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WASHINGTON, DC HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

THE HOLIDAYS IN WASHINGTON, DC

No matter if you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, Washington DC and the surrounding areas in Virginia and Maryland always have festive holiday activities for the whole family. While staying in Fairfax County, there is always something to do during the winter season. Here are some of the annual events and others that you just may not want to miss this December!


Things To Do In DC This Holiday Season

Say Hello to the National Christmas Tree 

National Christmas Tree - DC Traditions

People are drawn from all over to witness this American tradition.  In early December of every year since 1929, our President has the honors of lighting up the National Tree - an American tradition.  Due to COVID-19-related public health concerns, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation will not host a live audience at the 2020 National Christmas Tree Lighting. Starting on December 3rd, you can watch the 2020 National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony online. The tree and The Pathway of Peace site is free to visit and open to the public December 1, 2020 through January 1, 2021. Hours are 10:00 am-10:00 pm Sunday-Thursday, and 10:00 am-11:00 pm Friday and Saturday.The walkway surrounding the National Christmas Tree features 56 state and territory trees decorated with hand made ornaments that are unique to each tree. The National Christmas Tree lights turn on around sunset each evening and turn off promptly at 10:00 pm Sunday-Thursday and 11:00 pm on Friday and Saturday.  The Pageant of Peace on the White House Ellipse also includes the National Menorah. 

 Pose with "The People's Tree"

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

Photo courtesy US Capitol Christmas Tree

The tradition of the Capitol Christmas Tree, or "The People's Tree," began in 1964 when Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John W. McCormack (D-MA) placed a live Christmas tree on the Capitol lawn. In 1970, the Capitol Architect asked the U.S. Forest Service to provide a Christmas tree. Since then, a different national forest has been chosen each year to provide "The People's Tree." The 2020 tree will come from the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests in Colorado. The tree lighting will be held on a virtual live stream December 2nd at 5:00PM. 

ZooLights

Zoolights

ZooLights Express — powered by Pepco — brings the colorful glow of Washington, D.C.’s beloved Smithsonian’s National Zoo holiday tradition into the community.

Due to COVID restrictions ZooLights will not be held on-site at the Zoo this year. Instead, the 24-foot ZooLights Express truck, festively decorated with light displays and featuring “Panda Claws,” will hit the road Nov. 27 to Dec. 19 and visit one Washington, D.C., ward each Friday and Saturday night from 6-8 p.m.

Peruse the Downtown Holiday Market

D.C. Holiday Market

Photo courtesy of DC Holiday Market

As one of the beloved holiday traditions, the Downtown Holiday Market (DHM) is back in 2020, and will daily from Friday, November 20 through Wednesday, December 23.  Hours will be from Noon to 8 pm each day. Bringing a unique and festive shopping "village" to the heart of Downtown DC, the market is centered around 8th and F Streets and features more than 150 regional artisans, crafters and boutique businesses of ethnically produced goods. Hundreds of diverse gift items, such as jewelry, pottery, paintings, and textiles will be offered by 60 exhibitors each day. Check back as the exhibitors rotate and the selection of goods will vary daily. You're sure to find something special for everyone on your list.


Fairs and Festivals

Seasonal Fun

Celebrate the season by visiting us during special holiday celebrations, taking in our one-of-a-kind attractions, or attending our epic festivals and special events found only in the region. More
Mount Vernon - Hat and Whistle Boy

Family-Friendly Fairfax

Immerse your children in activities that stimulate their imagination. With so much fascinating history in Fairfax County, you can bet they’ll have fun while they learn. More
Storytellers Video Series

Storytellers Video Series

Every destination has a story. Meet Fairfax County's storytellers and then create your own travel story. More