Lights! Action! Carols!

The holidays are busting out all over the District, and not a moment too soon. Here are five ways to recapture the spirit of the season—whatever that might mean for you.

1. Let there be light: The big ceremonial first lighting of the National Christmas Tree is scheduled for December 1, and unless you have your tickets already, you won’t be in the audience. However, the tree’s lights will be switched on every subsequent evening at dusk in a smaller (but still music-filled) ceremony, so around about dusk, swing by the Ellipse to join in the festivities. On December 6, the Capitol Christmas Tree will be lit by Isabella Gerard, a fifth grader from Boise. (The tree this year comes from Idaho’s Payette National Forest.)

dc holidays capitol christmas tree Photo Courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol

2. Raise a joyful noise: The National Cathedral’s myriad Christmas concerts and services kick off in early December with Handel’s Messiah (December 2–4). The rest of the schedule includes a simulcast service from Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, a concert by the King’s Singers, a traditional Christmas pageant, and two days of Christmas Lessons & Carols, plus, of course, the Holy Eucharist on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The Messiah will also be performed by the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center for five days straight (December 14–18).

dc holidays caroling Photo Courtesy of the Washington National Cathedral

dc holidays kennedy centerPhoto Courtesy of Scott Suchman

3. Take the kids shopping: The first weekend in December, all of the Smithsonian museums play host to the Smithsonian Holiday Festival, which translates into trunk shows, food demos, and musical performances, all of it suitable for families.

4. Indulge your inner Scrooge: Providing a not-at-all-family-friendly alternative to all of the above, A John Waters Christmas returns to the Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria on December 20.

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