News & Politics

Holiday Happenings: Craft Bazaars, Tree Lightings and Neighborhood Celebrations

’Tis the season to deck the halls, ride a one-horse open sleigh, and indulge in some figgy pudding. Here’s a handy list of festive things to do in DC, Maryland, and Virginia.

>> The Complete Holiday Guide


Crèche Exhibit at Washington National Cathedral
Through January 7, Washington National Cathedral is displaying a selection of its collection of nativity scenes, including miniatures and those made from rare materials. Many of the scenes reflect a variety of cultural interpretations.

Fairmont Hotel Tree Lighting and Toys for Tots Fundraiser
On December 1, the Fairmont Washington, D.C. is hosting a tree-lighting ceremony. The hotel’s Crystal Garden is decorated with trees, lights, and animated reindeer. There’s a performance by the Georgetown Visitation Madrigals, hot cocoa, and card decorating. Free, but all are encouraged to bring an unwrapped gift for Toys for Tots. 5.

St. Nicholas Day Celebration
Even if you aren’t German, you can celebrate St. Nicholas Day. He’s the predecessor of Santa Claus, who leaves toys and other goodies in children’s boots. On December 5, the Goethe-Institut is hosting an afternoon of German board and card games as well as other holiday treats. 2 to 6; $5. RSVP to

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
B.B. King, Sara Bareilles, and Maroon 5 are on hand to help light the National Christmas Tree on December 9. The super-green tree stands on the Ellipse. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to score a ticket to the ceremony, the tree is lit every night from dusk until 11 through January 1.

Capitol Christmas Tree
Not to be confused with the National Christmas Tree, the Capitol Christmas Tree sits on the West Lawn of the US Capitol and is lit by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. This year the theme is “Wyoming—Forever West.” The tree lighting is Tuesday, December 7, at 5, and it remains lit through January 1 from dusk to 11.

Merriment in Georgetown
This December 5 festival features horse-drawn-carriage rides and a performance by the acclaimed kids’ band Milkshake. There’s also a fruitcake-eating contest and a gourmet-hot-chocolate tasting. Many stores are having special sales and discounts on holiday gifts and decorations. 2 to 5. No cover.

Greens Sale, St. John’s Episcopal Church
Go green this holiday season with St. John’s Episcopal Church’s annual sale of hand-decorated wreaths, holiday plants, and other greenery as well as gourmet food and other gifts. There’s also a display of crèches from around the world and a visit by Father Christmas. Saturday, December 11, from 10 to 3:30.

National Museum of Women in the Arts Ninth Annual Holiday Gift Market
Shop in the Grand Hall of the National Museum of Women in the Arts for treats and trinkets by women artisans and designers. Shoppers can also take a gallery tour. Wednesday, December 15, from 10 to 8 and Thursday, December 16, from 10 to 5. Free.

Black Cat Rock N’ Shop
Dig for the perfect gift with a rocker edge at the Black Cat’s twice-yearly garage sale. It’s been known to turn up rare records as well as unique clothing and accessories. Sunday, December 19, at 8 PM.

Downtown Holiday Market
For 21 days beginning December 3, the intersection of Eighth and F streets, Northwest, is transformed into a holiday shopping village. With more than 150 vendors rotating through, it would be hard not to find the perfect present. Noon to 8 through December 23. For a complete list of vendors and their operating hours, click here.

Capitol Riverfront Holiday Market
The Capitol Riverfront is hosting a gift market featuring jewelry, photography, pottery, and more. There’s live music every day from 12:30 to 1:30. Tuesday, December 14, through Friday, December 17, from 10 to 7 and Saturday, December 18, from 10 to 3.

Renwick Holiday Festival
On Saturday, December 4, the Renwick Gallery, part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, is displaying a holiday tree decorated with hand-painted ornaments along with a performance by the Smithsonian Encore Chorale and hot apple cider. Free. 11 to 2.

ZooLights at the National Zoo
The National Zoo gets lit up with a display of thousands of animated twinkle lights. Bundle up to enjoy animal habitats made of gingerbread, choral performances, and a kids' train ride. Free. 6 to 8:30. December 3 through 12, ZooLights is Friday to Sunday; starting December 17, it’s every night except December 24, 25, and 31.

Norwegian Christmas at Union Station
Union Station celebrates Christmas with friends from Norway with the 14th annual Christmas tree lighting. The 32 foot tall tree is decorated with 8000 lights and streamers with Norwegian and American flags and will be on display until January 3. The December 2 ceremony features a performance by the Children’s Choir of Washington. 6 PM.

>> Next: Festivities in Virginia


Scottish Christmas Walk Parade and Weekend
It’s the 40th anniversary of this Alexandria tradition. Events such as December 3’s Christmas marketplace, a heather-and-greens sale, and a Scottish food-and-drink festival (hagis, anyone?) are held at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. The parade, on December 4, brings together members of more than 100 clans and 30,000 spectators. Click here for a full schedule of events.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights 2010
More than 50 pleasure boats take part in the annual parade on December 4. Each boat is decorated with dazzling lights and creative displays. There are festivities on the docks of the Alexandria waterfront from 4 to 6 and a visit from Santa followed by the parade at 5.

Christmas in Little Washington Parade and Holiday Market
On Sunday, December 5, Washington, Virginia, celebrates the holidays with an artisan market with more than 30 vendors and a parade featuring bagpipers, the Waggin Hearts Therapy Dogs, and miniature ponies. Of course, Santa makes an appearance, and several local business open their doors to visitors with food and drinks. 10 to 4; the parade starts at 1.

ArtFest 2010 Open House and Holiday Party
The Art League Gallery is inaugurating its new ceramic studio by throwing a holiday party. There are artist demos, live music and refreshments, accompanied by a ceramic and jewelry sale. The party is Friday, December 3, from 6 to 9, and the craft sale is December 3 to 5.

Herndon Holiday Arts and Craft Show and Tree Lighting
Herndon is alive with the holiday spirit the weekend of December 4 and 5. Take a tour of festively decorated homes from 10 to 4 and watch the tree lighting at 5 on Saturday. Sunday has a holiday arts-and-crafts show starting at 10, topped off by a reception at Artspace (750 Center St., Herndon). For a full list of Herndon’s holiday events, click here.

Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tours
See Christmas as it looked centuries ago with this annual tour. This year, four historic Alexandria homes and museums—Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House and the Athenaeum—are decorated in their Christmas best and offering refreshments and live music. A shuttle runs continuously among the sites. Saturday, December 11, from 6 to 9 and Sunday, December 12, from 3 to 6. Tickets ($5 to $20) are available here.

Craftermath Annual Design Marketplace
Hosted by the design students of West Potomac Academy, the inaugural event on November 27 promises food, entertainment, and a variety of unique and unconventional gifts and crafts. Free. At West Potomac High School (6500 Quandor Rd., Alexandria) from 10 to 3.

>> Next: Festivities in Maryland


Holiday Gift Exhibit
Through December 28, the Design Studio Art Gallery (5702 Baltimore Ave., Hyattsville) is turning shopping into an art form. Local artists have put their wares on display and up for sale to encourage the support of local businesses and artists. Many of the gifts—everything from pottery to photographs to jewelry—are under $50.

Winter’s Eve in Glen Echo Park.
This festive evening at Glen Echo Park on December 11 includes craft making, choral performances, a gift sale, and hot-chocolate-and-popcorn bar. Visitors age 16 and older can make their own blown-glass ornament ($26.50). 6 to 10; free.

National Harbor Holiday Market and Christmas Tree Lighting
Premier local vendors are selling everything from knit scarves and mittens to seasonal favorites such as roasted chestnuts and apple cider on the promenade of National Harbor. The market is open Saturday and Sunday from November 27 through December 19 from noon to 6. National Harbor is kicking off the season by illuminating the 20,00 lights on a 60 foot tree on November 26. It’s also the first night of the seasonal light show, which begins every night after sunset and continues every half hour.

Riverdale Park Holiday Market
Find a unique gift, take a free picture with Santa, and ride a trolley decked out in Christmas lights. You can even buy a Christmas tree. At the Riverdale Park Town Center (4650 Queensbuty Rd., Riverdale) Saturday, December 11, from noon to 8:30. Free.

Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland
Adventure Park USA (11113 West Baldwin Rd., New Market) has created a maze of colorful Christmas lights that sparkle to the sounds of holiday music. Pack your friends and family into a car and take a drive through. After enjoying the maze, meet Santa and play a friendly game of laser tag or tackle the climbing wall. Open through January 1 starting at 6 PM. $25 per car.

Crumland Farms Holiday Lights Spectacular
Take a driving tour of the 550-acre farm (7612 Willow Rd., Frederick) and view the dazzling light display. Complete the evening with a trip to Santa’s Workshop to visit with Santa, drink hot chocolate, and shop for gifts. Open December 3 to 26 from 6 to 9. $15 per car.