Last year I made it to the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town Alexandria. I had so much fun and loved seeing all the kilt-wearing participants, cute Scotty dogs, and hearing beautiful tunes on the bag pipes. If you have a chance to check it out, plan a day in Old Town and stay late for the annual Boat Parade at 6 pm.
More than 120 parade units include 35 Scottish clans from around the D.C. region and other parts of the U.S. Bagpipers include the Kiltie Band of York and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums plus a bagpiping Santa closing the parade. Other parade delegates include the Lord and Lady Provost from Dundee, Scotland (Alexandria’s sister city), and this year’s Grand Marshal is Redella “Del” Pepper, longest-serving member of Alexandria City Council.
The Holiday Boat Parade of Lights at Waterfront Park is later that night. Gather at the foot of King Street at 5:30 pm to watch the dazzlingly-lit boats parade by.
In between these festivities, stop by the pop-up beer garden from Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company, and order some hot chocolate for the kids from Dolci Gelati.
Also at Waterfront Park, from 2 to 5:30 p.m., everyone can try their hand at leather coaster-making and make-your-own gift wrap. Kids can address a Letter to Santa postcard and make a holiday ornament.
At 3:30 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fireboat at the Alexandria City Marina. Catch the dynamic couple beforehand at the Holiday Festival at Torpedo Factory Art Center, which takes place from 2 to 8 p.m. It’s one of my favorite places to stock up on original gifts for that hard to please person on your list.
Honestly, just walking around Old Town is so festive and fun. Seeing all the historic homes decked out and the downtown lights twinkling. Make a reservation at one of the fabulous restaurants like Ada’s on the River or for something unique, try Gadsby’s Tavern, a place loved by George Washington himself.
No matter what day you visit, Alexandria is one of the most festive places in the DMV.
For more information, check out Visit Alexandria.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.