There’s so much to do in the Nation’s Capital during the holiday season, whether that’s a Christmas tree lighting, an outdoor market, a holiday performance, or a spin around an outdoor ice rink. Here are just a few ideas for your wintertime visit to Washington D.C.
Washington DC Events
Light Up the Night – Where to see holiday displays
- This year marks the 100th anniversary of the annual tree lighting ceremony at the White House, which takes place on December 11, 2022. If you can’t make it to DC, you can watch the entertainment on CBS at 8:30 pm (EST) featuring stars like LL Cool J, Kristen Chenoweth, Maren Morris, H.E.R. and Patti LaBelle.
- Walk past the beautiful U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree , which was chosen from a National Forest in North Carolina. Once lit, the tree glows nightly on the West Front Lawn through New Year’s Day.
- There’s nothing more fun than watching a procession of boats pass by on the shoreline of the DC Wharf for the Holiday Boat Parade. More than 60 boats, all lit up and glowing, sail down the Washington Channel on December 3, 2022 at 6-9 pm.
- The Yards DC – a neighborhood near the Washington Nationals Baseball Stadium – features a collection of shimmering trees illuminated from Dec. 1 – Jan. 1, 2023. Light Yards will cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful colored patterns.
- Enchant 2022 is one of the most exciting events in DC. The light show and ice rink is located inside Nationals Park. There’s live entertainment, Santa, a holiday market and lots of food.
- Escape the chilly weather and go inside the Conservatory at the United States Botanic Garden to see the lighted trees and greenery. Then enjoy the outdoor holiday display with festive adornments, winterberries and miniature trains. The festivities take place from Thanksgiving to New Years Day.
- Get your shopping in at Penn Quarter’s CityCenterDC, which is all dressed up outside with an installation of 400 gleaming ornaments and a glittering 75-foot tree.
Celebrate with Live Theater – Where to see a holiday show
- There’s no better tradition than experiencing Charles Dickens’ beloved Yuletide story of transformation and redemption. Buy tickets for “A Christmas Carol,” at Ford’s Theatre November 18 through December 31.
- See a spectacular version of the classic ballet “The Nutcracker” performed by the Washington Ballet at the Warner Theatre from Nov. 25 – Dec. 30, 2022.
- The annual “A Candlelight Christmas” begins on Dec. 17 -18 at the Kennedy Center. After the show, take a walk through The Reach for stunning views of the city skyline at night. Holiday Pops is December 10 with Laura Benanti. To find out all the holiday shows at the Kennedy Center check here.
- There’s also the NSO at the Anthem celebrating the Ugly Sweater Concert on December 6.
- Take in the majesty of a full choral performance of holiday music at the National Cathedral with the Joy of Christmas, from Dec. 11-12.
- The incomparable “Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show” is playing at the Atlas Performing Arts Center from Dec. 9-18, 2022. Afterward, take a stroll through the vibrant H Street neighborhood.
Shop For Unique Gifts – holiday markets
- Head to Union Market to do some shopping. Every week in December, Union Market hosts a winter wreath making event.
- The magical Downtown Holiday Market returns to Penn Quarter with local vendors, light bites and festive décor. The market runs from Nov. 18 – Dec. 23.
- Eastern Market Main Street hosts its annual holiday market The Holly Days with live music, food and window displays from Nov. 26 – Dec. 31.
- Enjoy an authentic European-style market at the Heurich House Museum. Christkindlmarkt is held in the Castle Garden from Dec. 2-4 and features dozens of local artisans.
Go Ice Skating at DC’s Best Outdoor Rinks
- Washington Harbour Ice Rink is open from Nov. 11 – March 13, 2022.
- Ice skate in the shadow of the National Gallery of Art from Nov. 19 – March 6, 2022. It’s so much fun to skate on the National Mall!
- The Wharf Ice Rink returns on Nov. 24 and remains open through February 2022.
- Pentagon City’s Pentagon Row Ice Rink is the largest in Northern Virginia. Take a spin and then hit up the shops.
- The track at the Capital Riverfront’s Canal Park is open for all day ice skating from November through February.
Let’s celebrate! For more information, visit washington.org
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.