January Events in Northern Virginia and Fun Near DC

Updated on January 25, 2024 by Julie McCool

2024 January events in Northern Virginia include great celebrations and activities to start the new year. Annual January events include First Day hikes, holiday light shows, special MLK Day events, restaurant deals, and plenty of winter fun.

Looking for fun things to do this weekend in Northern VA? Our list of Northern Virginia events includes things to do in Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, Alexandria, Arlington, and other area towns. Festivals and events are listed in order of start date, with multi-day events generally listed first.

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As Virginians know, winter storms can interfere with weekend plans. Be sure to check ahead for inclement weather closures before you head out. These helpful tools for tracking Northern Virginia storms will get you to the latest updates and warnings.

First Night and New Year's Day 2024 in Northern Virginia

Say farewell to 2023 at First Night celebrations in Alexandria (and maybe Falls Church) with live entertainment and fireworks. Then, kick off 2024 and work off those holiday treats with a First Day Hike and the chance to win prizes at Fairfax County Parks.

New Year’s Eve at First Night Alexandria, Alexandria, Dec 31 – Jan 1

First Night Fireworks, photo: J Clifford for Visit Alexandria
First Night Fireworks, photo: J Clifford for Visit Alexandria

First Night Alexandria is a spectacular New Year's Eve celebration to welcome the new year. Enjoy special performances and activities throughout Old Town Alexandria then head to the waterfront for the fireworks show.

Purchase an all-access or day-only pass to enjoy the festivities. Ticket prices vary by age and VIP passes are available. Follow the link for ticket purchase and performance schedule. 2:00 to midnight.

Watch Night, Falls Church, Dec 31 – Jan 1

Watch Night Falls Church returns with a free event that features indoor and outdoor fun including live bands and musicians, interactive amusements, and more. Ring in the New Year with the lowering of the Historic Star (the City’s first holiday decoration from 1948) at midnight. Free; 7:00 – midnight.

First Day Hikes, Virginia State Parks and Fairfax County Parks, Jan 1-2

On January 1st, America’s State Parks encourages everyone to start the new year with a healthy, family-friendly hike. Start your January 2024 with a Virginia First Day Hike and enjoy free entry and parking at all Virginia State Parks.

Most Virginia state parks also host special First Day programs. For example, Sky Meadows State Park will open their gates at 5:30 AM so you can hike to the Piedmont Overlook and watch the first sunrise of 2024. The new Sweet Run State Park is hosting two guided hikes or you can create your own.

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts its own First Hike Fairfax contest to get you outside and on the trail. Take a hike at a Fairfax County park on January 1. Take a picture during your hike and enter to win prizes that will help you stay active after the hike.

Our First Day Hikes article has all the details and links to participate.

Snowy Views on a Winter Walk at Burke Lake Park in Northern Virginia
Winter Walk at Burke Lake Park

Final Holiday Light Shows in Northern Virginia

The annual holiday light show season winds down in early 2024 with a few more days of sparkly fun. In addition, one light show extends into February, giving us more festivals to enjoy in January.

Events are listed below in order of the end date.

Colorful Walk-thru Alligator Lantern at the 2023 DC Lantern Festival in Tysons Virginia
DC Winter Lantern Festival

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

Over 500,000 lights and displays sparkle along a .6-mile outdoor walking trail. Plus, enjoy hot chocolate by the fire and visit the holiday Snowflake Shoppe. Tickets are $18 and must be purchased online for peak weeks (Dec 9 – Jan 8). Open nightly, including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00; last admission at 9:30.

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

Don't miss this beautiful 2.5-mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. Admission is $30 online per car, $40 at the door. Follow the link info, tips, and a $5 weekday discount code. 5:30 – 9:30 weekdays, 5:30 – 10:00 weekends.

Winter Wander, Charlottesville, Nov 17 – Jan 6

The University of Virginia presents a beautiful half-mile walk-through display of holiday lights at the Boars Head Resort in Charlottesville. Lights fill the fields and trees behind the resort, a 35-foot Christmas tree sparkles, and a market offers food, drink, and shopping. Tickets are $20/$10 for adults/youth 4-12 with season passes available.

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

Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden sparkles with more than a million twinkling lights, botanical decorations, model trains, Christmas trees, and more. Tickets are $17 – $20 for adults, $8 – $12 for youth (advance purchase required). Open 5:00 – 10:00 nightly. Why not plan a Weekend Getaway to Richmond Virginia?


 Catch the last day of the Winter Village on January 1st, then return when the ice skating rink opens through late January.

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

New this year, see a dazzling display of holiday lights at 4 locations in Old Town Fairfax. All of the light displays are close to each other so easy to see on a wintery walk through Old Town. Free; illuminated 5:00 – 10:00, Thursday – Sunday.

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

Returning for the 2023/2024 season, the DC Winter Lantern Festival lights up Lerner Square in Tysons with beautiful Chinese lanterns. The walk-through light show offers great photo opps plus kids activities. 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.

More January Events in Northern Virginia

Too cold for an outdoor event? Check out our big guide to Indoor Activities in Northern Virginia to Escape Winter Cold or a Rainy Day.

National Bird Day, Jan 5

January is a great time for birding in Northern Virginia because the lack of foliage makes it easier to spot our feathered friends. Celebrate National Bird Day and get outdoors with a hike at these wonderful parks and trails:

2024 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.

Join in Community Service Projects to help local non-profits like the Embry Rucker Community Shelter, Cornerstones, and The Closet. Follow the link for the event schedule and registration details.

Close-up of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial in Washington DC
MLK Jr Memorial Washington DC

Martin Luther King Jr Celebration, Leesburg, Jan 15

Leesburg's 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr March and Celebration is an in-person event in 2024. Join the march at 10:00 followed by speakers and entertainment. Participants are encouraged to donate to a collection drive to support local non-profits. Follow the link for the schedule and details.

MLK Day of Service, Arlington, Jan 15

Participate in “A Day On, Not a Day Off” with Volunteer Arlington. Join in a morning of volunteer training and service projects for all ages. Free, 8:30 – noon.

Free Entrance to National Parks, Jan 15

The US National Park Service is hosting 5 fee-free days in 2024, and Martin Luther King, Jr Day is the first National Park 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.

Great Falls Park in the snow, one of the nest winter walks and hikes in Northern Virginia
Great Falls Park in Winter

Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week, Jan 15 – 21

Eat your way through a week of dining deals during Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week. 250 restaurants, including many in Northern Virginia, offer 3-course brunches and lunches for $25/$35 and dinners for $40/$55/$65 (per person, beverage, tax, and gratuity not included).

Enjoy your meal at outdoor patios, dine in (where available), or order to go and dine at home. Follow the link to search by cuisine and neighborhood or to check for your favorite dining spot.

Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week, Jan 19 – 28

More than 70 Alexandria restaurants offer $30, $40, and $50 prix fixe dinners during Alexandria Winter Restaurant Week. Support local restaurants and enjoy a delicious meal. Many of the restaurants offer outdoor heated dining or take-out. Follow the link for participating restaurant details.

Falls Church Restaurant Week, Jan 19 – 28

Explore diverse cuisine from many cultures during the 2024 Falls Church Restaurant Week. More than 40 restaurants will offer special deals with some featuring special 3-course menus.

Wreaths Out, Arlington National Cemetery, Jan 20

Join other volunteers in removing wreaths from headstones and niche covers in Arlington National Cemetery. Free; 8:00.

Astronomy Festival, Great Falls, Jan 20

Enjoy winter's early dark with guided stargazing through a telescope at Turner Farm Park in Great Falls. Listen to ancient stories about the constellations around a cozy campfire. There will be games and activities throughout the evening and hot chocolate and snacks available for purchase. $10; 5:00 – 7:30.

Ice Festival 2024, Village at Leesburg, Jan 27

Head to the Village at Leesburg to see beautiful ice sculptures displayed throughout the village. Ice skating, photo opps, interactive ice games, and special deals add to the fun. Free, noon – 4:00.

Make it a Leesburg Weekend Getaway with a stay at nearby Lansdowne Resort and Spa.

Bricks by the Lake, Reston, Jan 27

Brick masters (and LEGO lovers of all ages) get ready for an afternoon of creativity at Lake Anne Plaza. Join in the family-friendly LEGO competition or just stop by to check out the cool creations. Most activities are indoors at the Reston Museum and the Community Center. Free admission to watch, register to compete. 11:00 – 4:00.

Find lots more brick fun at the LEGO Discovery Center in Springfield VA.

McLean Chocolate Festival, McLean, Jan 28

The annual McLean Chocolate Festival returns in 2024! Enjoy a day of chocolate, live entertainment, and children's activities at the McLean Community Center to support this fundraiser for the McLean Rotary Club. $2 (3 and under free), 11:00 – 5:00.

National Plan for Vacation Day, Jan 30

Don't leave your vacation days unused. Plan your next weekend getaway, staycation, or longer vacation with our guides:

More January 2024 Winter Activities in Northern VA

Create your own winter fun with outings that offer brisk adventures or cozy escapes.

Stay Active at Indoor Attractions in Northern VA

You don't have to brave the cold! There are so many fantastic indoor attractions in Northern Virginia and there is something to please every age. Visit top museums like the Smithsonian Air and Space Udvar-Hazy Center and the US Army Museum. Tour historic sites like George Washington's Mount Vernon. Or thrill the kids with a visit to the new LEGO Discovery Center in Springfield.

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. 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. Whether you prefer to skate indoors or out, ice skating destinations offer smooth ice, happy music, and nearby fun.

Ice Skating at Reston Town Center, one of the Fun Things to Do on Thanksgiving Weekend in Northern Virginia
Ice Skating Rink, Reston VA

Support Local Businesses at Quaint Small Towns Near DC

Plan a day trip or a weekend getaway with our list of 15 Fun Northern Virginia Small Towns to Visit. From tiny hamlets to historic Old Towns, we've found quaint and interesting places to explore. Visit these towns and you can support local restaurants, shops, wineries, and breweries plus enjoy outdoor activities.

Festive wreaths and garlands decorating a store in Occoquan, one of the best Christmas towns near DC
Occoquan Christmas Decorations

Find a Warm Winter Outing Close to Home

We've rounded up warm winter outings that offer a change of scene close to home. Note that weather-related closures may affect indoor venues, so check the linked sites before you head out.

Escape on a Weekend Getaway Near Northern VA

Our big list of 23 Fantastic Weekend Getaways In and Near Northern Virginia offers a nice break from the winter doldrums. From historic inns to comfy hotels, we have options for every taste. Browse our list and plan your perfect winter escape.

Find a Perfect Winter Getaway

Looking for more than a night or two nearby? We've rounded up Favorite Winter Getaways from Northern Virginia by Plane, Train, and Auto to inspire your next trip. Whether you want time in the city or toes in the sand, we have tips for trips that are easy to reach from Northern VA. Happy travel!

Anna Maria Island Florida
Anna Maria Island Florida

Sip Wine with a Sensational View

Want to enjoy a beautiful view from a cozy spot? Visit one of the many excellent Virginia wineries and soak up nature with a glass in hand.

Fox Meadow Winery Winter View
Fox Meadow Winery Winter View

Take a Scenic Drive to Explore Northern VA

We've rounded up the best scenic drives in Northern Virginia where you can explore small towns and history while enjoying country roads.

Coming in February 2024

Lunar New Year Celebrations, Fairfax Libraries, Feb 3

Welcome the Year of the Dragon with special Lion Dance performances at several Fairfax County Public Libraries. Follow the link for times and locations.

Lunar New Year Celebration, Tysons Corner Center, Feb 3

Celebrate the Lunar New Year and welcome the Year of the Dragon with traditional music and dance performances plus giveaways and more. Free, 1:00 – 3:00.

Chinese New Year Festival, Falls Church, Feb 17

The 14th annual Chinese New Year Festival features a day of live music, dragon and lion dances. Enjoy children's games and crafts, Asian cuisine, Chinese language workshops, the popular dragon parade, and many activities for children. Admission is $2/$5 for ages 6-12/adults; 10:00 – 6:00.

Whatever January events are on your list, we hope you'll have plenty of time to explore and enjoy the Northern Virginia area. we wish you a happy, healthy, and fun-filled start to 2024!

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January events and things to do in Northern Virginia include New Year's celebrations, First Day hikes, final holiday season celebrations, and plenty of winter fun near DC.
January Events Northern Virginia