6 Things To Do During the Holidays in the D.C. Metro
Christmas is our favorite time of the year! Moving away from family again has been hard, but to spread the Christmas cheer we went out exploring our new city, singing loud and clear for everyone in D.C. to hear! We were not able to do everything we wanted to this year, but we look forward to adding more to this list next year!
National Harbor Christmas Tree Lightning Ceremony
When we heard about the tree lightning at National Harbor we instantly knew we wanted to be there to see it. Why? because we currently live across the Potomac River from National Harbor and really enjoy the area. However, this tree lightning happened BEFORE Thanksgiving, a big no no for me, but we really couldn’t pass this experience up and we’re glad we didn’t. We arrived just in time for the Christmas Tree lightning due to unforeseen traffic, (we literally ran in the cold for ten minutes just to catch the lighting) and the adventure getting there was well worth it. By the time we were there the Christmas music was playing in cohesiveness to the tree. It was really magical and fun to watch. The lighting show ended with a grand finale with one of my all time favorite songs, “A Mad Russian’s Christmas” by Tran-Siberian Orchestra.
If that was not a big enough finale, National Harbor then had fireworks blasting in the night sky. To be honest, the fireworks show was probably one of the best we had ever seen – we were really impressed.
After about a 10 minute firework show the band, Radio King Orchestra, started paying again on the stage by the jumbotron and continued to spread Christmas cheer. The crowd quickly dispersed, most left the premise while others flocked upstairs to the Christmas Tree, as did we. We captured our moment in front of the beautiful, colorful, tree and watched as the tree changed colors. I truly love Christmas.
As I stated earlier, we arrived late due to traffic and therefore missed some of the other activities held during the event. Here is the list of everything guests could have seen and/or done during this years National Harbor’s Christmas Tree Lightning Ceremony.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:
10am – 2pm The Capital Wheel giveaway
12pm Marine band performance, Plaza stage
12pm – 3pm Stonewall Kitchen’s Thanksgiving Prep
2pm Holiday movie: Prancer, Plaza stage
2pm – 4pm Card making for deployed troops, East Pier Tent
3pm – 5pm Santa at The Black Dog
4pm – 5pm Victorian carolers, roaming
5pm Santa at The Carousel
5:30pm Holiday band performance: Radio King Orchestra
6:30pm Tree lighting ceremony starts
7pm Tree lighting
7:30pm Santa at The Capital Wheel
National Christmas Tree
The National Christmas Tree is definitely a site to see for tourists, locals and Americans. With its grand size and history it truly is our nation’s Christmas Tree. Around the National Christmas Tree are small Christmas Trees representing every state and territory of the United States.
The history behind the National Christmas Tree is that in 1923, First Lady Grace Coolidge gave permission for the District of Columbia Public Schools to place a Christmas tree on the Ellipse south of the White House. On that Christmas Eve, President Calvin Coolidge walked from the White House to the Ellipse and “pushed the button” to light the 48 ft. Balsam fir tree. In 1954, the ceremony returned to the Ellipse and enhanced the experience by adding smaller trees to represent the states and territories of the United States and remains the tradition today. Every tree repenting a state or territory is decorated with ornaments created by girl scouts, boy scouts, students at schools, etc. Each tree is uniquely decorated by the children and highlights what their state is known for.
When you are at the National Christmas Tree you can see the White House and Washington Monument in the background magnifying the views and experience. We started our journey at the start of the path, at Alabama – luckily we didn’t see a Bama ornament. We continued along the path until Missouri so that Adam could take a picture in front of the his home state’s tree as did I for the Texas tree. We took pictures together in front of Nevada and Virginia, the states we have lived in together (Texas too, but kept that one just for me). Then one grand picture in front of the National Christmas Tree!
Around the National Christmas Tree are small train sets running around its towns and the tree. There are also a variety of musicians throughout the country who come to perform at the National Christmas Tree during the three weeks it is showcased.
In addition to all of the above, the Tree Lighting Ceremony is one of a kind bringing in big name celebrities for the National event! A few of the musicians who performed during this year’s tree lightning were: Kelly Clarkson, The Lumineers, Chance the Rapper, Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood, Marc Antony, and more. President Obama even shared a few words on stage! If you missed the event (like us), do not fret, you can watch the one hour show online at this link.
Ice Skating at Washington Harbour
We have been wanting to go ice skating in an outdoor rink for the last three years and this holiday season we were finally able to go! We went ice skating where the majority of the locals go – The Washington Harbour Ice Rink. Starting mid-November The Washington Harbour turns their fountain into a 11,800 square ft ice rink – DC’s largest outdoor ice skating venue. In addition to this skating rink being the largest in town, guests can enjoy skating alongside the famous Potomac River. After a few laps around the rink, enjoy some food and beverages at the many outlets surrounding the venue – we certainly did.
Adam and I strapped on our skates as quickly as possible and hit the rink. We had pretty good timing as the zamboni just cleaned the ice – nothing life fresh ice! As we eagerly waited to be the next ones on the ice we instantly froze because we hadn’t skated in so long. We started to stutter step on the ice, but after a few steps we started to get our stride and then we were skating! We were romantic at first, holding hands while we skated during the holidays, but it only lasted a few laps as I started to skate faster causing us to almost fall. So Adam let me go because let’s face it… I have a need for speed while Adam does not. After about an hour of skating we called it quits. The rink was a nice size, it never felt over crowded. Overall it was a lot of fun ice skating, our blood was always flowing and with our several layers of clothing we stayed pretty warm.
A few facts:
The rink is open from mid-November till March
Skating rink is open everyday, including the holidays
Season passes and discount cards are available
Skating lessons are available
Guests can rent out the rink for events
They hold weekly skating events such as, college night, 2 for 1 admission, cartoon skate, rock n skate
There are helmets and cute penguin skate aids – free of use
Skate Rental: $6.00
Season Pass: $195.00
10 Admission Pass: $85.00 (does not include skate rental)
Hours of operation and more cab be found on their link.
MGM National Harbor Conservatory
MGM National Harbor just opened on December 8th and we were there to see their beautiful conservatory that transports you into a winter wonderland! The 15,000-square-foot conservatory is located by the hotel lobby under a 85-foot-tall glass ceiling atrium. By day, natural sunlight shines in the conservatory and by night the conservatory sparkles with snowflake light fixtures. Day or night, it is a sight to see and we definitely experienced the conservatory in both settings.
Tall, elegant, silver trees surround the conservatory as the main foal point, along with ceiling hung gold and silver chandelier-isk ornaments. The conservatory sticks to its elegant silver, white and gold tones with their floral arrangements. There are also small water features by a round structure of gift boxes and ornaments, as well as a cute bridge that goes through a Christmas tree.
Alas, this wouldn’t be a conservatory without its beautiful floral arrangements, which can be found sporadically on the Christmas trees, on the bridge, overflowing from the gift boxes, used as a bow and ribbon, and spread throughout the beds of the conservatory. When you walk through the conservatory you cannot help, but get a warm and happy feeling of holiday spirit. It could be because you got lucky at the casino, that the conservatory is stunning, the scent of the fresh flowers or all of the above.
Lastly, if walking through the conservatory was not enough, you should stop by the Bellagio Patisserie which is located next to the conservatory. Sit down and enjoy the sights some more with a cup of coffee, and a pastry or two.
Christmas Lights Down Kings Street
Every year in Old Town Alexandria, Kings Street turns into a magical road with Christmas lights strung on every tree. The results are more than beautiful. Everyone should stroll on the sidewalks for some holiday shopping and/or grab a bite to eat at the many restaurants and bars. If you want to stay warm, drive your car or take the free trolley to enjoy the sights and decorated storefronts.
We did a little bit of both. We walked along the sidewalks while we embraced the cold weather. It was such a peaceful walk, seeing almost every store and restaurant getting into the spirit and being beautifully decorated. Gazing up at the lighted trees never got old. After we walked most of the road we decided to enjoy a drive under the lights to capture the moment in a different setting. Both driving and walking down Kings Street was lovely and I would recommend doing both as well.
Shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market
This year marked the 12th annual Downton Holiday Market. It was open from November 25th to December 23rd from noon until 8pm everyday. The market showcases several different exhibitors ranging from, artwork, jewelry, crafts, clothing, accessories, speciality items and more. The market also had local food and beverage outlets featuring: Alexa’s Empandas, Migue’s Magnificent Mini Donuts, Vigilante Coffee Company, The Capitol Candy Jar and The Taste of Germany.
Everyday there were also performers singing and playing Christmas and original songs. There were several different music genre performers such as, rock, jazz, gospel, folk, R&B, classical, blues, and bluegrass. The schedule and list of exhibitors can be found here. With all that being said, there was definitely something for everybody at the Downtown Holiday Market!
We arrived at the Downton Holiday Market with a big sweet tooth! We stopped at The Capitol Candy Jar first to enjoy giant s’mores! What made their s’mores special were the giant, homemade marshmallows. They had several different flavors to choose from and guests could create their own s’more based on the flavor of marshmallow and Hershey’s chocolate. We chose a salted caramel s’more with dark chocolate and it was killer!
After we devoured our s’more we needed to chase it down with something to drink so we grabbed a hot chocolate from Vigilante Coffee Company. This local coffee house was busy the entire time we were there – we will definitely try out their home store now. We got a cup of hot chocolate with a toasted marshmallow – even after the giant marshmallow in our s’mores we still wanted more marshmallow! The hot chocolate was perfect! Rich, creamy and it kept our hands warm when we held it.
We slowly looked at every exhibit because each one was so unique and had great products. The store that caught our eye though was EWBA, an art company that had awesome artwork on wood. Adam is the one who found the perfect gift for us, it was a wooden plaque that had a quote, which spoke to us because it is the way we travel. It said, “GO EVERYWHERE, TALK TO EVERYONE, EAT EVERYTHING”. Is that not the perfect quote? We instantly knew we had to buy it and now it hangs proudly on our travel wall.
As you can see we really enjoyed ourselves at the Downtown Holiday Market and look forward to going again next here!
We hope you enjoyed our list and we wish you a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!!!