January 2019 events in Northern Virginia include New Year’s celebrations and First Day hikes, final holiday festivals, special MLK Day celebrations, and plenty of winter fun. As Virginians know, winter storms can interfere with weekend plans.
Events are listed in order of start date unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check ahead for inclement weather closures before you head out.
Bad weather ahead? Check our list of helpful tools for tracking Northern Virginia storms for the latest updates and warning.
First Night and New Year’s Day 2019 in Northern Virginia
Finish 2018 strong and kick off January 2019 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 leading up to midnight fireworks. 7:00 – midnight.
Watch Night, Falls Church, Dec 31 – Jan 1
Watch Night spans a four block area of downtown Falls Church that is closed to traffic and open to fun. The free event features 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 Day Hikes, Virginia State Parks and Fairfax County Parks, Jan 1
On January 1st, America’s State Parks host special events and guided hikes to kick off the new year with healthy, family-friendly activities. Start your January 2019 with a Virginia First Day Hike and enjoy free entry to all Virginia State Parks, special programs, and two competitions with some nice prizes.
To win prizes, register before midnight December 31st, hike on January 1st, and record your hike. An annual photo contest is also an opportunity for visitors to win gift certificates that can be used for camping and cabin reservations or to purchase annual passes.
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.
Final Holiday Light Shows in Northern Virginia
The holiday light show season winds down in early 2019 with a few more days of sparkly fun. Events are listed below in order of end date.
Christmas on the Potomac with ICE!, National Harbor, Nov 16 – Jan 1
More than 2 million twinkling lights, nightly snowfall, and beautiful dancing fountains at Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac. ICE! returns with 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and 5 ice slides plus a new skating rink, Christmas show, and adorable Rudolph theme. Follow the link for ticket prices and hours, and consider turning your visit into a National Harbor weekend getaway.
LightUp Fest at One Loudoun, Ashburn, Nov 8 – Jan 2
New in 2018, bring the family to One Loudoun for a giant Lights & Lantern Show combined with delectable food and acrobatics performances. 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.
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 9 – Jan 6
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, Nov 21 – Jan
A dazzling 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. In December 2018, 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.
GardenFest of Lights, Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden, Richmond, Nov 23 – Jan 7
Lewis Ginter Botanic Garden sparkles with more than half-a-million twinkling lights. See hand-crafted botanical decorations, model trains, holiday dinners, firepit with s’mores and hot chocolate (for purchase), nightly family activities, and more. $13/11/8 for adults/seniors/children. 5:00 – 10:00 pm nightly.
More January 2019 Events in Northern Virginia
A Special Anniversary at George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Jan 6
Join George and Martha Washington for an exclusive celebration of their wedding anniversary. This special evening tour of the Mansion includes a rare visit to the third floor and greeting the Washingtons in the New Room. After your tour, enjoy a reception with cake, music, and champagne at the Interpretive Center and take your picture with the Washingtons. $26/$11 adults/youth 6 – 11; 4:00 – 6:00 pm.
Tree ID Hike, Potomac Overlook Regional Park, Jan 12
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 6 & up. Meet at the nature center. $10; 9:00 – 10:00.
Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, Jan 14 – 20
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.
Shen Yun, George Mason Concert Hall, Fairfax, Jan 17 – 20
Shen Yun invites you to travel back to the magical world of ancient China. Experience a lost culture through the incredible art of classical Chinese dance, and see legends come to life. Shen Yun pushes the boundaries of the performing arts with a unique blend of stunning costuming, high-tech backdrops, and an orchestra like no other. Show times and ticket prices vary; follow the link for details.
Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week, Jan 18 – 27
65 Alexandria restaurants offer a $35 three-course dinner for one or a $35 dinner for two during Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week. More than 35 restaurants will also offer lunch deals at $15 or $22 per person in addition to the dinner specials. 14 of those restaurants will offer $15 or $22 brunch.
2019 MLK Celebration, Reston, Jan 19 – 21
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.
Winter Ice Fest and Mega Block Ice Carving Competition, Village at Leesburg, Jan 19
The 6th 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 and treats, warming igloos, interactive games made of ice, and photo ops with the Washington Capitals Red Rockers and Slapshot. Free.
The Lees: A Birthday Celebration, Stratford Hall, Northern Neck, Jan 19
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” to perform live 19th Century music. In keeping with tradition. Free; 9:30 – 5:00.
Learn more about Stratford Hall and the Northern Neck area:
Full Moon Nature Hike and Campfire, Riverbend Park, Jan 20
Enjoy nature’s tranquil beauty and winter’s bright skies under the full moon at Riverbend Park. A naturalist guide points out signs of creatures that glide, fly and tiptoe through the woods in the dark. Enjoy a campfire after the hike with s’mores provided. $9, 5:30 – 7:30.
Free Entrance to National Parks, Jan 21
The US National Park Service is only hosting 4 fee-free days in 2019, 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.
MLK Service and Learning Day, Frying Pan Park, Jan 21
Gather at the Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center to learn how to give back to our community and practice working together. Rotate through stations to hear a story about Dr. King and play teambuilding games to discover the power of cooperation. Paint watercolor artworks to donate to a local senior home as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service. Toy donations for children in need will also be collected. Hour-long sessions at 9:30 and 11:00; $8.
27th Annual Martin Luther King Jr Celebration, Leesburg, Jan 21
The theme of this year’s celebration is “Dream,Believe…Act!”, focusing on the dream of achieving racial equality and harmony in our community and nation. Activities include a march, beginning at 10:00 from the Loudoun County Courthouse. Following the march, refreshments will be served at the Douglass Community Center. Musical performances, presentations, and inspirational offerings will be made by members of the community. Free.
Full Super Moon Hike, Riverbend Park, Jan 21
Enjoy a naturalist-led night hike at Hidden Oaks Nature Center to see a super moon — a full moon that looks larger than usual due to its closer distance to the Earth. $7; 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing, Turner Observatory, Great Falls, Jan 21
Come experience a total lunar eclipse at the Turner Farm Observatory. Enjoy a campfire, marshmallow roasting and constellation viewings. Access the roll-top observatory for close-up views of the moon, Mars, and the stars. The park will stay open until the end of the eclipse. 9:30 pm – 12:45 am; $10.
McLean Chocolate Festival, McLean, Jan 27
The Eighth 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. $2, 3 and under free; 11:00 – 5:00.
More January 2019 Winter Fun
There are fewer festivals and events this month, so you may need to create your own January 2019 winter fun. Here are some ideas for winter outings that offer brisk adventures or cozy escapes, depending on your mood and the weather.
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 icy or water-logged. A little snow on the ground is not a problem with most of these destinations, but wear good hiking boots. And always check ahead for inclement weather closures.
Take a Spin at a Local Ice Skating Rink
The return of chilly temps is perfect for a wintery outing to Northern Virginia ice skating rinks. we found 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. Why not try them all this winter?
Sometimes the cold weather curtails our desire for outdoor adventures, 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 2019 events are on your list, we hope you’ll have time to explore and enjoy the Northern Virginia area. Know of more fun January 2019 events? Please share your tips in the comments below. Thanks and have a happy and fun-filled 2019!