Holiday Guide to Washington, D.C.

Christmas tree next to Momofuku

Renee Sklarew, author of The Unofficial Guide to Washington, D.C., shares with us a 2022 holiday guide to our nation’s capital. 

holiday guide
Picture courtesy of Renee Sklarew

There’s so much to see and do in D.C. 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 wintertime visit.

Light Up the Night—Where to see holiday displays 

  • This year marks the 100th anniversary of the annual tree lighting ceremony at the White House, which took place on December 11, 2022.
  • Walk past the beautiful U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree, which was chosen from Six Rivers National Forest in North Carolina. Once lit, the tree glows nightly on the West Front Lawn through New Year’s Day.
  • The Yards DC—a neighborhood near the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium— features a collection of shimmering trees illuminated from December 1, 2022, to January 1, 2023. 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 from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.
  • 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.

Celebrate with Live Theater—Where to see holiday shows

  • 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  November 18 through December 31.
  • See a spectacular version of the classic ballet The Nutcracker performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre from November 25 to December 30, 2022.
  • The incomparable Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show is playing at the Atlas Performing Arts Center December 9-18, 2022. Afterward, take a stroll through the vibrant H Street neighborhoods.

Shop for Unique Gifts—Where to find holiday markets

  • Head to Union Market to do some shopping. Every week in December, Union Market hosts a winter wreath-making event.  
  • The magical Downtown Holiday Market returns to Penn Quarter with local vendors, light bites, and festive decor. The market runs November 18-December 23.
  • Eastern Market Main Street hosts its annual holiday market The Holly Days with live music, food, and window displays November 26-December 31. 
holiday guide

Go Ice Skating at D.C.’s Best Outdoor Rinks

Photo courtesy of Renee Sklarew

Cross the Potomac River to visit the historic town of Alexandria, Virginia—a magical place to celebrate the holidays with some outstanding shopping.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight

November 25 and 26, December 2, 3, 9, 10, and 18 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Enjoy a candlelit guided tour and learn about holiday traditions in 18th-century Virginia and the build-up to the American Revolution, as Alexandria celebrates the 250th anniversary of the year 1772. Admission: Members: $26 for adults; $18 for youth; Non-members: $36 for adults; $28 for youth. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, VA 703-780-2000.

Independence Day

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