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Best Christmas Events for Kids in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia

Christmas Lights, Visits with Santa, Holiday Concerts, Parades and More


Best Christmas Events for Kids in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Photo © Reston Town Center

Washington, DC is a wonderful place to celebrate Christmas with kids. We are especially lucky to have such a wide selection of Christmas events and activities to choose from in Washington, DC and the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. While you are shopping, decorating, cooking and preparing for the holiday, be sure to take some time out to make some special Christmas memories with your kids. Here are suggested events for the 2013 season.

The Nutcracker
The Washington, DC area has a wide range of theaters to enjoy the Christmas classic ballet - the Nutcracker. Take the whole family to marvel over Clara’s Christmas fantasy when the wooden toy soldier comes alive and takes her on a magical tour of wonderful holiday adventures. For the younger crowd, check out the Nutcracker Puppet Show at the Puppet Co.

National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace
December 6, 2013-January 1, 2014. The Christmas Tree in front of the White House has a special allure to us all, but to kids it’s even more magical. Be sure to get up close and watch the toy train go around the track!

ICE! – Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort
November 15, 2013 - January 5, 2014. The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice weighing 1.5 MILLION POUNDS! hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit. This is an interactive holiday attraction you won't want to miss.

Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend and Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
December 6-7, 2013. Old Town Alexandria celebrates the holiday season while hundreds of Scottish clansmen with their bagpipes gather for the traditional parade and dozens of festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria.

ZooLights at the National Zoo
Rock Creek Park. November 29, 2013-January 1, 2014, 5-9 p.m. The National Zoo presents a display of thousands of sparkling animated Christmas lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens
November 22-December 31, 2013. The Williamsburg, Virginia amusement park is transformed into a Christmas wonderland, combining an immersive holiday experience with one-of-a-kind shopping and dining opportunities, all-new holiday shows and a spectacular light-dancing Christmas tree.

Botanic Garden's Holiday Magic
November 28, 2013 through January 5, 2014. The exhibit is truly amazing featuring model trains and incredible replicas of Washington, DC's most famous buildings and monuments all made of real plant materials! Adults and children will be fascinated by this special Christmas-time treat in the nation's capital.

Manassas Christmas Parade
December 7, 2013. Old Town Manassas, Virginia celebrates the Christmas season each year with a weekend of old-fashioned family fun at the "Merry Old Town" celebration. Festivities include a parade, Christmas tree lighting ceremony, visits with Santa, free carriage rides and more.

Holiday Sing-a-long at Wolf Trap National Park
December 7, 2013, 4-5:30 p.m. Sing Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with the United States Marine Band and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area.

The Christmas Revels
December 7-8 and 13-15, 2013. Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University. The annual show will be a lively celebration of an English Country Christmas with traditional carols, anthems, rounds, country dancing, and a hilarious mummer’s play. Tickets: $12-$45. (800) 595-4849.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies
Various communities around the Washington, DC area light a Christmas tree, provide entertainment and invite children to visit with Santa.

College Park Aviation Museum
Santa Fly In December 7, 2013, Watch Santa fly into the historic College Park Airport and then have your picture taken with him. Enjoy holiday arts and crafts in the museum gallery as you wait.
Trains and Planes December 14-21, 2013. Miniature trains, villages, tunnels and depots spark the imagination while bringing history to life.

The Water-skiing Santa
December 24, 2013, 1 p.m. This unusual annual event features a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman performing on the Potomac River.

Gingerbread Workshop at the National Building Museum
December 7, 2013, 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; 2-4 p.m. Build and decorate your own gingerbread house. $50 per house for museum members; $65 nonmembers. Recommended for children ages 5 and up. Prepaid registration is required. (202) 272-2448, ext. 3413.

Christmas Light Displays
Throughout the holiday season, Christmas light displays are beautiful and a great way to share the magic and joy of a winter wonderland. Kids will especially like the animated characters.

Discovery Theater’s Seasons of Light
December 2-20, 2013. This seasonal favorite at the Smithsonian’s children’s theater celebrates the warmth of many holidays filled with light. Learn the history and customs of Devali, Ramadan, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, Las Posadas, Christmas, and the First Nations tradition of the Winter Solstice.

Reston Town Center's Holiday Events
This shopping center in Reston, Virginia celebrates the holidays with a holiday parade, visits with Santa, carriage rides, a Christmas tree lighting and sing-along and more.

Bethesda's Winter Wonderland
December 6-7, 2013. See a variety of entertainment and performances, a live ice sculpting presentation in and a visit from Santa Claus.

Leesburg Holiday Parade and Festival
December 14, 2013, 10 a.m. Catch your Christmas spirit and bring the whole family to see Santa and his friends parade down King Street, through the heart of historic Leesburg.

Holly TrolleyFest
December 7-29, 2013, National Capital Trolley Museum, 1313 Bonifant Road Silver Spring, Maryland. Ride with Santa on the street cars and enjoy a model garden railway and holiday village.

See also, The Best Places to See Santa in the Washington, DC Area

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