Friday, November 24, 2017 / by John Murdock -- CityScapeMetroGroup
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. while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m.
Indulge your wild side with an after-hours visit to the National Zoo during ZooLights, which illuminates the zoo with more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light installations, live music and more. Bid good cheer to various animals on display. ZooLights runs Nov. 24 – Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31). If heady craft brews would make your incandescent wonderland complete, mark your calendar for BrewLights on Nov. 30.
This year’s tree, which will come from the Kootenai National Forest in Montana, will go aglow in early December. You can visit the tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Follow the tree’s Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates.
Thanks to a rotating cast of crafters and vendors, hot coffee and sweets and holiday performances, this magical marketplace is worth multiple trips. Located at 8th and F Streets NW, the market holds down the area in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. At night, its bright lights bring Penn Quarter to life, providing a holiday spark to the neighborhood. But don’t worry, you can shop during the day too: The holiday market is open daily 12-8 p.m. from Nov. 24 – Dec. 23.
It's no secret that Derek Brown knows DC's cocktail scene like the back of his hand. The famed mixologist's pop-up bar concept on 7th Street in Shaw will be decking the halls for year three of the Miracle on Seventh Street with more funky holiday decorations, from an Instagram-worthy 19th century sleigh to thousands of tree ornaments and a "Chinese and a Movie”-themed room. Cool down at this cocktail winter wonderland in one of DC's hottest neighborhoods from Nov. 24 – Dec. 31.
This stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood will certainly make you light up as you pass by unique, illuminated artworks. Georgetown GLOW has proven to be such a hit that it’s now a month-long celebration (Dec. 8 – Jan. 7 from 5-10 p.m.). A group of artists, from locally renowned to internationally celebrated, will display works in outdoor spaces throughout the neighborhood. Afterwards, wander through a winter wonderland at The Washington Harbour, one of our favorite places to ice skate in the District.
Union Station is like its own self-contained holiday oasis. The shops are no secret, and you’ll find plenty of gift ideas there – even for edibles (read: Shake Shack gift card). And don’t disappear without glimpsing the holiday model train display and the Norwegian Christmas tree.
Your George Washington-inspired Christmas awaits at the Founding Father’s Mount Vernon estate, Nov. 24 – Jan. 6. Walk through Washington’s iconic mansion and visit Aladdin the camel, a nod to Washington’s 1787 Christmas in which he paid 18 shillings to entertain guests with a camel. For a truly unique experience, see Mount Vernon by candlelight, Nov. 24-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-9 & 17, between 5-8 p.m., with a character-guided tour, 18th-century dancing and fireside caroling.
Walk under Palmer Alley’s signature stringed lights, stop by Centrolina and carbo-load on creative muffins made in-house, gorge on a holiday feast and shop to your heart’s content, all at this luxury shopping and restaurant destination. Shoppers: mark your calendar for Dec. 10, when fashion-themed ice sculptures, live music and warm drinks can be found throughout CityCenterDC. Our last piece of advice: don’t call it a night without admiring all of the holiday decorations, including one of the city’s best trees!
The U.S. Botanic Garden gets decked out for the holidays thanks to this annual
Decking the Great Hall of the Library of Congress' Thomas Jefferson Building each December, the tree can be visited from the First Street SE entrance between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (the Jefferson Building is closed Sundays and on Christmas). We suggest you also read up on our guide to visiting you can properly explore the largest library in the world!
Attend the lighting ceremony of the National Menorah on Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m. on the White House Ellipse and enjoy live tunes, latkes and hot donuts. The event is free but tickets are required. You can also visit the menorah for the duration of Chanukah.
Heurich House Museum's famed Castle Garden will host the Christkindlmarkt on the first weekend of December, from 4-9 p.m. on Dec. 1 and 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Dec. 2-3. $10 admission ($2 for kids) gets you access to the arts and crafts-laden market featuring goods from more than 40 vendors and the historic mansion, which will be decorated to the nines.
An action-packed holiday schedule is
Held at the House of Sweden, this annual DC tradition held on the first Saturday in December (Dec. 2) from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. features a Swedish marketplace with for-sale crystal glassware, artworks, food, plus more. Snack in the Swedish cafe, try to win prizes and stick around for the main event: the St. Lucia procession with traditional caroling.
No visit to the Brookland neighborhood during the holidays is complete without a stop at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The largest Roman Catholic church in North America dresses up with more than 50 Christmas trees, over 65,000 lights, halls decked with 500-plus poinsettias and two manger scenes. The Basilica is free and open to the public daily from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Celebrate like it’s the 19th century during the Russian Winter Festival at the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens’, which brings holiday cheer and Russian traditions to Upper Northwest, Dec. 9-10 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Meet Grandfather Frost (the Russian Santa Claus) and his granddaughter, the Snow Maiden. You can also make and wear your own traditional headwear and enjoy live performances as you explore the grounds of this historic estate. Admission ranges from free for children under six to $18 for adults; become a member and admission is only $12.
This historic house and museum
Beautiful lights, seasonal
Each year, dozens of dazzling boats traverse the Potomac River from the waterfront in Alexandria, Va. to