December 2018 Festivals and Events in Washington, DC

USA, Washington DC, Illuminared Christmas tree with White House in background
Greg Pease / Getty Images

The Washington, DC area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host many annual festivals and special events during the month of December. The holiday season is best enjoyed with Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, holiday open houses, candlelight tours, concerts, shows, light displays, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa events and more.

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Ongoing Events (Various Dates or Continuing throughout December)

ICE 2015 Santa Claus is Coming to Town
Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to, Inc.

Holiday Craft Shows in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia - Find unique gifts for the holidays at a variety of craft shows held in the Washington, DC area.
Cut Your Own Christmas Tree at a Maryland or Virginia Farm - Find Christmas tree farms in the Washington, DC suburbs.

The National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace - Lighting ceremony - November 30, 2018, 4:30 p.m. Ellipse near the White House. Visit the National Christmas Tree and enjoy live entertainment through January 1.

Candlelight Tours in the Washington, DC Area - Enjoy the festive holiday decor of historic homes by candlelight tour, complete with seasonal music, storytelling and holiday treats.
Holiday Shows in Washington DC - See the schedule of live theatrical holiday performances in the DC area.​
ICE! – Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort -Through January 1, 2019 The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 blocks of ice hand-sculpted by international artisans.

Six Flags America - Holiday in the Park - Through January 1, 2019. Upper Marlboro, MD. The amusement park offers a holiday celebration featuring millions of glittering lights, holiday entertainment, seasonal treats, Santa’s Village, and many popular rides.
Nutcracker Performances in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia - Enjoy the Christmas holiday classic ballet. The Nutcracker is performed at a variety of theaters, from community theaters in the suburbs to Washington, DC's most formal performing arts centers.
Holiday Concerts in Washington, DC - Find a schedule of holiday concerts of Christmas classics, Hanukkah songs and much more.
Holiday Model Train Exhibits - Toy train displays are a family favorite for the holiday season. Visit these holiday model train exhibits in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.
Washington DC Area Christmas Light Displays - 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.
Best Christmas Events for Kids in the Washington, DC Area - While you are busy preparing for the holiday, be sure to take some time out to make some special Christmas memories with your kids.
National Cathedral Christmas Events - Take a guided tour, listen to festive music, make Christmas decorations, or attend a religious service.
Holidays at National Harbor - Enjoy nightly light shows, a weekend holiday market, ICE at the Gaylord, and more.
Downtown DC Holiday Market - November 23-December 23, 2018. Sidewalk on F Street between 7th and 9th in front of the National Portrait Gallery. Enjoy a unique seasonal shopping marketplace of downtown Washington DC including gift items by more than 150 artisans, crafters, and boutiques.

Christmas in Old Town Alexandria - The holiday season in Old Town Alexandria is magical with historic streets decorated brightly for the holidays, entertainers on street corners, colorful shop windows and lots of fun activities.

Christmas at Mount Vernon - Through January 6, 2019. Learn about the Christmas traditions of George Washington and his family, meet historic characters and tour the Mount Vernon Estate by candlelight.

Georgetown GLOW - December 1, 2018-January 6, 2018. Georgetown, Washington DC. One of the city's most treasured communities will host a festive holiday light exhibit.
Hanukkah Events in the Washington, DC Area - Various Dates. Find special events celebrating the holiday in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia
Kwanzaa Events in the Washington, DC Area - Various Dates. Find special holiday events around the region.

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Week One: December 1-7, 2018

Photo © Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies - Various Dates. Mark your calendar and enjoy the season at a variety of Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremonies in the Washington, DC area.

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend - November 30-December 1, 2018. The holiday parade and family-friendly activities are a traditional favorite of the Alexandria community.

Manassas Christmas Parade - December 1, 2018. Old Town Manassas, VA celebrates the holiday season with a parade including floats, local celebrities, live performances, marching bands, animated characters, giant balloons and more.

Smithsonian Holiday Festival  - December 1-2, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Washington DC. Get in the holiday spirit with free festive musical performances, book signings, crafts, special foods and more. Complimentary gift-wrapping will be available at the National Museum of American History. The free Circulator bus will transport visitors to the other festivities around the National Mall.
Antietam Illumination - December 8, 2018. Sharpsburg, MD. Take a free driving tour along the national battlefield and see 23,110 luminaries lit in honor of those killed, wounded or missing during the Battle of Antietam.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights - December 1, 2018. See dozens of festively decorated boats light up the sky along the Potomac River.

Middleburg Hunt and Christmas Parade - December 1, 2018. Middleburg, VA. Enjoy a unique holiday event in Virginia's horse country.

Washington Nationals Winterfest - December 1 to 2, 2018. Nationals Park, Washington DC. Show your team spirit and get ready for the upcoming season at a fun-filled baseball festival with select Nationals players, coaches and team personnel.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony -  December 5, 2018, 5:00 p.m. West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Listen to holiday music by a section of The United States Marine Band (The President's Own), and carols sung by the Congressional Chorus.

Winternational Celebration - December 6, 2018, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Atrium, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW Washington DC. The free event celebrates the holiday traditions from a global perspective with an international bazaar featuring cultural performances, embassy exhibitors and artisans, gingerbread cookie decorating, and a sampling of global food.
Pearl Harbor Day at the World War II Memorial - As part of the commemoration, more than a dozen Pearl Harbor Survivors and other World War II veterans will lay wreaths at the Freedom Wall in remembrance of the more than 400,000 Americans who lost their lives during World War II.

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Week Two: December 8-14, 2018

Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show - December 1 to 2, 2018. Washington Convention Center. Attend a consumer event focusing on food and entertaining with hundreds of exhibitors including specialty food companies, caterers, party planners, personal chefs, kitchen planners and appliance manufacturers.

The Living Christmas Tree - December 8 to 9, 2017. Riverdale Baptist Church, 1177 Largo Road, Upper Marlboro, MD. This unique annual performance features a 30-foot-tall steel structure that holds an 80-person choir. The family-friendly show inspires the celebration of Christmas through musical performances and dramatic scenes.

Annapolis Christmas Lights Boat Parade - December 8, 2018. Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights. Annapolis City Harbor. Enjoy a parade of lights when more than 70 power and sailboats show off their holiday decorations. See more about Christmas Events in Annapolis.

National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony - December 22018. Ellipse, White House Grounds, Washington DC. The festivities include musical performances and hot latkes and donuts. 

Leesburg Holiday Parade and Festival - December 8, 2018. 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.

Russian Winter Festival - December 9, 2018, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hillwood Museum. Celebrate the holiday season in traditional Russian style! Enjoy music, jokes, and fortune-telling by winsome characters.

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Week Three: December 15-21, 2018

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon - December 14-15, 2018. Mount Vernon Estate, Mount Vernon, VA. Enjoy an evening of holiday-themed fireworks and special programs. Before the fireworks show begins at 8:45 p.m., watch colonial artisans make chocolate, meet re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, enjoy cider by a bonfire, and learn 18th century dance moves from costumed guides.

Arlington Wreath Laying Ceremony - December 15, 2018. Holiday wreaths adorn thousands of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Wreaths Across America.

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Week Four: December 22-31, 2018

Photo © Victor Wolansky courtesy of Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

The Water-skiing Santa - December 24, 2018, 1 p.m. Old Town Alexandria. This unusual annual event features a water-skiing Santa, flying elves, the Jet-skiing Grinch, and Frosty the Snowman performing on the Potomac River.

New Year's Eve Celebrations in the Washington, DC Area - December 31, 2018. Check out these suggestions of ways to ring in the New Year in Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.

First Nights and Family Friendly New Years Eve Events - December 31, 2018. Ring in the New Year at a family-oriented, non-alcohol event in Maryland or Virginia.

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