Best time to go to Washington, D.C.

Christmas Lights 2021-2022

The United States capital is especially festive during the holiday season

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Disclaimer: Due to COVID-19 concerns, many events might be canceled, postponed, or changed into limited versions, sometimes at very short notice. Please check with event organizers directly for the latest updates (view the "External Resources" section below).

Washington, D.C. is a great Christmas destination due to its many festive activities around town, some serious Christmas Trees in landmark settings and dazzling holiday illumination. Washington D.C. Christmas lights are quite impressive and cover many downtown areas.

National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 3, 2020)

The Capitol Christmas Tree is one of the most impressive in the country. It is erected every winter on the West Front Lawn of the United States Capitol. The tradition has been underway since in 1919. It is lit during a ceremony in early December with plenty of live entertainment.

ZooLights at the National Zoo (November 27, 2020–January 1, 2021—canceled)

Zoo Lights at the National Zoo is a must-see if you have small children. The light display turns the park into a winter wonderland with train rides, snow-tubing, and a carousel. The park is lit up with 500,000 LEDs, animated light installations, and more. If it gets too cold, you can get a warm beverage or go to small mammal building and great ape house. The lights switch on at 5 pm and go off at 9 pm.

Georgetown GLOW (December 4, 2020–January 10, 2021)

Georgetown is a perfect destination for a holiday walk and shopping, especially with GLOW, an amazing light-art exhibition which lasts for the whole month. Artists display their modern and original works in outdoor venues throughout the historic area. There are also plenty of traditional lights at the Washington Harbour to enjoy.

Winter Glow at Mount Vernon (Nov 27-29, Dec 11-13 & 26-28, 2020)

Mount Vernon Estate offers George Washington-inspired Christmas celebration in his former mansion. Ambient holiday illumination accompanied by classic holiday music and patriotic quotes makes the stroll kind of special. You can see the greenhouse and the upper garden aglow in hues of blue and lavenders. You can tour Washington’s iconic estate lit by candlelight and also visit Aladdin the Camel. In 1787, Washington paid 18 shillings to entertain his Christmas guests with a camel. There is also a chance to chat with soldiers, shop for handmade goods, and indulge in warm food and drinks at the Mount Vernon Inn Food Truck.

Other events

Don't forget to check out the Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Mormon Temple, as well as stop by Downtown Holiday Market in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. At night, it is shimmering with lights and colors adding some holiday atmosphere.