Holiday happenings abound

There’s nothing quite like “The Christmas Carol” to chase away the winter doldrums and usher in the holiday cheer. Ford’s Theatre’s presentation of the Charles Dickens classic is the perfect remedy to ease the stresses of the harried holiday season. Before shouting “Bah, humbug,” be sure to check out the play, adapted by Michael Wilson and directed by Michael Baron, about the true meaning of Christmas. Theatergoers are asked to live out the play’s embrace of charity during curtain calls by making a monetary donation to Miriam’s Kitchen, a Washington-based nonprofit dedicated to helping the homeless. The play, sure to prepare even the bitterest Scrooge’s heart for the holidays, runs through Dec. 31. Ticket availability is limited.

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While the holiday tree at Union Station has become a casualty to earthquake repair work this year, its train show is back and better than ever. The model train exhibit — complete with sounds, lights and smoke — is sure to delight model train enthusiasts of all ages. The new display is three times as big as the one the station has hosted for the past 13 years, said Dawn Banket, director of marketing. The free display is in partnership with Amtrak and M.T.H. Electric Trains. Located in the Main Hall, the model train exhibit will be on display until Jan. 2.

D.C. offers no shortage of faith-based celebrations. The National Cathedral’s Joy of Christmas event boasts a concert of traditional Christmas carols like “Joy to the World” and “Angels We Have Heard on High.” Led by the 140-member Cathedral Choral Society, the choir tops off the performance with a rendition of Handel’s renowned “Hallelujah” chorus. The Joy of Christmas concert also features the 18th Street Singers. On Dec. 10 there will be two performances, a family matinee at noon and another performance at 4 p.m. The cathedral will host one performance on Dec. 11 at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $25.

For anyone celebrating Hanukkah, the lighting ceremony of the National Hanukkah Menorah on the Ellipse on Dec. 20 at 4 p.m. is worth checking out. Tasty, hot latkes and doughnuts, along with menorah kits and dreidels, set the mood to begin celebrating the Festival of Lights. The lighting ceremony features entertainment from The President’s Own U.S. Marine Band and Dreidelman and The Macabees. Tickets are free to pick up in person but come with a small processing fee if ordered by mail. 

The National Christmas Tree has already been lit, but it’s still worth paying a visit to the towering evergreen and the Pathway of Peace, which features even more trees — 56, to be exact — to represent each state and territory of the United States and D.C. The trees are decorated with ornaments designed and created by artists and volunteers to capture each state’s heritage. In the evenings leading up to Christmas Eve, visitors to the National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace, located on the Ellipse just south of the White House, can take in the lights and sounds of the holidays with musical performances from groups based primarily in the D.C. area. The Pathway of Peace is lit until 11 a.m. each night until Jan. 1. Parents might want to bring their kids to pay a visit to Santa’s workshop and the model train display, which are also part of the National Christmas Tree festivities.

Those with a taste for the old fashioned should consider taking a step back in time with a visit to Alexandria, Va. The Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site (4301 W. Braddock Rd.), is hosting a Civil War-inspired Christmas in Camp open house on Dec. 10. The festivities, reminiscent of a bygone era, will take visitors back in time by recreating Christmas traditions of the Civil War. Living-history interpreters and a Victorian Christmas tree add to the historical flavor of the event, which features a reading of “The Night Before Christmas” and a patriotic Santa inspired by Thomas Nast’s Civil War cartoon in Harper’s Weekly. Guided tours of the fort will be available, weather permitting. A donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children is suggested for the event, which runs from noon to 4 p.m.