January 2018 events begin with New Year’s celebrations and First Day hikes, finish out the holiday festival season, offer special MLK Day celebrations, and deliver plenty of winter fun. As Virginians know, winter storms can interfere with weekend plans. Be sure to check ahead for inclement weather closures and bookmark our list of helpful tools for tracking Northern Virginia storms.
First Night and New Year’s Day in Northern Virginia
Finish 2017 strong and kick off January 2018 with First Day events featuring family fun, live entertainment, and fireworks, then work off the fun with a First Day Hike and the chance to win prizes at Virginia State Parks and Fairfax County Parks.
New Year’s Eve at First Night Alexandria, Alexandria, Dec 31 – Jan 1
First Night Alexandria transforms Old Town into a big New Year’s Eve celebration with more than 100 live performances at 22 indoor venues and a fireworks display over the river at midnight. Your First Night badge lets you in to all the venues which include art galleries, historic sites, churches and even retail shops. Don’t miss the dance party at the foot of King Street leading up the midnight fireworks. 7:00 – midnight.
Watch Night, Falls Church, Dec 31 – Jan 1
Big Night in The Little City Watch Night spans a four block area of downtown Falls Church that is closed to traffic and open to fun. The free event features 6 live bands and more musicians, interactive amusements and activities, inflatables for all ages, caricaturist, balloon artist, puppet shows and more. Free hot chocolate, popcorn, cookies and cider at various venues during this family-friendly celebration. Ring in the New Year with the lowering of the Historic Star (the City’s first holiday decoration from 1948) at midnight. Free; historic tours begin at 6:00, rides and amusements 7:00 – midnight.
First Night Vienna, Vienna, Cancelled
Sadly, the annual First Night Vienna celebration has been cancelled due to lack of resources.
First Day Hikes, Virginia State Parks and Fairfax County Parks, Jan 1
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. Start your January 2018 fun with a Virginia First Day Hike, with free entry to all Virginia State Parks, special programs, and two competitions with some nice prizes.
The Fairfax County Park Authority is joining the First Day hike fun to get you outside and on the trail. They’ve picked five family-friendly starter hikes at some really great parks in Fairfax County. Take a picture during your hike and enter to win great prizes that will help you stay active after the hike.
January 2018 Events
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, through 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. Tickets $8 – $16 depending on age and time; nightly including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00.
Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, through Jan 7
A dazzling 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. In December 2017, 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, -10:00 weekends.
Christmas at Mount Vernon, through Jan 6
Until January 6th, the Mansion is decorated for the season and Aladdin the Christmas camel is in residence. Fun fact—George Washington paid 18 shillings to bring a camel to Mount Vernon for the enjoyment of his guests at Christmas. The Christmas season is a beautiful time to visit Mount Vernon. Daily, 9:00 – 4:00.
Winter Wonderland Hike, Riverbend Park, Jan 6, 20, 27
Work off holiday calories with a quick hike in Riverbend Park, and then work on your resolution to de-stress in the New Year. After exploring the wintry beauty of Riverbend with a hike through the park, join in some relaxing meditation exercises to find your inner winter calmness. The program is appropriate for adults and is offered on three Saturdays in January. $12, 9:30 – 11:30.
Winter Ice Fest and Mega Block Ice Carving Competition, Village at Leesburg, Jan 13
The 5th annual Winter Ice Fest kicks off at 9:00 am when artists begin creating their sculptures from huge blocks of ice. Eight world renowned ice carvers will compete for prizes in an 8 block competition. From 1:00 – 5:00, stroll the boulevard and enjoy music, s’mores, hot cocoa and hot cider (while supplies last), plus warming stations, photo ops with the Washington Capitals Red Rockers and Slapshot. All sculptures will be illuminated at dark. Free.
The Lees: A Birthday Celebration, Stratford Hall, Northern Neck, Jan 13
Take a road trip to the Northern Neck for a family-friendly birthday celebration at Stratford Hall, the birthplace of Robert E. Lee. Visitors will enjoy free admission, a kids scavenger hunt, refreshments, and music along with self-guided house tours. The “Civil War Civilians of Spottsylvania Historical Interpreters” will be on hand and Doug Marshall and Company will perform live 19th Century music. In keeping with tradition, guests can top off the celebration with a slice of birthday cake. Free; 9:30 – 5:00.
Learn more about Stratford Hall and the Northern Neck area:
2018 MLK Celebration, Reston, Jan 13 – 15
Reston Community Center and local faith communities host multiple events celebrating and honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. over the three-day weekend. This inspiring weekend celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. includes special performances, Community Service Projects, and the Voices of Inspiration Program sponsored by the Reston Martin Luther King, Jr. Church hosted by the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation. Follow the link for event schedule and registration details.
William Rhoden “Activist Athletes”, McLean, Jan 15
From John Carlos and Tommie Smith to Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James, brave black athletes have used their fame as a platform for social activism. William Rhoden, former New York Times sports journalist and author of “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete,” will discuss how those in the sports world fight for social justice. Meet and greet immediately following the lecture. Tickets $10 and up; 2:00 – 3:00
Free Entrance to National Parks, Jan 15
The US National Park Service is only hosting 4 fee-free days in 2018, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is the first Free Entrance Day of the year. It’s the perfect time to visit Northern Virginia area parks like Shenandoah National Park and Great Falls Park.
Richard Bland Lee’s 257th Birthday, Sully Historic Site, Jan 21
Sully Historic Site was the home of Richard Bland Lee, who represented northern Virginia in the first congress of the United States. During your afternoon house tour, discover important contributions of Mr. Lee’s impressive political career that showed him to be concerned about the future of our new nation. Stop in the east wing for a piece of birthday cake. $7; 1:00 – 4:00.
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, Jan 22 – 28
During Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, 250 restaurants, including many in Northern Virginia, offer 3-course brunches and lunches for $22, and 3-course dinners for $35 (per person, beverage, tax and gratuity not included). Follow the link to search by cuisine and neighborhood or to check for your favorite dining spot.
Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week, Jan 26 – Feb 4
For 10 days and two weekends, more than 60 Alexandria restaurants offer a $35 three-course dinner or a $35 dinner for two during Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week. More than 30 restaurants will also offer lunch deals at $10, $15 or $20 per person in addition to the dinner specials.
Winter Tree Identification, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Jan 27
Who needs a leaf to identify a tree? Not the naturalist staff of NOVA Parks. Learn the tips and tricks to identifying trees in the winter time using bark, buds, leaf scars, and more. Appropriate for adults or families with children ages 10 & up. Meet at the nature center. $10; 1:00 – 2:30.
McLean Chocolate Festival, McLean, Jan 28
The Seventh Annual McLean Chocolate Festival, a fundraiser for the McLean Rotary Club, is a community and family-friendly event. Vendors sell all things chocolate and there are chocolate-related games for children. The children’s game room will feature Mike Mitchell. $2, 11:00 – 5:00.
One in a Blue Moon, Riverbend Park, Jan 31
Meet at the visitor center at Riverbend Park to observe the second and last supermoon of 2018, which is also a Blue Moon. A blue moon is the second full moon in a month. You’ll also get information on seeing the night’s total lunar eclipse. $10; 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult.
Ongoing January 2018 Winter Fun
With fewer festivals and big events going on, you may need to plan your own January 2018 winter fun. Here are some ideas for winter outings that offer brisk adventures or cozy escapes, depending on what the weather brings.
Take a Winter Hike, Various Locations
Unless we’ve had heavy snow or rain, winter is a great time to explore local trails. These winter hikes and strolls are enjoyable except when conditions are especially snowy or water-logged. A little snow on the ground is not a problem with most of these destinations, but wear good hiking boots and check ahead for inclement weather closures.
Take a Spin at a Local Ice Skating Rink
The return of chilly temps puts us in the mood for a wintery outing, and Northern Virginia ice skating rinks offer healthy winter fun for every age, whether you prefer to skate indoors or out. Each ice skating destination offers smooth ice, happy music, and nearby fun, so why not try them all?
Sometimes the cold weather curtails our desire for outdoor sports, but cabin fever pushes us to get out of the house. Whether you have kids along or not, we’ve rounded up a few warm winter outings that offer a change of scene close to home.
Winter cold puts a dent in our outdoor activities, but we still crave a beautiful view and a chance to commune with nature. One of our favorite options for a winter outing is to visit one of the many excellent Virginia wineries and soak up nature with a glass in hand.
Escape on an Overnight Getaway
We’ve rounded up two batches of overnight getaway lodging in and near Northern Virginia that offer a perfect respite from the winter doldrums. From historic inns, to comfy hotels, to a private mill house, we have options for every taste. Browse our lists to plan your perfect winter escape:
Whatever January 2018 events are on your list, we hope you’ll have time to explore and enjoy the Northern Virginia area. Know of more fun January 2018 events? Please share your tips in the comments below. Thanks and Happy 2018!