When it comes to festive Christmas light displays, Enchant Christmas takes the cake. With millions of lights scattered throughout Nationals Park, the larger-than-life light maze will bring out your inner child just in time for the holiday season.
The DC version of Enchant Christmas is one of just four in the U.S. From November 26 to January 2, you can get lost in a dazzling maze, wander beneath towering lit forests, skate along icy trails, and fill those stockings with handcrafted items from the Enchant Village of local merchants.
Kevin Johnston, Enchant founder and CEO, began his career spreading holiday cheer as a teenager. That was in 2008, when he and his best friend, Cam Walker, started installing holiday lights for their neighbors in Vancouver, British Columbia. Today, they create immersive light experiences at Enchant Christmas venues and hotels, resorts, communities, shopping malls, and airports across the U.S. and Canada.
The concept for all this sprang from a conversation over dinner. When Walker’s wife mused about a light maze, Johnston was intrigued and built a prototype in his parents’ backyard—a fence made from a string of lights and packaging from a stereo. The first Enchant Christmas, held in Vancouver in 2016, was such a success that crowds and traffic overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure, so it wasn’t allowed back the next year.
Gaze upward from inside the 100-foot animated Christmas tree to be dazzled. “We essentially turn the entire tree into a video screen that our in-house content creators make come alive; it’s captivating both inside and out,” says Enchant creative director Jared Schmale. The tree, anchored by 40,000 pounds of concrete, features 45,000 individually controlled LED lights and takes four days to build. New this year is a 300-foot animated light wall stretching the entire field, plus a 240-foot hallway of gold.
There’s a perfect place for wedding proposals … We’re just saying, you could do worse than to pop the question beneath the giant, stainless-steel diamond ring, polished to a mirror-like reflection.
It takes hordes of elves to pull this off. A corporate staff of 80 and more than 100 onsite employees spend a minimum of two weeks setting up illuminated displays, shipped in dozens of containers to be assembled in pieces. Enchant Christmas events employ more than 1,000 workers and feature dozens of unique local vendors. More than 300,000 visitors are expected this year.
Ice-skate on winding trails beneath the stars. And those are real stars, so dress for the weather. All activities (except the optional buffet dinner) are held entirely outdoors, so be prepared for an authentic winter experience, rain, snow, or shine. For $10, rent skates and glide through hundreds of feet of tree-lined trails, inspired by one of the creators’ college memories of skating along a forested creek at a Pennsylvania hunting lodge. Skates brought from home aren’t allowed, and booking a spot online is recommended.
That’s probably the “enchanted hot chocolate” you’re smelling, garnished with whipped cream, marshmallows, and a miniature gingerbread house. And who can resist an adult cocktail served in a flashing light-bulb container? Local food vendors, including DC’s Ben’s Chili Bowl, will serve up warm dining options, available for purchase.
Keep your wallet handy. Admission starts at $29 for kids (ages 3 to 17), $39 for adults, and $36 for seniors (age 65 and older), military, and EMS workers. Infants up to 2 years old are admitted free. It costs extra to ice-skate or buy photos of your visit with Santa. Then there are various “Star” packages, which can include everything from priority, no-wait entrances for skating or visiting Santa to lounge access to indoor buffet dining. Book everything in advance at enchantchristmas.com.
Park here. If you’re driving, Enchant management recommends parking at the GEICO Garage on N Street SE or Garage C on First Street SE.