A Georgetown Christmas: Eight Favorites

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    President Barack makes a wish that Americans will treat one another as they would want to be treated. Barack Obama and Michelle Obama lit the National Christmas Tree for the last time as president and first lady on Thursday, December 1, 2016. The first couple was joined by daughter Sasha. The National Christmas Tree is a large evergreen tree located in the northeast quadrant of The Ellipse near the White House in Washington, D.C. The event was emceed by Eva Longoria. Entertainers included Kelly Clarkson, the Lumineers, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood, Chance the Rapper, James Taylor, Yolanda Adams, Marc Anthony, Afro Blue and the Air Force Arimen of Note. (Photo by Jeff Malet)

    Eight FavoritesWashington Harbour Ice Skating
    One of the top local winter-holiday activities is ice skating on the rink at Washington Harbour. This was reported by a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old and a 9-year-old, as well as by their parents. Surrounded by cafés, non-skating family members can take photos and watch the skating in comfort around what in spring and summer is a large pond and water show. Beginning and wobbly skaters can keep their balance by pushing wooden penguins on skates (really).
    Museum Exhibitions
    D.C.’s museums are one of the best things about living in the District year-round. During the holiday season, many mount special exhibitions that will excite family members of all ages and stages. This year, the National Building Museum is featuring “Small Stories,” an exhibition of British dollhouses with recorded commentary by the resident dolls about what life is like in each house. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History features a luscious chocolate-making demonstration and a sampling of sugar-free natural spices and colonial hot chocolate. There is also a happy exhibition of puppets, from marionettes to the Muppets, including the original Miss Piggy.

    ‘ZooLights’
    A must-do holiday activity not far from Georgetown is a stroll through the National Zoo on Connecticut Avenue at night, under the sparkling, moving and magic glow of hundreds of trees and displays, lit by more than 500,000 LED lights. Animals leap, crawl and prowl, large birds fly overhead and monkeys and children squeal, all to the sound of music. Hot drinks and snacks are available and there is also a large display of train sets in the main pavilion.

    Walking Amid ‘Glow’
    Walking along Georgetown’s main retail streets of Wisconsin and M, the historic C&O Canal, currently being reconstructed, and the ever-improving, family-friendly “harbor” (or “Harbour”) area just got better for this year’s holiday strollers. The expanded, second annual “Glow” event has made walking at night a wonderful and sensual art experience.

    Shopping at the (National) Mall
    Some of the most “uniquely D.C.” gift items can be found at the gift shops of our museums. Ideal for out-of-town loved ones: gifts from the Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery of Art, the Newseum and even, farther afield, the Spy Museum.

    The stately Christmas tree in the lobby of the Willrd Hotel - where the word, "lobbyist," originated. (Photo by: Peggy Sands)
    The stately Christmas tree in the lobby of the Willrd Hotel – where the word, “lobbyist,” originated. (Photo by: Peggy Sands)

    Hotel Drop-Ins
    Many of Georgetown’s and D.C.’s grand hotels are decorated for the season and offer special seasonal drinks and fare. Right here in Georgetown, the Ritz-Carlton has a giant tree in front of a roaring fireplace. Other must-sees are near the White House. The new Trump International Hotel features a truly “huuge” tree in the main lobby, reflected in the shiny marble floors, and — in a nod to the Old Post Office — mailboxes filled with wine bottles. The Willard has rich and traditional English and American Christmas décor, with a glorious tree, decorated with gold packages, and Christmas foliage around every pillar and arched window. High tea is served in the famous lobby corridor and local choral and instrumental groups perform Christmas music in the evening.

    Parades, Fetes and Bazaars
    These celebrations of Christmas traditions of particular national heritages are among the most anticipated holiday activities of Georgetowners. Three of the biggest and best took place last weekend: the Christmas parade in Middleburg; the Scottish Christmas Walk, complete with bagpipes, in Alexandria; and the Swedish Bazaar at Georgetown’s riverside House of Sweden. The Swedish event culminates with the choral procession of Santa Lucia, in which young women in white robes and sweet voices are led by the martyred saint with a crown of candles.

    Sing-alongs
    Many Christmas sing-alongs are presented throughout the month at the Kennedy Center and the National Cathedral. Some are ticketed events on various evenings, including the “Candlelight Christmas” at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

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