The magic of Christmas in the DC metro area is a treasure trove of enchanting experiences, especially when shared with family. From twinkling lights to whimsical performances, there’s a sleigh-load of festive fun waiting for kids and adults alike. Get ready to discover the top family-friendly activities that will sprinkle joy and create unforgettable memories this holiday season.

Top Five Holiday Displays Throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland, and DC


1. Enchant Christmas at Nationals Park (DC)

Experience the world’s largest Christmas light maze and help Santa find his reindeer amidst millions of twinkling lights at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Kicking off the day after Thanksgiving, you can purchase tickets for $36 per adult and $27 per child ages 3-17. While taking in the lights of Enchant, you’ll also get the opportunity to explore the Christmas Village to help cross some of those Christmas gifts off your shopping list!

2. ZooLights at the National Zoo (DC)

Enjoy the National Zoo’s ZooLights featuring thousands of sparkling lights, winter-themed attractions, and holiday treats for the whole family. ZooLights start the day after Thanksgiving and run only Friday-Sunday for an amazing price of $6 per person for General Admission! This allows for budget-friendly family fun without breaking the bank – which is always welcome during the holiday season.

3. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights (Northern Virginia)

Stroll through Meadowlark Botanical Gardens’ Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna, VA, featuring whimsical light displays and enchanting gardens. This beautiful light display kicks off early November for those that are ready to get into the holiday spirit right after Halloween. Tickets are $18 per person, and everyone age 2 and above must have a ticket. The Winter Walk of Lights is a beautiful display along a 0.6 mile walk – allowing you to get in those steps while looking at something beautiful!

4. Symphony of Lights (Maryland)

Witness the Symphony of Lights in Columbia, MD, a spectacular drive-through or walk-through display benefiting Howard County General Hospital. Kicking off their opening day on Thanksgiving will give you and the family something fun to do after washing all of those Thanksgiving dishes! You’ll have the opportunity to drive through the display of lights with the cost being $25 per vehicle.

5. Georgetown Glow (DC)

Explore Georgetown’s streets adorned with dazzling light installations created by local artists, transforming the neighborhood into an enchanting wonderland! This beautiful light installation, which kicks off on December 1st is free of charge for those that want to walk through the streets of Georgetown and stand in awe of what these artists have created for your viewing pleasure.

Transitioning from the vibrant holiday happenings within the DC metro area to the enchanting festivities sprinkled throughout the entirety of Virginia creates a seamless journey through a tapestry of holiday delights. As the merry bustle of Washington, DC, sets the stage for an array of festive experiences, the spirit of the season extends across Virginia, offering a diverse tapestry of holiday magic. From iconic displays and cultural events in the capital to the timeless traditions and enchanting celebrations that dot the landscapes of Williamsburg, Richmond, Alexandria, and beyond, Virginia beckons with its own unique blend of holiday cheer, inviting families to explore and create cherished memories across its historic and picturesque destinations.

Top Five Holiday Things to Do Throughout Virginia

1. Colonial Williamsburg Grand Illumination (Williamsburg)

Experience the magic of the past at Colonial Williamsburg during the Grand Illumination, featuring fireworks, music, and the lighting of thousands of candles. The Grand Illumination will take place on three separate Saturdays in December. December 2nd, 9th, and 16th 2023. Ticket prices range based on the type of experience you’d like to have while visiting Williamsburg. Check out the options that they have and see what would provide you and your family the best experience!

2. Busch Gardens Christmas Town (Williamsburg)

Visit Busch Gardens during Christmas Town, where the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with millions of lights, festive shows, and holiday-themed attractions. Kicking off on November 10th, you’ll have ample time to check out Christmas Town! Busch Gardens has a variety of ticket options available, but one thing’s for sure – you’ll want to purchase your tickets ahead of time and not at the door if you’re looking to save a few dollars. While visiting Christmas Town, you can tell Santa just what you’re hoping to see under the Christmas tree come Christmas morning, enjoy tasty eats, and even pump up that adrenaline during a few roller coaster rides!

3. Mount Vernon by Candlelight (Alexandria)

Discover the historic Mount Vernon estate in Alexandria, VA, by candlelight, experiencing 18th-century holiday traditions and live music. With specific dates, you’ll want to get your tickets in advance and beat the crowd! With ticket prices being $38 per adult and $30 per youth (non-members), you’ll get the beautiful experience of the holiday season through a historic lens.

4. Dominion Energy GardenFest of Lights (Richmond)

Enjoy the GardenFest of Lights at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, featuring botanical decorations, model trains, and thousands of twinkling lights. This beautiful light show throughout the botanical gardens kicks off on November 20th and runs through January 7th, 2024. Ticket prices for non-members are $17 per adult and $8 per child ages 3-12. You’ll want to check out the website and note the nights that special performances will be taking place as well! Performances such as a short version of the Nutcracker performed by The Concert Ballet of Virginia.

5. Bull Run Festival of Lights (Centreville)

Drive through the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, VA, where a two-and-a-half-mile route dazzles with animated displays and holiday scenes. With the 2.5 miles worth of beautiful light displays, you’ll journey through a forest of Christmas lights and end up at a carnival (SURPRISE!). Tickets can be purchased online, where they are currently running promotions to snag a few dollars off ticket prices. $30 per vehicle, $75 per large vehicle with 15+ passengers. You don’t want to miss all that the Festival of Lights has to offer! At the end of the display, when you make it to the carnival – you’ll be greeted by games, food, rides and Instagram-worthy photo ops.

In the heart of the nation’s capital and stretching across the charming landscapes of Virginia, the holiday spirit glimmers brightly. From the dazzling lights and captivating displays in the DC metro area to the timeless traditions and enchanting experiences spread throughout Virginia, the holiday season offers a bounty of joy for families. Whether it’s exploring iconic landmarks, indulging in festive treats, or marveling at stunning light shows, these celebrations bind us together in warmth and wonder. Each location listed above offers its own unique blend of holiday magic, providing families with a range of festive activities to enjoy throughout the season! So, gather your loved ones, embrace the magic, and make this season a tapestry of cherished memories that will last a lifetime. Happy holidays!