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9 Can't-Miss Holiday Events in D.C.

December 18, 2016

It's the most wonderful time of the year. 


‘Tis the season to get your holiday-spirit on. With wintertime being the best time to visit our nation’s capital, here are nine ways to eat, drink and be merry this holiday season in Washington, D.C.:

1. ZooLights

Explore the wild side of holiday festivities with an after-hours visit to ZooLights at the Smithsonian National Zoo. This month-long event (Nov. 25-Jan. 1) illuminates the zoo with over 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights, live music and more. Many of the animal houses remain open so you can visit your favorite furry (or not-so-furry) creatures. 

2. Downtown Holiday Market

Hop on the metro to Chinatown and visit the Downtown Holiday Market (located at 8th and F Streets NW) to find a mix of unique trinkets and gifts, diverse music acts and vendors with tasty eats. While most of the music falls into the jazz, rock and R&B genres, Christmas favorites will also be regularly sung. The Downtown Holiday Market runs every day from 12-8 p.m. until Dec. 23. 

3. Georgetown GLOW

Reimagine the season of lights and take a stroll through D.C.’s prettiest and most historic neighborhood to see tons of illuminated artworks showcased in Georgetown GLOW. Local and internationally celebrated artists display their works throughout the neighborhood every day from 6-10 p.m. until Jan. 1. 

4. Shopping

In case you’re still rushing to find those last few gifts for people on your list, you have endless shopping options in the city that will surely bring quality gift-finds. You can visit CityCenterDC, Georgetown or the Verizon Center neighborhood… or just visit all three! 

5. National Christmas Tree

Probably the best-known thing to do in D.C. this time of year is visit the National Christmas Tree in front of the White House. Every state and territory decorates a smaller tree that surround the main one, creating the beautiful and creative display. Stop by The Willard to warm up afterward for an indoor experience of holiday magic.

6. White House Visit

After you visit the National Christmas Tree, venture inside the White House for a special tour. Although tours must be scheduled in advance, the Gingerbread White House is worth it.

7. ICE! at National Harbor

Visit National Harbor to experience the indoor winter wonderland, ICE! This exhibition displays two million (yes, two million) pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures that lead visitors through holiday scenes, ending at the North Pole to see Santa and his elves. Plus, the two-story ice slides don’t hurt either.

8. The Nutcracker at Warner Theater

What’s the holiday season without The Nutcracker? This classic ballet production is set in historical Georgetown with George Washington and King George III.

9. Water-Skiing Santa


This unusual (but awesome) annual event features a water-skiing Santa, a jet-skiing Grinch, flying elves and Frosty the Snowman performing on the Potomac River. Head to Alexandria, Virginia on Dec. 24 and you will not leave thinking of Santa the same way as you did when you arrived. It’s truly an experience.


Whether you’re a D.C. local or looking to visit the nation’s capital for the day, there are endless events and festivities to prove to you that it’s truly the most wonderful time of the year! 


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