Things to do in DC for the first night of Hanukkah

Rabbi Levi Shemtov speaks during the annual National Menorah Lighting, in celebration of Hanukkah, on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

The Festival of Lights is upon us and we have a handful of local events to help you and yours celebrate the first night of Hanukkah on Sunday.

National Menorah Lighting at the White House (FREE)
5:45 p.m. | The Ellipse at President’s Park | Washington, D.C. 20502

The National Menorah Lighting will take place an hour after sunset at 5:45 p.m.. Military Bands of the Military District of Washington will perform, as well as food, entertainment and readings from the “National Essay Winners.” Special guests have included prominent Jewish celebrities, the President, Vice President, members of the Cabinet, Congress and the diplomatic corps. The event is free, but registration is required through the website.

Learn more:

Hanukkah Film Festival ($10 per night)
5-8 p.m. | Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. | 1529 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C.

Running until Dec. 5, the first night of the Hanukkah Film Fest will feature the documentary “Xueta Island” about the Chuetas: a unique group of families on the Balearic island of Majorca who are believed to be descendants of the island’s Inquisition-era Jewish population. Preceding the main feature will be a documentary short, “UNRAVELING: Did Pancho Villa really try to [censored] my grandfather? And if so, why?” by director Stacey Ravel Abarbanel. Felix Kilner’s animation “The Broken Candle” a heartwarming tale of Nira, a broken Hanukkah candle who becomes the Shamash (“lead candle” of the Hanukkah) on the last night of the Festival of Lights will also be screened before “Xueta Island” premieres.

Buy tickets:

Menorah Lighting at The Wharf (FREE)
5 p.m. | 760 Maine Avenue SW, Washington, D.C. 20024

If you just want to be near the water during Hanukkah, The Wharf will light a menorah in its central District Square every evening between 5-6 p.m.


Old Town Alexandria’s Chanukah Festival (FREE)
5:30 p.m. | The Lyceum | 201 South Washington Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314

Lighting the city’s Grand Chanukah Menorah, which is 6 feet tall, will commence at 5:30 p.m.. Also on hand will be (prepackaged) hot potato latkes, hot cocoa, donuts, chocolate gelt, live music, free light stocks for children and, most importantly, dreidels for ALL! The event is free, but registration is required on their website.

Get tickets:

Ivy & Coney’s Hanukkah Bar (FREE)
Sundown till closing | Ivy & Coney’s | 1537 7th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20001

Starting Sunday at sundown, enjoy your fill of latkes, sufganiyot shots (jelly donuts in shot-form), and Manischewitz kosher wine. Menorah lighting takes place every night at 7 p.m. during the holiday.

Learn more:

First Night of Hanukkah at metrobar (FREE)
4-7 p.m. | metrobar | 640 Rhode Island Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 20001

With GatherDC, metrobar offers a “bring your own” menorah lighting, vegan donuts from DonutRun, and live music from The Jarreau Williams Experience. Admission is free, but metrobar would like you to register.


OY TO THE WORLD — Hanukkah Basket Pick-up ($75 per basket)
3-6:30 p.m. | Union Market | 1309 5th Street NE, Washington D.C.

For $75, you can get some of the best Hanukkah goodies from your favorite Union Market retailers. Each basket will include a selection of dishes for two people. 10% from each basket will be donated to the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center. To order your basket ahead of time, purchase tickets at the Union Market website.

Reserve your Hanukkah basket:

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Joshua Barlow

Joshua Barlow is a writer, composer, and producer who has worked for CGTN, Atlantic Public Media, and National Public Radio. He lives in Northeast Washington, D.C., where he pays attention to developments in his neighborhood, economic issues, and social justice.

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