Skip to main content

Holiday Magic Returns to The Nation’s Capital This Winter With Safety in Mind

Discover virtual events, winterized outdoor dining, seasonal hotel packages, twinkling light displays and ways to shop local on

(Washington, DC) – Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, sparks inspiration this holiday season, from where to find the perfect gift to themed hotel stays, merry lights and cozy dining. For the latest guide to Washington, DC in the wintertime, including COVID-19 visitor protocols and safety measures, visit


“Keeping safety top of mind, winter traditions in Washington, DC look different this year, but the joyful spirit remains alive in the city,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of DDC. “We are helping visitors and locals stay inspired throughout the holidays by sharing the creativity of our restaurants, hotels, shops and attractions, that have all reimagined the visitor experience due to the pandemic.”


Washington, DC’s tourism industry remains challenged. From March 8-Nov. 7, visitor spending was down 80 percent, or $4.5 billion, compared to the same period in 2019, according to Tourism Economics. DDC provides ideas to stay local and support DC’s strained businesses this holiday season, in addition to sharing festive holiday offerings.


Seasonal Hotel Packages

  • Perfect for large families looking for a safe getaway, Viceroy Washington DC offers an exclusive in-room holiday beverage package, complimentary parking and personalized holiday decorations when guests book a full-floor or hotel wing buyout through the “A Very Viceroy Holiday” package.

  • In the season of giving, save 15 percent off the best available rate at Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown and $10 will be donated to Horton’s Kids, a non-profit organization that empowers and prepares DC’s youth for success in college and life. (Dec. 1-Feb. 28, 2021)

  • Reimagine your wintertime plans with a fully flexible reservation at Riggs Washington DC. The luxury downtown hotel offers 30 percent off their lowest rate, $50 dining credit to use at Café Riggs and a complimentary room upgrade. (Now-March 31, 2021)

  • Between Dec. 1-28, guests can book the Festive Suite Package at Sofitel Washington DC Lafayette Square for an overnight stay in one of their Pére Noël suites, a French-inspired version of Santa’s home. The package includes complimentary breakfast for a family of four, hot cocoa with cookies and two holiday-themed movies in-room.


Virtual Holiday Events and Performances  

  • This year’s National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony was held virtually on Dec. 3, but the family-friendly show is available to stream online throughout the holiday season.

  • On Dec. 16, DC’s Step Afrika!, the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, will air its annual holiday extravaganza, the Magical Musical Holiday Step Show for free on Facebook and YouTube.

  • Ford’s Theatre will radio broadcast its popular play adaptation of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol on Dec. 25 on WAMU 88.5 FM.

  • The U.S. Botanic Garden’s free annual holiday concert series will stream on Facebook and YouTube during the month of December. View the festive line-up here. (The Conservatory and gated outdoor gardens are temporarily closed.)

  • Available via Marquee TV the entire month of December, The Washington Ballet is offering “The Nutcracker Virtual Experience, Clara's Christmas Eve Dream.” This year’s Nutcracker performance is a digital experience featuring a narrated short film, behind-the-scenes content, interviews and special performances.


Dazzling Light Displays

  • The popular light festival by Smithsonian’s National Zoo hits the road. The colorful and festive 24-foot ZooLights Express truck will journey through DC’s vibrant neighborhoods through Dec. 19 (check online for route schedule). Don’t forget to check in on DC’s newest resident, baby panda Xiao Qi Ji via the Giant Panda Cam

  • Starting Dec. 2, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree shines bright on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.  

  • Penn Quarter’s luxury shopping and restaurant destination, CityCenterDC dresses up with a dreamy installation of 400 gleaming ornaments and a 75-foot tree for the season.

  • The National Menorah will be lit on the Ellipse throughout Hanukkah. Free tickets are required for the grand lighting ceremony on Dec. 10, with COVID-19 safety procedures in full effect.

  • Between Dec. 9-20, celebrate “12 Days of CapRiv” in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood with illuminated trees, holiday-themed drive-in movies, family photo opportunities and whimsical activations.

  • George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Dec. 11-13 & Dec. 26-28) will be decked out in eye-catching illuminations with tasty holiday drinks for sale.


Holiday Shopping


Winterized & Socially Distanced Dining

Restaurants around the city continue to offer takeout menus and contactless delivery and can be found on the locally-based platform, Many dining options are now winterized with heating lamps and fire pits for outdoor comfort. Book reservations in advance for the following:


Per Mayor Muriel E. Bowser, Washington, DC is in phase two of reopening with restrictions in place. As of Nov. 25, travelers outside of Maryland, Virginia and Hawaii are required to have a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours in advance of visiting. Masks and social distancing are required in DC. Indoor gatherings are capped at 10 people and outdoor gatherings of over 25 people are prohibited.


All in-person activities listed above adhere to DC’s protocols and are implementing various social distancing, capacity, ticketing and sanitation safeguards. Guests should review COVID-19 protocols prior to attendance.  *(As of Dec. 2, all activities mentioned in this press release are open. Check for the latest updates.)


About Destination DC: Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities.


January 7, 2021

Media Contacts

Danielle Davis
Director of Communications
Julie Marshall
Domestic Media Relations Manager
Susan O'Keefe
Media Relations Manager, Trade
Nicole Nussbaum
International Media Relations Manager