Bull Run Festival of Lights holiday drive through display

Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC Area

Tis the season to overdecorate with sparkly holiday lights. Luckily, the Northern Virginia and Washington DC region offers dazzling professional holiday light displays, plus several neighborhood extravaganzas to maximize your holiday spirit. The Griswolds got nothing on us!

Professional and Neighborhood Holiday Lights in Northern Virginia

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 9 – Jan 6

Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights

Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights

Every year Meadowlark Botanical Gardens lights up for the holidays with over 500,000 lights and displays on a .6 mile outdoor walking trail. Purchase timed entry tickets in advance to ensure you get parking and avoid lines. Some tickets are available at the door on non-peak nights. Pick up a hot chocolate before your walk, then shop at the Snowflake Shoppe for holiday ornaments, flashing jewelry and other goodies. Tickets $8 – $16 depending on age and time. Open nightly, including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00; last admission at 9:30.

LightUp Fest, One Loudoun, Nov 8 – Jan 2

Dragon and Capitol LightUp Fest NoVA

Dragon and Capitol LightUp Fest NoVA

Bring your entire family out to One Loudoun to enjoy a never seen before Lights & Lantern Show combined with delectable food and acrobatics performances. Over 100 artisans creates this visually stunning display of lights featuring different thematic adventures. 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.

Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 21 – Jan 6

Festival of Lights windmill display

Festival of Lights windmill display

A perennial favorite, the Bull Run Festival of Lights dazzles with a 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. New displays join old favorites every year. This is a fun way to see lights as a family staying warm and cozy as you slowly drive through the animated displays. Weekdays and early season are the least crowded times to visit. In December, 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, 5:30 – 10:00 weekends.

Festival of Lights Hayride and Walk, Chantilly, Nov 17 – Jan 5

New in 2017, visitors can take a hayride or walk to view this nighttime adventure and enjoy some hot chocolate with marshmallows and s’mores around a bonfire. Drinks, snacks, and s’mores kits will be available and sold at The Farm Market. Proceeds fund preservation and development of the Botanic Gardens. Follow the link for ticket prices and schedule.

Stones Throw Drive, Reston

Reston holiday lights on Stones Throw Drive Reston VA

Reston holiday lights, Stones Throw Drive, Reston VA

We make multiple visits through this neighborhood every year to admire the over 200,000 white holiday lights covering every tree and decorating the house on the corner of Stones Throw Drive. In recent years, the homeowner has leveraged the popularity of his display to raise funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Several other houses in the neighborhood join in the fun and hot chocolate is sometimes available up the street, also raising funds for a good cause. We heard this owner might be moving after the 2017 season, but our fingers are crossed that the lights will return in 2018.

Here’s a look at the house in 2016:

Stones Throw Dr Reston Virginia Christmas lights 2016

Stones Throw Dr Reston Virginia Christmas lights 2016

East Juniper Street, Sterling

Juniper Street Sterling, photo: FairfaxChristmasLights.com

Juniper Street Sterling, photo: FairfaxChristmasLights.com

Nicknamed Candy Cane Lane, we’ve been visiting East Juniper Street in Sterling since our children were small. Participating houses and decorations vary year to year, but there are usually several houses decked out with kitschy, traditional or modern holiday decor. In some years, a house offers the chance to visit with Santa or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate. Parking can be tight when crowds are heavy, so use extreme caution when driving on or near Juniper Street around Christmas.

In recent years, there were fewer houses decorated and they were more spread out through the neighborhood. The display in the photo above was still there along with several others, including one house with lights synced to music.

Millwood Square, Sterling

One of our fabulous readers tipped us off about a great Christmas lights display at the corner of Algonkian Parkway and Millwood Square in Sterling. Check out the number of lights this owner fit into his townhouse yard!

Millwood Square lights Sterling Virginia 2016

Millwood Square lights Sterling Virginia 2016

Find other Griswoldian splendor, including several displays set to music, on the Holly’s Tacky Christmas Lights web site. The site updates yearly so it’s a great resource for planning a holiday lights drive.

Washington DC and Nearby Noteworthy Holiday Lights

Christmas on the Potomac with ICE!, National Harbor, Nov 16 – Jan 1

A Charlie Brown Christmas ICE! 2018 at Gaylord National Harbor

A Charlie Brown Christmas ICE! 2018 at Gaylord National Harbor

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 a Charlie Brown theme, plus 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and 4 ice slides. New in 2018, enjoy a 25-minute Cirque Dreams Unwrapped show in the atrium. You can also enjoy a cup of hot cocoa and more family-friendly activities. Follow the link for ticket prices and hours, and read our review of ICE! 2018 for more photos and details. Thrill the family, and make your visit a National Harbor weekend getaway.

Garden of Lights, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Nov 16 – Jan 1

Brookside Gardens walk-through display includes more than one million colorful holiday lights shaped into hand-crafted, original art forms of flowers, animals and other natural elements. Stroll from garden to garden enjoying twinkling tree forms, fountains, sparkling snowflakes, and more. After you visit the garden, stop in the Conservatory to see the seasonal model train display. Warm up in the Visitors Center with hot cocoa and nightly musical performances. $25 per car Sunday to Thursday, 5:30-9:30. $30 and open to 10:00 on Friday and Saturday.

Lights on the Bay, Sandy Point State Park, Nov 17 – Jan 1

Sandy Point State Park hosts the annual Lights on the Bay. Enjoy a two-mile scenic drive along the Chesapeake Bay with animated and stationary displays illuminating the roadway. Popular displays include a colonial village inspired by historic Annapolis and one of the USNA midshipmen tossing their hats in the air. Purchase 3D glasses to make the displays come alive. $15/30/50 per car/van/bus; 5:00 – 10:00 nightly.

U. S. Botanic Garden, DC, Nov 22 – Jan 1

Season's Greetings at the National Botanic Garden, Washington DC

Season’s Greetings at the National Botanic Garden, Washington DC

Smithsonian Castle model Botanical Garden DC

Smithsonian Castle model Botanical Garden DC

The Botanical Garden is one of our favorite holiday stops in DC and should not be missed. The holiday fun includes an elaborate model train display; a large display of DC memorials and monuments made from natural materials; and holiday topiaries and plants. The theme in the model train display changes every year. In 2018, the theme is “All Aboard.,” featuring iconic train stations from across the United States. entry to the garden and all of the displays are free. Open daily 10:00 – 5:00 with evening hours Tuesdays and Thursdays in December. The US Botanic Garden is open every day, including Christmas.

Visit the US Botanic Garden, National Christmas tree, Capitol Tree, and other DC holiday fun on a day trip. Or extend the fun with a weekend getaway/staycation near the US Capitol.

Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, DC, Nov 23 – Jan 1

Holiday lights, animals at night, tubing runs, and chop-choo fun. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. A free event, ZooLights includes live musical performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. The National Zoo packs a lot of activities and a little education into it’s holiday light show. Admission and shuttle buses from Woodley Park metro are free, but parking and some activities have a fee. Open daily except Dec 24, 25, and 31. 5:00 – 9:00 nightly.

WinterFest at King’s Dominion, Doswell, Nov 23 – Dec 31

WinterFest transforms the park into a winter wonderland adorned with millions of holiday lights, multitudes of Christmas trees and festive décor displayed throughout the park. Plus, the iconic Eiffel Tower will be transformed into a 300-foot tall Christmas tree. WinterFest activities include a nightly lighting ceremony, live holiday shows and strolling performers, ice skating, family rides, a special holiday menu and falling snow. The park is open on select evenings and ticket prices vary; follow the link for details.

Kings Dominion WinterFest Photo Credit: KingsDominion

Kings Dominion WinterFest Photo Credit: KingsDominion

DC Temple Festival of Lights, Kensington Maryland, Nov 29 – Dec 31

650,000 lights illuminate the Temple grounds while nightly musical performances are offered inside the Visitors Center (pick up a free ticket 90 minutes prior to performance). Visitors can also view a live nativity display, creches from around the world, and internationally themed Christmas Trees. Admission and parking are free. Open until 10:00 nightly.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Alexandria, Dec 1

On the first Saturday of December, at sundown on the day of the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Alexandria’s harbor lights up as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. The boats are always dressed to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box, and Hardiest Souls. Free, 5:30.

District’s Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, The Wharf, Dec 1

On the same night, The Wharf will join the tradition with it’s own boat parade. Arrive early for the tree lighting, decorate gingerbread cookies, make s’mores at the fire pit, and get a photo with Santa. The boat parade begins at 7:00 with finale fireworks at 8:00. Admission is free; follow the link for details on boat registration and cash prizes. 6:00 – 9:00.

We love the holidays and we love to drive around looking at lights, tacky or not. What did we miss? What’s your favorite holiday display in the Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC area?

If you like holiday lights, you might also like:

Follow Fun in Fairfax VA on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram for more fun places to visit and things to do in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.

Holiday lights in Washington DC, Northern Virginia area include dazzling displays to amp up your holiday spirit.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

17 Responses to “Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC Area”

  1. shelley December 12, 2016 at 7:12 pm #

    Check out the Ritter’s display on Claret Drive in Centreville.

    • Fun in Fairfax VA December 13, 2016 at 11:02 am #

      Thanks for the tip Shelley! We’ll definitely check that one out. Love finding new holiday lights. 🙂

  2. Fun in Fairfax VA December 13, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    We received this great tip from Clem:
    Check out the Christmas display corner of Algonkian Parkway & Millwood Square Potomac Falls VA (Sterling Va) close to Lowes Island

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Holiday Shopping Fun in Northern Virginia - Fun in Fairfax VA - November 14, 2016

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  2. Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights - FuninFairfaxVA - November 16, 2016

    […] Meadowlark Botanical Gardens Winter Walk of Lights in 2014, and it’s been on our list for holiday lights fun ever since. Even when the weather is chilly, it’s fun to bundle up and experience this […]

  3. Bull Run Festival of Lights Holiday Drive Through Fun in Northern Virginia - December 20, 2016

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  4. Roers Zoofari Chinese Lantern Festival in Vienna Virginia - January 5, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  5. January 2017 Events in the Northern Virginia Area - January 5, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in Northern Virginia, Various Locations, thru Jan 15 […]

  6. 12 Holiday Favorites from Northern Virginia Experts - Fun in Fairfax VA - October 31, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  7. ICE! 2016 and Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Harbor - November 20, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  8. ICE! 2017 and Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Harbor - November 21, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  9. 10 Fun and Free Things to Do on a Washington DC Holiday Visit - Fun in Fairfax VA - December 4, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  10. Enjoy the Sights of the Season, But Beware of Sounds From Your Furnace - Snell Heating & Air Conditioning - December 7, 2017

    […] light displays in Northern Virginia. We found a great list of holiday light displays on the Fun in Fairfax website, including some in Sterling and many throughout Washington D.C., so check it out before heading out […]

  11. Gettysburg Christmas Fun: Top Things to Do on a Holiday Visit to Historic Pennsylvania - December 11, 2017

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  12. LightUp Fest Northern Virginia: Lantern Festival Comes to DC Area - November 16, 2018

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

  13. 5 Fun Northern Virginia Ice Skating Rinks - Fun in Fairfax VA - November 30, 2018

    […] can still visit the Tysons Corner Plaza and see the giant Christmas Tree in 2018, but the ice skating rink did not return this […]

  14. December 2018 Events in Northern Virginia - Fun in Fairfax VA - December 14, 2018

    […] Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia Area […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: