Celebrate the holiday season with a drive or a stroll through one of the Washington, D.C. area's spectacle of lights at a local park or along the water in Washington, D.C., Maryland or Virginia. These Christmas light displays are beautiful and a great way to share the magic and joy of a winter wonderland. Don't miss the FREE annual boat parades along the Potomac River (Alexandria and Downtown Washington DC) and the Chesapeake Bay (Annapolis).
In Washington, D.C.
- ZooLights at the National Zoo
Rock Creek Park. Washington, D.C. November 23, 2018 through January 1, 2019. Closed Dec. 24, 25 and 31. Hours: 5-9 p.m. FREE Admission! The National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, live musical performances, indoor animal exhibits, a model train display and more.
- Parade of Lighted Boats
The Wharf and Old Town Alexandria Marina. December 1, 2018, 5:30 p.m. & 7 p.m. See dozens of festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River. The parade begins at Alexandria's waterfront and travels to Washington's Channel at Water St. off of Maine Avenue.
- Festival of Lights at the Mormon Temple
9900 Stoneybrook Dr., Kensington, Maryland. (301) 587-0144. November 29-December 31, 2018. Dusk to 10 p.m. nightly. FREE Admission. View more than 450,000 lights and a live outdoor Nativity scene each evening from 6 to 9 p.m. Live musical performances begin at 7 and 8 p.m.
- Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park
2018 times and dates to be announced. Winter Lights is a magical Christmas light display including more than 350 illuminated displays and along a 3.5-mile drive through the park.
- Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park
301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland. November 23, 2018-January 1, 2019. HOURS: 5-9:30 p.m. daily. $10 per car; $20 for mini-buses and limos; $30 for buses; $20 for multi-visit passes for cars and vans (good for three visits). The festival is FREE on December 25. You may bring canned food items to donate to local food banks for the holidays. Winter Festival of Lights is Prince George’s County, Maryland’s spectacular drive-through Christmas light display featuring more than a million twinkling lights.
- Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens
1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, Maryland. November 16, 2018 - January 1, 2019 (closed December 24-25). Hours: Sunday-Thursday 5:30-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday 5:30-10 p.m. Monday-Thursday $25 per car, Friday-Sunday $30 per car. The Garden Railway Exhibit is open daily in the South Conservatory, featuring miniature trains and trollies amidst a landscape of town and country scenes with past one-of-a-kind models of the Brookside Gardens Conservatories, the Dentzel Carousel and the Chautauqua Tower of Glen Echo Park.
- Symphony of Lights in Columbia
Symphony Woods, Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland. (410) 740-7840. November 22, 2018-December 30, 2018. Symphony of Lights is a spectacular drive-through display of more than 75 animated and stationary holiday lights. All proceeds from the Symphony of Lights benefit the services of Howard County General Hospital.
- Eastport Yacht Club Parade of Lights
Annapolis Christmas Lights Boat Parade, Annapolis City Harbor (410) 267-9549. December 8, 2018, 6-8 p.m. Enjoy a parade of lights when more than 70 power and sailboats show off their holiday decorations. Free event.
- Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park
Route 50, Annapolis, Maryland. (410) 481-3161. November 17, 2018-January 1, 2019, 5-10 p.m. An annual scenic drive through holiday lights show sponsored by the Anne Arundel Medical Center. Drive along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay and see more than 60 animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. $15 per car.
- Annmarie Garden in Lights
Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, 13480 Dowell Road, Dowell (Solomons), Maryland. (410) 326-4640. November 30, 2018 - January 1, 2019, 6-9 p.m. (closed Dec. 7-9, 14-15, 24-25). The walking tour takes visitors on a spectacular stroll beside handmade one-of-a-kind Christmas light sculptures featuring mythical beasts, wild animals, pirates, illuminated works of art, and more. The event includes nightly entertainment. $7 Ages 5 & up.
In Northern Virginia
- Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Old Town Alexandria Marina and Washington Harbour. December 1, 2018, 5:30 p.m. See dozens of festively decorated pleasure boats light up the sky along the Potomac River. The parade begins at Alexandria's waterfront and travels to Washington's Channel at Water St. off of Maine Avenue.
- Bull Run Festival of Lights
7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, Virginia. (703) 359-4633. November 21, 2018 through January 6, 2019. Hours: Monday - Thursday & Sunday: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Fridays, Saturdays & holidays: 5:30 to 10 p.m. This festive display of lights features penguins, snowmen, deer, candy canes and Santa. Monday – Thursday, $20 per car, Friday – Sunday, $25 per car. The event will include more than 40,000 animated lights set to music! After viewing the lights you can visit the new Winter Wonderland Holiday Village that includes amusement rides, an ice skating rink, entertainment, shopping, contests, food, and more.
- Winter Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Gardens
9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna, Virginia. (703) 255-3631. November 9, 2018-January 6, 2019, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Admission: $14 Adults, $8 children ages 3-12. The garden offers a half-mile walking tour of lights featuring unique animated displays with a nature theme and a Gingerbread Village. After visiting the display, step inside the Visitor Center to warm up with some light refreshments.