There are two things about the holidays that make the District a wonderful place to be. First, congress is out of town (that’s probably the best thing). And second, few places in America celebrate Christmas the way the nation’s capital does. So, as we spend time with our loved ones and bring in yet another new year, let’s pause and take a look at some of the more popular activities you can do in DC during this most festive of seasons.
A Tree Grows in DC
The National Christmas Tree, that is. Since 1923, the United States has held a tradition of lighting a National Christmas Tree in Washington, DC. Then in 1954, a “Pathway of Peace,” which consists of 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia were added around the tree. Both the National Christmas Tree and the Pathway of Peace will be open till January 1, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. And most importantly, Santa’s Workshop will be open till December 24 at the following times: Monday to Thursday: 4:00-6:30 p.m. and 7:00-9:30 p.m. Friday to Sunday: 12:30-4:30 p.m. and 5:30-9:30 p.m., Christmas Eve: 11 a.m.–3 p.m. So, it’s not too late to get your list to Santa.
Not to be outdone by its contemporaries in New York and Boston, (or anywhere else for that matter) the District has spectacles of light throughout town that are not only beautiful, but are great ways to share the joy and wonder of the season. And the best part is, they are FREE. Here a few highlights.
- Zoolights at the National Zoo: ZooLights at the National Zoo is a winter holiday event for the whole family. It’s a fun display of sparkling lights, sculptures of popular animals, ice sculpting demonstrations, singing and storytelling. And it’s all free of charge. Zoolights runs from November 29 – January 1, but is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Hours are 5-9pm.
- Symphony of Lights: Celebrate the holiday season with a drive through a Christmas light display on the grounds of Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. Symphony of Lights is a spectacular display of more than 75 animated and stationary holiday lights. All proceeds from the Christmas light display benefit the Campus Development Plan for Howard County General Hospital: A member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. The lights display runs till Sunday, January 5, 2014. It’s open seven days a week from 6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m., including holidays except December 31st for the Midnight at 7 event.
- Meadowlark Gardens: Meadowlark Gardens is hosting a new Christmas light display called a “Winter Walk of Lights.” The walking tour includes 500,000 LED lights that would be enough to make Clark Griswold envious. There are also unique animated displays with a nature theme such as a bubbling stream, jumping fish, deer, dragonflies, plus seasonal displays including a Gingerbread Village and a pumpkin patch. Be sure to dress for the weather and wear good walking shoes. The garden path is about half a mile long. The display goes until January 5 and is open seven days a week 5:30 to 10pm rain or shine. It is located at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court in Vienna, Virginia.
A First Night Celebration
First Night Alexandria is a family oriented, non-alcohol New Year’s Eve celebration held on December 31 throughout Old Town Alexandria. There will be more than 100 live performances at 22 venues this year, plus children’s entertainment and interactive games. And of course, no New Years celebration would be complete without fireworks. Get yourself a viewing spot anywhere along the Potomac River to see the show. The barge will also be off shore at the end of King Street.
Christmas in the nation’s capital reflects the giving spirit of the country, and the wonder that it can bring. So, whatever it is you do this season, make it as special as it can possibly be. And have a happy and safe holiday season!