DC area Holiday Event Guide 2023 Round-Up: Pop-up bars, performances, lights and more

The holiday season is in full swing and FOX 5 has your guide to the best attractions and events taking place in the D.C. area to celebrate!

Holiday pop-ups and celebrations in D.C. area

Holly Trolley Fest:

Check out the National Capital Trolley Museum’s model railroad holiday display and watch a live steam display. Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be in attendance, and you can ride with them on the museum’s historic street cars.

Dec. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17 & 23 | National Capital Trolley Museum
11 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
$10 - $12
More information here.

Christmas at Gaylord National:

This "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" themed "ICE!" experience sees guests wearing a signature blue parka and entering a 9 Degrees Fahrenheit wonderland carved out of ice. 

Nov. 19 - Dec. 31 | Gaylord National
Various Times between 9 a.m. - 8:45 p.m.
More information here.

Miracle at Death Punch:

Two levels of the beloved Adams Morgan bar Death Punch will be decorated for the holiday season. Themed cocktails, like the Christmapolitan or a Snowball Old-Fashioned, will be available as well as a full food menu from Shibuya. 

Nov. 24 - Dec. 31 | Death Punch
12 p.m. - 2 a.m. 
More information here. 

Downtown Holiday Market:

Get your holiday shopping done and support small businesses at the 19th Annual Downtown Holiday Market! You can expect original artwork, jewelry, clothing, antiques, candles, homemade treats and more.

Nov. 17 through Dec. 23 | F Street, NW between 7th and 9th Streets, NW
12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
More information here.

Sippin' Santa at Black Whiskey:

If "Christmas Island" is your favorite song this time of year, head to the Sippin Santa pop-up at Black Whiskey in Northwest D.C. Enjoy tropical Christmas beverages and retro Christmas decor at the 14th Street favorite. 

Nov. 24 - Dec. 31 | Black Whiskey
12 p.m. - 2 a.m. 
More information here. 

The Polar Express Train Ride:

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad is bringing a holiday classic to life!

All aboard the Polar Express Train Ride this Christmas season. Inspired by the hit movie, this holiday experience comes to life when you and your family take a ride on The Polar Express. Set to the music of the motion picture soundtrack, families will love their trip to the North Pole, complete with hot chocolate and cookies served prior to boarding the train. There will be singing, dancing, and a reading of The Polar Express. Attendees are encouraged to wear their favorite pajamas and join in on the magic. This family-friendly event offers fun for all ages just outside Frederick County! Jump right into the story as we journey from either Cumberland or Frostburg to the North Pole to see St. Nick himself. All passengers will be provided a hot chocolate and a cookie plus they will receive a special commemorative silver sleigh bell.

Dec. 8 - Dec. 24
Various times
More information here.

Ice skating in the D.C. area

Enchant DC:

Nationals Park will transform into a winter wonderland with an all-new light maze, Christmas trees, ice skating, a holiday village, live entertainment, delicious food and other special surprises.

Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 | Nationals Park
Times depend on date chosen
$36 adults, $27 child
More information here.

Ice Skating at Reston Town Center:

Skate, hop and jump while skating at the Reston Town Center rink! The Ice Skating Pavilion is open seasonally from early November-mid-March, offering public skating every day and extended hours for all Holidays.

November - March | 1818 Discovery Street, Reston, VA 20190
Hours vary
Adults: $11, Children (12 and under): $9, Senior (55+): $9, Military: $9, Skate Rentals: $7
More information here

Ice Skating at Potomac Town Center:

Winter magic awaits you at the Stonebridge Ice Rink at Potomac Town Center. After hitting the ice, shop or dine at one of the many stores or restaurants in the center. Character skate nights are also held every Thursday in December!

Now - Feb. 25 | 14900 Potomac Town Pl., Woodbridge, VA 22191
Hours vary
Adults: $10, Children: (12 and under): $9, Senior/Military: $9, Skate Rentals: $6
More information here.

Holiday Light Shows in the D.C. area

Winter Lantern Festival:

The festival will be filled with dazzling light displays, featuring 1,000 handcrafted Chinese lanterns and lights. This family-friendly event will feature refreshments and fun activities. Visitors will also be able to ride swings, seesaws, and other interactive attractions.

November 24 - February 18 | Lerner Town Square at Tysons II 
Friday - Sunday, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
$17.99 - $25.99
More information here. 

Winter Walk of Lights:

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights is a luminous garden trail aglow with countless sparkling lights. The half-mile paved trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible. 

Nov. 10 - Jan. 7 | Meadowlark Botanical Gardens
5 p.m. - 10 p.m.
$18 online, $22 in person
More information here.

Seasons Greenings 2023:

The U.S. Botanic Garden’s annual holiday display featured model trains, festive lights, poinsettias and D.C. landmarks made from plants. 

Nov. 23 through Jan. 1 | U.S. Botanic Garden
10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
More information here.

2023 Ice & Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run:

This outdoor light show includes unique light displays and an ice skating rink under the stars. 

Nov. 17 - Jan. 1 | Cameron Run Regional Park
5 p.m. -10 p.m.
$8 admission, $20 admission and skating
More information here

Winter Lights Festival:

Take festive photos during this 3.5-mile drive through more than 450 illuminated displays. Tune your car radio to 97.1 WASH FM for holiday music to set the mood!

Nov. 24 through Dec. 31 | Seneca Creek State Park
Various hours
More information here.


One of D.C.’s favorite light displays is ZooLights, which features dozens of glowing animal lanterns across the Zoo as well as live music performances, winter treats and opportunities for holiday shopping. ZooLights is no longer free as in past years, now $6 per person. 

Nov. 24 through Dec. 30 | Smithsonian National Zoo
5 p.m. - 9 p.m. 
More information here.

Bull Run Festival of Lights: 

The 2023 Festival of Lights is a dazzling 2.5 mile holiday light display that allows visitors to drive the full route from the comfort of your car.

Nov. 11 - Jan. 7 | 7700 Bull Run Dr. Centreville, VA 20121
$30 per vehicle online
$40 per vehicle in person
More information here

Holiday performances in the D.C. area:

The Nutcracker:

The Washington Ballet reimagines the traditional ballet in a D.C.-ified version featuring George Washington and set in Georgetown. 

Dec. 2 - Dec. 30 | Warner Theater
Times depend on date chosen
More information here.

Fiesta de los Reyes Magos:

Celebrate Three Kings Day at the Gala Hispanic Theatre! Kicking off with a parade featuring the Three Kings and live animals, followed by a show featuring local musicians and dance troupes. 

Jan. 7 | Gala Hispanic Theatre
1:30 p.m. 
More information here. 

Step Afrika!’s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show:

Watch the world’s first holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping, according to Step Afrika! Meet friends from the Arctic Kingdom along with DJ Nutcracker.

Dec. 8 through Dec. 17 | Arena Stage
Showtimes depend on the date chosen
$56 - $115
More information here.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker:

It’s a spin on the holiday staple as Maria-Clara and the Nutcracker Prince explore modern-day New York City. The classic score will feature contemporary and hip-hop dancers, a DJ and visual effects.

Dec. 19 through Dec. 22 | The Music Center at Strathmore
8 p.m.
More information here.