Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Culture > Entertainment

Four Things to Do in D.C. this Holiday Season

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CUA chapter.

It’s hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away, and it’s even harder to believe that Christmas is right around the corner! Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year – holiday drinks at Starbucks, houses decorated with Christmas lights, and Christmas music on blast while I do homework are some of the simple joys in life. More specifically, I love the three weeks I have at school in Washington, D.C. after Thanksgiving and before Winter break.  During these days, I get to spend time with my friends and celebrate the holiday season in the city that I love! Over the past few years, I have discovered some of the best Christmas activities D.C. has to offer, some of which have become yearly traditions for my friends and me. Here are some of the events and places we visit to enjoy the Christmas season in our nation’s capital! 

  1. Downtown Holiday Market

Located right by the National Portrait Gallery in Downtown D.C., this annual Holiday Market is returning for the 19th year! Shoppers can browse a variety of small businesses and enjoy both food and live entertainment daily from November 17th to December 23rd 2023 from noon to 8 p.m. If you’re looking for a special and unique gift for a family member or friend, there is no better place. The Downtown Market is a fun and accessible place (right off the D.C. Metro’s Red Line) to get some of your Christmas shopping done! Additionally, some local restaurants and bars offer discounts if you show your receipt from the Market. Check out those and other details here!

  1. The Improvised Shakespeare Company 

Although not specifically holiday-related, this show has become a December staple for my friend group. Head to the Kennedy Center and enjoy a show like you’ve never seen before. The Improvised Shakespeare Company takes an audience suggestion for the title of the show and performs a completely improvised, 90-minute production using Shakespearean language and all! It is not only extremely impressive, but hilariously wild, and I guarantee that you will be laughing the entire time. Plus each production is different! My friends and I make an effort to go at least twice in the season, and I highly recommend you go the same. You can learn more about the show and buy tickets here! The show will be running from December 4th to 23rd, 2023. (The Kennedy Center has generous student and young professional discounts! Make sure to check them out). 

  1. The Ice Rink at the Sculpture Garden 

If you have ever wanted to say that you’ve ice skated right by the Washington Monument, you’re in luck! The Ice Rink at the Sculpture Garden is another fun and festive activity to do this Christmas season. It’s open from November 20th 2023 to March 3rd 2024 this season and costs less than $20 (including skate rentals) for two back-to-back 45-minute skating sessions. The Pavilion Cafe is also open next door during the day for drinks and snacks. This is a really fun activity to do with your friends, both experienced and beginner skaters alike. There’s nothing that will get you in the holiday spirit more than gliding across the ice with beautiful views of the sculptures in the garden and the rest of the National Mall. Learn more about the rink here!

  1. Holiday Decorations Around the City 

Sophomore year, I was lucky enough to have finished my final exams early during finals week, so I had plenty of time to spare before heading home. To get myself into the holiday mood, I took myself out on a solo date to enjoy the Christmas decorations the city had to offer, and they did not disappoint! There are lots of places in D.C. that are decked for the holidays in December, and most are free of charge. Check out the National Christmas Tree (and the 50 trees for each state) right by the White House, or the Christmas Tree on the lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Get a free pass to the Library of Congress to check out their decorations inside one of the most beautiful places in the city. You can even walk around Capitol Hill and other neighborhoods to see stunning row homes lit up for the season. This is a great option if you have some time to kill and want to get your steps in! 

D.C. has a wide variety of activities and events you can attend to help you get into the holiday mood – these are just a few. Whether you try something on this list or something new, there’s no doubt that you’ll find that perfect thing to get you in the Christmas spirit! 

Hi! I'm Molly, a current Media/Communications and Politics Major at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC! I love baking, taking pictures, and adventures in the city!