36 Festive Events to Make the Season Bright

From holiday lighting ceremonies and dog portraits with Santa to a peppermint mocha competition, there's plenty of fun to be had. 🎁
Rosslyn Cheer Central Place Plaza

Find scores of festive events in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, McLean, Tysons and beyond this holiday season. (Photo courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Looking for fun seasonal things to do this holiday season? We’ve found a sleigh-load. From tree lightings and parades to a peppermint mocha competition, you’ll find plenty of festive outings close to home.

Holiday Tree Lighting and Santa Firetruck Parade at Mosaic 

Nov. 25 | 4:30-8:30 p.m.

You haven’t truly experienced Santa till you’ve seen him wave to the crowds aboard a firetruck. His tour of the Mosaic District is just one of a handful of events the Friday after Thanksgiving. Catch live entertainment from 4-6:30 p.m., a short-and-sweet parade at 6:30 p.m., a tree lighting at 7 p.m. and Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Strawberry Park’s giant outdoor movie screen at 7:30 p.m. // Mosaic District Strawberry Park, 2910 District Ave., Fairfax. Free.

Reston Town Center Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting

Nov. 25 | 11 a.m. Parade, 6 p.m. Tree Lighting

This one-hour parade travels a half-mile and features cameos from both Mr. and Mrs. Claus. When the caravan is through, consider a horse-drawn carriage or miniature train ride through the streets of the twinkling town center. Stick around till 6 p.m. for the tree lighting. // Reston Town Center, 11900 Market St., Reston. Free.

Ballet Nova

Catch BalletNova’s annual performance of The Nutcracker at Kenmore Middle School.

BalletNova Presents The Nutcracker

Nov. 26-27 | 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. & 5 p.m. Sunday

Tchaikovsky “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” and “Waltz of the Flowers” will come to life in this sugar-filled, seasonal classic, performed by Falls Church-based BalletNova. // Kenmore Middle School, 200 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington. $33-$48.

Hot Chocolate and S’mores Pop-Up

Nov. 30 | 2 p.m.

Need a midweek pick-me-up? Take a break from your desk (whether at-home or in the office) and pop over to this National Landing pop-up for not one but two warm, chocolatey treats—served gratis. // 18th Street Plaza, 241 18th St. S., Arlington. Free.

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What’s better than s’mores? Free s’mores, served with free hot chocolate. (Photo by Kayla Speid on Unsplash)

Lighting of the Holiday Grove on Langston Boulevard

Dec. 1, 5-7:30 p.m.

Dominion Lighting, American Lighting and the Optimists Club have collaborated on this holiday lights art installation.  The lighting ceremony, a community fundraiser, will feature music from the Arlington Chorale, bites from nearby shops and eateries such as Sloppy Mama’s Barbeque, Arrowine and Livin’ the Pie Life, and a tribute to local heroes. // Dominion Lighting, 5053 Langston Blvd., Arlington. $40-$250.

Holiday Tea at Santé

Dec. 1, 2022-Jan. 1, 2023

Get fancy for the holidays with tea, scones and tea sandwiches at this festive offering from Santé, a 2021 addition to the Pentagon City Ritz-Carlton. Bringing little ones? They’ve got a Teddy Bear Tea service that’s complete with tiny treats, hot chocolate and, you guessed it, a teddy bear. // Santé, 1250 S. Hayes St., Arlington. $40-$65.

Light Up the Village

Dec. 1 | 6-8:30 p.m.

Take selfies with Santa. Watch the tree alight. Hop on a horse-drawn carriage. Stroll through a makers market. Catch a presentation from Signature Theatre. (And if you want more local holiday markets, peep these.) In short, plan for an evening jam-packed with holiday fun at this annual Shirlington event. // The Village at Shirlington, 2700 S. Quincy St., Arlington. Free.

Snow Maiden at Synetic Theater

Dec. 1-23

In this performance from choreographer and Synetic co-founder Irina Tsikurishvili, a lonely man crafts a woman from snow in “a story of love, hope, and the transformative power of dreams.”// Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington. $25.

Melwood’s Miracle on 23rd Street

Dec. 2 | 6-8 p.m.

You may not find Kris Kringle’s cane or a dream house at this event, but you will find light bites, photo ops with Santa and a tree lighting. Nonperishable food items for Melwood’s food drive are requested. // Melwood Arlington, 750 23rd St., S., Arlington. 

Peppermint Mocha Latte Competition 12 12 21 22

If you’ve been waiting to weigh in on who makes the best peppermint mochas, here’syour chance. (Photo courtesy of National Landing BID)

Peppermint Mocha Latte Competition

Dec. 3 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Move over, Starbucks. Commonwealth Joe, The Freshman and Beauty Champagne & Sugar Boutique have their own takes on the peppermint mocha, and want your approval. Pop over to this weekend event, sip samples from each contender, and cast your vote for who brewed it best. // 23rd Street Restaurant Row, 556 22nd St. S., Arlington. Free.

Jingle Bell 5K

Dec. 3 | 8-10 a.m.

Raise money for arthritis research and get active at this 5K in National Landing. The Arthritis Foundation presents this 3.1-mile race and kids’ dash, complete with jingle bells and a post-run celebration. Register here. // Westpost, 1101 S. Joyce St., Arlington. $45-$50.

Rudolph’s Rockin’ Reindeer Games

Dec. 3 | 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Hit the dance floor with Rudolph at this three-hour party, featuring craftmaking, DJ-spun holiday tunes, a hot chocolate bar, games and more. Want a portrait with Santa? He’ll be stopping by from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. // The Boro Tysons, 8350 Broad St., Tysons. Free.

20th Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade Of Lights

Alexandria’s 20th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights returns on Dec. 3.(Photo by Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria)

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights

Dec. 3 | 2 p.m. Festivities, 5:30 p.m. Parade

Sip on brews from  the Port City Brewing Co. pop-up beer garden and munch on light bites from local restaurants as you watch 50-plus illuminated boats ease down the Potomac at this annual event. You’ll also find a slew of activities for all ages throughout the afternoon at the Old Town North waterfront, Torpedo Factory and Waterfront Park. // Old Town Alexandria, click here for location details. Free.

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Area ballet companies are presenting the holiday classic The Nutcracker in November and December. (Photo by Anthony Cantin on Unsplash)

Metropolitan School of the Arts Presents The Nutcracker

Dec. 3-4 | Noon & 5 p.m.

This Alexandria-based ballet company’s production includes a Ukrainian folk dance to raise awareness for the Ukrainian people amid the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. // Metropolitan School of the Arts, 5755 Barclay Drive, Alexandria. $31-$33.

Ballston Sip & Jingle

Dec. 7 | 5-7 p.m.

Grab your ugliest of sweaters (they’ve got a competition for the worst) and head to this mingling opportunity. DJ Touch Basis will spin the holiday-themed tunes, pork-belly-bao destination Hawkers will provide the bites and a Jingle Bar will be on hand with cocktails. // Cusumano and Stuver Dentistry, 4350 Fairfax Drive, Suite 135, Arlington. $20 or donation to toy drive. Free for employees of Ballston businesses.

Wreath-Making Workshop With Lily’s Flower Truck

Dec. 7 | 2-4 p.m. & 4-5 p.m.

Why buy a pre-made wreath when you can make one of your own? Learn the secrets of crafting the holiday greenery, and take your creation home as a reward for all that hard work. // 241 18th St. S., Arlington. Free.

Jez Timms On Unsplash

Craft your own holiday decor at a wreath-making workshop with Lily’s Flower Truck (Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash)

Rosslyn Cinema: Holiday Special

Dec. 7 | 6-9 p.m.

Giant movie screenings aren’t just for summer nights. Catch an indoor viewing of Elf at the Bennett Park Art Atrium, accompanied by complimentary popcorn and hot chocolate. Jammies and blankies welcome. (This event is sold out, but you can still add your name to the waitlist.) // Bennett Park, 1601 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington. Free.

Rosslyn Cheer 2022: Holiday Tree Lighting

Dec. 8 | 5-8 p.m.

This festive annual event includes live tunes from an H-B Woodlawn chorus, prizes, Pop’s Praiseworthy Popcorn, and beverages (including spiked cider) from Open Road. While there, stop by community tables from the Arlington County Police Department, PathForward and other local organizations. // Central Place Plaza, 1800 Lynn St., Arlington. Free.

Santa Photos

Your dog wants the chance to ask Santa for gifts, and you can give him one with the Santa Paws Yappy Hour. (Photo courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Rosslyn Cheer 2022: Santa Paws Yappy Hour

Dec. 9 | 5-7 p.m.

Santa snapshots aren’t just for humans—give your pup some love with this canine-centric affair that invites pets to perch atop Santa’s lap. Snag treats and giveaways for your pooch and get some adult beverages for yourself. If your dog gets jelly, you can pick up a puppuccino or bone broth with a small donation to R-Dogs. Keep your eyes peeled for a visit from the Arlington County Police Department therapy dog, FRK9 Brooks. // Central Place Plaza, 1800 Lynn St., Arlington

Pop-Up Market and Holiday Sing-Along

Dec. 9 | 6-10 p.m.

Head to the Arlington location of this all-day cafe and wine bar for a night of family fun, featuring a holiday sing-along, face painting, and a market filled with wares from local makers. // Northside Social, 3211 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

Holiday Pajama Party Movie Day

Dec. 10 | 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

So many great holiday films; so little time. Address that issue head-on with this triple feature: Watch Arthur Christmas, The Polar Express and Elf back-to-back while decked out in your best jammies. And stick around after the show for tunes, goodie bags and a photo booth. // ShowPlace Icon Theatre at the Boro, 1667 Silver Hill Drive, McLean. $8.

Holiday Family Brunch at Harvey’s

Dec. 10 | 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

Why satisfy for a mere quick pic with Santa when you can dine with him and his lifelong partner? Mr. and Mrs. Claus will be dropping in on this Falls Church cafe during the brunch hour to chat it up, say “cheese” and read a Christmas story for all who gather. And if that’s not enough joy to go around, kids can also get a free bag of cookies and a toy from the North Pole duo. (While adults can partake of some mulled wine.) // Harvey’s, 513 W. Broad St., Falls Church. Menu items range from $4-$25.

Brunch with Santa at The Watermark Hotel

Dec. 11 | 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Enjoy Tokyo chicken + waffles and chocolate chip pancakes from chef Yo Matsuzaki, as well as a host of additional treats at Wren inside this posh Tysons hotel. Kids can fill up at the hot chocolate bar and adults can sip bellinis, mimosas or craft their own bloody Mary. Photo ops with Santa are also on the menu. // 1825 Capital One Drive S., Tysons. $29-$49. Children 5 and under free.

The Nutcracker at Capital One Hall

Dec. 11 | 1 p.m.

Enjoy the classic Christmas ballet, featuring the Mouse King and famed toy craftsman Herr Drosselmeyer, as performed by Reston-based Ravel Dance Company. // Capital One Hall, 7750 Capital One Tower Road, Tysons. $35+.

Holiday Cabarets at Creative Cauldron

Dec. 12-20 | 7:30 p.m.

Catch regional talent performing holiday tunes, musical theater classics and comedic routines at this cozy Falls Church venue. Viewing options include live-streaming or upgrading live seating to a VIP experience with wine, beer or other libations. // Creative Cauldron, 410 S. Maple Ave., #116, Falls Church. $15-$180.

Rosslyn Holiday Market 2

Shop more than a dozen holiday markets in the area this holiday season, including the Rosslyn Cheer holiday market Dec. 10-11. (Photo courtesy of Rosslyn BID)

Gingerbread House Decorating with MoCA Arlington

Dec. 14 | 2-4 p.m.

Do your best exterior decorating during this architectural and eminently edible challenge, sponsored by Arlington’s recently renamed arts center. // 241 18th St. S., Arlington. Free.

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon

Dec. 16-17 | 5:30-8:30 p.m.

There’s a lot to see and do at this annual holiday gathering at the home of our first president. Enjoy the splendor of holiday lights, listen to seasonal tunes, pop by a winter market, catch a fireworks show and more. // 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Mount Vernon. $26-60.

Kwanzaa for the Culture 2022

Dec. 17-18 | 5-9 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday

This two-day event features an avant-garde African fashion show, a performance from the Ni Dembaya African Drum and Dance Ensemble, a Kemetic yoga workshop and more. // Creative Suitland Arts Center, 4719 Silver Hill Road, Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland.$10-$15.

Leaning Into the Holidays with Virginia Chamber Orchestra

Dec. 18 | 4 p.m.

Enjoy works for Christmas from Camille Saint-Saëns and Ralph Vaughan Williams, featuring solos from classical vocalists as well as performances from Pro Coro Alexandria. And if you feel like joining them, you can—the concert will feature an audience sing-along. // Alden Theatre, 1234 Ingleside Ave., McLean. $15-$25.

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Catch community menorah lightings in Clarendon and Merrifield in late December. (Photo by Robert Thiemann on Unsplash)

Light Up the Night: Community Menorah Lighting at Mosaic

Dec. 20, 5-6 p.m.

Observe the lighting of a large menorah at this outdoor event, accompanied by Hanukkah tunes, dreidel-spinning and other kid-friendly activities. // Mosaic District, 2910 District Ave., Fairfax. Free.

Light Up Arlington: Clarendon Menorah Lighting

Dec. 20 | 6 p.m.

Catch the lighting of a 9-foot menorah while enjoying Hanukkah music and savoring latkes, doughnuts, hot chocolate and gelt. // Chabad-Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington, 1307 N. Highland St., Arlington. Free. Registration required.

Ice & Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run

Through Jan. 1, 2023

Wander through this frosty village while admiring dazzling light displays and capturing special moments on your smartphone. And for a wintry add-on, consider a spin around the ice rink. // 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria. $9-$22.

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There are plenty of local places to catch brilliant holiday displays. (Photo by Chris Ainsworth on Unsplash)

Rhizome: The Bell Street Courtyard Lighting Installation

Through Jan. 2, 2023

Belgian artists Tom and Lien Dekyvere have designed this light installation, composed of illuminated rope hundreds of meters long. National Landing is the latest stop for this Light Art Collection world tour. // Bell Street Courtyard, 1901 S. Bell St., Arlington. Free.

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights

Through Jan. 8, 2023

Now entering its 11th year, this holiday wonderland welcomes some 110,000 visitors annually. Get a bit of exercise as you stroll past inventive holiday displays, and wrap your mittens around a mug of hot chocolate to stay warm. // Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna. $5-$18.

Mgmnationalharbor 2022 Winter Conservatory Display 1

The Conservatory at MGM National Harbor features a 20-foot snowman replica and about 10,000 ornaments. (Photo courtesy of MGM National Harbor)

2022 Bull Run Festival of Lights

Through Jan. 8, 2023

Don’t want to leave the temperature-controlled comfort of your vehicle to see some holiday lights? Relax, you don’t have to. Take in the wintry spectacle by car on this 2.5-mile drive past a variety of displays. If you do feel like stretching your legs, you can always pop over to their Christmas Village and carnival, which are both open each night. (The carnival is closed on Thanksgiving and fully closes on Jan. 1.) // Bull Run Regional Park, 7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville. $30-$75.

The Conservatory at MGM National Harbor

Through Jan. 18, 2023

Charge up the smartphone and be ready to snap some pics at this colossal winter display, featuring some 1,500 poinsettias, more than 10,000 ornaments, a 20-foot snowman replica, a 22-foot-long train and more. // MGM National Harbor, 101 MGM National Ave., Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Parents & Kids