10 ways to celebrate the holidays around Washington


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2012_12_christmastree The National Christmas Tree is illuminated on the Ellipse. (Photo: Lawrence Jackson)


1. Watch a Christmas tree lighting – The White House will light the National Christmas Tree on December 6. If you didn’t get a ticket for the ceremony, you can still sneak a peak (and hear performances from James Taylor, The Frey and Babyface) from The Mall. On December 4, you don’t need a ticket to join lawmakers on the Capitol lawn for the lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree. The ceremony begins at 5 p.m.

2. Take in the lights – Take your sleigh outside the Beltway to experience Baltimore’s own Miracle on 34th Street. Charm City’s Hamden neighborhood is famous for a Christmas light extravaganza that now shines in its 65th year. Park nearby and walk the neighborhood or turn up your favorite holiday tunes as you drive (very slowly – traffic backs up for miles!) by homes covered in lights and yards filled with festive holiday scenes.

3. Attend a performance of The Nutcracker – Theaters across the city are featuring this classic Christmas ballet.

4. Go ice-skating – Let the only thin ice you find yourself on this holiday be in one of Washington’s outdoor ice skating rinks. The newest opened just this November at Canal Park on the Southwest waterfront, and the Zambonis are running again this year at the National Gallery of Art.

5. Lobby The Willard hotel – Plan a happy hour inside the lobby of one of Washington’s most beautifully decorated hotels. Order a Poinsetta cocktail from a seat in Peacock Ally while enjoying live music performed by local choirs.

6. Give Back – There will be toy collecting, food banks and coat drives galore this December. Find your perfect philanthropy fit at VolunteerMatch.com.

7.Tour Mount Vernon by candlelight – Chocolate making, bonfires and camels, oh my! For an old-fashioned feel of Christmas, visit the home of George Washington.

8. ExperienceMerry TubaChristmas at The Kennedy Center – You don’t have to spring for tickets to “The Nutcracker” or “White Christmas” to attend a Kennedy Center performance this holiday. Merry TubaChristmas is a free concert on December 13 featuring local tuba players tooting their horns with Christmas tunes in celebration of the late William Bell, a famous tuba teacher born on Christmas Day.

9. Attend a service at The National Cathedral – The National Cathedral is stunning on its own, but when adorned for Christmas is breathtaking. Through December the Cathedral will showcase its collection of nativity scenes, feature performances of “Handel’s Messiah” and host special services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

10. Listen to “Christmas Eve in Washington” – When Maura Sullivan co-wrote this song in the 1980s with radio personality Jim London, she intended it to be a “melodic Christmas card.” Years later, it greets Washingtonians every winter with warm feelings for living in the nation’s capital.

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Commentary, Government IT News, White House
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