There are so many ways to celebrate the holiday season in the Washington, DC area. Check out our guide to holiday and winter events and activities in Northern Virginia 2016.
NEW WINTER EVENTS
WATERSKIING SANTA CLAUS AND FRIENDS
Santa is everywhere in Northern Virginia doing the holiday season, from parades to pictures with kids at malls! This year, you can catch him on Christmas Eve surfing into Alexandria. For the first time ever, he’s splashing by Northern Virginia’s busiest port and bringing his wakeboarding friends along (like the Grinch, reindeers, elves and other beloved Christmas characters). Click here to learn more!
- December 24, 2016, 1 p.m.
- Plans call for a new, never-seen-before act in the Washington, DC area.
- Free parking and transportation in Old Town: out-of-town visitors can get free parking in Old Town Alexandria and take a free trolley. Click here for Old Town Alexandria parking information
- Santa Claus will ski into Alexandria rain, snow or shine.
Where to view: along the waterfront between King and Oronoco Streets (Founders Park and the Alexandria City Marina).
CHINESE LANTERN FESTIVAL
The ancient art of Chinese Lantern comes to Northern Virginia this holiday season. Illuminated animals from around the world light up the nighttime, and you can also see folk art, visit the martial arts center and more at Roers Zoofari (formerly the Reston Zoo) in Reston VA.
- 1228 Hunter Mill Rd Vienna, VA 22182
- open every night thru Jan. 15th,
- tickets are $12.50 – $22 (children have reduced prices)
- Order tickets here
See how authentic Chinese lanterns are used to light up the night in the form of animals from around the world, including; Africa, Antarctica, Asia, America and more. There will also be authentic Chinese entertainment and multicultural shows. Click here to see more!
HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOWS
PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY HOMES WITH LIGHT DISPLAYS
Residents across the county, from Woodbridge to Manassas, light up their neighborhoods with dazzling Christmas light displays and invite you to drive by. The Johnston family in Woodbridge even has a YouTube video and Facebook page. Click here to see where you can find all of the Christmas light displays in Prince William County. Take a look at the Johnston’s family light display below:
MEADOWLARK WALK OF LIGHTS
Meadowlark Walk of Lights is in it’s fifth year. The spectacular themes take you on a lighted trail through a holiday fantasy land from thru January 8. The walk of lights runs daily from 5:30 to 10 p.m., with the last tickets sold at 9:30 p.m.
- Where and when: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, now thru Jan. 8
- Tickets are $6-$13 Click here to buy advance tickets
- Kids and grandkids can write – and send – letters to Santa in the visitor’s center
- First responders, military and teacher appreciation nights reduce the cost of attendance – See here for more January Dates
This annual event offers displays like: Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk. Complement your experience with light-up jewelry, hats, wands, and wings that you can buy in the Snowflake Shoppe. End your evening with a spell by the fire roasting marshmallows, and sipping on hot beverages.
BULL RUN FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS
Regular travelers along I66 past Bull Run Park are familiar with the display of lights that begin assembly some time around Halloween. The Bull Run Festival of Lights is a Northern Virginia tradition and is open every night thru January 8, 2017.
Did you know that there is more to see besides lights that wind along the 2 1/2 mile car path?
The Holiday Village has fun activities including free children’s activities, a bonfire, s’mores and camel rides. Yes, camel rides!
- Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia
- 2 1/2 miles of displays
- $15-$25 per car depending on day of visit (see entrance fees here)
- The Village also has holiday cookie decorating, bingo, crafts, bingo, or a visit with the NOVA Parks naturalist and his wild friends!
- The Carnival rides and Holiday Village run thru January 1
Christmas at Mount Vernon gives visitors a taste for what it was like during Christmas at Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens. There’s so much to enjoy at this beautiful, historic home, including:
- See chocolate making demonstrations over an open fire.
- Tour the third floor of the Mansion where Lady Washington lived after President Washington died. The third floor is only open during “Christmas at Mount Vernon.”
- Meet Lady Washington
- George Washington’s Christmas Camel! Washington was fond of unusual animals and plants a camel at Mount Vernon for his guests during Christmas.
- Try your hand – and feet – at the Virginia reel
All programs are included in general admission: $15/adult; $7/child, free for children 5 and younger. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas and New Years. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Outdoor ice skating in Northern Virginia is a winter tradition for families, girl’s night out, date nights, etc. Northern Virginia has four wonderful locations to hit the ice outside: Hitting the rink is one of winter’s greatest outdoor activities.All of the rinks offer lessons and skate rentals. Click the links below to see hours and prices at these Northern Virginia outdoor skating rinks
- Old Town Manassas’s Harris Pavillion
- Pentagon Row Outdoor Outdoor Ice Skating
- Tysons Corner Center Plaza Rink
- Reston Town Center Pavilion Ice Rink
NEW YEAR’S EVE EVENTS IN MANASSAS, FALLS CHURCH, WARRENTON AND MORE
Northern Virginians love a New Year’s celebrations. Many communities have rolled out First Night events, performances and activities. We can’t list them all here, but have spotlighted a few.
- Party at Okra’s in Old Town Manassas for New Year’s Eve! $35-advanced ticket; $45-at the door and your
ticket includes an all you can eat buffet with all your favorite Cajun treats,
live music and a complimentary midnight Champagne Toast. Click here for details!
- Uptown Alley’s New Year’s Eve Party. $5-$60 ticket prices. Bowling, two bars, live music and dancing. Ticket prices vary by packages, see site for full details. Click here for details!
- Party in Chantilly: The Bellevue Conference & Event Center hosts A GREAT GATSBY NEW YEAR’S EVE 2017 WITH DJ PAULY D
- Concert in Falls Church: The Legwarmers at the State Theater (click here for details)
- First Night Falls Church: Big Night in The Little City of Falls Church is held downtown in a four block area that begins at West Broad Street. Businesses, churches, and organizations donate their space from 7 pm up until midnight. The organizers promise:
- Live music – 9 live bands and more musicians
- Interactive amusements and activities
- Inflatables for all ages
- Street artists, including a caricaturist, balloon artist, puppet shows and more.
Wondering how to get to First Night Falls Church? There’s a free Shuttle Bus every 30 minutes from East Falls Church Metro Station to all venues, that runs from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
- First Night Warrenton: For an admittance fee, enjoy music, arts and more outdoors and 16 indoor locations in Old Town Warrenton Organizers invite you to attend from 7pm until the Grand Illumination at the Fauquier Courthouse at 11:45 pm. Click here for complete details on First Night Warrenton