The Best Holiday Events in Alexandria
We’ve rounded up the best holiday events in Alexandria. If you’re looking to get in the holiday spirit, look no further. Our fine city offers a wide variety of holiday events, from historical tours to children’s parties, from shopping events to water skiing Santa! Be sure to check out these holidays events in Alexandria in the weeks ahead.
NOVEMBER HOLIDAY EVENTS IN ALEXANDRIA
City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony
301 King Street
Held the Friday after Thanksgiving, the City of Alexandria’s Tree Lighting Ceremony is the perfect way to start the winter in Alexandria. The city tree in Market Square is officially lit to kick off the holiday season. Alexandria’s town crier, mayor, city officials, and of course Santa, will make appearances! Students from the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center also perform.
Small Business Saturday
50+ independent stores and boutiques in Old Town and Del Ray take part in Alexandria’s Small Business Saturday. Held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, participating shops offer specials and in-store activities. As an added bonus, shoppers receive free metered parking (be sure to read our team’s favorite local small businesses here).
A “Santa Stroll” takes place at 11am. Santa walks with families up King Street (while playing the bagpipes!), spreading his holiday cheer. The stroll ends at Hooray for Books! where Santa poses for photos (reservations required)
The day is capped off with live music, shopping and activities at the Torpedo Factory Art Center until 8 pm.
Museum Store Sunday
One of the newest holiday events in Alexandria is Museum Store Sunday. The Museum Store Association launched this effort, which takes place the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Visit any of ten Alexandria museum stores to get a jump on your holiday shopping with unique and historical gifts for those on your list on Museum Store Sunday.
DECEMBER HOLIDAY EVENTS IN ALEXANDRIA
The Campagna Center’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend
Always held the first weekend of December, the Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend is one of the best holidays events in Alexandria. Its events, outlined below, all benefit the many programs of The Campagna Center, which serves over 2,000 Alexandria children and families.
Heather & Greens – Stop by the Campagna Center building at 418 S. Washington Street to buy all of your holiday greenery. A variety of wreaths, garlands, and fresh heather bundles are available for sale. The sale is open all day Friday and Saturday (pre-orders are also available)
Taste of Scotland – Held the Friday evening of the weekend at The Atrium Building, this highly anticipated event is attended by hundreds of guests each year. The highlight of the evening is a Scotch tasting menu, representing a variety of Scotches direct from Scotland distilleries. Guests can also sample Scottish ale, beer, wine, and food. The Goodhart Group is proud to be the presenting sponsor of the Taste of Scotland.
Scottish Christmas Walk Parade – Enjoy marching Scottish clans, bagpipers and drummers, dancers, re-enactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus and much more at this beloved parade. The parade begins at 11am at St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets and ends at Market Square. The parade takes place rain or shine (or snow). Be sure took for The Goodhart Group in the Scottish Christmas Walk and say hello!
Home Tours – After the parade, tour some of Old Town’s most spectacular homes on tour decked out for the holidays by well-known local interior designers and florists.
Deck the Halls with Santa – Need an even just for the kids? The morning of the parade, stop by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church for the lovely Deck the Falls with Santa event with arts and crafts, carols, cookies, and a special storytime with Santa!
Torpedo Factory Holiday Fest
105 N. Union Street
The Torpedo Factory’s annual Holiday Festival is the perfect stop after the Scottish Walk. This event features a scavenger hunt for kids, live music, giveaways, and a visit from Santa. Shop till you drop for handmade jewelry, ornaments, ceramics, family portraits, couture fashions, and other original works of art.
201 S. Washington Street
See the city’s giant menorah lit at the Grand Chanukah Menorah Lighting at The Lyceum. This event, sponsored by Chabad Lubavitch of Alexandria-Arlington, features lively Chanukah music, traditional foods including latkes, plus a raffle, light sticks for children and dreidels for all!
Holiday Boat Parade
Old Town Waterfront
At sundown, stroll to the waterfront for Alexandria’s famed Holiday Boat Parade. Dozens of boats, decked out for the holidays, travel along the Potomac River waterfront for judging. Prizes are awarded in several categories, including Hardiest Souls, Best in Show, and Most Spirited Crew.
Holiday on the Avenue in Del Ray
Mount Vernon Avenue
This popular Del Ray event includes tree Lighting, luminarias, caroling and musical performances, Santa visit, and extended shopping opportunities. The Del Ray Business Association sponsors a tree decorating competition along Mount Vernon Avenue. Local non-profit organizations decorate the trees; the winning organization receives a $500 prize.
Holiday Market at Del Ray Artisans
2704 Mount Vernon Avenue
This event runs over the first three weekends in December on Friday nights and Saturday and Sundays. The Holiday Market offers unique wares from local artists including pottery, ceramics, photography, jewelry, fiber, paper crafts, and glass. Participating artists donate a percentage of their sales to help support Del Ray Artisans’ mission to promote art for the benefit of artists and the community.
Civil War Christmas In Camp
4301 W. Braddock Road
Step back in time at the Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site to see what Christmas was like during the Civil War with period decor, reenactors, and even a Civil War-era Santa. Tour the Fort Ward grounds and enjoy the many activities for children.
Alexandria’s theaters, The Little Theatre of Alexandria and MetroStage, both offer holiday performances, such as A Christmas Carol. Also, check out the Alexandria Community Nutcracker at West Potomac High School. Visit one to get into the spirit of the season!
Victorian Christmas at Lee-Fendall House
614 Oronoco Street
Experience a true Victorian Christmas at the historic Lee-Fendall House, which is beautifully decorated for the season. The event includes holiday crafts, Santa photos, holiday treats, storytime, as well as an antique toy exhibit. Tickets are required and can be purchased here.
Old Town Candlelight Tours
This tour is the best way to learn everything about Alexandria during the holiday season! Tour Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Carlyle House, Lloyd House, and Lee-Fendall House by candlelight. Enjoy seasonal decorations, seasonal greenery, entertainment, and period-inspired refreshments throughout the tour. Proceeds from this lovely event support these historic sites.
902 Wythe Street
Learn all about Kwanzaa and how to celebrate it at Alexandria’s Black History Museum. The museum’s staff will lead crafts, games, gifts, recipes and holiday decorating all related to Kwanzaa.
Colonial Handbell Ringers Concert
201 S. Washington Street
Enjoy this beautifully costumed group’s annual holiday performance at Old Town’s Lyceum. The ringers will perform children’s classics, holiday tunes, and original music using a set of nearly 80 bells from the White Chapel Foundry in England. It’s quite the unique experience! This concert (two performances) is free but space is limited (first come, first served)
Children adore this outing, one of the best holidays events in Alexandria! Book early, as dates sell out quickly. During this two hour event, families travel by train from Old Town Alexandria to Old Town Manassas with Santa and Mrs. Claus on board! In Manassas, all will enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and storytime. Santa will answer questions from the children too.
Christmas at Mount Vernon
Special candlelight, character-led tours of the mansion take place every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Enjoy historic chocolate-making demonstrations, 18th-century dancing, caroling by the fire, and listening to a fifer play holiday tunes. Guest can chat with members of the Washington family and hear stories of past Christmases at Mount Vernon – and even meet Aladdin the Christmas camel!
Shops of Del Ray – Ladies’ Night Out
Mount Vernon Avenue
Visit “The Avenue” on this special Ladies’ Night Out of shopping, discounts, and sampling Virginia wines!
Wreaths Across America
Alexandria National Cemetery
1450 Wilkes Street
Every year on a designated Saturday in December, people gather across the country to lay a wreath on every grave in every US military cemetery. In Alexandria, volunteers gather at the Alexandria National Cemetery to participate in this nationwide effort. You can sign up to participate here.
Water Skiing Santa
At 1pm on Christmas Eve, watch Santa make his entry into Alexandria – on water skis! For the best viewing, head to the waterfront between King and Oronoco Streets to see Santa, wakeboarding reindeers, flying elves, the Grinch, Frosty and Jack Frost. This is one of the most cherished holidays events in Alexandria since its start in 1986.
First Night Alexandria
Looking for something different on New Year’s Eve? Holiday events in Alexandria wrap up with its annual New Year’s Eve bash in Old Town. First Night Alexandria features more than 150 performances at various indoor venues, with live music, dancing, children’s face painting, and games. The afternoon’s Annual Fun Hunt offers activities for families and pets. Del Ray’s Mount Vernon Recreation Center offers activities for children 10 and younger. Dance in the street at the east end of King Street beginning at 10pm until the spectacular fireworks display over the Potomac River at midnight.
The Bottom Line
We know Alexandria is an extraordinary place any time of year. But the holiday season in Alexandria is truly something special. With this lineup of holiday events in Alexandria and the city looking its finest, you can’t help but get into the spirit of the season!
Did we miss your favorite holiday events in Alexandria? Please let us know – we’d love to check them out!
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