Did you blink? Because we can’t believe we’re in the final stretch of this decade. This weekend kicks off eight days of lights; in celebration, there are a few noteworthy events to spark up the first night. It’s also the final countdown to Christmas, so take in some fireworks, sing some carols and enjoy all things Santa-related. Whatever you do this weekend, make sure it’s festive—before you know it, we’ll be singing Auld Lang Syne and ringing in 2020. Merry-Happy Everything!
photo: Lord Maui via Unsplash
IN THE CITY
National Menorah Lighting Ceremony
Presented by American Friends of Lubavitch, this annual event takes place on the Ellipse near the White House. It will feature performances by Dreidelman and the Macabees and the U.S. Marine Band plus attendees will get hot latkes and donuts in addition to dreidels and menorah kits. Tickets are required for this free event. Sat. Event details.
Aurora: the Spirit of Northern Lights
This winter, discover the magic of the aurora as you journey to the northern lights with ARTECHOUSE. An ice cavern, frosted forests and dancing skies await those that brave the winter. Step into an immersive and interactive world with art installations that allow you to shape frost and move light as you quest to discover your true winter powers. Fri.-Sun. Event details.
The Magical Pinata
A seemingly plain clay pot magically transports Cucha, a selfish and lonely girl, from her town of Zapotoco, Mexico, to a mysterious jungle. There she encounters Parrot Rivera, a jungle muralist who paints the future; Señor Chapulin, a soccer star with the heart of the present; and Burro Burrito, a farmer who plows the past. But the evil Monkey King and his silly Sidekick know the clay pot is really a magical piñata and scheme to steal it from her. Through Cucha’s journey, she discovers the magic of the mundane, the roots of cultural pride, and the power of sharing. Sat.-Sun. Event details.
Billed as the largest light maze in the world (the. world!), this holiday spectacular boasts over 90,000 square feet of sparkling lights. Get lost in a labyrinth of holiday cheer while you search for Eddie the Elf and his sidekick, Sparky! While you’re there, take a moment to snap a pic with Old St. Nick at Santa’s Landing, cross off your holiday shopping to-do list at Christmas Market and don’t forget to take a spin on the Ice Skating Trail. Note: Enchant is even open on Dec. 25. Fri.-Sun. Event details.
IN THE ‘BURBS
Join Mount Vernon for an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music. Before the fireworks begin around 8 p.m., keep by warming up by a bonfire, enjoying some hot chocolate or cider, or visiting the Museum and Education Center (open from 5:30-8 p.m.). Rain date: Dec. 28. Fri. Event details.
Chanukah on Ice
Celebrate the lighting of the giant menorah, skate with family and friends and enjoy a dinner of latkes, kosher hot dogs and refreshments. Admission includes skate rentals. Sun. Event details.
The Reindeer Rush
You don’t have to travel far to get your tubing on. The Gaylord at National Harbor offers indoor tubing, so you can enjoy sledding in any winter. The Reindeer Rush tubing hill is coated in ice for an extra-speedy experience. Expect to twist, turn and jet down these 2-story runs. There are four-lanes, so you can race your family members. Children under 3 are free,.but you must be 42′ to ride (this hill only allows solo riders). If your little one needs assistance, check out the Ice! exhibit where oversized sled ramps are made completely out of frozen water. The small kiddie hill is perfect for kids 5 and under (and yes, you can accompany them in this lane). You won’t need a tube for this experience; the loaner blue parkas double as sleds. Fri.-Sun. Event details.
B&Os Magical Holiday Express
All aboard at the B&O Railroad Museum’s roundhouse, which, we might mention, is chock full of trains. The museum is open daily, but special guests join train travelers on weekends. From Dec. 7-22, Santa hops on board at 11 a.m and 1 p.m. on Sat. and 1 p.m. on Sun. and Frosty joins the crew at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. Sat.-Sun. Sat.-Sun. Event details.
Manassas Ballet: The Nutcracker
Enjoy this classic performance by Northern Virginia’s largest professional ballet company. Be wowed by their awe inspiring tree and live orchestra music. Fri.-Sun. Event details.
—Meghan Yudes Meyers