Christmas Light Tours in Washington, DC


Enjoying the many Christmas light displays in the Washington DC area is a treat for adults and children alike. Seasonal festivities are often incorporated into these events. Opportunities to meet with Santa Claus, see a live reindeer or shop for special Christmas presents are all part of the fun when you take the family to enjoy these classic District of Columbia area Christmas holiday celebrations. Many of these events take place in the surrounding states of Maryland and Virginia, but all are within a 30 minute drive of most areas of the capital.

National Christmas Tree and the Pageant of Peace

  • This tradition was begun in 1923. In 1954 a Pathways of Peace display was added by planting 56 small trees-one for each of the 50 states and the five US territories plus a District of Columbia. These are decorated for the holidays each year. This event is held in the Ellipse area in front of the Capitol building and open to the public .

    The National Christmas tree lighting ceremony is only available to ticket holders and are distributed via an online lottery, the dates of which are yet to be announced for the 2010 festivities.

Zoo Lights

  • This Smithsonian National Zoological Park decorates its grounds each year with environmentally-friendly LED Christmas lights that feature fascinating animations and whimsical themes. Located at 3001 Connecticut Avenue NW, the park will be opened Friday through Sunday evenings from 6 to 8:30 PM from Dec. 3rd to the 12th, 2010, and then again from Dec. 17 2010 until Jan. 2, 2011. Highlights include decorations of the Giant Panda Habitat, the Great Ape House, the Reptile Discovery Center and the Small Mammal House, all of which are open late for the festivities.

Drive-Through Christmas Light Displays

  • In Columbia, Maryland, the Symphony Of Lights provides a free drive-through display at the Merriweather Post Pavilion with more than 75 stationary and animated Christmas light decorations. This display will run from Nov. 22, 2010 until Jan. 2, 2011 and is open seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. On Christmas Eve, the display closes to traffic and is available only for pedestrians.

    Also in Maryland, the 50-acre Brookside Gardens in Wheaton host an extravagant drive-through Christmas lights festival that requires tickets for entrance. These are available for advanced purchase for $20 each or at the gate for $25, with an additional charge for vans and buses. The light show opens on Friday, Nov. 26, 2010 and is open each night except Christmas Eve and Christmas until Jan. 3, 2011, when it closes until Jan. 6, 2011 when it reopens for four more days. Gates open at 5:30 p.m., the last cars are admitted at 8:30 and gates close at 9 p.m..

Christmas Light Displays on the Water

  • Each year, the Annapolis Boat Harbor embraces the Christmas spirit as the members of the Eastport Yacht Club decorate their boats to participate in the Parade of Lights from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 12, 2010.

    Another favorite annual water Christmas event is the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade Of Lights, held in the Alexandria Marina. The floating festivity includes a visit by Santa Claus via boat to the children along the docks and Santa poses for photographs against the beautiful backdrop of the illuminated boats. The 2010 event begins Dec. 4 at 4 p.m. with activities followed by the parade between 6 and 7 p.m.

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  • Photo Credit christmas lawn display image by Micah Jared from Rennes image by albillottet from leuchten, image by Harald Soehngen from
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