Brighten up your winter with a visit to one of these gleaming holiday light displays. With locations across Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, you will have no problem seeing magical illuminations.
Through January 7, 5:30–9:30 p.m. on Monday–Thursday, 5:30–10 p.m. on Friday–Sunday and holiday nights
The cold weather won’t keep you from seeing this extravagant light display. In the comfort of your heated vehicle, drive along the 2.5-mile festive trail. After finishing your drive, stop by the Holiday Village and Carnival for bonfires, s’mores, and seasonal gifts. 7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville, $30 per vehicle online, $40 at the door
Through December 7, 5:30–10 p.m.; December 8–January 7, 5–10 p.m.
Don’t miss the chance to stroll through this holiday heaven. Meadowlark Botanical Gardens transforms into a light fanatic’s dream, complete with nature and holiday-
Through December 31 (closed November 20–23, December 24–25), 5:30–9:30 p.m.
This walk-through light exhibit is fun for the whole family. This 1-mile trail immerses you with a variety of colorful, twinkling displays. Before embarking on your stroll, stop for a cup of hot chocolate and snacks. Afterward, visit the gift shop for a seasonal memento. Tickets must be bought online at Eventbrite. Brookside Gardens: 1800 Glenallan Ave., Silver Spring, Maryland, $10 for ages 5 and over
Through January 1, 5–10 p.m.
Alexandria’s Cameron Run Regional Park is turning into a winter village with a 100-foot-long light-up arch, walk-through tree, and seasonal light displays. Starting on December 1, you and your family can enjoy the ice skating rink. Ice skating tickets can only be purchased online. Cameron Run Regional Park: 4001 Eisenhower Ave., Alexandria, $8 online, $10 at the door, $20 for village and ice skating tickets
Through December 30, times vary
Enter the enchanted 1.5-mile trail for an unforgettable holiday experience. The forest features over 1 million lights, endless photo backdrops, and larger-than-life displays. Before you head into the trail, cozy up next to one of the 33 bonfires as you watch one of the light shows on the 52-foot tall programmable Christmas tree. 4501 Laytonsville Rd., Olney, Maryland, $31–41 for children 4–12, $39–48 for adults, $34–43 for seniors 65 and older
November 20–January 7, 5–10 p.m.
Head downtown to The Yards in DC for an interactive light installation. The five 13-foot, sparkling jingle bell swings make for the perfect Instagram picture. Starting on November 28, restaurants will participate in the Light Yards Holiday Cocktail Competition, and you can try a variety of seasonal drinks. Kids can ride on the Light Yards Express, a holiday-themed train from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on November 29. Registration for the Lights Yard Express is required. The Yards: 355 Water St. SE, Washington, DC, free
November 24–December 31 (closed December 25), 6–9 p.m. on Sunday–Thursday, 6–10 p.m. on Friday–Saturday
This 3.5-mile drive-thru lights experience is worth the drive to Maryland. You and your family can enjoy the 450 gleaming displays and decorated trees. During your drive, make sure to tune into 97.1 WASH-
November 24–26, December 1–3, December 8–10, December 15–17, December 21–23, December 26–30
The pandas may have left Smithsonian’s National Zoo, but this holiday tradition hasn’t. For the 15th year, the zoo will be decked out with more than half a million LED lights. Stroll through the illuminations in the rainforest, grassland, desert, ocean, and polar habitats. There will also be live music performances and seasonal treats for sale. The light display takes place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets required. Smithsonian’s National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute: 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC, $6 for ages 3 and over, free for ages 2 and under, $30 for parking
November 24–December 31
The largest Christmas lights display in the world is back in Washington, DC and better than ever. With its all-new light maze – Reindeer Games – Guests will be in search of the reindeer’s magic bells in order to save Christmas. The festive event will also feature an ice skating rink, kid zone, and a village full of artisans, crafters, and boutiques. Nationals Park: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington, DC, $32–$38 for adults ages 18–64, $24–$28.50 for juniors ages 3–17, $28.80–$34.20 for seniors ages 65 and older
November 24–January 15
The immersive lantern festival is making its return to the DMV. Located in Gaithersburg this year, the 6-acre display will feature three magical themes, which includes radiant unicorns, pandas, and a doughnut tunnel. Montgomery County Fairgrounds: 501 Perry Pkwy., Gaithersburg, Maryland, $19.90–$49
December 1–23, times vary
The Woodbridge boardwalk looks beautiful during the day, but it’s set to shine even brighter during the holiday season. The second annual display will feature handcrafted light displays along the .75-mile trail. Neabsco Regional Park: 15125 Blackburn Rd., Woodbridge, free
December 1–2, December 8–9, December 15–16, times vary
This holiday season, Frying Pan Farm Park is offering wagon rides through a glittering light display. There are train and carousel rides. Kids of all ages can enjoy the animal interactions, campfires, and visits with Santa. Frying Pan Farm Park: 2709 West Ox Rd., Herndon, $20
December 2, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Watch dozens of glittery boats cruise along the Potomac River. There are dockside festivities, including Port City Brewing Company’s pop-up beer garden and food vendors selling hot chocolate, empanadas, and pizza. Old Town Alexandria Waterfront, free
Through December 3, times vary
The gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley are set to light up the night sky. The immersive art experience will feature a kaleidoscope of colored lights, 1,000 LED flowers, and lasers that will transform the nature settings for the holidays. Museum of the Shenandoah Valley: 901 Amherst St., Winchester, $6.50 for children ages 4-18, $19 for adults
December 15–16, 5:30–8:30 p.m.
This celebration is sure to get you into the holiday spirit. Enjoy the dazzling fireworks display at George Washington’s estate. The surrounding grounds will be adorned with wintry lights, and mansion tours are available on December 16. Stop by the holiday market for historical crafts and buy fresh treats from the Half Crown Bakehouse. George Washington’s Mount Vernon: 3500 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Alexandria, $60 for ages 12 and older, $38 for kids 6–11, under 6, free
Feature image of Winter City Lights by Michele Kettner
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