Combine the past with an eclectic attraction, and you’ve got the makings of fun and unique holiday light attractions in the Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia area. The holiday season tends to bring out the best in people, as they enjoy seeing the colors of Christmas and Hannukah, as well as the displays that put fun in the holiday. As you make your way around the area taking in the sights and sounds, it may be a good idea to pack a thermos of hot chocolate or cider and tasty refreshments to enjoy along the way. Here are a few attractions to help you enjoy the wonders of the season
Covid-19 alert: Before attending an attraction or event, check its website or Facebook page for requirements and restrictions.
Must See Holiday Lights in Northern VA
Christmas at Mount Vernon – Mount Vernon
Arrive early, so you can tour the grounds and see the mansion that the first president of the United States called home. Then, as the sun sets, Christmas at Mount Vernon features lanterns and more as the mansion is lit with amber colors as you listen to classic Christmas carols. View Mount Vernon’s gardens and greenhouse awash with blue and lavender lights as seasonal shapes move about. Christmas at Mount Vernon takes place Nov. 27-29, Dec. 11-13, and Dec. 26-28.
Illuminations at Mount Vernon showcases the mansion with a massive fireworks show featuring holiday music. The fireworks show follows a day of revelry, where you can tour the grounds and witness life in the late 1700s.
Walk of Lights – Vienna
With more than half a million colored lights, twinkling and shining in the night, Walk of Lights at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens has become a tradition for families and friends. Open 5:30-10 p.m. nightly Nov. 11 through Dec. 11, and then 5-10 p.m. Dec. 12-Jan. 3. As you walk along the mile-long path, you’ll find holiday-themed displays, such as Christmas trees, carolers, reindeer, and more. Stop by the gift shop for unique holiday ideas. Enjoy treats at the snack shop or at food trucks, which will be onsite on select nights. Visitors are encouraged to purchase tickets online in advance, because a limited number of tickets will be available at the gate.
Bull Run Festival of Lights – Manassas
Illuminated toy soldiers, colorful tunnels, wreaths, and more await you as you drive through a 2.5-mile trail of holiday lights at the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Manassas. Open nightly 5:30-9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday-Sunday (and holidays) Nov. 6-Jan. 10, advanced tickets are available online. With Friday-Sunday the busiest nights, you’ll want to plan accordingly, or visit Monday-Thursday. Don’t forget to check out the open-air Ferris wheel and concession stands.
Georgetown GLOW – Washington, DC
Instead of offering the traditional holiday light displays, Georgetown GLOW instead asks people to use their imagination to celebrate the season. With about a dozen light installations, Georgetown GLOW features eclectic exhibits, such as a giant multi-colored ball and a wall of lights. Located in DC’s oldest neighborhood, with centuries-old buildings as a backdrop, featuring impressive architecture, you can check out sales and special deals at neighborhood shops and eateries. Open 5-10 p.m., Georgetown GLOW runs nightly Dec. 4-Jan. 10.
Photo Credit: Paul Morigi
National Christmas Tree – Washington, DC
The capitol’s most-popular holiday attraction, the National Christmas Tree at the Ellipse, across from the White House, is lit for the season Dec. 5. Then, it will be illuminated nightly through the holiday season. As you visit the nation’s capital, including the National Mall and its attractions, including the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, you can take in the beautiful colors of the nation’s tree, a giant fir or spruce donated for season.
As part of the celebration, walk among the nation’s ornaments, each created by an artist from their home state. The ornaments are part of a display featuring smaller fir trees around the National Christmas Tree.
Following your visit to the National Christmas Tree, saunter to the U.S. Capitol grounds, where you can take in the US Capitol Christmas Tree.
Whether you prefer celebrating the holiday season in the nation’s capital or in one of Northern Virginia’s parks, there’s a holiday light attraction for you. As you enjoy the lights with family and friends, may the holiday season be a fun and safe one.