Things to Do

Swiss Holiday Cookies, Arboretum Holiday Market, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and More: Last-Minute DC-Area Weekend Ideas 12/9-12/12

Plus underrated museum exhibits

Photograph by Jade Womack.

It was supposed to snow, but it didn’t….

Here are some last-minute-low-commitment ideas for this warm, wet, and chilly weekend.

Since it’s starting to get a little cold outside, for this week’s “What’s on our radar?,” we are highlighting underrated museum exhibits. (I don’t think you’ll see many tourists at these!).

If you are looking for a round-up of events for this entire week, check out Monday’s newsletter. For a round-up of seasonal events, we are also regularly updating the holiday guide.


 So, What Should You Do Dec 9-12?

For your convenience, this newsletter includes emojis to help you during these unprecedented times:

  • The 🛋 indicates an event is happening in-person inside.
  • The 🌲 indicates an event is happening in-person outside.
  • The 💻 indicates an event is happening virtually. 
  • And lastly, the 🆓 indicates an event is free.


Your Last Minute Weekend Plans

  • Ice Skate with the Embassy of Switzerland. ⛸ The Embassy of Switzerland will host a pop-up at Washington Harbour to spread some holiday cheer with complimentary hot chocolate, hot apple cider, Swiss holiday cookies, roasted chestnuts, and more. (Fri, 🆓 entry,🌲, Georgetown)
  • We didn’t get snow, but we are getting ice! 🧊🧊🧊 City Center will have a colorfully-lit Ice Maze this weekend, while collecting donations for the Children’s National Hospital Foundation. (Fri-Sun, 🆓 entry, donations encouraged, 🌲, City Center).
  • The Most Beautiful Holiday Markets. 🛥🌳 Truly there is no competition. The Victura Park Holiday Market (Fri-Sun, 🆓 entry, 🌲, Kennedy Center) and the  National Arboretum’s Procrastinator’s Holiday Market (Sat, 🆓 entry, 🌲, Arboretum) are happening this weekend. Whether you wish to catch the last fall foliage or views of the Potomac, there is not a more scenic venue to do your holiday shopping.
  • Cheap Books. 📘 With prices starting at $1, consider stocking up your 2022 reads at the Southeast Library Book Sale. (Sat, 🆓 entry, 🛋, Capitol Hill).
  • ‘Art All Night’ but in December. 🎨 Showcasing 25 local artists, Only in D.C.” is an artistic celebration hosting an artists’ panel discussion, art exhibits, and an art vendor market. (Sat, free, 🌲/🛋, Waterfront).
  • Holiday movie, anyone? 🎞 Celebrate the holiday season at National Harbor and watch Elf (Sun, free, 🌲, National Harbor). Or instead, do a drive-in and watch The Muppet Christmas Carol (Fri, $20/car, 🌲, The Stacks). Join a pajama watch party of The Polar Express (Sat, $6, 🛋, Capitol Hill).
  • Pop-Up Markets Popping-Up Everywhere. 🛍 Continue your seasonal shopping at these pop-up markets around the DMV:


What Is On Our Radar:

Underrated Museum Exhibits’

Here are some museum exhibits we are keeping our eyes on this month, where you can warm up inside, and avoid the crowds.

  • Hokusai: Mad about Painting (Asian Art Museum). 🌊  The Asian Art Museum has the largest collection of Hokusai’s paintings, sketches, and drawings. Closing Jan 9, 2022, this exhibit gives visitors a rare opportunity to see the evolution of the artist’s work through various mediums including books, scrolls, and wall hangings.
  • Rosa Parks: in Her Own Words (Library of Congress). ⭐ The Library of Congress is beautiful during the holidays, but while visiting the decor, stop by this exhibit which showcases a rarely seen and intimate view of Rosa Parks.
  • Period Rooms (Daughters of the American Revolution Museum). 🛋 Part of the permanent exhibit at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, these 31 period rooms give viewers a snapshot into American homes from the 1810s, 1820s, 1860s, and more. Be sure to check out the 1810s Parlor in the District of Columbia!
  • The Wall/El Muro: What Is a Border Wall? (National Building Museum) 🇲🇽 This poignant exhibit not only discusses the construction of the US-Mexico border but educates visitors on the immigration system. The elements of the exhibit that have stayed with me since my visit are the soundroom, articles recovered at the border, as well as a piece of the fence from Japanese internment camps that was repurposed for the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Caravans of Gold, Fragments in Time: Art, Culture, and Exchange across Medieval Saharan Africa (African Art Museum). 🌍 Highlighting the trans-Saharan exchange of Medieval Africa, which began with the spread of Islam and ended with the arrival of Europeans, this exhibit illustrates how gold moved things, people, and ideas around the world. The Medieval Sahara Africa is truly part of the origin story of the early modern world.
  • Outdoor Train Display (U.S. Botanical Gardens). 🚂 Returning this year outdoors, the U.S. Botanic Garden’s holiday train display circles around 13 farming scenes of crops, all made of plants (inception much?). From artichoke farms in California to rice and lentil farms in Nepal, the display is sure to be a crowd pleaser for all family members.
  • New Glass Now (Renwick Gallery). 🏺 Earlier this year, I binged ‘Blown Away’ on Netflix, a glassblowing competition on Netflix–I won’t spoil the first season– but this art gallery exhibit showcases a winner. One of the most breathtaking exhibits I have ever seen, this exhibit showcases the diverse complexity of glass and how it can be manipulated, woven, painted, smoothed, sculpted, and blown.
  • Alma W. Thomas: Everything Is Beautiful (Phillips Collection). 🖼 A member of the Washington Color School, Alma Thomas is a staple of the local art scene. She was the first Black woman to give a solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and her colorful work gives me much sunlight on these dreary winter days.


Thanks for reading!

Your Neighbor,

Jade (@clockoutdc)


Jade Womack is an energy economist by day, and an events blogger by night. She started her blog, Clockout DC, when she was moonlighting as a bartender in 2019. She grew up in Arlington, and currently lives in Adams Morgan with her dog.