Events for the season

This year, ZooLights at the National Zoo is free, thanks to a gift from Friends of the National Zoo (FONZ). 

Open weekends from Dec. 3 through Dec. 12 and every night from Dec. 17 through Jan. 1 — with the exception of Dec. 24, 25 and 31 — D.C.-ites of all ages can celebrate the season with light and animal exhibits, model trains and gingerbread habitat displays. New to the zoo this season is an Andean bear light display. 

Although the event is free, parking is $8 for FONZ members and $15 for non-members. The nearest Metro stop is Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan on the Red Line.

This year, the U.S. Air Force Band will play at The National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting Ceremony, on the D.C. Ellipse. The ceremony will take place Dec. 1 at 4 p.m., marking the first of the eight days of Hanukkah. The ceremony will feature speeches, performances, hot latkes and donuts. Although free tickets are required for seats, standing room is available. 

New to the holiday displays this year is Crumland Farm Holiday Lights Spectacular, a driving Christmas light display on the property’s 550 acres in Frederick, Md. Sunday through Thursday, the event costs $15 per car and $20 per car Friday and Saturday. After the drive, patrons can visit with Santa, shop or enjoy a cup of hot cocoa. 

The event is open Dec. 3 through Dec. 26 from 6 p.m. through 9 p.m., and is located at 7612 Willow Road in Frederick, Md.

The National Cathedral features several holiday concerts throughout the month of December, but their annual Children’s Christmas Pageant might be the most fun and informal public event. 

National Cathedral’s Richard Weinberg said the event is unique simply because it takes place at the National Cathedral and that anyone can be part of the show.

The Dec. 18 event begins at 2 p.m., but if you would like to appear in the pageant, anyone is allowed to show up at 1:30 to don a “costume” and participate, following a brief rehearsal. 

If you’re more of a caroler, Carols by Candlelight is taking place at the National Cathedral the same day at 6 p.m. as well as on Dec. 19 at 4 p.m. The event includes Bible readings interspersed with Christmas music, candle lighting and holiday prayers.

The National Cathedral is located at 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW. The nearest Metro stop is the Red Line’s Tenleytown/AU station — travelers can take a brief southbound bus ride on the 31, 32, 36 or 37 routes until exiting at Woodley Avenue.

The Kwanzaa Celebration at the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum will be taking place at a yet-to-be-announced date this year. Programs include storytelling and music, and guests can view the museum’s approximate 6,000 historical objects. 

Smithsonian Institute spokeswoman Marcia Baird Burris said the museum’s event, the Kwanzaa Triple Play, is one of the largest Kwanzaa programs in the area. She attributes its success to the cohesion between the holiday events and the museum’s current installation — Word, Shout, Song — which details the historical journey of Africans on their way to America.

“There’s holiday stuff, but there’s also more to see at the museum with our current exhibition,” Burris said.

All events are free, open to the public and require reservations that may be made at 202-633-4844 unless otherwise indicated. The museum is open every day except Dec. 25.

Trees decked in every room, Glenview Mansion at Rockville Civic Center Park has three Sundays in December filled with holiday splendor. Dec. 12 is Children’s Sunday and features Santa, Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph, as well as arts and crafts for children. 

Concert guests including the Richard Montgomery Madrigals and the Watkins Mill Chamber Singers will perform. The concert begins at 1:15 pm.

The Glenview Mansion is located at 603 Edmonston Drive in Rockville, Md. The nearest Metro station is Rockville, on the Red Line. After exiting the station, take the 45 Ride-on bus towards Twinbrook Station and exit at Baltimore Road and Edmonston Road.