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It’s no secret that Washington, DC knows how to put on a good show and the festive period is when the city really sparkles.

Dressed in an array of holiday decorations, elaborate displays, and complimented with entertainment and activities enriched in the joyous atmosphere, Christmas in the Capital is a “must do” travel experience.

From extravagant Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, intimate candlelight tours and cosy fireside gourmet experiences, there are many new, and often free, activities that will delight visitors, here’s just a taste…


The Downtown Holiday Market – Penn Quarter runs from 17 November to 23 December and is centrally located across two blocks in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Scope out eclectic wares from dozens of pop-up tents with seasonally flavored music performed live in the background. Locally roasted coffee and crafted-before-your-eyes mini-doughnuts inspire a cold-weather appetite, creating a holiday atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in the city.

Set against the historic backdrop of DC’s oldest neighborhood, Georgetown GLOW is the region’s only free curated outdoor public light art experience and takes place from 26 November to 22 January. In addition to the five light art installations by national and international artists, GLOW programming includes walking tours, GLOW-themed wellness classes, and late-night shopping.

Celebrate the National Christmas Tree Lighting’s 101st year. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it’s surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season. The tree will be lit on 30 November and is free to visit from 2 December to 1 January.

Taking place inside the historic theater infamous for being the site of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theatre, this music-infused production of A Christmas Carol captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic. The show runs from 17 November to 31 December.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Eugene Rogers, A Candlelight Christmas! is a 75-minute holiday music experience featuring spirited brass, a festive chorus, and thrilling special guests. Shows take place on 16 – 22 December at the Kennedy Centre for Performing Arts.


Situated on the terrace of The Next Whisky Bar, the Winter Igloos at The Watergate Hotel – Georgetown transports you to a glamorous white winter wonderland. Inspired by the Swiss Alps, indulge in a decadent Raclette or Fondue experience, and enjoy a carefully crafted seasonal menu featuring soul-warming dishes.

Take a spin on the ice surrounded by the grand architecture of national museums and monuments. Ice Rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden – Downtown runs from 26 November to 5 March and serves up splendid views of large-scale sculptures from artists in our renowned collection, including Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, and Roy Lichtenstein. From skating lessons to special events, the ice rink offers plenty for everyone to enjoy.

DC’s only over-water ice skating rink The Wharf Ice Rink – The District Wharf returns this winter season to Transit Pier right outside The Anthem. This experience offers stunning views of the water and monuments whilst skating to carols or sipping hot chocolates. It runs from 22 November to February.

Let Enchant – Nationals Park light up your holiday season from 25 November through to 1 January. Enjoy a magical evening with more than four million sparkling lights, a story themed walk-through light maze and ice skating. Swing by The Village for holiday cheer, snacks, artisans, live music, and a chance to meet Santa.


Adorned with lights and décor fit for royalty, the Willard InterContinental Washington, DC, delivers the quintessential luxurious holiday. Guests can enjoy nightly caroling in the lobby, holiday-themed libations at the Round Robin Bar, Holiday Afternoon Teas, Christmas Day Brunch and a Black-Tie New Year’s Eve Gala. Situated close to the White House, the property is one of the most-decorated.

Experience 12 days of Holiday with Conrad Washington, DC – Penn Quarter. The Conrad is hosting a series of exclusive events and activations including a five-and-a-half-meter Christmas tree, personalised Poems On-Demand crafted on classic typewriters, holiday-themed pet sketching by a local artist, holiday harp music on the weekends, a Holiday Kids Corner, and Mezumenet A Cappella Performances.


Washington, DC’s oldest saloon, Old Ebbitt Grill – Metropolitan Square is located just steps from the White House and is the perfect Christmas venue. The Old Ebbitt will serve up an array of American dishes, plus a full raw bar, and all complimented by a decadent holiday décor amongst their traditional Victorian interior.

Grab a seat on a wooden log—with pillows and blankets for comfort—amidst a forest of pine tree branches, pinecones, and faux snow. Residents Café & Bar – Dupont features a global menu with brunch classics, burgers and meat plates, plus festive cocktails.

Georgetown’s beloved Italian American restaurant Filomena Ristorante – Georgetown goes as big on holiday decorations as they do with heaping pasta and parmigiana platters. A huge Christmas tree, Italian decorations, truckloads of tinsel, and 10,000 twinkling lights serve as a glittery backdrop for holiday lunches or dinners.