Things to Do

9 Offbeat Ways To Celebrate the Christmas Season in DC

December events that range from off-the-beaten path to totally WTF.
Last year's Norwegian Christmas ceremony at Union Station. Photo courtesy of Roth PR.

Listen to Aimee Mann and Ted Leo shred their way through Christmas classics

Aimee Mann has toured on-and-off with a Christmas-themed show for a few years (bringing recent songwriting partner Ted Leo into the fold last winter), but this gig at Birchmere is special because it also features cult favorites Jonathan Coulton and Liz Phair. In the past, Mann’s show has been a nice mix of the sincere and the snarky (check this recent Boston setlist), but with Coulton and Phair on board, expect more Yuletide snark.

Get nihilistic and see Pointless Theatre’s A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular

Pointless Theatre’s “winter cabaret for adults” is a long way from “Silent Night.” It’s an irreverent romp of a talent show where the contestants are elves and the emcee is a boozy, busty Mrs. Claus. True to the company’s mission, A Very Pointless Holiday Spectacular (at the Mead Theatre Lab from December 2 to January 2) proves that comedy, puppetry, and a reindeer funk band can coexist in one proudly zany show. Tickets $22.

Get even more nihilistic and see Second City’s Holidazed & Confused Holiday Revue

Watch legendary comedy troupe Second City skewer the season with new sketches and original songs. The touring company’s delightfully cynical revue plays at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse from December 11 to 27 . Tickets $30.

Sprint in your gross, frizzy holiday attire at the Ugly Sweater Run

In recent years, the Ugly Sweater has been upgraded from tacky embarrassment to bonafide holiday tradition. For the Ugly Sweater Run on December 12, which begins and ends at National Harbor, participants bundle up in macrame monstrosities and argyle abominations for “the merriest 5K of the year.” Runners receive a custom knit hat and unlimited hot chocolate. They also get a free Samuel Adams at the finish line, to replace any calories they burned during the run. Proceeds benefit the advocacy nonprofit Save the Children.

Take a holiday-themed bike or Segway tour with “Christmas on Wheels”

Biking isn’t usually thought of as a cold-weather leisure activity, but Bike and Roll DC is out to change that. This December it’s offering a “Christmas on Wheels” tour, where participants get to ride bicycles and Segways to seasonally appropriate spots in the city including the US Botanical Gardens’ Holiday Showcase, the Capitol and National Christmas trees, and the excessively decorated Willard Hotel.

Have a merry Norwegian Christmas (on the way to catching Amtrak)

Crowded, frantic Union Station isn’t the most obvious spot for a holiday celebration, but it fits the already-quirky December 1 ceremony, which will feature a tree decorated with used CD ornaments. The non-Norwegian Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska will also be on hand to light the tree, and hopefully diffuse any conflicts that may arise if angry commuters feel like decrying the lack of elbow room near their Amtrak entrance.

Join an army of costumed Santas for Santanarchy Washington DC

One day every December, hundreds of drunks in Santa suits bring their jolly shenanigans to the streets (and bars) of Washington. The barely organized gathering, taking place this year on December 12, is a “nonprofit, non-political, non-religious and non-sensical celebration of holiday cheer” that’s free and open to the public. Potential Santas take note: a red hat alone won’t cut it. You must be in full seasonal costume to participate.

Watch Santa conquer the sea

See Santa whiz over the Potomac on water skis for the 30th anniversary of this quirky Washington tradition on December 24 in Old Town Alexandria. Also look out for kneeboarding reindeer, the Grinch on jetskis, and Frosty the Snowman in a dinghy.

Watch Santa conquer the air

Behold: Santa’s got flying skills! See Pilot Kringle stick a triumphant landing and then get your picture taken with him, at the College Park Aviation Museum on December 6.

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