ICE National Harbor and Christmas on the Potomac, Gaylord Resort

ICE National Harbor and Christmas on the Potomac return to Gaylord Resort in 2021 with fantastic ice sculptures, a spectacular light show, and holiday fun for the Washington DC region.

Special holiday activities perfect for kids and families deliver tons of Christmas fun at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

  • Don your Big Blue Parka and head to the ICE! tent for a holiday-themed wonderland (details and pics below).
  • Enjoy a free show on stage in the Gaylord's 19-story atrium (paid premium seats available).
  • Watch a free, incredible laser light show. The light show features a 55-foot suspended Christmas tree, musical fountains, and indoor snow delights guests nightly.
  • Indoor Tubing delivers an adrenaline rush as you slide through conveyor belts and down a two-story indoor hill.
  • Enjoy ice skating at a tented, outdoor rink in Winter Square.
  • Take a spin and challenge your family on ice bumper cars.
  • Find the perfect Christmas gift at the Holiday Shoppe.
  • Enjoy snowball and gingerbread-house making, storytime, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and more holiday fun.
Christmas on the Potomac Gaylord National Harbor
Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Harbor

ICE! National Harbor

Every year we look forward to walking through ICE National Harbor, to see the expertly carved, colorful ice sculptures. The walk-through display features favorite holiday characters, sculpted from huge, brightly colored ice blocks.

In 2019, the Grinch, Max, and the Whos were the stars, and 2021 highlights a collection of favorite Christmas movie scenes.

Grinch welcome to ICE National Harbor
Grinch welcome to ICE National Harbor

Visitors don big blue parkas before entering the ICE! tent, which is kept at a continuous 9° Fahrenheit. That chilly temp keeps the beautiful ice sculptures crisp and bright throughout the holiday season.

Grinch and Max ICE National Harbor
Grinch and Max ICE National Harbor
Sneaky Grinch and sleepy Whos
Sneaky Grinch and sleepy Whos
ICE Grinch carves the roast beast at Gaylord National Harbor
ICE Grinch carves the roast beast at Gaylord National Harbor

In addition to the ice sculptures, kids big and small have fun on 4 big slides, also sculpted from ice. Fortunately, that long parka adds warmth and a nice slippery surface for comfy sliding.

ICE slides 2019
ICE slides 2019

The festive, themed ice displays provide lots of opportunities to capture a perfect holiday photo.

Grinch Christmas tree ICE National Harbor
Grinch Christmas tree ICE National Harbor

The final sculpture in the tent features a dramatic, life-size creche carved from clear ice.

ICE creche Gaylord National Resort. Photo by Chris Militzer
ICE creche Gaylord National Resort. Photo by Chris Militzer

Christmas Village Activities at Gaylord National

The fun continues when you leave the ICE tent and enter the Christmas Village. Kids can decorate a gingerbread house to take home, build a custom fluffy friend at the Build-a-Bear Workshop, and join in more activities.

Santa is on hand for photos, and you can join Mrs. Claus for a story, Christmas Carols, and milk and cookies. All Christmas Village activities have additional fees (multi-activity packages are also available).

Christmas Village Gaylord National Resort, photo by Chris Militzer
Christmas Village Gaylord National Resort, photo by Chris Militzer

All ages can enjoy the new two-story tubing run. It's a short but very fast ride on an indoor hill.

Indoor Tubing Hill at Gaylord National
Indoor Tubing Hill at Gaylord National

More Fun at Christmas on the Potomac in the Gaylord National Atrium

There is lots more holiday fun in the giant Gaylord atrium. In 2019, Christmas on the Potomac featured a great show by Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. The 25-minute show is free to watch, and guaranteed ticketed seats are also available.

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped Acrobats at Gaylord National Harbor
Cirque Dreams Unwrapped 2019

Every night, the atrium comes alive with a colorful, laser-enhanced light show featuring the giant Christmas tree. Lights and music are synchronized with a fountain that shoots 60 feet high. Nightly indoor snowfall adds to the holiday magic.

Holiday light show Gaylord National Resort, photo by Chris Militzer
Holiday light show Gaylord National Resort, photo by Chris Militzer

Tips for Your Visit to ICE National Harbor and Christmas on the Potomac

  • In 2021, ICE is open daily from November 26 to December 31, including Christmas day.
  • Tickets for each activity and event can be purchased separately, or in a variety of discounted packages. Click for event info, tickets, and hours.
  • Hours for the stage show vary by day, so check the calendar to reserve your spot. There is usually a 1:00 and 6:30 pm show, with an additional 8:00 pm show on Saturday nights.
  • A big blue parka comes with your ICE ticket, but bring your own mittens or gloves. You will definitely want to cover the hands of little ones using the ice slide.
  • Cell phone batteries may shut down due to low temperatures in the ICE! tent, so keep your phone close to you when not in use. My iPhone died suddenly near the end of the ICE! display, and wouldn't restart until I plugged it in.
  • Another great family photo spot is just outside the Atrium where a pile of oversize ornaments are backed by the suspended Christmas tree.
Step outside for a family photo at Gaylord Christmas on the Potomac
Gaylord Christmas on the Potomac

Turn your ICE visit into a National Harbor weekend getaway for some extra holiday fun. There are several hotels at National Harbor and lots of activities beyond the Gaylord ice sculptures. If you want to be in the middle of the Christmas fun, Gaylord National offers stay and play packages throughout the season.

Gaylord National Resort is at 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington DC. We think it's a wonderful place to celebrate the holiday season. Do you plan to visit ICE National Harbor this year?

Find more festive holiday fun in the Northern Virginia and Washington DC region in these articles:

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Fun in Fairfax VA was hosted to a media preview of ICE 2019 at Gaylord National Resort. All opinions and text are our own. Some photographs are by Chris Militzer, used with permission. Chris is an Alexandria, Virginia photographer specializing in fine art photography of landscapes and nature, featured on Visit Virginia, and USA Today. Browse and purchase Chris's photographs at Miliman12 Photography, and on Instagram and Twitter.

2019 ICE National Harbor and Christmas on the Potomac return to Gaylord Resort with Grinch themed sculptures, spectacular light show, and festive holiday fun near Washington DC.
Christmas on the Potomac

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