1. Winter Lights Festival
Nov. 27-Dec. 31, Sunday-Thursday: 6-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 6-10 p.m.
Seneca State Park, 1950 Clopper Rd., Gaithersburg, MD
Winter Lights features more than 350 illuminated vignettes and 65 animated displays in a 3.5 mile drive through beautiful Seneca Creek State Park. Themed areas include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, the North Pole and much more.
2. Manassas Christmas Parade
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.
Old Town Manassas, VA
Come see amazing floats, local celebrities, live performances, marching bands, equestrians, animated characters, giant balloons and Santa!
3. Village at Leesburg Christmas Tree Lighting
Nov. 21, 3-5 p.m.
1602 Village Market Blvd, Leesburg, VA
Santa arrives by horse-drawn carriage to kick off the holiday season by lighting the Spectacular Musical Tree. It’s covered in 15,000 dazzling lights! Festivities include horse-drawn carriage rides, musical performances, caroling, holiday characters, chestnut roasting and more!
4. Christmas at Mount Vernon
Nov. 27, 2015- Jan. 6, 2016, 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.
3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA
Visit George Washington’s estate during the Christmas season and see sparkling holiday decorations, featuring 12 dazzling Christmas trees, and historical chocolate-making demonstrations.
5. Gaylord National’s ICE!
Through Jan. 3
Marriott Gaylord National Harbor, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD
Enjoy a winter wonderland created from 5,000 BLOCKS of ice hand-sculpted by international artisans. The attraction is fully interactive, allowing guests to roam inside, around and on-top of holiday scenes. The theme for 2015 is Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.
6. Rockville Town Square Holiday Open House
Dec. 3, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Rockville Town Square, Rockville, MD
This annual family-fun event includes Santa’s arrival, holiday tree lighting, free photos with Santa and tons of festive goodies!
7. The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Dec. 3 (check www.thenationaltree.org for events and times)
The White House Ellipse (tickets required)
Nationally known entertainers and a military band perform and the President brings a message of peace to the nation and the world. Events and live entertainment continue at the National Christmas Tree throughout the holiday season.
8. Discovery Theater’s Seasons of Light
Nov. 30-Dec. 18
Ripley Center, Smithsonian (Nov. 30-Dec. 16)
Rasmuson Theater, American Indian Museum (December 17-18 only)
This seasonal favorite at the Smithsonian’s children’s theater celebrates the warmth of many holidays filled with light. Learn the history and customs of Devali, Ramadan, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Christmas, and the First Nations tradition of the Winter Solstice
9. Bethesda’s Annual Winter Wonderland
Dec. 5, 1-4 p.m.
Veterans Park, Woodmont and Norfolk Ave., Bethesda, MD
Blocks of ice will be transformed into wintery works of art before your eyes during the live ice sculpting presentation followed by choral performances from local school groups. Santa Claus will make a visit to the park that afternoon, and holiday treats will be provided for children.
10. Middleburg Hunt & Christmas Parade
Dec. 5, 11 a.m. (Hunt); 2 p.m. (Parade)
Main Street, Middleburg, VA
One hundred horses, their riders in red coats and dozens of hounds take to the streets of Middleburg for this annual event. The parade features a unique assortment of floats, marching bands, local community groups, Santa, antique fire trucks and a variety of animals. A Wine Crawl at the end of the day allows adults to relax and sample wines from area vineyards and foods from local restaurants.
11. Frederick Festival of Lights
Dec. 18, 7 p.m.
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 106 W. Church St., Frederick, MD
Holiday greetings, carols and an inspirational message are all part of this event, which highlights the true meaning of the holiday season. Attendees join in the program with a moving candle lighting ceremony, filling the Courtyard with magnificent light.
12. McLean Winterfest Parade
Dec. 6, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Downtown McLean, VA – along Chain Bridge Road from Fleetwood Rd. to Elm St.
Let the kids come see Santa ride through the WinterFest parade on the McLean Volunteer Fire Department’s antique fire engine. Registration begins at 2 p.m., and the parade steps off at 3:30 p.m. in Downtown McLean on Chain Bridge Road.
13. Kwanzaa Celebration 2015
Dec. 12-13, Saturday: 2 p.m. & 8 p.m.; Sunday: 4 p.m.
Coyaba Dance Theater, 3225 8th St. NE, Washington, DC
Welcome the holiday season with Dance Place’s annual Kwanzaa Celebration! Gather family and friends to watch and celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa.
14. Scottish Walk Weekend
Dec. 4-6, 11 a.m.
The Campagna Center, Alexandria, VA
Come to Old Town Alexandria to watch (and hear) hundreds of Scottish clansmen with their bagpipes at the 44th Annual Scottish Walk Parade. The weekend features tours of historic homes, a Christmas Marketplace and Café.
15. National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony
Dec. 6, 4 p.m. (rain or shine)
The White House Ellipse (at the NW end, near Constitution Ave.)
Festivities at the lighting ceremony include musical performances, hot latkes and donuts. This year’s celebration will feature the United States Army Band. The Menorah will be lit each night of Hanukkah.
16. The Christmas Revels
Dec. 5-13 (check www.revelsdc.org for show times)
Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University
The annual show will be a lively celebration with spirited dances celebrating the Irish spirit of the Emerald Isle in the mid-1800’s.
17. The Water Skiing Santa
Dec. 24, 1 p.m.
Old Town Alexandria, VA (prime viewing along the waterfront between King and Oronoco Sts to include Founders Park and the Alexandria City Marina)
One of the most exciting events of the season is back – The Water Skiing Santa! The annual event features a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch and Frosty the Snowman performing sing-alongs on the Potomac River.
18. Chanukah on Ice!
Dec. 8, 6-8:30 p.m.
Pentagon Row Ice Rink, 1201 S. Joyce St., Arlington, Virginia.
Event is hosted by Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington. Tickets online for $10 per person and includes skate rental. Features free raffle, and the lighting of a six foot Menorah. Enjoy Hot Latkes, Kosher Hot Dogs and other refreshments as well!
19. Clarendon Menorah Lighting
Dec. 9, 6 p.m.
Clarendon Central Park, 3140 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA.
Experience the festival of lights with the lighting of a giant 6-foot menorah, lively music, hot potato latkes, chocolate gelt and dreidels.
Nov. 27-Jan. 2 (closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31), 5-9 p.m.
National Zoo in Washington, D.C.
The National Zoo sparkles with thousands of lights that create sculptures of many of the Zoo’s most popular animals. You’ll see giant pandas, Asian elephants, an octopus and more! Enjoy winter-themed crafts, treats, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, photo sessions with costumed characters and storytellers.
21. Bull Run Festival of Lights
Through Jan. 3
Bull Run Regional Park, Centreville, VA
2.5-mile drive-through holiday light show with more than 40,000 animated lights set to music at Bull Run Regional Park featuring penguins, snowmen, candy canes, jumping deer, Santa’s workshop, Frosty the Snowman, tin soldiers, elves and Santa. Afterwards, visit the Winter Wonderland Holiday Village that includes rides, an ice skating rink, shopping, contests, food and more.
22. The Nutcracker Puppet Show
Nov. 27-Dec. 30 (check www.thepuppetco.org for show times)
The Puppet Co. Playhouse, Glen Echo Park, 7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo, MD
A Washington tradition for 27 years, “The Nutcracker” is the 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.
23. Holiday Sing-A-Long
Dec. 5, 4 p.m.
Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Rd., Vienna, VA
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 area. Bring along a candle to join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”
24. Gingerbread Architecture Workshop
Dec. 5, 10 a.m.-12 pm.
National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW, Washington, D.C.
Gingerbread is back at the National Building Museum! Build your own edible house using gingerbread and royal icing, and decorate it with a variety of materials. A group of four can comfortably work together on one gingerbread house.
25. Holly TrolleyFest
Dec. 5-6, 12-13 & 19-20, 12:30-4:30 p.m.
National Capital Trolley Museum, 1313 Bonifant Rd., Colesville, MD
If your child loves trains, then they will surely love getting in the holiday spirit at the Holly TrolleyFest! Guests get to celebrate the season with toy trains and Santa aboard the streetcars all afternoon.