Some of the most fun and popular seasonal events in the National Capital Region are in Northern Virginia. Celebrate the season with light displays, fireworks, ice skating and more - there's even a fun photo op for your pet this Saturday. And, of course, there are plenty of ways to bring in the New Year in Northern Virginia. Read on for details about local town celebrations and paid events. Make plans now for exciting Northern Virginia Holiday Activities 2016 now!
Inaugural Winter Events
Waterskiing Santa Claus and Friends
You've seen Santa everywhere in the area, from shopping malls to local parades, but you've never seen him quite like this! New in Alexandria on Christmas Eve, Santa and his wakeboarding pals (reindeers, elves, the Grinch and other beloved Christmas characters) will put on a show along the waterfront. Click here to learn more!
- December 24, 2016, 1 p.m.
- And this year's show will feature a new, never-seen-before act in the Washington, DC area.
- Transportation: did you know that out-of-town visitors can get free parking in Old Town Alexandria? Also, there's a free trolley. Click here for Old Town Alexandria parking information
- Takes place rain, snow or shine.
Prime viewing area along the waterfront between King and Oronoco Streets (Founders Park and the Alexandria City Marina).
Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon
This weekend, December 16-17, 2016, from 5:30-9 p.m., for the first time ever, Mount Vernon will host an evening of holiday-themed fireworks and special programs. Colonial artisans will make chocolate, you will encounter re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, enjoy cider by a bonfire, and learn 18th century dance moves from costumed guides. The fireworks show begins at 8:45 p.m.
NOTE: Mount Vernon Celebrates Christmas Thru January 6, 2017
Chinese Lantern Festival
Journey "Into the Wild" to experience the ancient art of Chinese Lantern in the form of illuminated animals from around the world.This nighttime spectacle of light also features folk art, a martial arts center and more at Roers Zoofari in Vienna VA.
- 1228 Hunter Mill Rd Vienna, VA 22182
- open every night thru Jan. 15th,
- tickets are $12.50 – $22 (children have reduced prices)
- Order tickets here
See how authentic Chinese lanterns are used to light up the night in the form of animals from around the world, including; Africa, Antarctica, Asia, America and more. There will also be authentic Chinese entertainment and multicultural shows. Click here to see more!
HOLIDAY LIGHT SHOWS
Meadowlark Walk of Lights
The spectacular Meadowlark Walk of Lights takes you on a lighted trail through a holiday fantasy land from thru January 8. The walk of lights runs daily from 5:30 to 10 p.m. (last tickets sold at 9:30 p.m.).
- Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, now thru Jan. 8
- Tickets are $6-$13 Click here to buy advance tickets
- Kids and grandkids can write - and send - letters to Santa in the visitor's center
- First responders, military and teacher appreciation nights reduce the cost of attendance - See here for more January Dates
This annual event offers displays like: Lakeside Lights, the Fountain of Lights, and the Holiday Nature Walk. Complement your experience with light-up jewelry, hats, wands, and wings that you can buy in the Snowflake Shoppe. End your evening with a spell by the fire roasting marshmallows, and sipping on hot beverages.
Bull Run Festival of Lights
Regular travelers along I66 past Bull Run Park are familiar with the display of lights that begin assembly some time around Halloween. The Bull Run Festival of Lights is a Northern Virginia tradition and is open every night thru January 8, 2017.
Did you know that there is more to see besides lights that wind along the 2 1/2 mile car path?
The Holiday Village has fun activities including free children's activities, a bonfire, s'mores and camel rides. Yes, camel rides!
- Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Virginia
- 2 1/2 miles of displays
- $15-$25 per car depending on day of visit (see entrance fees here)
- The Village also has holiday cookie decorating, bingo, crafts, bingo, or a visit with the NOVA Parks naturalist and his wild friends!
- The Carnival rides and Holiday Village run thru January 1
Christmas at Mount Vernon gives visitors a taste for what it was like during Christmas at Mount Vernon Estates and Gardens. There's so much to enjoy at this beautiful, historic home, including:
- See chocolate making demonstrations over an open fire.
- Tour the third floor of the Mansion where Lady Washington lived after President Washington died. The third floor is only open during "Christmas at Mount Vernon."
- Meet Lady Washington
- George Washington’s Christmas Camel! Washington was fond of unusual animals and plants a camel at Mount Vernon for his guests during Christmas.
- Try your hand - and feet - at the Virginia reel
All programs are included in general admission: $15/adult; $7/child, free for children 5 and younger. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including Christmas and New Years. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Outdoor ice skating in Northern Virginia is a winter tradition for families, girl's night out, date nights, etc. Northern Virginia has four wonderful locations to hit the ice outside: Hitting the rink is one of winter's greatest outdoor activities.All of the rinks offer lessons and skate rentals. Click the links below to see hours and prices at these Northern Virginia outdoor skating rinks
- Old Town Manassas's Harris Pavillion
- Pentagon Row Outdoor Outdoor Ice Skating
- Tysons Corner Center Plaza Rink
- Reston Town Center Pavilion Ice Rink
Santa Photo Op for Your Pet
Make plans now for exciting Northern Virginia holiday activities 2016 - and don't forget to include your dog, cat or other pet. This Saturday, December 17, 2016, Santa sits for photos at participating Petco stores. Click here for details!
- Saturday, 12/17 1 - 4 pm
- Cost $9.95 for a photo of you and your pet (or just your pet!)
- 100% of the proceeds benefit the Petco Foundation's All For Holiday Homes campaign.
- "Five million pets adopted and counting—but together, we can do more."
New Year's Eve Events in Alexandria, Falls Church, Warrenton and Across Northern Virginia
Northern Virginians love a New Year's celebrations. Many communities have rolled out First Night events, performances and activities. We can't list them all here, but have spotlighted a few.
Party in Chantilly: The Bellevue Conference & Event Center hosts A GREAT GATSBY NEW YEAR'S EVE 2017 WITH DJ PAULY D
Concert in Falls Church: The Legwarmers at the State Theater (click here for details)
First Night Falls Church: Big Night in The Little City of Falls Church is held downtown in a four block area that begins at West Broad Street. Businesses, churches, and organizations donate their space from 7 pm up until midnight. The organizers promise:
- Live music - 9 live bands and more musicians
- Interactive amusements and activities
- Inflatables for all ages
- Street artists, including a caricaturist, balloon artist, puppet shows and more.
Wondering how to get to First Night Falls Church? There's a free Shuttle Bus every 30 minutes from East Falls Church Metro Station to all venues, that runs from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.
First Night Warrenton: For an admittance fee, enjoy music, arts and more outdoors and 16 indoor locations in Old Town Warrenton Organizers invite you to attend from 7pm until the Grand Illumination at the Fauquier Courthouse at 11:45 pm.