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 things to do during the Christmas season. I always update the old post (go check it out!) with this year’s dates but here’s even more holiday cheer for your social calendar. If any of your favorites are missing, let me know in the comments!

Note: This was originally published in 2016 but has been updated to reflect 2017 dates. 

Christmas Markets and Lights to Celebrate the Holidays in Washington, DC

Smithsonian Holiday Film Festival: Head to the National Museum of American History December 12  for movies to celebrate the holidays.  Find tickets on the site. 

Ice Skating at the Sculpture Garden: Ice skating surrounded by gorgeous sculptures in the Sculpture Garden? Sign us up! Beginning November 17, 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: Friday, November 30 to Sunday, December 2. Get tickets online!

Georgetown GLOW: Georgetown GLOW is a unique lights display featuring local artist so you’ll find more than just your traditional holiday light set ups. The exhibit runs from December 8 to January 7 from 5 pm to 10 pm nightly.

The District’s Holiday Boat Parade: Head to The Warf near the L’Enfant Plaza metro stop on December 1 from 6 pm to 9 pm for holiday activities, a boat parade (7 PM), and fireworks. If you are in Virginia, head to the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade  for a day of holiday activities and 5:30 PM boat parade. 

Carriage Rides, Ice Skating, and Parades Rings in Christmas in Virginia

Fairfax Festival of Lights and Carols: Head to Old Town Hall in Fairfax on December 1 from 12 to 6 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 the first three weeks 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). Enjoy live holiday music while sampling local wine, cheese, and sweets.  This event is December 1-2.

Carriage Rides in Downtown Manassas: Enjoy free carriage rides in downtown Manassas from 1 to 4 pm on Sundays in December (December 2, 9, 16). 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 through March 10.  Enjoy theme days including Rock n Skate Fridays, Cartoon Skate Saturdays, and College Skate Night Thursdays (discounts for students with IDs).

Leesburg Holiday Parade: Head to Leesburg on Saturday, December 1 at 6 pm for the holiday parade! Lights, food samples from local restaurants, and Santa! 

Holiday Concerts and Light Displays Light up 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:

  • A Swingin’ Nutcracker (December 7-8)
  • Handel’s Messiah (December 8-9)
  • Cirque Nutcracker (December 13-16)
  • Holiday Pops (December 22)

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. 

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 16 to January 1 except November 19-22 and December 24-25.

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 8 at 6 pm to see the boats dressed in festive lights!

Holiday Trains and Planes: The College Park Aviation Museum will have a festive display of holiday trains and planes December 15-22. Be sure to also check out the aircraft collections while you’re there!

About Kelley Smith 72 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.


  1. 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 feature food and drink (and wine!). Tickets are $25 which will feel like a great deal after all the food and drinks and fun. The money is a a fundraiser for the local nursery school which my daughter attends. Please let me know if you have any questions.


    • Hi Madeline – thank you for sharing your event! It sounds like a lot of fun. I am happy to promote this event on my social channels if you would like. Do you have a photo I can use? I love the header image of the red door on your website. Please let me know!

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