December 2017 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 lots of annual festivals and special events. Enjoy the holiday season including, Christmas tree lighting ceremonies, holiday open houses, candlelight tours, concerts, shows, light displays, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa events and more. All dates, prices, and activities mentioned are subject to change, so please check the official website or call to confirm information.

Please note, since there are many ongoing holiday events,  this page has been set up to feature ongoing events at the top of the page and continues below with a section for each week of the month. This list is curated to highlight the best events in the region. In December, there are many ongoing seasonal activities. Be sure to continue reading to see the events for each week.

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  • 01 of 05

    Ongoing Events (Various Dates or Continuing throughout December)

    ICE 2015 Santa Claus is Coming to Town
    ••• ICE 2015 Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Photo © Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, 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, 2017, 5 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, 2018. The award-winning holiday attraction is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 BLOCKS of ice hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans.

    Six Flags...MORE America - Holiday in the Park - Through January 1, 2018. 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, hear 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 24-December 23, 2017. 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 180 exhibitors.

    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, 2018. 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 8, 2017-January 8, 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.

  • 02 of 05

    Week One: December 1-7, 2017

    Boats-Decorated.jpg
    ••• 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 - December 1-2, 2017. The holiday parade and family-friendly activities are a traditional favorite of the Alexandria community.

    Manassas Christmas Parade - December 1, 2017. 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  - 2017 Dates to Be Announced. 10 a.m. – 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 2, 2017....MORE 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 2, 2017. See dozens of festively decorated boats light up the sky along the Potomac River.

    Middleburg Hunt and Christmas Parade - December 2, 2017. Middleburg, VA. Enjoy a unique holiday event in Virginia's horse country.

    Logan Circle Holiday House Tour - 2017 Dates to Be Announced.  Logan Circle, Washington DC. Get an inside view of a variety of homes in the historic neighborhood.

    Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony - 2017 Dates to Be Announced, 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.

    Pearl Harbor Day at the World War II Memorial - December 7, 2017, 1:52 p.m.  World War II Memorial, Washington DC. As part of the commemoration, nearly twenty 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.

    Winternational Celebration - 2017 Dates to Be Announced, 11 a.m. – 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.

  • 03 of 05

    Week Two: December 8-14, 2017

    Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show - December 9-10, 2017. Washington Convention Center. Attend a consumer event focusing on food and entertaining with more than 150 exhibitors including specialty food companies, caterers, party planners, personal chefs, kitchen planners and appliance manufacturers.

    The Living Christmas Tree - 2017 Dates to Be Announced. 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 9, 2017. 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.

    Washington Nationals Winterfest - 2017 Date to Be Announced. Washington Convention Center,...MORE 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.

    Leesburg Holiday Parade and Festival -  2017 Date to Be Announced, 6 p.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.

    Santarchy DC - 2017 Date to Be Announced. A fun, quirky holiday event that is held in major cities around the world! Hundreds of Santas visit major sites around Washington DC and spread their holiday cheer.

    Russian Winter Festival  - 2017 Dates to Be Announced, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Hillwood Museum, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington, DC. Celebrate the holiday season in traditional Russian style! Enjoy music, jokes, and fortunetelling by winsome characters.

  • 04 of 05

    Week Three: December 15-21, 2017

    hanukkah.jpg
    ••• Photo © James and James/Getty Images

    Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon - December 15-16, 2017, 5:30-9 p.m. 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 16, 2017. Holiday wreaths adorn thousands of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in Wreaths Across America.

    National Cathedral Children's Christmas Pageant  - 2017 Dates to Be Announced, 2 p.m. Washington National Cathedral, Washington DC. This joyous event is designed for children and is free and open to the public.

    National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony - 2017 Date to Be Announced, 4 p.m. Ellipse, White House Grounds, Washington DC. The festivities include musical performances and hot latkes and donuts. 

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Week Four: December 22-31, 2017

    alexandria-fireworks.jpg
    ••• Alexandria Fireworks. Photo © Victor Wolansky courtesy of Alexandria Convention & Visitors Association

    The Water-skiing Santa - December 24, 2017, 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.

    10 Things to Do on Christmas Day in Washington DC - Although not everyone celebrates the holiday, most businesses and attractions are closed on December 25th. Find out what's open on this day.

    Candlelight Tour of Historic Houses of Worship - December 26, 2017, 4-9 p.m. Frederick, Maryland. More than a dozen churches open their doors to the public for special programs, angelic choirs, and nativity scenes celebrating religious diversity and local history.

    Military Bowl and Parade - December 28, 2017. Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland. College football bowl game benefits the United Service Organizations. 

    New Year's Eve Celebrations in the Washington, DC Area -December 31, 2017. Check out these suggestions of ways to ring in the New Year in...MORE Washington, DC, Maryland or Virginia.


    First Nights and Family Friendly New Years Eve Events - December 31, 2017. Ring in the New Year at a family-oriented, non-alcohol event in Maryland or Virginia.

    More Washington, DC Area Event Calendars

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