Get outdoors this winter season; ice skating, light displays and more fun is in this post! Bundle up, grab your thermos of hot cocoa and enjoy the season.
Outdoor ice rinks
Most rinks offer ice skating lessons in addition to skate rentals
Canal Park Ice Rink– 202 M Street, SE Washington, DC 20003
November – February and open on holidays
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink– National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20408
November 15 – March 15
Washington Harbour Ice Rink– 3050 K St NW, Washington, DC 20007 November 18 – March 15 and open on holidays
Silver Spring Veteran’s Plaza Ice Rink– 8523 Fenton St., Silver Spring, MD 20910
October 29 – ?
Rockville Town Square Ice Rink– 131 Gibbs St., Rockville, MD 20850
Mid-October – mid-March
Wharf Ice Rink– 960 Wharf Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
November 26 – late February and open on holidays
Pentagon Row– 1201 S Joyce St, Arlington, VA 22202
October 25 – mid-March
Outdoor festivities, light displays and more
Holidays on the Harbor– Now – Dec.
Holiday movies and fireworks takes place each Saturday through December. Be sure and warm up inside the Gaylord Resort, see the hanging tree and Christmas Village and then bundle up to check out ICE!. Get your tickets in advance.
Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens– Nov. 8 – Jan. 5
Bring the family to enjoy the magical Winter Walk of lights in Vienna, Virginia. The garden is transformed into a half-mile, animated walk of lights. Revisit perennial favorites such as the Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk – and look for new displays each year. Put on your walking shoes and bring the family to experience a Northern Virginia festive tradition. Round out your visit by roasting marshmallows, and sipping on hot beverages by the fire. (Available for purchase at Light Refreshments).
The Polar Express Train Ride– Nov. 16 & 17, 23 & 24, 29 & 30
Cold weather may be just around the corner, but so is The Polar Express! Don’t miss out on the journey of a lifetime as scenes from this celebrated holiday classic come to life before your very eyes! The conductor will punch your golden tickets and make sure you make it to The North Pole right on time, but not before you’ve enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and receiving the first gift of Christmas from Santa Claus himself! So don’t wait – get your tickets to The Polar Express Train Ride 2019 at the B&O Railroad Museum: where Baltimore BELIEVES!
Enchant Christmas at Nats Park– Nov. 22 – Dec. 29
Unwrap new traditions and make memories big and small as you wind your way through a luminescent land of beautiful arches, larger-than-life sculptures and decadent delights. Welcome to Enchant. Where magical memories are made. 2.5 million Christmas lights in 90,000 square feet of pure holiday magic with incredible food and beverage to accompany the experience. This is the World’s Largest Holiday Light Maze and Market debuting at Nationals Park. Tickets for Enchant start at just $19.00, and include access to the 200-foot long Ice-Skating Trail, Ice Bars, Artisanal Holiday Market.
Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens– Nov. 22 – Dec. 31 (closed Nov. 25-28 & Dec. 24 & 25)
Step into a magical winter wonderland illuminated with more than one million dazzling colorful lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, fountains, sparkling snowflakes overhead and more.
Bulls Run Festival of Lights- Nov. 22 – Jan. 5
Experience the Bull Run Festival of Lights, 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays. Drive the festival route from the comfort of your car; turn out your headlights and just follow the magical glow. After viewing the lights, bring your family and friends to the holiday village to enjoy rides, refreshments, and of course, photos with Santa Claus. The festival happens annually at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia. Avoid crowds and go Mon-Thurs at a discounted rate.
Merriweather Symphony of Lights– Nov. 27 – Jan. 1
The Symphony of Lights has been a time-honored Howard County holiday tradition set in historic Merriweather Post Pavilion. Made up of more than 300,000 bulbs, this family-oriented spectacular is a dazzling display of larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations. With the addition of new lights and a refreshed course, your time through the twinkling, winding path will surely be a night to remember!
Seasons Greenings at The U.S. Botanic Gardens– Nov. 28 – Jan. 5
Explore botanic gardens from Hawaii to Maine in this year’s holiday show. The best times to visit are weekdays early in December or on select Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December when the Conservatory is open until 8 pm with live seasonal music. Aside from these extended holiday hours, the Conservatory is open every day of the year, from 10am-5pm, free of charge.
Zoo Lights at The National Zoo– Nov. 29 – Jan. 1 (exception: Dec. 24, 25 & 31) hours are 5:00pm-9:00pm
Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights, powered by Pepco, a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland! New this year: enjoy dozens of large, glowing animal lanterns and stroll through thousands of reflecting lights as part of the interactive art exhibit called “Entre Les Rangs.”
Christmas at Mount Vernon– Nov. 29 – Dec. 31
Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate. Just as the Washingtons celebrated the holiday with family and friends, visitors can start a new tradition of visiting Mount Vernon this holiday season.
Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park– Nov. 29 – Jan. 1
Bring a little twinkle to your holidays. Don’t miss this spectacular holiday drive-through event featuring more than 2.5 million twinkling lights! This year’s Festival features fun new displays.You won’t want to miss the giant, 54-foot LED musical tree!
Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park– Nov. 29 – Dec. 31 (closed on Dec. 25)
The wondrous themed display of lights at Seneca Creek State Park is a 3.5 mile drive through the enchanted setting taking you past more than 450 illuminated displays and 65 animated vignettes that light up the night.
Festival of Trees– Nov. 29 – Dec. 1
A three-day, family event featuring more than 800 uniquely decorated holiday trees, wreaths and gingerbread houses, live entertainment, over 100 gift boutiques and Santa himself. All gathered to support the children of Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Maryland State Fairgrounds.
City Center Tree Lighting– Nov. 30 at 6:00pm
The evening will include a joyful music performance by The Washington Chorus, balloon artists, face painters, holiday activities and more. NBC4’s Eun Yang hosts the official tree lighting ceremony and countdown. Enjoy the dazzling 75-foot tree, visit two resident 25-foot reindeer, and capture the spirit of the holidays with a photo under the Palmer Alley Dream Closet display!
Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights – Dec. 1 – 31
Check out this new month-long community event. The businesses along Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street and the 800 Block of Upshur Street will be decked out with holiday lights. As part of the fun, the local businesses will be competing for the chance to win one of seven different awards for their Holiday Lights displays, and will be organizing amazing holiday events, activities, and promotions throughout the month. Whether you’re a local resident or just visiting for a few days—stop by Lower Georgia Avenue Main Street Holiday Lights to explore, shop, and play this holiday season.
Union Station Norweigian Christmas Tree Lighting– Dec. 3, 2019 at 6:00pm
In the Main Hall of Union Station, a consortium of partners will present the annual Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting to the people of Washington, D.C. This beloved holiday event, which attracted 5,000 guests in 2018, is presented free to the public and will feature performances by The String Queens, whose members have collaborated with artists such as Ledisi, Janelle Monáe, and Common, and the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir.
National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse– Dec. 5 – Jan. 1
The National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is on December 5 and kicks off the holiday celebrations. You can view the lighting on TV on Dec. 9. Musical groups from Washington D.C. and across the country provide holiday entertainment to the countless visitors for a one of a kind holiday experience set against the backdrop of the National Christmas Tree. The tree is lit each day at 4:30pm and will stay up through Jan.1.
Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park– December 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21, 22 & 23 from 6:00-9:00pm
Photos with Santa Claus from 6:30-8:30pm, Christmas arts & crafts room, live animal encounters, holiday photos with live animals, kid’s indoor play zone and more, bonfire & marshmallow roasting, thousands of outdoor holiday lights, nativity scene, animal petting & feeding, Christmas tree & wreath sales from local farms.
Georgetown Glow– Dec. 6 – Jan. 5
Experience the sparkle of the season at Georgetown GLOW, the region’s only curated exhibition of outdoor public light art installations. Set against the historic backdrop of DC’s oldest neighborhood, it’s a whole new way to shine.
20th Anniversary Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights– Dec. 7 at 5:30 pm
View dozens of brightly lit boats cruise along one mile of the Potomac River shoreline. Enjoy dockside festivities from 2pm to 8pm in Waterfront Park including a pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company and holiday music and giveaways from 97.1 WASH-FM. Take part in hands-on activities including a Letters to Santa postcard station from paper goods boutique Penny Post, a holiday craft activity from AR Workshop Alexandria and a bookmark making station from Old Town Books. Enjoy savory meatballs from Pizzeria Paradiso and a hot chocolate bar from Dolci Gelati. On the Alexandria City Marina, Riverside Taco Company presents a Parade Day Patio Party with hot cider and bottomless bites included in admission. At 3:30pm, Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fireboat at the Alexandria City Marina to take photos with children and families at the annual Torpedo Factory Art Center Holiday Festival.
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade– Dec. 7, 2019 – 6:00pm-9:00pm
Celebrate the holidays and watch beautifully decorated boats pass by The Wharf. Get into the spirit as you decorate ornaments or warm up by the Camp Wharf fire pit while making a s’more. Go ice skating and sample winter drinks at the Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden. And bring the whole family to meet Santa at the lighted Christmas tree and make memories during this annual DC tradition.
Holly Trolley Fest at National Capital Trolley Museum– Dec. 7-8, 14-15, & 21-22
Celebrate the season with toy trains and Santa aboard the streetcars from 12:30pm-4:30pm, and on December 28 & 29 without Santa. Also see the Winter Wonder Garden and Winter in Washington displays.
Light Yards– On display Dec. 7 – Jan. 4
The DC region’s premier outdoor public light art installation, returns for its fourth year at The Yards, with two must-see, worldwide traveling light installations, The Pool, by New York-based Jen Lewin Studio and Angels of Freedom, by Israel-based OGE Group. The Poolwill invite visitors to hop, skip, and jump across 106 interactive circular pads of light, roughly 3 feet in diameter and 2.5 inches tall. As multiple visitors play in The Pool, their movements will come together to create a giant canvas of shifting and fading colors in mesmerizing patterns.A beautiful and social sculptural installation, Angels of Freedom aims to reveal the inner beauties of everyone by visually turning visitors into real-life angels. Visitors will be invited to pose with five giant, neon-colored wings and white halos as a reminder that everybody counts and deserves love.
Ice Maze at City Center DC– Dec. 13 – 15
Get lost in the a-MAZE-ing, magic of the holidays with CityCenterDC’s icy tradition. This year, CityCenterDC is building the largest clear ice maze in the United States built with 110,000 pounds of ice. Washingtonians will not want to escape the towering seven foot walls of this chilly challenge.
Christmas Caroling at the Wharf– Dec. 21 from 5:00pm-7:00pm
Enjoy music from strolling Christmas carolers and a meet-and-greet with Santa and one of his elves! More info to come.
Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple– Dates TBA
As one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions, the Festival features free performances nightly in the comfortable, state-of-the-art theater located in the Visitors’ Center while the Temple grounds glow with 650,000 lights.