Holiday Happenings DC-Style

December 18, 2020 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON – While there are few things in life that can easily be covered by sweeping generalities, one thing that can be said with some certainty is that thanks to the stubbornness of the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people who normally vacate the D.C. metro during the holidays are staying put.

So what is one to do in a familiar town in a not too familiar time of year? Below we offer a few suggestions.

The National Christmas Tree

Located on the Ellipse, at 15th St. NW and E St. NW; Washington, D.C.

The National Christmas Tree site, also known as “America Celebrates,” is free and open to the public through Jan. 1, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

This year’s patriotic design includes 18,000 red, white and blue opaque lights strung naturally around the tree, resulting in a simple, yet classic design.

The tree lights are turned on around sunset and off at 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For additional information, contact President’s Park at 202-208-1631.

Winter Glow at Mount Vernon

3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon, Va.

See George Washington’s home aglow with festive amber lights on from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 26 to Dec. 28.

View the upper garden and greenhouse aglow in blue and lavender lights and watch as wintery light patterns move throughout the space.

Enter the lantern-lit Historic Area and see the vast stretch of the Bowling Green washed in ambient holiday illumination.

Cost for members is $25/$40; for nonmembers $30/$45.

Holiday Magic In Old Town Alexandria

Located on the waterfront just minutes from Washington, D.C., Old Town has been recognized by Oprah Magazine as one of the Most Magical Christmas Towns Across the World in 2020.

Dozens of independent boutiques on King Street are ready and waiting to welcome masked customers. There are also holiday markets in Alexandria’s Del Ray and Carlyle neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights will not occur in 2020.

Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run

Cameron Run Regional Park, 4001 Eisenhower Avenue, Alexandria, Va.

Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run will return this year, featuring an ice rink, more than a dozen holiday light displays perfect for Instagramming, retail area, food, music and more.

The Ice and Lights Village is a short drive from Old Town. Masks are required in all areas of Ice & Lights except when eating or drinking in the concession areas.

Open 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. through Jan 3.

$8.16 for general admission to Village; $20.68 for admission with skating

Light Yards 2020

Yards Park; 355 Water St. SE

The Yards is bringing back Light Yards for its fifth year at the Sundeck.

The annual holiday installation will feature the​ premiere​ of the installation “Stars” by Australian-based immersive light design sculptors ​Amigo & Amigo​.

The larger-than-life stars constructed from metallic mesh feature dancing lights and play festive music, making for a perfect socially-distanced stroll for guests of all ages who want to safely experience some holiday cheer.

This free-to-all installation continues through January 10, and is illuminated nightly from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The Yards.

Downtown Holiday Market

The 16th annual Downtown Holiday Market is open daily on F Street NW, between 7th and 9th streets, in front of the National Portrait Gallery. It runs from noon to 8 p.m. through Dec. 28.

Another holiday market to check out is at Victura Park at the Kennedy Center’s the REACH (2700 F St. NW; Washington, D.C.). It is open weekends through Dec. 20.

43rd Annual Festival of Lights — Drive-Through

9900 Stoneybrook Drive; Kensington, Md.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Festival of Lights runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. nightly through Dec. 28. The event is free.

The annual Festival of Lights is one of the Washington, D.C. area’s great community traditions. The tradition continues for the 2020 Christmas season in a modified way, putting safety and health first. Visitors will be able to view over 400,000 lights from the comfort of their vehicle with Christmas music transmitted over short-range FM radio channel 101.7.

Festival of Lights, Watkins Regional Park

301 Watkins Park Drive/Route 193; Upper Marlboro, Md.

Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation presents Festival of Lights daily from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Jan. 1.

The display features 2.5 million lights and culminates with a giant, 54-foot LED musical tree.

To avoid longer than usual wait times, the park staff encourages the public to attend the festival on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday evening.

On Saturday and Sunday, they advise arriving before 6 p.m. to avoid long wait times.

Tickets can be purchased online or with cash only at the park. Credit Cards are not accepted in person.

Prices range from $8 to $40, depending on the vehicle and number of passes. (Festival of Lights is free on Dec. 25.). The price for a single family car or van is $8 in advance; $10 at the gate.

Holiday Movies at The Wharf

Transit Pier; 970 Wharf St. SW; Washington, D.C.

Enjoy holiday movies on a 20-foot screen and a fire pit with seating up to four people. The cost is $60.

Drinks and snacks from Cantina Bambina can be purchased on site, and the proceeds support the USO Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore.

Upcoming features include:

A Christmas Story: Sat. Dec. 19 , 2 & 6 p.m. | Sun. Dec. 20 2 p.m.

Miracle on 34th Street: Thu. Dec. 24, 2 p.m.

Die Hard: Sat. Dec. 26, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m. (children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult.)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas: Sun. Dec. 27, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

The Polar Express: Mon. Dec. 28, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

The Santa Clause: Tue. Dec. 29, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation: Wed. Dec. 30, 2 p.m. & 6 p.m.

Gremlins: Thu. Dec. 31, 2 p.m.

Each reservation includes one fire pit, which seats up to four people. If you have up to four people in your group, you only need one ticket. Children under the age of three may sit on their parent’s lap but per DC’s COVID guidelines, no more than six people may sit together – this includes children of all ages.

Season’s Greeting at Hillwood Estate

4155 Linnean Ave. NW; Washington, D.C.

Check out the “Season’s Greetings” festivities at the historic Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens through Jan. 10.

The mansion and the grounds are open, and several Christmas trees are on display.

Make a reservation in advance to visit the estate.

Suggested donations $18/$15/$10/$5. Free to children under 6 and Hillwood members. Hillwood is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.

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