Getting Festive in Washington, D.C.


Washington, D.C. is always an amazing place to visit, but it is extra special during the holidays. Check out our list of not-to-be-missed things to do during the holiday season in the District.

Washington, D.C. at the holidays is a festive wonderland


Each December, the White House illuminates a larger-than-life Christmas tree in President’s Park. The National Christmas Tree was created by President Calvin Coolidge in 1923, and every president since has helped kick off the holiday season by carrying on the tradition. The massive tree is surrounded by 56 smaller trees, one to represent each state, territory and, of course, the District of Columbia. The trees are adorned with ornaments that represent each state or territory. If you’re lucky enough to be there on the night of the Lighting Ceremony, you won’t be disappointed! It’s a star-studded event, with musicians performing to kick off the holiday season. Learn more about the National Christmas Tree here.


On select evenings in November and December, the Smithsonian National Zoo opens up for a free exhibit – ZooLights. The zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland with over 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights. It’s the perfect event for families – kids and adults alike can scoot around on the Smithsonian’s National Zoo Choo-Choo, or take the plunge down the zoo’s snow-less tubing tracks. Learn more about ZooLights here.

Find authentic and thoughtful gifts at the Downtown Holiday Market


Need to get your holiday shopping done? Take the Metro over to Chinatown to check out the Downtown Holiday Market. Each year, the market hosts over 150 artisans and exhibitors, so you are sure to find a special gift for everyone on your list. The market will keep you entertained with its performances from artists of jazz, rock, gospel and more. Learn more about the Downtown Holiday Market here.


For other ideas for sightseeing in the District, check out: Touring the Monuments in Washington, D.C.


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