Best time to go to Washington, D.C.

Christmas Lights 2019-2020

The United States capital is especially festive during the holiday season

Christmas Lights in Washington, D.C. 2020 - Best Time
Photo by

John Brighenti | Christmas decor at Union Station

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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.

ZooLights at the National Zoo (November 29, 2019–January 1, 2020)

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 p.m. and go off at 9 p.m.

Holiday Lights at the National Zoo 2020
Holiday Lights at the National Zoo
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Holiday Lights at the National Zoo 2020
Holiday Lights at the National Zoo
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National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony (December 5, 2019)

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.

Capitol Christmas Tree on the US Capitol West Lawn in Washington DC 2020
Capitol Christmas Tree on the US Capitol West Lawn in Washington DC
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Capitol Christmas Tree on the US Capitol West Lawn in Washington DC 2020
Capitol Christmas Tree on the US Capitol West Lawn in Washington DC
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Georgetown GLOW (December 6, 2019–January 5, 2020)

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.

Georgetown GLOW: Aqueous, by Jen Lewin 2020
Georgetown GLOW: Aqueous, by Jen Lewin
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Georgetown GLOW  2020
Georgetown GLOW
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Mount Vernon by Candlelight (November 29 & 30; December 6, 7, 13, 14, & 22, 2019)

Mount Vernon Estate offers George Washington-inspired Christmas celebration in his former mansion. 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. Tickets for Mount Vernon by Candlelight sell out fast, so it's better to book them in advance.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight 2020
Mount Vernon by Candlelight
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Mount Vernon by Candlelight 2020
Mount Vernon by Candlelight
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Mount Vernon by Candlelight 2020
Mount Vernon by Candlelight
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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 colours adding some holiday atmosphere.