Celebrate the holiday season with a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, DC area's spectacle of lights at a local park or along the water in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia. These Christmas light displays are beautiful and a great way to share the magic and joy of a winter wonderland. Don't miss the FREE annual boat parades along the Potomac River (Alexandria and Downtown Washington DC) and the Chesapeake Bay (Annapolis).
In Washington DC
ZooLights at the National Zoo
Rock Creek Park. Washington, DC. November 29, 2013-January 1, 2014. Closed Dec. 24, 25. Hours: 5-9 p.m. FREE Admission! The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers. See Photos of ZooLights
Parade of Lighted Boats
Washington Harbour and Old Town Alexandria Marina. December 7, 2013. See dozens of festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River. The parade begins at Alexandria's waterfront and travels to Washington's Channel at Water St. off of Maine Avenue. See Photos of the Boat Parade
Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple
9900 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington, Maryland. (301) 587-0144. December 4, 2013- January 1, 2014. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. FREE Admission. View more than 450,000 lights and a live outdoor Nativity scene each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m. See Photos of the Mormon Temple Festival of Lights
Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park
11950 Clopper Road, Gaithersburg, Maryland. November 29 through December 31, 2013 (closed December 25). Sunday - Thursday (closed Monday) 6 – 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 6 – 10 p.m. $12 per car Tues-Thurs, $15 Fri-Sun. Winter Lights is a magical Christmas light display including more than 350 illuminated displays and along a 3.5-mile drive through the park. See Photos of Winter Lights at Seneca Creek.
Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. November 29, 2013 through January 1, 2014. HOURS: 5-9:30 p.m. daily. $5 per car; $15 for mini-buses and limos; $25 for buses; $10 for multi-visit passes for cars and vans (good for three visits). The festival is FREE on December 25. You may bring canned food items to donate to local food banks for the holidays. Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s spectacular drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights. See Photos of Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park
Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens
1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, Maryland. November 29, 2013 - January 5, 2014. HOURS: Sunday through Thursday 5:30-9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 5:30-10 p.m. and on New Year's Eve until 9:00 p.m. (Closed December 24 & 25, and January 1-3) Admission: $25 per car Fri-Sun, $20 Mon-Thurs. Pedestrians cannot be admitted due to safety regulations. (Visitors must drive to the entrance gate, paying at the gate, drive into the parking lot, park their car and walk through the light show display. Garden of Lights Hotline: (301) 962-1453. This illuminated outdoor winter garden walk includes a whimsical monster, an enchanting persimmon tree, a walk through kaleidoscope caterpillar, an animated flying cardinal, and swimming geese over sparkling water. See Photos of Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens
Adventure Park USA
11113 West Baldwin Road, New Market, Maryland. November 23, 2013 - January 1, 2014. HOURS: 6 to 10 p.m. At Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland, drive through a maze filled with hundreds of thousands of lights that twinkle along to Christmas music. $25 per carload, $50 for a mini-bus, activity van or limousine, and school and tour buses cost $100 each. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross and Christmas Cash for Kids. Guests can stay afterwards to meet Santa Claus and enjoy Adventure Park's indoor attractions at a discounted rate including laser Tag, the climbing wall, ropes course, teacups, helicopters, soft play and the Arcade. See Photos of the Christmas Lights at Adventure Park USA
Symphony of Lights in Columbia
Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. (410) 740-7840. November 25, 2013 - January 5, 2014. New Year's Eve event! Hours: Every night, including holidays 6-10 p.m. $20 per car. Symphony of Lights is a spectacular drive-through display of more than 75 animated and stationary holiday lights. All proceeds from the Symphony of Lights benefit the services of Howard County General Hospital. See Photos of the Columbia Symphony of Lights
Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights
Annapolis Christmas Lights Boat Parade, Annapolis City Harbor (410) 267-9549. December 14, 2013, 6-8 p.m. Enjoy a parade of lights when more than 70 power and sailboats show off their holiday decorations. Free event. See Photos of the Parade of Lights
Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park
Route 50, Annapolis, Maryland. (410) 481-3161. November 23, 2013 - January 1, 2014, 5-10 p.m. An annual scenic drive through holiday lights show sponsored by the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and see more than 60 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. $14 per car. See Photos of Lights on the Bay
Annmarie Garden in Lights
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, 13480 Dowell Road, Dowell (Solomons), Maryland. (410) 326-4640. December 6, 2013-January 5, 2014, 6-9 p.m. (Closed Dec. 9, 10, 11, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25 and Jan 2) The walking tour takes visitors on a spectacular stroll beside handmade one-of-a-kind Christmas light sculptures featuring mythical beasts, wild animals, pirates, illuminated works of art, and more. The event includes nightly entertainment. $5 Ages 5 & up. See Photos of Annmarie Garden in Lights
In Northern Virginia
Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Old Town Alexandria Marina and Washington Harbour. December 7, 2013. See dozens of festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River. The parade begins at Alexandria's waterfront and travels to Washington's Channel at Water St. off of Maine Avenue. See Photos of the Alexandria Boat Parade
Bull Run Festival of Lights
7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, Virginia. (703) 359-4633. November 20, 2013 - January 5, 2014. Hours: Monday - Thursday & Sunday: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays & holidays: 5:30 to 10 p.m. This festive display of lights features penguins, snowmen, deer, candy canes and Santa. Monday – Thursday, $15 per car, Friday – Sunday, $20 per car. The event will include more than 40,000 animated lights set to music! After viewing the lights you can visit the new Winter Wonderland Holiday Village that includes amusement rides, an ice skating rink, entertainment, shopping, contests, food, and more. See Photos of the Bull Run Christmas Lights.
Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, Virginia. (703) 255-3631. November 15, 2013 - January 5, 2014. 5:30 to 10 p.m. Admission: $12-14 Adults, $7-9 children ages 3-12. The garden offers a half-mile walking tour of lights featuring unique animated displays with a nature theme and a Gingerbread Village. After visiting the display, step inside the Visitor Center to warm up with some light refreshments. See Photos of the Meadowlark Gardens Christmas Lights.