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Washington D.C. Holiday Events and Attractions to Enjoy with Your Family

DC Christmas

As the weather turns colder and the fall decorations and turkey leftovers have been put to rest, it’s time to start looking forward to the December holiday season. Tree lightings, concerts, live performances, and more delight families in the D.C. metro area.

The National Christmas Tree and Holiday on the Ellipse

Washington D.C. National Christmas Tree

While it’s too late to snag tickets to the official tree lighting ceremony (the free tickets are awarded in early November each year via an online lottery), you and your family can still take a stroll past the gorgeous temporary landmark that attracts thousands of visitors each December. You can also time your visit to the National Christmas Tree and Holiday on the Ellipse in order to catch one of the live performances visitors are treated to each evening from December 1 – January 1.

Gaylord National’s ICE

Washington D.C. gaylord ice 2012

Shrek the Halls is brought to life by thousands of pounds of sculpted ice in this winter wonderland adventure. Visit with the ice versions of Shrek, Donkey, Fiona, and friends in the 9-degree home and enjoy ice slides, character meet and greets, and more while you’re at Gaylord National’s ICE.

National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony at The White House

Celebrate the beginning of this Jewish holiday with hot latkes, and donuts, menorah kits and dreidels, live music, and serious family fun at The White House. Celebrate a tradition your family is familiar with or go out so they can learn about something new.

Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Washington D.C. ice skating

Outdoor ice skating is a perfect way to enjoy the holiday season. Being able to do it surrounded by the beautiful National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is even better!

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-a-Long

The free, annual Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-a-Long includes performances by local choirs and the United States Marine Band. You and your family can get in on the caroling action by singing along and bringing a candle to light for the traditional candlelight processional.

Waterskiing Santa Claus

Head out to the National Harbor to enjoy Santa taking the Potomac on his water skis for the 28th year. I’m not sure why it’s so exciting, but kids love seeing Santa zooming across the water on his skis with his reindeer and Frosty. It’s also the perfect day to enjoy the tree and other festivities at Christmas on the Potomac.

Light Festivals

There are a number of these events around the DC area for families to walk or drive through. Some of our favorites include the Festival of Lights at Watkins Park, Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek State Park, and the famous Zoo Lights at the National Zoo.

The Nutcracker

It’s a timeless tradition for the Christmas season and the D.C. area, home to a multitude of skilled theater and dance companies, has a variety of opportunities for families to enjoy the show. Find tickets for spectacular performances at the Warner Theater and the Kennedy Center. Looking to enjoy an even more special experience with your children? Check out the Sugarplum Extravaganza at the American Dance Institute which features a pre-performance tea party and an arts and crafts project.

Visit Old Town Alexandria

The beautiful streets of Old Town Alexandria are even more festive during the holiday season. There are a number of attractions to enjoy, including George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon, that goes all out for the Christmas season. Also, be sure to check out the annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights where more than 50 lighted boats cruise the waterfront to the delight of onlookers.

Christmas Holidays at Trekaroo


Find holiday activities and events in your neck of the woods.  We’ve got the inside scoop on cities across North America.




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