11 Winter & Holiday Festivals Around the DC Area You Won’t Want to Miss

Make your holiday season even more merry with these local (and not-so-local) winter festival getaways.

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Gaylord National Resort
When: Now through Jan. 1
nWhere: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, Maryland)
nPrice: $17- $36 (just for ICE!)
nThrough the holiday season into the New Year, experience Christmas at the Gaylord National Harbor, featuring options like ICE! (a nine-degree journey through international Christmas traditions), the Village of the North Pole, breakfast with Charlie Brown and friends, an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, a laser show, the Potomac Express Train and more. You'll find a complete winter wonderland close to home.
Middleburg, VA
When: Dec. 2: tree lighting; Dec. 3: parade; Dec. 4: Foxcroft Pageant
nWhere: Middleburg, Virginia
nPrice: Free
nRing in the Christmas season in Virginia horse country with a mile-long Christmas parade, breakfast with Santa, a craft fair, greens show, wine crawl and more. Special discounts will be available at many Middleburg shops, stores, restaurants.
Steven Shires - Lexington & Rockbridge Area Tourism
When: Dec. 2 at 6 p.m.
nWhere: Main Street, Lexington, Virginia
nPrice: Free admission
nHead out for the annual Lexington Christmas Parade for a holiday celebration with lights, music, dance groups, performances and much more. Stick around after the parade to take pictures with Santa while drinking hot chocolate and snacking on candy canes.
Nick Eckert
When: Dec. 24, 1 p.m.
nWhere: Alexandria Waterfront (between King and Oronoco streets, Alexandria, Virginia)
Price: Free
nHead down to the Alexandria Waterfront for the 31st annual Water Skiing Santa show. See Santa on water skis with his wake-boarding reindeer, flying elves, the Grinch, Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost out on the Potomac River. The best spots to see the show are between King and Oronoco streets, at Founders Park or at the Alexandria City marina.
Joy Asico
When: Nov. 25-Dec. 31
nWhere: Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency and Eat the Rich (1843 7th St. NW)
nThis list wouldn't be complete without a boozy holiday experience. Shaw bars Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency and Eat the Rich will transform after Thanksgiving into a winter wonderland, with everything from dreidel chandeliers to dinosaur nativity scenes. Stella Artois and Budweiser have partnered with the event to create a signature beer cocktail, provide beer swag and more. See more photos of the Miracle on 7th Street here.
Larry Albee
Where: Wilmington, Delaware
nWhen: Dates vary depending on event; see website for details.
nPrice: Prices vary
nCelebrate the season in style by visiting the du Pont mansions and gardens in Greater Wilmington and Brandywine Valley as they're decorated for the holidays. Consider including a tour of the Hagley Museum and Library, which are decorated with dried flowers, fruits and more; a trip to the Winterthur Museum, Garden and Library, which has tickets available for Yuletide tours, or a stroll through Longwood Gardens , where thousands of poinsettias, Christmas trees and decorative lights will brighten up the Conservatory and its four surrounding acres.
Downtown Holiday Market
When: Nov. 25-Dec. 23; noon-8 p.m.
nWhere: F Street NW between 7th & 9th
nPrice: Free admission
nThis open-air holiday market takes over F Street in front of the National Portrait Gallery for almost an entire month, bringing together 150+ local vendors, goodies such as hot donuts and cider, and seasonal musical performances.
When: Dec. 2-3
nWhere: Old Town Alexandria
nPrice: Varies by event; parade is free
nCelebrate Scottish heritage in Alexandria with the 46th annual Christmas Walk and Parade weekend. Blend in with the tartan and march to the beat of the pipes during Saturday's parade. The rest of the weekend, take advantage of a Taste of Scotland, a scotch and food tasting event, holiday home tours and more.
Bethesda Urban Partnership
When: Dec. 3, 1-4 p.m.
nWhere: Veterans' Park (Woodmont Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland)
nPrice: Free
nBethesda's Winter Wonderland features live ice sculpting, an appearance by Santa Claus and performances by local school choirs. This year's school participants are Academy of the Holy Cross, Garrett Park Elementary School, Georgetown Preparatory School, Oneness Family School, Our Lady of Lourdes and Westbrook Elementary School.
Getty Images
When: Nov. 25-Jan. 6; 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
nWhere: George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens, Mount Vernon, Virginia
nPrice: Adults $17, children $8
nCelebrate the season at the home of George and Martha Washington by touring the holiday-decorated mansion, watching historic chocolate-making demonstrations and meeting Aladdin the Camel.
When: Dec. 10, 6-8 p.m.
nWhere: Annapolis Harbor and Spa Creek
nPrice: Free
nThis 34th annual event brings families and friends out to watch illuminated boats in the harbor light up the night. Illustrations are created with colored lights depicting various holiday scenes. This year the parade was nominated as one ofUSA Today’s Best Holiday Parades. Looking for more holiday fun? See our picks for the top 16 holiday displays & lighting ceremonies in the D.C. area.
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