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November 20, 2023

Washington, DC’s Winter Wonders

by Necole Jackson

Are you wondering what’s happening in Washington, DC this winter? (Try saying that 10x fast!) Every year, our nation’s capital puts on a seasonal show that features a plethora of FREE holiday festivities and events. From annual tree lightings, to family-friendly ZooLights, to holiday market shopping, and more — the city celebrates all winter long! With so many visitors coming to share seasonal joys with family and friends, goDCgo encourages you to take transit to avoid traffic and the search for parking. Transit options include Metrorail, DC Circulator, Capital Bikeshare, Metrobus, and dockless vehicles like bikes, mopeds, and scooters.

Though DC hosts numerous holiday events, we’ve decided to highlight some of our favorites below:


Downtown Holiday Market

The 19th annual Downtown Holiday Market returns, serving as DC’s one-stop shop and winter wonderland! This outdoor market brings a unique and festive shopping “village” to Downtown DC, featuring over 70 exhibitors plus exciting performances and tasty treats from local food vendors. Open November 17 to December 23, 2023 from 12 to 8pm daily, the market brings a unique and festive shopping “village” to Downtown DC, including live entertainment.

Georgetown Glow

Reimagine the season of light at the 6th edition of Georgetown GLOW, the region’s first and only curated exhibition of outdoor public light art installations. Set against the historic backdrop of DC’s oldest neighborhood, it’s a whole new way to shine. Catch this unique display December 1, 2023 to January 7, 2024 from 5 to 10pm nightly.

National Christmas Tree

An American holiday tradition since 1923, the National Christmas Tree will be celebrating over 100 years this December. This special occasion is one of the few times of year that continues to bring citizens together to share in a message of hope and peace. The National Christmas Tree will be lit every day from December 2, 2023 to January 1, 2024 at approximately 4:30pm to midnight as part of the America Celebrates display on the Ellipse at President’s Park (White House). The display will be open to the public after the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on November 30.

National Chanukah Menorah

As the world’s largest menorah, the National Menorah Lighting has become a premier symbol of the festival of Chanukah beginning December 7 through December 20, 2023. The annual lighting ceremony is open to the public and televised to reach everyone across the globe. The National Chanukah Menorah can easily be found on the Ellipse, just across from the White House. Make sure you stop by to see and celebrate the miracle of Chanukah – “The Festival of Lights.”

US Capitol Christmas Tree

The Capitol Christmas Tree, or “The People’s Tree,” is a tradition dating back to 1964. Every holiday season, a different national forest is selected to provide a tree for the west lawn of the US Capitol building with this years tree coming from West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest. The tree will be lit by speaker of the House Mike Johnson on November 28 and will remain in front of the Capitol until January 1, 2024.


This annual holiday tradition is making its return! Experience the colorful glow of more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights that transform the National Zoo into a winter wonderland. You can also enjoy live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of holiday shopping opportunities. Catch this year’s attractions between November 24, 2023 to January 1, 2024 from 5 to 9pm.

Sculpture Garden Ice Rink

Welcome the winter season with an ice skating session! Whether going just for fun or taking lessons to become a pro, it’s a great way for all ages to get into the holiday spirit. Celebrate the holidays on two wheels (skate wheels) with the ice rink opening on November 20, and continue the fun until closing March 3, 2024.

District’s Holiday Boat Parade

Don’t miss the 31st anniversary of this iconic DC event, featuring 60+ festively decorated boats parading along the Washington Channel. You can decorate ornaments, warm-up by the fire pit, visit the Christmas Tree, go ice skating, sample winter drinks, and meet Santa! Stop by to see the festive lights on December 2, 2023 from 6-9pm. 

Download our Winter Wonders Guide to explore even more events and your best options for getting there.



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