Holiday Lights in the Northern Virginia DC Area 2023

Updated on December 31, 2023 by Julie McCool

Discover the best holiday lights in Northern Virginia and the Washington DC area including more than 20 holiday light shows in Virginia, Maryland, and DC. We've also listed fantastic Christmas lights at private homes and businesses decorated for the holidays.

I'm always looking for new Christmas lights near me. Luckily, Northern Virginia and the DC area are packed with dazzling holiday light shows, plus neighborhood extravaganzas for maximum Christmas spirit. The Griswolds got nothing on us!

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You'll find more festivities in our guide to 11 Fun Free Things to Do on a Washington DC Holiday Visit.

Holiday lights are listed in three groups:

Check back for new additions to holiday lights in Northern VA.

Professional Holiday Lights in and near Northern Virginia

Here are more than 20 professional holiday light displays in Northern Virginia plus favorite holiday shows in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC. Events are listed in order of start date, with links to purchase tickets and plan your visit.

Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 10 – Jan 7

Bull Run Festival of Lights wreath tunnel
Bull Run Festival of Lights

Always a favorite, the Bull Run Festival of Lights dazzles with a 2.5-mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. This is a fun way to see Christmas lights as a family, staying warm and cozy as you slowly drive through the animated displays. The drive ends at a Holiday Village with carnival rides, merchandise, and activities.

Admission is $30 online per car, $40 at the door. Follow the link for a $5 weekday discount code. 5:30 – 9:30 weekdays, 5:30 – 10:00 weekends.

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

Meadowlark Fairy Garden lights
Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights

Our favorite walk-through Christmas lights show in Northern Virginia returns to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens every November. The garden sparkles with over 500,000 lights on a .6 mile outdoor walking trail. Pick up a hot chocolate before your walk, then shop at the Snowflake Shoppe for holiday ornaments, flashing jewelry, and other goodies.

Tickets are $18/$22 online/at the door for non-peak weeks (Nov 11 – Dec 8). Tickets are $18 and must be purchased online for peak weeks (Dec 9 – Jan 8). Open nightly, including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00.

Illuminate Light Show, Doswell Nov 17 – Dec 31

Central Virginia hosts a beautiful drive-through Christmas light show at Meadow Event Park in Doswell. See over 1 million sparkly lights, all synchronized to music, including an 80-foot tunnel of lights, dancing snowmen, singing trees, and Santa's festive decorations.

Tickets are $30 per vehicle, online or at the gate. Open nightly, including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00.

Ice and Lights Winter Village at Cameron Run, Alexandria, Nov 17 – Jan 1

Stroll through the village and glide across the rink at Ice & Lights, The Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Virginia. You'll find sparkling lights and festive photo opps in the Winter Village. For an extra fee, skate on a beautifully lit ice rink. 

Admission is $8/$10 online/at the door. $20.00 with 1-hour ice skating (online tickets only). The ice skating rink is also open on weekend days January 6 – February 25.

Winter Wander, Charlottesville, Nov 17 – Jan 6

Returning to the Boars Head Resort in Charlottesville, Winter Wander is a walk-through light show presented by UVA. Stroll a half-mile lakeside trail with a 35-foot Christmas tree and lights filling the fields and trees. The trail ends at a market where you can enjoy food and drink and shop for gifts.

Tickets are $20/$10 for adults/youth 4-12 with season passes available.

Garden of Lights, Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, Nov 17 – Dec 31

The Garden of Lights at Brookside Gardens is a walk-through display of more than one million colorful holiday lights shaped into hand-crafted forms of flowers, animals, and other natural elements.

Tickets are $10 per person, purchase online. Open daily except closed 11/20-23 and 12/24-25.

Garden-lovers, be sure to also visit Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights.

WinterFest at King's Dominion, Doswell, Nov 17 – Dec 31

WinterFest transforms King's Dominion Park with millions of holiday lights, festive decorations, and the iconic Eiffel Tower transformed into a 300-foot-tall Christmas tree. Activities included a tree lighting ceremony, live shows and performers, ice skating, family rides, a special holiday menu, and falling snow.

Tickets start at $32.99/19.99 for adults/youth and seniors. The show is open Friday to Sunday plus 12/17-23 and 26-31.

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

ICE! Rudolph Flies Gaylord National Harbor
ICE! Rudolph Flies, 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! 2023 features scenes from “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” carved in 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and ice slides.

Guests can also enjoy photos with Santa and more family-friendly activities at National Harbor. Follow the link for ticket prices and more details.

Lights on the Bay, Sandy Point State Park, Nov 19 – Jan 1

Lights on the Bay at Sandy Point State Park is 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.

Tickets are $20/30/50 per car/van/bus. Open 6:00 – 10:00 weeknights, 5:00 – 10:00 weekends.

Light Yards, The Yards DC, Nov 20 – Jan 7

The annual Light Yards event features a beautiful walk-through display of holiday lights. In 2023, five 13-foot swinging bells will jingle as you swing and there are plenty of great photo opps. Free, open nightly.

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

Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden sparkles with one million twinkling lights at the annual GardenFest of Lights display in Richmond Virginia. See hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, a warming fire pit with s’mores and hot chocolate, nightly family activities, and plenty of holiday fun.

Tickets are $17 – $20 for adults, $8 – $12 for youth (advance purchase required). Open 5:00 – 10:00 nightly, closed Thanksgiving and 12/24-25.

U. S. Botanic Garden, Washington DC, Nov 23 – Jan 1

National Botanic Garden DC Holiday Display of the US Capitol
National Botanic Garden DC Holiday Display

Seasons Greenings at the National Botanic Garden is one of our favorite holiday events in DC. Inside the Conservatory is a beautiful display of DC memorials and monuments made from natural materials plus holiday topiaries and plants. Outside, see an elaborate model train display in the outdoor garden. The 2023 model train theme is Pollinators.

Free. Open 10:00 to 5:00 daily, closed Christmas Day.

Enchant Christmas, Nationals Park, DC, Nov 24 – Dec 31

Nationals Park becomes a winter wonderland with one of the biggest displays of Christmas lights in Washington DC. Giant light sculptures, the world's largest Christmas lights maze, and a Christmas tree-lined ice skating trail dazzle guests. Enchant Christmas also features a village with artisans, food and drink, live entertainment, and visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Tickets start at $32/$24 for adults/children 3 and up. 4:30 – 10:30 weekdays, to 11:30 Friday, Saturday, and Dec 19 – 25.

Winter Lights Festival, Gaithersburg Maryland, Nov 24 – Dec 31

Take a 3.5-mile drive through Seneca Creek Park past 450 displays and trees sparkling with beautiful holiday lights. Weekend traffic is very heavy for this festival so visit on a weekday if possible.

Tickets are $15/$25 per vehicle for weekday/weekend admission. 6:00 – 9:00 weekdays, – 10:00 weekends. Closed Dec 25.

Mount Vernon by Candlelight, Nov 24 – Dec 9 Weekends + Dec 17

Mount Vernon by Candlelight Holiday Favorites
Mount Vernon by Candlelight

Looking for a place to walk off your Thanksgiving feast surrounded by history? George Washington's Mount Vernon is open daily including holidays. On Mount Vernon by Candlelight evenings soft lights illuminate the grounds, Christmas carolers sing, and you can visit an 18th-century winter encampment. Tickets are $38/$30 for adults/youth.

2023 DC Winter Lantern Festival, Tysons, Nov 24 – Feb 18, 2024

2023 DC Lantern Festival Entrance
2023 DC Lantern Festival Entrance

Returning for a 2nd year in 2023, the DC Winter Lantern Festival lights up Lerner Square in Tysons with over 1,000 beautiful Chinese lanterns. The walk-through light show offers plenty of great photo opps and fun for the whole family. Make it a weekend getaway with a stay at Hyatt Tysons Corner and you can walk to the show.

Tickets are $21.99/$15.99 for adult/youth 3 – 12. Open 5:00 – 10:00 pm, Friday through Sunday plus daily during Christmas week.

Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, DC, Nov 24 – Dec 30

Entrance to ZooLights a DC Holiday tradition
ZooLights DC

Zoo Lights features 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transforming the Zoo into a winter wonderland with live music, tasty treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. The National Zoo packs a lot of activities and a little education into its holiday light show. 

New in 2023, Zoo Lights has a $6 admission. On-site parking is $30 and tends to sell out quickly. Open weekends Nov 24 – Dec 17 then nightly, closed 12/24-25. 5:00 – 9:00, to 8:00 Sundays.

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. Take a self-guided walk through the lights and enjoy music, bonfires, s'mores, holiday shopping, a pop-up bar, and an optional Santa Experience.

$18/$8 for non-member adults/kids 3-17, Free for Reston Association members. Open nightly, 5:00 – 9:00.

Holiday Walk of Lights at Neabsco Creek Boardwalk, Dec 1 – 23

The Neabsco Creek Boardwalk is transformed for the holiday season with a walk-through display of sparkling lights. The boardwalk also features a unique display of hand-crafted holiday trees that make a great backdrop for family photos.

Free, no reservations required. Open Fri – Sun, 5:30 – 9:00 and Dec 20-23.

DC Temple Festival of Lights, Kensington Maryland, Dec 1 – Jan 2

Drive through the DC Temple Festival of Lights and see over 400,000 illuminating the Temple grounds. Christmas music on FM 101.7 sets the mood for your drive. There are two outdoor life-size nativities on the route. Free, dusk to 9:00 nightly.

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 at Frying Pan Farm Park. Guests also enjoy indoor activities, animal interactions, and more. $15 per person; timed entry begins at 5:30.

Lighting of the Lawn, UVA, Charlottesville, Dec 1

This beautiful Charlottesville tradition began after the September 11 attacks. In 2023, Lighting of the Lawn will be in person for the UVA and Charlottesville community, and live-streamed free at lightingofthelawn.com for everyone to watch. 7:00 – 9:00.

Marshall Plan Tree Walk, Leesburg, Dec 2 – 31

Head to historic Dodona Manor during the holiday season to see 17 lighted and decorated Christmas trees at the annual Marshall Plan Tree Walk in Leesburg. Entry is free and the trees are lit nightly.

U.S. Capital Christmas Tree, Dec 2 – Jan 1

The huge Capital Christmas tree decorates the lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building beginning Dec 2. The “People's Tree” is decorated with handmade ornaments and is lit from dusk to 11:00 PM nightly. Capture a great photo with the U.S. Capitol building in the background!

US Capitol Christmas Tree Washington DC
US Capitol Christmas Tree

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Alexandria, Dec 2

The annual Alexandria Boat Parade of Lights is held 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. Prizes are awarded in categories like Best in Show and Hardiest Souls. Free, 5:30.

District's Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, The Wharf, Dec 2

On the same night, The Wharf joins the tradition with its own boat parade. Arrive early to decorate gingerbread cookies, make s'mores at the fire pit, and get a photo with Santa. Free; 6:00 – 9:00, parade begins at 7:00 with finale fireworks at 8:00.

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

Head to The Franklin Park Arts Center and stroll outside among beautifully lighted sculptures created by local artists. Free, 6:00 – 8:00 nightly.

Christmas Village, Leesburg Animal Park, Dec 8 – 23

Visit Santa and his animal friends and walk through a Christmas Village with thousands of sparkling outdoor lights. Train and pony rides, tasty treats, and family fun make this one of the 12 Holiday Favorites recommended by local experts. Tickets are $16.95 per person, 2 and under free.

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

Take an evening stroll through Claude Moore Park to see a sparkling holiday light display and festive decorations. Extra fun on Friday and Saturday nights includes a campfire, marshmallows, and hot chocolate. Free, 5:00 – 7:00.

Illuminate Fairfax, Old Town Fairfax, Dec 15 – Feb 10

New in 2023/2024, see dazzling light artworks at 4 locations in Old Town Fairfax. All of the light displays are close to each other so they're easy to see on a wintery walk through Old Town. Free; illuminated 5:00 – 10:00, Thursday – Sunday.

Free Christmas Tree Lighting Events and Displays

There are lots of great Christmas tree-lighting events in 2023 and you can see beautiful and festive decorations at the locations listed below. These are fun, free spots for holiday photos whether you visit by day or night.

Tysons Corner Christmas Tree on the Plaza at Tyson Corner Center is a fun photo spot. Kick off the season at the tree lighting on Nov 17, 6:00 – 8:00.

HolidayFest Tree Lighting in Historic Occoquan. Watch the annual tree lighting in historic Occoquan on Nov 18 at 6:00. Then check out the holiday decorations and shopping deals. Visit on Dec 3-4 for the Holiday Artisan Market.

Village at Leesburg Christmas Tree: The big rainbow-colored tree is a great backdrop for holiday photos, and the tree lighting event is Nov 18 at 5:00. The Holiday Open House kicks off at 2:00 with Santa and Mrs. Claus, strolling carolers, ice skating, and more.

Culpeper Holiday Open House and Tree Lighting: Head to quaint downtown Culpeper for a day of kids' activities, live entertainment, shopping, and community tree lighting on Nov 19, 7:00 am – 4:00.

Reston Town Center Holidays: The annual Thanksgiving parade and tree lighting on Nov 24 is one of our favorite holiday events in Northern VA. You can also enjoy the magic of the season on the plaza and ice skating in the pavilion. Pretty decorations perfect for family photos are sprinkled around the center.

Old Town Alexandria: You'll find some of the prettiest holiday decorations in the DC region on the shops and streets of Old Town Alexandria. The annual tree lighting is on Nov 24 and the holiday shopping season kicks off on Plaid Friday.

Alexandria Christmas Tree
Alexandria Christmas Tree

Mosaic District Christmas: We love the quirky holiday decorations at Mosaic District and they're perfect for a unique Christmas photo. Don't miss the annual tree lighting and Santa firetruck parade on Nov 24, 4:30 – 8:30.

CityCenter DC: The annual tree lighting at CityCenter DC celebrates its 10th anniversary on Nov 24, 5:00 – 7:00. The 75-foot tree is covered in hundreds of ornaments and sparkling lights accompanied by two 25-foot reindeer.

Fairfax Corner: You'll find a pretty tree perfect for a holiday pic at the Fairfax Corner outdoor mall. Enjoy a s'mores station on Dec 3 and a Grinchmas Holiday Plaza Party on Dec 16.

Leesburg Holiday Tree Lighting: Gather at the Leesburg Town Green on Dec 2 at 6:00 for the annual tree lighting with music, holiday characters, and festive fun. Leesburg is one of the prettiest Christmas towns in Virginia to visit during the holiday season.

Santa Lights Manassas: Santa arrives by VRE train to preside over the annual Manassas Tree Lighting on Dec 1 at 5:15. Free wagon rides and ice skating at the pavilion add to the fun.

Old Town Fairfax Festival of Lights and Carols on Dec 2, noon – 6:00, features holiday music and carols and the lighting of the Christmas tree at Old Town Square. Find the perfect gift at the holiday market, the first 2 weekends of December.

The Wharf DC: Watch the annual boat parade on Dec 2 and get a photo with the 45-foot Christmas tree on District Pier.

One Loudoun Holiday Tree Lighting: The 11th annual Holiday Tree Lighting celebration is on Dec 2 at 4:00. Enjoy live entertainment, Santa photos, ice sculpture carving, and more.

Del Ray Holiday Season: Visit Alexandria's Del Ray neighborhood for the annual tree lighting, Menorah lighting, and Christmas carols on Dec 3 at 6:00. This neighborhood is a fun place to shop for unique gifts with festive, hand-painted windows decorating the stores.

Great Falls Celebration of Lights: The Town Green hosts the annual tree lighting on Dec 3, 3:00 – 6:00. Enjoy a petting zoo, live music, hot chocolate, and the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Like many of our favorite small towns in Northern Virginia, Great Falls homes and businesses sparkle in December. Take a scenic drive on Georgetown Pike to check out all of the fun displays.

Business and Neighborhood Holiday Lights in Northern VA

A holiday lights drive is one of our favorite December activities, and we're always on the lookout for new and favorite light displays. Below are some favorite holiday lights displays at businesses and private homes in Northern Virginia.

Bluemont Vineyard

Bluemont Vineyard illuminates over 10,000 vines at special Light up the Vines events on Nov 24, from 5:00 – 7:00 and the lights are illuminated nightly throughout the holiday season. Plan a day trip with our guide to fun things to do in Bluemont Virginia.

Multiple Locations, Vienna

There are lots of over-the-top Christmas light displays in Vienna. Here are some of our favorites:

The Christmas lights at 10203 Lawyers Road in Vienna feature an ocean scene with dolphins and fish, cute polar bears, woodland creatures, an eagle carrying a present, and more. Park across the street on Galloping Way and carefully cross Lawyers to see this display from the sidewalk in front of the house.

Holiday lights at 10203 Lawyers Vienna VA
10203 Lawyers Vienna holiday lights

Here's a closer look at this fun holiday lights display:

A bit further south at 10033 Lawyers, watch for a large property set back from the road decorated with yellow lights. This one is easiest to see from the car.

We highly recommend a drive on Cottage Street Southwest in Vienna to view Christmas lights from the car. There are enough houses decorated on Cottage and intersecting streets to dazzle your group. We love the large, yellow-lit homes at 801 and 802 Cottage Street!

802 Cottage St Vienna holiday lights
802 Cottage St Vienna holiday lights

In the same part of Vienna, there's a festive collection of decorated houses on Okaton Park Court that you can drive or walk past.

Christmas Lights Oakton Park Ct Vienna

You'll find a more modern take on Christmas lights at 602 Birch Street SW in Vienna. Here you can watch a projected display that includes clips from popular movies and scenes of historic Vienna all synched to music.

Projected Christmas lights display at 602 Birch St SW Vienna VA
602 Birch St SW Vienna Display

Joyce Road, Alexandria

If you love holiday inflatables this is the house for you! The front yard at 6412 Joyce Road in Alexandria is absolutely packed with inflated holiday characters. Many of the displays move, and shining lights on the house make a nice backdrop (check out the video here).

Holiday lights at 6412 Joyce Rd Alexandria
6412 Joyce Rd Alexandria

Take a drive around the neighborhood to see more nice Christmas displays, then head to King Street to see Old Town Alexandria decked out for the holidays.

Marshall Pond Road, Burke

The little cul-de-sac at Marshall Pond Road in Burke really gets into the Christmas spirit. Seven houses are decorated for the season, creating their own Christmas Village. Park at the top and walk through the pipestem to enjoy all of the displays. Santa may make an appearance during the holiday season. Get the latest updates on their Facebook page.

Multiple Locations, Herndon

Here are some of the sparkly Herndon houses that we like to check out:

11904 Paradise Lane has a yard full of fun vignettes including an inflated jack-in-the-box and a pond with jumping fish.

Holiday lights at 11904 Paradise Lane Herndon
11904 Paradise Lane Herndon

Nearby Lake James Street includes two houses with lots of wrapped, colorful trees. Drive to the end of the cul-de-sac to see more decorated houses.

Enter the Fox Mill neighborhood on Viking Road and you'll see lots of nice light displays like the one below.

Franklin Farm holiday lights Herndon
Franklin Farm holiday lights Herndon

Make your way to 12708 Kettering Drive to a house with several lit holiday boxes. The boxes include a dancing snowman, a running model train, and a dancing Santa (press the button to start the show).

12708 Kettering Drive Herndon holiday lights
12708 Kettering Dr Herndon

Further south, the display at 13204 Stone Heather Drive wraps around the house.

Millwood Square, Sterling

One of our readers alerted us to this fantastic, over-the-top townhouse in Potomac Falls (aka Sterling). Our photo of 21244 Millwood Square below is from 2016, and it was even more packed with holiday fun in 2020.

Millwood Square lights Sterling Virginia 2016
Millwood Square lights Sterling VA

East Juniper Street, Sterling

Nicknamed Candy Cane Lane, we visited East Juniper Street in Sterling since our children were small. Unfortunately, there are fewer decorated houses and they are more spread out through the neighborhood.

The Holly's Tacky Christmas Lights website updates yearly and is an excellent resource for finding holiday lights in Northern Virginia.

We love the holidays and we love to drive around looking at lights, tacky or not. It's wonderful to see many Washington DC area holiday light shows opening in 2023. Happy holidays to you!

Find more holiday fun in these guides:

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Complete guide to holiday light shows in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington DC region.
Holiday Light Shows VA DC
Complete guide to Christmas and holiday lights in the Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC region.
Holiday Lights Guide Virginia DC