Spending the holidays in DC

Begin your holiday celebrations with a visit to the National Christmas Tree

Begin your holiday celebrations with a visit to the National Christmas Tree

By Mary Morgan

With the holidays at our doorsteps, it’s time to make a to-do list of Washington activities. Spending the holidays in DC is filled with lights, music and delicious beverages. Here are five suggestions to get you in the mood for the holidays!

Visit the National Christmas Tree

This year marks the 90th anniversary of the National Christmas Tree. The Colorado blue spruce stands 30 feet tall, and is decked in 100 colorful strands of lights. If you were lucky enough to attend the official tree lighting this past Thursday – equipped with host Neil Patrick Harris, the First Family and others – you have already experienced a whole evening of holiday music and festive tradition. Even if you weren’t among the 17,000 guests huddled under blankets for the lighting ceremony, the spark of the first lights will carry through the season. The tree is a magnificent site and is not one to be missed.

See the Washington Ballet perform The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker is simply the king of holiday performances, and is a classic celebration of the holiday season. Until December 23, you can catch a show at the Warner Theatre. Septime Webre’s version of Tchaikovsky’s beloved masterpiece takes the audience back to historic Washington, and stars George Washington as the Nutcracker.

Experience ZooLights

Each holiday season, the National Zoo decorates its grounds with thousands of sparkling lights that feature sculptures of many of its popular residents. While the actual animals sleep, you can enjoy their brilliantly glowing twins made up of over 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights. Visitors can also enjoy winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, storytellers and holiday choirs. No tickets are required, and its free price tag makes it a great activity for the whole family. Starting this weekend, this winter wonderland of lights is open nightly.

Enjoy a holiday concert

There are plenty of options for holiday music in Washington. The Botanic Garden presents a holiday exhibit of model trains and replicas of the city’s buildings and monuments. The Conservatory is open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays for the holiday season, and from 6 until close there are musical performances. At the Kennedy Center, the National Symphony Orchestra encourages you to get into the holiday spirit with their performance of Handel’s Messiah. Also featured at the Kennedy Center is NSO Pops: Happy Holidays! Santa is in town for the NSO Pops program, which features holiday classics.

Sip dreamy hot chocolate

Is there anything better than delicious hot chocolate on a cold winter day? In DC, hot cocoa is not simply made from powder stirred into water. It is so much more decadent. Made from exquisitely dark chocolate or decorated with cinnamon, there are plenty of local cafes to indulge in. Last winter season, the Washington Post came up with a list of must-try hot cocoa to cure your winter days. The list includes Co Co. Sala, Dolcezza, Locolat, Oyamel, Spagnvola, Taqueria Nacionale, Awfully Chocolate and The Sweet Lobby.


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