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Where to see Holiday Lights in DC

Book a Guided Walking Tour

Each season in Washington D.C. brings its own special feature. Viewing the Holiday lights is a great way to see the city. Grab a scarf and a hot coffee and enjoy a seasonal celebration.

Of course, the best way to see Holiday Lights in DC is on our Holiday Lights Walking Tour!

1. The Holiday Trees

NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE: Probably the second most famous Christmas tree in the United States (after the one in Rockefeller Center), the National Christmas Tree has a more than 90-year tradition. You can see it on the Ellipse, in front of the White House.

CAPITOL CHRISTMAS TREE: At the eastern end of the National Mall, just in front of the U.S. Capitol is the Capitol Christmas Tree. Though there are records of a tree at the Capital as far back as 1919, an official ceremony was put in place in 1964. This year’s tree is scheduled to be delivered to the West Lawn on November 19.

CITY CENTER TREE: A much newer addition to D.C.’s Holiday tradition is the City Center Holiday Tree. The City Center will also have an illuminated Ice Maze. Festivities are scheduled to begin on November 27.

THE WHARF TREE: Also on November 27, you can head down to the Wharf to enjoy Light Up The Wharf, including their Christmas Tree. You can get some excellent views along the water while you’re there.

2. Enchant Christmas

Visit Nationals Park to enjoy Enchant Christmas from November 26 to January 2.

Come for the Light Maze and skating, stay for the shortbread and mulled wine. There’s a lot to do and see for all ages.

3. Old Town Alexandria

Stroll down King Street and enjoy the lights strung on historic buildings. The quaint downtown is filled with beautiful architecture that is only enhanced by the lights. Visit the waterfront for even more fantastic views.

You may even see some of the boats decked out for the Holidays, too.

There will be a tree lighting at Market Square on November 20.

4. United States Botanical Garden Train Display

From November 24 through January 2 (closed on December 25), visit this outdoor garden and see trains running through displays of agriculture from around the United States.

The trains run from 10AM to 5PM, so it might be a good activity to enjoy before going out to view Holiday lights around the National Mall area.

5. Caroling at the Willard Hotel

Step out of the cold for a bit of Holiday music. From 5:30 to 7:30 PM each night between December 1 and December 23, the Willard Hotel will host complimentary caroling performances in the lobby.

There will even be a pop-up bar with seasonal cocktails.

6. Main Street Holiday Lights

Travel down the various neighborhood Main Streets to enjoy lights, window displays, and shopping. Neighborhoods have a lot to offer, especially during the Holidays. There are 14 different participating neighborhoods around Washington, DC participating in this year's Holiday Lights from November 19, 2021 – January 6, 2022.

In select neighborhoods, you can even take a self-guided tour written by us to explore some of the historic sites and favorite stops.

Vote for your favorite holiday display at

About The Author

Canden Arciniega

Canden is a historian and tour guide in Washington DC with 4 published books about the city. She has written for HuffPost Travel and has been featured in the Washington Post, WTOP, and numerous other DC papers. She's also been interviewed by the BBC, NPR, Travel Channel and Discovery Family Channel. Canden is the producer of our podcast, Tour Guide Tell All With a M.A. in History from University College London and a B.A. in History from Elon University, she is an authority on D.C. history, and has led tours in the city for over 10 years. She currently resides in DC, but has also lived in London and South Korea, and has travelled to 28 countries. Her two children (both under the age of 4) have their passports and own frequent flier accounts.
Updated: March 25th, 2022
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