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12 Winter & Holiday Events You Won’t Want to Miss in the DC Area

From a water-skiing Santa to a holiday pop-up bar (featuring pandas!) to interactive art exhibits, the D.C. area will have your calendar packed all season long.

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Washington Nationals Baseball Club/K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria/Mike Beaty
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Will Avila
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.
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Cirque Dreams Holidaze at MGM National Harbor
Billed as "part Broadway musical, new cirque adventure and a family show," this gravity-defying holiday experience comes to MGM National Harbor, complete with flying ornaments, Santa, snowmen, penguins and illusions, and (of course) it's set to a backdrop of holiday tunes.
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Downtown Holiday Market
The Downtown Holiday Market continues a 14-year wintertime tradition outside the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. More than 150 exhibitors will help you fulfill everyone's wishlist while you enjoy entertainment, snacks and treats.
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Nick Eckert
What’s Christmas without a little bit of quirk? Every year on Christmas Eve, Water Skiing Santa attracts a crowd as he glides along the Potomac at the Old Town waterfront. Planners say the best viewing area is the Alexandria City Marina and Waterfront Park. Stick around for a meet-and-greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
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George Washington's Mount Vernon
Enjoy a historic holiday during Christmas at Mount Vernon, which offers events such as candlelight tours, a dog-friendly "Howlidays" photo opp, fireworks and cookie decorating.
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Kings Dominion
Kings Dominion transforms into a winter wonderland during Winterfest as the theme park is illuminated with millions of shimmering lights, a 300-foot tree and holiday displays. Catch live shows and strolling performers, as well as holiday activities and dishes. The park says up to 21 rides will be open as well.
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Ford's Theatre
Catch a perennial holiday classic at Ford's Theatre, which is bringing a musical edition of "A Christmas Carol" to the stage. Tickets start at $32 for some performances.
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Caroline Tucker, NBC
The U.S. Botanic Garden's lush holiday train display features more than 30 models of U.S. train stations, including Union Station and Grand Central, plus a dozen D.C. landmarks including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial — all made from plant materials. Thousands of poinsettias are also on display, and of course, miniature trains travel throughout. Admission is free.
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Gaylord National Resort
Impressive ice sculptures depict Charlie Brown and the crew during ICE! at the Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland. This year's theme, "A Charlie Brown Christmas," features scenes from the iconic Christmas special.
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Shutterstock
You've got your pick of performances of the holiday classic ballet "The Nutcracker." The Kennedy Center and the Warner Theatre both have offerings this season, and you can find a hip-hop rendition at the Strathmore, Dec. 18-19.
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Tommy McFly
LightUP Fest is one of many holiday lighting displays around the DMV, but there's no doubt that this one packs a particular punch. With more than a million lights across 20 acres of land, organizers say the exhibition is one of the largest on the East Coast. You'll also find performances from acrobats, dancers and musicians, food for purchase and activities such as calligraphy, portrait sketching and rice carving. Admission is free on Tuesdays for all first responders and active-duty military with proper ID.
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Vicki Bendure
Did you think everything on this list would be a holiday experience? Well, not quite. You can immerse yourself in the history, luxury and prestige of the president’s plane… well, a life-size replica, anyway, during The Air Force One Experience at National Harbor. Tickets are $15-$35.
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