Things to Do

Outdoor Holiday Fun, Jewish History, and Escaping to the Trails: Last-Minute DC-Area Weekend Ideas 12/23-12/26

Plus, upcoming events in January

Photograph by Jade Womack.

Merry Christmas

Here are some last-minute, low-commitment ideas for this holiday weekend. 

For this week’s “What’s on our radar?” we are highlighting things to do in January.

If you are looking for a round-up of the 80+ events 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. 23-26?

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. 
  • The 💉 indicates an event requires proof of vaccination or a negative CoVID test


Your Last-Minute Weekend Plans

1. Some Outdoor Seasonal Fun! ⛄ This upcoming weekend, the weather will be somewhat mild, and perfect to watch an outdoor showing of Polar Express (Sun, 🆓, 🌲, National Harbor). Or watch a show of waterskiing Santa and his merry crew (Fri, 🆓, 🌲, Alexandria). [UPDATE: The waterskiing Santa event has been canceled upon the recommendation of the Alexandria Health Department.] If you want more holiday lights, consider going to Roer’s Zoofari (until Jan 2, $32 adults, 🌲, Vienna), Enchant Christmas (until Jan 2, $39 adult entry, 🌲, Nationals Park), or President’s Park and see the National Christmas Tree (until Jan 1, 🆓 entry, 🌲, White House)

2. Escape Into Nature. 🚲 There are a plethora of trails in the DC area! Some of my favorites include the Kingman + Heritage Islands, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail (anytime, free entry, 🌲, DC).

3. Say Goodbye to the Ghost of Christmas Past. 🩰 You can see the last performances of A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre (until the 27th, $36+, 🛋 💉, Penn Quarter) or The Nutcracker with the Washington Ballet at The Warner Theatre (until the 26th, $65+, 🛋 💉, Downtown). For those looking for more family-friendly options, join the Choral Arts Chorus for A Family Christmas (Fri, $20, 🛋 💉, Kennedy Center).

4. Why Did the First Synagogue Built in DC Have Wheels? 🕍 Off the Mall tours will be answering this and more on their “Jewish History of Washington” tour. There’s also an optional Chinese food finish at Chinatown Express (Sat, $25, 🌲, starts at Judiciary Square).


What Is on Our Radar: January

  • Breakdown a Bluefin Tuna. 🐟 Two years ago, I went to a pig-butchering demonstration at Mess Hall for a date–ever since, their whole tuna cutting and dinner event has also been on my radar. Guests will indulge in five tuna dishes procured from the live cutting (Jan 27-28, $130, 🛋 💉, Edgewood).
  • Return of the Winter Lantern Festival. 🐼 The Lunar New Year returns on February 1, and to celebrate the REACH will be adorned with 100 lanterns made by Chinese artisans. I found this to be breathtaking two years ago and am excited for their return (Jan 26-onwards, 🆓 entry, 🌲, Kennedy Center).
  • Celebrate Fiesta de los Reyes Magos. 👑 The Gala Hispanic Theatre hosts their annual celebration with local music and dance groups, and free gifts for all children. It’s currently sold out online, but there’s a waitlist for no-shows (Jan 2, 🆓 entry, 🛋 💉, Columbia Heights).
  • Passing. 🎞 Hosted by the African American History and Culture Museum, director Rebecca Hall and actresses Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga will host a virtual discussion about their new film, Passing (available on Netflix), which explores two Black women who choose to live on opposite sides of the color line in 1929 New York (Jan 13, 🆓, 💻).
  • Nick Jonas vs. Harry Styles. 🎤 Have the “Best Night Ever” at this One Direction vs. Jonas Brothers dance party at Union Stage (Jan 8, $30, 🛋 💉, Wharf). 
  • 1000 Hues, Abstracting Argentine Landscapes. The Embassy of Argentina will be hosting the opening of an exhibit of photographs taken by Hernán Murno during his frequent trips to Argentina (Jan 13, 🆓 entry, 🛋 💉, Dupont Circle).
  • Living With Robots? 🤖 Come learn about the autonomous humanoid robot, RoomieBot, which has made its way into hotels, restaurants, and hospitals. This live demonstration by RoomieBot’s creators will uncover how it was created, how it functions, and how it can enhance our overall standards of living (Jan 20, 🆓 entry, 🛋, National Mall).
  • Considered the First African-American Sculptor. 🍸 Make a specialty cocktail (or mocktail) to celebrate Edmonia Lewis’ birthday at a virtual happy hour hosted by the National Museum of Women in the Arts and Serenata (Jan 12, donation-based, 💻).

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.