With all of the extended family already trickling into town, sometimes the only coping mechanism we have to deal with them is to just calmly and persistently ooze copious amounts of holiday excitement. So, if this is a situation you find yourself in (or you’re just plain old in love with the holidays) then look no further for your answers. In no particular order, here are 8 events in the D.C. area to help you see and escape into the holiday spirit; whether you choose to bring your family along or not….
Located on the White House Ellipse in President’s Park, the National Christmas Tree is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a giant Christmas tree. But not only does it have a stunning light display, but surrounding it are (get this) more trees! The smaller trees are decorated with handmade ornaments representing 56 different US States and Territories. It’s pretty hard to get tickets to the actual lighting ceremony on November 30th and they’re already out of stock but it’ll be on the Hallmark Channel on December 4th (along with the rest of their fantastic low budget specials), and there are nightly performances for the entire duration of the exhibit. The tree is open for viewing every day from 10am to 10pm between November 30th and January 1st. The lights go on at 4:30 pm, so make sure to drop by even if it’s only for a few minutes.
The Downtown Holiday Market is again, pretty much exactly what it sounds like, but only 100 times more magical. From November 24th to December 23rd this year, the corner of 8th Street and F will become home to over 60 different holiday inspired shops on rotation. It features a grand total of 150 different artists, crafters, and ethically sourced boutiques that are bound to turn downtown D.C. into a one-stop-shop for every one of your gifting needs. And if you don’t happen to be interested in spending pocketfuls of money, the market also has free seasonal entertainment and cheap treats there to keep you occupied as well. Hours are from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm each day too, so this market scores bonus points for letting us sleep in.
If you’re looking for some fun that’s a little less than family friendly (another term for 21+), look no further than 7th street NW in Shaw. Southern Efficiency (1841 7th St. NW), Eat the Rich (1839 7th St. NW), and Mockingbird Hill (1843 7th St. NW) have partnered up to put together the most extravagantly strange holiday pop-up bar the coast has ever seen. Featuring scenes from a Dreidel Chandelier to a “Chinese and Movies,” room, Miracle on 7th not only provides insta-worthy art displays but also funky fresh holiday themed cocktails and free beer swag; so after it opens on November 24th go get you some! (Just remember to drink responsibly)
For those out there that celebrate Hanukah, the White House also has a National Menorah they light every year. A 30 FOOT National Menorah, that is. And to accompany this lighting ceremony there is live music, free Dreidel and Menorah kits, and free hot donuts and Latkes. Tickets are free and still available on the website for the event which will take place at 4:00 pm on December 12th on the White House Ellipse, so get them soon because fresh Latkes are delicious and you do not want to miss out.
Georgetown GLOW is an interactive light exhibition that takes place all throughout the historic neighborhood. It features several local artists that each have their own message to share and Georgetown’s old time-y backdrop provides a gorgeous (and maybe even romantic) atmosphere to take on by yourself or with your boo. And if you find yourself in Georgetown from December 8th to January 7th for GLOW, you might as well take a trip to The Washington Harbor and go ice skating, although unfortunately unlike Georgetown GLOW, the skating is not free.
This one is for the crafty little old lady inside all of us. Every year the US Botanic Garden holds a holiday themed exhibition and the 2017 theme is Season’s Greetings: Roadside Attractions. It features tiny trains that run on tracks through plant-based miniatures of iconic American roadside landmarks from South Dakota’s Corn Palace to the Cadillac Ranch in Texas. The display features thousands of flowers including an incredible variety of poinsettias (apparently there is more than one kind?) as well a replica of D.C.’s own landmarks including their newest edition, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. How beautiful is that?
This event isn’t technically in D.C.–it’s about 20 minutes outside of the city in a place called National Harbor. National Harbor has tons of Holiday inspired activities from light shows to an ugly sweater run. Holiday movies play every weekend and you can find some of the best shopping in the area here, but if you’re looking for something a little bit different, stop by Gaylord National Resort and walk through ICE! It’s a frosty wonderland made entirely of, you guessed it, ice. Actually, 2 million pounds of ice crafted from 35 different Artisans from Harbin, China. And if you get tired of walking there are four ice slides scattered around the event for you to use as shortcuts. Yes you read that correctly–ICE SLIDES. The theme this year is “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer,” and this may in fact be an event for children but I mean, I consider myself at least an adult in training, and I went two years ago and had the time of my life, so take that how you will.
The last item on this grand list takes place in two different cities. It starts in Alexandria and ends in D.C.’s “Wharf.” From 4:00 to 10:00 pm on December 2nd, boats decked out in holiday splendor will travel across the Potomac and Anchor at The Wharf where tons of people and an exclusive “Captain’s After Party” await them. There are fireworks, a bonfire, s’mores, live music, and (again for the 21+) winter drink sampling at the Waterfront Wine & Beer Garden until then so if you have time, stop on by and enjoy a little Christmas cheer assuming it isn’t so cold out that the river freezes over. (hey, it could happen…)
Photo Credit: Cover