an unforgettable experience picking pumpkins, cheering on the fastest piglet, smashing pumpkins with P-Rex, getting lost in our corn maze and having your little princess meet their little princess. And don’t forget those freshly made Cider Donuts!

Wax Frightful
Where: Madame Tussauds
When: October 26, 10AM – 4PM
Admission: $20/adult, free for ages 4-12 (online)

Join Madame Tussauds for fun Halloween crafts, costume competitions, spooky tales and more! Three sessions are available at 11am – 12pm, 1-2pm, and 3-4pm.

Haunted Hangar
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 26, 7-9pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2

Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.

Falloween
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 26, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. People and pets in costume are invited to join in the FALLoween Parade at 11am, led by The Jokesters. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.

Halloween at the Medical Museum
Where: National Museum of Health & Medicine
When: October 26, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join NMHM for some spooky Halloween fun on Saturday. Children of all ages are invited to learn about skulls through fun arts and crafts activities at NMHM’s free Halloween event. Visitors can also tour the Museum’s exhibits, which feature several full human skeletons and skeletal preparations. Halloween costumes are welcome.

Air and Scare
Where: Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 26, 2-7pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm

Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 9th 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. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 26, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. And new this year are pumpkin-themed kiddie games with prizes. The Halloween celebration will conclude with a costume parade through the Park at 3:30pm. (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Trick or Treat with the Boo-tiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 26, 11am – 6pm
Admission: FREE

Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.

Spooky Science
Where: Maryland Science Center
When: October 26
Admission: $16.95/adult, $13.95/ages 3-12

Celebrate the chills and thrills of Halloween at our fifth annual Spooky Science, where creepy chemistry and mysterious science combine to provide a hauntingly good time. There will be hair-raising activities, creepy crafts, and fangtastic demonstrations. Visitors can look forward to making gooey, glowing slime, decorating pumpkins and trick or treat bags, playing mummy bowling, and exploring mystery boxes filled with eerie items. Save room for more spooky fun with Reptiles Alive! Their live animal show will feature slithering snakes, terrifying toads, beaded dragons and more. Shows will be at 1pm and 3pm.

Fall-o-ween Family Festival
Where: Port Discovery
When: October 26
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up

Dress the kids up in their favorite costumes and join Port Discovery’s annual festival! Enjoy not-so-scary, family friendly programs and performances include nature-themed activities, crafts, tutu making, wildlife adventures, spooky science, live entertainment, and more.

Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 26, 10am & 1pm
Admission: $12/members, $15/non-members

Enjoy a Spooktacular family friendly tour through the historic gardens. After the tour, children participate in a chilling chocolate workshop to create their own 3D haunted chocolate houses to take home! Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Monster Mash
Where: National Children’s Museum
When: October 26, 10am
Admission: $10, under 12 months are free

Bring your little “monsters” for a day of Halloween surprises, mask making, Sesame Street character fun and much more! Make sure to wear your best Halloween costume!

Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 27, 1-3pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free

Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Baby Loves Disco Halloween Ball
Where: U Street Music Hall
When: October 27, 11am
Admission: $15/ticket or 4 for $55

Come dressed up in your costume (you, too, Mom and Dad!) for a special Halloween family dance party. Prizes, contests, tricks, and lots of treats will be part of the fun along with the always-groovy DJ-spun music set and energetic MC.

Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 27, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumed child, $10/adults accompanying children

Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.

NSO Halloween Spooktacular: The Sequel!
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Admission: $15-18
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! But watch out, because at this frightfully fun follow-up to the NSO’s popular Halloween Spooktacular program, ghoulishly attired musicians might “BOO” you from behind their instruments in return! Don your spookiest ‘ween wear and come early for pre-concert trick-or-treating plus a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Then take your seats for a “spirited” performance as an incognito Ankush Kumar Bahl conducts a new round of goosebump-inducing favorites. Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Joanie’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 31 – November 1, 10am & 11:15am
Admission: $5-8

At this session of Tot Rock: Jammin’ at the Smithsonian, there’s no reason to scare up an excuse to dance like crazy when the energetic Brooklyn-based, kindie-rock band Joanie Leeds and The Nightlights make their Halloween debut at Discovery Theater. Leeds brings songs from her latest album, Bandwagon, along with other hits and kid-friendly Halloween tunes. The band will be in costume—and families can be, too! (Note: This will not occur if the shutdown is still in effect.)

Hilloween
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free

Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

Nightmare Manor Family Night
Where: Ijamsville, Md
When: November 1, 5-9pm
Admission: $20
Family Night is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Scares are toned down for younger children, and kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that are capable of warding off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too frightened. Go hungry and roast smores over the bonfire, or enjoy our other delicious foods.


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Let the Halloween Festivities Begin!

Boba Fett walking to school... just one of many reasons why Halloween rules

 

Halloween may still be weeks away, but its spirit has been pervading for awhile. Mostly in the form of costume catalogs sliding through the mail slot, but also with cobweb covered front yards and, of course, hauntingly endless conversations with the kids about what/who to dress as this year. And we can take that even further with activities and events that celebrate the spirit, some starting as soon as this weekend. Here’s where the treats, tricks, scares, and kicks will be happening, listed in order of start date. Be sure to note that even though some may be weeks away, you can get your tickets now, and some require advance registration. And if there’s anything good that I’ve missed, feel free to mention it in the comments.

“Eye Spy” Halloween Train
Where: Cabin John Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation, free for kids 2 and under

Hop on board the Halloween Train! Cabin John’s “Eye Spy” features just enough “boo” power for kids age 8 and under. Along the ride through the woods on the train, kids can try to find Halloween friends hiding along the way and mark them off their “Eye Spy” game cards that they receive with admission. Guests can also enjoy Halloween movies every night, face painting on Saturdays and Sundays, and light refreshments for sale. The train runs 3-pm on weekdays and 1-8pm on weekends.

Haunted Train & Creepy Carousel
Where: Wheaton Regional Park
When: October 6-7, 11-14, 18-21, 25-31
Admission: $6/person, $5 with canned food donation

Wheaton Regional Park’s Haunted Train and Creepy Carousel are back and scarier than ever! This annual Halloween attraction is best for guests ages 8 and up, because they do their best to make it VERY SCARY (and this is the website description, so take their word for it). Admission includes one ride each on the train and carousel, plus entrance to the Hall of Jack o’ Lanterns movie theater presenting scary films every night. The train runs 6-9pm each night.

Howl-O-Fest
Where: Kings Dominion
When: Weekends October 6-28, 12-5pm
Admission: Free with park admission
It’s frightful fun for little ones at the Virginia amusement park with all sorts of treats at daytime during Howl-O-Fest’s Boo Blast. Families can enjoy a Halloween treasure hunt, foam pit, pumpkin painting and more! Kings Dominion is located in Doswell, about 90 minutes from DC. Admission to the park starts at $37.99 and you can usually find discounts online.

Nightmare Screamplex Family Night
Where: Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, Md
When: October 7 & November 2, 5-9pm
Admission: $20
Family Night at the haunted venue is a fun and interactive Halloween experience suitable for all ages. Kids going through the haunt will be given magical rings that ward off all forms of ghosts and monsters in case they get too scared. The show will be a “lights on” tour, but guests are welcome to bring flashlights. And on Family Nights only, regular admission gives you free access to tons of games and activities. Certifikid currently has a $12 admission deal.

Boostravaganza
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park
When: October 18, 6-8pm
Admission: $8/child

Children ages 3-8 are invited to come to the Indoor Arena Barn dressed in their favorite costumes anytime between from 6-8pm. Enjoy fun, games, and a wagon ride. Finish the evening with treats and a small pumpkin. Reservations are required, and space is limited, so go here to sign up (use code #2824862701).

Dia de los Muertos
Where: National Museum of the American Indian
When: October 20-21
Admission: Free
Some consider Day of the Dead the native version of Halloween. At the museum, follow the monarch butterflies home and celebrate the return of the ancestors at the museum’s annual Dia de los Muertos program. This colorful celebration of life includes food demonstrations by the museum’s Mitsitam Native Foods Cafe and a cultural presentation by La Danza de los Tecuanes. Learn how papel picado, sugar skulls and paper mache figures are created.

Operation Undercover: Secrets of Disguise Workshop
Where: International Spy Museum
When: October 20, 10am – 12:30pm
Admission: $30

Ditch your Halloween costume and change your whole identity! Go deep undercover for a mission too secret to divulge in print. The intricacies of creating a cover identity complete with “pocket litter,” documentation, and disguise will be shared in this workshop where recruits will be transformed—you’ll learn to look like a different person, and think like one too. A cadre of professional make-up artists, hair stylists, and spy experts will be on hand as recruits prepare to take on the ultimate challenge: a mission to retrieve top secret intelligence while undercover. Will your cover be blown? Will your disguise withstand the test? For kids ages 8-11.

lil omm Halloween Party
Where: lil omm Yoga Studio
When: October 25, 3:15-4pm
Admission: Free
Put the BOO into Buddha! Tenley/Friendship children’s librarian Katie Fitzgerald and lil omm’s Pleasance Silicki invite you to a ghoulish good story time and Halloween inspired yoga. Come wearing costumes and get special treat. This free event is for families with children up to 5 years old.

Boo at the Zoo
Where: National Zoo
When: October 26-28, 5:30-8:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $30/non-members
This annual event is the wildest trick-or-treat in town. Kids ages 2 – 12 can get costumed up for after-hours Halloween fun at the Zoo. Get ready for tasty candy, delicious snack foods, and other goodies from more than 40 treat stations. Plus, animal encounters, keeper talks, and festive decorations are yours to enjoy. Boo at the Zoo takes place rain or shine. Buy tickets through Ticketmaster or in the Zoo’s gift shop between 9am and 4:30pm.

Glow Night – A Magical Evening on the Farm
Where: Great Country Farms
When: October 26-27
Admission: $10/child, $12/adult, free for ages 2 and under

See a spectacular display of over 3,000 lighted jack-o-lanterns carved by local school children. The magical moment when they cut the lights (7pm) will take your breath away. Bring your carved Jack-o-lantern to enter in a carving competitions — Jack-o-lanterns are judged for Best in Glow, Scariest and Funniest. Along with the light show, warm yourself by the bonfire, roast some marshmallows, and enjoy apple cider. The farm is open daily 9am – 9pm.

Air and Scare
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air & Space Museum
When: October 27, 2-8pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15 until 7pm

Discover the spooky side of air and space at the Udvar-Hazy Center’s 8th 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. Be sure to pose for a photo with your favorite Star Wars character!

Haunted Hangar
Where: College Park Aviation Museum
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors, $2/ages 2-18, free for under 2

Wear your costume and enjoy fun fall themed activities. Explore the museum’s gallery and all of its hidden haunts. Arts, crafts, hayrides, and spooky fun are waiting for kids and families.

Glen Echo Fall Frolic
Where: Glen Echo Park
When: October 27, 1-4pm
Admission: Free, but small cost for some activities
It’s a safe and fun Halloween event with something for everyone! Explore the arts through hands-on crafts, Halloween activities, and performances at Glen Echo’s annual celebration. There will be pumpkin decorating and face painting ($1 fee for pumpkin; $1-2 for face painting) and other craft activities, including decorating trick-or-treat bags to use in the Park. Don’t miss the Pumpkin Promenade, a simple maze that children may walk through to pick up special prizes.

Falloween
Where: Market Common Clarendon
When: October 27, 10am – 2pm
Admission: Free

It’s a day of fall fun at the shopping center, including trick or treating, a costume parade (for people and pets), a Rocknoceros performance, a petting zoo, face painting, a kids circus, strolling entertainment, balloon creations and much more. Visit the website for the schedule of festivities.

The Spooky Magic of Joe Romero
Where: BlackRock Center for the Arts
When: October 27, 1pm
Admission: $14
BlackRock celebrates the Halloween season with Joe Romano providing tricks that are a real treat. This skilled and exciting magician will perform jaw-dropping illusions for the whole family. Joe will float on a broom, turn a child into Harry Potter, make a friendly ghost appear, and more! Go early to join the free pre-show party, with arts & craft and a snack. The one-hour performance is recommended for children ages 4 and up.

Halloween Monster Jump
Where: Pump It Up in Lanham, Md
When: October 27, 29, & 31, various times (See below)
Admission: $13/child, $5/adult
Calling all witches, goblins, princesses and superheroes ages 2 and up! You are invited to join Pump It Up in Lanham, Md, for their 4th Annual Pump It Up Monster Jump! Dress in costume for Halloween Jumping. (No makeup, swords or sharp objects allowed). The admission fee includes jumping, goodie bags, fun games, prizes, and more. Jump times are 7:30-9:30pm on 10/27, 5-7pm on 10/29, and 7-9pm on 10/31.

Hallowmarine
Where: DC National Aquarium
When: October 27, 12-4pm
Admission: $9.95/ages 11 and up, $4.95/ages 3-11, free for 2 and under
Ahoy! There be pirates at the National Aquarium! Enjoy live music from a real band of swashbucklers as Pirates for Sail sets the mood for the Hallowmarine celebration. Plus, participate in fun activities like face painting and a costume contest for kids; explore the mysteries lurking in our waters with a spooky scavenger hunt; and put your knowledge of animals to the test to win prizes.

Trick or Treat with the Boutiques
Where: Old Town Boutique District in Alexandria
When: October 27 during store hours
Admission: FREE

Bring your ghosts and goblins for a day of trick or treat in the Old Town Boutique District. The OTBD’s annual Trick or Treat with the Boutiques event is a great way for families to enjoy a safe and fun Halloween day in Old Town Alexandria. All of the participating OTBD stores will offer treats, and some may also offer family-friendly tricks. Halloween costumes are encouraged. Tricks and treats will be available during the day and during store hours.

Haunted… Chocolate House Workshop & Tea
Where: Tudor Place
When: October 27, 1-2:30pm
Admission: $20/members, $25/no-members, $7/accompanying adults

How do you build a chocolate house? Start with some tea – early America’s favorite pick-me-up – accompanied by lovely sandwiches, snacks and sweets and a costumed interpreter full of stories about tea-drinking history and lore. Next, out come delicious ingredients for your individual “haunted home-building” project (one per child), and you will learn how to construct your own three-dimensional chocolate house, decorated with edible wonders.

Westfield Family Spooktacular
Where: Westfield Wheaton Mall
When: October 27
Admission: Free
Have a wicked good time at Westfield Wheaton this Halloween season! Join the Westfield Family for some safe exciting fun as they host the annual Family Spooktacular event. Stores throughout the mall will provide treats for all of the ghouls and goblins that attend, so be sure to wear your costume. In addition to a safe trick-or-treating experience around the mall, there will be tons of free activities for families and children of all ages to enjoy, including arts & crafts and more.

NSO Halloween Spooktacular
Where: Kennedy Center
When: October 28
Admission: $15-18
Is it ever cool to “boo” the orchestra? It is on Halloween! And during their Halloween Spooktacular, NSO musicians dressed up as ghosts, ghouls, and goblins just might peek out from behind their instruments to go “BOO” back at you! Go early outfitted in your spookiest ‘ween wear for pre-concert trick-or-treating and a special Haunted Hall Musical Instrument “Petting Zoo.” Recommended for ages 5 and up.

Haunted Halloween Pop-Ups
Where: National Building Museum
When: October 28, 1-3pm
Admission: $10/members, $15/non-members, adults are free

Celebrate the spirit of Halloween as you design your very own pop-up haunted house. Learn the pop-up architecture technique from guest artist Carol Barton. Decorate a spooky haunted house scene to take place on your window sill. Fun for the whole family, the festivities include crafts, treats, and ghosts stories (more silly than spooky!) about the Museum. Recommended for ages 6 and up. Prepaid registration required. All children must be accompanied by an adult.

Crime Museum Halloween – Just for Kids!
Where: National Museum of Crime & Punishment
When: October 28, 1-5pm
Admission: $10/costumes child, $10/adults accompanying children

Batman, Wonder Woman, police officers, and all other costumed characters can enjoy a day of Halloween fun at this Penn Quarter museum. Festivities include a regular museum tour, Police Academy Jr. Activity Sheet, McGruff the Crime Dog appearances, finger print identification cards, candy, and more.

Halloween Party Smiles for Shira
Where: Potomac Community Center
When: October 28, 3-4:30pm
Admission: $25

Dress up in costumes and have some fun…it’s Halloween time, everyone! Join Mamas Link and Mizmarni and the JJs for a crazy party and concert featuring a special musical performance, sweet treats, costume photos, interactive games and activities, a parade and more. Proceeds from this fun for the whole family benefit the Smiles for Shira Foundation.

The Great Zucchini’s Halloween Party
Where: Discovery Theater
When: October 30-31, 10:15am & 11:30am
Admission: $5-8

You’ve heard of the Great Pumpkin. Now meet the Great Zucchini, a vegetable of a very different color—and one of the area’s most entertaining and in-demand kids’ magicians and comedians. There’s a yummy mix of amazing feats, interactive fun, and plenty of laughs waiting in his bag of Halloween tricks. Come in costume!

Hilloween
Where: 7th Street SE in front of Eastern Market
When: October 31, 5:30-7:30pm
Admission: Free

Capitol Hill’s annual event is a legendary neighborhood event for little ones. The block of 7th Street SE next to Eastern Market will be closed to traffic for one of the best community Halloween celebrations in the city. Hayrides, moon bounces, goody giveaways, and even a mini carousel add to the excitement. The best part is seeing the masses of jubilant kids in all kinds of costumes indulging in the extravaganza.

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The Weekend Round-Up: November 25-27

A recent frolic at the National Arboretum, one of our very faves

 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and has emerged from the food comas unscathed, because this is a weekend to relish.  Not only is it an extra long one, but we get to it enjoy it amid blue skies, sunshine, and unseasonably comfortable temps.  This will bode will for the many events and activities happening at outdoor locales, several holiday-themed ones among them.  And if you’d rather shed the jackets at an indoor venue or you’re not quite in holiday mode, these recommended pursuits cover those preferences, too (just scroll to the end after the first rec).  Here’s where you can find it all over the next three days.  Happy Weekend!

Nights at the MuseumIf you’re making the rounds at the museums on the National Mall, save Natural History and American History for last. The two Smithsonian favorites will have extended hours through the weekend, open until 7:30pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Hit the Rink – It’s going to be perfect weather for outdoor ice skating these next couple of says, so lace up the skates and get gliding. Enjoy art as you skate at the Sculpture Garden or shop then skate at Pentagon Row, Veteran’s Plaza, or Reston Town Center.  This post has details on both alfresco and indoor ice skating options in the area.

Harbor Lights FestivalThe kick-off of the National Harbor’s annual Tree Lighting and Holiday Light Show begins this evening at 5pm. Watch as the tree is illuminated in a spectacular display of colorful twinklers, listen to live music in National Harbor Plaza, and enjoy festivities throughout the evening. If you can’t make it tonight, you can catch the gleaming extravaganza every half hour until 10pm nightly through the season .

Alexandria Tree LightingCelebrate the city’s official start to the holiday season in Old Town’s Market Square this evening from 7-9pm. Along with the tree lighting, entertainment will include a visit from Santa, a performance of Santa’s Frosty Follies by the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center, plus caroling and a community sing-a-long.

Holly Trolley FestThe National Capitol Trolley Museum in Silver Spring is hosting its first weekend of special holiday exhibits on Saturday and Sunday from 12-5pm.  Along with the regular museum experience, guests can ride the streetcars with Santa and see the trains display in the Christmas Garden. Admission is $7/adults, $5/ages 2-17 and includes unlimited rides.  Admission without rides is $4.

ZooLightsSee the National Zoo in a whole new light, literally, as thousands of environmentally friendly lights and animal exhibits transform the park into a holiday wonderland. Along with the lights, there will an “iceless” skating rink, train rides for kids, train displays, and more.  Admission is free, but activities cost extra — $5/skate, $2/skate rentals, $3/train rides. Open Friday through Sunday from 5-9pm (and more dates later this season).

Holidays, Oh HolidaysThere’s way more DC holiday fun to be had — Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden, Christmas on the Potomac, Christmas at Mount Vernon, wonderful train and light displays – and much of it begins this weekend.  For the complete rundown on all of them, see this post about the best holiday events of the season.

‘Twas the Night Before ChristmasAdventure Theatre’s latest production following the wild adventures of a mouse, and elf, and a spunky little girl is a perfect holiday show for the whole family. We caught it last weekend (review on the way), and found it a delight from beginning to end.  Tickets are $18 and still available for shows on Saturday and Sunday.

If you’re night quite ready to usher in the holiday hoopla, check out these posts for tried and true recreation:

The Best Places in the DC Area to Enjoy a Beautiful Day Outdoors with the Kids

Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun)


Groupon: Get the Best Deal in Your City Today!

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The KFDC 2011 Guide to DC’s Best Holiday Events

Season's Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden

 

DC doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the holidays. There are options galore for celebrating the season, many of them annual events that quickly become family traditions.  See model trains wind through miniature Christmas villages, drive through dazzling light displays in the woods, have a cool experience (literally) with interactive sculptures in ice. Some of the fun begins as soon as this weekend, so bookmark this page (along with this one featuring live entertainment) and start making some holiday plans.

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; searches for the Botanic Garden’s seasonal exhibit exceeded all other topics last year. 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, try to guess “Who Lives Here” in the whimsical animal houses along the mini-train route. 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 KFDC review from last year.

Holiday on the Ellipse
Where: The Ellipse, President’s Park
When: December 1 – January 1
Admission: FREE
This should have a permanent spot on everyone’s DC holiday repertoire. The National Christmas Tree, the National Menorah, Santa’s Workshop, plus trains and displays representing all 50 states are a must-see during the season. Kids will especially love visiting Santa in his adorable little cottage for a peek at his operations and a photo op on his lap (read about our experience there last year), which is open at select times, usually through Christmas Eve. And the rest of it lit up at night with the White House and Washington Monument glowing in the distance makes for a dazzling holiday scene.

Trains loop the National Christmas Tree

Christmas on the Potomac
Where: National Harbor
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: FREE, though some activities cost extra
National Harbor goes all out during the holidays. ICE! might be the big attraction, but there’s way more 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 starting November 25, the Potomac Express train offering rides for guests, photo ops with Santa, indoor snowfalls, fountain shows, and more. (Read about our experience there last year.) Afterward, shop the holiday market on American Way (open Saturdays & Sundays November 26 – December 18 or grab a bite at one of the Harbor’s many restaurants.

ICE!
Where: National Harbor
When: November 18 – January 8
Admission: Mon-Thurs $25/adult, $20/kids; Fri-Sun $35/adults, $25/kids; 3 and under are free. Get 50% off with this LivingSocial deal while it lasts!
Technically, this is part of Christmas on the Potomac, but it’s supposedly such a huge spectacle in itself, that it deserves its own write-up. And since I have yet to experience it myself (as explained in this post last year), here’s the description from the website: “Gaylord National’s popular ICE! winter holiday attraction returns with an all-new, hilarious theme: ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar. From Nov. 18 to Jan. 8, the DreamWorks Animation holiday TV special will be brought to life in an interactive world of colorful ice sculptures carved entirely from TWO-MILLION pounds of ice. Relive the story as you stroll through this amazing attraction featuring scenes such as how Santa and his reindeer crash-landed onto the island of Madagascar, and why Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman and the wacky penguins must figure out how to save Christmas by delivering all the presents themselves. Even the mischievous lemur King Julien learns the true meaning of the holiday and manages to get himself off the “naughty list” once and for all. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, and there are timed entries are every half-hour.  Hours vary by day, so be sure to check the schedule when you plan to go.

National Menorah Lighting
Where: The National Ellipse
When: December 20, 4pm
Admission: FREE, but you must request tickets
As I noted in this post from last year, it’s tough to find family Chanukah events open to the public in the area. But they do happen, and this is a nice one.  Along with the lighting, there will be entertainment by the U.S. Marine Band as well as Dreidelman and the Macabees. If you don’t mind waiting in line afterward, stay for latkes and donuts. Tickets are free, but you need to request them in advance. Go here to get yours.

Come light the National Menorah

Christmas at Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum, & Gardens
When: November 25 – January 6
Admission: $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under
The special daytime holiday program at George Washington’s homestead includes 12 Christmas trees, a gingerbread Mount Vernon, historical chocolate-making demonstrations (and tastings!), and more.  Guests will also have the chance to tour the rarely opened third floor of the mansion to learn how the first First Family celebrated Christmas.  And outside, Alladin the camel will be on view to recall the camel ol’ George himself bought for 18 shillings in 1787 for his guests’ enjoyment at Christmas.

Holiday Train Show
Where: Union Station
When: November 22 – January 2
Admission: FREE
The Holiday Train Show located in the Main & West Halls features a new model train display for the first time at Union Station in 15 years. MTH Electric Trains, a leading model train manufacturer in Columbia, Md., is providing the locomotive exhibit that consists of model trains from every railroad era and includes trains from Europe and other parts of the world.

Holiday Festival of Trains & Toys
Where: B&O Railroad Museum
When: November 25 – December 31
Admission: $14/adults, $12/seniors (60+), $8/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. So much so, it changes throughout its run featuring new displays from various Model Railroad Exhibitors every few days. The exhibit opens the day after Thanksgiving with the arrival of Santa in the Roundhouse at 10:30am. On weekends through December 18, guests can enjoy train rides with Santa and Frosty the Snowman along with crafts and choral performances. Train rides are $2/adults, $1/children, free for B&O Members.

Holly Trolley Fest
Where: National Capitol Trolley Museum
When: November 26 – December 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 est of the museum, offering a glimpse into the history of street cars, including a Hall displaying different cars from around the region and Europe. Visit the website for directions museum.

ZooLights
Where: National Zoo
When: November 25 – December 11, December 16 – January 1
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, and this year there will be an “iceless” skating rink (made of an eco-friendly synthetic skating surface) in the Picnic Pavilion Guests can also enjoy entertainment and a special train ride for children, special talks by animal keepers, Zoo-themed model trains displays, and the gingerbread habitat contest entries on display in the auditorium.  The Small Mammal House, Great Ape House, Reptile Discovery Center, Think Tank, and Kids’ Farm will be open every night. Skating and train rides cost extra: $5 to skate, $2 skate rentals, $3 train rides.

Watkins' drive-thru light show

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 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 illuminated scenes. New festival features include Santa flying a helicopter and driving a fire truck.

Symphony of Lights
Where: Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion
When: November 21 – January 1, 6-10pm nightly
Admission: $20/car
Called a “woodland wonderland,” this beautiful display of more than 70 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.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens
When: November 25 – January 8, with noted exceptions
Admission: $20/car Mon-Thurs, $25/car Fri-Sun
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 weekdays 5:30-9pm, with last car admitted at 8:30pm, weekends (Friday – Sunday) 5:30-10pm, with last car admitted at 9:30pm. Closed December 24 & 25, and January 2-5.

Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights
Where: Alexandria City Marina
When: December 3
Admission: FREE
Alexandria’s harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Washington Channel to the historic waterfront. Pre-parade festivities at the Alexandria City Marina begin at 4pm with Santa arriving by fireboat at 4:15pm. The boat parade begins at 6pm. The Marina is located at Cameron Street in Old Town.

Winter Lights Festival
Where: Seneca Creeek State Park
When: November 25-26, then nightly December 2-31
Admission: $12/car Tues-Thurs, $15/car Fri- Sun
The 16th Annual Winter Lights Festival will feature more than 380 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. Proceeds Benefit Local Charities.

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 Entertainment
Take your pick of The Nutcracker productions, see Ebenezer Scrooge on stage, rock out or sing along to holiday tunes, discover celebrations around the world — there are shows to suit all theater preferences, ages, and wallets. See this recent KFDC post has details on live entertainment to be enjoyed this holiday season.


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