15 (more) Holiday Things to Do In Washington, DC

Washington, DC is bright and beautiful around the holidays so I’ve put together 15 more holiday things to do in Washington, DC. Whether you like light shows, Christmas markets, parades, or holiday events, we’ve got an event for you. Plus, let us know if we missed any of your favorite events in the comments.

Note: This was originally published in 2016 but has been updated to reflect 2019 dates. 


Christmas Markets and Lights in Washington, DC

Smithsonian Holiday Film Festival: Head to the National Museum of American History December 7-8 for movies to celebrate the holidays.  See special screenings of White Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Ice Skating at the Sculpture Garden: Ice skating surrounded by gorgeous sculptures in the Sculpture Garden? Sign us up! Beginning November 15, head to the Sculpture Garden for a skating experience next to the works of art. Skates are available for rent.

Christkindlmarkt at the Heurich House Museum: Get started on your Christmas shopping at the German inspired Christmas market at the Heurich House Museum. Vendors from all over the DVM will be selling jewelry, ceramics, chocolate, and more. In addition, you can tour the beautiful museum dressed with festive decorations! The market will be open for one weekend: December 6-8. Get tickets online!

Georgetown GLOW: Georgetown GLOW is a unique lights display featuring 16 local artist making up 10 light displays so you’ll find more than just your traditional holiday light set ups. The exhibit runs from December 6 to January 5 from 5 pm to 10 pm nightly. Displays are found throughout Georgetown so you’ll have time to stop for snacks in shops along the way.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade: Head to The Wharf near the L’Enfant Plaza metro stop on December 7 from 6 pm to 9 pm for holiday activities, a boat parade (7 PM), and fireworks. The time of the boat arrival may vary since the boats are coming from the Alexandria Boat Parade at 5:30 pm.

Related: 6 Opportunities for Holiday Giving in Washington, DC

Light Up the Wharf: Kick off the holidays on November 30th at The Wharf as they light their holiday tree and transform the dock into a winter wonderland. More details on ongoing festivities will be available on their site.

Carriage Rides, Ice Skating, and Parades in Virginia

Fairfax Festival of Lights and Carols: Head to Old Town Hall in Fairfax on December 7 from 2 to 7 pm for holiday fun including music, hot cider, and a tree lighting ceremony (5:30 pm). Be sure to also check out the Fairfax Holiday Market on select dates in December! Fun for the whole family!

Gray Ghost’s Christmas Cork and Cheese Celebration: The title says it all: ring in Christmas with wine and cheese at Gray Ghost Vineyard in Amissville (west of Warrenton) December 7-8. $25 per ticket lets you enjoy live holiday music with wine tasting, 1 full pour, a limited edition holiday logo glass, and a cheese plate. Plus, don’t miss an opportunity to see Santa on December 15 (free).

Carriage Rides in Downtown Manassas: Enjoy free carriage rides in downtown Manassas from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays in December (December 8, 15, 22). Arrive early! The line may be cut to ensure rides are completed by 4 pm. 

Ice Skating in Reston Town Center: Head to Reston Town Center for ice skating open November 8 through March 15.  Enjoy theme days including Rock the Rink Fridays, Cartoon Skate Saturdays, and College Skate Night Thursdays (discounts for students with IDs).

Leesburg Holiday Parade: Head to Leesburg on Saturday, December 7 at 6 pm for the holiday parade! Lights, food samples from local restaurants, and Santa! 

Holiday Concerts and Light Displays Celebrate Christmas in Maryland

Holiday Concerts with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: Join the BSO at Meyerhoff Hall for a variety of Christmas concerts! They will be performing:

  • The Snowman (December 5-7, morning times, for kids)
  • Handel’s Messiah (December 7-8)
  • Cirque Nutcracker (December 12-15)
  • Gospel Christmas (December 19-20)
  • Holiday Spectacular (December 21)

Ice Skating at Rockville Town Square: Bring the whole family to Rockville for an evening of ice skating in Rockville Town Square.  The rink offers rentals and lessons and is also open for birthday parties and corporate events. Open now.

Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens: Head to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton for a stroll through the Garden of Lights! Afterward, warm up in the Conservatory with hot coco and enjoy the holiday model train display. Garden of Lights is open from November 22 to December 31 except November 25-28 and December 25-26.

Annapolis Lights Parade: Annapolis is one of the best places near the DVM to see boats and they know how to deck out for the holidays. Head to the harbor on December 14 at 6 pm to see the boats dressed in festive lights!

About Kelley Smith 75 Articles
I'm Kelley Smith and I love sharing tips on how to best explore Washington, DC. I love pretty much anything I can eat plus really good beer and whiskey served by story telling bartenders. I also like sassy museum guides, photogenic architecture, and colorful urban gardens.

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[…] If you need even more ideas, check out 15 (more) holiday things to do in Washington, DC! […]

Madeline
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I don’t know if you are going to do another update of things to do in DC, but I am a part of organizing the Cheverly Holiday Home Tour. The tour will provide access to 6 houses including the MacGruder home, parts of which date to the 1700’s and which was the main house of a tobacco plantation. But the tour also includes some more down-to-earth ideas for people looking for houses they can transform themselves through a little dreaming and a little elbow grease. Please see the website below for some sneak peaks, Each stop on the tour will… Read more »