Events kick off winter

Fun places like ZooLights bring holiday cheer

Josh Levine
staff writer

The holidays are the time to celebrate and spend time with friends and family. Here are some of the most popular local events that are available during the upcoming holiday season.

First, the National Christmas Tree is Washington, D.C.’s, claim to fame during the holidays, for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it’s surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories. The park is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season. The display is free to visit and open from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. while the National Christmas Tree is lit each day from 4:30-10 p.m. “Every year I go to the National Christmas Tree with my family during the holiday season. It’s one of my favorite traditions,” sophomore Ryan Feldman said.

Next, indulge your wild side with an after-hours visit to the Smithsonian National Zoo during ZooLights, which illuminates the zoo with more than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LEDs, animated light installations, live music and food. ZooLights runs Nov. 23 – Jan. 1 and is closed Dec. 24, 25 & 31. “I went last year and it was so cool being able to walk around the zoo all lit up like that. I plan to go again at some point this year. It was a great family event,” freshman James Walsh said.

A George Washington-inspired Christmas awaits at the Founding Fathers Mount Vernon estate from Nov. 23 – Dec. 31. Walk through Washington’s iconic mansion and visit Aladdin the camel, a nod to Washington’s 1787 Christmas in which he paid 18 shillings to entertain guests with a camel. For a truly unique experience, see Mount Vernon by candlelight, Nov. 23-24 & 30, Dec. 1, 7-8 & 16, between 5-8 p.m., with a character-guided tour, 18th century dancing and fireside caroling. “Last year I went to the Mount Vernon estate during this holiday season and it was a fun way to spend time with family while also gaining some knowledge about Mount Vernon,” junior Samir Patankar said.

An action-packed holiday schedule awaits at National Harbor, a shopping, dining and amusement park-like landmark located just 20 minutes south of D.C. Step inside the Gaylord National Resort for ICE! from Nov. 16 – Jan. 1. This indoor winter wonderland features two million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures, ice slides, a live carving area and a retelling of A Charlie Brown Christmas. “I have never been to the National Harbor during the holiday season, but my family and I plan to go this year and I’m really excited to go check out the ice sculpture at the National Harbor for the first time,” junior Scotty Collinson said.

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