Get in the holiday spirit with holiday markets, Christmas light displays and seasonal events in the nation’s capital.
Cross visiting the National Christmas Tree off your bucket list
The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it's surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season. The display is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. beginning Dec. 1 while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m. This year's lighting ceremony takes place on Nov. 30, with the event set to air on Dec. 11 on CBS.
Check out the Downtown Holiday Market
This free-to-frequent downtown bazaar is centrally located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, the beloved market stretches across two blocks of F Street between 7th and 9th streets. Scope out eclectic wares from dozens of pop-up tents with seasonally flavored music performed live in the background. Locally roasted coffee and crafted-before-your-eyes mini-doughnuts inspire a cold-weather appetite, creating a holiday atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in DC. The market will be open Nov. 18–Dec. 23, and will be closed Nov. 24 and Dec. 5.
Get some Season's Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden
From Nov. 24 through Jan. 2, 2023, as part of its free Season's Greenings celebration, the U.S. Botanic Garden will feature G-gauge model circulating through agricultural displays made from plant parts, new plant-based landmarks including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the National Gallery of Art's East Building. Throughout the Terrace Gardens and Bartholdi Gardens, trees and shrubs will feature string lights, festive evergreens and six large plant-based sculptures of pollinators. A gift store run by the Friends of the U.S. Botanic Garden and local D.C. small business Rewild will offer a variety of botanically themed gifts for purchase in the Conservatory's West Gallery.
Experience the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Embrace the neighborhoods with DC Holiday Lights
Neighborhoods throughout the nation’s capital are adorning their “main streets” with colorful lights between Nov. 18, 2022, and Jan. 8, 2023. Additionally, vendors in each neighborhood are offering holiday specials and promotions throughout the month to encourage shopping locally. You can enjoy this holiday cheer in Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, U Street and Woodley Park, among other locales. Votes can be cast for the best decorated corridor!
Be dazzled by the lighting of the National Menorah
The National Menorah - White House Ellipse
Chanukah kicks off with this Dec. 18 lighting ceremony of the world’s largest menorah on the White House Ellipse, which greets all with latkes, doughnuts, menorah kits and dreidels. Music from the United States Navy Band will add a soundtrack to the scene. As is the custom, a new candle is illuminated on each of the eight days of Chanukah.
Feel merry and bright when you visit Tudor Place
Holiday Lights at Tudor Place
Experience one of the city’s most historic destinations with an array of seasonal events, including candlelight tours, holiday-themed workshops (including gingerbread and wreath-making), holiday tea time and more.
Groove to the rhythms of Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show
Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show
DC’s Step Afrika!, the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, puts on a holiday extravaganza every year. The incredibly rhythmic, family-friendly show takes place at the illustrious Arena Stage from Dec. 9-18.
Peruse the free Dupont Circle Holiday Pop-Up
Artists and makers will be situated in front of retail shops all over the Dupont Circle neighborhood for this annual event hosted by Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets on Dec. 3. More than 100 vendors will be on-hand to sell paintings, scarves, chocolates, jewelry, pottery and additional holiday-themed items. Pop-up shops will feature imported food, fine art, shoes and more.
Back at the Zoo for 2022! From Nov. 25 through Dec. 30, join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights, powered by Pepco, a part of their annual holiday tradition. The free event includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. Environmentally friendly LED lights and dozens of glowing animal lanterns transform Smithsonian's National Zoo into a winter wonderland. Note that timed passes are required this year.
Marvel at Enchant at Nationals Park
Enchant Christmas, which features a beloved light maze, will make its home in DC at the gorgeous Nationals Park from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1, 2023. There will also be ice skating trails, a holiday village with products from local businesses and a kids’ play place. Expect plenty of Instagram-friendly settings and holiday spirit at this one-of-a-kind installation.
Gaze at neighborhood light installations during Georgetown GLOW
Beginning the Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26), you can stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood to see jaw-dropping illuminated artworks. Georgetown GLOW, which will run through Jan. 22, 2023, is always a holiday hit in the District. Participants range from locally renowned to internationally celebrated, while their works gorgeously adorn outdoor spaces throughout Georgetown.
Grab some gifts at Heurich House Museum's Christkindlmarkt
Heurich House Museum's famed Castle Garden hosts the Christkindlmarkt throughout the first full weekend of December every year (dates for 2022: Dec. 2-4). Tickets grant you access to the arts and crafts-laden market featuring goods from dozens of vendors and the historic mansion, which will be decorated to the nines.
Take in the District Holiday Boat Parade
Each year, dozens of dazzling boats traverse the Potomac River from the waterfront in Alexandria, Va. to the The Wharf. You can observe the parade on Dec. 3 free of charge, and there are holiday festivities to enjoy beforehand, including winter drink sampling, chances to meet Santa, ornament decorating and more. Prizes will be awarded to the most beautiful vessels, which begin their journey at 6 p.m., and fireworks will cap off the parade at 8 p.m.
Check out CityCenterDC's Holiday Tree
CityCenterDC will light its jaw-dropping 75-foot Christmas tree during a cheerful (and free) celebration on Nov. 26 at 6 p.m.. In addition, the ceremony will feature a countdown hosted by NBC4’s Eun Yang, a performance by a seven-piece dance band, balloon artists, face painters and plenty of other holiday-themed activities. You can enjoy the tree throughout the holiday season, as well as gorgeous lights along Palmer Alley. Stay in the festive mood at Conrad Washington, DC, which features incredible views of the tree, its own rooftop, drink specials and festive decorations.
Run to the Riggs to see 'Menagerie a Tree'
The 2022 Riggs Washington DC Christmas Tree was designed by Alexis Bittar and features pastel colors juxtaposed with high shine silver tinsel, which gently moves as guests walk throughout the lobby, and antiqued brush gold detailing. Oversized plumes, papier mâché, custom pearl garlands and mini-glass bottles with quotes from inspirational women throughout history decorate the visual spectacle. Book a stay at the luxurious hotel in honor of the season.
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