A festive D.C. weekend

The holiday season is around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than by taking advantage of what Washington has to offer? Spend the weekend in the city taking part in these festive activities.

Looking for the right place to stay is a very important aspect of making a great holiday weekend. Luckily, D.C. has some great hotels that don’t skimp on holiday decorations.

The Willard Intercontinental hotel, to name one, is located just blocks from the White House in Washington’s Northwest quadrant.

Along with their festive holiday decorations, the Willard plays host to multiple holiday festivities. Between Dec. 1 and Dec. 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., different chorus groups arrange themselves in the lobby of the Willard each night and put on a free show for passers-by or those interested in relaxing while listening to holiday tunes.

The Willard also stages a Christmas Day brunch, as well as offering holiday tea every day of December, excluding the 25th, 26th and 31st.

After settling into the hotel, head out for a night on the town — holiday style.

A great way to kick off a weekend of D.C. holiday festivities is ice-skating at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden Ice Rink. The rink opens in mid-November and, weather permitting, remains open until mid-March, turning this fun holiday activity into a months-long sport. Prices range based on age but do not exceed $7 for a two-hour skate session. Additionally, season passes are offered for just $195. 

When in need of a break from skating, the Pavilion Café offers perfect treats for a time out. Sandwiches, pizza and salads are available as well as coffee, tea, hot chocolate, wine and beer. 

The skating rink is located on the National Mall at 7th Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest. 

After a cold day of skating, nothing beats a cup of hot chocolate. Artfully Chocolate Kingsbury Confections (ACKC) opened in December 2007 as D.C.’s first cocoa bar. Located in Logan Circle and Alexandria, Va., this place is a perfect stop during a holiday weekend in D.C.

Says ACKC co-owner Rob Kingsbury, “We’re not just a cocoa bar, we’re a chocolatier — it’s all about chocolate in here. Just about any form of chocolate is in this store.”

ACKC is known for their interesting names of drinks and wide array of menu items. “ACKC Cocoa Bar is a haven for the lover of delectable hot cocoa drinks,” their website says. “We’ve named them after divas and starlets like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Judy Garland conjuring images of the bygone era of romance and spectacle.”

Kingsbury said that the “Lucy (named after Lucille Ball) definitely stands out with the chipotle pepper and cinnamon.” Like the Lucy, each drink has its own unique mixture of ingredients.

ACKC also offers a full wine list and brunch menu. It’s a perfect place to warm up after a long chilly day of ice skating.

Finally, Dec. 9 brings an 86-year-old D.C. tradition. In 1923, President Calvin Coolidge lit a giant Christmas tree behind the White House on the Ellipse, the area between the National Mall and the White House. This great tradition continues today and makes for a fun addition to a weekend in Washington.

This year’s event will play host to Maroon 5, Sara Bareilles and B.B. King as they “offer a diverse program of holiday music, including traditional songs with dashes of pop, folk and hip-hop,” according to the National Christmas Tree website.   

All are welcome to the lighting of the tree, although tickets are required for seats closer to the stage. If you can’t make it to the tree lighting ceremony, be sure and stop by one evening and take in this beautiful holiday scene.

Of course there’s lots more to see and do in our nation’s capital. But, here’s hoping these few suggestions will make for some merrymaking and holiday cheer.