Whether you’re a resident or planning to visit the Washington, D.C. area this weekend, there are heaps of holiday lights displays, pop-up markets and parades to help you celebrate the season in style.
Head to the Holiday Markets
The Downtown Holiday Market, located in Downtown D.C.’s bustling Penn Quarter (between 7th and 9th Streets on F Street NW), runs daily through December 23, featuring more than 70 vendors—many of which are local Black- and minority-owned businesses—live music and hot chocolate, among other wintertime treats.
Those who prefer to shop local this year should check out the Dupont Circle Holiday Pop-Up Market on December 4 between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Browse booths hosted by more than 65 local vendors selling everything from jewelry and paintings to pottery and wellness products along Connecticut Avenue, P Street and 17th Street.
For a taste of a traditional German-style Christmas market highlighting more than 30 local artisans, head to the Heurich House Museum’s annual Christkindlmarkt, happening this year from December 3–5. General admission is $13, while a $19 Holiday Cheer ticket includes an alcoholic beverage to keep you warm as you shop.
Hit the Ice
The National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden Ice Rink is open now through March 6, 2022, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, though you’ll be limited to two 45-minute sessions. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under, those over 60, students and members of the military, plus $4 for skate rentals.
Now through February 2022, The Wharf Ice Rink is open Wednesday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, $9 for ages 12 and under, plus another $6 for skate rentals. Seniors, active military members, healthcare workers and first responders can save $2 on Wednesday and Thursday.
In Georgetown, The Washington Harbour Ice Rink is open now through March 13, 2022, from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, with special hours between December 23, 2021, and January 2, 2022. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for children 12 and under, seniors and military members, plus another $7 for skate rentals.
See an Epic Holiday Lights Display
In addition to trusty traditional holiday lights displays like the National Christmas Tree, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree and the National Menorah, stop by CityCenter D.C. (on New York Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets NW) to view its impressive 75-foot Christmas tree, which sports more than 4,500 ornaments and 150,000 lights. Closer to the Navy Yard neighborhood, check out Light Yards, an impressive display featuring 22 brilliantly lit trees, available nightly from 6–10 p.m. through January 1, 2022. All displays are free and open to the public.
In the Capitol Riverfront area, don’t miss Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park, happening this year through January 2, 2022. Check out the 100-foot animated tree, enter the light maze, shop at the Christmas market, get a photo with Santa, and view the lights from its ice skating trail. Tickets start at $29–$39 per adult depending on when you go, $29 for children ages 3–17, $29–$36 for those over 65, military members and EMS workers. Children ages two and under get in free.
View the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Whether you choose to view the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on December 4 from The Wharf in Washington, D.C. or along the Old Town Alexandria Waterfront (a 20-minute drive away), you’ll be treated to the sight of more than 60 boats sailing down the Washington Channel, all decked out in holiday lights and decorations. Enjoy live music and fireworks at The Wharf between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and pop-up holiday markets and music in Old Town Alexandria from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., with the boat parade beginning here at 5:30 p.m. before heading up to D.C. by 7 p.m.
Attend the Scottish Walk in Old Town Alexandria
A tradition since 1969, Old Town Alexandria celebrates its Scottish heritage—the city was settled by Scottish merchants in 1749, after all—with the Scottish Christmas Walk on December 4. Led by the Compagna Center, the parade features tartan-clad members of the area’s Scottish clans, terriers and hounds, and pipe and drum bands marching through the streets of Old Town starting at 11 a.m.
Tour Mount Vernon by Candlelight
About 20 minutes from Old Town Alexandria (or a 35-minute drive from D.C.), Mount Vernon is hosting several holiday themed events this year. Take a 45-minute tour of George Washington’s former estate, led by a costumed character actors through the grounds by candlelight, enjoy performances by carolers and musicians and learn how the holidays were celebrated during the 18th century. Visit December 3–4, 10–11, or 19; your timed ticket, which can be purchased ahead of time online, also includes complimentary spiced cider and ginger cookies following the tour.