Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today's post will be short and sweet, featuring an image of some of the turkeys living out at Claude Moore Colonial Farm. We visited back in July and Tom was quite vocal that day!

turkeys at Claude Moore Colonial Farm

Holiday craft and Christmas markets in Washington D.C.

The holiday shopping season is officially kicking off. While malls and other shopping centers are an option, often I find it fun to poke around holiday craft and Christmas markets to find unique items. Many local and national artisans participate in events in this region every year offering handmade items. Yesterday I wrote about holiday markets in Northern Virginia, and today I want to focus on events happening downtown in Washington.

Downtown Holiday Market

Every year the Downtown Holiday Market starts about a month before Christmas. For more than 10 years it has become one of the largest holiday markets in the area. In years' past, this event kicks off on Black Friday. From this point, the market runs daily until Dec. 23 from noon to 8 p.m. It features more than 150 exhibitors selling diverse items, food and drink, along with live musical entertainment. The market takes place at 8th and F Streets, Washington, D.C.(in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery between 7th and 9th Streets NW).

SWEA Washington DC Holiday Bazaar

Located downtown in Georgetown, this Christmas Bazaar features Swedish Christmas traditions at the House of Sweden. It highlights Swedish arts and crafts, live Christmas caroling, and Swedish food and treats. The event is customarily held on the 1st Saturday of December and is located at 2900 K St NW. Admission is free.

Eastern Market

A very popular and well-known year-round local market, this festival appears to also spice things up for the holiday season. Find unique and handmade custom gifts from approximately 200 vendors. Live music and it appears to be kid-friendly. Thanks to for the tip. For more details, see the market's official website.

There are a number of things to see and do in D.C. during the holidays. Don't forget to stop in at the Smithsonian museums, lots of festivity going on there too on Dec. 6 and Dec. 7.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy shopping!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday and craft shows in Northern Virginia

As Thanksgiving arrives, even though these days retailers seem to be promoting seasonal gifts and other promotions earlier and earlier each year, Friday has traditionally kicked off the holiday shopping season.

For the most part, this holds true with seasonal holiday and craft shows in Northern Virginia. There are a variety of specially scheduled events to shop at over the next few weeks.

Vienna Art and Craft Show

Sponsored by the Northern Virginia Handcrafter's Guild, the show has been running for over 30 years. The craft shows traditionally take place in November with the big event on Thanksgiving weekend, features dozens and dozens of artisans. For directions and more information, see the official website.


Alexandria’s Holiday Market annual event takes place in Old Town, it is designed to be similar to a European Festival, much like those in France or Germany. There will be a variety of vendors and live entertainment. This event is recurring throughout the season. For more information please see the official website. There is literally tons to see and do in Old Town, one of my favorite places to go this time of year, as I noted in a post last week.

Also in Alexandria, in the Del Ray District, will be the 19th Annual Del Ray Artisans Fine Art & Fine Craft Holiday Market. This event features a number of local artisans sharing their handmade products. It all takes place at the Del Ray Artisans gallery, located at the Nicholas A. Colasanto Center, 2704 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Admission is free.

Tysons Corner Center Holiday Market

A newer event, this German-themed market takes place at the Tysons Corner Center. I haven't been here yet and I'm not sure if it's going to become an annual event but it has been held at least a couple of times. Past promotions indicated the market is an outdoor event and features more than 20 exhibitor booths. There has been a lot of revamping done (presumably coinciding with the phase 1 of the Silver Line Metro opening in the summer of 2014) and the new space includes an ice skating rink, outdoor seating, fire pits, and live entertainment. There has also been a beer garden and other fun events.

McLean Holiday Crafts Show

For over 30 years, this holiday craft show features over 70 artisans with various specialties from across the United States. This event has previously taken place the first weekend in December. The McLean Community Center is located at 1234 Ingleside Ave. McLean, Virginia.

Dulles Expo Center: Sugarloaf Craft Festival

Over in western Fairfax the Sugarloaf Crafts Festival is taking place at the Dulles Expo Center. An annual event that now features over 300 exhibitors, I've found it to be very kid-friendly. Exhibitors typically include local and nationally known artists, many provide live demos. There is also food available and live music, along with entertainment for the kids. There is usually an admission fee associated with this event. See official website for more details.

Holiday Fine Arts and Craft Show (Leesburg)

This annual event takes place in early December at the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center. Featuring more than 90 local and regional artisans, there will be a variety of wares. Saturday's hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday's from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

The rec center is located at 60 Ida Lee Dr. NW in Leesburg. Historic Leesburg is a fun place to visit during the holidays, there are a lot of events going on with much to see and do throughout the season, including a parade.

Falls Church Annual Holiday Gift & Craft Show 

Also taking place the 1st weekend in December is the Falls Church Annual Holiday Gift & Craft Show. Featuring over 50 exhibitors selling handmade items, baked goods and more. Past events have taken place at the Falls Church Community Center, located at 223 Little Falls Street. There is a fee of $1 per person (all weekend shopping pass), kids under 12 are free. There is also lunch with Santa available, but you'll need reservations.

These are a few events going on in the region this year, if I come across more, I'll continue to post them. Tomorrow I will be posting about Washington D.C.'s seasonal markets.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy shopping!

Monday, November 24, 2014

'Season's Greetings' at the U.S. Botanic Garden

Every winter the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) puts on a beautiful holiday showing in the conservatory. Entitled Season's Greetings, visitors can see beautiful plant and flower displays throughout the exhibits. 

Season's Greetings at USBG

As a part of the spectacular displays are representations of the National Mall and other significant landmark buildings in Washington D.C. Additionally, the annual train display returns every year, attracting many visitors - a very popular exhibit!
Season's Greetings, at USBG

Holiday exhibit at the US Botanic Garden

My favorites exhibits contain the plants placed inside of ornaments. Very creative!

Holiday exhibit at the US Botanic Garden

"Season's Greetings" commences on Thanksgiving Day. The Conservatory is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is free of admission. According to USBG's website, there are some extended hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings in December when the facility will stay open until 8 p.m. Check the website for more details. (I wrote this post in 2014, but just checked the updated information for 2015 and the website contains current details).

If you want to skip the trains and just go directly into the conservatory, there are two entrances. Since lines can be quite long during the holiday break, if not interested in the trains, know you can bypass the long line. I remember standing on line for a while the last time I attended. I haven't been in the last few years, but keep hoping to make it back downtown during this year's season. 

The conservatory is located at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington DC 20001.   

Friday, November 21, 2014

Photos on Friday: Christmas at Mount Vernon

Over the last two weeks I've been posting events happening in the local area, including Christmas at Mount Vernon. For today's Photos on Friday I decided to share a few photos from previous years (usually I stop by at least once during each holiday season).

While the house itself is sparsely decorated as per 18th century authenticity, the visitor's center and other buildings are decorated much more elaborately.
Gingerbread houses on display. These were made by members of a STEM program at a local school

Close up of one of the Christmas trees at Mount Vernon

In 1787 George Washington paid to have a camel brought to his estate for the enjoyment of his guests. Every year Mount Vernon gets a visit from Aladdin, the Christmas Camel. He's very sociable and visitors love him!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Carlyle House to hold 'A Soldier's Christmas'

Alexandria is deeply entwined with Colonial America and possesses a rich history. Throughout the city remnants of a time gone by are very present. One of these reminders of early American history is the Carlyle House.  

Each year come winter Carlyle House hosts its "A Soldier's Christmas" event. This usually coincides on the same day as the Campagna Center's Scottish Christmas Walk (parade).

Carlyle House presents "A Soldier's Christmas" (2012)

The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority website describes conditions for soldiers during Revolutionary times:
"The air is chilly and the scent of wood smoke and cider rises in the air. Greenery bedecks homes around Alexandria, signaling that the holiday season is well and truly here. However, this was not so for soldiers in the American Revolution, many of the winters during the war were hard for the American armies. A lack of ready supplies meant hunger and cold. Even with their meager goods in the longest stretches of the war, though, soldiers could find reasons to celebrate."
(Please note this is last year's press release, the date on here is not the current one. The 2014 event will be held on Sat., Dec. 6, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.)

Visitors can expect to see military drills, music and other festivities with costumed living history members portraying 18th century soldiers from the First Virginia Regiment. In the past food and beverages were also shared. Learn about Army medicine during this era. Also, there will be Colonial games for the kids. 

Two soldiers make adjustments to their drums

Want to enlist? First Virginia Regiment is recruiting

Visitors chat with 18th century soldiers while enjoying a beverage

Carlyle House is located at 121 N. Fairfax St., Alexandria, Va. 22314. In addition to regular tours, many special events are held throughout the year.