Beyond “Christmas in Washington”


Christmas is a strange holiday for Washington, D.C. Since so many residents aren’t actually natives, the city practically clears out. And while it’s certainly not as sparkling as the Big Apple at Christmastime, DC has its own offerings for those who plan to stick around the D-M-V area during the holidays.

The UMD Choir fills the Kennedy Center with Handel's classic.

The Kennedy Center offers the Christmas classic, Handel’s Messiah. You don’t need to pay top dollar either; the 28-dollar tickets my roommate and I snagged did the trick.  We sat on a side balcony very close to the front of the stage, and got a great view of the performers, including the stellar University of Maryland choir. If you’ve never seen Handel’s great piece, it’s breathtaking – a masterpiece in its own right.

The Smithsonian National Zoo holds its annual “Zoolights” festival, which is not so much about seeing animals, but more about twinkling lights, drinking cocoa and cozying up to your S.O. This year, I got to enjoy Zoolights with a little one in tow (my friend Rheta’s aDORable daughter Lydia), and that definitely makes the event more festive. If you want a cuppa Starbucks though, stop in before 8. The Cleveland Park location has unusually short hours.

ZooLights are best with coffee in hand, and toddler in tow!

But the fun doesn’t stop after December 25th. Here are some things to check out through the winter months:

Go ice skating. Run the rinks at the Sculpture Garden in DC (which you’d recognize as “Jazz in Gardens” in July), Silver Spring (MD), or Fort Dupont Park in Southeast DC.

Take in a show. The obvious, of course, is Kennedy Center (currently showing Billy Elliot and Messiah), but there are plenty of smaller venues that offer off-beat, but quality performing. Check out the DC Theatre Scene website for a full digest.

Tour a historic home. Some are decorated for the holidays. Abraham Lincoln (Soldier’s Home in Petworth), Woodrow Wilson’s Home (Dupont Circle), George Washington (Mount Vernon) and (Dumbarton Oaks in Georgetown). On a related note: my neighbor Dan runs DCwriters.org, which features historic homes inhabited by writers from Washington, D.C. You can see him featured in a recent Washington Post article here

January is right around the corner, which means Restaurant Week (January 9 through 15), and a slew of events to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. If you haven’t yet seen the latest memorial, January couldn’t be a more appropriate time to do so!

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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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