The holidays are a time for family, friends, and fun. If you’re looking for some festive ways to celebrate the season in Washington, D.C., look no further. 

In this article, we will discuss some of the best events and activities that the city has to offer. Whether you’re into shopping, music, or theater, Washington has something for everyone. So get your winter coat ready and let’s get started!

1. Visit the National Christmas Tree in Washington, D.C.

Featured Image: National Christmas Tree at Night. Photo: W Top News.

The National Christmas Tree is a holiday staple in the city. Every year, the tree is illuminated with over 500,000 lights on the Ellipse, a 52-acre park located just south of the White House. In 1954, a “Pathway of Peace” was planted around the National Christmas Tree, with 56 smaller decorated trees symbolizing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia. 

The lighting ceremony usually takes place in early December and features live performances from well-known artists.

2. See Christmas Light Displays at Local Neighborhoods

Featured Image: Christmas Lights Display. Photo: Unsplash.

One of the best things about Washington is that almost every neighborhood puts on a holiday light show. 

Our personal favorite is the display at The Shops at Wisconsin Place in Friendship Heights, but there are plenty to choose from. Just google “holiday lights Washington dc” and you’ll get a list of all the local events.

3. Celebrate the Holidays at Middleburg

Featured Image: Christmas in Middleburg. Photo: Our Community Now.

If you’re looking for a small-town feel right outside of the city, look no further than Middleburg Virginia. This historic town is just a short drive from D.C., and it’s the perfect place to get into the holiday spirit. Christmas Town is held every year on the first three weekends in December.

Each year, the Middleburg Hunt and Hound Review bring around 100 horses, red-coated riders, and dozens of hounds through the town of Middleburg, Virginia. 

The Middleburg Christmas Parade, which takes place immediately after the Hunt, contains a diverse array of floats, marching bands, local community groups, vintage fire vehicles, and a variety of animals, including horses, llamas, and dogs.

4. Attend a Local Holiday Play or Concert

Featured Image: Actors Performing at a Play. Photo: Broadway World.

Washington has no shortage of holiday concerts and plays. A few of the known favorites are the National Symphony Orchestra’s “A Christmas Dream” at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Bach Consort’s “Christmas Oratorio” at the Folger Shakespeare Library, and “The Santaland Diaries” at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company.

5. Join the Scottish Christmas Walk

Featured Image: Military Bands Marching. Photo: Washingtonian.

Georgetown is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in D.C., and it’s even more festive during the holidays. Every year, the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade takes place. The parade features over 100 Scottish clans, bagpipers, dancers, and more.

This event is held every year on the second Saturday of December and celebrates traditional Scottish holiday customs. The walk begins at the Old Stone House and ends at Dumbarton House with live music, dancing, food, and drinks along the way.

6. Attend a Holiday Concert at the U.S. Capitol

Featured Image: Holiday Concert. Photo: Architect of the Capitol.

The U.S. Capitol is another great place to see holiday concerts in D.C. These concerts are free and open to the public, but you will need to get tickets in advance. 

A few of the groups that have performed in recent years include the United States Marine Band, the United States Army Band “Pershing’s Own”, the United States Navy Band, and the United States Air Force Band.

7. Attend the National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting

Featured Image: National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting. Photo: Tween Tribune.

The National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting is held every year on the first night of Hanukkah. The event takes place on the Ellipse, which is located just south of the White House.

The lighting of the menorah is followed by a concert, and there are also food vendors selling traditional Hanukkah foods like latkes and jelly donuts. There is also live music and entertainment. This event is open to all, regardless of religious affiliation.

8. See a Holiday Toy Train Exhibit

Featured Image: Toy Train Displays. Photo: Smithsonian Mag.

The National Museum of American History has a holiday toy train exhibit every year. The exhibit features model trains that travel through intricate landscapes, including replicas of Washington D.C., New York City, and the Grand Canyon. This is a great activity for kids and adults alike. 

The exhibit is open from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. Admission is free for all visitors.

9. Ring in the New Year at a First Night Event

Featured Image: Fireworks Display. Photo: Visit Alexandria.

First Night is a New Year’s Eve celebration that takes place in cities all over the United States. Washington D.C. has a few different First Night events that you can choose from, including an event at the Kennedy Center, one at the National Building Museum, and one at the Newseum

These events feature live music, dance performances, and fireworks. They are typically family-friendly and offer activities for kids of all ages. Admission prices vary depending on the event.

10. Take a Holiday-Themed Tour of the White House

Featured Image: Inside The White House. Photo: ABC Action News.

During the holidays, the White House is open for public tours. You can see the beautiful decorations and learn about how different presidents have celebrated Christmas throughout history. 

If you’re interested in taking a tour, be sure to fill out an application on their website. Tours are free, but they do require advance planning.

There are many different ways to celebrate the holidays in Washington, D.C. From attending festive events and concerts to seeing a holiday toy train exhibit, there is something for everyone. No matter how you choose to spend your holidays, I hope you have a happy and safe holiday season!

Do you have any favorite holiday traditions in Washington, D.C.?