Family Vacation Activities in Maryland

Explore the lights at Enchant Christmas

I know, I know…it’s Halloween, and I’m talking about the holiday season. But I promise this message comes with helpful intentions. KFDC’s annual guide to the holiday season around DC will be released very soon. In the meantime, I wanted to give people a look at a few holiday events that are already offering tickets that 1) start early in the season 2) tend to sell out 3) have discounts available and/or 4) have tiered pricing with the lowest going fast. So consider this a useful distraction while waiting for tonight’s festivities. Happy Holidays (and Halloween)!

Where: Warner Theater | Downtown, DC
When: November 25 to December 230
Tickets: $48-140

DC’s perennial favourite! Set in Georgetown in 1882, this magnificent production showcases the grandeur of the Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and the majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical figures, including George Washington as the heroic Nutcracker, this “DC” production is a tradition for many Washingtonians to celebrate the holiday. Read a KFDC review of the production of one of our experiments some time ago. [Note: Even though Septime Weber is no longer Artistic Director, they still perform his version, it’s that good.]

Nutcracker @ TheARC
Where: THEARC Theater | Anacostia, DC
When: November 12-13
Tickets: $30 to $60

This modified version of Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker is perfect for little theatergoers with scaled-down, shorter performances. Like the larger production, it’s set in historic Georgetown with historical characters and whimsical touches. There are only four performances available over a weekend, so get your tickets fast!

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Where: Bull Run Regional Park | Centerville, Virginia
When: November 11 to January 8
Admission: $30/car

Opening early in the season offers more opportunities to experience the 2.5 miles of the Festival illuminated by holiday illuminations. As you drive down the festival route, turn off your headlights and just follow the magical glow. And what enhances this bright display is the holiday village and carnival included in admission. Even more, from November 11 to 20, save $10 with promo code early22 — valid every day including weekends. And from November 21 through December 15, save $5 by going Monday through Thursday with code lights22.

Winter Lights Walk
Where: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens | Vienna, Virginia
When: November 11 to January 8, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $16-18/online, $20/on site, free/2 years and under

The winter promenade of lights begins to dazzle in mid-November, as the beautiful garden transforms into an 800-meter promenade in the evening. Revisit perennial favorites like the Animated Lakeside Lights, Fountain of Lights, and Holiday Nature Walk — and look for new exhibits each year. Lace up your walking shoes and take the family on a festive Northern Virginia tradition. Complete your visit by roasting marshmallows and sipping hot drinks by the fire. (Available for purchase at the S’more Snacks Shop).

Ice and Lights
Where: Cameron Run Park | Alexandria, Virginia
When: November 18 to January 1
Admission: $9 village only, $22/with skating, free/under 2 years old

Spend the evening at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria. The water park transforms into a winter wonderland with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music and more! Grab a slice of pizza, roast a marshmallow on the fire pits and enjoy the Winter Village.

Garden of Lights
Where: Brookside Gardens | Wheaton, MD
When: November 18 to January 1
Admission: $10/5 years and over

The Garden of Lights is celebrating its 24th season as a family vacation tradition in the DC area! One of our favorites, it’s a magical winter wonderland illuminated by over a million dazzling colored lights shaped into quirky, handcrafted art forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden, admiring the shimmering shapes of trees, sparkling fountains and whimsical winter scenes. Then, warm up inside the visitor center – sip hot chocolate and listen to one of the nightly musical performances. KFDC tip: Go on a weekday if you can swing it to avoid the crowds. See scenes from one of our past visits there.

festival of lights
Where: Watkins Regional Park | Upper Marlboro, MD
When: November 25 to January 1
Admission: $10/online, $15/at the door

This spectacular holiday drive-in of over a million twinkling lights has been dazzling vacationers for over 25 years. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit from the comfort of your car – bring a thermos of hot chocolate, put on some holiday music, turn on the heated seats and admire the adorably festive lighted scenes. It’s been one of our family traditions since the kids were babies! For more on Watkins Regional Park, including all there is to enjoy during the day, check out this KFDC article.

Enchant Christmas
Where: National Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: November 25 to January 1
Admission: $35+/adult, $23+/3-17 years old

Explore a 90,000 square foot maze of Christmas lights and help Santa find his reindeer before Christmas Eve. Held at Nationals Park, Enchant Christmas also features an ice skating rink, live entertainment, food and drink, a toddler play area, a Christmas market, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Read a KFDC review (from season one, it was here) of this newer DC vacation attraction.

light seasons
Where: Discovery Theater | National Mall, DC
When: December 5 to 16
Admission: $3-9

This wonderful Smithsonian tradition is back this season for the first time since 2019! Seeing this show is like a rite of passage for all true DC kids. A Discovery Theater signature show, it celebrates the history and customs of Ramadan, Devali, Sankta Lucia, Chanukah, Los Posados, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and the First Nations tradition of the Winter Solstice in a interactive event that connects communities and cultures. Recommended for ages 5-10. It always sells out early, so don’t wait to buy your tickets!

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins
Where: The Puppet Co. | Glen Echo Park, MD
When: December 1 to January 1
Tickets: $15/age 2+

It’s Hanukkah on the Ropes again at The Puppet Co. this year! In this puppet game, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with the community, but the queen and the goblin king have banned the lighting of candles. Can Hershel save the day and lift the curse from this shtetl (village)?

Step Afrika’s Magical and Musical Holiday Show
Where: Arena Stadium | Southwest DC
When: December 9 to 18
Tickets: $56-95

Taking place at Arena Stage for the first time this year, Step Afrika’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show! is the hottest holiday celebration in town! (And we know that from years of experience!) This fun, family-friendly performance will have you toe-tapping and clapping to the energetic beats of Step Afrika! and special guest, DJ Frosty the Snowman. The internationally acclaimed hard-hitting dance company has created a fantastical, contemporary holiday tradition, featuring friendly furry characters, fun photo ops and a festive dance party. A great deal is the Family Fun Pack: 4 seats for just $130! Ordered by by calling the sales office (202.488.3300) Tuesday through Sunday, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Christmas in Mount Vernon
Where: Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens
When: November and December
Admission: $28/adult, $15/6-11, free/5 and under (look for discount)

Christmas past meets Christmas present at George Washington’s estate, and they celebrate the holidays with a variety of delicacies. During the day, tour the mansion, watch historic chocolate-making demonstrations, and meet Aladdin the camel. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. So bring the whole family to George and Martha Washington’s house this holiday season. And if you want to take part in special events, there are candlelight tours on certain dates (November 25-26, December 2-3, 9-10 and 18) and Christmas Lights fireworks (16-17 December) – visit the website for more details and rates.

Gingerbread workshop
Where: Tudor Square | Georgetown, DC
When: December 17, 2-3:30 p.m.
Admission: $25/non-members, $15/members

A date for this workshop is already sold out, so register quickly! Tudor Place is hosting a family-friendly gingerbread house workshop. Enjoy a brief, child-friendly tour of Tudor Place that focuses on holiday traditions and architecture, then build your own gingerbread house, cottage, or mansion with the supplies provided.

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