By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
Shine brightly! The year 2020 has been “unusual,” to put it mildly, and with dark winter days and so much uncertainty upon us, it’s more important than ever to find good cheer, enjoy happy moments, and shine brightly no matter what… and Christmas is not cancelled! While some Christmas events were already cancelled well before December, the good news is that most of the Northern Virginia holiday light shows are, in fact, taking place. In fact, these light shows may prove more popular than ever as they present a perfect opportunity to enjoy the season while still maintaining physical distance safely outside.
These holiday light shows vary in size and theme, but all are incredible displays all involve thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights over a large area. Most of these events incur a cost, and prices vary greatly as well. Some light displays are walk-through shows, while some are drive-throughs, but all provide a fun outdoor activity where you can be close to your family but still maintain physical distance from others during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
So, which ones are open and which ones are not? Unfortunately, some of the biggest festivals near Northern Virginia are not operating in 2020. Tthe big Enchant DC light maze that took place in 2019 at Nationals Park is NOT back. Also not operating this year is Zoolights, which was an amazing (and free!) experience at Smithsonian’s National Zoo. The Gaylord National Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, which typically has a night light and sound show in its giant glass atrium nightly, is currently closed. Some of the local festivals that also were free to the public, such as the one McLean Bible Church would put on, are not taking place in 2020.
The good news is that the big classic events, all Northern Virginia holiday light shows such as the walkable Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights in Vienna and the drive-through Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, are back for several weeks through early January 2021! Also back is the newer addition (as of 2019) to the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority holiday light show, the Ice and Lights Festival at Cameron Run Park in Alexandria. Mount Vernon Estate also has added a new event for 2020, “Winter Glow.”
Some of these events require advance ticket sales and have reduced capacity for guests because of statewide restrictions or guidelines, so look at the descriptions in detail — we link to all of these on our Northern Virginia Holiday Light Shows page. Tickets for these events are likely to sell out quickly, so plan in advance. And if they sell out, remember you still have some good, free choices:
- The Mormon Temple Lights in nearby Kensington, Maryland (this year only as a drive-by)
- The National Christmas Tree in DC
- Fairfax County holiday home lights
- Loudoun Cristmas lights
- (Links for all these are on our Holiday Light Shows page!)