2016 Holiday Events in Alexandria, Virginia November 7, 2016

Claire Mouledoux
CMouledoux@VisitAlexVA.com or 703-652-5367

Leah Spellman, APR
LSpellman@VisitAlexVA.com or 703-652-5363

2016 Holiday Events in Alexandria, Virginia

Alexandria Transports Visitors to a Simpler Time Filled with Old-Fashioned Holiday Traditions


Alexandria, VA— Just minutes from Washington, DC, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia is filled with nostalgic wonder during the holiday season. Twinkle-lit trees shine above brick-lined streets and at the city’s historic waterfront as old-fashioned holiday traditions fill the air with holiday cheer. Seasonal favorites include the Campagna Center’s 46th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, featuring a parade with dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans, the 17th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac River, and the 22nd annual First Night Alexandria, a spectacular New Year’s celebration with over 150 performances and a fireworks finale. As the Shop Small headquarters of the D.C. region, independent boutiques kick off the shopping season with a one-of-a-kind alternative Black Friday experience and Small Business Saturday events, where windows lit with holiday decorations sparkle and shop owners eagerly offer their expert suggestions on the perfect gifts. For parades, candlelight tours, festive performances and more, check out the upcoming events below. Named a Top 10 Christmas Town by HGTV, strolling historic King Street is like being in a real-life Dickens Village, complete with European flair, cozy cafés, and chef-driven restaurants to warm up in.

For more holiday events and hotel packages, visit www.VisitAlexandriaVA.com/holidays.

Top Events:

46th Annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend & Parade
December 2-3 and December 10, 2016
Admission: Free for parade, Heather and Green sales; $110-$290 for Taste of Scotland; $35 for Designer Tour of Homes; $20 for Deck the Halls with Santa
Throughout Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314

Don’t miss Old Town Alexandria’s most spectacular holiday weekend. In 1749, the City of Alexandria was officially established by three Scottish merchants and named after its original founder, John Alexander, also of Scottish descent. Today, the city continues celebrating its heritage with a weekend of festivities. The iconic Scottish Christmas Walk Parade takes place on Saturday, December 3, at 11 a.m., when dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans will parade through the streets of Old Town, joined by pipe and drum bands from around the region, as well as terriers and hounds.

More weekend events include a Taste of Scotland (December 2), Heather and Greens sale (November 19 and December 2-3), the Campagna Center’s Holiday Designer Tour of Homes (December 3), and Deck the Halls with Santa (December 10). The Campagna Center partners with Mazda North America, the Scottish Government, Passport Auto, the St. Andrews Society, and the City of Alexandria to host the annual parade. Consistently ranked by the Southeast Tourism Society as one of the top 20 events in the South, this event has grown from a small informal parade to an entire weekend filled with events and festivities. #SCWW16

17th Annual Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
December 3, 2016, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria's waterfront at the foot of Cameron Street near the Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

On the first Saturday of December, at sundown on the day of the annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade, Alexandria's harbor lights up as dozens of illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. The boats are always dressed to impress a panel of judges who will award prizes in a dozen categories including Best in Show, Thinking Outside the Christmas Box, and Hardiest Souls. Tommy McFly of 94.7 Fresh FM is the parade announcer.

Waterskiing Santa
December 24, 2016 at 1 p.m.
Admission: Free
Alexandria’s Waterfront between King and Oronoco Streets, Alexandria, VA 22314

Now in its 31st year, this favorite DC-area Christmas Eve event comes to Old Town Alexandria for the third time. Gather at Alexandria's Potomac River waterfront for a spectacular show by the Waterskiing Santa and his wakeboarding reindeer, plus flying elves, the Grinch and his friends, Frosty the Snowman and Jack Frost. The prime viewing area is along the waterfront between King Street and Oronoco Street, which includes Founders Park and the Alexandria City Marina.

First Night Alexandria
December 31, 2016, from 2 p.m.-midnight
Admission: $15 October 1-31 (online only); $20 November 1-December 11; $30 December 12-31 
Afternoon activities: 2-5 p.m. including the Seventh Annual Fun Hunt
Performances: 7 p.m.-midnight; venues throughout Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314 and one at the Mount Vernon
Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305
Midnight fireworks: Potomac River at the foot of King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

This annual New Year’s Eve bash takes over Old Town Alexandria with more than 150 performances at 25 indoor venues, with live music, dancing, children’s face painting and games. The afternoon’s Eighth Annual Fun Hunt is accompanied by all-new activities for families and pets. There’s a venue at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center in Del Ray filled with fun activities for children 10 and younger. There is dancing in the street at the east end of King Street beginning at 10 pm. First Night’s fireworks finale returns with a spectacular display over the Potomac River at midnight.

More Holiday Events:

Mount Vernon by Candlelight
November 25-26 and December 2-3 & 18 from 5-8 p.m.
Admission: $24 for adults; $16 for youth. Tickets available beginning October 24 at 10 a.m.
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon, VA 22121

This holiday season, experience Mount Vernon in the soft glow of candlelight! Come join the estate for candlelit character-guided tours of the first and second floors of the mansion, 18th-century dancing, and fireside caroling. Guests will hear about the Washingtons’ holiday cooking and see a reproduction of Martha’s Great Cake. “Mrs. Washington” and Aladdin the Christmas camel will also be on-site.

Black Friday Alexandria
November 25, 2016
Admission: Free
Throughout Alexandria

Alexandria’s alternative Black Friday experience features nearly 50 independent boutiques kicking off the holiday shopping season with one-of-a-kind deals on designer and coveted merchandise, including home décor, chic fashions, gourmet food, classic toys and gifts for dogs. The City of Alexandria is offering free parking at parking meters as a special incentive for shoppers on Black Friday. Store offers vary, with some boutiques opening at 6 a.m. and offering special discounts throughout the day. To learn about participating stores and their offerings, visit VisitAlexandriaVA.com/blackfriday. Stay for the annual City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony at 6 p.m. on Market Square.

City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony
November 25, 2016, from 6-8 p.m.
Admission: Free
Market Square, 301 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

At this official kickoff to the holiday season, the city tree is lit on Market Square and a special program includes a welcome by the town crier, the mayor and other city officials, a visit by Santa and holiday performances.

Small Business Saturday in Alexandria
November 26, 2016
Admission: Free
Throughout Alexandria

As the D.C. region’s Shop Small headquarters, nearly 50 locally owned boutiques throughout Alexandria will participate in Small Business Saturday, offering special in-store activities around the “Shop-Taste-Create” theme. Random Acts of Holiday Cheer will delight shoppers on the streets of Old Town with surprise giveaways from the Elf Prize Patrol, plus pop-up musical performances through the Alexandria Arts Alliance, and hands-on activities at the Mobile Art Lab. An exclusive “Shop Small in Alexandria” bag will be distributed by the Elf Prize Patrol, in boutiques and by the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber will distribute the exclusive bags filled with giveaways from its members with select bags containing gift cards.

The Little Theatre of Alexandria’s “A Christmas Carol”
December 2-17, 2016 at various times
Admission: $17
The Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

The Little Theatre of Alexandria rings in the holiday season with a return of the classic by Charles Dickens. Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly Victorian humbug, travels with ghostly guides through Christmas past, present, and future to find the true meaning of the holidays. Complete with special effects, Victorian carols, and Tiny Tim, “A Christmas Carol” is a must for the entire family.

Del Ray Artisans’ 21st Annual Holiday Market
December 2-4, December 9-11 and December 16-18; Fridays 6-9 p.m., Saturdays & Sundays 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Cost: Free to browse
Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301

Del Ray Artisans’ Annual Holiday Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from local artists, including pottery/ceramics, photography, jewelry, fiber, paper crafts, and glass. Artists donate a percentage of their sales back to Del Ray Artisans to help support future exhibits and programs. Different artists will be featured each weekend!

Alexandria Holiday Market
December 3-4, 9-11, 16-22, 2016 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Admission: Free to browse
300 John Carlyle Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

The highly anticipated Alexandria Holiday Market is modeled in a similar fashion to Europe’s festive Christmas markets, which are popular in countries across the pond like Germany and France. Traditionally, the markets would transform outdoor town centers where vendors would take up shop in small wooden stalls. Similarly, the Alexandria Holiday Market will encourage shoppers to “shop outside the box” and come outdoors to the festival to find unique art and craft items and enjoy sweets and mulled wine. To help get into the holiday spirit, shoppers will also be treated to live entertainment from local musicians. The Alexandria Holiday Market will cater to the whole family and feature a special children’s corner with special activities for kids, including  Santa.

Scottish Walk Parade Open House at Carlyle House
December 3, 2016, from noon-4 p.m.
Admission: Free ($1 suggested donation)
Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Step back in time to see Carlyle House decorated for the holidays in the style of the 18th century. John Carlyle, one of Alexandria’s town founders, was a British merchant of Scottish descent. Come into the museum to warm up after the Scottish Walk Parade and learn more about 18th century Alexandria! This is a free event, but a suggested donation of $1/person is welcome.

Alexandria Archaeology Ornament Decorating Workshop
December 3, 2016, from 1-4 p.m.
Admission: Free; no pre-registration required
Alexandria Archaeology Museum, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street #327, Alexandria, VA 22314

Decorate take-home paper ornaments using shapes, colors, and patterns from the city’s finest 18th- and 19th-century excavated artifacts. It’s fun, it’s free, and it’s for the entire family. No registration required.

Holiday on the Avenue in Del Ray
December 3, 2016, at 6 p.m.
Admission: Free
Pat Miller Neighborhood Square, at Mount Vernon Avenue and E. Oxford Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301

Kick off the holidays with a visit to Del Ray for the annual holiday tree lighting, featuring a special appearance by Santa Claus, who will lead carols and sit for photos with children. In the true spirit of the holidays, the community will be collecting items such as canned goods, nonperishable foods, and diapers for Carpenter’s Shelter. Continue the celebration and start your holiday shopping with a stroll down Mount Vernon Avenue, which will be illuminated by thousands of luminarias. Pick your favorite in the neighborhood business association's annual Christmas tree decorating contest.

“Fully Committed” at MetroStage
December 8, 2016-January 8, 2017 at various times
Admission: $55-$60
MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Forty outrageous characters and one iconic, irrepressible Washington actor. Tom Story plays a restaurant reservationist, juggling phones, personalities and pandemonium with the dexterity of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist. Prestige, power, desperation, and boundless egos are all on display at one of the most exclusive, trendiest restaurants in NYC. Sam, our lowly reservationist, is manning the phones, the pressure, and the chaos. But hope abounds that our out-of-work actor will be cast and escape this circus of bad behavior and entitlement (and maybe even get home for Christmas). Devastatingly funny. A one-man tour de force. Must-see entertainment before, during, and after the holidays. 

Civil War Christmas in Camp
December 10, 2016, from noon-4 p.m.
Admission: $2 suggested donation per person; $5 per family
Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site, 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22304

Get in the holiday spirit and learn how Christmas was observed during the Civil War. This popular family-oriented event features a patriotic Civil War Santa Claus, reenactors in winter camp settings, period decorations, fort tours, and kids’ activities. No registration required.

Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tours
December 10, 2016, from 4-9 p.m.
Admission: $25 adults; $20 seniors (65 years and older) and active military; $5 children (ages 6-17)
Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Travel through centuries of local history as you learn more about Alexandria during the holiday season at Carlyle House, Gadsby's Tavern Museum and the Lee-Fendall House. Enjoy each site by candlelight, smell seasonal greenery, sip on drinks and taste period inspired food. Seasonal libations will be available for purchase.

Friendship Firehouse Ornament Decorating Workshop
December 10 & 17, 2016 from 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Admission: $5 per ornament decorating kit
Friendship Firehouse Museum, 107 S. Alfred Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Come decorate and take home ornaments inspired by firefighting. Put your own unique embellishments on fire helmets, fire trucks, and fire hydrants. They make great decorations for the home or office—and excellent gifts! For children ages 4-10, and their caregivers. No registration required.

Colonial Handbell Ringers Concert
December 11, 2016 at 2 & 4 p.m.
Admission: Free
201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

Enjoy your favorite holiday music performed by the Colonial Handbell Ringers! Ten “ringers,” in period costume, will be playing a full five-octave set of 80 handbells. The ringers will perform children’s classics, timeless holiday tunes, and original show-stoppers. Audience participation in the sing-a-long encouraged.

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon
December 16-17, 2016 from 5:30-9 p.m.
Admission: $34 adult/$24 youth with mansion tour; $30 adult/$20 youth without mansion tour
George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy, Mount Vernon, VA 22121

Join Mount Vernon for an evening of family-friendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music, with fireworks beginning around 9 p.m. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment in winter encampment, and learn 18th-century dance moves from costumed guides in the Greenhouse. “George and Martha Washington” will also be on-site to greet Mount Vernon’s holiday guests. Watch as colonial artisans demonstrate the 18th-century process of creating chocolate. Keep toasty by warming up by a bonfire, visiting the blacksmith shop, or enjoying some hot chocolate or cider. Additional tasty food will be available for purchase. Still haven’t found the perfect holiday gift? Take some time to complete any last minute gift needs at the Shops at Mount Vernon, open late during Christmas Illuminations. Christmas Illuminations takes place rain or shine.

Go to www.VisitAlexandriaVA.com/holidays for events and more.

Within eyesight of Washington, DC on the Potomac River waterfront, Alexandria, Virginia is nationally recognized for its acclaimed, chef-driven restaurants, bustling boutiques and dynamic arts set against a backdrop of 18th- and 19th-century architecture still intact from its days as George Washington’s hometown. Old Town Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a hidden gem tucked beneath the nation’s capital.

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