Things to Do

45 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Downtown Holiday Market, “A Christmas Carol” Play, and DC Holiday Lights

Plus, Brett Goldstein arrives at DAR Constitution Hall.

ICE! at Gaylord National Resort. Photograph courtesy of Gaylord National Resort.

Happy Monday, DC!

Deck the halls with holiday fun and lights this week as seasonal pop-ups, concerts, and plays open in the area. You can shop early for Christmas gifts at the Downtown Holiday Market, or watch Ebenezer Scrooge find joy in Ford’s Theatre annual production of A Christmas Carol.


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

November 13-November 19

  1. Downtown Holiday Market. Two blocks of F Street, from 7th to 9th streets, Northwest, make up downtown DC’s outdoor holiday shopping village. You can buy bites and hot beverages, too, and browse seasonal goods from more than 70 exhibitors. This year, they’re adding a stage for live entertainment and performances (Fri through December 23, free, Downtown).
  2. “A Christmas Carol.” Ring in holiday cheer at Ford’s Theatre with its seasonal tradition, A Christmas Carol. There’s music, a hint of misery, and eventually joy in the tale of grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Vocalist and actor Craig Wallace is back again this year to perform the role of Scrooge (Fri through December 31, $44+, Ford’s Theatre).
  3. DC Holiday Lights. It’s the most wonderful time of the year: DC’s neighborhoods will be shining bright with holiday lights and decor beginning this weekend. Take your family on a walk, bike ride, or drive through Cleveland Park, Columbia Heights, Petworth, Uptown, and many more communities to see the season’s jolly designs during DC Holiday Lights. Also, cast your vote for your favorite bedazzled main street (Fri through January 7, 2024, free, various locations).
  4. Brett Goldstein standup. There’s sure to be laughter at this solo set of standup performances. Ted Lasso star Brett Goldstein is promising admirers that his nearly sold-out DC visit to DAR Constitution Hall will be “The Second Best Night of Your Life(Thurs-Fri, $65+, Downtown).
  5. ICE! holiday attraction. Slide and glide, and snap frosty-themed photos at the Gaylord National’s newest ICE! attraction. The family-friendly immersive experience depicts the classic TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Guests can walk through 12 scenes of giant ice sculptures featuring toys and characters from the television show. There’s also snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, and photos with Santa around the resort (Sun through December 31, $25+, National Harbor).
  6. Maryland Christmas ShowFor the past 40 years Frederick has been a festive gathering place for holiday artisans and merchants, who fill seven buildings with clothing, furniture, wreaths, toys, tree ornaments, and much more. The family-friendly Maryland Christmas Show includes photographs with Santa (Fri-Sun, November 24-26,$10 Frederick).
  7. Community Day at Planet Word. The Schwarzman Family Library at Planet Word recently added 24 new books to its interactive shelves. To mark the occasion, the museum is throwing a literary celebration with author appearances and book-themed activities. The Enchanted Pages Community Day lineup features sidewalk art chalking, a performance by Culture Queen, an intimate discussion with best-selling author Jason Reynolds, and a film screening of Judy Blume Forever (Sat, free, but some events require registration, Northwest DC).


Want More Things to Do?

Umbrella Art Fair. Photograph by Studio Sonic.

Arts and culture:

  • An exhibit celebrating contemporary women artists from Oaxaca closes this week at Dupont Underground (through Sun, $8+, Dupont).
  • Create-your-own moss pole at this workshop for plant lovers (Tues, $75, Dupont).
  • Rose Previte, author and founder of DC’s Maydān and Compass Rose, discusses her debut cookbook with food writer Anna Spiegel at Bold Fork Books (Tues, $12+, Mount Pleasant).
  • Participate in an in-gallery writing workshop inspired by the “Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism” exhibition (Wed, free, registration encouraged, but walk-ins available, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery).
  • Whistler: Streetscapes, Urban Change” examines oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, and prints of urban landscapes by renowned artist James McNeill Whistler (opens Fri, free, Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art).
  • More than 150 artists will present in the Umbrella Art Fair featuring live painting, art battles, mural tours, and lectures (Fri-Sun, free, Union Market).
  • In “Microcosm-Macrocosm,” 12 visual artists present photographic works based on their individual perspectives at Studio Gallery (through Sat, free, Northwest DC).
  • View artist Georges Adéagbo’s mixed-media “Create to Free Yourselves” installation at the National Museum of African Art (opens Sat, free, Smithsonian National Museum of African Art).
  • Observe more than 100 of Mark Rothko’s rare paintings on paper in this new exhibition (opens Sat, free, National Gallery of Art).
  • Make a Thanksgiving Cornucopia in a class guided by Helen Olivia Flowers designers (Sun, $160, Alexandria).


Community and heritage:


Theater and shows:

  • It’s the last call for cabaret-style show How Sweet it Is: The Men of Soul at Signature Theatre (closes Sun, $45, Arlington).
  • See star-crossed romantics fight for love in the Washington National Opera’s Romeo and Juliet before it closes (closes Sat, $45+, Kennedy Center).
  • Catch a bilingual play that narrates a story of international translation and Public Obscenities (Mon through December 23, $46+, Penn Quarter).
  • Dolly Parton is releasing a rock album. The superstar is giving fans a sneak peek of her new tracks at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Wed, $15, Arlington, Northeast DC).
  • Documentarian Robert Mugge will lead discussions on his films, and a book-signing at AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (Thurs-Sun, $13, Silver Spring).
  • Kishi Bashi presents his film Omoiyari about the Japanese American imprisonment camps of World War II (Sun, $45+, Lincoln Theatre).
  • Sultry dancing, poetry, and music take the stage at The Sweet Spot Burlesque (Sun, $40+, Howard Theatre).
  • The performance songs are selected by a spin wheel at Drag Queen Roulette (Sun, $25, Columbia).


Music and concerts:

  • Guitarist José González hosts a film screening, conversation, and music performance for fans (Mon, $45+, Lincoln Theatre).
  • Post-punk fans can rock out at the Pavlov’s Dogz Union Stage concert (Mon, $10, Wharf).
  • Don’t miss the chance to catch South Korean indie-rock band Say Sue Me perform at The Atlantis (Tues, $20, U Street Corridor).
  • Have an evening of music and conversation with Valerie June, Rachael Davis, Thao, and Yasmin Williams (Wed, $39+, Northwest DC).
  • Pianist Orion Weiss makes a National Symphony Orchestra debut (Thurs, Sat, $19+, Kennedy Center).
  • Music and architecture collide at the PostClassical Ensemble concert guest curated by Philip Kennicott from the Washington Post (Thurs, $45+, Kennedy Center).
  • French guitarist Stephane Wrembel plays a unique traditional jazz sound at Strathmore (Fri, $28+, Bethesda).
  • Rising-star rapper Sexxy Red plans to crank up the energy at Fillmore Silver Spring; this show is sold out, but there are resale tickets available (Fri, $65+, Silver Spring).
  • Rap duo Armand Hammer is live at Union Stage (Sat, $20+, Wharf).
  • Bully’s rescheduled indie-rock show is this month at Black Cat (Sat, $20+, Northwest DC).
  • Move your hips to salsa beats at a social dance class (every Sat, $15, Chevy Chase).


Bites and beverages:

  • All-you-can-eat pancakes is a good reason to check out this boozy art show at Hook Hall (Thurs, $10, Georgia Avenue).
  • Invite a friend to sushi-making class at Eckington Hall (Thurs, $59, Eckington).


Things to do with kids:

  • Kidz Bop’s live tour is coming to Warner Theatre to showcase kid-friendly singing and dancing (Fri, $54+, Downtown).
  • Color Burst ice rink opens this weekend, and there’s a giant Christmas tree lighting to celebrate (Fri, free to attend, $12 to skate, Columbia).
  • You’ll find hot chocolate and holiday character appearances at Westfield Montgomery’s festive concert. Families can watch performances by The Gay Men’s Chorus of DC’s Potomac Fever and Maryland Youth Ballet, and a tree lighting (Sat, free, Bethesda).
  • Ice Skating at the Washington Harbour is back for seasonal fun and scenic views (Fri through February 25, 2024, $11 for adults, $9 for children under 12, Georgetown).


Get Involved:

  • Bring a donation of whole-grain cereal, pasta, rice, peanut butter, or canned goods to donate to DC seniors at DC Punk Rock Flea Market (Sat, free, Northwest DC).

If you enjoyed these events, please don’t forget to share this post with a friend on social media, and sign up for our newsletter for more things to do.

Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide who specializes in the research of D.C. history and culture. She is the author of the Black history book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., a story that was first published in Washingtonian in 2016.