2012 Holiday Events Guide

Check out these great holiday events in and around the region.


Garden of Lights

  • Where/When: Brookside Gardens (1800 Glenallan Ave Silver Spring, MD 20902). Nov. 23 - Jan. 6; Open every night except CLOSED on Dec. 24 & 25, Jan. 1, 2, 3; Open New Year’s Eve until 10 p.m. with last car admitted at 9:30 p.m. Hours: Sunday - Thursday, 5:30 to 9:00pm, with last car admitted at 8:30 p.m.; Friday – Saturday, 5:30 to 10:00pm, with last car admitted at 9:30 p.m.
  • Why Go: This 16th annual walk-through tour of holiday lights at Brookside Gardens is fun for all ages. With its elaborate displays of glowing flowers, sea monsters, a flock of flying geese and more, the Garden of Lights is a favorite holiday destination in Wheaton.
  • Price: Cars/Vans (Monday - Thursday): $20 (cash only); Car/Vans (Friday - Sunday): $25 (cash only)


Zoo Lights

  • Where/When: National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave., Washington, DC). Nov. 23-25, 30; Dec. 1-2, 7-9, 14-23, 26-30; and Jan. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. (The zoo is still open during the day, but the lights won't necessarily be on.)
  • Why Go: See the zoo in a whole new light, with fun, colorful light displays throughout the zoo, holiday music, zoo tubing, hot chocolate, peppermint schnapps and other seasonal drinks and snacks (for purchase), and more.
  • Price: Free to see the lights. (Parking is $9 for members and $16 for non-members.)

Mormon Temple Festival of Lights

"Season's Greenings" at the United States Botanic Garden

  • Where/When: United States Botanic Garden (100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC). Seasonal displays Nov. 22 through Jan. 1 during regular opening hours (10 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week).
  • Why Go: See a beautiful, seasonal display of model trains and miniature Washington, DC, buildings made out of natural materials (i.e., wood and resin) throughout the garden. Enjoy a display of poinsettias in colors ranging from classic reds to pink, speckled and white. 
  • Price: Free.

Cathedral Creche Exhibition at Washington National Cathedral

  • Where/When: Washington National Cathedral (3100 Wisconsin Ave. NW, Washington, DC). The creche exhibit is open daily, Nov. 19 through Jan. 21. The cathedral is open for touring Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Sundays, from 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Why Go: See dozens of miniature creches from around the world, each one unique. Allocate plenty of time to see the creches—they are small, but there are many!
  • Price: Free.

National Hanukkah Menorah

  • Where/When: The northwest end of the Ellipse (near the White House and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC). The first candle will be lit on Saturday, Dec. 8, at 4 p.m. For the next seven nights, an additional candle will be lit each night.
  • Why Go: See the lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah on the White House grounds, at the Ellipse, during the eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the Jewish Maccabees' military victory over Syrian oppression more than 2,000 years ago. The holiday is a celebration of religious freedom and hope.
  • Price: Free.

Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Resort

  • Where/When: Gaylord National Resort (201 Waterfront St., National Harbor, MD). Nov. 16 through Jan. 6.
  • Why go: ICE! featuring DreamWorks’ Shrek the Halls features life-sized ice sculptures in the shape of all your favorite DreamWorks characters and five tall slides made from ice.
  • Nightly Tree Lighting Show: The hotel atrium comes to life each night at 6:30 p.m. with festive holiday music, dancing fountains, indoor snowfall and the lighting of a 60-foot tall Tree of Light.
  • Northern Lights: Each evening, from 6 p.m. to midnight, visitors may gaze up at 150-foot light curtains that recreate the Northern Lights.
  • Price: Some events are free, but tickets for Shrek the Halls range from $15.99 to $29.99 and should be purchased in advance. Visit the Gaylord National website to purchase tickets and learn more about the events.

Bethesda’s Winter Wonderland

  • Where/When: Downtown Bethesda, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1 and 2.
  • Why go: Visit with Santa and watch a variety of performances and ice sculpting. 
  • Winter concert: Dec. 1 at 8 p.m., featuring the American University Gospel Choir, The Capitol G’s, Faux Paz and Tonic & Gin. Tickets are available on the event website
  • Ice sculpting: Dec. 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. Watch a professional ice sculptor use chainsaws, ice picks and other implements to transform blocks of ice into holiday-themed sculptures.
  • Student Concert: Dec. 2, 2 to 4 p.m., featuring bands from Garret Park Elementary, Norwood, Our Lady of Lourdes, Seneca Valley High and Westbrook Elementary schools.

Winter’s Eve and Silent Art Auction

  • Where/When: Accokeek National Colonial Farm, Saturday, Dec. 8, from 4 to 7 p.m.
  • Why go: Enjoy an adaptation of Dickens’ classic ghost story, performed as an old-time radio show. There also will be carol singing by the fire with hot cider and a silent auction. 
  • Price: Tickets are $2 or a donation of a canned good.

Winter Lights at Seneca Creek State Park

  • Where/When: Seneca Creek State Park (11950 Clopper Rd., Gaithersburg). Nov. 30 through Dec. 31: 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Closed Dec. 25.
  • Why go: Explore more than 350 displays during a casual drive through the park. Themed displays include Winter Woods, Teddy Bear Land, Victorian Village, the North Pole and more. 
  • Leashes 'n Lights: Sunday, Nov. 15, 5 to 9 p.m. Requires pre-registration.
  • S’More Lights: Sunday, Nov. 25. Ride in an open-air trolley and enjoy s’mores along the way. Requires pre-registration.
  • Price: Admission is per car—$12 Tuesday through Thursday and $15 Friday through Sunday.

National Harbor Holiday Festival

  • Where/When: National Harbor, Nov. 30 through Dec. 2, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Friday and Saturday), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Sunday).
  • Why go: Peruse more than 200 vendors in the Holiday Village, sample and purchase holiday spirits in Santa’s Cellar Store, visit with Santa and let your kids enjoy arts and crafts and other events.  
  • Price: Ticket prices vary; see website for details.

Glen Echo Holiday Arts Show and Sale

  • Where/When: Glen Echo’s Popcorn Gallery. Saturdays and Sundays from Nov. 24 to Jan. 6, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
  • Why go: Glass, ceramics, photography, paintings and more will be on display and for sale at Glen Echo’s Popcorn Gallery.
  • Price: Free to enter the show and sale.

Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park

  • Where/When: Sandy Point State Park, Nov. 19 to Jan. 1, 5 to 10 p.m.
  • Why go: Take a scenic drive along the Chesapeake Bay and experience more than 60 animated and stationary displays illuminating the route.
  • Price: $14 per car.

Evangel Christmas Celebration

  • Where/When: Evangel Multi-Media & Arts Center (13901 Central Ave., Largo). Dec. 1 to Dec. 16. (See website for specific days and times.)
  • Why go: Celebrate Christmas with artists including Mary Mary, BeBe & CeCe Winans, Marvin Sapp, Wess Morgan, Keirra “KiKi” Sheard & Tye Tribbett. The show will feature live animals, pyrotechnics and a laser light show. 
  • Price: Tickets range from $65 to $85 and are available here.

WQMZ’s Christmas Show at The Fillmore, Silver Spring

  • Where/When: The Fillmore (8656 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring). Friday, Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
  • Why go: Enjoy holiday music from Sara Evans with special guest Eden’s Edge at The Fillmore.
  • Price: Standing-room-only tickets are available for $15 on The Fillmore’s website.


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