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Top 10 Things to Do in Washington, D.C. During Christmas

Top 10 Things to Do in Washington, D.C. During Christmas

The holiday season in Washington, D.C. is a magical time filled with festive decorations, joyful celebrations, and a sense of community. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, there are plenty of activities to enjoy during Christmas in the nation’s capital. From exploring iconic landmarks to experiencing the city’s vibrant holiday spirit, here are the top 10 things to do in Washington, D.C. during Christmas.

1. Visit the National Christmas Tree

A visit to the National Christmas Tree is a must during the holiday season. Located on the Ellipse near the White House, this towering tree is beautifully decorated and surrounded by smaller trees representing each U.S. state and territory. Enjoy live performances by renowned artists and soak in the festive atmosphere.

2. Explore the National Zoo Lights

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Witness the zoo come alive with over 500,000 colorful lights, animal-shaped lanterns, and dazzling displays. Don’t miss the opportunity to see the animals at night and experience the magic of Zoo Lights.

3. Ice Skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Strap on your skates and glide across the ice at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s ice rink. Surrounded by beautiful sculptures and twinkling lights, this outdoor ice skating experience is perfect for both beginners and experienced skaters. Warm up with a cup of hot cocoa from the nearby Pavilion Café.

4. Enjoy Holiday Performances at the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts hosts a variety of holiday performances during Christmas. From classic ballets like “The Nutcracker” to festive concerts and theatrical productions, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Immerse yourself in the arts and create lasting memories.

5. Experience the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greenings

Step into a world of holiday magic at the U.S. Botanic Garden’s Season’s Greenings exhibit. Marvel at the stunning display of model trains chugging through landscapes made entirely of plant materials. Admire the beautiful Christmas trees and festive decorations that fill the conservatory.

6. Stroll Through Georgetown’s Holiday Market

Georgetown’s historic streets come alive during Christmas with a festive holiday market. Browse through unique crafts, gifts, and delicious treats from local vendors. Take a leisurely stroll along the charming streets adorned with twinkling lights and decorations.

7. Attend the National Cathedral’s Christmas Eve Service

Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas by attending the National Cathedral’s Christmas Eve service. Experience the beauty of the cathedral’s stunning architecture while enjoying a traditional Christmas service filled with music and reflection. This annual event is a cherished tradition for many locals and visitors alike.

8. Marvel at the Holiday Lights at the Wharf

Head to the Wharf, a vibrant waterfront neighborhood, to witness its spectacular holiday light display. The waterfront promenade is adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, creating a magical ambiance. Enjoy waterfront dining, shopping, and live entertainment while taking in the festive atmosphere.

9. Take a Holiday-themed Tour of the White House

If you’re lucky enough to visit Washington, D.C. during Christmas, consider taking a holiday-themed tour of the White House. Experience the grandeur of the decorations and learn about the history and traditions of the season at the People’s House. Note that tickets for these tours are limited and require advance planning.

10. Shop at the Downtown Holiday Market

Wrap up your Christmas shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market, located in the heart of the city. Browse through a wide selection of unique gifts, crafts, and artisanal goods from local vendors. Indulge in delicious food and drinks while supporting small businesses.


Washington, D.C. offers a plethora of festive activities during the Christmas season. From iconic landmarks to lively holiday markets, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Immerse yourself in the city’s holiday spirit, create lasting memories, and embrace the joy of the season.

Call to Action

Share the magic of Christmas in Washington, D.C. with your friends and family. Experience the joy of the holiday season and create unforgettable memories. Don’t miss out on the top 10 things to do in the nation’s capital during Christmas!


Q: What are the dates for the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony?
A: The National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony usually takes place in early December. Check the official website for the most up-to-date information.

Q: Are there any admission fees for the holiday events in Washington, D.C.?
A: Most of the holiday events in Washington, D.C. are free to attend. However, some may require tickets or have additional fees. It’s best to check the event’s website for specific details.

Q: Can I take photographs at the holiday events?
A: Photography policies vary depending on the event and location. It’s advisable to check the guidelines or contact the venue for information regarding photography.


  • Plan your visit in advance and check the event schedules to make the most of your time.
  • Dress warmly and wear comfortable shoes, especially if you plan on walking or ice skating.
  • Consider using public transportation or rideshare services as parking can be limited during the holiday season.
  • Arrive early to popular events to secure a good spot and avoid long lines.
  • Don’t forget to try some traditional holiday treats and beverages while exploring the city.

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