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National Christmas Tree

Dazzling Holiday Light Displays & Events in Washington, DC, 2024

This winter, get in the holiday spirit with holiday markets, Christmas light displays and seasonal events in the nation’s capital.

Sure, the District might be part of the Mid-Atlantic region, but it feels more like the North Pole during the holidays thanks to the National Christmas Tree, holiday markets, one-of-a-kind seasonal light displays and lots more. Here are some of the ways to experience the holidays in Washington, DC.


Cross visiting the National Christmas Tree off your bucket list

National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer, which is free to visit, lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it's surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season.


Check out the Downtown Holiday Market

Downtown Holiday Market

This free-to-frequent downtown bazaar is centrally located in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery, the beloved market stretches across two blocks of F Street between 7th and 9th streets. Scope out eclectic wares from dozens of pop-up tents with seasonally flavored music performed live in the background. Locally roasted coffee and crafted-before-your-eyes mini-doughnuts inspire a cold-weather appetite, creating a holiday atmosphere you won’t find anywhere else in DC. 


Get some Season's Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Season's Greenings display at U.S. Botanic Garden

The free Season's Greenings celebration at the U.S. Botanic Garden is a beloved annual tradition in the nation's capital. The 2023 edition featured five G-gauge model trains circulating through oversized animal pollinators made from plant parts. Indoors, see thousands of poinsettias as well as 22 plant-based landmarks of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the National Gallery of Art's East Building. Throughout the Terrace Gardens and Bartholdi Gardens, trees and shrubs feature string lights, festive evergreens and six large plant-based sculptures of pollinators.


Experience the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

U.S. Captiol Christmas Tree

This year’s tree will come from the Alaska's National Forests. You can visit the tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Follow the tree’s FacebookTwitter and Instagram for the latest news and updates, including a tracker of its tour across the U.S.


Warm up at Mount Vernon

Explore George Washington’s estate by candlelight and learn about historic holiday traditions. On select dates, you can also enjoy a dazzling spectacle of Christmas Illuminations or be transported by the Winter Encampment and Market. 


Embrace the neighborhoods with DC Holiday Lights

Each year, neighborhoods throughout the nation’s capital adorn their “main streets” with colorful lights. Additionally, vendors in each neighborhood offer holiday specials and promotions throughout the month to encourage shopping locally. You can enjoy this holiday cheer in Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant, Logan Circle, Petworth, U Street and Woodley Park, among other locales. Votes can be cast for the best decorated corridor!


Be dazzled by the lighting of the National Menorah

National Menorah

Chanukah kicks off with a lighting ceremony of the world’s largest menorah on the White House Ellipse, which greets all with latkes, doughnuts, menorah kits and dreidels. Music from the United States Navy Band typically adds a soundtrack to the scene. As is the custom, a new candle is illuminated on each of the eight days of Chanukah.


Feel merry and bright when you visit Tudor Place

Experience one of the city’s most historic destinations with an array of seasonal events, including candlelight tours, holiday-themed workshops (including gingerbread and wreath-making), holiday tea time and more.


Groove to the rhythms of Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show

DC’s Step Afrika!, the first professional company dedicated to the tradition of stepping, puts on a holiday extravaganza every year. The incredibly rhythmic, family-friendly show takes place at the illustrious Arena Stage.


Peruse the free Dupont Circle Holiday Pop-Up

Artists and makers get situated in front of retail shops all over the Dupont Circle neighborhood for this annual event hosted by Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets. Dozens of vendors will be on-hand to sell paintings, scarves, chocolates, jewelry, pottery and additional holiday-themed items. Pop-up shops feature imported food, fine art, shoes and more.


ZooLights Returns


Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights, powered by Pepco, a part of their annual holiday tradition. The event includes live music performances, tasty winter treats and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. Environmentally friendly LED lights and dozens of glowing animal lanterns transform the Smithsonian National Zoo into a winter wonderland. Note that timed passes are required. In past years, admission has been just $6.


Gaze at neighborhood light installations during Georgetown GLOW

Georgetown GLOW

Stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood to see jaw-dropping illuminated artworks at Georgetown GLOW, a holiday hit in the District. Participants range from locally renowned to internationally celebrated, while their works gorgeously adorn outdoor spaces throughout Georgetown. Go deeper with a weekend walking tour of the installations with DC Design Tours.


Grab some gifts at Heurich House Museum's annual market

Heurich House Museum's famed Castle Garden hosts the Christkindlmarkt throughout the first full weekend of December every year. Tickets grant you access to the arts and crafts-laden market featuring goods from dozens of vendors and the historic mansion, which will be decorated to the nines. This year, the markt will be folded into Maker Month, a new month-long celebration of artisans.


Take in the District Holiday Boat Parade

Each year, dozens of dazzling boats traverse the Potomac River from the waterfront in Alexandria, VA. to The Wharf. You can observe the parade free of charge, and there are holiday festivities to enjoy beforehand, including winter drink sampling, chances to meet Santa, ornament decorating and more. Prizes are awarded to the most beautiful vessels and fireworks cap off the parade.


Check out CityCenterDC's Holiday Tree

CityCenterDC Holiday Tree

CityCenterDC lights its jaw-dropping 75-foot Christmas tree during a cheerful (and free) event. The ceremony features a countdown, a performance by a seven-piece dance band, balloon artists, face painters and plenty of other holiday-themed activities. You can enjoy the tree throughout the holiday season, as well as gorgeous lights along Palmer Alley. Stay in the festive mood at Conrad Washington, DC, which features incredible views of the tree, its own rooftop, drink specials and festive decorations.


Toast to the Season

Every year, hot spots deck the halls for you to eat, drink and be merry. Businesses and bars like Death PunchPenn Social, Wunder GartenDuke’s GroceryColada Shop and Westin City Center are known for making spirits bright with festive beverages like hot buttered rum, mulled wines, hot chocolate and more. 


Visit The Markt at MLK

The DC Public Library and the Heurich House Museum collaborate to open an annual holiday shop with locally made and Library-themed goods. Discover more than a dozen products for gift-giving this season at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Past vendors, hand-selected by the Heurich House Museum, have included Second Story Cards, DC is My City, Terratorie, All Very Goods, Bicycle Trash, Sio Ceramics, Wick & Paper and Bailiwick Clothing Company.

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