Things to Do

11 Best Holiday Light Displays Around the DC Area

Get into the holiday spirit at winter wonderlands, drive-through light shows, and menorah lightings

Nats Park turns into the winter maze Enchant DC. Photograph courtesy of Enchant DC.
Holiday Bucket List 2022

About Holiday Bucket List 2022

Here are 55 ideas for getting out of the house and into the spirit this holiday season.

Winter Walk of Lights

9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna | November 11–January 8

The botanical gardens transform into a half-mile animated light show. Stop into the gazebo for stunning views reflected on the lake. $16–$20.


Bull Run Festival of Lights

7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville | November 11–January 8

Explore two and a half miles of fairytale vignettes from the comfort of your car, driving past leaping fish, LED archways, glowing candy canes, and sparkling stars. Buy tickets ahead of time for discounts. $30–$40 per vehicle.


Ice and Lights Winter Village

4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria | November 18–January 1

Photograph courtesy of Ice and Lights Winter Village.

Check out the seasonal hamlet’s light display, skate on the ice rink, and snap a holiday Instagram with the giant wreath and walk-through tree. $9–$22.


Spectacular Factory

1238 Maryland Ave., SW | November 18–January 8

Photograph courtesy Artechouse.

The interactive museum Artechouse is debuting a holiday panorama with kaleidoscopic nutcrackers and a candy-cane carousel. $25.



3001 Connecticut Ave., NW | November 25–December 30

Photograph by Jim Jenkins/Smithsonian’s National Zoo.

The National Zoo’s display returns after a hiatus, with glowing sculptures shaped like animal residents. Sip hot beverages during your nighttime stroll. Free.


Winter Lights Festival

11950 Clopper Rd., Gaithersburg | November 25–December 31

Photograph courtesy of City of Gaithersburg.

Seneca Creek State Park’s 3.5-mile loop is lit up in themes such as Toyland and the Enchanted Forest. Tune into 97.1 WASH-FM for a holiday soundtrack. $15–$25.


Enchant DC

1500 S. Capitol St., SE | November 25–January 1

Photograph courtesy of Enchant DC.

The winter wonderland in Nationals Park features a light maze leading to a 100-foot-tall tree, ice-skating, and a village with artisan vendors. $18–$34.


Georgetown Glow

Georgetown | November 26–January 22

Photograph courtesy of Georgetown Glow.

Outdoor art installations radiate colorful neon when the LED lights are turned on from 5 to 10 pm. Guided walking tours are available to learn more about the artistry. Free.


The District’s Holiday Boat Parade

101 District Sq., SW | December 3


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Watch festooned boats from the Wharf. In addition to the festive fleet, there’s ornament decorating and photos with Santa. Free.


Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

1-A Prince St., Alexandria | December 3


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View the decorated sailboats and powerboats from any spot on the Old Town waterfront or head to Waterfront Park for crafts and a pop-up beer garden. Free.


National Menorah Lighting

1450 Pennsylvania Ave., NW | December 18

Photograph courtesy of National Symphony Orchestra.

The illumination of the massive menorah on the Ellipse kicks off the eight-day holiday. Revelers can also find musical performances, latkes, and doughnuts. Free.

This article appears in the November 2022 issue of Washingtonian.

Katie Kenny
Editorial Fellow