Sunday, November 9, 2014

Christmas and holiday-themed family-friendly events in Northern Virginia

One of my favorite times of the year living in Northern Virginia is during the holidays. Living close to so many historic properties, I love to go tour the homes or attend specially scheduled Christmas and holiday events. Additionally, there are a couple of great parades.

If you're looking for a family fun day (or evening), there are some great events happening this year in NoVa.

Mount Vernon - Once again the Mount Vernon Ladies Association presents "Christmas at Mount Vernon". The site offers special candlelight tours throughout a number of days (see their calendar for specific dates). Other fun happenings include dancing, music, fireside caroling, hot cider and ginger cookies. Aladdin the Christmas Camel also makes his annual appearance. Usually, Mount Vernon will open up its rarely seen 3rd floor for visitors during the holiday season (although this may have changed in 2017).

Oatlands - Every year the property offers a few specially scheduled candlelight tours. Visitors can see this the home decorated with twinkling lights and old-fashioned decorations. Due to so many great things happening in the area, I haven't been able to get out to Oatlands yet during December (although I have gone during the warmer months a number of times).

Gunston Hall - Not too far from Mount Vernon, Gunston Hall, the home of George Mason, will offer its Christmas event. The theme for 2017 is "Christmastide". Visitors will have the opportunity to ride in a horse-drawn carriage, sit by the fire and sip warm cider, try 18th-century food prepared in the hearth kitchen. Costumed characters will be present to greet visitors and chat. Santa will also be making an appearance.  

Sully Historic Site - Out in western Fairfax County (not too far from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Chantilly) is Sully Historic Site. Throughout the year the property offers many events and Christmas is no exception. During the of December visitors can experience the Christmas holiday through living history. One popular theme is when the site does its Victorian Christmas where visitors can "relive" the memories of a visitor to the home in 1885. The site also offers a few specially themed evening tours. See their official site for their schedule as the themes are sometimes varied from year to year. 

A Victorian Christmas at Sully. (Note on the mantle the toys made of potatoes!)

Bull Run Park - Every year the park, located out in western Fairfax County, offers its Festival of Lights event. Take a 2.5-mile ride in the comfort of your car and see the lights. Every year this event brings thousands+ of visitors. The Bull Run Park has been actively setting up this event for a long time now. Visitors to the park or driving east on Route 66 have probably noticed all of the activity going on since October. Well, the time is almost here! See the festival's website for more information on admission, discounts and more

Leesburg - Every year Leesburg has a number of festive community events taking place. There is a parade, Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a craft show and more.
Santa's arrival in 2012
Manassas - Every year Manassas puts on a number of family-friendly events, including during the Christmas holiday. This year's holiday festivities take place in the historic district and include Christmas tree lighting, live entertainment, hay wagon rides, caroling, a gingerbread contest and more. Santa makes his appearance at the Train Depot to light this year's Christmas tree (located on the lawn of the Manassas Museum).  The first Saturday morning of December also brings the Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, which has been running more than 70 years!

Old Town Alexandria - As I may have mentioned a few times, I am totally in love with Old Town and am going to dedicate a separate post in itself to the events taking place over the holidays later this week. There are so many wonderful things to see and do during the holidays. There will be a Christmas tree lighting, music, caroling, the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend parade,   special museum events and more

City of Fairfax Festival of Lights & Carols - Historic downtown Fairfax plans its day of celebration in early December at the Sherwood Community Center. Visitors that day can have lunch with Santa (3 seating times, see website for details), enjoy s'more's by the yule log, participate in ice sculpting, caroling, drink hot cider and more. The Christmas Tree will also be lit.

So much to do! Honestly, this is just a handful. Over the next week or two, I'll be posting more about specific events and also holiday craft fairs and markets. 

Related posts:
Christmas Parades in Northern Virginia


  1. You are so lucky to live where you do, so much to see and do.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I do think this is a great place to be. So much in the proverbial backyard, or at least within reach. Problem is deciding where to go! :)