Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to get in the Holiday Spirit in the District

I don’t know about you, but I was less than impressed when I woke up Saturday morning to a mere 29 degrees outside when it had been a balmy 60 degrees just the day before. I was all:

Then while I was running (in full winter gear, mind you) I smelled smoke from a wood stove. Only one of the greatest smells in the history of all smells. I then realized that we've been completely spoiled with the very calm, warm fall we've had here in the District, and I was reminded that there is an upside to this colder, winter weather. Fun holiday events! Yippee!


Below are my recommendations for activities to do in the District that are bound to put you in the holiday spirit.

Nothing says Christmas time like the National Christmas tree. The official tree lighting is scheduled for Thursday, December 6th at 4:30pm. Skip out of work early and watch as the tree is lit up for the first time. If you aren't lucky enough to have tickets to the event (tickets are distributed on a lottery system) you can always watch/ listen from Constitution Avenue. The National Park Service goes all out with this event—and this year’s tree lighting will feature performances by James Taylor, Colbie Caillet, Phillip Phillips, and…wait for it… Babyface. YUP, true story.

How lucky are we to have this in our city?
That jerkhead boss of yours won't let you leave the office early for the tree lighting? There’s always the Capitol Christmas tree on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Take a stroll around, snap some instagram pics and post them on facebook to make your friends and family jealous. After, walk somewhere cozy to get drinks and dinner. I’d recommend Charlie Palmer (their steaks = amazingness) or Sonoma (so incredibly cozy) if you want do make a date out of it. If you’re with friends? Head to Kelly’s Irish Times or the Dubliner for some pints and fish and chips. Really want to go on the cheap? Check out My Brother’s Place a mere two blocks from the Capitol lawn that holds happy hour every week night until 8pm (included in said happy hour are $2.50 beers).

I might be in the minority here, but I just get excited and happy for Christmas whenever I hear music from the Nutcracker. The Warner Theatre will be showing the Nutcracker November 29-December 23. Tickets start as low as $39.00. The great thing about the Warner Theater is that it’s big enough to put on pretty fantastic shows, but it’s also small enough that there isn't a bad seat in the house. There are also a lot of restaurants within walking distance that offer pre-theater dinners. I recommend Folia701, or Restaurant Tosca. Not looking for a full meal or on a budget?  Both Chef Geoff's and Ceiba offer great happy hour specials on food and drinks. And after the show, you can skip over to the Occidental for cozy cocktails at the bar. 

One of my all time favorite things I've ever done in Washington during the Christmas season was years ago when I went to Ford’s Theater for it’s annual performance of A Christmas Carol. Located right downtown, the famous Ford's Theater is truly a remarkable building and it’s even more stunning when it’s decorated for Christmas. I’d recommend checking out a matinee performance. Not only will it save you a few bucks, but you can walk around downtown after, do some Christmas shopping, and then end the afternoon with hot toddies or hot chocolate at Old Ebbitt. I know, sounds like the perfect day, right?   

This is an old pic of me bursting with pride in front of the Maine tree. 
Another must-do event in Washington, D.C. during the holiday season is to visit the White House lawn where in addition to the National Christmas tree, there are also 56 small Christmas trees--- one for each state, five territories and the District of Columbia. Each tree is lit nightly from dusk until 10pm and is decorated by artists from that state. There are also nightly musical performances from performers across the country. It's fun to walk around and find your home state's tree.  There are always lots of kids and families and it's guaranteed to put you in the holiday spirit.  Note: Be sure to wear flat shoes.  Heels will just get stuck in the grass.

There you go. Lots of fun activities to get you in the holiday spirit.

None of these things sound exciting to you (to which I say, Bah! Humbug to you!)?  Well, then there's always the annual Santa Bar Crawl this Saturday in Dupont Circle.  All you need to do is throw on a Santa suit, a reindeer outfit, or elf costume and you can get all kinds of drink specials. Because nothing says Christmas like a bunch of drunk dudes dressed up like Santa stumbling around Connecticut Avenue.

Happy Holidays!


  1. Zoolights! It's free, beautiful, and romantic. By far my favorite winter activity in DC.

  2. Great ideas!

    I love the Warner Theatre's version of the Nutcracker with George Washington as the prince and King George as the Mouse King.

    We prefer the Capitol tree as it's less crowded and we always go to the National Arboretum to see the Holiday trains.

    The Gaylord at the National Harbor is also a great place to go.