The capital of the nation isn’t as stuffy as its prestige might suggest. The holidays in Washington DC are a special time in which the fun-loving nature of the city shines. From the Christmas Tree lighting to the National Hanukah Memorial to Zoolights at the Zoo, the whole city buzzes with the festive Christmas spirit. If you’re spending Christmas in Washington DC, you and your loved ones are in for a treat.
If you’re bringing the little ones, consider spending some time at the National Zoo, one of Washington DC’s top attractions. From November 29th to January 1st from 5 to 9 p.m. the zoo embodies “merry and bright” with a sensational display of animated twinkling lights, ice sculptures, choral groups, cider offerings, and story times. It’s truly a great experience for the whole family. Even better, the event is completely free, and no tickets are are required. ZooLights 2013 will be closed December 24 and 25.
Another purely festive occasion is a trip to Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at the Marriott in National Harbor. Their holiday production ICE! ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas utilizes giant, sculpted blocks of ice to tell the story of the holiday poem. Over 5000 blocks of ice weighing over 1.5 million pounds is hand-sculpted by over 40 artisans from Harbin, China, kn0wn as the “ice city.” It’s a winter wonderland second to none.
If you’re an architecture buff, consider a candlelit tour through one (or more) of the historic homes and sites of DC and the surrounding areas. People dress in traditional garb and play host to various Christmas traditions. Candlelight tours at Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington, run from November 29 – December 22 from 5:00pm – 8:00pm. The tours highlight the Washington family’s holiday traditions. Admission costs $22 for this tour. Other candlelight tours take place in Old Town Alexandria and Sotterley Plantation in Virginia.
Of course, Christmas in DC isn’t complete without a trip to see the National Christmas Tree. Tickets to the televised event are issued through a lottery. If you happen to win a few, dress warmly!
There are plenty of other ways to celebrate the holidays in the District, including exploring the various neighborhoods for lights displays and seeing The Nutcracker… Washington DC style, at one of the many theaters in the area, including the renowned Kennedy Center. Happy holidays from Washington DC!
-updated by Cyndi Waite