Regardless of your politics, seeing the tree lit up on the Ellipse with the White House in the background is truly spectacular. Surrounding the National Tree is the annual “America celebrates” display, which features ornaments representing every U.S. state, territory and Washington, D.C. The National Tree is celebrating 96 years this year. The Ellipse, Washington, D.C. 20502
The fifth annual outdoor art exhibit (on December 1 through January 6) is the region’s only curated exhibition of outdoor public light art installations. It is set against the historic Georgetown neighborhood for a festive, twinkling scene. Washington Harbour, 3000 K St. NW,
The musical all about the iconic Carole King comes to the National Theatre for a holiday run (November 27 through December 30). The show tells the story of King’s rise to stardom and includes lots of nostalgic songs like “One Fine Day” and “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.” Beautiful’s Broadway run took home two Tony Awards in 2014 and a 2015 Grammy Award. 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
The Wharf neighborhood is hosting a boat parade (December 1) that begins with a waterfront wine and beer garden, s’mores and hot chocolate and live music. Boats float by and afterwards, there will be fireworks. There are prizes given out to boats, including community choice. The Wharf is also adding ice skating and a fire pit to holiday festivities this year. 101 District Square SW, Washington, D.C. 20024
Every year (November 15 through December 30), Ford’s Theatre puts on a rousing production of A Christmas Carol. Actor Craig Wallace portrays Ebenezer Scrooge in the classic tale. Every year, the company selects a local non-profit to give donations to. This year, the Fords Theatre Society announced that the D.C. Homeless Children’s Playtime Project will be the recipient of the donation drive. During curtain calls for performances, the company will collect monetary donations on behalf of the organization.
The 14th Annual Downtown D.C. Holiday Market features over 150 regional artisans, crafters, and boutique businesses from November 23 through December 23 for unique gifts for everyone on your list. The market is located near the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. Exhibitors and the selection of goods will vary daily. 8th and F Sts. NW
This free event, from November 23 through January 1, is great for families. Throughout the holiday season, there are live music performances, a Gingerbread Village, rides and more. The zoo is lit up nightly with over 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights. In addition to the Gingerbread Village, new this year is the Reindeer Games Fun Zone with giant inflatable slides and a symphony of lights canopy that responds to music. 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C., 20008