November Events in Northern Virginia – Festivals and Fun Near DC

2020 November events in Northern Virginia mark the transition from pumpkins and fall fun to holiday displays and winter festivals. We’ve round up a month of local events in the Northern Virginia area to entertain every age and interest.

While some annual favorites are canceled in 2020, others are back with expanded hours. November events are listed in order of opening date, with multi-day events listed first. We also include a list of annual events that are canceled in 2020. Follow the links for details and to purchase tickets.

Pumpkin Patches in Northern VA

Several of the major pumpkin patches in Northern Virginia will be open the first few days of November. Here is a sample of events; check out our complete guide for more details:

2020 Pumpkin Patches in Northern Virginia for Fall Festival Fun

Pumpkin patch at Hartland Orchard Northern VA
Pumpkin patch in Northern VA

Fall Foliage, Until the Last Leaf Falls

2020 fall foliage in Northern Virginia has been spectacular. Higher elevations peaked around in late October, but lower elevations will retain some nice color in early November. Our guide will help you find beautiful fall colors in the area. Want to get active? Find the perfect fall hike in our round-up of 16 Great Fall Hikes in Northern Virginia. Or keep it relaxed with these 6 Scenic Drives in Northern Virginia.

Fall foliage from the dam at Burke Lake

Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks Open, Multiple Dates and Locations

As long as the weather cooperates, Northern Virginia outdoor ice skating rinks open in November. Here is a quick list of planned opening dates. Read our complete guide to Northern Virginia Ice Skating Rinks for details.

  • Pentagon Row, Arlington, TBA
  • Reston Town Center, Reston, Nov 6
  • Harris Pavillion, Manassas, Nov 20
  • Cameron Run, Alexandria, Nov 20

Bull Run Festival of Lights, Bull Run Regional Park, Nov 6- Jan 10

Bull Run Festival of Lights holiday drive through display
Bull Run Festival of Lights holiday drive through display

An annual holiday favorite, the Bull Run Festival of Lights dazzles with a 2.5 mile drive-through display of holiday and fairytale vignettes. While most of the display repeats year-to-year, there are usually new additions to enjoy. This is an ideal family activity even for the youngest kids, who stay warm and cozy as you slowly drive through the fun, animated displays.

Weekends get very busy, especially later in the season. Visit early or on a weekday to minimize cars and lines. A Holiday Village with rides, merchandise, and activities opens November 19. Admission is $20 online per car, $25 at the door. Follow the link for $5 weekday discount code. 5:30 – 9:30 weekdays, 5:30 – 10:00 weekends.

Virtual Museum Cake Cutting Ceremony, National Museum of the Marine Corps, Nov 10

Celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday with a virtual cake-cutting ceremony. Marines will always celebrate the birthday of the Corps, but this year the annual cake-cutting will be held online across social media channels from 8:00 – 8:30. The museum will be open for the day, 9:00 – 5:00. Free.

Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Nov 11 – Jan 3

Meadowlark Garden Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna Virginia
Meadowlark Garden Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna Virginia

Every year Meadowlark Botanical Gardens lights up for the holidays with over 500,000 lights and displays on a .6 mile outdoor walking trail. Purchase timed entry tickets in advance to ensure you get parking and avoid lines. Limited tickets are available at the door on non-peak nights. Warm up with a hot chocolate or cider, and shop at the Snowflake Shoppe for holiday ornaments, flashing jewelry, and other goodies. Tickets $9/$15 youth 2 – 12/over 13 online, $12/$18 at the door. Open nightly, including holidays, 5:30 – 10:00; last admission at 9:15.

Too cold or rainy to play outside? Check out our guide to Indoor Activities in Northern Virginia to Escape Winter Cold or a Rainy Day.

Veterans Day Events, Multiple Locations, Nov 11

Veterans Day gives us all a chance to honor and thank the many men and women who have served our country in the U. S. Armed Forces. National Parks offer fee-free entry, and local parks and recreation centers add their thanks with special programs and deals.

National Museum of the United States Army Opening, Fort Belvoir, Nov 11

Veterans Day marks the grand opening of the new National Museum of the United States Army in a publicly accessible area of Fort Belvoir. This long-anticipated museum celebrates and interprets over 240 years of U.S. Army history. The museum tells the stories of America’s Soldiers since Army’s establishment in 1775. Admission is free but timed entry tickets are required. The museum will open daily 9:00 to 5:00 except on Christmas.

Alexandria Film Festival, Alexandria, Nov 12 – 15

Join three days of ticketed screenings of the best in independent filmmaking from around the world and our own Alexandria neighborhoods. The 14th annual Alexandria Film Festival will virtually host more than 45 screenings, including 18 premiers. Viewers can watch the films as scheduled in the festival program or watch within a two-week period from the time the films are purchased. Either way requires a ticket. Showcase tickets are $12 while an all-festival pass is $50. Follow the link to purchase tickets and for schedule details.

Virtual Revolutionary War Day, Gunston Hall, Lorton, Nov 13

The Revolutionary War touched everyone in the American colonies, not just soldiers. Join Gunston Hall and the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation for a virtual gaming session. Through games, explore how even private citizens, like George Mason and others, helped keep the continental army fed, equipped, and motivated.Free; 10:30 – 11:30.

Ice & Lights Winter Village, Cameron Run, Nov 20 – Jan 3

Ice & Lights returns to Cameron Run for a second year in 2020. The Village light display features plenty of sparkly photo opps including a walk-thru tree and photo frame, giant wreath, and beautiful design stars. For an extra fee, enjoy an hour of fun on the ice skating rink. Light-up and cuddly items are available for purchase, and the concession stand sells treats and drinks.

Village admission is $7.95 or $19.43 with 1 hour of skating. Skating tickets are limited and must be purchased online. Open nightly, including holidays, 5:00 – 10:00. The ice skating rink opens weekends and holidays 11:00 – 5:00 from Jan 9 – Feb 28.

Find more skating fun: 11 Fun Washington DC and Northern Virginia Ice Skating Rinks.

The Enchanted Forest, Westin Tysons, Nov 21 Virtual

The Enchanted Forest is a holiday festival featuring a variety of family events raising funds for the Junior League of Northern Virginia. In 2020, the festival is going virtual. Activities include time with Santa, silent auction, a gingerbread house workshop, special performances, and more. Follow the link for ticket and schedule details.

Happy Thanksgiving!, Nov 26

We’d like to wish a very happy, tasty, relaxing, and fun-filled Thanksgiving to all of our readers, friends, and followers. We are grateful for the support of our wonderful community, both online and in person. Whether you plan to stuff yourself at a family feast, enjoy quiet time alone, shop or hike until your feet are sore, or anything in between, we hope you have a beautiful day.

#OptOutside with REI and Virginia State Parks, Nov 27

For the 9th year, REI invites folks to turn Black Friday into Green Friday by spending time in nature instead of shopping until you drop. REI is closing all its stores and paying their staff to #OptOutside on Black Friday. Follow the link to find Virginia State Parks activities near you. Check for special events at Fairfax County Parks too. Or create your own outdoor fun at these family-friendly parksshort hikes to gorgeous Virginia views, or great fall hikes in Virginia.

Winter Glow at Mount Vernon, Nov 27 – Dec 28 Weekends

Mount Vernon by Candlelight courtesy George Washington's Mount Vernon
Mount Vernon by Candlelight courtesy George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Looking for a place to walk off your feast surrounded by history? George Washington’s Mount Vernon is open daily, including Thanksgiving and Christmas. Did you know that George Washington first proclaimed a day of thanksgiving in 1789? This is a great time to tour the grounds and the Mansion.

On Winter Glow evenings, soft lights and holiday patterns illuminate the grounds, Christmas carolers sing, and you can visit an 18th-century winter encampment. Winter Glow is open weekends, Nov 27 – Dec 28. Follow the link for details and to purchase timed entry tickets.

Small Business Saturday, Nov 28

Support your favorite local businesses with a shopping spree on Small Business Saturday. Many area downtowns and malls will offer specials throughout the day. Last year there were small business specials offered in Alexandria, Fairfax Corner, Historic Manassas, Mosaic District, Vienna, Old Town Winchester, and more.

Christmas Tree Lightings and Santa Photos, TBA

Our November events usually include a fun collection of Christmas tree lightings and Santa photo opps at area malls. In 2020, these events have either not been announced or are canceled. We’ll update this section as we learn more.

Santa HQ, Tysons Corner Center, TBD

The Santa HQ experience, presented by HGTV, returns to Tysons Corner Center mall on November 10. Interactive displays deliver extra fun for the kiddies before the picture with Santa. Best news for parents—you can reserve a spot in advance and skip the lines. Bring an unopened, unwrapped toy donation to benefit the children of Second Story. Follow the link for pricing and hours.

Christmas Tree Lighting, Mosaic District, Fairfax, TBA

Celebrate the holidays with the Christmas Tree Lighting at Mosaic District. The seasonal celebration includes an outdoor screening of Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas, live entertainment, and the arrival of Santa Claus. Free; 5:00 – 7:30 pm.

Fairfax Corner Tree Lighting, Fairfax, TBA

Holiday shopping fun returns to Fairfax Corner with the annual tree lighting celebration. Enjoy live entertainment and giveaways, take a horse and carriage ride ($3 per rider; all proceeds benefit Women Giving Back), and meet Santa and Mrs. Claus. Donate a new, unwrapped toy/gift to Women Giving Back to give to children and teens in need this holiday season. 6:00 – 9:00.

Tree Lighting Ceremony, Tyson Corner Center, TBA

Head to the Plaza at Tysons Corner Center to kick off the season with the annual lighting of the 51-foot decorated tree. Tommy McFly and American Idol’s Kris Allen will add to the festive fun.  Free; 6:00 – 9:00.

Annual Tree Lighting, Historic Occoquan, TBA

The Holiday Open House rings in the holiday season as Historic Occoquan is decorated with an array of holiday decorations and businesses stay open late. There are special activities from 4:00 to 8:00. At 8:05, attend a special ceremony to light the tree located on the Town Hall lawn. Free.

Annual Tree Lighting Festival, Village at Leesburg, TBA

Santa will arrive by horse-drawn carriage to light the Spectacular Musical Tree. This 5-story tall tree with a snowfall topper and more than 15,000 dazzling lights performs daily music and light shows. Festivities include horse-drawn carriage rides, caroling, holiday characters, cozy fire pits with treats, and more festive fun. Visitors are encouraged to bring a toy to be donated to Toys for Tots. Free; 3:00 – 6:00.

2020 November Event Cancelations

Pucellville Artisan Tour, Purcellville, Canceled

Spend a day in Purcellville visiting local artists’ studios to learn more about their creative process and inspiration, and to purchase their amazing work. See artist demonstrations at local wineries and breweries and check out the first meadery in Loudoun County. Free; 10:00 – 5:00.

Find more fun stops with our guide to 8 Great Things to do in Purcellville Virginia.

NVHG Art and Craft Show, Vienna, Canceled

This popular show features 50+ juried artisans offering original handmade art and craft items, including jewelry, clothing and other textiles, woodworking, sculpture, pottery and ceramics, glass art, handweaving, photography, drawing and painting, and other decorative and functional arts. $5; Fri and Sat 10:00 – 5:00, Sun 10:00 – 4:00.

Horses & Hounds, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Canceled

Meet the Horses and Hounds of Mount Vernon on the estate of the Father of the American foxhound. Watch a simulated fox hunt demonstration using a bag containing animal scent on a course around the 12-acre field (no foxes involved). Learn why George Washington was known as the greatest horseman of his age. The day also includes a cavalry demonstration and curators highlighting objects related to hunting and fishing in the 18th century. Events are included with admission; 9:00 – 4:00.

Christmas on the Potomac with ICE!, National Harbor, Canceled

Marvel at more than 2 million twinkling lights, amazing nightly snowfall, and beautiful dancing fountains at Gaylord National’s Christmas on the Potomac. ICE! returns with a Grinch theme, plus 2 million pounds of ice sculptures and 4 ice slides. The 25-minute Cirque Dreams Unwrapped show returns. You can also enjoy a cup of hot cocoa, photos with Santa, and more family-friendly activities. Follow the link for ticket prices and hours for more photos and details. Thrill the family and make your visit a National Harbor weekend getaway.

2020 Holiday Craft Show, Fairfax High School, Canceled

The 34th annual Holiday Craft Show, at Fairfax High School, is one of the premium arts and crafts festival in Northern Virginia. Artisans from all over the United States, including many local artists, offer wonderful holiday gifs for everyone on your shopping list. $5/$8 one-day/two-day admission; Sat 10:00 – 5:00, Sun 10:00 – 3:00.

Snowflake Stampede, Bull Run Festival of Lights, Canceled

The annual Snowflake Stampede is a 2.5 mile fun run and walk for holiday lovers. Participants will get a close-up preview of the holiday lights at Bull Run Regional Park and can take a selfie with their favorite display. New in 2019, a Stampede will be held on both November 16 and 17. $22/$17 adult/child; registration required. Race starts promptly at 5:30 pm.

25th Annual Gem, Mineral, & Fossil Show, GMU, Fairfax, Canceled

With over 20 dealers selling minerals, fossils, crystals, gems, jewelry, carvings, meteorites and more, you’re sure to find unique holiday gifts for the geology lover on your list. The event includes demonstrations, hands-on exhibits, door prizes, a Scouts area, and kid’s activities. Follow the link for parking info and a discount coupon. $6/$4/$3 adults/seniors/teens. Saturday 10:00 – 6:00, Sunday 10:00 – 4:00.


Holidays Are Here, Reston Town Center, Canceled

Gather the family, bundle up, and head to Reston Town Center for a day of holiday fun. Kids start the day with the popular Gingerbread Man Mile fun run, with shorter routes for tots and four to five-year-olds. At 11:00, watch the annual Thanksgiving parade, which grows larger and more impressive every year. Photos with Santa, mini-train rides, and live entertainment fill the afternoon, Christmas tree lighting and sing-along at 6:00, and carriage rides from 6:30 to 10:00. When you need a break to warm up, check out the gingerbread village in the lobby of the Hyatt.

We’re happy that several favorite November events in Northern Virginia are returning this year, but it’s hard to see so many cancelations. Whether you attend special events or create your own seasonal fun, we wish you a happy and fun-filled November.

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November events in Northern Virginia. Things to do in Virginia and Washington DC region. Pumpkin fests, Thanksgiving, holiday events.

This article was published in 2015 and last updated in 2020.

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