Happy Holidays from The Playful Parent! Here’s a spectacular list of Holiday Festivals and Lights Displays for the Southern Maryland Family.
17TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY BOAT PARADE OF LIGHTS
Date: December 3 at 5:30 p.m.
Place: Old Town Alexandria waterfront, 105 N Union Street, Alexandria, VA
Information: On the first Saturday of December, at sundown on the day of the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. The boats are always dressed to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box, and Hardiest Souls. Tommy McFly of 94.7 Fresh FM is the parade announcer. http://www.visitalexandriava.com/event/17th-annual-alexandria-holiday-boat-parade-of-lights/10025/
39TH ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AT THE MORMON TEMPLE
Date: December 1-January 1
Place: Washington, D.C., Temple, 9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland
Information: The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. Beginning December 1st, the Festival features free performances nightly in the comfortable, state-of-the-art theater located in the Visitors’ Center. A different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and more! Each performance is presented twice nightly.
ANNMARIE GARDENS IN LIGHTS
Date: Dec. 2-Jan. 1. Closed Dec. 5-7, 12, 13, 24 and 25.
Place: Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Solomons
Price: $6 for ages 5 and over, free for kids younger than 5.
Information: Walk through the wooded path and enjoy lighted vignettes of famous people, places and works of art. Look for hidden treasures in the trees and green shamrocks in each vignette. 6-9pm. www.annmariegarden.org
BROOKESIDE GARDENS GARDEN OF LIGHTS
Date: November 25-January 1 (Closed Dec. 24 and 25)
Place: Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Ave., Wheaton, Maryland
Price: $25 per vehicle Sun.-Thurs.; $30 per vehicle Fri.-Sat.
Information: walk thru this beautiful display of holiday lights that features more than a million colorful lights. Following your walk among the lights, warm up inside the Conservatory and enjoy a colorful display of holiday poinsettias, flowering plants and evergreens. http://www.montgomeryparks.org/parks-and-trails/brookside-gardens/garden-of-lights/
Date: Saturday, December 3, NOON -6 p.m.
Place: St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leoardtown
Information: The wonderful, candylicious board game that we played as kids and the one we still play with our kids will come to life in a live-action board game and kids of all ages can join in the fun! Candyland and all the characters are coming to St. Mary’s County fairgrounds! Fun for all ages! Pictures with Santa will be available for purchase. Family friendly vendors with cash-and-carry items will be available. Have a snack at one of our food vendors.
CHRISTMAS DOLLS AND TRAINS EXHIBIT AT ST CLEMENTS
Date: December 1-January 2
Place: St. Clements Island Museum, 38370 Point Breeze Road, Coltons Point, MD
Information: Enjoy antique and collectible dolls, trains and toys in festive holiday displays. https://www.visitstmarysmd.com/events-entertainment/cal-listing-detail/christmas-doll-train-exhibit
CHRISTMAS ON THE POTOMAC
Date: November – January
Place: National Harbor
Information: Enjoy the region’s most beautiful Christmas decorations. With thousands of twinkling lights and a 55-foot tall Starlight Christmas tree suspended over our indoor garden atrium, you’ll be filled with holiday cheer. Extras such as: ICE display, train rides and Build A Bear have a fee. http://www.marriott.com/hotel-info/wasgn-gaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center/christmas-on-the-potomac/xyjvxiz/activities-and-events.mi
FAMILY PLANTATION CHRISTMAS
Date: Saturday, Dec. 3, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Place: Sotterley Plantation, Hollywood, MD
Information: This is a holiday favorite! Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen! Visit St. Nick and Mrs. Claus! Horse-drawn carriage rides! Live Seasonal Music! Craft Vendors & Petting Zoo! Fun Crafts & Activities for Children! Garden Greens from the Sotterley Garden Guild! Carol Sing! John Deere Toy Display! www.sotterley.org
HOSPICE FESTIVAL OF TREES -ST. MARYS
Date: Saturday, December 3, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Place: James Forrest Tech Center 24005 Pt. Lookout Rd. Leonardtown
Information: You are invited to participate in our Festival of Trees by sponsoring a tree, decorating a tree, participating as a vendor or come for the holiday fun! There will be entertainment, visits with Santa and holiday shopping!
KRIS KRINGLE CHRISTMAS MARKET
Date: December 9-10
Place: La Plata Fairgrounds, La Plata, MD
Price: $1 or free with canned good
Information: Modeled after the famous markets in Germany, this fourth annual two day event offers a lights display, hand made crafts, children’s activities, music and more. The official tree lighting and arrival of Santa will be on December 9th at 5PM. http://www.charlescountyfair.com/kriskringle.html
LIGHTS ON THE BAY
Date: November 19- January 5pm – 10pm (daily, including holidays)
Place: Sandy Point State Park
Price: $15 per car
Information: Head to Sandy Point State Park from November 19th to January 1st. Not only will you see Christmas lights, but 3D glasses are available to make your experience even more amazing. http://www.lightsonthebay.org/special-events/
NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING
Date: December 1
Place: The Ellipse
Price: Free/Tickets released via lottery
Information: This year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting on the White House Ellipse will feature Guest performances by Kelly Clarkson, Yolanda Adams, James Taylor and more. Tickets are required to attend; have no fear if you aren’t attending the ceremony live you can watch it on the Hallmark Channel on Dec. 5. As always the tree, decorations and trains setup will be on display around the Ellipse Throughout the holiday season. http://thenationaltree.org
NATIONAL MENORAH LIGHTING
Date: December 25 at 4 p.m.
Place: The Ellipse
Information: Celebrate the holidays with this years The National Chanukah Menorah Lighting on December 25th. The menorah sits on the White House Ellipse; tickets to the lighting ceremony are free. The annual ceremony features music from The Maccabees and the President’s Own United States Marine Band. https://nationalmenorah.org
NATIONAL HARBOR CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING-
Date: December 13th (Noon-7:30 PM)
Place:Waterfront Plaza – National Harbor
Information: Kick off the holiday Date: season with fireworks and the lighting of a 60ft Christmas tree decorated with 20,000 lights. The evening’s finale will be a spectacular light show featuring the lighting of the National Harbor Christmas Tree and fireworks.
12 p.m. Marine Band Performance
2 p.m. Holiday Movie Screening – Prancer – on the Plaza
3 p.m. Santa at The Black Dog
5 p.m. Santa at the Carousel
5:30 p.m. Radio King Orchestra Performance
6:30p.m. Tree Lighting Ceremony and Fireworks
For more information about Christmas on the Harbor: http://dc.about.com/od/christmasevents/a/NatHarborChris.htm
NORWEGIAN CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING UNION STATION
Date: November 30 at 6PM
Place: Great Hall at Union Station, 50 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, DC
Information: In a beloved DC area family tradition, Norway will present a Christmas tree to the people of Washington, in recognition of the strong friendship between the two nations. The tree symbolizes Norway’s gratitude for the United States’ assistance during and after World War II.
Expected to attend: Santa Claus — with gifts for the children in attendance. A choir will sing Christmas carols in both Norwegian and English. http://www.norway.org/News_and_events/Christmas/Christmas-Tree-Lighting-at-Union-Station/#.WDic1Uo8KK1
OLE TYME HOLIDAY GATHERING
Date: December 4, 2016, 3-6PM
Place: La Plata Town Hall
Information: Join for holiday fun, refreshments, activities and visit from Santa. http://townoflaplata.org/index.asp?SEC=EA822025-756F-4FFB-8884-6AA7BE148CB1&Type=B_BASIC
SIX FLAGS HOLIDAY IN THE PARK
Date: November 19- January 2
Place: 13710 Central Ave, Upper Marlboro, MD
Information: This dazzling, winter spectacular will make your holiday shine with more than a million glittering lights, holiday entertainment, delicious seasonal treats, visits with Santa and theme park rides! www.sixflags.com/america
SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS
Date: November 23-January 1; 5:30 PM-10PM
Place: Symphony Woods at Merriweather Park, Columbia, Maryland
Price: Wed.-Fri. and Sun. $20, Sat. $25 (cash only)
Information: The Symphony of Lights is a time-honored Howard County holiday tradition. This family-oriented spectacular is a dazzling display of more than 100 larger-than-life animated and stationary holiday light creations, made up of more than 250,000 bulbs. Proceeds from the event benefit Howard County General Hospital. Lots of new elements this year to include: new course design, new displays, 100% LED lighting, laser show. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/howard_county_general_hospital/ways_give/howard_hospital_foundation/foundation_events/symphony_of_lights
WINTER FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS AT WATKINS REGIONAL PARK
Date: November 25-January 1
Place: Watkins Regional Park, 301 Watkins Park Drive, Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Price: Tickets range from $5 per car or van to $30 per bus, see website for details.
Information: Join in celebrating the 30th anniversary of Watkins Park’s Winter Festival of Lights by driving thru a spectacular holiday display of more than one million lights and one of the tallest tree displays in Maryland. Participants are encouraged to bring a canned or nonperishable good to be donated to a local food bank.
Date: November 25 to January 1 (except Dec. 24 & 25)
Place: Smithsonian’s National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington DC
Price: Free admission
Information: Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland complete with a dazzling light show set to music! This year’s special nights include BrewLights on December 1, Military Night, December 2, Date Night December 8, member week December 3-10. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/events/zoolights