The 2016 Guide to Holiday Events in Reston, Northern Virginia, and DC

The holidays have arrived! Here are some of the greatest celebrations of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Hanukkah in Reston and the surrounding areas of Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.


One of the area’s most fun traditions is the Reston Holiday Parade, which takes place each year on the day after Thanksgiving.


Herndon Turkey Trot
4pm: Herndon Centennial Golf Course, Herndon
This 5K race winds around the beautiful Herndon Centennial Golf Course and on the W&OD Trail. Refreshments, entertainment and door prizes will be available after the race to all runners.


Turkey Day 5K
8am: South Lakes High School, Reston
Earn your Thanksgiving calories with this local Turkey Trot race. Choose 5K or 1 mile, and get the kids involved with the free Tot Trot. Race proceeds will go benefit Reston’s Embry Rucker Community Homeless Shelter and the South Lakes High School track and field team.

Annual Reston Thanksgiving Day Family Bike Ride
8:30am: begins at South Lakes Village Center, Reston
Free, all ages welcome. Meet at the South Lakes Village Center at 8:30 a.m. to ride to Reston Town Center or organize your own neighborhood ride. All rides converge at Starbucks at Reston Town Center at 9 a.m.


On the day after Thanksgiving each year, Reston Town Center offers a full day of holiday fun, including a parade, visits with Santa, and the Christmas tree lighting sing-along.


The day after Thanksgiving is one of Reston’s most fun days of the year! Bring the whole family to Reston Town Center for a full day of holiday events, called collectively “The Holidays are Here!” Events include:

Gingerbread Man Mile and Tot Trot
8am: Reston Town Center
Run, run, as fast as you can! Kids can race the gingerbread man around the Town Center. Age divisions are available for toddlers through teens. Register online by Nov. 24.

Reston Holiday Parade
11am: Reston Town Center
This fantastic community event includes music, dancing, giant balloons, and a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. It’s a must-see! [View our previous article]

Visits with Santa, Mini Train Rides
12:30-4:30pm: Reston Town Center
Take the little ones to meet with Santa and then enjoy a trail ride through Reston Town Center. Pick up is in front of Talbots on Market Street. Requested donation benefits Cornerstones charities.

Conservatory Ballet Performance
5pm: Reston Town Center
This Reston ballet company will perform a holiday dance on Market Street in front of the large Christmas tree.

Christmas Tree Lighting and Sing-Along
6pm: Reston Town Center
The evening celebration begins with a performance by the Reston Chorale and a brass quintet, followed by a holiday singalong and the dramatic arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus to light the Christmas tree.

Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
6:30-10:00pm: Reston Town Center
Enjoy a ride  through the lit streets of Reston Town Center in a horse-drawn carriage. $5 donation per person benefits a local charity (children 5 and under ride free).


Small Business Saturday
All day, stores throughout the area
Support small businesses by shopping for holiday gifts at the large variety of local businesses throughout Reston and the DC area.


Annual Church Street Holiday Stroll
6pm-9pm, Church Street between Lawyers Road and Mill Street, Vienna
Church Street will be closed to traffic, and visitors are invited to stroll along the street amid the sights and sounds of the holiday season. Santa Claus greets children at the Freeman House.


Black Nativity
8pm: CenterStage, RCC Hunters Woods, Reston
This retelling of the Christmas story from an Afro-centric perspective is infused with rich gospel, blues, funk, jazz, and dance with griot-style story telling from an ensemble cast. Tickets are $25-$35.


Merry Mosaic
5-7pm: Mosaic District, Fairfax
Watch the holiday tree lighting, visit with Santa, sip hot cocoa, and enjoy live entertainment, and then watch a screening of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

5-9pm: National Zoo, Washington D.C.
BrewLights will take place during ZooLights, as a ticketed microbrew and craft beer event. Guests will enjoy beer tastings from a dozen breweries, as well as sample savory foods from top DC restaurants, all under the bright lights of DC’s favorite holiday tradition. All proceeds support the critical work of the National Zoo and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute – including species preservation and animal care. $55, reserve online.


Bring the kids to Lake Anne on December 3rd to see the thrilling arrival of Santa by boat.


Jingle on Lake Anne
11am-2pm, Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
Santa arrives by boat to crowds of excited children at this beloved annual event. Kids can visit with Santa, explore a petting zoo, and enjoy Christmas caroling and crafts. FREE. [View our previous article]

Gifts from the HeART: Gift Shopping Event and Artist Reception
11am-4pm, Reston Community Center at Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
Sales of original artwork, including watercolor, oil, acrylic, clay, mixed media, photography, and fiber, will benefit Cornerstones.

Alternative Gift Market and Craft Fair
10am-2pm, The Unitarian Universalist Church, 1625 Wiehle Ave, Reston
Support several local charities and people in need by contributing your holiday shopping time and money to this alternative gift market.

Herndon Holiday Homes Tour
10am-4pm, Tickets at the Visitor’s Center at 717 Lynn Street, Herndon
Tour Herndon homes that are beautifully decorated for the holidays.

Scottish Christmas Walk
11am: Old Town Alexandria
Enjoy marching units filled with the magnificent tartans of Scottish Clans, the stirring sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers, reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, and Santa Claus. FREE.

Canoe Rides with Santa
2-6pm: Herndon Community Center, 814 Ferndale Ave, Herndon
Kids age 3-14 can take a special canoe ride with Santa, and then enjoy a swim with their families.

Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-Along
4pm, The Filene Center at Wolf Trap, Vienna
This free annual musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a sing-along of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area.

“Home for the Holidays” by the Reston Chorale
4pm and 7pm, Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods
Celebrate the holidays with beloved carols and customs from around the globe, plus Daniel Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata for brass and organ.

Christmas Sing-Along and Tree Lighting
4:30pm: Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
Restoration Church will lead Lake Anne’s tree lighting and a Christmas sing-along and provide homemade cookies for all the singers. FREE.

Herndon Christmas Tree Lighting
5pm, Herndon Town Hall Square
Carols, tree lighting, and a visit from Santa.

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
5:30pm: Old Town Alexandria
Alexandria’s harbor lights up as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront.


Run With Santa 5K
8:30am: Reston Town Center
Wear your most festive holiday costume as you run, and bring your kids for the free kids fun run.

Herndon Holiday Arts and Crafts Show
10am-4pm: Herndon Community Center, Herndon
More than 80 vendors will offer unique gifts, holiday decorations, and handmade items.

Christmas at the Farm
10am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, or 3:30pm: Frying Pan Farm Park, Herndon
Enjoy a special holiday visit and take a wagon ride with Santa through the woods and fields. Activities include a holiday craft, cookie decorating and puppet show. Register in advance.

Holiday Open House at Walker Nature Center
1pm-3pm, 11450 Glade Dr, Reston
Tour Reston’s nature center while enjoying holiday refreshments, crafts, live music, and a family sing-along. FREE.

McLean Winterfest Parade
3:30-5:30pm: Downtown McLean along Chain Bridge Road
This annual celebration features musical performances, community groups, and the arrival of Santa on an antique fire truck. FREE.

Great Falls Celebration of Lights
4:00-6:30pm: Great Falls Village Centre Green, Great Falls
Celebrate with a bonfire, petting zoo, pony rides, and live nativity scene. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive at 5pm on an antique fire truck to light the Christmas tree. FREE.


Cookies with Santa
10:30am-12:30pm: Lake House, Lake Newport, Reston
Bring the little ones for a personal visit with Santa and take home a photo. Warm up with hot chocolate and cookies, and kick off the holiday season with festive crafts, activities and a take home treat.


Conservatory Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
7pm: Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods, Reston
Reston’s Conservatory Ballet makes holiday magic come to life with its 44th annual production of The Nutcracker. Young dancers from the Reston area will perform this Christmas classic.


The best part of Reston’s charming and popular German Christmas Market is that all the proceeds are donated to Cornerstones’ local charities.


German Christkindlmarket
4pm-9pm, German Armed Forces, 11150 Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston
Experience a German Christmas market with beer, mulled wine, bratwurst, and desserts. Shop for German crafts and Christmas decorations. All proceeds benefit Cornerstones charities. [View our previous article]

Conservatory Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
7pm: Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods, Reston
Reston’s Conservatory Ballet makes holiday magic come to life with its 44th annual production of The Nutcracker. Young dancers from the Reston area will perform this Christmas classic.


Conservatory Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
7:30pm: Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods, Reston
Reston’s Conservatory Ballet makes holiday magic come to life with its 44th annual production of The Nutcracker. Young dancers from the Reston area will perform this Christmas classic.


Herndon Holiday Train Show
10am-5pm: ArtSpace Herndon, 750-A Center Street, Herndon
Model Train enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy this holiday-themed train show. The W&OD caboose and Herndon Depot Museum will also be open for tours. FREE.

Jingle Bell Family Bike Ride
11am-12pm: YMCA, 12196 Sunset Hills Rd, Reston
Listen to sounds of the season during a bike ride along the W&OD to the Reston Town Center Christmas tree. Hot chocolate and treats to follow the ride. Children need to bring their own bikes but Bikeshare bikes will be available for adults on a first come, first served basis. Free 24-hour Bikeshare memberships will be provided.

Ride the Holiday Train
12PM: Lake Fairfax Park, Reston
Train rides, crafts, campfires, and holiday decorations add to the fun when kids meet and greet Santa at Lake Fairfax Park. Register online.

Family Joy
12-1pm: National Cathedral, Washington, DC
This musical celebration includes performances by the Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School Choir and the American Youth Philharmonic Brass Ensemble, as well as a kids-only singalong.

Santa at Colvin Run Mill
3pm-6pm, 10017 Colvin Run Road, Great Falls
Visit Santa in the mill and see the Christmas tree trimmed with Victorian decorations. Join the costumed 49th Virginia Volunteer Infantry caroling around a bonfire while roasting marshmallows.

Washington Plaza Baptist Church: Annual Christmas Concert
4pm: Washington Plaza Baptist Church, Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
The church and special guests will celebrate the music of Christmas and the spirit of peace.

Conservatory Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
11am or 7:30pm: Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods, Reston
Reston’s Conservatory Ballet makes holiday magic come to life with its 44th annual production of The Nutcracker. Young dancers from the Reston area will perform this Christmas classic.

Coney Island Christmas
8pm: NextStop Theatre Company, 269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon
NextStop will present a one-night-only staged reading presentation of “Coney Island Christmas” by Donald Margulies, based on the story “The Loudest Voice” by Grace Paley. Tickets are $15.


Reston’s Conservatory Ballet will present the Nutcracker during the week of December 7-11.


Herndon Holiday Train Show
11am-4pm: ArtSpace Herndon, 750-A Center Street, Herndon
Model Train enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy this holiday-themed train show. The W&OD caboose and Herndon Depot Museum will also be open for tours. FREE.

Christmas at the Farm
10am, 11:30am, 1:30pm, or 3:30pm: Frying Pan Farm Park, Herndon
Enjoy a special holiday visit and take a wagon ride with Santa through the woods and fields.Activities include a holiday craft, cookie decorating and puppet show. Register in advance.

Conservatory Ballet Presents: The Nutcracker
12pm: Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods, Reston
Reston’s Conservatory Ballet makes holiday magic come to life with its 44th annual production of The Nutcracker. Young dancers from the Reston area will perform this Christmas classic.

A Very Merrifield Christmas
4-7pm: Mosaic District, Fairfax
This festival includes live music, holiday eats and drinks, kids’ crafts, face painting and more.


Winter Wonderland
10:30-11:30am: Reston Association, 12001 Sunrise Valley Dr, Reston
Children aged 3-5 are invited to enjoy winter crafts, activities and a snack. Registration is required.


The Hip Hop Nutcracker
8pm: The Strathmore Music Center, Bethesda
The Hip Hop Nutcracker re-imagines Tchaikovsky’s classic score through explosive hip-hop choreography. A dozen all-star dancers, an on-stage DJ, and an electric violinist bring the traditional Nutcracker story to life in contemporary New York City.


A Storybook Holiday Celebration
10-11:30am: Herndon Community Center, Herndon
This event for children includes craft projects, a visit with Santa and a reading of a holiday story by a special guest.

Ugly Sweater Run
11am: RFK Stadium, Washington D.C.
Rummage up the Ugliest Sweater you can find and celebrate the Holidays by participating in the Merriest 5K of the year.

Tour de Lights
4:40pm-6:00pm: Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
An evening bike ride to view some of Reston’s best holiday lights, approximately 10 miles. FREE, but reserve in advance.

A Showgirl Christmas
9pm: NextStop Theatre Company, 269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon
Showgirls perform a holiday special with with unbridled enthusiasm, a slight lack of self-awareness, and copious amounts of holiday beverages. Recommended for ages 18+. Tickets are $25.


Nutcracker Puppet Show
10am or 11:30am: Frying Pan Farm Park, Herndon
Bring your holiday guests and join master puppeteer Bob Brown in a holiday production of the Nutcracker. Join the lively marionettes as they frolic in a magical winter wonderland of snow. After the show, stroll the Park and visit our animals or shop at the Country Store. Register in advance.


Water Skiing Santa
1pm, Old Town Alexandria waterfront between King Street and Oronoco Street
Spend Christmas Eve at Alexandria’s waterfront for a spectacular show by the Waterskiing Santa and his wakeboarding reindeer, plus flying elves, the Grinch and his friends, Frosty the Snowman, and Jack Frost.


Reston Town Center’s ice rink will host a Chanukkah celebration on December 25th.


Chanukah on Ice
4:30-6pm: Reston Town Center Ice Rink, Reston
Ice skate to lively Chanukah music and enjoy a giant menorah lighting, latkes, donuts, chocolate gelt, and dreidels. FREE, register online.

National Menorah Lighting
4pm: National Eclipse, Washington D.C.
The giant National Menorah will be lit, along with musical performances, latkes, donuts, and dreidels. Tickets are FREE, but must be reserved in advance.


Chanukah Magic at Lake Anne
4:30-6:30pm: Reston Community Center, Lake Anne Plaza, Reston
Enjoy the hilarious pirate magic of Captain Silly Bones, lighting of our giant cupcake Menorah, face-painting, balloon shaping, mac and cheese dinner, chocolate coins, dreidles, latkes, Chanukah activities, and more. $5 per person. $18 cap per family. Register online.

Menorah Making Competition
4:30pm: Reston Community Center at Lake Anne, Reston
Get creative and build a unique menorah according to the rules below. Bring your completed menorah to Chanukah Wonderland (at Reston Community Center Lake Anne) on Tuesday, December 27th at 4:30PM. Rules: Menorah must have a total of nine branches (including the shamash). Eight branches must be in a straight line and of even height. Scoring At the party, each Menorah will be tagged and guests will vote for the best one. Winner receives a $30 Amazon Gift Card and a Menorah. Contestants will be divided into 2 groups: Ages 5-8 and ages 9-12. One winner from each group.


Mosaic District Menorah Lighting
5pm: Mosaic District, Fairfax
Join the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia for songs and stories celebrating the miracle of Hanukkah. Complimentary Kosher donuts and chocolates provided.


The new Chinese Lantern Festival is a gorgeous holiday lights show hosted by Roer’s Zoofari.


Chinese Lantern Festival
Wednesday-Sunday evenings through Jan 1: Roer’s Zoofari, Reston/Vienna
This spectacularly beautiful lights show features hundreds of hand-crafted, illuminated animal sculptures from China. [View our previous article]

Reston Town Center Holiday Performances
Select afternoons and evenings, Dec 2 – Dec 17: Reston Town Center
Between Market Street and Democracy Drive (across from Starbucks) Come and enjoy holiday songs outside at the Reston Town Center South Market Promenade, by a variety of community performers.

Reston Town Center Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides
Saturdays in December, 4-9pm: Reston Town Center
Departs on Market Street in front of Talbots. Children under 5 ride free. All proceeds benefit local charities.


The Hyatt at Reston Town Center presents an intricate gingerbread village in its lobby every December.

Hyatt Gingerbread Village
Daily, December 5 through Christmas: Hyatt lobby at Reston Town Center
A joint effort between the hotel’s engineering and kitchen staffs, this village is created of giant gingerbread sheets, candy, and whipped cream. [View our previous article]

Reston Town Center Mini Train Rides
Sundays in December, 12-4pm: Reston Town Center
Children’s train departs in front of Talbots on Market Street. Donated proceeds benefit local charities.

Reston Town Center Ice Skating Pavilion
Daily throughout winter: Reston Town Center
The beautifully decorated Christmas season is the perfect time to take a spin around this outdoor ice rink. [View our previous article]


The Winter Walk of Lights transforms the botanical gardens of Meadowlark into a sparkling wonderland.


Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights
Nightly, Nov 13-Jan 3: 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court, Vienna
Over 500,000 LED lights transform of Meadowlark’s gardens into a winter wonderland. Marvel at the two story animated fountain, stroll past the Gingerbread Village, and explore the beauty of nature like you’ve never seen it. [View our previous article]

Bull Run Festival of Lights
Nov 18 – Jan 3: Bull Run Park, Centreville
Stay warm in your car as you drive through 2.5 miles of beautiful light shows. The driving tour ends at a winter carnival, with rides, bonfires, crafts, and animals.

National Christmas Tree
Daily throughout December: National Ellipse, Washington, DC
This Christmas tree, Menorah, and festival opposite the White House is a beloved annual tradition. The National Christmas tree is surrounded by the Christmas Pathway of Peace, a ring of decorated trees that represent each U.S. state and territory.

The Washington Ballet presents The Nutcracker
Dec 1-24: Warner Theater, Washington DC
Set in 1882 Georgetown, this gorgeous production showcases the grandeur of The Washington Ballet’s international roster of dancers and majesty of Tchaikovsky’s music. Replete with swirling snowflakes, cherry blossoms and historical characters, including George Washington as the heroic nutcracker, TWB’s The Nutcracker has become a tradition for generations of family and friends to celebrate the holidays.

A Christmas Carol
Nov 17 – Dec 31: Ford’s Theater, Washington DC
Join the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as they lead the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge on a journey of transformation and redemption. Originally conceived by Michael Baron, this music-infused production captures the magic and joy of Dickens’s Yuletide classic.


The Gaylord Resort at National Harbor offers an indoor Christmas village with beautiful decorations and fun children’s activities.

The Gaylord’s Christmas on the Potomac
Daily throughout December: Gaylord National Resort, National Harbor, MD
If you’re looking for climate-controlled holiday fun, explore this indoor Christmas village that offers beautiful decorations, a mini train, indoor snowfall, visits with Santa, gingerbread decorating, an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt, and fun with costumed characters.

Daily throughout December: Gaylord Resort, National Harbor, MD
In this spectacular annual ice show, Santa is brought to life in more than two million pounds of colorful ice. Walk through this classic Christmas story, slide down ice slides, and watch the artisans as they create these frozen marvels.

ZooLights at the National Zoo
Nov 27, 2014 – Jan 2, 2015 (Except Dec 24, 25, 31): National Zoo, Washington, DC
More than 500,000 LED lights that transform the National Zoo into a winter wonderland, including a dazzling light show set to music. FREE.

Festival of Lights
Dec 1 – Jan 1: Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kensington, MD
Over 650,000 lights decorate the Temple grounds, and a different performing artist or group is showcased each night, including bell ensembles, choirs, and orchestras. FREE.

Season’s Greenings
Nov 26 – Jan 3: United States Botanic Garden, Washington, DC
Despite the cold winter outside, the Conservatory boasts a tropical paradise, one of the largest indoor decorated trees in Washington, D.C., and a showcase of poinsettias. It wouldn’t be the winter holiday season without the train display in the East Gallery, where trains chug along tracks around and above you through imaginative structures created with plant materials. FREE. [View our previous article]

Which holiday events are your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

Photography by: Charlotte Geary

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