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The Best Places To See The Holiday Lights in Metro DC

The Holidays have arrived in Metro DC!

Not only do we love this time of year, but we love seeing all of the gorgeous lights and decorations around town. Whether you're just visiting or have lived here for your entire life, there are a few holiday displays that you must see to get you in the holiday spirit! (and a special thanks to for all of this information!)

1. The National Christmas Tree

The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it's surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season. The display is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m. This year's lighting ceremony takes place on Dec. 5.

2. ZooLights

Indulge your wild side with an after-hours visit to the National Zoo during ZooLights, which illuminates the zoo with more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light installations, live music and more. Bid good cheer to various animals on display. ZooLights runs Nov. 29 – Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31). If heady craft brews would make your incandescent wonderland complete, mark your calendar for BrewLights on Dec. 12.

3. Enchant at Nationals Park

Enchant Christmas is a beloved light maze, billed as the biggest in the world, that will make its home in DC for the first time at the gorgeous Nationals Park from Nov. 22 – Dec. 29. Throughout the holiday season, there will also be ice skating trails and a large holiday market offering products from more than 60 vendors, including local businesses and international brands. Expect plenty of Instagram-friendly settings and holiday spirit at this one-of-a-kind festival. Use promo code "VISITDC" to get 10% off when you buy tickets.

4. Downtown Holiday Market

Thanks to a rotating cast of crafters and vendors, hot coffee and sweets and holiday performances, this magical marketplace is worth multiple trips. Located at 8th and F Streets NW, the market holds down the area in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. At night, its bright lights bring Penn Quarter to life, providing a holiday spark to the neighborhood. But don’t worry, you can shop during the day too: The holiday market is open daily 12-8 p.m. from now until Dec. 23.

5. Georgetown GLOW

This stroll through DC’s most historic neighborhood will certainly make you light up as you pass by unique, illuminated artworks. Georgetown GLOW has proven to be such a hit that it’s now a month-long celebration (Dec. 6 – Jan. 5 from 5-10 p.m.). A group of artists, from locally renowned to internationally celebrated, will display works in outdoor spaces throughout the neighborhood. Afterward, wander through a winter wonderland at The Washington Harbour, one of our favorite places to ice skate in the District.

6. U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree

This year’s tree, which will come from the Carson National Forest in New Mexico, will go aglow in DC in late November. You can visit the tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Follow the tree’s Facebook and Twitter for the latest news and updates, including a tracker of its tour across the U.S.

7. CityCenterDC

Walk under Palmer Alley’s signature stringed lights, stop by Centrolina and carbo-load on kinds of pasta made in-house, gorge on a holiday feast and shop to your heart’s content, all at this luxury shopping and restaurant destination. Fashion-themed ice sculptures, live music, and warm drinks can be found throughout CityCenterDC during the holiday season. Make sure to visit the CityCenter's signature 25-foot reindeer.

8. Union Station

Union Station is like its own self-contained holiday oasis. The shops are no secret, and you’ll find plenty of gift ideas there – even for edibles (read: Shake Shack gift card). And don’t disappear without glimpsing the holiday model train display and the Norwegian Christmas tree.

9.  District's Holiday Boat Parade

Each year, dozens of dazzling boats traverse the Potomac River from the waterfront in Alexandria, Va. to The Wharf. You can observe free of charge, and there are even holiday festivities on both sides of the river to enjoy beforehand for this year's parade on Dec. 7. Prizes will be awarded to the most beautiful vessels, which begin their journey at 6 p.m., and fireworks will cap off the parade at 8 p.m.

10. National Menorah

Attend the lighting ceremony of the National Menorah on Dec. 22 at 4 p.m. on the White House Ellipse and enjoy live tunes, latkes and hot donuts. The event is free but tickets are required. You can also visit the menorah for the duration of Chanukah.

11. National Harbor

An action-packed holiday schedule is the norm at National Harbor, a shopping, dining and amusement park-like landmark located just 20 minutes south of DC. Step inside the Gaylord National Resort for ICE! (Nov. 15 – Dec. 30), an indoor winter wonderland featuring two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, ice slides, a live carving area and a retelling of Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Since you’re at National Harbor, you’ll also want to view the tree from atop the Capital Wheel.

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