Sunday, November 9, 2014

Christmas and holiday-themed 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. 

Oatlands - Every year the property offers a few specially scheduled candlelight tours. This year's tours take place on December 13, 19, 20, and 21 from 5 to 8 p.m. (last admission at 8 p.m.) Visitors can see this the home decorated with twinkling lights and old-fashioned decorations. Prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and active duty military. Kids aged 6 -16 are $8. 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 "Plantation Christmas" event on Sat., Dec. 6, 2014 from 2 to 7 p.m. 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. Admission for this event is $15 for adults, $5 for children.

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 days (from Dec. 3 to Dec. 28) visitors can experience an 18th century Christmas holiday. The Sully home is decorated Victorian style and visitors will "relive" the memories of a visitor to the home in 1885. The site also offers a few specially themed evening tours (see more information on this post). There is also a special Nutcracker exhibit on display from Nov. 22, 2014 to Jan. 31, 2015. Closed Tuesdays.
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. Every year this event brings thousands+ of visitors who ride through the park and view the many lighted displays from the comfort of their cars. 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! This week the Festival of Lights and Winter Wonderland Holiday runs from Nov. 19, 2014 to Jan. 4, 2015. See the festival's website for more information on admission, discounts and more

Ben Lomand Historic Site - This year the Ben Lomand Historic Site will offer a special event titled "Ben Lomand Enslaved Holiday" on Dec. 13, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visitors will be able to take a candle lit tour of the home and the slave quarters to "learn how the enslaved community celebrated the holidays and resisted the institution that kept them in bondage" (quoted from a flyer I picked up at the site). There will be living history vignettes that will bring some of the people to life who were enslaved at the home. I just learned of this event when I toured the property at the end of October. Admission is $7 per person, kids under 6 are free. Tours are offered every 30 minutes.

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 "Merry Old Town" takes place in the historic district, and festivities include Christmas tree lighting, live entertainment, hay wagon rides, caroling, a gingerbread contest and more. Santa makes his appearance on Fri., Dec. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Train Depot to light this year's Christmas tree (located on the lawn of the Manassas Museum).  On Sat., Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. there will also be the Greater Manassas Christmas Parade, which is now in its 69th year. 

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 to have a day of celebration on Dec. 6, 2014 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 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! :)