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For those of us who embrace the cold, winter is the season you make the most of. From pumpkin spice lattes to ice skating and winter wonderlands, you’ll be in your element with these can’t miss fall events. Here’s where to get into the holiday spirit this year:

Watch the Lighting of the National Christmas Tree

It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without this classic event. Grab a group of friends, your S.O., or your family and head to the National Mall on November 30th to watch the National Christmas Tree go up in lights. If you can’t make it to the official ceremony, you can also tune into the Hallmark Channel to watch from the comfort of your home on December 4th.

For the rest of the winter, check the events calendar for the schedule of live performers. The tree will be lit every day from 4:30 pm to 10 pm, beginning December 1st, so you can visit whenever you need a dose of Christmas cheer. Visit the National Tree for free and then take a stroll around the walkway to see the trees for each of the 56 US states and territories.

See a Holiday Show

DC’s best theaters are pulling out all the stops this holiday season. Grab a ticket and remember to silence your cell because you’re not going to want to miss out on these limited-time shows.

The Kennedy Center is featuring an assortment of holiday shows this winter. If you’re looking to laugh, check out the improv show Twist Your Dickens. For something more traditional, get a ticket for Handel’s Messiah performed by the National Symphony Orchestra or The Little Prince.

For other entertainment options, check out A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre, The Nutcracker at Warner Theatre, or The Hip-Hop Nutcracker at the Strathmore.

Skate at the National Gallery of Art

Surrounded by grand sculptures and historical architecture, the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery of Art is one of the best locations for the season’s outdoor activities.  The ice skating rink at the Sculpture Garden is open through March 11th.

“Ice skating is one of my favorite winter activities because it takes me back to being a kid,” says local Emily Fitzgerald. “The Sculpture Garden is the best place to do it because it’s such a beautiful atmosphere.”

While you’re there, you might as well take advantage of the great range of art on display inside of the museum.  Be sure to stop by the Posing for the Camera photography exhibit that is on display through January 28th.

Indulge in Your Favorite Winter Treats

DC restaurants and bars take their happy hour game to the next level when the temperatures drop. After a day of shopping in Georgetown, consider stopping by the Ritz Carlton for a drink and free s’mores by the fireplace from 6:30 pm to 7 pm.

Keep Warm Inside a Museum

Stay warm this winter by spending an afternoon in one of the District’s many museums. The Renwick Gallery, the Smithsonian Art Museum, and the Long View Gallery all have rotating art exhibits.

“DC has some awesome museums and while they’re open year-round, I find that the best time to go is in the winter,” says student Keith Wise. “They’re not as crowded as in the summer, and it’s a good way to spend the day when it’s too cold to be outside.”

Walk Through a Winter Wonderland at National Harbor

The National Harbor is a truly magical place during the winter. This holiday season, walk through the indoor garden of the Gaylord and be mesmerized by the thousands of lights and the suspended Christmas tree decorating the atrium.

Afterwards, check out ICE!, the National Harbor’s signature holiday attraction. Walk through this indoor winter wonderland featuring over two million pounds of jaw-dropping ice sculptures and take a turn going down the giant ice slides.


Photography by Averie Woodward