A Cultural DC Christmas


At the U.S. Botanic Gardens you can peruse the nation's capital in miniature - surrounded by poinsettias.

I love Christmas in Washington. There is this wonderful sense of anticipation as Union Station hangs up massive wreaths. There is an unannounced Christmas tree competition everywhere – business lobbies, parks, the White House, etc – which ones are the tallest, brightest? For those looking to experience Christmas the DC way, the holiday cultural scene seems to offer something for everyone who lives in the District.

For The Amateur Art Appreciator

The Kennedy Center is classy and all, but if you want a different take on the requisite holiday ballet,  your best bet is the Washington Ballet’s The Nutcracker at the Warner Theater. But be warned – this is not the traditional version. The party scene actually takes place in a Georgetown mansion, and Frederick Douglass and Betsy Ross both make an appearance. The Sugar Plum fairy dances against the backdrop of the cherry-blossomed Tidal Basin. At just 2 hours long, it’s ideal for kids or the un-enthused boyfriend.

For The Botanist

You’ve “done the museums,” but have you seen The United States Botanic Gardens?  At Christmas? It feels a bit like the forgotten middle child of National Mall museums. If you don’t have much time, you can easily pass through the Botanic Gardens in about a half hour. But if you’d enjoy a balmy atmosphere among foliage, stay as long as you want. This month you can catch a choir performance on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

For The Zoologist

Do you like (lots of) walking in the cold and/or in the dark? Then Zoo Lights is for you.  Don’t count on actually seeing the animals, though. Zoo Lights seems to be bedtime for the lions, tigers and bears. However, you can count on a beautiful lights display and some tinny music echoing throughout.

For The Patriot

Check out King Street in Alexandria for some quality holiday shopping. (Don’t wear heels, though; the sidewalks are brick-lined). Great shopping, and a very historic environment. George Washington’s home is nearby, so you can visit Mount Vernon by Candlelight.

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About Meg Biallas

Thoughts From A DC Intern Turned DCist. A twenty-something goes beyond traditional tourism to achieve Washingtonian authenticity.
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