Believe it or not, there are only 4 weekends left before holiday events begin in Washington, DC!
For many Washingtonians, Zoo Lights, the National Christmas Tree Lighting, or Kennedy Center Events are go-to events, but there's plenty of holiday cheer off the beaten path too! Even longtime DC many not have enjoyed these 3 lesser known holiday gems.
Each year the National Harbor hosts ICE!, a winter wonderland created entirely from enormous blocks of carved ice. The sculptures are hand-crafted by 40 international artists and kept chilled at 9 degrees Fahrenheit. This year theme is "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town" where visitors can wander through exhibits or take a ride on the ICE SLIDE!
Image Credit: Ed Cabic
Pro Tip: Wear heavy clothes. The ice room has additional refrigeration that can get pretty chilly. Visitors receive oversized parkas but can use this as an excuse to layer up. Tickets can be a little pricey and most sculptures can be viewed in about 30 minutes, so it's best to make a day of it and see the other free attractions such as the Tree of Light, Tree Lighting Show, and Brightest Star Fountain Show. Discount tickets are usually available at Costco if you plan ahead!
Though not a tree, and sometimes overshadowed by the National Christmas Tree Lighting, the National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting is an event that's taken place since 1979 and continues to grow. A giant, 30-foot Menorah is raised on the White House grounds a lit for the eights days and nights of Hanukkah. Even it you don't celebrate Haunkkah, the event can be a pretty neat cultural experience. This year the first day of Hanukkah falls on December 17, and the lighting of the first candle takes place at 4PM.
Pro Tip: The event is free to attend, but tickets must be booked in advance.
As someone who lives in DC, I don't make it out to Alexandria very often. But if you're going to make the trip, the holidays are the perfect time. Beautiful Old Town Alexandria hosts some amazing events nearly every weekend so no worries if you miss one. Some require tickets, other are free. Here's the abridged schedule:
Nov 27 (Fri) - City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony. Join locals for live music, sing along caroling, and meet with Santa Clause himself.
Dec 4-6 (Fri-Sun) – Scottish Walk Weekend. Watch hundreds of Scottish clansmen (bagpipes included!) parade through Old Town on Saturday Dec. 5th from 11-1PM.
Dec 12-13 (Sat-Sun) - Old Town Candlelight Tours. Enjoy historic Alexandria guided by the Historic Society. There are four decorated historic sites on this year's "History and Chocolate" themed tour.
Dec 18-19 (Sat-Sun) - Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon. Mount Vernon is hosting holiday fireworks, artisanal hot chocolate, bonfire, and cider for the very first time. Fireworks start at 8:45 on Dec. 18th!
Dec 24 (Thur) - Waterskiing Santa Clause. What Christmas Eve would be complete without Waterskiing Santa accompanied by his wakeboarding reindeer and flying elves? The Grinch, Frosty the Snowman, and Jack Frost will also make appearances. No website yet, but consider this your inside scoop!
4) BONUS: Have a Tree Delivered, Installed, and Set Up in Your Home
Okay, this isn't really a public event, but it could be an event in your holiday season! Just like these event suggestions, try something new this year with DC Tree Delivery. We're delivering various sized, fresh cut Frasier Firs to residents of Greater Washington, DC. Each delivery includes a free tree stand, installation, and post setup cleaning. Check out our Tree Shop and Like us on Facebook. It would mean a lot to us!