December Family-Friendly Events Guide


December is here, and with it comes a multitude of opportunities for family fun. In addition to the events compiled here, please check out our guide to Chanukah events and activities, our 2023 Holiday Light Display Guide, and our Christmas Tree Lighting Guide. These and other resources – including some that can help you find the perfect gift – can be found in our Winter Holiday Guide. As you enjoy the lights, performances, crafts, and fireworks, know that DC Area Moms wish you and your family all the joy, peace, and love of the season.


Now – December 30
National Zoo
Washington, DC
ZooLights is a fun, family-friendly way to celebrate the winter season. Attendees will enjoy dazzling light displays and musical performances. Yummy seasonal food and beverages will be available for purchase. New this year, tickets are required and may be purchased online. If driving, attendees must pre-purchase tickets to park in the zoo lots.

Holiday Tree Light Show & Fireworks

Now – December 30 (Saturdays)
National Plaza
National Harbor, MD
Families can enjoy a custom light show on a 60-foot holiday tree at National Harbor every night through December 30th. The lights will dance to the sounds of a holiday medley recorded by the United States Air Force Band. The light show will begin every half hour from sunset until 9pm. The FREE festivities amp up on Saturdays, however, when the 5:30pm show will be followed by a spectacular fireworks display. While you are at National Harbor, enjoy dinner at one of the many restaurants in the area and perhaps a ride on the ferris wheel.

Enchant – Christmas

Now – December 31
Nationals Park
Washington, DC
The magical World of Enchant is filled with dazzling, twinkling displays that embody winter joyfulness. Marvel at the 100 ft. animated tree, find your way through an all-new light maze, glide across the glistening Ice Skating Trail, pose for photos with Santa himself, and enjoy delicious festive holiday treats. Purchase tickets to this family-friendly event online. Please note that kids 2 and under are FREE.

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins

Now – December 31
The Puppet Co.
Glen Echo, MD
In this production, based on the book by Eric Kimmel, Hershel just wants to celebrate Hanukkah with his community. However, the lighting of the candles has been forbidden by the Queen and King of the Goblins. Hershel will try to save the day and lift the curse for the shtetl (village). Attendees at shows during Hanukkah (December 7th through December 14th) will take home a special gift.

Season’s Greenings

Now – January 1
U.S. Botanic Garden
Washington, DC
The ever popular holiday display at the United States Botanic Garden is back! Festive decor, poinsettias, and models of DC landmarks made with plant materials will delight visitors in the Conservatory. The beloved train display will be outdoors in the gated gardens. Trains will run from 10am to 5pm daily, except for three Thursdays in December when they will run until 8pm. This is a FREE family-friendly event and tickets are not required.

DC Holiday Lights

Now – January 7
Various Neighborhoods
Washington, DC
Fourteen of DC’s Main Streets and commercial corridors have joined together to provide visitors with a twinkling, festive holiday experience. Take a stroll down each of the participating corridors to experience a variety of fun holiday light displays and decor. You can even vote for your favorite! You can maximize your experience by downloading self-guided walking tours of some of the neighborhoods or by joining a citywide scavenger hunt.

Georgetown GLOW DC

December 1 – January 7
Washington, DC
Every night from 5pm to 10pm, DC’s oldest neighborhood will be aglow with the light from this free, curated, outdoor public art experience. International and national artists have created commissioned works that will be on display throughout the Georgetown commercial district. A map of the installations can be found here. If you want to enrich your experience, check out one of the thirty walking tours that tie the GLOW exhibition to the history of the area.

First Saturday Festival

December 2
National Gallery of Art
Washington, DC
Each month, the Museum hosts its First Saturday festival in its East Building. The festival offers fun activities for people of all ages to enjoy. This month, Susan Stockdale will lead a Spanish and English bilingual reading of her book, Stripes of All Types/Rayas de Todos las Talles. There will also be a pop-up library, face painting, holiday card making station, and more. This event is FREE to attend.

52nd Annual Scottish Christmas Walk

December 2
Old Town from St. Asaph Street and Wolfe Street to Market Square
Alexandria, VA
The City of Alexandria was officially established by three Scottish merchants and named after its original founder, John Alexander, also of Scottish descent. Join the city as it celebrates this heritage with its annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Dozens of Scottish clans will take part in the parade. There will also be pipe and drum bands from around the region, Scottie dogs, and more. Check out other holiday events held in Alexandria throughout this festive weekend.

Winter Festival

December 2
U.S. National Arboretum
Washington, DC
Celebrate the season with the Friends of the National Arboretum from 10am until 4pm. Shop at one of the local vendors that will be on site for a gift for that special someone. Fill your home with Christmas trees and greenery that will be on sale. There will also be family-friendly activities available to keep the kids entertained. This event is FREE to attend, but registration is preferred (though not required).

Holidays at the Tavern

December 2
Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park
Potomac, MD
Kick off the winter season at this community celebration. Like in days of past, the Great Falls Tavern will host holiday festivities. Music, crafts, and refreshments will be available beginning at 10am. This family-friendly event is FREE, but programming will only be available while supplies last.

Holiday Boat Parade

December 2
The Wharf
Washington, DC
Celebrate the holidays at this beloved DC event that features over sixty boats adorned in holiday decorations parading along the Washington Channel. There will also be a number of family-friendly activities to enjoy at The Wharf, including visits with Santa, live holiday music, ornament decorating, ice skating, and more. A fireworks finale will begin at 8pm. This event is FREE to attend. Many boaters will also participate in the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights at the Old Town Alexandria waterfront the same evening at 5:30pm.

Holly Trolley Fest

December 2 – 23
National Capital Trolley Museum
Colesville, MD
If your kids are fascinated by things that go, they will love the National Capital Trolley Museum. Families can celebrate the holiday season with a ride aboard an actual street car, by enjoying model railroad holiday displays, craft-making, photo ops, and more. Tickets are required for this event.

Teen Graphic Novel Reading Group: They Called Us Enemy

December 7
National Portrait Gallery
Washington, DC
This reading group, open to teens age 13 to 19, meets monthly to discuss graphic novels inspired by people represented in portraits hanging in the Museum. This month’s selection is They Called Us Enemy, written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, and Steven Scott. It recounts Takei’s experience growing up, including his time imprisoned as a person of Japanese descent in an American concentration camp.

Step Afrika!s Magical Musical Holiday Step Show

December 8 – 17
Arena Stage
Washington, DC
Audiences will stomp their feet, clap their hands, and dance along with the talented performers in this holiday show highlighting the African American tradition of stepping. It is toe-tapping fun for the whole family! The production’s exciting movement, captivating rhythms, and the sounds of DJ Nutcracker wow audiences every year. Tickets are available online.

Snow Maiden

December 9 – January 6
Synetic Theater
Arlington, VA
This family-friendly production shares the folktale of a lonely boy who lives in a frozen forest in the mountains. He builds a girl from snow. The girl comes to life, but what will happen to the girl when the snow begins to melt? This story of friendship and hope is told through stunning acrobatics, and dance.

National Landing Menorah Lighting

December 11
Metropolitan Park
Arlington, VA
Kick off the Festival of Lights at this fun community event. Attendees can enjoy Hanukkah music and yummy food and drinks as they celebrate the lighting of a 9-foot menorah. This event is FREE to attend but you must register for tickets online.

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon

December 15 – 16
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate
Mount Vernon, VA
Head to Mount Vernon for an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music. Before the fireworks begin around 8pm, take a stroll through the estate and enjoy the wintry lights of the gardens and the mansion, an 18th-century winter encampment, the working Blacksmith Shop, Christmas carolers, and Aladdin the Camel. Food will be available for purchase and a Winter Market will sell 18th century wares and crafts. Purchase tickets in advance.

Cirque Dreams Holidaze

December 15 – 17
Theatre at MGM Grand
Oxon Hill, MD
Cirque Dreams Holidaze is back with its Broadway-style music, circus artistry, and whimsical holiday spirit. The whole family will be amazed by the acrobatics and delightful stage settings of this astonishing holiday spectacular.

Polar Palooza Hip Hop Dance Party

December 16
Atlas Theater
Washington, DC
This family-friendly event celebrates the joy of the winter season with dance. Enjoy dance performances and dance to a live DJ. Other fun activities will be available including a Frosty Funk Cypher and the Chilly Willy Hip Hop Creation Station. Kids snacks, hot chocolate, and more will be available for purchase. This FREE event is for kids from 0 to 10. Registration is recommended.

A Family Christmas

December 16 and 24
The Kennedy Center
Washington, DC
This family-friendly concert is sure to delight, as the Choral Arts Chorus will perform holiday classics in the concert hall. Sing along as special guests like Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph visit this special holiday experience. Tickets can be purchased online. The Kennedy Center is hosting a variety of events throughout December that celebrate the holiday season, including plays, NSO performances, movie screenings, and much more. Check out a list of their holiday offerings here.

The Hip Hop Nutcracker

December 19 – 22
The Music Center at Strathmore
North Bethesda, MD
The Hip Hop Nutcracker returns to Strathmore to delight audiences with its reimagined take on the classic tale. This contemporary dance spectacle smashes hip-hop dance and Tchaikovsky’s timeless music together into a heart-stirring and inspirational holiday event. Tickets available online.

Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders

December 20
Capital One Arena
Washington, DC
Enjoy holiday festivities as you cheer on your Washington Capitals as they take on the New York Islanders. This game will be filled with Holiday Party excitement throughout, and all attendees will get a Capitals beanie! Also, check out their game on December 9th against the New York Rangers. The team will host a toy drive in partnership with the Salvation Army. Anyone attending who brings in a new, unwrapped kids toy to donate will get a limited-edition Caps poster.

Waterskiing Santa

December 24
Old Town Waterfront
Alexandria, VA
Watch this long-running holiday tradition along the Potomac River at the Old Town Waterfront. After the show, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their merry crew meet and greet children and families by the Christmas Tree in Waterfront Park.

Washington Wizards Games

December 26 – 30
Capital One Arena
Washington, DC
Cheer on the Washington Wizards as they play four games at home during the holidays. Each game will offer a promotional giveaway for fans including a plush blanket, a cap, bucket hats, and shoe charms. See website to buy tickets and to check out the promotional game schedule.

Kwanzaa Party

December 27
Anacostia Community Museum
Washington, DC
Grammy-nominated artist, Jessica “The Culture Queen” Hebron, will teach children ways to celebrate the seven principles of Kwanzaa through interactive music, crafts, storytelling, games, and the world-famous “Kwanzaa Slide” line dance which she co-created. This is one of seven events that this Smithsonian Museum will host on each day of Kwanzaa. Check out the website for a description of each event. All events are FREE, but registration is requested.

Holiday Family Activity Series

December 27 – 30
Library of Congress
Washington, DC
For four days, the Library of Congress will offer families a different crafting activity related to the holidays and the new year. In addition to learning about the Library’s holiday collections, visitors can learn how to write thank you letters, write cards, and create countdown chains for upcoming celebrations. This FREE event runs from 10:30am to 3:30pm each day.

Kwanzaa & Watch Night: Visions of Freedom

December 30
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Washington, DC
This Community Program celebrates the cultural holidays of Watch Night and Kwanzaa, both of which encourage African Americans to envision the future and their own freedom. Visitors will be able to create a scrapbook with images from the Museum’s collection. Additionally, activities will be available that honor the last three principles of Kwanzaa: Kuumba (creativity), Imani (faith), and Nia (purpose). This event is FREE to attend, but registration is required.

Noon Yards Eve

December 31
Yards Park
Washington, DC
Yards Park will ring in the new year with its traditional early celebration (10am – 1pm) at a family-friendly, all ages event during Noon Yards Eve. Details have not been released at time of publication, but stay up to date by visiting the event website. At night, your family can enjoy Light Yards, which is a larger-than-life interactive light installation. Light Yards runs every night through Jan. 7. Both events are FREE.