Washington, D.C., has a lot to offer regardless of when you visit, but during the holidays, there’s even more to enjoy. For military personnel stationed in the D.C. area, this is the time of year to truly get out and enjoy the city.
Each year, visitors from across the country and around the globe flock to the nation’s capital to enjoy its one-of-a-kind holiday celebrations. Living in the area means you have the luxury of taking in several of these events at your leisure, and here are five you shouldn’t miss.
1. National Christmas Tree
Every year since 1923, crowds have gathered at the Ellipse near The White House to see the lighted Christmas tree, and today the 40-foot Colorado blue spruce is illuminated daily at dusk and remains lit until 10 p.m. In addition, 56 smaller Christmas trees, which represent all 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia, are lit as well, forming the Pathway of Peace. Each night in December, you can enjoy live music and dance performances while seeing one of the nation’s most amazing displays of Christmas trees.
2. ZooLights at the National Zoo
Through Jan. 1, the National Zoo’s free seasonal display of lights is more than just a bunch of twinkling bulbs. Thousands of lights create sculptures of popular animals, such as Asian elephants, giant pandas, a Komodo dragon, and more. There are also winter-themed activities like tubing and train rides, along with musical performances and a laser light show. Go on Military Night to get extra discounts on souvenirs, concessions, and parking.
3. Gaylord National Harbor ICE!
For a different kind of winter wonderland, visit the Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor, where you’ll step inside an incredible display made out of 5,000 blocks of ice. There is always a theme for this popular walk-through attraction — think Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Christmas Around the World, or Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. While you’re there, be sure to check out the other holiday festivities at the Gaylord, such as the indoor snowfall, ice skating, Christmas Village, and nightly tree lighting.
4. Holiday Shows
Make the most of the holidays in D.C. by taking in some of the live entertainment that you can only enjoy this time of year. From Charles Dickens’ classic, “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre to the fanciful holiday ballet, “The Nutcracker,” which is performed at different theaters throughout the D.C. area, there is no shortage of opportunities to see traditional holiday favorites brought to life. Or, if you’re looking for something entirely different, check out “The Santaland Diaries” at Drafthouse Comedy Theater.
5. National Chanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony
The ceremony for the lighting of the National Chanukah Menorah on the Ellipse includes musical performances and other activities. Thousands of people attend, and millions view it through video streams and newscasts. Each night, another candle is lit as part of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, and seeing this spectacular, 30-foot menorah light up is a celebration worth experiencing.
Wherever you are stationed, remember that CORT Furniture Rental can make your housing feel like home with a large selection of furniture and a program designed specifically for those who are in the military.