The Best Holiday Events in the DC Area

Kings Dominion | Provided Photo

It’s the most magical time of the year! The DMV is filled with family-friendly holiday events, from leaping ballerinas to exhibits filled with kitsch of fun and beloved annual events that many families turn into time honored traditions. The holiday season is a time to see millions of sparkling lights brighten the dark winter nights and indulge in special treats. There is something to get everyone in the holiday spirit. Here are some of our favorites from the tried and true to the completely brand new.

Let’s Go to a Show

The holidays are a great time to experience live theater, and there is something for everyone. The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker is a classic holiday treat that all families should experience at least once. Love musicals? Head to the Kennedy Center to see Wicked and hear the story of the Wizard of Oz told from the point of view of the Wicked Witch. Younger kids will love seeing Mo Willems’ Naked Mole Rats Get Dressed transformed into a rock experience at Imagination Stage in Bethesda.

Make the Magic Real

Head deep into the forest to Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forrest Experience in Leesburg, Va. Your favorite magical beast may be around the corner as the Wizarding World comes to life around you. Bring your wand to perform your own spells during this interactive journey and relax with a Butterbeer at the end of the trail. Another great immersive event is Artechouse DC’s Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse. In this digital experience, you can float among giant swinging bells, attend a party with a thousand nutcrackers, take a train ride among wreaths and spin on a candy cane carousel.

Christmas at Gaylord National

ICE! returns to Gaylord National in National Harbor, and this year features A Christmas Story. Come to see the larger-than-life rendition of the iconic film and stay for the endless events at Gaylord National. There will be ice skating, bumper cars on ice, story time with Mrs. Claus, gingerbread cookie decorating and so much more. Make a day of it or spend the night.

Lights Galore

It wouldn’t feel like the holiday season without experiencing the twinkle of thousands of lights. Enchant will once again take over Nationals Park with millions of lights, a Little Elves Play Place, a maze, and so much more. After a two years hiatus, Zoolights is back at Smithsonian’s National Zoo with its glittering displays and your favorite nocturnal animals. Winter City Lights in Olney is the place to be if you want to experience 18 acres of a twinkling winter wonderland where it’s guaranteed to snow. Many regional parks also host their own light displays, so check those out too!

Polar Express

Hop aboard the Polar Express that leaves from the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore for a ride straight to the North Pole to see Santa himself. The iconic book of the same name comes to life as passengers listen to a retelling of the story and get cookies and hot chocolate. Pajamas are encouraged! When passengers disembark, they will experience an indoor snowfall in the roundhouse and participate in various holiday-themed activities.

US Botanic Garden Train Display

One of the area’s most beloved holiday events is the U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual train display. The gardens are transformed for the holidays every year as train displays are interspersed with the greenery.

Theme Park Magic

Theme parks aren’t just for summertime! Experience WinterFest at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Va. with a holiday parade, horse-drawn carriage rides, pictures with St. Nick and more than 20 rides that are even more fun at night. Younger kids will enjoy a PEANUTS Guide to Christmas and cookie decorating with Mrs. Claus.

Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge

If a few hours of holiday magic aren’t enough, head to Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, Va. to immerse yourself in Snowland. There is nightly snowfall in the lobby, seasonal crafts, a Frosty Family Dance Party and plenty of other holiday cheer. When it’s time to warm up, head to the toasty 84-degree indoor waterpark.





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