It will take roughly two weeks and close to 100 construction workers to transform Nationals Park into a holiday dreamscape.
Enchant, the “world’s largest” Christmas light maze, an ice skating trail, luminescent, larger-than-life holiday sculptures and more will take over the baseball stadium and welcome thousands of families to what Enchant CEO Kevin Johnston hopes to become a “yearly holiday tradition,” just like picking out a Christmas tree or watching your favorite holiday blockbuster films.
According to Johnston, this is the company’s biggest year yet. And, it’s coming to the nation’s capital from Nov. 22 to Dec. 29. We spoke with him about the behind-the-scenes action and what attendees can expect from this one-of-a-kind experience.
What inspired Enchant to bring this experience to Washington, DC?
We were originally invited by the Nationals and they were pretty quick to share with us what makes this place special. And we were captured by that. We learned more about the culture there, the diversity, and we just decided that it was the right fit. We’re excited to bring it there and the stadium in particular is perfect for Enchant. It’s going to be quite the backdrop for us.
Speaking of a baseball stadium, what goes into transforming that space into the ultimate Christmas experience?
The stadium itself has restraints around it that lead to creativity, which is the fun and exciting part. The feature I’m most excited about for DC is we’re doing a 150-foot-tall display. It will cover from the top of the awning in the stadium all the way down to the lower portion, and that’ll act as the backdrop of the whole show. We call it “starry night,” because it’s like a bunch of twinkling lights that all have this beautiful effect. When you enter the stadium, you’ll head toward the Christmas market at first, but you will walk toward the field and you’re going to go right up against the railing, with an opening look at everything, and it’s just going to be this big moment of looking over the maze, the skating trail and then having the starry night backdrop.
What other features can attendees expect to see in DC?
The one thing I’m particularly excited about is the tree that we’ve built for DC. It’s 100 feet tall and it is designed like a pine tree. It’s got a quarter-million lights on it, which is about four times more than any other tree than we’ve ever built. It’s going to be special. Then we have loads of activities for kids and adults, like the cinema where you can watch famous Christmas movies and there’s some good crafting for kids. I think we have something for everyone.
Other than the light show and event’s theme, there’s a Christmas market. Can you explain a bit more about what that is?
The Christmas market will have around 80 vendors, which will include local vendors and artisans, so it will be quite big. We’ve got everything from little treats to crafts, and it’s a good variety there. We also have the partnership with the Nationals’ stadium team, which we have been working with on the food menu, and I’m really excited about the special Christmas items, such as specialty hot chocolate, bratwurst and more. And as you walk around the market, you’re always going to have a view of the field and the light maze.
DC’s theme for this year’s Enchant is “The Great Search.” Can you explain that a little more?
The story for DC this year is “The Great Search,” and everyone is in search of the nine reindeer that Eddie (the event’s main character), unfortunately let loose. Every year, Eddie is up to some sort of mischief, and this is the first year for this story. It’s actually my wife who has been writing each of the stories as well, and there have been a total of five different stories now. There’s going to be a number of characters who are intertwined with Eddie and upcoming stories for years to come, so people can continue to see what adventure Eddie is up to when we bring a new story the year after, to a new location.
Other than seeing it all come together, what do you think will be your favorite part of DC’s first-ever Enchant?
I think the view when people walk into the show and just take it all in, it’s always been my favorite place for me to just hang out and watch people’s reactions. Especially kids. I’ve seen quite a few people start having a little bit of tears of joy and that’s just a fun moment. I think everyone is going to be blown away when they walk up to the barrier and we’ll get to watch that turn into wonder.
What are you hoping attendees get out of experiencing Enchant?
Our main mission is for this to become a family tradition for people. We’re really excited about providing a beautiful atmosphere for people that can make memories and traditions within Enchant. We’ve taken the guest experience very seriously, down to everything you would eat, everything you would see. That’s our goal: that people see that there’s something they can look back to when they’re older, or that young kids will look back to when they’re older, and that this will be part of the Christmas experience. And if we’ve done that, we’ve done a good job. // Nationals Park: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC; $15-$90