The holiday season is coming up quickly, and for many families, this means exploring beautiful holiday light displays. The Washington, D.C. metro area has no shortage of spectacular light shows and displays that capture the spirit of the season.
Best Holiday Light Displays In The DMV
For residents of the DMV area, exploring the incredible local light displays is a yearly tradition. Southern Management project manager Elaine Dietz has fond memories of exploring holiday light displays with her parents.
“We would do a walk-through of the lights with my family each year, there would be holiday drinks and snacks along the walk,” she says. “It was something I genuinely looked forward to, even after growing out of other holiday traditions.”
Light displays are a great way to bond with family and friends, no matter how old you are. Here are the best holiday and Christmas light shows in Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. to explore with your loved ones.
ZooLights at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
3001 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.’s iconic National Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland for ZooLights, which runs from Nov. 25 to Dec. 30, 2022. From 5 to 9 p.m. each evening, visitors can explore the animal exhibits decked out with stunning, themed light displays. There’s also live music and plenty of delicious food and drinks throughout the zoo.
ZooLights is free to attend, but visitors need to obtain a pass online before visiting. The zoo is easily accessible via public transit using the Metro Red line. Both the Woodley Park and Cleveland Park stops are within walking distance. For those driving, the zoo is located on Connecticut Avenue in the Woodley Park neighborhood, and there is a $30 flat rate parking fee.
EnchantⓇ at Nationals Park
1500 S Capitol St SE, Washington, D.C.
EnchantⓇ at Nationals Park is more than just a light display—it’s an immersive winter attraction that offers fun for everyone. Millions of lights and a 100-foot Christmas tree transform the stadium. Visitors can stroll through a light maze or glide down an ice-skating trail. Kids can enjoy visits with Santa, and there’s a variety of live entertainment throughout the event. There’s also a holiday market where visitors can shop for handmade gifts and snacks.
The event runs from Nov. 25 to Jan. 1. Tickets can be purchased online starting at $35 for adults and $23 for children. The park is just a few blocks away from the Metro Green line Navy Yard-Ballpark stop, as well as I-695. Paid parking is available on-site.
Merriweather Symphony of Lights
10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, MD
This is one of the best Maryland holiday light shows and shouldn’t be missed. The Merriweather Symphony of Lights is held at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, a popular local music venue, and is open from Nov. 24 to Jan. 1.
On most nights, visitors can drive through the lights, which makes this a great activity for those who don’t want to be out in the cold. If you’re willing to brave the chill, there are also special themed walk-through nights, including a family night, dog night, beer and cocktail tasting night, and New Year’s firework shop.
Tickets can be purchased online or at the door. Prices vary depending on the event.
National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
1450 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C.
The National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is a time-honored Washington, D.C. tradition. While the ceremony itself isn’t open to the public, it is broadcast live on CBS on Dec. 11. After the ceremony is over, the public can visit the tree in the President’s Park. Visitors are advised to take public transportation or use rideshare services, as there is no on-site parking. The Metro Center station is the closest to the park and is served by the Blue, Red, Orange and Silver lines.
Bull Run Festival of Lights
7700 Bull Run Drive, Centreville, VA
The Bull Run Festival of Lights is one of the best Christmas light displays in Northern Virginia. This light display is located in Bull Run Regional Park and features 2.5 miles of beautiful holiday displays. The festival is a drive-through experience, so you can enjoy it from the comfort and warmth of your car. The lights are open from Nov. 23 to Jan. 8 and tickets are $30 per car online or $40 at the door. The festival is located in Centreville off I-66 at Bull Run Drive.
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade
101 District Square Southwest, Washington, D.C.
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade is a unique way to enjoy the holiday lights and get into the holiday spirit. Visitors can watch from the pier as over 60 beautifully decorated boats pass by. Activities are held throughout the wharf, including live music, visits with Santa, a beer garden, a campfire with s’mores and much more.
This event is only held on Dec. 3 from 6-9 p.m. and is free to attend. The pier is located directly on the Potomac River in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood of Washington, D.C. It is accessible via the Metro Green line at the Waterfront station or via I-395.
Tips For Holiday Lights Viewing
- Dress warmly: Temperatures can get chilly this time of year, so be sure to wear a winter coat and bring gloves and a hat with you.
- Take your time: The best holiday light displays can get crowded, especially on weekends. “Be patient! There are often crowds with families, stay calm to not ruin the holiday spirit,” says Elaine Dietz.
- Bring cash: Many light displays sell snacks or holiday decor, so bring some cash with you in case you’d like to shop.
- Look up directions and parking options before you go: If you’re traveling to an unfamiliar area, be sure to look up parking locations and costs ahead of time. If possible, consider taking public transit to avoid high parking costs.
Live Close to Holiday Cheer
At Southern Management, we love celebrating the holidays. If you’re looking for an apartment in the Baltimore or Washington, D.C. metro areas, contact us today. We have a full portfolio of residential communities throughout the DMV area, and we’d love to help you find your new home.