Holiday Light Shows for 2019
Feliz Navidad! Each Christmas season, in addition to individual tree lighting events, there are big holiday light shows in Northern Virginia and Washington, DC. These incredible displays involve thousands upon thousands of twinkling lights over a large area. Most of these events incur a cost, but a few are free. Some you walk through, and some you drive through, but all will instill a sense of wonder, especially for kids. See our big list below!
Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights
Nov. 8, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020
Park lights display in Vienna, VA
Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority (NVRPA) property, turns all aglow during the holiday season with the Winter Walk of Lights. This beautiful production has more than 500,000 lights illuminating the trees and displays of flowers, animals, fountains, a stream, and much more, including lights set to music by the fountain and entertainment and kids’ activities on special nights. It’s a walk-through event so you can go at your own pace. Ticket prices are $8 to $16.50 depending on day and time. Kids ages 2 and younger are free.
Bull Run Festival of Lights
Nov. 22, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020
Park lights display in Centreville, VA
A popular drive-through light show depicting holiday and winter themes. The festival (also from NVRPA) includes a carnival on select dates; a Holiday Village with bonfires, treats, and photos with Santa; Santa’s Enchanted Lights (40,000 twinkling lights set to music), and free family activities and camel rides (extra fees) on select dates. Admission prices are per carload: most Mondays-Thursdays $20; most Fridays-Sundays, holidays and other peak times $25 carnival fees extra.
Zoo Lights at the National Zoo
Nov. 29, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2020
Free lights display in Washington, DC
See the National Zoo in a new light at this annual event where more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. Plus, enjoy a light show set to music, visit some nocturnal animals, go “snowless snow tubing,” or take a ride on the carousel and train. Free admission; fees for activities. Other fun includes a Glow Zone, holiday crafts show, and special indoor exhibits.
Ice and Lights
Nov. 12, 2019, to Jan. 5, 2020 (and then to Feb. 29 for the ice rink only)
New attraction in Alexandria, VA
The newest addition by NVRPA is Ice and Lights. Launched in 2019, this winter wonderland experience happens at Cameron Run Park in Alexandria. From mid-November through the holiday season, the water park comes briefly out of hibernation with an ice rink, beautifully lit photo ops, music, and more! You also crab a slice of pizza and donuts in the winter village. While some attractions will close after the new year, the ice rink stays open through February. Admission starts at $5 per person.
Enchant at Nationals Park
Nov. 22, 2019, to Dec. 29, 2019
Nationals Park, Washington, DC
Another new attraction in 2019 is Enchant, taking place at Nationals Park. Billed as “the world’s largest maze,” this huge Christmas lights display makes a stop in DC for a few weeks. Through the Christmas light maze, you follow a mischievous little elf named Eddie who has accidentally set Santa’s reindeer free and needs your help to find them. The attraction also includes a holiday market with dining and shopping options, and an ice-skating trail. Tickets start at $14.99 for kids.
MBC Drive-through Light Show
Dec. 5, 2019, to Dec. 23, 2019
Free drive-through display in Tysons, VA
Wrapping up the new lights offerings for 2019 is the light show McLean Bible Church is presenting. This mega-church in McLean, which has numerous community programs, is giving back in a new way with a drive-through light show. Up until just before Christmas Eve, enjoy the lights — for free! — on the MBC Tysons Campus nightly from 7:15 pm to 9:30 pm.
Festival of Lights
Dec. 5, 2019, to Jan. 4, 2020
Free walk-through light show with music and more in Kensington, MD
The Festival of Lights is one of the D.C. area’s great community traditions. For 42 years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church) has invited the community to visit its temple in Maryland to enjoy beautiful lights and more. Tour the grounds decorated with more than 400,000 lights, see the life-sized outdoor nativity, and then go into the Visitor Center to continue the joy. There, the festival features free performances nightly in a comfortable, state-of-the-art theater, plus Christmas trees decorated in international themes, and an exhibit of crèches from around the world. Visitor Center hours are 10 am to 4 pm. Admission is free and you can get tickets online.
Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon
Dec. 20, 2019 to Dec. 21,2019
Special event at George Washington’s Home in Mount Vernon, VA
Mount Vernon’s Christmas Illuminations will include fireworks choreographed to holiday music, local choirs, re-enactors in winter encampment, 18th-century dancing, and more. Admission is $30 for adults and $20 for children; house tours are $6 extra.
Gaylord National Fountain Lights and Show
Nov. 16, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2020
Light and music show at National Harbor, MD
As part of its “Christmas on the Potomac” celebration (featuring the ICE show, train rides, and more; fees apply for these), the Gaylord National has a nightly show in its atrium that is free and open to all. This includes a display with modern and classic Christmas carols synchronized to the fountain show, plus an “indoor snowfall.” Both events take place nightly, 6-9 pm.
National Christmas Tree nightly entertainment
Dec. 5-Dec. 24, 2019
Nightly display and entertainment in Washington, DC
While tickets to the National Tree Lighting Ceremony are limited (free, but through a lottery system), every night for the following three weeks you can see the tree day or night and enjoy free highly holiday entertainment of musical groups from DC and across the country.
Northern Virginia Neighborhood Light Displays
Ongoing, dates vary
Home illuminations at multiple locations
Want to find the best or most extravagant holiday light displays in your neighborhood? The Holly’s Tacky Christmas Lights lets you find them easily in Northern Virginia and Maryland!
Loudoun Christmas Lights
Ongoing, dates vary
Home illuminations at multiple locations
While the Holly’s Tacky Christmas Lights site above is a great resource, it had few listings for Loudoun County, In 2019, a local long-term Loudoun resident began to hunt these down and created Loudoun Lights. This public Facebook page helps you to find the best home light displays in Loudoun County!