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Add These Festive Activities to Your Holiday Bucket List

The holidays are a joyous time in the Capital region, especially in and around Arlington’s bustling neighborhoods. As always, the streets, parks and businesses are lit up and ready to welcome you. Begin your gift-finding mission at one of the brilliantly-bedecked shopping centers or holiday markets. Walk through the unforgettable light displays. Catch a vibrant performance of an iconic show. Take a moment to remember those we’ve lost with a gesture of beauty. There are so many ways to celebrate this special time of the year. Here’s our bucket list of seasonal activities guaranteed to inspire some holiday spirit.

Stock up on Stocking Stuffers

Just like in Europe, the Capital region has outdoor markets featuring unique gifts and allows you to support local small businesses and entrepreneurs. 

Farmers Market Arlington
On Saturdays through December 18, pick up greenery, gifts, and fresh-made holiday goodies at Arlington’s Courthouse Square (8 am until 12:30 pm) 

Downtown Holiday Market Dozens of local makers gather beside the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC for a festive shopping experience. There’s music, food trucks, and distinctive items for that important person or pet on your list. November 19-23, 2021 (daily 12 noon until 8 pm)

Visit Neighborhoods to See Decorations and Light Displays

In the heart of the Ballston neighborhood, the Ballston Quarter shopping and entertainment district is done up in reds, greens, and gold with a towering Christmas tree in the courtyard. While you’re there to admire the tree, stop in for some Christmas shopping or a hot cocoa doughnut from District Doughnut. 

Ballston Quarter Christmas Tree lighting
Ballston Quarter Christmas Tree via @paulyv93-IG

The Crossing Clarendon is the jewel of Clarendon’s busy shopping district, and it shines this winter with glowing orbs of holiday cheer. Pose for a picture inside the gazebo, warm up with hot cocoa at Nicecream, and browse for holiday gifts. 

Fashion Centre at Pentagon City goes all out with a towering Christmas tree and glitzy decorations. Stop into major retailers to do some holiday shopping, and then head over to the Ritz Carlton, Pentagon City to enjoy more adornments and a glass of sparkling wine while enjoying the views of the radiant Air Force Memorial in the distance. 

Pentagon Row brings the holiday spirit outdoors with an ice skating rink adorned with giant glowing stars, a menorah and a Christmas tree. Grab some hot cocoa and hit the ice at the Outdoor Ice Skating Rink at Pentagon Row. The largest outdoor ice-skating rink in Northern Virginia, this rink has a stone fireplace for lounging during skating breaks and is surrounded by dozens of shops and restaurants making this a memorable holiday outing.

Pentagon Row holiday decorations
Glowing holiday stars at Pentagon Row via @danielccardoso_

Throughout December, enjoy the Rosslyn neighborhood’s silver and gold Christmas tree at the corner of Wilson Boulevard and North Lynn Street, just steps from the Rosslyn Metro. Take a walk across Key Bridge to see the glowing lights of Georgetown and Rosslyn reflected in the Potomac River. 

The Village at Shirlington Christmas tree via @reece.o
The Village at Shirlington Christmas Tree via @reece.o-IG

The Village at Shirlington always puts on its seasonal best with hanging light ornaments, holiday lights and a red and green Christmas tree. Browse the shops and boutiques for unique gifts, then pop into one of the sidewalk cafes to warm up. Bring along Fido or Fluffy too – Shirlington loves its four-legged friends! 

Christmas tree at Central Place Plaza in Rosslyn
Christmas tree at Central Place Plaza in Rosslyn

Remember our Servicemembers

The annual Wreaths Across America at Arlington National Cemetery will be held on Saturday, December 18. Thousands of volunteers honor servicemembers by placing 265,000 wreaths made of evergreen branches and red bow on each gravestone. It’s a moving and memorable experience to see acres of wreaths adorning the rolling hills of Arlington National Cemetery.  

Arlington National Cemetery wreath laying
Wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetary

Enjoy a Holiday Show

Get your tickets and be transported to a winter wonderland of the imagination at one of these exciting holiday shows throughout the region. 

A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre
The historic theater in Washington DC showcases a lively interpretation of the classic holiday story by Charles Dickens. November 24- December 27, 2021

"The Nutcracker" Ballet
Enjoy the magic of the Washington Ballet’s “DC The Nutcracker” at The Warner Theatre in Washington D.C. The shows run from November 28 – December 18. 

CHRISTMAS at the new Capital One Hall
Catch Christian artists Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith singing your favorite songs at the new Capital One Hall in Tysons Corner. Their show CHRISTMAS is the evening of December 3 in the Main Theater. 

Mount Vernon's Christmas Illuminations Weekend
The annual festival at George Washington’s Mount Vernon is packed with entertainment and holiday cheer. Take a candlelight tour of the Washington family mansion, shop at the Winter Market, hear musicians playing favorite carols, and at the end of the evening, watch a spectacular fireworks show over the Potomac River. 

Winter Walk of Lights
Bundle up to enjoy the dazzling illuminations at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens. This is the tenth year for this beloved light display in Vienna where visitors walk on a one-way, half-mile trail through the gardens. Warm up afterwards with a cup of hot cider and shop for garden-themed gifts. Nightly from November 11th through January 3. 

Photo Credit Header Image: @thesoulfulvagabond-instagram

Author: Renee Sklarew