I am the worst! I don’t even want to go see how long it’s been since my last post, but I have a feeling it coincides with somewhere around the time school started this fall. Like most of you, I presume, the school year imposes a busy schedule on our family that severely limits the amount of fun outings we are able to do. The endless summer days with hours of daylight to fill give way to a rushed and chaotic crammed-full calendar that just refuses to leave space for new adventures.
Luckily, we do have the holiday break coming up, and I’ve got lots of stuff planned for my family during the holiday season, which I will hopefully be able to blog about. My own fall semester is ending in mid-December which will free up SO MUCH TIME to write! (By so much time I mean about 3 weeks, until spring semester begins in January.) Christmas in the Northern Virginia/DC area is just the best- there’s so many events, light displays, and fun things to see and do, that we find it hard to cram everything in each Christmas, no matter how hard we try.
To give you a heads up on some of the fun Christmas stuff going on in the area, I’m going to create a short post of what we’ve so far got planned. Last minute additions will be included as I find them, but here’s what we’re doing so far this Christmas season.
December 3- Chriskindlmarket in Reston at the German Military Campus (11150 Sunrise Valley Drive) from 4-9 pm. I am having a hard time finding any information online about this event for 2015, but a flyer was placed at Loudoun Interfaith Relief, where I volunteer several times a month, and I saw it there last week, so I do know it’s taking place. The Christkindlmarket is a traditional German Christmas market where shoppers can browse stalls for arts and crafts and Christmas gifts, and visit Bratwurst and mulled wine booths.
Bull Run Festival of Lights– an eternal family favorite! This will be our fourth year attending. It’s open nightly throughout the season, starting the day after Thanksgiving and going through January. We always pick a weeknight to go and make it a big thing where we meet my husband at his office, get dinner, and then stay out “late” on a school night driving through the lights. Since it’s dark at 5 pm my kids think it’s super duper late even if it’s only 8 pm simply because it’s been dark for hours. They find this thrilling. (FYI, my BFFs at Certifikid currently have a deal going for $4 off the price of car admission!)
Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights- Unlike the Bull Run Festival of Lights, the Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights is a WALK through display. Bet you couldn’t tell that from its name- you know me, always here to lend an unnecessary hand. Pick a relatively mild night to go and walk around this stunning garden display. Bring a hot chocolate in one of those wretchedly controversial Starbucks red cups and enjoy a very festive winter wonderland.
Loudoun Ballet presents The Nutcracker – Do you even know how long I have been waiting to take my oldest daughter to see The Nutcracker? I did all sorts of goofy first-time-mom things when she was little, like insist we take her to the zoo at 4 months old because I felt confident she would enjoy looking at elephants and gorillas. But even I knew that The Nutcracker was a special event that could only be enjoyed and appreciated at a certain age and that taking her too young would be a waste of time. This year she’s 6 and it’s our year. We are attending the December 19th performance at Dominion High School and dressing in fancy Christmas dresses to go and it is going to probably be the highlight of my Christmas season. (My youngest is a new 2 and she will be staying home. Her time will come in a few more years.)
ICE! at Gaylord National Harbor- This is another new one for our family. With a newborn and then a one year old the last two Christmas seasons, it wasn’t really feasible to go to an attraction where the temperatures are kept at a balmy 8 degrees. This year, that baby is 2 and we think with enough bundling she can handle the chill. My husband actually floated the idea of staying the night at the Gaylord in order to get the full “Christmas on the Potomac” experience but that’s because at Christmas he turns into this:
And I’m not sure if he realizes rooms at the Gaylord at Christmastime are approximately $16,000 a night.
Festival of Lights at the DC Temple- It is undeniably a pain to get over to the DC Temple thanks to the situation that is 495 at all times, but this one is so worth getting to if you can swing it. The grounds are covered in Christmas lights, the Temple is uplit in all its celestial, mysterious glory, and the visitors center features trees decorated with ornaments from around the world, several creches, and the most gorgeous statue of Jesus that always makes me sing “O Holy Night” in my head. I want to assure you that nobody will attempt to convert you or proselytize to you while you’re there, if that’s a concern. Everyone at the visitors center has always been exceedingly polite and pleasant when we’ve gone. I had a very Seinfeldian experience with Mormon missionaries in college where I very nearly almost converted to Mormonism just because I was too polite to tell them I wasn’t interested, so I was hesitant at first, but everything is very low-key, so don’t worry.
Season’s Greenings at the US Botanic Garden- A seasonal display of Christmas trains and winter scenes created with plant materials.
Ice Skating at Reston Town Center- I don’t ice skate because I’m from the south and the physics of being able to ice skate are completely unknowable to me. But watching other skaters glide effortlessly around the ice under the Christmas-light lit glass pavilion is so seasonal and enjoyable. We usually grab dinner somewhere in Reston Town Center and then walk over to watch the ice skaters for a bit.
I look forward to updating the blog a bit with some posts about all the wonderful events and sights there are to see and do during the holiday season. You really can’t beat Christmas in this area. The rest of winter following the Christmas season will of course be hellish and bleak and eighteen months long, but at least we have the holiday season to look forward to!