Events

Everything You Should Definitely Be Doing in DC This Winter

Published On 11/23/2016 Published On 11/23/2016
National Christmas Tree
National Christmas Tree | Flickr/Richard Ricciardi

Winter in DC means a lot of things, and not all of them are that pleasant (hi, season of slush-filled roads and salt-covered sidewalks). But if you're willing to bundle up a bit, DC in the winter is also gorgeous. Come out and enjoy the festive lights, trees dressed up as monuments, and enough local holiday shopping opportunities to satisfy anyone on your list... and some even come with beer.  

November
Ice Skating in Smithsonian Gardens
Ice Skating in Smithsonian Gardens | Lissandra Melo / Shutterstock.com

November

Thursday - Sunday
Nov 24-Jan 1
Wooly Mammoth Theatre
This show might be just what America needs. Chicago’s Second City is back at Wooly Mammoth Theatre, this time featuring an all-African-American cast of top comedic talent helping to shine a light on the Black Side of the Moon.
Thursday - Sunday
Nov 24-Jan 8
National Museum of Women in the Arts
No, this museum isn't one of the free ones. Yes, it’s totally worth it -- especially while this visiting exhibit is in town. Not only does it feature female artists from 15 countries around the world, but each present their own take on the female body. Oh, and one piece involves walnuts... those with allergies, you’ve been warned.
Thursday - Thursday
Nov 24-Mar 12
Sculpture Gardens
Climate change permitting, the most interesting place to lace up this season is at the ice rink in the Smithsonian Sculpture Gardens. Surround yourself with the talents of Bourgeois, Calder, and Lichtenstein while practicing that double axle. Mulled wine sold separately.
Thursday - Monday
Nov 24-Jan 2
Botanic Garden
Whether you actually have a green thumb or just wish you had one, this show is for you. Imagine a world filled with plant-based recreations of everything from DC’s Washington Monument to the Grand Canyon. Season’s Greenings promises all that... plus a train! In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. There’ll also be one heck of a Christmas tree on display too. The Garden will be spicing it up on occasional Tuesday and Thursday nights with live music, which would make for a solid weekday date night, too.
Friday - Friday
Nov 25-Dec 23
Chinatown
OK, so if you’ve lived in DC for more than five years, you’ll probably recognize most of the vendors. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a great spot to meet friends after work for a cup of cocoa, a yummy donut, and a perusal of this year’s stalls and potential gifts.
Friday - Sunday
Nov 25-Jan 1
Smithsonian National Zoo
This free, nightly event features a delightful display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demos, carolers, and storytellers. Twinkle lights and chill, y'all.
Saturday
Nov 26
DC Brau
DC Brau’s Fourth Annual Made in DC Market Place is a great way to kick off your holiday shopping, and features everything from rainforest-friendly fine chocolates, Leafyhead Lotions & Potions, and gorgeous pottery. Take a break from your family festivities to shop (and drink) local.  
December
Santarchy
Santarchy | Flickr/mimlandry

December

Thursday - Sunday
Dec 1-Jan 1
The Ellipse
The lighting of the National Christmas Tree is always a hot ticket event in DC, and will be the last one for the Obama First Family. Oh, and did you know the tree even has its own Twitter account -- @thenationaltree? Rest easy if you can’t score tix to this one; the tree’s around for you to enjoy all holiday season long.
Thursday
Dec 1
Smithsonian National Zoo
ZooLights for grownups: Join the Friends of the National Zoo for a tasty beer and food tasting event, take in the lights without all the kids running around, and enjoy after-hours access to the Small Mammal House, Reptile Discovery Center, Great Ape House, Elephant Community Center, and Great Cats Circle. Go wild.
Friday - Sunday
Dec 2-4
National Cathedral
The National Cathedral is truly a beautiful DC landmark and a great place to bring your grandma, but it's also ideal as a unique date night -- and one your honey's parents will probably approve of. Take in Handel’s "Messiah" this holiday season knowing that your concert ticket is helping restore this masterpiece, as they move into a costly phase II of earthquake repairs.
Saturday - Sunday
Dec 3-4
Washington Convention Center
If you have a "friend" who obsesses over every episode of Top Chef, check out the MetroCooking DC Show for a chance to see Tom Colicchio and Jacques Pepin. This is also a great place to check out cooking- and dining-centric shopping opportunities for you walk the exhibit hall floor. The convention center has never looked so tasty.
Friday
Dec 9
Carnegie Library
“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” The DC Craft Bartenders' Guild and Mixologists want to make sure you don’t forget that there was a time when booze was illegal in this country. What better way to remember (and possibly forget) than by drinking the night away at the 9th Annual Repeal Day Ball at the swanky Carnegie Library surrounded by the area’s top mixologists and industry insiders. I’ll drink to that.
Saturday - Sunday
Dec 10-18
Lincoln Theater
The fantabulous Gay Men’s Chorus presents its annual holiday show, ‘Naughty and Nice,’ featuring tap-dancers, leather, and "recycled fruitcakes." Hello, Santa!
Saturday
Dec 10
Location TBD
Santa Claus is coming to town... in fact, all of them are, and you’re invited. Don your cutest red, white, and green, and help spread holiday cheer as you and hundreds of Saint Nicks roam the city. No rad Santa Tracker required, but @santarchydc will help you find your way.
Saturday
Dec 24
Old Town Alexandria Waterfront
It’s the 30th anniversary of the most random, fun, and delightful event in the city -- Waterski Santa. Grab an early brunch in Old Town, and snag a spot on the waterfront to view Santa, his reindeer, and elves in full garb and on skis.
Sunday
Dec 25
The Ellipse
Celebrate the beginning of Chanukah with a trip down to the Ellipse to see the lighting of the world’s largest menorah. If it’s too cold out, you can check out the festivities online, but you’ll need to fry your own latkes. L’chaim!
January
MLK Jr. Memorial
MLK Jr. Memorial | Atomazul / Shutterstock.com

January

Monday
Jan 16
Ah, the first three day weekend of the year. If you’re lucky enough to have the day off, honor Martin Luther King Jr. by visiting his memorial on the mall, signing up for a service project, and toasting King at a boozy brunch of your choosing.

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Layla Bonnot is an education policy advocate by day and self-described foodie and explorer of cities by night. When she's not out you can find her cuddling her puppy and binge watching bad TV. Follow her adventures @laylabonnot.

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