This list of the top things to do in January in DC contains some of our favorite winter activities and some events unique to this time of year, including family and budget-friendly events (updated for 2022)
TOP 10 EVENTS AND THINGS TO DO IN JANUARY
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.
1. Go to a Sporting Event
D.C. is a major sports town, with sporting events taking place throughout the year. You can find all the matches and games here.
2. See a Concert
The Washington DC area brings in some big artists and bands throughout the year.
January is no different! Seeing a concert is the perfect indoor activity for the cold winter nights.
- Ricky Skaggs | Jan 7th, 8th
- Rebecca Black | Jan 13th
- Dwight Yoakam | Jan 13th
- Travis Tritt | Jan 17th, 18th
- Guster | Jan 18th, 19th
- Anderson East | Jan 18th
- Marty Stuart | Jan 27th
- Killswitch Engage | Jan 29th
- Still Woozy | Jan 31st
If you're looking for more evening activities, check out our full post.
3. See a Musical Production
Washington DC has no shortage of theatrical productions to attend. This January sees both beloved classics and new favorites hit the stage.
Here are a few of the more notable musicals in DC this month:
- Beautiful: The Carol King Story | Jan 1st, 2nd
- Ain't Too Proud | Jan 1st - 16th
- The Prom | Jan 4th - 16th
- The Simon and Garfunkel Story | Jan 29th, 30th
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 17th, 2022, 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 annual parade begins at noon on January 17th at 2700 MLK Avenue SE and continues to Anacostia Park for the free festival.
Before the parade, there is a peace walk that is coordinated by the Coalition for Peace, to promote peace and positivity in 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 29th, 2022.
This show features several popular monster trucks such as Bigfoot 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!
If you're willing to travel an hour north, Monster Jam will also be in Baltimore from January 7th - 9th. This could be a better option for anyone who plans to visit Washington DC earlier in the month.
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.
Here are some of the best stand-up comedy shows scheduled to take place in and around Washington DC this month:
- John Oliver | Jan 1st
- Colin Quinn | Jan 7th
- Wanda Sykes | Jan 7th
- Fortune Feimster | Jan 8th
- Demetri Martin | Jan 14th
- Gary Gulman | Jan 22nd
- Tig Notaro | Jan 28th
9. Winter Lanterns at the REACH
At the end of the month and going into February, there will be a special Winter Lantern festival at the Kennedy Center's REACH.
Chinese artisans will create over 100 animal-themed lanterns in honor of the Year of the Tiger made up of over 10,000 LED lights.
While you're at the reach, take our self guided tour of the Kennedy Center - the rooftop terrace view is one of our favorites!
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 | Jan 17-23
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 for under $40 at over 200 restaurants.
Find out which restaurants will be participating and be sure to make reservations as seats fill up fast!
If you sign up with the Restaurant Association you can earn rewards.
NIGHTTIME ACTIVITIES IN JANUARY
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 530 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.
We also offer family-friendly Ghosts of Georgetown and an Adults-Only White House at Night Scandals tour.
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.
The Mountaintop will begin its run at Ford's Theatre on January 21st, 2022.
This is a reimagining of the events on the night before MLK Jr. was assassinated. This could be a great way to celebrate MLK Jr. Day and honor his memory.
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.
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.
Kennedy Center's REACH Winter Lantern Festival
We talked about it above but this is surely to be a highlight for kids - and its FREE!
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.
FREE THINGS TO DO
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
Here 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 the National Arboretum
This free living museum of flora from around the world might not come to your mind as a place to visit in winter, but it offers a unique setting in the offseason.
You'll get a chance to explore without the crowds and see some of the winter growth.
Attend a Performance at the Kennedy Center
Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center has free concerts every night at 6 pm. You can find out more about which act is performing 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!