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5 Crazy Things to Do in Washington DC During Holidays

Just like a child unwrapping a gift, the excitement of holiday activities in Washington, D.C. is palpable. You’ll find the city adorned with festive lights, bustling markets, and an array of enticing events that transform the capital into a winter wonderland.

From the awe-inspiring light displays to the historical monuments draped in seasonal splendor, there’s much to see and do. And if you’re a fan of holiday markets, D.C. won’t disappoint you with its unique offerings.

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But the magic doesn’t stop there, there’s more to explore, which is worth your time.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several holiday light displays and events in Washington DC, including the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, ZooLights at the National Zoo, and Georgetown GLOW’s illuminated art installations.
  • Visitors can enjoy seasonal events and markets, such as the Enchanting plant-based sculptures at the United States Botanic Garden, the Downtown Holiday Market for unique gifts and crafts, and the Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the House of Sweden.
  • There are festive activities in the capital, such as admiring the National Christmas Tree in Presidents Park, savoring holiday-themed drinks at seasonal speakeasies, experiencing Victorian Christmas at the Heurich House Museum, and exploring seasonal exhibits at the National Gallery of Art.
  • Visitors can also enjoy free holiday attractions in DC, including the National Menorah at the White House Ellipse, the Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit at the National Museum, the ‘Season’s Greenings’ exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden, and free guided tours at the Jefferson Building, Library of Congress.

Exploring DC’s Holiday Light Displays

dc s festive holiday lights
  • Immerse yourself in Washington D.C.’s holiday light displays.
  • Kick off the season with the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony.
  • Marvel at the plant-based sculptures at the U.S. Botanic Garden.
  • Wander through a winter wonderland at ZooLights in the National Zoo.
  • Ignite the holiday spirit at the Capitol Christmas Tree.
  • Explore the Pathway of Peace featuring 56 state and territory trees, each adorned with environmentally friendly LED lights.
  • Enjoy the sparkling light displays and nightly musical performances encapsulating the festive holiday cheer.
  • Check out Georgetown GLOW’s illuminated public art installations for a twist on the traditional Christmas light show.
  • Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the dazzling holiday light displays are sure to add a sparkle to your holiday season.

Seasonal Events and Markets

festive celebrations and shopping
  • As you embark on your holiday adventure in Washington D.C., don’t miss out on the array of seasonal events and markets that transform the city into a vibrant hub of festive cheer and unique shopping experiences.
  • Visit the National Christmas Tree in Presidents Park to enjoy nightly musical performances.
  • Head to the United States Botanic Garden to witness enchanting plant-based sculptures at the Seasons Greenings exhibit.
  • For unique gifts and crafts, explore the Downtown Holiday Market in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Get a taste of international holiday traditions at the Swedish Christmas Bazaar in the House of Sweden.

Immerse yourself in a Christmas fairy-tale at Enchant Christmas at the Nationals Park.

Make your DC holiday unforgettable by experiencing these seasonal events.

Festive Activities in the Capital

holiday events in washington dc
  • Festive activities abound in the Capital during the holiday season.
  • The National Christmas Tree in Presidents Park is a must-see, with the National Park Service ensuring its vibrant sparkle.
  • The Downtown Holiday Market offers unique gift options for holiday shoppers.
  • Seasonal speakeasies across the city offer delightful holiday-themed drinks.
  • Washington transforms into a holiday wonderland during winter.
  • Capitol Park and the Library of Congress become bustling hubs of festive activity.
  • The Heurich House Museum offers a glimpse into a Victorian Christmas.
  • Seasonal exhibits at the National Gallery of Art are a marvel to behold.
  • Overall, the nation’s capital dazzles in its holiday finery.

Free Holiday Attractions in DC

washington dc s free attractions

Brimming with charm and holiday cheer, Washington D.C. offers an array of free attractions sure to enhance your festive spirit. From the National Menorah at the White House Ellipse to the Martin Luther King Jr. exhibit at the National Museum, there’s no shortage of holiday wonders to explore.

Take a look at these must-visit sites:

  • The U.S. Botanic Garden’s ‘Season’s Greenings’ exhibit is a must-see with plant-based sculptures and model trains.
  • Jefferson Building, part of the Library of Congress, offers free guided tours.
  • Dupont Circle Holiday Market, though shopping is optional, the festive atmosphere is free.
  • The Capitol Building and Capitol Park are always free, and extra magical during the holidays.
  • Atlas Performing Arts Center often has free holiday performances.

Enjoy your holidays in DC without breaking the bank!

Unique Holiday Shopping in DC

distinctive shopping experience in dc
  • In the heart of Washington D.C., you’ll find a myriad of unique holiday shopping experiences that showcase the creativity and spirit of the city’s local vendors.
  • Maximize your shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter, where dozens of local vendors offer locally made goods and handmade ornaments.
  • Holiday events like the Markt at MLK, with its library-themed wares, add a special touch.
  • Venture to Montgomery County to enjoy a Nutcracker-inspired bar at Duke’s Grocery for a holiday shop unlike any other.

Don’t miss special events at the Westin Georgetown market, featuring women-owned businesses, or Salt and Sundry’s Holiday Shop for exclusive items.

These holiday experiences are sure to make your D.C. holiday memorable.


So, you’ve got a feast of festive activities to dive into in Washington, D.C. during the holidays.

Did you know that over 500,000 LED lights are used in the National Zoo’s ZooLights display alone? That’s just a glimpse of the dazzling spectacle awaiting you.

From holiday markets to ice-skating amongst art, there’s a unique blend of history, culture, and holiday cheer in the capital.

Explore, indulge, and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.

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