December Events in Northern Virginia and Holiday Festivals Near DC

Updated on March 22, 2024 by Julie McCool

2023 December events bring holiday light shows, festive Christmas markets, and holiday festivals to Northern Virginia for a month of fun. Special outdoor activities at area parks and historic sites and spectacular fireworks finish the year in style.

Looking for fun things to do this weekend in Northern VA? Our list of Northern Virginia events includes things to do in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Alexandria, Arlington, and other area towns. Festivals and events are listed in order of start date, with multi-day events generally listed first.

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Most of our favorite holiday festivals have returned in 2023, including a wonderful Lantern Festival returning to Tysons for a second year. Read on for a whole host of ways to celebrate the season with December events in Northern Virginia.

2023 December Events in Northern Virginia

The annual Fun in Fairfax VA December listing is one of our longest event lists of the year. Follow the links for additional details and to purchase tickets. And always check ahead for inclement weather closings. Many events are held rain or shine, but some close on especially rainy, windy, or chilly days.

NEW! Winterfest 2023, Reston, Nov 30 – Dec 2

New in 2023, Reston lights up Brown's Chapel Park with a festive walk-through light show and an Enchanted Forest of 50 decorated holiday trees. Music, bonfires, s'mores, holiday shopping, a pop-up bar, and an optional Santa Experience add to the fun. Free for Reston Association members. $18/$8 for non-member adults/kids 3-17. Open nightly, 5:00 – 9:00.

Christmas in Middleburg, Middleburg, Dec 1 – 3

Christmas in Middleburg photo by Jay Hubbard
Christmas in Middleburg photo by Jay Hubbard

Christmas in Middleburg is a 100-year tradition and one of the top holiday events in northern Virginia. The festivities begin with a tree lighting on Friday. On Saturday, hounds trot down the Washington Street beside mounted fox hunt riders, in the “Hunt and Hounds Review.” Other activities include a Christmas Parade and progressive food and wine tastings.

Holiday Lights on the Farm, Frying Pan Farm Park, Dec 1-2 8-9 15-16

Enjoy a dazzling wagon ride past festive light displays decorating a mile-long route through the park at Frying Pan Farm Park. Guests also enjoy indoor activities, animal interactions, and more. $15 per person; timed entry begins at 5:30.

Find more Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC Area.

Holiday Walk of Lights at Neabsco Creek, Dec 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, 20-23

The Neabsco Creek Boardwalk is transformed with a walk-through display of sparkling lights and a display of hand-crafted holiday trees that make a great backdrop for family photos. Free, no reservations required. Free, 5:30 – 9:00.

City of Fairfax Holiday Market, Fairfax, Dec 1–3, 8–10

An Old Town Fairfax holiday tradition returns for the fifth year. This NoVA holiday market is held during the first two weekends of December and vendors change each weekend. Shop local for crafts, gourmet treats, and unique holiday gifts. Free; Friday 5:00 – 8:00, Saturday 12:00 – 6:00, and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00.

Find more unique presents in our Virginia Gift Guide.

Norwegian Holiday Festival and Bazaar, Fairfax, Dec 1-2

Shop for imported foods, baked goods, Nordic sweaters, and more at the annual Norwegian holiday market. Reserve your indoor shopping time as capacity is limited. Free, 10:00 – 5:00.

McLean Holiday Art and Crafts Show, McLean, Dec 1-3

The McLean Community Center hosts a juried show featuring 70 artists offering pottery, glass, jewelry, holiday decor, and more. $5, 11:00 – 6:00, 10:00 – 6:00, 11:00 – 4:00.

Holidays in Leesburg, Dec 2-10

Celebrate the holidays at three special December events in Leesburg.

Winter Wonderland, Burke Lake Park, Dec 2-3, 9-10, 16-17

At night, the train station at Burke Lake magically transforms into a Winter Wonderland. Take a daytime train ride on the Holiday Express, spin on the Carolers Carousel, play Gingerbread Man Golf, and more. Santa will be there with hot chocolate and candy canes. Tickets are $15/$20 in advance/day of event, 11:00 – 5:00.

Occoquan Artisan Market, Occoquan, Dec 2-3

Head to lovely historic Occoquan for a holiday market, s'mores & cocoa, and festive deals. Pretty decorations and fun events make Occoquan one of the best Christmas towns near DC to visit in December.

Festive wreaths and garlands decorating a store in Occoquan, one of the best Christmas towns near DC
Occoquan Christmas Decorations

Model Train Show, Fairfax Station Railroad Museum, Canceled

The 2023 Holiday Model Train Show has been canceled.

Falls Church Holiday Craft Show, Falls Church, Dec 2-3

The annual Falls Church Holiday Gift and Craft Show features more than 50 crafters selling handmade items, baked goods, and more. $1 admission for both days. Saturday 9:00 – 4:00, Sunday 11:00 – 4:00. Children shop and wrap with helpers on Dec 3, 10:00 – 3:00.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight, Dec 1-2, 8-9, 17

Mount Vernon by Candlelight Holiday Favorites
Mount Vernon by Candlelight

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 to purchase timed entry tickets.

Holidays Through the Ages, Rippon Lodge, Dec 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22

Rippon Lodge Historic Site is decorated inside and out with seasonal celebrations from the past. Daytime tours, (11:00 + 2:00) are $5 per person, 5 and under free. Evening tours Dec 2 + 3 are $10 and include music and period lights. If time allows, take a walk on the Neabsco Creek Boardwalk right next door.

Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Alexandria, Dec 2

Old Town Alexandria celebrates the season with the annual Scottish Walk weekend. Festivities include a parade filled with hundreds of Scottish clansmen complete with bagpipes, holiday home tours, the evening Holiday Parade of Boats, and more. Free. The parade kicks off at 11:00, rain or shine.

Christmas Parade, Manassas, Dec 2

Celebrate the season at the 77th 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.

Jingle on Lake Anne, Reston, Dec 2

Santa arrives by boat with elves on SUPs atJingle 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. Shop local at the annual Gifts from the HeART from 10:00 – 3:00 and visit the stores. Santa arrives by boat at noon escorted by a fleet of elves on SUPs. Free; rain or shine.

Udvar-Hazy Center 20th Anniversary, Chantilly, Dec 2

The Smithsonian Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center celebrates 20 years of wowing guests with free parking all day. Admission is also free, as always. It's a great time to check out one of the Top 10 Attractions in Northern VA.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long, Vienna, CANCELED

Due to construction, the annual Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-a-long is canceled for 2023.

One of our favorite family events of the season is the holiday sing-a-long at Wolf Trap National Park, featuring the U. S. Marine Band and other vocal groups. Gates open at 3:00 for this popular free performance.

Holiday Tree Lighting, One Loudoun, Dec 2

The 11th annual Holiday Tree Lighting at One Loudoun includes Santa photos, train rides, and ice carving demonstrations. Free; 4:00 – 6:00.

Festival of Lights and Carols, Fairfax, Dec 2

Watch the lighting of the Christmas tree in Old Town Fairfax, plus live holiday music, s'mores, activities, and more. Free; noon – 6:00.

Christmastide at Gunston Hall, Lorton, Dec 2

Celebrate a holiday tradition at Gunston Hall! Daytime activities include live music, children’s crafts, a visit from Santa, games, and more. $10/$8 adults/children; 10:00 – 7:00.

Christmas 1863 at the Stone House, Manassas Battlefield, Dec 2

Celebrate Victorian Christmas traditions with caroling and crafts and remember the soldiers who were away from home for Christmas 1863. Free but reservations required, 11:00.

Herndon Holiday Arts & Crafts Show, Herndon, Dec 3

More than 70 artisans and craftspeople exhibit and sell their work at this annual holiday market. Shop for wreaths, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, homemade items, and more at the Herndon Community Center. Free, 10:00 – 4:00.

Holiday Fest, Walker Nature Center, Reston, Dec 3

See the woodland storybook trail and the Nature House decorated for the holidays, Enjoy hot cider and live holiday music and take home a bag of treats. $10/$15 RA member/non-member, registration required. 1:00 – 4:00

Celebration of Lights, Great Falls, Dec 3

Celebrate the season at the annual Christmas tree lighting, featuring hot cider and cocoa next to the fire, and seasonal music. Kids can enjoy the petting zoo and pony rides until Mr. and Mrs. Claus arrive on an antique fire truck. Free; 3:00 – 6:00.

Winter Lights Walk, Franklin Park, Purcellville, Dec 7-23

Head to The Franklin Park Arts Center in Purcellville and stroll outside among beautifully lighted sculptures created by local artists. Admission is free and the trail takes about 30 minutes to complete. Arrive anytime from 6:00 – 7:30.

German Christmasmarket, Reston, Dec 7

The German Armed Forces Command in Reston hosts a traditional German Christmas Market with food and beverages, arts and crafts, music, and more festive fun. Admission, which includes food and drinks, is $10/$5 (cash only) for adults/children; 4:00 – 9:00.

Chaunkah Festival, Alexandria, Dec 7

Celebrate the festival of lights in Old Town Alexandria. Enjoy a Menorah lighting, latkes, chocolate gelt, live Chanukah music, dreidels, and more. Free but reservations required, 6:00.

Christmas Village at Leesburg Animal Park, Dec 8-23

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.

Holiday Tuba Carol Fest, Gettysburg, Dec 8

Gather in historic Lincoln Square for the annual Holiday Tuba Carol Fest where musicians play carols and visitors sing along. The Tuba Fest is just one of the ways to enjoy Christmas fun on a holiday visit to Gettysburg.

Holiday Lighted Nights, Claude Moore Park, Dec 9-23

See Claude Moore Park sparkling with holiday lights and festive decorations on a self-guided walk. On Friday and Saturday nights, enjoy a campfire, marshmallows, and hot chocolate. Free, 5:00 – 7:00.

Herndon WinterMarkt, Herndon, Dec 9

Winterplatz is a cluster of mini celebrations throughout downtown Herndon. Participating businesses decorate for the season and offer WinterMarkt specials. Free, noon – 7:00.

Haymarket's Holiday Celebration, Haymarket, Dec 9

Enjoy hot cocoa, cider, and A Taste of Haymarket. Listen to carols and live music, roast marshmallows over a bonfire, visit a holiday-themed exhibit, and see the tree lit at dusk. Free; 2:00 – 6:00.

National Museum of the Marine Corps Christmas, Triangle, Dec 9

On Christmas Family Day, 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.

Civil War Christmas, Historic Blenheim, Dec 9

Learn how soldiers in camp and loved ones at home celebrated Christmas during the Civil War. Civil War Santa will be on hand for photos. $5, 6 and under free, 11:00 – 3:00.

Civil War Christmas in Camp, Fort Ward, Alexandria, Dec 9

This 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. Free, 12:00 – 4:00.

Tuba Christmas, Village at Leesburg, Dec 10

The annual Tuba Christmas concert returns to the Village at Leesburg with tuba and euphonium players playing favorite holiday songs. Free; 2:00 – 3:00

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon, Alexandria, Dec 15-16

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 16

In 2023, family members are invited to lay wreaths on Dec 10. On Dec 16, 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.

Dickens Christmas, Middleburg, Dec 16

South Madison Street will close to vehicles as carolers, horse-drawn carriage rides, and entertainers transform Middleburg into a Dickens Christmas. Victorian dance performances and interactive performances of A Christmas Carol add to the fun. Free, 10:00 – 4:00.

Mosaic District Holiday Village, Merrifield, Dec 16 – 17

The annual Holiday Gift Fair, sponsored by UrbanMarket, returns to Mosaic District with two weekends of holiday shopping fun. The market features over 50 local vendors, offering the best handmade and vintage goods the area has to offer. Free admission, 11:00 – 4:00.

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).

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.

Watch Night, Falls Church, Dec 31

Welcome 2024 at the annual Watch Night Falls Church celebration. The free event features live music, inflatables, caricaturists, balloon artists, puppet shows, and more. At midnight, ring in the New Year with the lowering of the Historic Star, the City’s first holiday decoration from 1948. Free; 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. Fairfax County Parks also host First Day Hikes and a photo contest. Follow the link for details.

Ongoing 2023 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.

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 10 – Jan 7

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.

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

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 10 – Jan 7

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 17 – Jan 1

Ice & Lights Winter Village at Cameron Run features lots of sparkly photo locations including a walk-thru tree and giant wreath. For an extra fee, enjoy an hour of fun on the ice skating rink.

Christmas at Gaylord + ICE! 2023, National Harbor, Nov 19 – Dec 31

Marvel at more than 2 million twinkling lights, amazing nightly snowfall, and beautiful dancing fountains at Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac. ICE! returns with scenes from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” featuring 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and 4 ice slides.

GardenFest of Lights, Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden, Richmond, Nov 20 – Jan 7

Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden sparkles with more than half a million twinkling lights. See hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, firepits with s’mores and hot chocolate (for purchase), nightly family activities, and more. Extend your holiday fun with a Weekend Getaway to Richmond Virginia.

DC Winter Lantern Festival, Tysons, Nov 24 – Feb 18

Returning for a 2nd year in 2023, the DC Winter Lantern Festival lights up Lerner Square in Tysons with over 100 beautiful Chinese lanterns. The walk-through light show offers great photo opps plus interactive displays. Stay at Hyatt Tysons Corner and you can walk to the show.

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 and Santa Photos in Northern Virginia

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

No matter which 2023 December events in Northern Virginia you choose to attend, we wish you a fun-filled month and a Happy New Year!

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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.
Best December Events in Northern Virginia