Christmas Celebrations in Our Nation’s Capital


There are countless holiday markets and one-of-a-kind seasonal light displays not to be missed when visiting Washington, D.C., during the Christmas season. Here are our favorites.

The National Christmas Tree, located in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, is an absolute must-see. Did you know that the tree is surrounded by smaller trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories? The tree can be visited daily (starting at 10 a.m.) and is lit from 4:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. Visits and nightly musical performances are free of charge. President’s Park is also home to the National Menorah, which begins its display on the first of the eight days of Hanukkah.

Every December, the White House is filled with holiday decorations: Christmas trees, wreaths, garlands, colorful lights, gingerbread houses, and more. A team of volunteers from across the country works diligently in late November to get the White House ready for the very popular public White House holiday tours. You can view the White House Christmas decorations in December by signing up in advance for a White House tour. These tours are popular, so the sooner you submit your request, the better chance you will have to tour the White House this holiday season.

On Saturday, December 8th, meet Grandfather Frost, Russia’s Santa Claus, and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden in a fun family play at the Hillwood Estate Museum and Gardens. The annual Russian Winter Festival runs from 10 a.m. till 5 p.m.; admission is $18 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-18.

While visiting, don’t miss Festive Fabergé, an exhibit on view through January 13, 2019, and the Christmas trees and holiday decor throughout the estate.

From November 23rd through January 1st, more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LEDs illuminate the National Zoo during ZooLights. Please note that the zoo is closed December 24th, 25th, and 31st.


On the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, enjoy the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The famous tree even has a Facebook and Twitter account! This year’s tree comes from the Willamette National Forest in Oregon.

Looking for that perfect gift? Check out the Downtown Holiday Market located between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. The market is open daily November 23rd through December 23rd, noon-8 p.m.

The Willard InterContinental Washington hotel is without a doubt one of DC’s most historic hotels. Take some time from your busy schedule and enjoy afternoon tea (1-4 p.m. daily, except December 24th, 25th, and 31st) and harp music in the Peacock Alley. The decor is guaranteed to be festive.

Union Station, too, is decked out with holiday decor, including the majestic Norwegian Christmas Tree. The tree is a gift from Norway to Washington, D.C., for the support the United States provided during World War II. Union Station has a variety of shops with D.C.-centric gifts and a fabulous holiday model train display.

Every year the National Harbor offers exciting holiday activities, especially ICE! This year, the wonderland at the Gaylord National Resort showcases A Charlie Brown Christmas, and you can learn how these incredible ice sculptures are carved. It’s a fun experience for the whole family.

If you are celebrating the season in Our Nation’s Capital, check out The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C. for all there is to do and see.  If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here.


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