This is a list of the top things to do in January in DC (updated for 2024).
We list some of our favorite winter activities and some events unique to this time of year, including family and budget-friendly events
This section covers our top ten list for January.
For more ideas on popular things to do in DC, check out our other posts:
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
Disclosure: While our recommendations are always unbiased, we may receive a small share of sales through some of the links below at no cost to you. See the full text.
Where possible we link to websites that often offer discounted ticket prices (like StubHub). While we are unable to confirm their prices are the best, they are all verified ticket resellers .
1. Go to a Sporting Event
D.C. is a major sports town, with sporting events taking place throughout the year.
Check out this list for even more tickets to January sporting events in DC.
2. See a Concert
The DC area sees some amazing musicians visiting and living in the city.
Some of the concerts featured in January may be be hosted at theatres such as Birchmere Music Hall, Anthem, Capital One Arena, and the Wharf.
- Ricky Skaggs/Kentucky Thunder | January 5th, 6th (Alexandria)
- Young Dubliners | January 11th (DC)
- The Charlatans/Ride | January 17th (Silver Spring)
- Baltimore Symphony Orchestra | various dates (Baltimore)
- National Symphony Orchestra | various dates (DC)*
- Batman: Live in Concert | January 19th (DC)
- Sonic Symphony World Tour | January 20th (DC)
*You can visit even if you're not attending a show, and might enjoy our self-guided tour of the Kennedy Center. The rooftop terrace view is one of our favorites!
- Say Anything | January 27th |Warner Theatre | film screening with John Cusack
- Super Magfest | January 18th-21st | National Harbor Music and Gaming Festival running 24 hours a day
Find even more January concerts in the DC area here.
If you're looking for more evening activities, check out our full post.
3. See a Theatrical Production
The DC area has a large number of venues that draw all sorts of talented and fascinating people.
In January, you are sure to find some interesting events to attend.
- Frozen | January 2nd-21st (DC)
- Annie | January 23rd-28th (DC)
- Tick, Tick...Boom! | January 26th-30th (DC)
- Song of the North | January 27th (Fairfax)
- Shen Yun | January 26th, 27th, 28th (DC)
4. Take a Free Walking Tour
We offer a limited but still pretty fun-packed schedule of tours during the winter months.
You may also want to consider our Ghosts of Georgetown tour which covers some of the more haunted history of the area.
Find out more about our DC Tour schedule on our Tour Calendar page.
For our comprehensive list of activities and attractions, visit our free things to do in DC post.
5. Ice Skating Rinks
January is the perfect month to bundle up, lace up your skates, and head to one of the D.C. area’s popular winter ice skating rinks.
Most rinks are open every day in January, so take advantage of a crisp winter day with a skating adventure!
Admission ranges from $8 to $20 and skate rentals generally start at $4.
If you're looking for more family-friendly things to do, take a look at our full post.
6. Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend
Monday, January 15th, 2024, is a day when we honor the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.
The day has become a national day of community service in the United States, with opportunities to volunteer and give back available throughout the D.C. area.
A few suggestions for honoring MLK during MLK weekend:
The Martin Luther King Jr Memorial
This memorial is free and open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, along the edge of the Tidal Basin.
This memorial is included in our All-in-One Tour and Tidal Basin Tours.
Washington National Cathedral
This is the church where King, who had a doctorate in theology, preached his last Sunday sermon before his assassination in 1968.
Use our guide for a self-guided tour and more information about the National Cathedral.
MLK Holiday DC Parade and Festival
This free annual peace walk & parade begins at noon on January 15th.
Before the parade, there is usually a peace walk that is coordinated by the Coalition for Peace to promote peace and positivity among D.C.’s youth.
7. Go to Monster Jam
Fans of monster trucks will be happy to hear that the popular motorsports event Monster Jam will be coming to the Capital One Arena on January 19th, 20th, and 21st.
This show features several popular monster trucks such as Grave Digger, Dragon, And Just Get-er-Done performing a variety of stunts and competing in contests to see which driver pulls of the most impressive feats.
Audiences even get to decide who wins some of the competitions!
8. Enjoy a Comedy Night
Who doesn't love to laugh? Several great comedians will be in the Washington, DC area this January, so this is an excellent time to enjoy some stand-up comedy.
- Colin Mochrie/Brad Sherwood | January 7th (Tysons)
- Roy Wood Jr./Jordan Klepper | January 12th (DC)
- Jeff Dunham | January 13th (Fairfax)
- Vir Das | January 12th (DC)
Find even more comedy shows in January in the DC area here.
9. Attend the Washington Auto Show
If you enjoy everything about cars, you'll enjoy the Washington Auto Show.
There will be two levels of luxury and exotic vehicles, concept and classic cars, and much more.
Events take place January 19th-28th at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Visit the Washington Auto Show website for more information.
10. Save Money with a Tourist Discount Pass
Tourist attraction discount passes bundle together popular area attractions and tours into one discounted price - they can also save you up to 50%.
They also can save you time with skip-the-ticket-line access to select activities.
Attractions you can see with these passes include:
- CitySights Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour
- International Spy Museum
- The Capital Ferris Wheel
- George Washington’s Home
We detail how these passes work and help you decide which, if any, is best for you.
Washington DC Restaurant Week
DC is slowly becoming known as a "foodie" town and this January you have a chance to try some of the best restaurants in the city at affordable prices.
You'll find fixed-price menus for brunch, lunch, and dinner at over 200 restaurants.
Find out which restaurants will be participating and be sure to make reservations as seats fill up fast!
The dates haven't been released as of September 2023, but you can expect it to take place sometimes around mid-January 2024.
Visit the Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week page for more information.
Tip: If you sign up with the Restaurant Association you can earn rewards.
There are a number of things to do in DC at night.
Some of the most popular evening activities include:
- Visiting the Memorials at Night
- Attend a Professional Sporting Event
- See a Free Concert at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage
For additional details and more ideas on how to spend your evening, make sure to check out our master things to do at night in DC post.
Take a Night Tour
Our 5:30 pm Memorials and Moonlight tour lets you explore the National Mall after the sun sets.
With the memorials lit at night, there is an extra level of beauty, and at some of the veteran's memorials, an added sense of reverence.
Or, take our uber-popular Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour.
We also offer family-friendly Ghosts of Georgetown and an adults-only White House at Night Scandals tour.
See Georgetown Glow Light Experience
Georgetown GLOW takes place December 1st - January 7th.
This free curated outdoor light art exhibit takes place throughout the Georgetown neighborhood.
There are also GLOW events like yoga or a silent disco and some late-night shopping options.
We offer a Georgetown Glow and Street Art Tour. Each creation has a theme or a story behind its creation, so this is the perfect time to take a GLOW-related walking tour through Georgetown.
Visit the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center
You’re invited for a free performance.
The schedule runs the gamut from jazz and soul to opera and plays productions.
There is also yoga, film screenings, art markets & more at The Reach.
Check the schedule ahead of time and plan your visit around something that appeals to your taste.
With a little planning, there are a lot of free activities available to do in DC.
Some of the events we’ve mentioned in this post, like our walking tours, are free of charge!
There are plenty of free activities and attractions in DC:
- Go to the Free Museums
- Take a Public Building Tour
- Admire the Cathedrals and Franciscan Monastery
Below are a few more ideas for free activities in January but for our comprehensive list, visiting our free things to do in DC post.
Visit Ford’s Theatre
Visitors to D.C. are often surprised to learn that the site of Lincoln’s Assassination is not just a historical site to visit but also a working theatre, which presents shows throughout the year.
Ford’s Theatre offers a number of discounts for tickets, including discounted preview performances, group discounts, under 35, active military, D.C. teachers, and more.
Take our Lincoln Assassination Walking Tour to learn more about this historic building and what led to the tragic events that night.
For more nighttime activities, visit our things to do at night in DC post.
Visit a Museum
While DC doesn't get too cold in December, it's nice to spend a chilly day inside exploring one of our many free Smithsonian museums.
It's also the slow season, so you can enter museums that usually require tickets without reservations, like the Holocaust Museum and the African American History & Culture Museum.
Attend a Performance at the Kennedy Center
As mentioned above, there's a lot to do at the Kennedy Center.
The Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center has free concerts every night at 6 pm. There is a list of shows on their website.
Arrive a little early so you can take our self guided tour of the Kennedy Center and watch the sunset from the rooftop terrace!
DC offers a lot of family-friendly activities and attractions any day of the year.
Here are a few more family-friendly ideas for January.
There are plenty of attractions and activities kids will find fun:
- Kid-Focused Sections of the Smithsonian Museums
- Exploring Mount Vernon
- The Smithsonian's National Zoo
- Family-Friendly Ghost Tours
For more details about the above list and even more activity ideas, read about Visiting Washington DC with Kids.
Visit the National Zoo
While the zoo is mostly outdoors, there are some indoor exhibits to warm up as you explore.
Most importantly, you'll have the animals to yourself. Avoid the crowds that flock to see the Pandas in the summer and learn more about those animals who thrive in winter.
Baby animals born last year are finally old enough to come out to public view, leaves have fallen off the trees so you can see animals with an unobstructed view, and you may even see tropical animals adapting to the snow!
For more activity ideas, read about Visiting Washington DC with Kids.
Go to the Top of the Washington Monument
The Washington Monument is one of the most iconic monuments in Washington, DC.
This 555' (170 m) obelisk honors George Washington, the commanding general for the Colonies during the American Revolution and our very first president.
It is usually open to the public and free to go into and boasts the best view of Washington, DC. We have a post that explains how to get tickets and how to plan your visit.