11 Holiday Activities in Washington DC

DC has so many fantastic holiday activities.  Music, trains, shows, etc. etc.  It’s the best.  Makes for a crazy month, but what is December for if not a little fun-filled exhaustion?  Here are my top 11:

  1. Train display at the US Botanic Gardens – Trains woven in with the gorgeous plants, tons of poinsettias, Christmas trees, etc.  Lovely and fun.
  2. Hot Chocolate – We are serious hot chocolate lovers over here, and tried out Artfully Chocolate for the first time a few days ago.  So many amazing flavors.
  3. Old Town Alexandria – after hot chocolate, you can continue on to Old Town to see the lights, gorgeous window displays, and partake in some old-fashioned holiday cheer.  Old Town is always gorgeous, but especially so at Christmastime.  I highly recommend taking a candlelight tour.  It is just so so lovely (and you can almost always find a deal of some sort, so don’t pay full price!).
  4. Christmas concert at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – We attended another concert here a couple of years ago and the tone and the quality of music was just gorgeous.  Their Christmas concert is always delightful.
  5. Ice skating – The National Gallery sculpture garden gets turned into an ice rink in the winter and, I mean, ice skating at the NATIONAL GALLERY.  It’s pretty cool.  Also, the Kettler Capitals Ice Plex in Arlington has county sponsored skate times in which you pay $1 for admission, including skates.
  6. Handel’s Messiah – So many sing alongs and performances, it’s so so great.  We’ve attended ones at St. Peter’s, Truro Anglican, and the First Baptist Church of DC.  We also always attend the (paid) performance at the Kennedy Center (glorious).  The Kennedy Center also always has a sing along, but since tickets for that one are free, you have to wait in line and it’s not quite as family friendly as some of the other sing alongs (we like to take the kids to the sing along, and do the performance as a date.  We’re intense about Messiah over here.).
  7. The Nutcracker – Too many performances to name.  We’ve attended the one put on by BalletNova for the last couple of years and loved it.  It’s low-key enough to bring kids if we want (maybe next year) but still really well done with great talent and costumes.  Not a million dollars like some of the professional ones, and we can feel good about supporting local dance education.
  8. Zoolights – I mentioned to Dan that this cost lots of money in another city.  We’re so spoiled here with having so many things be free.  Nat was pretty much beside himself with all the lights of animals and such here.  Also includes trains and gingerbread house habitats.
  9. Washington DC Mormon Temple Festival of Lights – So many lights, gorgeous music, a creche exhibit, tons of trees.  Just lovely.
  10. White House tour/National Christmas tree lighting – This last one is the trickiest to figure out, but is worth it.  The lighting is fairly self-explanatory – the lights turn on.  The tour is a little harder; you have to either request tickets from a Congressperson or get them through an agency.  I was lucky enough to perform with a group there this year, so we got to tour, as well, and the Christmas decorations were spectacular.  If you can swing it, do.
  11. Wreath-laying at Arlington Cemetery. This is such a beautiful and meaningful event, and a great way to feel gratitude during the season. While I wouldn’t necessarily have my kids play a game of tag between the stones, I wouldn’t hesitate to bring them (update: we took our then-3 kids ages 5, 3, & 1 in 2015 and it was wonderful!). Highly recommend!

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