By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Feliz Navidad! Each Christmas season, Northern Virginia and DC are all aglow with holiday lights everywhere. Beyond the neighborhood light displays are huge festivals with hundreds of thousands of bulbs. Some of these events also offer entertainment and other extras. Most of these events have an entry fee, but a few are completely free to attend and still deliver an amazing experience. At most of these light shows, you just walk around, taking in the beautiful illuminations at your own pace, while a few are drive-through experiences where you can enjoy the scenes from the comfort of your own car.
If you’ve lived in Northern Virginia or the DC area for some time, you likely already know about the big displays such as Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, Meadowlark Winter Walk of Lights, and the drive-through Bull Run Festival of Lights. In 2019, though, we are lucky to have several new offerings, including Enchant at Nationals Park (Washington, DC, is one of only three cities getting this show). NOVA Parks, which runs the Meadowlark and Bull Run shows, adds a new one at a sister property: Ice and Lights at Cameron Run Park.
Tickets for these events, which all charge a fee, can add up quickly for families, but not to worry: you have some free choices, too! Another new attraction this year is the lights display at McLean Bible Church, which is a drive-through experience so you can stay warm and make a quick visit, too. If you have more time and venture further out, don’t miss the Festival of Lights at the Mormon temple in Maryland — that one is a huge show with nearly half a million lights! It’s also a free-admission event, with music, Christmas displays, and more.
And of course there’s always the good old-fashioned tradition of just driving around the neighborhood to check out the holiday lights. Ranging from quaint and cute to funny and trendy to amazing and maybe over the top, seeing these personalized and creative displays is always a treat. A treat that is free, at that! But which neighborhoods have the best displays? What are the addresses of specific houses (which encourage people to come for a look-see)?
For many years, a site about lights in Northern Virginia has provided guidance. Helping out this year by building on that is Loudoun Christmas Lights, a new page dedicated to the home displays in the more westerly NOVA suburbs. See more details including dates, prices, features, and links to the official sites for all of these in our big Holiday Lights Guide!