Top 12 Holiday Things to Do in Washington DC and the Washington DC Area.

Capitol Christmas‘Tis the Season for Holiday Cheer in Washington DC. The twinkling lights and holiday spirits can make any inner Grinchyness disappear. In the spirit of the 12 Days of Christmas, we’ve compiled our list of the Top 12 Holiday Things to Do in Washington DC.  We’ve got Parades, on land and sea, holiday lights, theatre and shopping in Washington DC this holiday season.  Did we miss your favorite Holiday event? Let us know in the comments area!

The Downtown Holiday Market – The 8th Annual Downtown Holiday Market returns for 24 delightful days, November 30 through December 23, 2012, on the F Street sidewalk in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum & National Portrait Gallery between 7th & 9th Streets, NW.  Enjoy more than 180 regional artisans, crafters and boutique businesses of ethnically produced goods. While you’re shopping, enjoy lively seasonal entertainment, plus great snacks and festive treats.


Season’s Greenings at the Botanic Gardens
November 22, 2012 through January 1, 2013. During the holiday season, the U.S. Botanic Garden presents “Holiday Magic”, a unique exhibit featuring model trains and incredible replicas of Washington, DC’s most famous buildings and monuments.


Zoolights at the National Zoo
November 23, 2012-January 1, 2013, 5-9 p.m. The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, and ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers.


Manassas Christmas Parade

December 1, 2012, 10 a.m. Old Town Manassas. See amazing floats, local celebrities, live performances, marching bands, equestrians, animated characters, giant balloons, and Santa at the Manassas Christmas Parade. The parade route begins at Mathis Avenue and concludes at the intersection of Center Street and Grant Avenue.


Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

December 1, 2012. A favorite holiday celebration in both Old Town Alexandria and Washington, DC. Festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River including 50 powerboats, sailboats and the District’s fireboat, the John Glenn Alexandria Holiday Boat Paradespouting water 70 feet into the air. The best place to view the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights is the from the docks of the Alexandria marina. Santa will arrive via boat to visit with children dockside at the gazebo and will be available for photos. Held Rain (Snow) or Shine – 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. – Festivities on the docks at the Alexandria Waterfront (music and entertainment) 4:15 p.m. – Santa arrives by boat – pictures with Santa for Kids and Canines 5:00 p.m. – Parade starts at the Washington Channel, Water St. off of Maine Avenue, Washington, DC 6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Parade at Alexandria Waterfront

National Christmas Tree

Lighting Ceremony – December 6, 2012. Open through January 1, 2013. The National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace is illuminated during the holiday season each evening from dusk until 11 p.m. Seasonal displays include a Yule log, a large-scale model train and a Christmas manger. Musical performances by volunteer choirs and dancers are held nightly on the Ellipse stage. Tickets are required for the lighting ceremony.


Christmas on the Potomac and ICE! At National Harbor

Step inside a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice weighing 1.5 MILLION POUNDS! hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit. With a new theme each year, this is an interactive holiday attraction you won’t want to miss.


First Night Alexandria

Ring in the New Year with a celebration with entertainment for all ages. Musical performances will be held inside Old Town Alexandria’s historic buildings and many events will be held at the Masonic Temple on Callahan Drive. At Midnight, celebrate the New Year while watching the beautiful fireworks display at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial on Callahan Drive between King and Duke Streets.


Christmas at Mount Vernon

Christmas at Mount Vernon has been named as one of the “12 Places to Catch the Holiday Spirit” by AAA! Mount Vernon is joyfully decking the halls for Christmas at Mount Vernon, a special daytime program offered through January. Themed decorations (including 12 Christmas trees), historical chocolate-making demonstrations, and 18th-century dancing will be offered.



Irving Berlin’s White Christmas at the Kennedy Center

December 11 – January 6 Direct from Broadway, the classic holiday movie White Christmas comes to the stage at last! This brand new musical shines with classic Irving Berlin hits like “Blue Skies,” “How Deep is the Ocean?,” and, of course, the unforgettable title song.


Bullrun Festival of Lights

For more than 12 years the Bull Run Festival of Lights at Bull Run Regional Park has drawn thousands of visitors from hundreds of miles away to Centreville, Virginia, just BullRun Festival of Lightsoutside Washington, DC. This year’s festival opens November 21st and runs  through January 6th, 2013!



Ice Skating at Washington Harbor

At 11,800 square feet, the new Washington Harbour Ice Rink is DC’s largest outdoor ice skating venue, and is also larger than New York City’s Rockefeller Center rink. The Washington Harbour Ice Rink officially opens for the public skating season in mid-November after a transformation from its interchangeable use as a picturesque fountain.



  1. 14 − 13 =