FX Excursions

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Celebrating the Holidays as a Family in Washington, D.C.

by Holly Riddle

Dec 17, 2018

© Cvandyke | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

Head to Washington, D.C.’s National Harbor district for a top-notch family Christmas, with all the amenities and activities you need to make this season a magical one.


Through Jan. 1, 2019, check out the now famous interactive ICE! attraction at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. Two million pounds of ice are hand-carved into vibrant, larger-than-life sculptures by 35 artisans straight from Harbin, China, where the International Snow and Ice Festival takes place each year. Through snow, ice and other fun effects, the attractions tell the story of Christmas through beloved Peanuts characters, including Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy and more.


For older children and parents, Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center provides a brand-new spectacular — Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. The holiday show takes place in the 19-story atrium and was composed by Broadway director Neil Goldberg. The 25-minute show dazzles!


Beyond these two main attractions, the property also offers other holiday experiences, such as breakfast with the Charlie Brown gang, ice skating, gingerbread decorating and more.


Christmas festival at Cathedral Commons

Christmas festival at Cathedral Commons © Richard Gunion | Dreamstime.com


At a different property, MGM National Harbor puts on a separate Cirque show, with Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a performance taking place at the Theater at MGM National Harbor for a limited time, Dec. 20–23.


The district itself offers plenty to explore. Each Saturday evening through Dec. 22, enjoy a beautiful fireworks display off the waterfront, at 5:30 p.m., before checking out the 2 million twinkling lights decking out the 56-foot Christmas tree, taking a ride on the carousel and meeting Santa.


For last-minute Christmas shopping, the area has you covered as well. You’ll find more than 160 shops, with loads of your favorite brands at Tanger Oulets, from Kate Spade to Michael Kors, Nike to H&M. Additional shopping provides plenty of boutiques and unique items you won’t find anywhere else. If you stick around MGM National Harbor, you’ll find shopping options there as well, including SJP by Sarah Parker and Breitling.


To get in a little Christmas fun outside of the neighborhood, you can take the water taxi, which runs through Jan. 1, 2019, to Old Town Alexandria and Mount Vernon. The latter hosts a Christmas celebration like no other, with activities that appeal to a range of ages, like the Holiday Centerpiece Workshop, cookie decorating classes and a pie-making workshop. Your furry family members can also get in on the fun, with a “howlidays” pet photo station.


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