Washington, D.C., in January: 2020 Festivals and Events

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The Washington, D.C., area and its surrounding communities in Maryland and Virginia host a full range of annual festivals and special events in January. You can still tour the holiday displays, try a new type of food during Restaurant Week or participate in the anticipated Polar Bear Plunge, if you dare.

Check the official websites or call to confirm information before you go as weather and unforeseen circumstances can cause closures and changes.

  • New Years Day in Washington, D.C.: New Year's Day in Washington, D.C., looks like a lot of closed businesses and quiet streets; however, there are plenty of great ways to spend your first day of January in the capital city, including a visit to the Smithsonian museums, which are open on New Year's Day, as are the monuments and memorials. You can even spend the holiday at the National Zoo.
  • Washington, D.C., Area Christmas Light Displays: Some of the Christmas light displays in the area continue to illuminate local parks and neighborhoods through the first week of January. One local favorite is the United States Botanic Garden's yearly Seasons Greenings display.
  • Christmas at Mount Vernon You can learn about the Christmas traditions of George Washington's time and tour his former home, Mount Vernon. The holiday programming extends through the first week in January.
  • Winter Theater in Washington, D.C.: Catch "A Christmas Carol" playing at Ford's Theatre through January 1, 2020. The National Theater will be putting on "Jersey Boys" through January 5 and "Peter Pan and Wendy" will be playing in Penn Quarter and Chinatown through January 12, too.
  • Bridal Shows and Expos: January is a popular time to attend bridal shows. Washington, D.C., hosts a number of them, including the Great Bridal Expo on January 5 and Wedding Experience on January 12 and 19.
  • Bethesda Restaurant Week: From January 10 to 19, 2020, you can enjoy prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus at a variety of high-end restaurants in Bethesda, Maryland (all for a fair price).
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day Events: MLK Day will take place on January 20, 2019. The civil rights leader's birthday calls for commemorative events at a variety of historic sites in Washington, D.C., including a peace march through the city and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
  • Home & Remodeling Show: Chantilly, Virginia, will be the place to get inspiration for your home during the annual Home & Remodeling Show, taking place in 2020 from January 17 to 19. Stop by to find out what's new in home decor, gardening, and remodeling. There will be hundreds of experts and thousands of products and services.
  • Washington, D.C., Restaurant Week: The city's annual Restaurant Week allows folks to experience some of the best culinary gems in the city at affordable prices. More than 250 of Washington, D.C.’s finest restaurants will be offering deals on three-course lunches and dinners for this gourmet event taking place January 13 to 19.
  • Howard County Restaurant Weeks: The winter version of Howard County's biannual Restaurant Weeks will take place from January 20 to February 3, 2020. Participating restaurants will offer prix fixe chef’s menus with special pricing.
  • Maryland Polar Bear Plunge: The annual Polar Bear Plunge is a Maryland tradition and participating in it is not for the faint of heart. This chilly swim and charity event in Annapolis benefits the Special Olympics Maryland. Thousands of participants of all ages dare to take a dip in the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay. The event includes contests and live entertainment and takes place from January 23 to 25, 2020.