Holiday Happenings in Washington, D.C.

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Renee Sklarew, author of The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C., shares with us the holiday happenings in our Nation’s Capital. There is so much to do during the holiday season, whether it’s a Christmas tree lighting, an outdoor market, a holiday performance, or a spin around an outdoor ice rink. Here are just a few ideas for your next visit to Washington, D.C.

Light Up the Night

  • This year marks the 99th anniversary of  the annual tree lighting ceremony at the White House; it takes place on December 5, 2021. If you can’t make it to D.C., you can watch the entertainment on CBS at 8:30 pm (EST) featuring stars like LL Cool J, Chris Stapleton, H.E.R., Maren Morris, and Patti LaBelle.  
  • Walk past the beautiful U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree , which was chosen from Six Rivers National Forest in California. Once lit, the tree glows nightly on the West Front Lawn through New Year’s Day.
Holiday Happenings
  • There’s nothing more fun than watching a procession of boats pass by on the shoreline of the DC Wharf for the Holiday Boat Parade. More than 60 boats, all lit up and glowing, sail down the Washington Channel on December 4.
  • The Yards DC – a neighborhood near the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium – features a collection of shimmering trees illuminated Dec. 1 – Jan. 1, 2022. Light Yards will cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful colored patterns. 
  • Escape the chilly weather and go inside the Conservatory at the United States Botanic Garden to see the lighted trees and greenery. Then enjoy the outdoor holiday display with festive adornments, winterberries, and miniature trains. The festivities take place Nov. 24 – Jan. 2, 2022.
  • Get your shopping in at Penn Quarter’s CityCenterDC, which is all dressed up outside with an installation of 400 gleaming ornaments and a glittering 75-foot tree.
  • The famous illuminations event at George Washington’s Mount Vernon happens Dec. 3-4, 10-11, and 19. Come to see the Mansion and grounds lit by candlelight, and purchase tasty holiday treats, hot chocolate, and unique gifts at the Mount Vernon Museum Store.

Celebrate with Live Theater

  • There’s no better tradition than experiencing Charles Dickens’ beloved Yuletide story of transformation and redemption. Buy tickets for A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre Nov. 24 – Dec. 27.
  • See a spectacular version of the classic ballet The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre Nov. 27 – Dec. 26.
  • The annual “A Candlelight Christmas” runs Dec. 19 – 22 at the Kennedy Center. After the show, take a walk through The Reach for stunning views of the city skyline at night. 
  • Take in the majesty of a full choral performance of holiday music at the National Cathedral with the “Joy of Christmas,” Dec. 11-12.
  • The incomparable “Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” is playing at the Atlas Performing Arts Center Dec. 9 – 19. Afterward, take a stroll through the vibrant H Street neighborhood.

Shop for Unique Gifts

  • Head to Union Market to grab a bite to eat, and do some shopping. Every Friday night at 5 p.m. through December, Union Market puts on a holiday light show. 
  • The magical Downtown Holiday Market returns to Penn Quarter with local vendors, light bites, and festive décor. The market runs Nov. 19 – Dec. 23.
  • Eastern Market Main Street hosts its annual holiday market The Holly Days with live music, food, and window displays Nov. 1 – Dec. 31. 
  • Enjoy an authentic European-style market at the Heurich House Museum. Christkindlmarkt is held in the Castle Garden Dec. 3-5 and features dozens of local artisans.

Go Ice Skating at DC’s Best Outdoor Rinks

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