10+ holiday happenings around the DC area

December 9, 2020

Getty Images/iStockphoto/Bogdan Kurylo

Whimsical light displays, holiday movies and gift-shopping brighten what has been an unprecedented year in the D.C. area. Here are more than 10 ways to find joy and hope this holiday season.

More Holiday News

Light Yards 2020

Yards Park; 355 Water St. SE

The theme of this year’s installation is “Stars.”

Gaze at the stars without looking up nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan. 10.

It’s free and open to all.

The conservatory at the U.S. Botanic Gardens is closed. However, there is limited holiday programming and decorations in the Terrace Gardens and Bartholdi Park through Jan. 10.

There are free livestreamed concerts this year on Dec. 15, Dec. 22 and Dec. 29. Find out more at the U.S. Botanic Gardens website.

The 16th annual Downtown Holiday Market is open daily on F Street NW, between 7th and 9th streets, in front of the National Portrait Gallery. It runs from noon to 8 p.m. through Dec. 28.

Another holiday market to check out is at Victura Park at the Kennedy Center’s the REACH (2700 F St. NW; Washington, D.C.). It is open weekends through Dec. 20.

Smithsonian is rolling out the ZooLights Express.

The ZooLights Express truck will visit one D.C., ward on the following Friday and Saturday nights from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The truck already visited Wards 1, 2, 3 and 4. Below are the remaining dates.

Friday, Dec. 11 — Ward 5
Saturday, Dec. 12 — Ward 6
Friday, Dec. 18 — Ward 7
Saturday, Dec. 19 — Ward 8

For more information, visit WTOP’s ZooLights guide.

43rd Annual Festival of Lights — Drive-Through

9900 Stoneybrook Drive; Kensington, Maryland 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Festival of Lights runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly from Dec. 11 to Dec. 28. The event is free.

Festival of Lights, Watkins Regional Park

301 Watkins Park Drive/Route 193; Upper Marlboro, Maryland

Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation presents Festival of Lights daily from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Jan. 1.

Prices range from $8 to $40, depending on the vehicle and number of passes. (Festival of Lights is free on Dec. 25.)

Editor’s note: The above video is from last year’s Festival of Lights.

National Christmas Tree

The Ellipse; 15th St. NW and E St. NW; Washington, D.C.

The America Celebrates site is free and open to the public through Jan. 1. from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The tree lights are turned on around sunset and turn off at 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The Water skiing Santa will not be live but it will be aired on Dec. 20. The annual tradition has been going on since 1986.

Winter Glow at Mount Vernon

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Virginia

See George Washington’s home aglow with festive lights on from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 11 to Dec. 13 and Dec. 26 to Dec. 28. Cost for members is $25/$40; for nonmembers $30/$45.

Holiday Movies at The Wharf

Transit Pier; 970 Wharf St. SW; Washington, D.C.

Enjoy holiday flicks on a 20-foot screen and a fire pit with seating up to four people. Cost is $60.

For list of movies and show times, visit the event’s website.


Season’s Greeting at Hillwood Estate

4155 Linnean Ave. NW; Washington, D.C.

Check out the “Season’s Greetings” festivities at the historic Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens through Jan. 10.

The mansion and the grounds are open, and Christmas trees inspired by a particular season are on display.

Make a reservation in advance to visit the estate. Suggested donations $18/$15/$10/$5. Free to children under 6 and Hillwood members. Hillwood is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

Find out more about holiday events at Hillwood.

National Menorah

Northeast quadrant of The Ellipse, near the White House.

The lighting of the National Menorah is at 4 p.m. on Dec. 10.  Tickets are free and can be ordered ahead of time.

Here’s what to know about this year’s celebration.

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Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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