2021 December Events in Northern Virginia and DC Holiday Fun

2021 December events bring holiday lights, festive photos, Christmas markets, and sparkly displays to Northern Virginia for a month of holiday fun. You'll also find special outdoor activities at area parks and historic sites along with beautiful fireworks to finish the year in style.

Most of our favorite holiday festivals are back in 2021, though a few are still canceled. Read on for a whole host of ways to celebrate the season with December events in Northern Virginia.

2021 December 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.

December events are listed below in order of start date with multi-day events listed first. At the end, we list annual events that are canceled this year. We look forward to their return in 2022.

Please click the links for additional details and to purchase tickets. 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.

Holiday Lights on the Farm, Frying Pan Farm Park, Nov 26 – Dec 19 weekends

Stay cozy in your car while you enjoy a dazzling drive through the fields at Frying Pan Farm Park. Thousands of lights and colorful characters will decorate a mile-long route through the park. Drive your vehicle or book a private group wagon tour for up to 20 people. $20 per vehicle up to 15 passengers; $50 per tractor group. Register for your 30-minute drive time at the link. 5:30 – 8:30

Find more 2021 Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia DC Area

Christmas in Middleburg, Middleburg, Dec 3 – 4

Christmas in Middleburg, one of 12 holiday favorites from Northern Virginia experts that honor the season with festive parades, unique celebrations, light displays, and visits with Santa.. photo Middleburg Eccentric
Christmas in Middleburg, photo credit: Middleburg Eccentric

For over 100 years, Christmas in Middleburg festivities have been held during the first weekend in December. The highlight of the day is the “Hunt and Hounds Review,” as hounds trot 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 the town. Follow the link for schedule details. Rain or shine.

Read more: 12 Holiday Favorites and Festivals from Northern Virginia Experts

Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, Alexandria, Dec 3 – 4

Old Town Alexandria celebrates the season with 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. The parade kicks off at 11:00; follow the link for schedule details. Rain or shine.

City of Fairfax Holiday Market, Fairfax, Dec 3 – 5, 10 – 12

A City of Fairfax holiday tradition returns for the fourth year. The Old Town holiday market is held during the first two weekends of December. Shop local for crafts, gourmet treats, and unique holiday gifts. Vendors will vary each weekend. Free; Friday 5:00 – 8:00, Saturday 12:00 – 6:00, and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00.

Check out more Fun Holiday Markets in Northern Virginia and the DC Region.

Holidays Through the Ages, Rippon Lodge, Weekends, Dec 3 – 20

Stroll through seasonal celebrations from the past at Rippon Lodge Historic Site. The historic home is decorated inside and out for season festivities from different times and cultures. $5 per person; reservations required. Hourly tours Friday through Sunday, 11:00 – 3:00.

Visit on December 11 when Santa comes to Rippon Lodge. Or tour at night during Holiday Evenings at Rippon Lodge when holiday lights sparkle in the house and on the grounds. $10 per person.

Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park, Dec 3 – 23

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.

Norwegian Holiday Festival and Bazaar, Fairfax, Dec 3 – 4

Enjoy two days of shopping for imported foods, baked goods, and merchandise at the annual Norwegian festival. Shop for Nordic sweaters, crafts, books, and more. Follow the link to reserve your shopping time as capacity is limited. 11:00 – 4:00. Free admission.

Holidays in Leesburg, Dec 3 – 5

Celebrate the holidays at three special December events in Leesburg.

Find the perfect holiday gift: Virginia gift ideas for friends and family who LoveVA.

Occoquan HolidayFest, Occoquan, Dec 4 – 5, 11

This three-week festival is a fun way to celebrate the season in lovely historic Occoquan. The festival will feature a town tree lighting, holiday market, s'mores & cocoa, raffle prizes, seasonal workshops, and more. On 12/4-5, River Mill Park hosts a Holiday Market and a staged reading of A Christmas Carol on Dec 11.

Christmas Parade, Manassas, Dec 4

Celebrate the season at the 75th annual Manassas Christmas Parade featuring giant balloons, bands, and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Extend your fun with shopping and ice skating in Old Town. Free; 10:00 – noon.

Find more tree lighting ceremonies in Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC Area

Jingle on Lake Anne, Reston, Dec 4

Jingle on Lake Anne, photo by Charlotte Geary Photography
Jingle on Lake Anne, photo by Charlotte Geary Photography

Head to Lake Anne Plaza in Reston for Jingle on Lake Anne, an annual holiday celebration for kids and families. Come early to hear holiday music, participate in activities, and see the plaza decorated for the holidays.

Santa arrives by boat at noon escorted by a fleet of elves on SUPs. Be sure to stop in the Community Center to shop local at the annual Gifts from the HeART from 11:00 – 4:00. Free; rain or shine. Other events 10:00 – 2:00.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long, Vienna, Dec 4 + 18

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. This year the free event is streaming online so you can join in the sing-a-long from home. There are two different performances on two nights so why not join them both.

Holiday Tree Lighting, One Loudoun, Dec 4

The 9th annual Holiday Tree Lighting at One Loudoun includes Santa photos, train rides, ice carving demonstrations. Free; 5:00 – 7:00.

Festival of Lights and Carols, Fairfax, Dec 4

Watch the lighting of the Christmas tree in Old Town Fairfax and listen to holiday music from the comfort of home. Free; noon – 6:00.

Herndon Holiday Arts & Crafts Show, Herndon, Dec 5

Over 90 artisans and craftspeople will exhibit and sell their work at this annual arts and crafts show. A variety of handcrafted items and fine art will be on sale including wreaths, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, and homemade items at the Herndon Community Center. Free admission and parking. 10:00 – 4:00.

Holiday Fest, Walker Nature Center, Reston, Dec 5

Enjoy fun on the woodland trail and see the Nature House decorated for the holidays. See the mascots, search for hidden gnomes, and enjoy the storybook trail. Sip hot cider, listen to live holiday music and take home a bag of treats. $7/$9 RA member/non-member, registration required. 1:00 – 4:00

Celebration of Lights, Great Falls, Dec 5

Celebrate the season at the annual Christmas tree lighting, featuring hot cider and cocoa next to the fire, local children’s choral groups sing seasonal music. Kids can enjoy the petting zoo and pony rides until Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive by an antique fire truck. Free; 5:00 – 7:00.

Chanukah Celebration and Menorah Lighting, Mosaic District, Dec 5

Head to Mosaic District's Strawberry Park to celebrate Chanukah with the annual Menorah lighting. Join JCC of Northern Virginia to light the candles, sing songs, enjoy entertainment, feast on sufganiyot (donuts), spin the dreidel, and more. Free; 4:30 – 6:00.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight, Nov 26 – Dec 11 weekends + Dec 19

Visit the mansion at night during a Mount Vernon by Candlelight tour.
Visit the mansion at night during a Mount Vernon by Candlelight tour.

George Washington's Mount Vernon is open daily, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. On Winter Glow evenings, soft lights and holiday patterns illuminate the grounds, Christmas carolers sing, and you can visit an 18th-century winter encampment. Follow the link for details and to purchase timed entry tickets.

Winter Lights Walk, Franklin Park, Purcellville, Dec 10 – Jan 1

Head to The Franklin Park Arts Center for an indoor-outdoor holiday display. First, check out the gallery exhibit of Stars, Night and Winter Sky while you sip a warm beverage. Then, stroll outside and walk among beautifully lighted sculptures created by local artists. Tickets are $3 for a 1.5-hour session. Two timed sessions, 5:30 – 8:30.

Plan your visit: 8 Great Things to do in Purcellville Virginia.

Holiday Tuba Carol Fest, Gettysburg, Dec 10

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 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.

Herndon Winterplatz, Herndon, Dec 11

Winterplatz is a cluster of mini celebrations throughout downtown Herndon. Participating businesses will decorate for the festive season and offer WinterPlatz specials.

Haymarket's Holiday Celebration, Haymarket, Dec 11

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. Rain or Shine. Free; 2:00 – 6:00.

Christmas at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Dec 14, 18

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.

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Dec 17 – 18

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 costumed carollers, meet Aladin the Christmas Camel, and warm up by the bonfire. $60/$38 adult/youth; 5:30 – 8:30

Wreaths Across America, Arlington National Cemetery, Dec 18

In 2021, family members are invited to lay wreaths on Dec 12. On Dec 18, the public is invited to join in wreath-laying as part of Wreaths Across America. Online registration is required.

Visit the Wreaths Across America website to sponsor a wreath to honor the fallen.

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).

8 Fun DC Area Places to Visit on Christmas Day, Dec 25

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 visit Aladdin the Christmas Camel, is just one of the fun Northern Virginia places to visit on Christmas Day.

New Year’s Eve at First Night Alexandria, Alexandria, Dec 31

First Night, one of 12 holiday favorites from Northern Virginia experts that honor the season with festive parades, unique celebrations, light displays, and visits with Santa. Photo: J Clifford for Visit Alexandria
First Night, photo: J Clifford for Visit Alexandria

First Night Alexandria is a spectacular New Year's Eve celebration to welcome in the new year. Enjoy special performances and fun throughout Old Town Alexandria then head to the waterfront for the fireworks show. Follow the link for ticket purchase and performance schedule.

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. Fairfax County Parks also host First Day Hikes and a photo contest. Follow the link for details.

Ongoing and Road Trip Worthy 2021 December Events

Bears and other wildlife holiday lights at Meadowlark Gardens in Northern Virginia
Wildlife holiday lights at Meadowlark Gardens

Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area

Fill your month with sparkly lights, from professional displays to private homes and neighborhoods decked out for the holidays. We like to look beyond December events and just spend time checking out decorated houses and neighborhood displays.

11 Fun DC and Northern Virginia Ice Skating Rinks

December is the month to glide on the ice surrounded by festive lights at outdoor and indoor ice skating rinks in Northern Virginia. Follow the link for hours and pricing.

Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 6 – Jan 10

A dazzling 2.5-mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. The drive ends at a Holiday Village with rides, merchandise, and activities (Holiday Village closed in 2021).

Festival of Lights is one of our 12 Holiday Favorites for seasonal fun in Northern Virginia.

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 11 – Jan 3

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.

Ice and Lights Winter Village at Cameron Run, Alexandria, Nov 19 – Jan 2

Ice & Lights Winter Village at Cameron Run features lots of sparkly photo locations including a walk-thru tree and photo frame, giant wreath, and beautiful design stars. For an extra fee, enjoy an hour of fun on the ice skating rink. Light-up and cuddly items are available for purchase, and the concession stand sells treats and drinks.

GardenFest of Lights, Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden, Richmond, Nov 22 – Jan 9

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.

Extend your holiday fun with a Weekend Getaway to Richmond Virginia.

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 a historic home near you.

Holiday Shopping Fun in Northern Virginia

Visit with Santa for that magical holiday picture, and enjoy kid-friendly activities at area malls.

TBA and Canceled 2021 December Events

Check back for updates on these December events that were canceled in 2020.

Christkindlmarket, Reston, TBA

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.

Find more holiday shopping in our guide: Favorite Holiday Markets in Northern Virginia and the DC Region.

11th Annual Christkindlmarkt, Lovettsville, Canceled

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.

Holiday Arts and Crafts Show, Audrey Moore Rec Ctr, Annandale, Canceled

The annual craft 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, Canceled

The Holiday Model Train Show features model trains of many sizes to delight train lovers of all ages. Santa 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 – 5:00, Sunday 12:00 – 4:00.

Christmastide at Gunston Hall, Lorton, Canceled

Celebrate a holiday tradition at Gunston Hall! Daytime activities include children’s crafts, a visit from Santa, games, and even an indoor snowball fight. The evening hours provide a romantic holiday experience by candlelight as guests are invited to sample period food in the kitchen, explore the grounds, enjoy 18th-century music, and chat with characters from the past. $15/$10 adults/children; 10:00 – 7:00.

Civil War Christmas, Leesylvania State Park, Canceled

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 – 4:00.

Watch Night, Falls Church, TBA

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, caricaturists, balloon artists, puppet shows, and more. Ring in the New Year with the lowering of the Historic Star (the City’s first holiday decoration from 1948) at midnight. Free; 7:00 – midnight.

No matter which 2021 December events in Northern Virginia you choose to attend, we wish you a happy and fun-filled month!

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December events in Northern Virginia and the DC region include parades, lights, markets, and festivals for a month of holiday fun.

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