Washington DC Welcomes Visitors Home for the Holidays


Fantastic holiday shopping, beautiful lighting displays and world-class theatre await visitors to the nation’s capital this holiday season, along with exceptional hotel and restaurant values. The Washington, DC Convention & Tourism Corporation’s annual Holiday Homecoming promotion wraps up the season’s finest offerings in value-added hotel packages, available exclusively online at washington.org or by calling 1-800-422-8644.

The season kicks off Dec. 7 with the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, signaling the start of the Pageant of Peace. A festive crowd gathers near the White House Ellipse to watch the President and First Lady illuminate the glorious tree. The Pageant of Peace—a series of free holiday musical performances—continues nightly through Dec. 31. Members of Congress gather for a tree-lighting ceremony of their own at the U.S. Capitol, usually held a few days after the National Christmas Tree lighting. (Note to editors: Tickets are required to view the lighting ceremony.)

In cooperation with The Royal Norwegian Embassy, magnificent Union Station will also put on a spectacular holiday show with its annual Norwegian Christmas celebration. The beloved Union Station model train, complete with Norwegian fjords, mountains and towns, will become operational on Nov. 21 in the West Hall. On Nov. 28, lights will twinkle on Union Station’s acclaimed 30-foot Norwegian Christmas tree after a tree-lighting ceremony in the Main Hall. And a holiday bazaar will offer one-of-a-kind Norwegian gifts and samples of traditional seasonal flavors to holiday shoppers and travelers Dec. 1-2.

Ford’s Theatre’s presents the uplifting story of redemption found in A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas (Nov. 15 – Dec. 30), an adaption of the Charles Dickens classic that features the familiar faces of Mrs. Dilbert, Nephew Fred, the Fezziwigs, Tiny Tim and the Cratchit family, and the ghost of Bob Marley. An equally classic holiday work, Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 21-24) will be performed at the Kennedy Center by the National Symphony Orchestra and Cathedral Choral Society. And the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington presents MISTLETOE and MEMORIES, a musical exploration of holiday traditions, at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium (Dec. 2-3).

Washington, DC’s theatres have long been a popular destination for holiday travelers, and this year’s lineup of productions promises no exception. The Shakespeare Theatre Company will unveil an adaptation of The Beaux’ Strategem started by Thornton Wilder and completed by Ken Ludwig (Nov. 7 – Dec. 31). And the National Theatre is one of few stops for a touring production of Legends, starring Joan Collins and Linda Evans as aging, feuding movie stars (Nov. 21 – Dec. 3). The National Theatre also presents Movin’ Out, a Broadway Tony Award-winning musical starring Twyla Tharp and Billy Joel (Dec. 5-23). And at the Kennedy Center, Adam Guettel’s The Lights in the Piazza (Dec. 19 – Jan. 7) is on stage in the opulent Opera House.

The holiday season wouldn’t be complete without the Nutcracker—and Washington, DC offers it up in different styles. The Kennedy Center hosts the Joffrey Ballet for a traditional production Nov. 22-26. The Washington Ballet sets its production in 1890s Georgetown (performances run Dec. 1-24). The Momentum Dance Theatre updates the classic story, recruits a cast of talented local performers and presents it as the Jazz Hip-Hop Nutcracker (weekends of Dec. 9 & 16).

The holidays also offer visitors the chance to see attractions in the surrounding suburbs in a whole new light. George Washington’s Mount Vernon shows its colonial hospitality with special evening candlelight tours that showcase the Washingtons’ Christmas traditions. Tours are offered Nov. 24 through Dec. 10; tickets go on sale Nov. 1.

Historic Old Town Alexandria offers its own holiday celebrations. In a 19th century candlelight tour on Dec. 1, visitors stop in to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, the Carlyle House and Lee-Fendall House, where period music, seasonal decor and costumed guides await. During the annual Scottish Christmas Walk on Dec. 2, more than 100 tartan-clad Scottish clans serenade on-lookers with bagpipes, interspersed with dog clubs, antique cars and festive sites.

And for holiday shopping, there’s no place like Washington, DC. After Thanksgiving, the District kicks off the holiday shopping season with a Sales Tax Holiday, waiving sales tax on clothing, shoes and accessories priced at $100 or less. Shoppers flock to neighborhoods and landmarks like Georgetown, Logan Circle and Eastern Market for holiday open houses and unique shopping possibilities. For one of a kind gifts, look for special hours and discounts at the city’s museum gift shops.

Additional information about this year’s holiday events will be available in the coming weeks. Check washington.org for details.

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