Things to Do DC

Holiday Lights: 20 Merry & Bright Displays in DC, Maryland, Virginia

Drive-through Christmas lights, lit-up ice skating rinks and neighborhood holiday displays across the D.C. area

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‘Tis the season for fa-la-la-la-lights!

Check out these shining displays and spectacular light shows in D.C., Maryland and Virginia to brighten up the long winter nights.

Holiday Lights in Washington, D.C.

DC Holiday Lights (Through Jan. 8, outdoors throughout the District): Main Street districts and commercial corridors will deck their halls with sparkling light displays for the holidays. For extra fun, check out the scavenger hunt.

Enchant® at Nationals Park (Through Jan. 1, outdoors): A dazzling light maze, an ice rink alongside a shining forest and an artisan village create a festive Christmas world inside Nationals Park. Tickets start at $35 for adults and $23 for kids.

Georgetown Glow (Through Jan. 22, outdoors): Stroll through the sections of Georgetown to enjoy large light installations that are a festive backdrop for a winter photo.

Light Yards (through Jan. 2, outdoors): This year’s theme, Swinging Bells, brings animated displays and the sounds of jingle bells together. It’s free to visit, and open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. 

National Christmas Tree (Open to the public Dec. 2, White House Ellipse, outdoors): After the big lighting ceremony on Nov. 30 (tickets required), the park will open for anyone to enjoy the tree decorated with ornaments from around the U.S.

National Menorah Lighting (Dec. 18, outdoors): Grab tickets to see the lighting celebration, including musical performances, food and an essay-writing competition, on the White House Ellipse.

Season’s Greenings at U.S. Botanic Garden (Through Jan. 2, outdoors and indoors): Model trains run through poinsettias and replicas of D.C. landmarks made from plants at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but the display will be open until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays in December.

Spectacular Factory (Through Jan. 8, indoors): ARTECHOUSE DC’s latest interactive exhibit invites you into a holiday wonderland with bells, nutcrackers, spinning candy cane carousels and more. Standard tickets start at $25. There are discounts for D.C. residents, students, seniors, military members or for purchasing a family pack for two adults and two kids.

Zoo Lights (Certain nights through Dec. 30, outdoors): Gallop by animal lanterns and LED lights while enjoying music and winter treats many nights in December. Passes are free, but you must reserve them in advance. Parking costs $30. Note that all indoor exhibits will be closed this year.

Holiday Lights in Maryland

Festival of Lights (Through Jan. 1, outdoor drive-through): Drive down to Watkins Regional Park and through a path of bright holiday displays. Admission for one car costs $10 online or $15 at the gate; Prince George’s County residents can visit for free on Christmas Day. 

Garden of Lights (Through Jan. 1, outdoors): This walk-through light display in Wheaton's Brookside Gardens costs $10 per person.

ICE! At Gaylord National (Through Dec. 31, indoors): Step into the world of “A Christmas Story” at Gaylord National’s annual holiday playground carved out of 2 million pounds of ice and kept at -9°. Tickets start at $27.99 for kids and $36.99 for adults and include a special jacket to keep you warm during your stay.

National Harbor (Outdoors): The 60-foot LED Christmas tree will put on a show nightly, every half-hour from sunset until 9 p.m. set to a holiday medley from the U.S. Air Force Band. You can also catch fireworks on Dec. 10 and 17 at 5:30 p.m.

Symphony of Lights (Through Jan. 1, outdoor drive-through): More than 300,000 bulbs make up Merriweather Post Pavilion's holiday light extravaganza. It costs $20 per vehicle — except on Dec. 31, when you can attend the New Year's Eve walkthrough event with fireworks at 7 p.m.

Winter City Lights (Nov. 19 to Dec. 31, outdoors): Take a merry jaunt through a 1.5-mile long trail of lights, cozy up around a bonfire and delight in the “dancing” Christmas tree and light show in Olney, Maryland. For more adventure, you can try out ax-throwing or tubing for an additional fee. Tickets start at $31 or $37, depending on the day, and must be purchased online.

Holiday Lights in Northern Virginia

Bull Run Festival of Lights (Through Jan. 8, outdoor drive-through and festival): Drive through 2.5 miles of twinkling holiday cheer. Admission starts at $30 per vehicle if purchased online or $40 at the gate. Afterward, stop by the Holiday Village for shopping, bonfires and s’mores or the carnival for rides and games (for an extra cost). 

Ice & Lights — The Winter Village at Cameron Run (Through Jan. 1, outdoors): Ice skate on an outdoor rink in a bright winter wonderland — that looks something like a Jimmy Buffet-themed Christmas card thanks to the statues from the waterpark. Tickets to the village start at $9.19. To ice skate, you must buy tickets online for $22.03.

Holiday Walk of Lights at Neabsco Regional Park (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 31, outdoors): The park's boardwalk is transformed into a magical path of light displays. It's free to attend, and no registration is required.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight (Dec. 9-10 and Dec. 18, outdoors): Get a dose of history this season with a candlelit tour covering 18th-century holiday traditions in Virginia. Nonmember tickets are $28 for youth and $36 for adults.

Winter Walk of Lights (Through Jan. 8, outdoors): Twinkling fauna is in bloom throughout Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. The half-mile trail is even open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. Tickets cost $5 to $18, depending on whether you visit during “prime” hours.

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