Holiday Freebies in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON — The holiday season is here, and it’s loaded with freebies.

WTOP put together a list of free events and offers available now through December to enjoy yourself, and help entertain your out-of-town visitors.

  •  Holiday partiers! If you need one, free SoberRides home (up to a $30 fare) are available nightly through Jan. 1.
  • Get a card good for a free bowl when you buy a ShopHouse gift card worth $30 or more.  You must buy your gift card in-store by Dec. 31.
  • The City of Annapolis is offering three hours of free parking downtown through Jan. 1, and free 3-hour valet parking (hours vary depending on the day) Thursday-Sunday through Dec. 24.  Head to the valet tent in Market Space.
  • D.C. teachers can work out free over their winter break at Jade Fitness on Capitol Hill.
  • Buy $200 in Legal Sea Foods gift cards and get a voucher good for a free lobster dinner
  • Buy $100 in Maggiano’s gift cards and get a $20 Bonus Card, plus a one year subscription to Food & Wine magazine.
  • A free pub glass is yours when you buy a $25 gift card at Old Ox Brewery, until Dec. 27.
  •  Leesburg’s free holiday parking program runs through 8 a.m. Jan. 4.  Parking will be free in the Town Hall Parking Garage and at all on-street meters, although there will still be a two-hour limit at meters.
  •  Washington landmarks made from plants, a model train exhibit, a display of poinsettias and seasonal music is some of what you’ll find at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s holiday exhibit through Jan. 3.
  • New this year at the National Zoo’s ZooLights holiday display: a light show set to music.  ZooLights runs through Jan. 1, but it’s closed Dec. 24, Dec. 25 and Dec. 31.
  • The National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse will be lit nightly, and the Pathway of Peace will be open through Jan. 1.
  • Buy a $25 gift card at California Tortilla in December and get a coupon good for a free entree in January.
  • Looking to add to your holiday music collection?  You can listen to and download all of The United States Air Force Band’s holiday recordings (15 albums!) free.
Dec. 31
  • The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering free SoberRides home from 10 p.m. New Year’s Eve until 6 a.m. New Year’s Day.
  • You can ride Metrorail and Metro buses free between midnight and 3 a.m. on New Year’s Day. You do have to use a SmarTrip card or paper fare card to enter and exit the Metrorail system, or show a SmarTrip card to board a bus.
  • Got kids who can’t stay up ’til midnight? They can join the noon countdown at Noon Yards Eve at the Capital Riverfront. There will also be trackless trains, music, face painting, crafts and a balloon drop.
  • At the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center at National Harbor, the huge hotel atrium is decorated with more than 2 million lights, and there are nightly fountain shows and indoor “snowfalls” to enjoy for no charge through Jan. 3.
  • The holiday exhibit “Season’s Greenings: Pollination Station” at the United States Botanic Garden is open free on New Year’s Eve from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • New Year’s Eve is the last day to see the annual Festival of Lights at the Washington, D.C. Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Kensington. The Temple grounds are illuminated by 650,000 lights.
  • The Conservatory Winter Display and Garden Railway Exhibit at Brookside Gardens. is also open and free on New Year’s Eve.
  • Brickside Food & Drink‘s New Year’s Eve party is open with no cover until they reach capacity. There will be a free buffet starting at 9 p.m. and a free champagne toast at midnight.
  • There’s no charge to watch the midnight fireworks finale of First Night Alexandria.  But to take part in other activities, you’ll need a badge. They’re $30 for adults, and free for active military or for kids 12 and younger.
  • Downtown Annapolis will welcome the New Year with family-friendly entertainment starting at 3 p.m., as well as a midnight fireworks display.
  • At the annual Krumpe’s Donut Drop in downtown Hagerstown, they count down to a giant doughnut drop at 7 p.m.  Come for free doughnuts, hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn, as well as free family fun.
  • Watch Night in Falls Church is a free, family-friendly celebration with live music, activities, balloon artists, an obstacle course, free food while it lasts, and much more.
  • Downtown Annapolis will welcome the New Year with family-friendly entertainment starting at 3 p.m., as well as a midnight fireworks display.
  • The New Year’s Eve Spectacular in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor starts at 9 p.m. with live music by the band What’s Next, followed by a midnight fireworks and lights show.
  • If you’re in Ocean City for New Year’s Eve, head to Northside Park for fireworks at midnight, along with live entertainment and hot chocolate.

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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