Celebrating Christmas and the holidays in Washington DC? Don’t know what to do? This guide will help you find all the best Christmas events and things to do in Washington DC during the holiday.s
What better way to make the most of December than squeezing in some of those holiday vibes with the best Christmas events in Washington DC and Maryland.
Christmas Even in DC: DC City Center & Christmas Tree 2021
DC City Center has always done some sort of amazing ice sculpture or attraction at the City Center Park, but this year I have not seen them announce anything. Either way DC City Center also has a pretty amazing Christmas Tree that will be lit on November 27th at 6pm. Chistmas in Washington DC is definitely not complete without a stop at City Center!
Also, you can’t miss their annual Christmas decorations at Palmer Alley NW and the DC Center Square!
Location of Christmas Tree
The Park at City Center
1098 New York Ave NW, Washington, DC 20005
Winter Igloo, Yurt, Lodge Dining Experiences in Washington DC
Because of the pandemic, Washington DC has exploded with a variety of winter and holiday-themed outdoor dining and drinking experiences. Think cute igloos, yurts, and lodges all to yourself and your 5 besties! These are some of my faves:
Winter Igloos at The Watergate Hotel 2021
The ultimate in luxury, The Watergate Hotel offers cozy winter-themed igloos for you and your posse to rent!
Have a hot drink and a bite too eat with 8 of your closest friends.
These winter igloos are heated and beautifully decorated for that winter wonderland feel.
Probably the most expensive activity on this list of Christmas events in DC, the igloos costs from $150 to $300 to rent with food and beverage minimums.
Food and Beverage minimum ranges from $50 to $75 per person, depending on time and size of your party. If you are looking for a unique winter activity and don’t mind the extra dollar signs, then this would be a truly epic experience.
Entrance inside The Christmas Village.
201 Waterfront Street · National Harbor, Maryland 20745 USA
Dates and Hours
Open from now through March 2021
Monday – Saturday
90-minute seatings from 5pm – midnight
Rental fee waived for all seatings on Mondays
Rental fee waived for 5pm seatings Tuesday – Thursdays
Whisky Bar 90-minute seatings from 4:30pm-9:30pm
Kingbird Terrace Sunday brunch and mimosa seatings from 11:30am-4:00pm
More information on booking: https://www.thewatergatehotel.com/the-next-whisky-bar/winter-igloos
The Watergate Hotel
2650 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC 20037
Heated Igloos at the Four Seasons
The Four Seasons transforms the BOURBON STEAK patio into Bourbon and Bubbles for the winter season! Book a cute igloo and enjoy food and drinks from the BOURBON STEAK menu.
(Photo from Four Seasons)
Location: 2800 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
Make a reservation here: https://www.fourseasons.com/washington/dining/restaurants/bourbon_steak/
Yurt Dining Experience at Fiola in DC
Every wanted to go glamping but without the actual camping part? Well, now you can with a dining experience at Fiola!
Fiola has set up yurts in a forest of trees on their patio for a winter outdoor dining experience, Yurt Village. You can enjoy a selection of 5 courses for $150 per person with selections from their Harvest Menu!
Location: 601 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE, NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20004
Viking Village at Hook Hall
No announcements have been made for the Viking Village at Hook Hall yet for 2021. Benches covered in fur, fire pits, and woodland themed decor help you live out all your Viking fantasies at Hook Hall. You can book a Viking Hut or a Viking King’s Quarter, with prices ranging from $125 to $250.
Each themed hut includes a welcome bottle of champagne, sectional lounge seating, heaters, special food and drink menus, a table, and the option to keep the “doors” open or closed.
You can also book a Fire Pit for up to 6 people for $15.
Location: 3400 Georgia Avenue Northwest, Washington, DC, 20010
More information and booking: https://www.hookhall.com/viking
City Center Fig & Olive and Del Frisco’s Holiday Greenhouse Dining
Both Fig & Olive and Del Frisco’s at the City Center are offering dining in a greenhouse! Cute little greenhouses sit outside the restaurants in the City Center courtyard. You cannot reserve these greenhouses online, you will have to call (202) 559-5004.
More information: https://www.citycenterdc.com/events/2021/11/al-fresco-holiday-dining/
Library of Congress Christmas Tree
The Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress has one of the most stunning interiors in all of Washington DC. During the holidays, the Library of Congress puts up a beautiful Christmas tree right in the center of the Jefferson Building.
Surrounded by tiled ceilings and archways, this Christmas tree is by far my favorite indoor tree that’s completely free to enjoy! Because of Covid the Library of Congress requires visitors to reserve free tickets before visiting: https://loc.usedirect.com/LOC/.
You can also apply for a free reading pass to actually read in their reading rooms. Definitely don’t miss some of the exhibits they have going on, such as the Rosa Parks Exhibit!
Washington DC Christmas Event: National Christmas Tree Washington DC 2021
The 2021 National Christmas Tree Lighting will take place December 5, 2021, but there’s no information on whether or not the NPS will allow the public to atttend.
DC Holiday Lights 2021
DC’s Main Streets and commercial corridors have joined together to bring you a spectacular holiday experience. Between November 19, 2021, and January 6, 2022, take a stroll down each of the participating corridors below to experience a dazzling array of lights and decorations.
As many of the districts, holiday attractions, and lights are closed this year, this is a nice way to get in the holiday spirit while shopping locally!
For details on where to see the lights: https://dcholidaylights.org/
ICE at Gaylord Resort & Convention Center 2021
2021 UPDATE: ICE is canceled this year and will return next year! But the Gaylord is still worth a visit during the holidays! They have a 56 ft Christmas Tree right on the harbor from November 14 through January 3. And their indoor decorations are usually really stunning as well!
How many Christmas events in DC can boast that they have TWO MILLION TONS of ice carved into colorful sculptures?
Pretty epic right?
ICE is the Gaylord Resort’s indoor wonderland, this year featuring the 1957 Dr. Seuss classic How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
This is an event the whole family will enjoy. The amazing ice sculptures were created by artisans flown in from Harbin, China. And did I mention there’s a slide completely made of ICE? How fun is that?
ICE at Gaylord is kept at a chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit, but not to worry your ticket comes with a hooded calf-length parka to keep you nice and toasty. Remember to still dress warmly especially your feet and legs.
Definitely get your camera ready for ICE because it is an Instagrammers dream and such a fun event for Christmas in Washington DC! Remember to bring one of those lens wipes (like for your sunglasses) because your camera will fog up from the cold.
- Hand-carved scenes depicting the story of How The Grinch Stole Christmas!
- A self-guided, walk-through experience that lasts approximately 15-30 minutes. In total, you should plan to spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours for the entire ICE! experience.
- Four two-story tall ice slides
- A walk-through holiday attraction kept at a chilly 9°F
- 2 million pounds of colorful ice sculptures
- A separate area dedicated to the majestic Nativity in crystal-clear ice
- Hand-carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China.
Dates for ICE at Gaylord Resort
November 15, 2019 – December 30, 2019
ICE at Gaylord Ticket Prices
From $25.00 Child/$33.00 Adult. More information on ticket pricing and calendar : https://tickets.gaylordnational.com/eventperformances.asp?evt=34
Glow Georgetown DC 2021
Update: Glow Georgetown has moved to a Spring/Summer 2021 showing, more info here: http://www.georgetownglowdc.com/
Georgetown has always been one of my favorite neighborhoods in Washington DC for the holiday season.
This historic feel and cute little allies make it perfect for a day of shopping and brunching. During the holidays this year, Georgetown is set a GLOW with magical light art installations throughout the neighborhood.
This is one of the most delightful Christmas events in DC because it is completely free and open to the public and perfect for the whole family. For a map of the exact locations of each installation go here:
Dates and Hours for Georgetown GLOW
DECEMBER 6 – JANUARY 5, 5-10 P.M. NIGHTLY
Washington DC Christmas Event: Light Yards 2021
Light Yards is one of the few glow events happening this year! It’s running from DEC 1, 2021 – JAN 1, 2022 — 6PM – 10PM.
This year the holiday installation will feature illuminated, 22 feet tall trees trimmed top to bottom in holiday decor and festooned lights that will cast The Yards’ Sun Deck with beautiful, colored patterns. The installation was designed by Australian artist studio Amigo & Amigo and will be crafted locally in Baltimore.
The Yards Park
355 Water Street Southeast, Washington, DC 20003
Dates and Hours
Nightly from 6:00-10:00 pm beginning on Friday, December 1, 2021 through January 1, 2022
Festival of Lights at Washington DC Mormon Temple
CANCELLED FOR 2021!
The Festival of Lights at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka the Mormon Temple to the locals and aka Disneyland if you grew up in this area, is a wonderful Christmas event that’s completely free!
The Mormon Temple definitely puts on a show during the holidays. The entire temple is dazzling in 400,000 sparkling lights. This year because of the pandemic it’s a drive-through event.
Definitely worth a visit since many of the holiday lights events in the DC area are canceled.
Washington DC Temple Visitors’ Center
9900 Stoneybrook Drive
Kensington, Maryland 20895
Dates & Time: December 11th through December 28th, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
More information on the driving route and parking: https://dctemplelights.churchofjesuschrist.org/
UPDATE: I went during the week it first opened on a weekday and it was not crowded at all. But apparently, there are huge lines every day now! I went again on a Monday and there were indeed lines! I would go early, as in getting there by 5:30 to 5:45 pm (we arrived around 5:45 pm and there was not yet a line of cars, but we did not do the drive-through, keep reading to see our secret tip for avoiding traffic). They will already have the lights on by this time. Also, avoid the weekend if you can!
Next, you can actually see the lights from the public and open sidewalk! That’s how we did it on Monday. We didn’t actually drive through, instead, we parked and walked over, thus avoiding the traffic and line all together! Plus we had a fun little photoshoot!
The trick is to park on the residential street right off of Stoneybrook Dr. If you are driving north on Stoneybrook take a right on Hill St and park, if you are heading south on Stoneybrook take a left on La Duke Dr and park. You can easily walk to the temple from both these streets and there was plenty of parking when we went on Monday.
Zoolights 2021 Christmas Lights at the National Zoo
CANCELLED FOR 2021!
The National Zoo glitters with Zoolights, an annual Christmas in DC tradition.
Of all the Christmas events in DC, Zoolights is probably the most kid-friendly. Zoolights is free to the public and quite the winter wonderland experience with 500,000 LED lights glittering through the zoo.
New attractions this year include Gingerbread Village, Reindeer Games Fun Zone, and an Interactive Light display. Take a fun ride on the National Zoo’s Choo Choo to get beautiful views of the displays or enjoy a spin on the carousel.
Though there is parking at the zoo for $25 per car, it is HARD to find a spot! I would recommend taking the Metro.
The National Zoo is on the Red Line and the stops for the zoo are Woodley Park-Zoo or Cleveland Park metro station, both are about the same 10-minute walk to the zoo.
Dates and Hours
Nov. 29 to Jan. 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31) | Free Admission
3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20008
Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden 2021
A list of Christmas events in DC would not be complete without some ice skating!
The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden transforms into a stunning ice skating rink every year.
Come during the day for fun with the whole family or come at night for a romantic date night, either way, ice skating at the Sculpture Garden is a must-do for the holidays in Washington DC.
The ice rink does get quite crowded though so if you have young children be careful.
Skating sessions begin at the top of each hour and are sold in two 45 minute sessions. Skating fees for two 45-minute sessions (beginning on the hour):
$10 for adults and children age 13 and over
$9 for skaters age 60 and over, children 12 and under, and students with a valid school ID
If you happen to miss the beginning of the session, whittle the time away by checking out the surrounding art or grabbing a hot chocolate at the Pavilion Café.
The skate rental fee is $4; lockers are available for $0.50 ($5 deposit required).
Dates and Hours for the Ice Rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Friday, November 19, 2021–March 6, 2022 (weather permitting)
Sunday–Thursday, 11:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
Friday– Saturday, 11:00 a.m.–11:00 p.m.
Location of National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden
Constitution Ave NW & 7th Street, Washington, DC 20408
US Botanical Gardens Season’s Greetings Holiday Exhibit, Best Free Christmas Event in DC
2021 UPDATE: Instead of the holiday decorations indoors, festive adornments, winterberries, lights, and greenery will be placed in the Terrace Gardens and Bartholdi Park from Nov. 23, 2020, through Jan. 10, 2021. They’ve also brought back the annual train display but have moved it outdoors! No tickets are required.
Looking to escape the cold but still enjoy the holiday spirit?
Well, add the Botanical Garden’s Holiday Train display to your Christmas events in DC checklist because it’s spectacular.
This year they’ve recreated historic train station across the United States with plants. So take the journey across America without leaving the city.
And while it’s looking a bit bare outside beautiful holiday blooms will be on display inside including over 3,000 poinsettias.
Dates and Hours
Nov. 24, 2021, through Jan. 2, 2022, closed on Dec. 25.
The outdoor train display hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily between Nov. 24, 2021, and Jan. 2, 2022, closed on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.
100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001
Ice Skating at the Wharf
Ice skating at the Wharf is a relatively new activity in DC because the whole area was redeveloped in recent years.
The ice rink is over the water and would provide a beautiful sunset skating experience.
The start times are less rigid than at the Sculpture Garden so could offer a more relaxed experience. There are plenty of restaurants for dinner and drinks after your skate.
The Wharf Ice Rink is open every day from November 24, 2021 through late February, depending on weather conditions.
Dates and Hours
Special Extended Hours
Special Holiday Hours
November 21: Southwest Skate Rink Preview – Southwest DC residents skate for free from 12-8pm
December 23: 12pm-10pm
December 24: 12pm-7pm
December 25: 12pm-8pm
December 26-30: 12pm-10pm
December 31: 12pm-8pm
January 17: 12pm-5pm
Prices for Admission
Youth (12 & Under): $9
Skate Rental: $6
Group Rate (10 or more) includes skate rental: $14
Active military, seniors, first responders, and healthcare workers can receive a $2 discount on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Must show a valid ID.
MGM National Harbor Christmas Decorations
If you want a spectacular indoor display of Christmas decorations near Washington DC definitely check out the MGM Natioanl Harbor in Maryland.
Their atrium, which is just outside their theater has a beautiful display featuring a giant train, nutcracker, and even a snowman!
They have the hallway leading from the garage to the atrium decorated with pretty photo spots!
This casino resort is completely free to enter, though if there’s a show going on be prepared to wait in line for food, seating, and bathroom access.
One of the Best Things to Do for Christmas in DC is Enchant Christmas DC for 2021
The world’s largest Christmas light maze and market is going to be at National’s Stadium this holiday season for 2021.
Ice skate under twinkling lights, enjoy hot cocoa while wondering through life-sized light displays.
Honestly, I’m super excited to go to this for Christmas in Washington DC!! I think it will be the most photogenic of all the Christmas events in Washington DC this winter.
Enchant sells tickets based on time windows.
I would buy the earliest window possible because you get as much time as you want at Enchant in Washington DC and also it does tend to get colder the later it is. We got the 4:30 to 5:30pm tickets.
You can arrive after your ticket window but not before which is why I recommend getting earlier tickets. Enchant was not crowded at all, though we did go on a Sunday night after it had rained all day.
Actually the later it got the less crowded it was, probably because of the cold. It was such a beautiful experience! We even did ice skating. Watch my video of our experience below and subscribe!
Enchant Christmas DC Dates and Hours
- November 26 – January 2
More prices and tickets here: https://enchantchristmas.com/washington-dc
Christmas Tree Farm at Gaver Farm
There’s nothing quite like getting a real Christmas tree and cutting it yourself!
Gaver Farm has over 60 acres of beautiful Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir and Canaan Fir trees on their farm for you to cut your own.
Experience the magic of being surrounded by endless rows of Christmas trees and bringing one home to enjoy for your holidays!
Though this farm is not in DC it’s close enough at about 1 hour outside of DC in Mt. Airy Maryland.
Dates and Hours
November 27 – December TBD from 9 am – 5 pm daily
Christmas Tree Farm Location
5501 Detrick Road, Mount Airy, MD 21771
Blue Spruce ($75), Douglas Fir ($70), Fraser Fir ($70), Canaan Fir ($70) and White Pine ($55) includes free use of saws, tree carts, shaking, baling, and drilling.
More information at https://gaverfarm.com/christmas/christmas-trees/
Have Fun Cocktails at Christmas Bars Washington DC
Miracle on 7th Street Pop Up Bar has become number one on our Christmas in Washington DC checklist since the first one about 3 years ago. – Unfortunately, the original Miracle has closed, keep reading to see all the new Christmas bars in DC for 2021.
Brought to you by The Drink Company (responsible for the infamous Game of Thrones Bar and the magical Cherry Blossom Bar), Miracle on 7th is spot on every year in decorating this location into an epic Christmas explosion.
Between the boozy holiday beverages and exploding Christmas vibes, you may actually believe that Santa does exist. My favorite cocktails? Definitely Let the Muletide Roll and The Mortimer Duke because I like my drinks more on the refreshing side.
During the weekend (Thursday – Sunday) lines here are LONG so get there early or else you could be waiting a while out in the cold. Though during the week, the lines are much shorter so you could just walk right in.
If you are a DC local or visiting during the holidays, Miracle on 7th should definitely be on your winter bucket list.
Miracle on 7th is now family friendly too! Before 9pm those that are UNDER 21 can enter accompanied by a parent or gaurdian that’s 21 and over. They’ve also extended their hours to day time on Saturday and Sunday. I can’t wait to take my toddler here!
Death Punch Bar in Adams Morgan
Death Punch Bar in Adams Morgan has taken up this holiday DC tradition by opening Miracle and offers a fully immersive holiday experience upstairs!
They’ve partnered with “Miracle” which has bars all over the country. You will need to make a reservation because of the pandemic and they are for 90 minutes each.
The Christmas Bar at Death Punch in DC was cute, but definitely not as over the top as the original Miracle.
Their drinks are not as good either.
Honestly, I didn’t enjoy their holiday drinks that much and we pretty much sampled all of them even the shots!
The best drink was the one that came in a reindeer glass with a marshmallow on top!
The saving grace however was the FOOD!! We ordered all their skewers, the shio peppers, and even the mini yule log for dessert. Every single item was absolutely delicious!
The experience is running from 11/26/2021 to 12/31/2021
More information: https://www.deathpunchbar.com/miracle
Maxwell Park in Navy Yard
Maxwell Park in the Navy Yard has also opened up a Christmas-themed bar in Washington DC.
This DC Christmas Bar has partnered with the original designer of Miracle on 7th from the Drink Company, Salame Aspiazu to transform its bar into an over-the-top holiday explosion! No reservations are required for Maxwell Park, but I expect it to be packed.
You can also reserve a candy cane greenhouse for a more intimate holiday experience for groups of up to 6 with a $300 deposit that goes toward your food and drink.
Personally, I don’t think the greenhouses are worth it for the price.
Even though Maxwell Park is working with one of the designers from the original Miracle on 7th, the decor lacked the “Christmas threw up in here” factor. It is nicely decorated, but again having gone to Christmas Bar in DC from Drink Company this one does not live up to that standard. It’s still a cute bar and I would recommend it.
The Christmas drinks however here were terrible, worse than Death Punch Bar! One drink we had tasted like cough syrup, except worse than cough syrup. Again Drink Company had really nailed their cocktail recipes and neither Maxwell nor Death Punch has quite come up to par. I would stick to their wine selection here instead of the Christmas cocktails.
The food here however was pretty tasty we had the caviar and trout dip!
This Washington DC Christmas Bar runs from 11/26/2021 to 12/31/2021.
Urban Roast near DC City Center
Urban Roast, a cocktail, and coffee bar just 2 blocks from DC’s hip City Center has really stepped it up this year with their Christmas bar! Their decorations, food, and holiday cocktails will blow your mind with holiday cheer in DC!
The decorations and “Instagramble Spots” were definitely the best at Urban Roast! Even upon entering you have a little selfie station that’s absolutely adorable. Even their little restaurant next door Urban Eats has cute decorations up!
We sampled their artichoke dip and cheese plate, both perfectly delicious and sharable.
Now let’s talk about those holiday drinks, every single drink we had at Urban Roast’s Christmas bar was good!
If you like a tart drink, their hot toddy will warm you right up.
Their holiday shooters were not only adorable but equally delectable.
I’ve got a soft spot for margaritas so their Holly Jolly ‘Rita, a holiday-inspired margarita definitely hit home for me!
For seating, you need to make a reservation. They also have outdoor reservations available that come with firepits where you can roast marshmallows and make smores!
I highly recommend indoor seating though for all the holiday vibes!
Location: 916 G Street Northwest, Suite C-2, Washington, DC 20001
The Willard InterContinental for Christmas in Washington DC
The Willard InterContinental is a hotel that outdoes itself every year with the Christmas décor.
If you are looking to get into the holiday spirit a stop here to check out their Christmas decorations is a must.
And if you want to really take it all in, stop for their Holiday Afternoon Tea at Peacock Alley.
Holiday afternoon tea at the Willard is spectacular. They have a delightful selection of holiday-themed teas and treats. I absolutely loved their scones.
Afternoon Tea at the Willard is child friendly and our daughter enjoyed it. The Willard gave her the option of having tea or hot chocolate. Of course she chose hot chocolate!
Holiday tea is served in December from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., excluding December 24, 25 and 31st. Reservations are required.
Location of The Willard
1401 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20004
Wunder Garten DC Winterfest
Wunder Garten is a cute little beer garden in DC hosting a Winter Festival. This Christmas even in DC continues to be our favorite year after year.
The outdoor space is cozy with fire pits and heaters. They transformed the Bier Garden into an epic Christmas explosion that rivals Miracle on 7th! This DC Christmas pop up is not to be missed! (EDIT FOR 2021: This year they’ve decorated the tent in a more winter wonderland theme.)
And definitely try their spiked cider, super yummy and it’ll keep you warm. For 2021 you can rent private cabanas for you and your group to enjoy!
Even the entrance to Wunder Garden is adorable!
Wunder Garden Winterfest Hours and Dates
Friday, December 3, 2021, through Thursday, December 23, 2021. This year’s WINTERFEST is set to be the biggest and best one yet. Find everything from Christmas trees, seasonal beers and warm cocktails, live entertainment, and evening holiday dance parties at the city’s most festive Bier Garten!
Location: 1101 FIRST STREET NE, WASHINGTON, DC 20002
More info: https://www.wundergartendc.com/winterfest