December 2018 events bring holiday parades, Christmas markets, tree lightings, and seasonal festivals to Northern Virginia for a month of holiday fun. You’ll also find miniature and model trains, interesting history at area parks, and beautiful fireworks to finish 2018 in style.
December 2018 Events in Northern Virginia
The annual Fun in Fairfax VA December listing is one of our longest event lists of the year. Annual holiday celebrations return to towns, cities, malls, and parks throughout the Northern Virginia region. Events are listed in order of start date. Please click the links for additional details and always check ahead for inclement weather closings. Many events are held rain or shine, while others close on especially rainy, windy, or chilly days.
Christmas in Middleburg, Middleburg, Nov 30 – Dec 2
The Christmas in Middleburg event has been held during the first weekend in December for over 100 years. The highlight of the festivities is the “Hunt and Hounds Review” featuring hounds trotting down the main Washington Street alongside mounted fox hunt riders. Other activities include a greens sale, craft fair, caroling, a holiday concert, a traditional parade with floats and food/wine/cider/spirits tasting throughout town. Follow link for schedule details. Rain or shine.
Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, Alexandria, Nov 30 – Dec 1
Old Town Alexandria hosts the annual Scottish Walk weekend. Festivities include tours of historic homes, a parade filled with hundreds of Scottish clansmen complete with bagpipes, the Torpedo Factory Holiday Festival, the Holiday Parade of Boats, and more holiday fun. The Scottish Walk Weekend is one of our 12 Holiday Favorites for seasonal fun in December 2018. Rain or Shine
City of Fairfax Holiday Market, Nov 30 – Dec 2, 7 – 9, 14 – 16
A new City of Fairfax holiday tradition returns for a second year. The Old Town holiday market returns during the first three weekends of December. Enjoy live holiday music, hot drinks, and gourmet treats and more as you shop for crafts and unique holiday gifts. Vendors will vary each weekend. Friday 5:00 – 8:00, Saturday 12:00 – 6:00, and Sunday 12:00 – 4:00. Dec 1 event now 3:00 – 6:00 due to rain forecast.
Del Ray Fine Art & Craft Holiday Market, Alexandria, Nov 30 – Dec 2, 7 – 9, 14 – 16
Del Ray Artisans’ annual Holiday Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from local artists, and features different artists each weekend. Choose from wall art, pottery, photography, jewelry, glass, and more. The market is open Fridays 6:00 – 9:00; weekends 11:00 – 6:00.
The Enchanted Forest, Westin Tysons, Dec 1 -2
The Enchanted Forest is a holiday festival featuring a wide variety of family events raising funds for the Junior League of Northern Virginia. Attractions include a beautiful ‘forest’ of 120 theme-decorated trees for silent auction, a gingerbread house workshop, arts and crafts, holiday shopping, children’s performances, photos with Santa, a model train set, and hands-on activities for kids. Follow the link for ticket and schedule details.
Looking for that perfect holiday gift? We’ve got fun gift ideas for friends and family who LoveVA:
Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, Audrey Moore Rec Ctr, Annandale, Dec 1 – 2
The annual show features over 120 area artisans plus door prizes throughout the day. You’ll find unique gifts for everyone including art, pottery, woodwork, quilts, and more at this juried show. Admission $2 (12 and under free). Saturday 9:00 – 4:00, Sunday 10:00 – 3:30.
Holiday Model Train Show, Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, Dec 1 – 2
The Annual Holiday Model Train Show features model trains of many sizes to delight train lovers of all ages. Even Santa himself drops in from time to time, and the “Train Doctor” is on hand to fix or advise on broken models. Gift Shop, snacks and drinks available. Admission is $5/$2 adults/children (members free). Saturday 10:00 – 6:00, Sunday 12:00 – 4:00.
Holiday House Tours, Sky Meadows State Park, Dec 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23
Enjoy the aroma of holiday treats cooking over the hearth, costumed interpreters will tell stories of holidays past, and you’ll enjoy the sounds of the season from music in Mount Bleak House. Visit each of the houses in the park’s Historic Area and discover how the people who called Sky Meadows “home” celebrated the holidays in the past. $5.00 parking; 11:00 – 5:00
Celebration Station and Winter Wonderland, Burke Lake Park, Dec 1-2, 8-9
When the sun goes down the lights go on. Burke Lake’s train station magically transforms into the Celebration Station on select nights this holiday season. The park’s train station, carousel and train tracks will be festively lit for a unique experience filled with lights and memories. Train rides are scheduled every 20 minutes and $10 tickets must be purchased in advance. 5:30 – 9:30
Visit during daytime to enjoy the Winter Wonderland. Take a train ride on the Holiday Express, take a spin on the Carolers Carousel, experience the Snowman’s Wagon Ride, play Gingerbread Man Golf, or warm yourself by the fire and cook s’mores. Visit with Santa, enjoy hot chocolate and candy canes.. Passes are $15 until day before event, $20 day of event. Follow the link to register; limited tickets available at the park on day of event. 10:00 – 4:00.
Both events are cancelled Dec 1 due to weather forecast.
Starlight Express, Lake Fairfax Park, Dec 1, 7-8, 14-15
The Campground at Lake Fairfax Park is transformed into a magical winter light show for you and your family. Enjoy a wagon ride through the festive holiday lights. Afterward, warm yourself by the fire, sip on hot chocolate and make s’mores. Rides are every 20 minutes from 5 to 8:40 pm and advanced registration is required. $10 per person.
Event cancelled Dec 1 due to weather forecast.
11th Annual Christkindlmarkt, Lovettsville, Dec 1 – 2
Shop for authentic Bavarian goods and treats from over 25 crafters and vendors while you enjoy live music and tasty German food. Visit with St. Nicholas, along with Krampus, the Woodsman, and the Christkindl Angel. Free admission. 10:00 – 6:00 Saturday, 10:00 – 5:00 Sunday.
Jingle on Lake Anne, Reston, Dec 1
Jingle on Lake Anne, is an annual holiday celebration for kids at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston. It includes a petting zoo, crafts, caroling, and a tree lighting, and the highlight every year—Santa’s thrilling arrival by boat. Be sure to stop in the Community Center to shop local at the annual Gifts from the HeART. Craft market begins at 8:00 AM; follow link for full schedule. Rain or Shine.
Manassas Christmas Parade, Dec 1
This annual Manassas Christmas event is one of the largest holiday parades in Northern Virginia. Enjoy over 100 units-marching bands, floats, high-flying balloons, and more. Free; 10:00 – 12:30.
Clifton Holiday House Tour and Horse Parade, Clifton, Dec 1
Charming Clinton sparkles with spirit at the annual Holiday Horse Parade and costume judging. After the parade, join in caroling at the park then tour homes decorated for the holidays. Free parade begins at noon. Holiday homes tour is $25/$30 advance/day of event; 4:00 – 7:00. May be cancelled due to inclement weather.
Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long, Vienna, Dec 1
One of our favorite family events of the season is the holiday sing-a-long at Wolf Trap, featuring the U. S. Marine Band and other vocal groups. The free event begins at 4:00, but arrive early as parking fills up. Bring an unwrapped toy to donate, a bell for the jingle bell sing-a-long, and a candle for the closing candlelight procession during the last verse of Silent Night. Free; 4:00. Rain or Shine.
Del Ray Holiday Season Kickoff, Alexandria, Dec 1
Live entertainment, a holiday sing-along, a visit with Santa, and thousands of luminaria add even more sparkle to the annual Christmas tree lighting in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. Free; 6:00 pm.
Haymarket’s Holiday Celebration, Haymarket, Dec 1
Enjoy hot cocoa, cider, and A Taste of Haymarket. Listen to carols and live musical performances as you roast marshmallows over a bonfire in front of Town Hall. The Town Museum stays open all day with a holiday-themed exhibit, and the tree is lit at dusk. Free; 3:00 – 6:00. Rain or Shine.
Children’s Holiday Shopping, Frying Pan Park, Dec 1
Children 3 to 14 can do their own gift shopping with the help of volunteers. The Country Store stocks many unique items in all price ranges. Free wrapping assures surprises for family and friends. $5; sessions on the half hour 10:00 – 1:30.
Christmastide at Gunston Hall, Mason Neck, Dec 1
Experience George Mason’s simple, unadorned Christmas in the 1780s, and Mr. Hertle’s glittering festivities in the 1920s at historic Gunston Hall. Enjoy period music, holiday craft activities, 18th-century style fare, a Christmas carol sing-along, and a visit with Santa. $15/$10 adults/kids; 10:00 – 7:00.
Herndon Holiday Arts & Crafts Show, Herndon, Dec 2
Browse over 80 vendors for unique gifts, holiday decorations, fine art, jewelry, and homemade items at the Herndon Community Center. Free admission and parking. 10:00 – 4:00.
Celebration of Lights, Great Falls, Dec 2
Celebrate the season at the annual Christmas tree lighting, featuring hot cider and cocoa next to the fire, local children’s choral groups singing seasonal music, a petting zoo and pony rides, and Mr. and Mrs. Claus arriving by antique fire truck. Free; 3:45 – 6:30.
Chanukah Bowl and Gelt Drop, Sterling, Dec 2
Join in a fun-filled evening at the Chanukah Bowling party. Enjoy special Bowling Ball Menorah Lighting with a surprise guest, an incredible chocolate gelt drop from high atop a firetruck ladder, Chanukah treats,, and more. Admission is free; $13 to bowl; no membership or affiliation required. 4:00 – 6:00.
Chanukah Celebration, Mosaic District, Dec 5
Celebrate the miracle of Chanukah with the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia with songs, kids activities and complimentary kosher treats. Free, 5:30 – 8:00.
Christkindlmarket, Reston, Dec 6
The German Military in Reston transforms its parking lot into a traditional German Christmas Market with German food and beverages, arts and crafts, and mulled wine. All proceeds go to local charities, and traditional music adds to the fun. The event gets very busy, so arrive early if you can. Free; 4:00 – 9:00.
Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park, Dec 7 – 8, 14-15, 21-22
Leesburg Animal Park in Loudoun celebrates December weekends with a nativity scene with live animals, pony rides, animal encounters, pictures with your furry friends, holiday crafts, a bonfire, holiday lights and more. $9.95, free two and under. 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Norwegian Holiday Festival and Bazaar, Fairfax Dec 7 – 8
Enjoy two days of live music, dancing, and cooking demonstrations, as you sample imported foods and baked goods at the annual Norwegian festival. Shop for Nordic sweaters, crafts, books, and more. Friday, 10:00 – 6:00 and Saturday 9:00 – 4:00. Free admission.
Santa at the Mill at Colvin Run Mill, Dec 8
Visit Santa and see the Victorian-themed Christmas tree in the mill. Outside, join in caroling and roast marshmallows around a bonfire. The fee also includes a family craft activity. $5; 3:00 – 6:00.
Occoquan Winterfest, Historic Occoquan, Dec 8
Visit Historic Occoquan during WinterFest and enjoy strolling carolers, musicians, fire pits, historic demonstrations, and a fire truck. Stores will stay open late for holiday shoppers and visitors can watch a festive fireworks display around 8:00, from the riverfront in town or from Occoquan Regional Park. At the Workhouse Arts Center, enjoy the Second Saturday Art Walk featuring refreshments in the Holiday Lounge, fire pits for s’mores, and caroling from 6:00 – 9:00. Winterfest is free, fees for some activities; noon – 9:00.
Christmas at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Dec 8 + 11
On Christmas Family Days, a very magical Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to visit with little ones, along with activities to keep the young ones busy while they wait in line. Free; 2:00 – 4:00 (must be in line by 3:30).
Civil War Christmas, Leesylvania State Park, Dec 8
Enjoy a Civil War Christmas at Leesylvania State Park with period music, costumed interpreters and refreshments. Make decorations as folks did during the Civil War and take pictures with Civil War era Santa. $2/$6 per person/family; 10:00 to 4:00.
Civil War Christmas in Camp, Fort Ward, Alexandria, Dec 8
This interpretive holiday event features a Union patriotic Santa Claus, soldiers in winter camps, and a Victorian tree in the Museum. Visit the Officers’ Hut decorated for the season, and tour the historic fort with a soldier. Children can make a period holiday card or ornament. Free; 12:00 – 4:00.
Christmas in the Country, Claude Moore Colonial Farm, McLean Dec 9
Welcome winter hibernation 18th century style at Claude Moore Regional Park. Enjoy colonial music, dancing, games, singing, and merrymaking. Hot spiced apple cider and ginger cookies will be available for you to try. $5/$3 adults/children 5 and up and Seniors; 1:00 – 4:00.
Chanukah on Ice, Reston Town Center, Dec 9
Ice-skate to lively Chanukah music with family and friends. Enjoy a Grand Menorah lighting, hot latkes and donuts, and Dreidels and Chocolate Gelt for all. Free admission; $12 skating fee. 4:30 – 6:00.
Christmas Illumination at Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Dec 14 – 15
Join Mount Vernon for an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment in winter encampment, and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides in the Greenhouse. $35/$25 adult/youth with mansion tour; 5:30 – 8:45
Wreaths Across America, Arlington National Cemetery, Dec 15
Join other volunteers in laying wreaths on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. There is no sign-up required, and there is no age limit—simply show up if you would like to participate. Gates open to volunteers at 8:30 am but screening begins at 7:00; wreath-laying begins at 9:15 am.
Many events and businesses close on Christmas Day, but we’ve rounded up plenty of fun in Washington DC. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, where you can tour the mansion and visit Aladdin the Christmas Camel, is also open on Christmas Day.
Waterskiing Santa, Alexandria, Dec 24
Gather at Alexandria’s Potomac River waterfront for a spectacular show by the Waterskiing Santa and his wakeboarding reindeer, plus flying elves, the Grinch and his friends, Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost. Free; 1:00 (pre-show at 12:45).
Winter Holiday Movies, Mosaic District, Fairfax, Dec 24 – 25
Bundle up and celebrate the season at the big screen in Strawberry Park. Enjoy holiday favorites Shrek the Halls (12/24) and Elf (12/25). Free; 2:00 – 4:00.
Fairfax Four Miler, Fairfax, Dec 31
Pacers hosts the annual Fairfax Four Miler, an evening running race to celebrate the new year. The race is four miles long and runs through Old Town, Fairfax, and George Mason University, and includes a post-race pizza party. December registration starts at $43 and the race begins at 6:00.
New Year’s Eve at First Night Alexandria, Alexandria, Dec 31
First Night Alexandria transforms Old Town into a big New Year’s Eve celebration with more than 100 live performances at 22 indoor venues and a fireworks display over the river at midnight. Your First Night badge lets you in to all the venues which include art galleries, historic sites, churches and even retail shops leading up to midnight fireworks. 7:00 – midnight.
Watch Night, Falls Church, Dec 31
Watch Night spans a four block area of downtown Falls Church that is closed to traffic and open to fun. The free event features live bands and more musicians, interactive amusements and activities, inflatables for all ages, caricaturist, balloon artist, puppet shows and more. Free hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies and cider at various venues during this family-friendly celebration. Ring in the New Year with the lowering of the Historic Star (the City’s first holiday decoration from 1948) at midnight. Free; historic tours begin at 6:00, rides and amusements 7:00 – midnight.
Plan a First Day Hike, Virginia State Parks
On January 1st, America’s State Parks will host special events and guided hikes to kick off the new year with healthy, family-friendly activities. Join in the fun at Virginia First Day Hikes, offering free entry to all Virginia State Parks, special programs, and a photo competition with some nice prizes.
Ongoing and Road Trip Worthy December 2018 Events
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 9 – Jan 6
Over 500,000 lights and displays on a .6 mile outdoor walking trail plus s’mores and hot chocolate by the fire and holiday Snowflake Shoppe. Tickets $8 – $16 depending on age and time; nightly including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00.
LightUp Fest at One Loudoun, Ashburn, Nov 8 – Jan 2
New in 2018, bring the family to One Loudoun for a giant Lights & Lantern Show combined with delectable food and acrobatics performances. The artistry and beauty of the lantern creations are incredible. Tickets are $19.99/$24.99/$29.99 youth 3 – 12/Students and Seniors/Adults with family packages available. 5:30 – 10:30 nightly including major holidays.
Christmas on the Potomac with ICE!, National Harbor, Nov 16 – Jan 1
More than 2 million twinkling lights, nightly snowfall, and beautiful dancing fountains at Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac. ICE! returns with 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and 5 ice slides plus a new skating rink, Christmas show, and adorable Rudolph theme. Follow the link for ticket prices and hours, and consider turning your visit into a National Harbor weekend getaway.
Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 21 – Jan 6
A dazzling 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. In December 2018, the drive ends at a Holiday Village with rides, merchandise, and activities. Weekday/weekend admission is $20/25 per car. 5:30 – 9:30 weekdays, -10:00 weekends.
Christmas at Mount Vernon, Nov 23 – Dec 31
Tour the grounds and the Mansion, including the third floor which is only open during the Christmas season. You can also tour Mount Vernon by Candlelight, weekends, November 23 – December 16. Follow the link for details and to purchase timed entry tickets.
GardenFest of Lights, Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden, Richmond, Nov 23 – Jan 7
Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden sparkles with more than half-a-million twinkling lights. See hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, firepit with s’mores and hot chocolate (for purchase), nightly family activities, and more. $13/11/8 for adults/seniors/children. 5:00 – 10:00 pm nightly.
Extend your holiday fun with aWeekend Getaway to Richmond Virginia.
Holiday Tuba Carol Fest, Gettysburg, Dec 14
The Holiday Tuba Carol Fest is an annual gathering of musicians in historic Lincoln Square playing carols around the Christmas tree. The Tuba Fest is just one of the ways to enjoy Christmas fun on a holiday visit to Gettysburg. Musicians from elementary schoolers to seniors play tubas and instruments in the same family (euphonium, baritone, and sousaphone) while visitors sing along. After the show, explore the downtown shops and restaurants, or stay overnight and visit Gettysburg’s historic sites too. Gettysburg is also a fun foodie destination, perfect for a weekend getaway from the Washington DC region.
Fill your month with sparkly lights, from professional displays to private homes and neighborhoods decked out for the holidays. December 2018 is the perfect time to check out decorated houses and neighborhood displays.
Historic Homes of Virginia, Multiple Locations and Dates
Most historic homes of Virginia offer seasonal tours of the homes decorated in period style. Northern Virginia homes with holiday tours include Carlyle House, Morven Park, Mount Vernon, and Oatlands. Follow the link to find an historic home near you.
Visit with Santa for that magical holiday picture, and enjoy kid-friendly activities at area malls.
Whatever December 2018 events you choose to attend, we wish you a happy and fun-filled month!
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