The days are getting shorter and the sun is setting earlier, but holiday lights are brightening the D.C. area as winter settles in. Between the beginning of Hannukah, ZooLights, the Holiday Boat Parade and endless markets, it's a good weekend to feel the spirit of the holidays.
— Holiday markets where you can pick up that special, locally made gift:
Here are our top picks for your weekend:
Holiday Boat Parades:
DC: Saturday, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., The Wharf
Alexandria: Activities start at 2 p.m.; Boat Parade of Lights starts at 5:30 p.m.
The waterfront holiday tradition is back! Whether you're on The Wharf or the Alexandria waterfront, enjoy a parade of decked-out boats floating through the Potomac.
In Alexandria, you can view the boat parade from Founders Park, Alexandria City Marina, Waterfront Park, Shipyard/Harborside Park and Ford's Landing Park. Festivities and fun activities begin earlier in the day. Stop by Torpedo Factory Art Center between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. to meet Santa and catch live music. Dolci Gelati is rolling out a hot chocolate bar from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. If you fancy a drink, Vola's Dockside Grill and Port City Brewing will both have pop-ups from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
On The Wharf, activities including a waterfront beer garden, s'mores and music start at 6 p.m. The parade kicks off at 7 p.m. and fireworks go off at 8 p.m.
Georgetown GLOW Light Art Experience: Opening Week
Opens Saturday at 5 p.m., Georgetown
Georgetown's annual holiday light display GLOW! is up and running.
Miracle on Seventh Street Pop-Up Bar
All weekend, 1843 7th St. NW
Miracle on Seventh Street, aka the Christmas bar, has reopened for the season. This year, the Shaw pop-up bar celebrates D.C.'s famous pandas and has a room designed to look like the inside of a New Year's Eve ball. It's free to enter. Specialty cocktails cost about $12.
Smithsonian Holiday Festival
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., National Museum of American History
Cooking demos, holiday movies, crafts and a crash course on the history of chocolate are sure to please anyone in the holiday mood this weekend. The event is free, except for film screenings.
Best of Winter
ICE! featuring a Charlie Brown Christmas
Through Jan. 1, National Harbor
National Harbor's wintertime wonderland is taking inspiration from Charlie Brown this year. Bundle up and check out colorful ice sculptures, ice slides, walk-through attractions and a full Nativity scene. Tickets are discounted when you buy in advance online. On Value Days, tickets start at $32 for adults. On General Admission days, including most Saturdays and Sundays, tickets are $38 for those over 12 and $31 for kids over 4 years old.
LightUP Fest at One Loudoun
Through Jan. 2, 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., One Loudoun Center in Ashburn, Virginia
The One Loudon Center went all-out this year, bringing in more than a million lights building a Chinese-style pagoda, replicas of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, and more. You'll find 77 different installations, as well as performances each night from acrobats, dancers and musicians, food available for purchase, and hands-on activities including calligraphy, portrait sketching and rice carving for all ages.
Winter Igloos at The Watergate
Throughout winter, 4 p.m.to 11 p.m., The Watergate Hotel
Reserve a cozy igloo on the rooftop of the hotel to hang outside with your friends over food and drink.
Many rinks across the area are letting skaters lace up. Here's a full list.
Ticketed daily through Jan. 13, 1238 Maryland Ave. SW
The interactive art space's newest exhibit takes you outside. Timed tickets cost $15 for adults.