Everything You Can Do in DC This Holiday Season
Consider this our gift to you.
Arriving just in time to delay our seasonal depression and provide us a distraction from pandemic-related woes: the holidays. From unsecured gifts to drastically loosened belt loops, the holiday season stresses us out in ways unrelated to those we’ve been feeling all year long, and for that, we are truly thankful.
One thing that is certain this holiday season, besides a lively post-election political discussion at the dinner table, is the fact that this year’s celebrations will look and feel very different. Large indoors friendsgivings are a no-go, as are the rowdy office holiday parties we’ve all come to know and (kind of) love. In its stead is a unique time to focus more on time with your inner, inner circle—the people you trust have been respecting COVID-19 restrictions and immediate family members that you’ve been missing. We want to spread holiday cheer after all, not more of a deadly disease.
With that being said, the fun of the holidays is far from lost, and there remains plenty of opportunities around the DC area to show off your spirit, drink themed cocktails and shop small for your loved ones. To help you get started, we’ve played Santa for the day in order to deliver you this comprehensive list of everything you need to do in DC this holiday season.
Of course, please stay home if you aren’t feeling well, and take a look at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s guidelines for a safe holiday celebration before making plans to gather with loved ones.
Get lit with holiday lights around the region
Through January 3
Some holiday displays like the iconic Zoolights at the National Zoo have chosen to delay festivities until next year, but there is still plenty of illumination to see this season. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights is reopening soon, a stunning half-mile of lights through the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, as well as the annual Georgetown GLOW, which is doing some creative virtual programming this year.
Cost: Prices vary
Through December 23
Need to check a few people off your holiday shopping list, but a Chia Pet ordered off Amazon feels unethical for multiple reasons? It might be time to hit the Downtown Holiday Market, the biggest and longest-running holiday market in town—celebrating its 16th anniversary this year. This year the market will encompass two entire city blocks on F Street NW, from 7th to 9th Streets NW. There you can browse the wares of over 70 exhibitors including local Black-owned and minority-owned businesses.
Cost: Free entry
Sharpen your kitchen skills with the U.S. Botanical Garden
While the U.S. Botanical Garden might be closed, it’s making it easier than ever to bring the plant magic home with you by providing a regular schedule of online classes and tutorials that are perfect for the holidays. Create your own fall floral centerpiece or winter door wreath to bring a joyous vibe to your home, or take a cooking class that’ll help you make delicious Thanksgiving side dishes or figure out what exactly to do with all those leftovers.
Through January 6
Tiki TNT owner Todd Thrasher is leaning into a Christmas in Hawaii theme with his “Tacky Ass” Tiki Christmas celebration. Expect a hodge-podge of decorative, tropical-inspired decor complete with snow machines. Sip on holiday themed drinks served in Santa mugs, like Hot Pineapple Cider and Holiday Spectacular Punch. A Thrasher's Rum-Ron-Rhum Shoppe pop-up liquor store will also be open for those looking to purchase boozy gifts for their loved ones.
Price: Free admission
December 18 - December 19
Had enough of modern politics? Thought so. Take a step back in time to spend the holidays with one of the country’s founding fathers, George Washington, as you watch a festive firework display explode in the sky above the estate. A bonfire with hot chocolate and cider will provide much-needed warmth, and Aladdin the camel even plans on making an appearance.
Cost: $22 for non-members
December 2 - January 30
Cancel your trip to the North Pole, because we found the next best thing in Alexandria. Southern restaurant and whiskey den King & Rye is offering up the chillest way to spend dinner this holiday season—in one of their personal igloos that will soon be set up in their outdoor courtyard, transforming it into a Winter Wonderland. Guests will be able to book an igloo for a private dinner for up to eight guests, each complete with their own heaters and a Bluetooth speaker to play music from.
Cost: $50 to rent the igloo plus a $100 food and beverage minimum
December 5 and December 19
The show must go on, and at Wolf Trap it will, from the comfort of your own living room. Fans of the outdoor music venue’s long standing annual holiday sing-along will be excited to learn that the tradition is not going to be put on pause this year—it’s simply taking a new virtual form. This year’s event will feature performances from the United States Marine Band, recorded at The Barns at Wolf Trap, and each will begin with a short prelude of festive instrumentals followed by a series of classic holiday sing-along songs.
Through January 3
Walking in a socially distanced wonderland—that’s how the song goes, right? Either way, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria is returning this year, featuring one of the only ice rinks to open in 2020 as well as holiday light displays, a retail area for shopping, food and music.
Cost: $7 per ticket
Gain some extra karma points this holiday season by participating in one of the many local charitable events, such as Pizzeria Paradiso’s annual holiday fundraiser benefiting Martha’s Table. Just bring a canned good from the approved items list to any Pizzeria Paradiso location to trade for a can of beer to take home. Over in Navy Yard, Shilling Canning Company is offering a Tree Trimming to-go package for two full of local food goods and an extra large holiday cocktail. Guests purchasing the package that bring a new, unwrapped toy to benefit the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Washington DC will have their cocktail upgraded to a whopping 32 ounces.
Cost: Price varies
Through December 31
Watching holiday movies at home is always fun, but watching them from your very own outdoor fire pit on Transit Pier is even better. Bring along three of your friends or family and watch all of the classics like How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Elf from an outdoor 20-foot LED screen. Drinks and snacks will be provided by Cantina Bambina, and you’ll get to go home with a special stocking stuffed full of offers and treats from Wharf restaurants, merchants, and partners.
Cost: $60 for up to four people
Through December 24
If you’ve only visited the Bullpen to pregame Nats games, you probably won’t recognize it after this winter wonderland facelift. Thousands of twinkling lights, a Christmas tree village, a giant snow globe, holiday music, nightly movie screenings and more will be on display in the outdoor space that’s being called “A Very Merry Bullpen.” Drink specials with seasonal beers and warm cocktails will be on tap courtesy of Due South, tables will be socially distanced, and temperature checks will be taken for all guests and employees.
Cost: Free admission
While it might not exactly be patio season, Atlas Brew Works Ivy City Brewery & Tap Room has decked theirs out so that you can continue to drink beer outdoors without freezing. Their upgraded patio is now complete with firepits and cozy seats that’ll keep you and your quarantine pod toasty all winter long.
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