As the weather starts to cool off and the fall season gets into full swing in November, the Capital Region comes to life with a variety of annual festivals and special events. From an international festival for kids to the first Christmas light displays in the Capital region, there are plenty of ways to celebrate fall every year. If you're planning on visiting Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and the surrounding area this November, a few special events will get you into the spirit of the season.
Kids Euro Festival
At venues across Washington, D.C., from October 26 through November 10, 2019. the European Union Delegation to the United States hosts the Kids Euro Festival in celebration of cooperation through art and music. Staged through the cooperation of 28 Washington-based embassies and more than 30 major local cultural institutions, this annual event includes more than 200 free performances around the city. Geared toward children aged 2 to 12, the event features a variety of workshops, movie screenings, storytelling events, puppetry shows, dance performances, magic routines, and other cinematic showcases.
Held in Nationals Park, the D.C. Beer Festival is an annual event centered around American craft beer tastings of the fall beers from 80 craft breweries in the Capital Region. From noon to 3 p.m. and 5 to 8 p.m. on November 2, 2019, the event features food trucks, plenty of lawn games, live music performances, DJ sets, and information booths set up throughout the park. General admission gives guests access to unlimited samples of beers as well as the dueling piano bar, which offers drink specials throughout the event.
Washington, D.C., is home to numerous monuments dedicated to the veterans of the many wars in the history of the United States. On Veterans Day each year, guests from around the world can experience numerous events around the Capital Region honoring those who served our country. From wreath-laying ceremonies and storytelling events to concert tributes and fireworks displays, there are plenty of ways to celebrate this November 11 holiday each year:
- Arlington National Cemetery: Located across the Potomac River in Arlington, this cemetery is home to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which hosts a wreath-laying ceremony on Veteran's Day at 11 a.m.
- National Cathedral Veterans Day Tribute Concert: Each year, the Washington National Cathedral in D.C. hosts a free concert at 5 p.m. to honor the fallen troops featuring the U.S. Marine Corps Orchestra, Washington National Cathedral Singers, and selections from American War Letters.
- Manassas Veterans Day Parade: The town of Manassas, Virginia, hosts a parade and festival in honor of Veterans Day each year on November 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial: This D.C. memorial celebrates Veterans Day with a Color Guard salute, speaker series, and wreath-laying ceremony at 1 p.m.
When it comes to getting your holiday shopping done early, there's no better place in the Capital Region than the various holiday and craft shows that come to the Washington, D.C. area each fall. Throughout the month of November, you'll find various arts and crafts shows across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington including the Downtown D.C. Holiday Market, Montgomery Village Holiday Craft Bazaar, and the Northern Virginia Christmas Market.
From the Monday Veterans Day through the following Sunday each November, D.C. Cocktail Week brings discount prices to signature cocktails at over 50 bars across the D.C. area. Many restaurants also offer food pairings to entice guests to try something new during the event. In order to participate in this week-long event, simply head to any of the participating restaurants and bars and ask to see their D.C. Cocktail Week menu.
The award-winning ICE! Christmas at the Gaylord National Resort is a winter wonderland created entirely of 5,000 blocks of ice weighing one and a half million pounds. Hand-sculpted by 40 international artisans and kept at a chilling nine degrees Fahrenheit, these stunning sculptures and interactive art pieces are a must-see destination in National Harbor, Maryland. ICE! 2019 features Dr. Suess' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and takes place on select dates from Friday, November 15, through Monday, December 30, 2019.
Located in Upper Marlboro, Maryland—just minutes from Washington, D.C.—Six Flags America is a popular destination year-round, but its annual Holiday in the Park event celebrating the holiday season is one of the best times to visit. During the event, the amusement park offers a holiday celebration featuring millions of glittering lights, holiday entertainment, seasonal treats, Santa’s Village, and many popular rides all for the price of admission. Holiday in the Park takes place every day Six Flags America is open from November 23 through December 31, 2019.
Abraham Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg Address” and the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery are commemorated with a special ceremony, a parade, and an illumination of the cemetery each November. The 17th Annual Gettysburg Remembrance Day Parade and Illumination take place on November 23, 2019, from 5:30 to 9 p.m. and are free to attend. However, guests are encouraged to make a donation to help support the Gettysburg Foundation, which maintains the Soldier's National Cemetery and helps local veterans through community service and charity programs in the region.
When it comes to the holiday season, many travelers worry about gaining weight from all the delicious meals you'll encounter this time of year. Fortunately, there are also a number of Turkey Trots and Fun Runs taking place in the Capital Region this November where you can burn off all those Thanksgiving calories. A variety of organizations in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia sponsor walks and runs to raise money for charity:
- Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger: This annual D.C. event takes place on Thanksgiving Day at Freedom Plaza and features a 5K fun run and family walk benefiting homeless communities in the Capital Region.
- Turkey Chase Bethesda—Chevy Chase YMCA: The city of Bethesda, Maryland, hosts an annual Turkey Trot at the Chevy Chase YMCA each year. In 2019, the event takes place on Thanksgiving Day.
- Alexandria Turkey Trot: This 5-mile run through the heart of Del Ray in Alexandria, Virginia, takes place on November 28, 2019, and welcomes guests with dogs, strollers, and wheelchairs to participate as well.
Thanksgiving weekend kicks off the holiday season and many wonderful activities and events begin in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia over the long weekend of Thanksgiving each year. From Turkey Trots and special holiday dinners to tree-lighting ceremonies and huge holiday parties, there are plenty of things to do in the Capital Region over Thanksgiving weekend this year.
A tradition since 1923, the National Christmas Tree has become a symbol of the holiday season in D.C. Planted on the Ellipse at President's Park and surrounded by a "Pathway to Peace" made up of 56 smaller, decorated trees representing all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, the giant Colorado spruce tree lights up each year for the holiday season around Thanksgiving. In 2019, the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony takes place on November 27 at 5 p.m. and also features musical performances throughout the evening. If you don't make it to the lighting of the National Christmas Tree there are plenty of other tree lighting ceremonies to visit in the area.
Celebrate the holiday season with a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, D.C., area's spectacles of lights at a local park. Popular attractions include the ZooLights at the National Zoo, the Parade of Lighted Boats in the Old Town Alexandria Marina, the Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple in Kensington, Maryland, and the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, Maryland.