Things to Do

43 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: ZooLights, Enchant, and Ice Skating at National Gallery of Art

Plus, Lil Uzi Vert in concert.

Photograph courtesy of Reston Town Center.

Happy Thanksgiving week, DC!

The holiday experiences ZooLights and Enchant both open this week with glowing decor for all ages to explore. Also, there are fun Thanksgiving trots, dining events, and dance parties to attend.


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

November 20-November 26

  1. ZooLights. Zoo Lights brings a dazzling light show to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo. You can walk through a lantern illumination display of rainforest, deserts, oceans, and polar habitats, and watch live musical performances (select nights, starting Fri through December 30, $6, National Zoo).
  2. Enchant. Enchant returns to DC with a giant light maze and brilliant outdoor decor. The theme for this season is “Reindeer Games,” and guests can wander through the immersive 10-acre experience in search of Santa’s missing sleigh bells (Fri through December 31, $32 for adults, $24 for juniors, Nationals Park).
  3. Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. One of our favorite seasonal activities returns this week: The National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. Skaters can glide across the ice while taking in the beautiful views of the garden’s sculptures and National Mall. We recommend you bundle up, but if you need to warm up you can grab a hot chocolate at the cafe (Mon through March 3, 2024; $12 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under, $6 skate rental; National Gallery of Art).
  4. CityCenterDC Holiday Tree Lighting. CityCenterDC marks its 10th Annual Holiday Tree Lighting celebration this weekend. Attendees can jam to musical performances, make crafts with balloon artists, munch on holiday snacks, and view light displays, including this year’s bedazzled 75-foot tree (Sat, free, Downtown).
  5. Lil Uzi Vert in concert. Superstar Lil Uzi Vert plans to amp up crowds with a blend of trap metal and club music from their jam-packed hip-rocking Pink Tape project on their sold-out tour. The notable lyricist is returning to center stage after a five-year headlining hiatus (Tues, $88+, resale tickets available, Wharf).
  6. America’s Trot for Hunger. Before you eat your Thanksgiving fill, join a 5K race to help raise funds for SOME (So Others Might Eat). The annual DC Trot for Hunger will kick off on Thanksgiving morning at Freedom Plaza. At the end of the course there will be a best-dressed turkey competition, and a family-friendly festival with music and activities. Youngsters under the age of 10 can walk or run in the Little Turkey Race ($45 for virtual, $65 for in-person, $15 for virtual child registration, $35 for in-person child registration, Downtown). (For other turkey trots, check out this list.)
  7. Reston Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting. On the day after Thanksgiving, you can bring your family to the annual Reston Holiday Parade. The half-mile parade along Market Street welcomes Santa and Mrs. Claus to town in a horse-drawn carriage with festive decor, jingle bells, and more. Also, there’s a neighborhood tree lighting following the parade (Fri, free, Reston).
  8. “Swept Away” musical. An acclaimed cast will perform playwright/screenwriter John Logan’s Swept Away musical at Arena Stage during the production’s East Coast premiere. The show’s music and lyrics are the inspiration of folk-rock group the Avett Brothers. The band’s 2004 Mignonette album parallels the musical’s plot: A shipwreck with four survivors (Sat through December 30, $41+, Southwest DC).


Want More Things to Do?

Photograph courtesy of CityCenterDC.

Arts and culture:

  • Black trans activist and writer Raquel Willis chats about her new memoir, The Risk It Takes to Bloom, at Politics and Prose (Tues, free, Northwest DC).
  • View artist Hedieh Javanshir Ilchi’s acrylic and watercolor paintings at Hemphill Artworks (through December 22, free, Northwest DC).
  • Hillwood Museum is “Making Spirits Bright” this season with a special exhibition inspired by Christmas trees, “Glass: Art. Beauty. Design.” (Tues through January 14, 2024, $18, Northwest DC)
  • Prepare for holiday meals at a Cookbook Swap (Tues, free, Northwest DC).
  • Browse more than 100 handmade wreaths at Carroll Arts Center, and then bid online for your favorite (Fri through December 3, free, Westminster).
  • Take merry photos at Light Yards’ new 13-foot tall Swinging Bells installation (Mon through January 7, 2024, free, Navy Yard).


Community and heritage:

  • Learn the origins of the Jingle Dress Dance for Native American Heritage Day (Fri, free, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian).


Theater and shows:

  • The DC Arts Center presents the one-act drama Strong Wind (Mon-Sun, $15+, Northwest DC).
  • Dance troupe Ballet West showcases a revival of The Nutcracker (Tues-Sun, $49+, Kennedy Center).
  • Cirque du Soleil’s Twas the Night Before holiday show rediscovers the magic of the season with acrobats and height-defying stunts (Fri through December 3, $61+, Baltimore).
  • See Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening at Warner Theatre (Fri, $45+, Warner Theatre).
  • Experience the winter wonderland magic of the Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker (Sat-Sun, December 2-30, $49+, Anacostia, Warner Theatre).
  • Comedian Donnell Rawlings takes the stage at DC Improv (Sun, $45+, Northwest DC).
  • Actor and comedian Pete Davidson arrives in DC for a live show (Sun, $52+, Lincoln Theatre).


Music and concerts:

  • Earl Sweatshirt and the Alchemist perform hits from their recent collaboration album (Mon, $75+, Silver Spring).
  • DC’s five-piece band Grimm Winter has a concert at Songbyrd (Mon, $15+, Northeast DC).
  • Groove to bluegrass tunes by Molly Tuttle and Golden Highway (Tues, $28, Shaw).
  • Spend the holiday listening to local musicians play at Hi-Lawn (every Thurs, free, Union Market).
  • Irish ensemble Celtic Woman performs Christmas songs with National Symphony Orchestra (Fri-Sat, $29+, Kennedy Center).
  • Contemporary artist Liz Phair celebrates 30 years of her iconic album Exile in Guyville; singer Blondshell will be there, too (Sat, $55+, Wharf).
  • Virginia jazz and hip-hop group Butcher Brown perform funky tunes at The Atlantis (Sat, $22,  U Street corridor).
  • Rapper Benny The Butcher is throwing a birthday concert in DC (Sun, $35+, Howard Theatre).
  • The Chuck Brown Band plays live at The Hamilton (Sat, $30, Northwest DC).


Thanksgiving week:

  • The Salvation Army is requesting volunteers to help with the annual Safeway Feast of Sharing at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (Mon-Wed, free, but registration required, Mount Vernon Square).
  • The Turkey Chase Charity Run in Bethesda has been happening since the ’80s (Mon-Sat, $50+, virtual, Bethesda).
  • Treat yourself to a three-course Wild Turkey Tasting Dinner at Jack Rose (Tues, $65, Adams Morgan).
  • Create a gorgeous centerpiece for your Thanksgiving table at this workshop (Tues, $45+, Union Market).
  • Raise a glass to the holiday at Drinksgiving with DJ Farrah Flosscett (Wed, free, Brentwood).
  • You can party with friends at Clarendon Ballroom’s Thanksgiving Eve Bash (Wed, free, Arlington).
  • Race with your family (and your dog) through the Del Ray neighborhood for a good cause at the 48th Alexandria Turkey Trot (Thurs, $20+ for adults, $15+ for ages 13 to 21, $5+ for ages 12 and under, Alexandria).


Things to do with kids:

  • Chinese dragon mythology and martial arts are highlights of the kid-friendly musical The Dragon King’s Daughter (through December 17, $20+, Kennedy Center).
  • Kiddos will love this play adaptation of TV show Bluey (Tues-Sun, $29+, Kennedy Center).
  • Don’t miss the Ringling Bros B&B Circus while it’s in town (Fri-Sun, $22+, Baltimore).
  • Go on a family-friendly adventure through the LuminoCity Winter Light Festival (Fri through January 15, 2024, $35+, Gaithersburg).
  • Journey through 2.5 miles of shimmering light displays with the entire family at Bull Run Festival of Lights; there are s’mores and bonfires, too (through January 7, 2024, $30+, Centreville).


Plan Ahead:

  • History, mulled wine, and German inspirations come together in the Heurich House Museum’s Castle Garden for the annual Christmas Markt. The pre-sale is underway (December 1-3, $12, Dupont).

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.