Archive for the ‘Christmas travel’ Category

Where to Eat, Drink and Be Merry in London this Holiday Season

November 18, 2019
Photography by Paul Wilkinson Photography Ltd.

There are arguably few other places that shine as bright as London during the holiday season. The capital is packed with Yuletide sights and activities such as a sing-along concert in the famed Royal Albert Hall, one of the city’s most distinctive buildings, a winter journey to the countryside aboard a vintage train and a decadent dinner accompanied by a performance of a Christmas Carol at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons.

There are arguably few other places that encapsulate Christmas as London during the holiday season. The capital is packed with Yuletide sights and activities such as a sing-along concert in the famed Royal Albert Hall, one of the city’s most distinctive buildings, a winter journey to the countryside aboard a vintage train and a decadent dinner accompanied by a performance of a “Christmas Carol.” These ideas from London and beyond will add sparkle to any itinerary this holiday season.

One More Sleep ‘Til Christmas

This holiday season, travelers can experience a quintessential London Christmas thanks to The Kensington. Situated in the heart of its namesake neighborhood, the hotel is offering a package that includes a four-night stay in a room or suite with daily à la carte breakfast, a festive lunch at the hotel restaurant Town House and two tickets to the Christmas Eve carols at the Royal Albert Hall, just a stone’s throw away from the hotel and a true London institution. The hall has been bringing jubilant shows to the city for almost 150 years. In addition to singing along with the carolers, children will have the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself. After the show, guests can stop at the National History Museum’s ice skating rink to glide under the twinkling lights with the iconic Waterhouse building as a backdrop. Back at the hotel, enjoy a Christmas Day lunch set in the cozy drawing rooms of Town House restaurant. The traditional feast includes all the trimmings, from Christmas pudding to Perrier-Jouët Champagne. Little ones will be delighted to find a surprise turndown treat awaiting them back in their beds. Available from December 22-28. Rates start from $1,998 based on double occupancy B&B for four nights.

A Day at the Market

Known for being home to one of Europe’s top Christmas markets, Bath features over 150 twinkling chalets selling everything from homeware to handcrafted jewelry. For gourmands, there will be plenty of treats to enjoy on the spot or to take home for later, such as locally made cheese and chocolates. For a truly festive experience, Belmond British Pullman will host a roundtrip journey to Bath from London on December 4. The package includes a Bellini brunch on the outbound trip, a day at the market in Bath, and an indulgent four-course dinner on the return. Rates start at $650 per passenger.

Escape to the Swiss Alps

Cheese fondue, glühwein and all the cozy winter comforts of a Swiss resort can be found at The Bloomsbury’s seasonal al fresco restaurant, Dalloway Terrace. In collaboration with the alpine resort town of Gstaad, the restaurant has been reimagined with snow-dusted pine garlands and traditional cow bells nestled amongst the frosty foliage. Famed as a winter playground for A-listers and global icons, Gstaad’s Swiss traditions are apparent in the terrace, such as bespoke “Scherenschnitte” (Swiss paper cuttings) on display around the restaurant. Travelers to London this winter can find a cozy spot on the heated terrace and warm up with Foxford woolen blankets and a Swiss inspired afternoon tea complete with a Mont Blanc tart, Edel Weiss white chocolate cream and a Swiss chocolate snow coated pine tree. Warming cocktails such as an alpine toddy, a hot toddy with a chamomile twist are delivered to the table with a Retro Viewer that allows guests to gaze upon the picturesque mountains of Gstaad between sips. Afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace starts at $50 per person.

Dinner with Dickens

Guests can experience a Christmas in the city and country with Belmond’s new package that combines two nights at Belmond Cadogan Hotel – the British brand’s first London address with private access to the Cadogan Estate Gardens – and one night at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, a 15th-century manor in the English countryside. On December 21, actor Gerald Dickens, great-great-grandson of A Christmas Carol author Charles Dickens, will perform a one-man show of his ancestor’s classic story at Le Manoir’s two Michelin-starred restaurant. Diners will not only be treated to light-hearted scenes from the story but will also hear diary excerpts from those who were close to the author. Rates for the Belmond Cadogan Hotel and Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons package start at $2,955 per couple; dinner at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons can be added for $290 per person.

 

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A Few of our Favorite Things: Festive Holiday Traditions on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard & Nantucket

November 18, 2019
Cape Cod-Enchanted Village xmas e2

Cape Cod Enchanted Village takes place December 6, 2019-January 2, 2020. Free and open to the public! Thousands of lights, a Santa’s Village and the Cape Cod Surftone Carolers sing holiday music every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 5 pm to 8pm. Bonfire nightly (weather permitting). Holiday lights go on at dusk. Please bring a gift card of new, unwrappped toy for the “Giving Tree”. Proceeds go to Independence House. (www.capecodderresort.com/packages/enchanted-village-package)

By StoryStudio

Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket bring the classic spirit of the season to life every Thanksgiving through New Year’s, each putting their special stamp on beloved holiday traditions.

Bundle up by the seashore this season and make some of these unique Cape & Islands traditions your own:

  1. Illuminations: The Town Crier leads the dramatic countdown to the Nantucket Tree Lighting(November 29), when more than 150 trees light up the night sky to the sounds of joyous caroling. Featured in Smithsonian Magazine’s article “Seven Places Reinventing the Christmas Tree,” Provincetown’s Lobster Pot Treeis stacked with over 100 real lobster pots borrowed from local lobstermen; adorned with 3,400 LED lights, the display comes to life on November 30. And the December 7 Lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse is the official kickoff to the Vineyard’s Christmas in Edgartown celebration, with holiday sing-a-longs led by Dickens Christmas Carolers.
  2. Santa’s Arrival:It’s the Cape & Islands, so we can hardly expect Santa to make much of a splash arriving in his traditional mode of transport. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and get ready to greet Old St. Nick dockside! Local harbors are the place to be as Santa cruises into various town ports by boat, including Orleans on November 30, Chatham on December 1, both Falmouth and Nantucket on December 7 and Vineyard Haven on December 8.
  3. Nantucket Christmas Stroll: Glittering fir trees, strolling minstrels and Victorian carolers are just some of the sights you’ll see at the highly anticipated 46th Annual Nantucket Christmas Stroll(December 6-8). The festivities include extended shopping hours, special menus at local restaurants, craft shows and a magical talking Christmas tree.
  4. Festive 5Ks:’Tis the season to be jolly, which often means overindulging in eggnog and Christmas cookies. Burn off those calories (and more importantly, make room for some more) at the Santa Stampede and Family Fun Runon December 7 in Orleans and the Teddy Bear Trot on December 15 in Edgartown. Runners and walkers should dress in their festive best; if you don’t cross the finish line first, you could still win for best costume!
  5. Christmas in Edgartown:Downtown Edgartown comes alive December 12-15 for the 38th Annual Christmas in Edgartown. Twinkle-lit architecture sets the scene for cookie contests, wreath making, amazing store promotions, The Great Chowder Contest, and a parade down Main Street.
  6. Old-Fashioned Family Fun: Take a guided ride along a winter wonderland route in an over-sand vehicle to the remote Cape Poge Lighthouse for Christmas at the Lighthouseon Martha’s Vineyard (December 7-8). The Nantucket Whaling Museum is ablaze with color during the Nantucket Historical Association Festival of Trees(December 6-31), featuring creatively decorated trees by local merchants, artists and children. And nine miles of twinkling lights greet visitors to Heritage Museums & Gardens’ Gardens Aglow, where you can visit with Santa in a 1913 Model T Ford, roast marshmallows over outdoor fire pits and stroll through the grounds on a reindeer scavenger hunt (November 29-December 29, Fridays-Sundays).
  7. Shop Local: Quaint boutiques, charming bookstores and eclectic galleries adorn downtown areas, making it easy to tackle your holiday shopping list. One-of-a-kind gifts by local artisans can be found at Featherstone’s Holiday Gift Show(November 15-December 15), the Vineyard Artisans’ Annual Holiday Fair(December 21) and the Holiday LoveLocal Fest in Hyannis (December 7-8). Peruse the beautiful glass-blown ornaments at Sandwich Glass Museum’s Glassblowers’ Christmas, featuring handmade ornaments available for purchase (November 15-December 30). And if you shop on Nantucket between November 1 and December 24, you can earn red tickets and enter for a chance to win up to $11,000 through the Holiday Red Ticket Program.

If you’ve been searching for some holiday magic ― along with festive village centers, fireside dining and cozy inns ― your Cape & Islands Christmas experience awaits! Visit the links below to learn more about spending the holidays by the sea:

CapeCodChamber.org
MVY.com
NantucketChamber.org

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46th Annual Nantucket Noel 2019 of Winter Nights & Holiday Lights Underway Nov 29-Jan 1

November 18, 2019
Nantrucket Lighthouse during Christmas

Nantucket Island’s month-long (November 29, 2019 to January 1, 2020) Nantucket Noel is a venerable tradition.

Nantucket Island’s month-long (November 29, 2019 to January 1, 2020) Nantucket Noel is a venerable tradition. With the influx of visitors and return of islanders with homes here for the holidays, Island population swells along with the intense feeling that something very special is about to happen. And, to be sure, Nantucket Noel and its dazzling Christmas Stroll Weekend remind us of every reason why Christmas season is so special to us all.

This year’s theme is Winter Nights & Holiday Nights — a reminder that, on Nantucket, the winter holidays commence with the Tree Lighting and continue for 33 days through The New Nantucket New Year’s Event and The Nantucket Hotel’s Anchor Drop on New Year’s Eve.

Nantucket Noel’s magic begins on Friday, November 29, 2019 with the annual Tree Lighting & Community Caroling Ceremony at the top of Main Street (which will be closed to vehicular traffic). Islanders, visitors and others convene in holiday spirit, gleefully anticipating the Town Crier’s countdown to the illumination of more than 150 balsam holiday trees. After the balsam trees are ablaze with light, rounds of traditional holiday carols spontaneously break out in song with the remarkably colorful and energy-efficient LED lights in the background. Caroling is led by Nantucket High School’s renowned a cappella group Accidentals & Naturals.

Nantucket Noel 2019’s festivities — including the incomparable signature event Christmas Stroll Weekend (December 6-8, 2019) — commence first at dusk on November 29 with the annual Tree Lighting & Community Caroling Ceremony presented by Stop & Shop. This much anticipated tradition features more than 150 majestically attired balsam Christmas trees lining the side perimeters of cobblestoned Main Street and adjoining byways. The 46th Annual Christmas Stroll Weekend (December 6-8, 2019), presented by The Steamship Authority, is the following weekend.

“The Steamship Authority is pleased to again sponsor the Nantucket Christmas Stroll Weekend” said Kimberlee McHugh, Steamship Authority’s Director of Marketing. “We look forward to transporting many visitors to and from Nantucket during the festivities. If you haven’t already done so, please book your ferry reservations online at www.SteamshipAuthority.com or call 508-477-8600. On behalf of all of us at the Steamship Authority, we wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.”

Christmas Stroll Weekend is truly an inspiring event comprising the ultimate holiday imaginings of every child, teenager and adult! Every nuance of Christmas past, present and future is rolled into one weekend here on Nantucket. Nantucket presents the Christmas of everyone’s dreams for all to experience and participate in year after year.

On Saturday, December 7, everyone awaits the arrival of Santa Claus himself! Promptly at 11:45AM, when Nantucket’s Town Crier, in full regalia, will ring in the 46th Annual Christmas Stroll Weekend presented by The Steamship Authority. The Crier then leads the procession to Straight Wharf to meet Santa, who arrives via Coast Guard cutter. Santa — held aloft on his nautical sleigh (minus the reindeer, of course!) — will greet his enthusiastic fans before riding to the Discovery Room at the NHA Whaling Museum on Broad Street to meet with the hopeful children who will regale Santa with their ‘wish lists.’

After Santa Claus’ departure to the Discovery Room at the NHA Whaling Museum, a full day of holiday activities and events including strolling Victorian carolers, bell ringers, local talent of every description, Main Street’s Magical Talking Tree, the Christmas Marketplace, styled after the authentic holiday markets of Europe, and other traditional holiday activities will be on offered for every member of the family! Grown-ups are as enthusiastic as the little ones about Nantucket Noel events and, especially, Christmas Stroll Weekend.

“From Downtown Nantucket across the entire Island, there is a feeling of anticipation as the Christmas holidays unfold. Commencing with the Tree Lighting and continuing through Stroll Weekend and Nantucket New Years, the joy and tradition are amazing,” said David Martin, President & CEO of Nantucket Chamber.

“Nantucket evolves into a living ‘snow globe,’ evocative of every wondrous emotion and memory of Christmas holidays past and present. Holiday bells, the twinkle of holiday ornaments on trees and Christmas carols complete the spell. Nantucket presents the Christmas of a lifetime, every year, with its Nantucket Noel, Christmas Stroll and Nantucket New Years,” Martin continued.

To encourage shopping local for the holiday season and promote the sustainability of Island commerce, the Chamber continues its popular Holiday Red Ticket Program, with participating Chamber member businesses giving out one red ticket for every $25 purchase.  The program commences on November 1st, with merchants dispensing one red tickets for every $25 spent. On Double Red Ticket Days, December 14th, merchants will dispense two red tickets for every $25 spent.  At 3pm on December 24th, five lucky winners of $1,000, one luck winner of $5,000, and one extra-lucky winner of a surprise prize valued at $1,000 will be chosen at random from the multitude of tickets filling the enormous bed of a Don Allen Ford truck parked outside the Pacific National Bank at the head of Main Street. A list of participating merchants can be found at www.nantucketredtickets.com.

The month of December draws to a close with the new Nantucket New Years on December 31, 2019. More details to follow on this day full of events. In 2018, Nantucket Hotel hosted a Countdown to 2019 at its first-ever complimentary ‘Anchor Drop’ from the top of The Nantucket Hotel. The tradition will continue this year with a Countdown to 2020. Gather outside the Hotel at 5:00PM for an Anchor Drop or an Anchor Drop at 12:00AM, both with hot chocolate for all.

 

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Black Friday? Bah, Humbug! Celebrate ‘Bright Friday’ With Opening of Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles, NY

November 18, 2019

Skaneateles-Dickens XmasA Dickens Christmas festivities in Skaneateles, NY (photo by Kimberly Rossi).

The magic of the holiday season returns to Skaneateles, New York with the 26th edition of Dickens Christmas.

Enchanting holiday shoppers as it brings “A Christmas Carol” to life, Skaneateles’ iconic street theater production opens Nov. 29 and runs weekends through Christmas. Hours are noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a limited show (noon to 2:30 p.m.) Dec. 24.

Suspend disbelief: you are in the year 1842.

Queen Victoria has arrived in town with Charles Dickens, whom she has commissioned to write a Christmas story. During their monthlong stay, Dickens gains inspiration from a bevy of now-familiar characters, including Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Spirit of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Jacob Marley, along with finishing school girls, pickpockets and other villagers.

New to this year’s production is Washington Irving, author of such tales as “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” in town to welcome Dickens and the Queen.

Each week, the story unfolds as Dickens and his entourage interact with cast members and passersby.

“The real magic of our little Christmas party is the human connection we make when we look each other in the eye and wish each other well,” says producing director Jim Greene, who plays Dickens. “For the past 26 years, we’ve had the opportunity to revel in the greater gift of simply caring for one another.”

Dickens Christmas draws more than 20,000 visitors each year. It is produced by Scarlett Rat Entertainment and presented by Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Skaneateles-area business community.

Highlights of this year’s season include:

  • World’s Smallest Christmas Parade. Nov. 29, starting at noon at the Skaneateles Village Hall on Fennell Street, proceeding east to Jordan and Genesee streets and arriving at the Hannum House porch in time for the 12:10 p.m. grand opening.
  • Midday Revels—Christmas carol sing-along—2 p.m. every day at the gazebo. Twelve groups form, representing the 12 days of Christmas. The groups vie for attention, and at the end, Queen Victoria awards a silver teasel to the most spirited performer. Winners have been known to wear their coveted silver teasels throughout the season.
  • Trunk shows—lighthearted versions of Dickens’ new story, performed with help from the audience—12:30 p.m. at the gazebo and 3 p.m. at the library each day.
  • Horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides around the village, departing from the Sherwood Inn, provided by Rt. 80 Quarry Ridge Stables. Wagon rides are $3; carriage rides are offered for a $20 donation.
  • Magic shows, performed by the Very Peculiar Prestidigitating Packwoods, 1 p.m. Sundays at the Skaneateles Library.
  • A snowman-building contest in Clift Park Dec. 21 (weather-permitting). Bring your own supplies and creativity! Queen Victoria will judge the entries at 2:45 p.m. First prize is a $50 gift certificate from the Sherwood Inn; second prize is a Dickens mug and cocoa.
  • “It’s A Wonderful Life! The Radio Play,” presented at 7 p.m. Dec. 21 at Auburn Public Theater. Tickets are $10.
  • Free refreshments, including roasted chestnuts, figgy pudding, and Byrne Dairy eggnog served by the Girl Scouts (Saturdays only).

For children, Mother Goose will read holiday stories, and Father Christmas will hand out treats from the porch of the Masonic Temple.

“While you’re in town, be sure to visit our unique shops and restaurants—the perfect complement to a holiday outing,” says Hilary Fenner, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce. “And stop by the Chamber, at 22 Jordan St., for commemorative scarves ($15 with an embroidered logo, $10 without), mugs ($10 with cocoa, $8 without) and ornaments ($5).”

Paid parking is available in the municipal lot between Jordan and State streets; free parking is available in the lot adjacent to Ace Hardware/Skaneateles Town Square on Fennell Street and at the Austin Park Pavilion, at the corner of Jordan and Austin streets. A horse-drawn wagon will shuttle between both locations and the village. Tickets for the shuttle, which runs 11:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., are $3 per person each way, $10 per family (maximum of six people). Shuttle riders will receive a coupon for a free ornament from the Chamber.

For more information on Dickens Christmas, go to www.skaneateles.com, call (315) 685-0552, or follow the event on Facebook (Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce or Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles).

 

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Enjoy Holiday Traditions at The Willard, Historic Hotel That Has Hosted Presidents, Dignitaries for 200 Years

November 1, 2019
Willard Hotel DC-xmas e2

There’s something about the holiday season at the Willard InterContinental, a legendary hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, located in the heart of the nation’s capital that has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities, as well as has been the site of many historic moments in U.S. history for 200 years.

Washington, D.C.– There’s something about the holiday season at the Willard InterContinental. The elegant garland-wrapped columns outside lure visitors to take in the stately lobby décor, snap a photo by the tree dripping in glittering ornaments and wind through the lobby to find this year’s “how did they do that?” gingerbread display. Year after year the music, aromas, events and traditions offered at The Willard suspend the stress of the season to allow for enjoyment of the simple pleasures that only the holidays can bring, all within the formal yet welcoming backdrop of the beloved property.

The Willard’s collection of holiday offerings fills the hotel, calling visitors from around the world and locals from around the region to pop in and linger longer than they anticipated. Here is an at-a-glance rundown of the seasonal events:

Nightly Caroling Program

Step into the lobby of the Willard InterContinental between December 1 and 23, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., to enjoy complimentary caroling performances.  A time-honored tradition for over 18 years, The Willard’s holiday caroling program features a wide range of highly accomplished vocal and choral ensembles, and is regarded as one of the most comprehensive of its kind in Washington, D.C.  Sip a seasonally inspired cocktail from the lobby’s pop-up bar while listening to a medley of classic holiday carols from groups including The Gay Men’s Chorus, Washington Saengerbund, Arlington Children’s Chorus, Georgetown Visitation and Vox Pulchra, just to name a few.

2019 Gingerbread Display

The unveiling of the hotel’s annual gingerbread display, a cornerstone of the Willard InterContinental’s holiday décor, is one of the most highly anticipated events each holiday season. Every year, The Willard’s pastry department works to create a gingerbread display that pays tribute to an iconic landmark around the nation’s capital. This year, The Willard is thrilled to announce that their 2019 official gingerbread display will be of the Jefferson Memorial, including The Tidal Basin and D.C.’s iconic cherry blossom trees.

Standing at 8.5 feet by 5 feet, The Willard’s gingerbread display will feature a southeast view of the famed Jefferson Memorial, and include the famed bronze statue of Jefferson by Rudulph Evans and all four quotations from Jefferson’s writings that are carved into the walls of the actual memorial. The display will also include an audio feed of Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Address, as well as a real water simulate the Tidal Basin complete with live fish. Intricate chocolate techniques, along with the use of fondant, will bring the famed cherry blossom trees surrounding the memorial to life.  Spearheaded by Executive Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez, Pastry Cook Magenta Livengood, and Engineer David Sanabria, the display’s creation is currently underway and is expected to take over 600 hours to complete.  The displays anticipated reveal is slated for November 20th.

The Gift of Giving Back Campaign

This memorial was chosen to be the featured landmark in this year’s gingerbread display as it speaks to The Willard’s newly formed partnership with the Trust for Historic Preservation and the Trust for the National Mall and the fundraising campaign the hotel will launch this holiday season in an effort to bring awareness and necessary funds  for the ongoing efforts needed to preserve the Jefferson Memorial, the Tidal Basin and the surrounding historic grounds, recently named as one of America’s most endangered historic places. Official announcement to follow shortly.

Holiday Afternoon Tea in Peacock Alley

Beloved by visitors and locals alike, Afternoon Tea remains one of the Willard InterContinental’s most cherished holiday traditions.  Seated in the gilded hall of Peacock Alley, lined with Christmas trees, adorned with whimsical holiday décor, and featuring the elegant sounds of a live harpist, the Willard’s signature holiday afternoon tea experience offers an exquisite menu of sandwiches, scones and pastries with a seasonal twist.  Inspired by Tchaikovsky’s iconic Nutcracker Ballet, Executive Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez has created an assortment of decadent desserts that speak to scenes of the classic Christmas story including sugar plum scones, inspired by the Dance of the Sugar Plum, and Pryanki, a traditional Russian gingerbread cookie inspired by the famed Russian Dance.  An indulgent affair, named among “the top ten places to do Afternoon Tea like a royal” by the Travel Channel, The Willard remains one of the most premiere venues for Afternoon Tea in Washington, D.C., and is a must do event this holiday season. Afternoon Tea is offered daily in December (excluding December 24, 25 and 31) with seatings from 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The cost is $75 per adult, or $85 with a glass of champagne, $45 per child (5-12 years of age). Guests younger than five years of age dine complimentarily.

History Happy Hour – The Sweet World of the White House

Back by popular demand, Roland Mesnier, former Executive Pastry Chef at The White House, returns to the Willard InterContinental this December to join The Willard’s veteran bartender Jim Hewes for the holiday edition of History Happy Hour. Providing an insider’s perspective on White House holiday traditions, Chef Mesnier will share memorable moments and entertaining stories from his 26-year tenure serving five American presidents from 1979 to 2004. As no History Happy Hour would be complete without a cocktail lesson or two, Jim will provide attendees with hands-on instruction on how to craft two holiday cocktails inspired by a few of Chef Mesnier’s famous desserts, as noted in his new book, Creating the Sweet World of White House Desserts: A Pastry Chef’s Secrets.  Hosted in partnership with the White House Historical Association, this event will take place on December 19 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.  Tickets are $56 per adult (21 years+) and can be purchased on the hotel’s website, under the events calendar. Cost includes three cocktails and light appetizers. Due to the overwhelming popularity of this event last year, this event is expected to sell-out quickly.

Holiday Cookie Decorating Class

Calling all junior bakers! Step into the sweet world of the Willard InterContinental’s pastry department this holiday season for a hands-on class on all things cookies! Led by Executive Pastry Chef Jason Jimenez and his talented team of pastry chefs, bakers will learn the art of cookie decorating using a variety of techniques and decorating tools.  Ideal for children ages 4-12, this two-hour interactive experience will take place on December 14 at 11 a.m.  Tickets can be purchased on the Willard InterContinental’s website, under the events calendar. $45 per child.

Chocolate Making Class with SPAGnVOLA

Join the Willard InterContinental and SPAGnVOLA recognized by National Geographic as one of the world’s best chocolate shops, for a two-hour hands-on chocolate truffle making class.  Guided by Head Chocolatier Crisoire Reid from SPAGnVOLA, participants will learn the artisan technique of tempering chocolate, the process to making chocolate ganache, as well as the steps to using the ganache to handcraft your own delicious seasonally inspired chocolate truffles to take home.  Attendees will also have the opportunity to taste a variety of SPAGnVOLA’s signature bon-bon’s and truffles, as well as their incredibly popular hot chocolate, all while hearing from Eric Reid, co-owner of SPAGnVOLA, on his experience as a cacao grower in the Dominican Republic. Offered on December 14 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., tickets can be purchased on the Willard InterContinental’s website, under the events calendar. $65 per ticket or $100 for two tickets.

Christmas Day Brunch

For Washingtonians and visitors alike, Christmas at The Willard is a feast for the senses. Stepping into the lobby your eyes are drawn not only to the majestic 20-foot Christmas tree but to the whimsical décor throughout. Your nose is drawn to the blend of sweet and savory scents emanating from the extravagant brunch buffet set throughout the gilded hall of Peacock Alley, lined with Christmas trees, while your ears are drawn to the sounds of the season gently playing in the background. Set in the picturesque and ornately decorated Willard & Crystal Ballrooms, Christmas Day Brunch features a festive menu of items, including a variety of action stations offering a range of cuisine from pancakes and waffles, to seafood and wild game, to risotto made in a parmesan wheel, to a carving station with traditional Christmas meats including Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb, Baked Ham and Slow Roasted Prime Rib. An elaborate dessert display, including an action station for cherries jubilee flambe with vanilla ice cream, will also be offered. For the youngest of diners, a buffet offering a selection of tot-approved dishes, such as mac & cheese, pizza, and chicken fingers, will also be available.

Christmas Brunch at the Willard InterContinental is a longstanding tradition among generations of families. As no Christmas would be complete without a visit from Santa Claus himself, families are able to meet and greet the man himself throughout the duration of brunch. Four seatings for Christmas Day brunch will be offered between 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The cost is $125 per adult, which includes bottomless mimosas, bellinis and bloody mary’s, and $55 per child (ages 5-12 years old). Guests younger than five years of age dine complimentarily.

Holiday Package

There is really no other place quite like the nation’s capital during the holiday months. Whether wanting to escape for a long weekend away or for a midweek break, guests can keep cozy with the Winter Wonderland Package and receive upgraded room accommodations to an Executive Suite, complimentary breakfast for two at Café du Parc and valet parking for one vehicle.  This wintry retreat will be available for stays between November 21 and March 20, 2020 with rates beginning at $359.  Reservations must be booked 72 hours in advance of arrival and upgrades are based upon availability.

A legendary hotel, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Willard InterContinental Washington, D.C., is a world-class destination known for its rich history, luxurious accommodations, premier meeting spaces and inventive cuisine. Often referred to as the “Residence of Presidents,” this iconic property located in the heart of the nation’s capital has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries and celebrities, as well as has been the site of many historic moments in U.S. history for 200 years. Recently named among the top two hotels in Washington, D.C. by Travel + Leisure, The Willard offers 335 spacious and elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites that exude a unique blend of contemporary luxury and historic charm.

For more information, visit www.washington.intercontinental.com  or call 202-628-9100.

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2018’s Best Places for Christmas Celebrations – WalletHub Study

December 21, 2018
Holiday Lights in New York

Enchanted by Macy’s holiday windows with a whimsical snowy spaceman theme © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The most wonderful time of the year is just around the corner. With Christmas being the most popular holiday in the U.S. and one of the most expensive – Americans are projected to spend up to $720 billion over the holiday season this year – the personal-finance website WalletHub released its report on 2018’s Best Places for Christmas Celebrations as well as accompanying videos.

To help Americans celebrate Christmas without breaking the bank, WalletHub compared the 100 biggest cities across 31 key metrics. The data set ranges from Christmas events per capita to average price per Christmas party ticket to shopping centers and outlets per capita.

Best Cities for Christmas Celebrations
1 Orlando, FL 11 St. Louis, MO
2 Las Vegas, NV 12 Washington, DC
3 New York, NY 13 Cincinnati, OH
4 Atlanta, GA 14 Birmingham, AL
5 Pittsburgh, PA 15 Denver, CO
6 San Francisco, CA 16 Houston, TX
7 Los Angeles, CA 17 Portland, OR
8 Chicago, IL 18 Tampa, FL
9 Seattle, WA 19 Miami, FL
10 Dallas, TX 20 Austin, TX

Key Stats

  • Fresno, California, has the lowest average price for a Christmas party ticket, $9.00, which is 5.4 times lower than in Plano, Texas, the city with the highest at $48.21.
  • New York has the most Christmas events (per square root of the population), 0.0472, which is 29.5 times more than in Wichita, Kansas, the city with the fewest at 0.0016.
  • Miami has the most Christmas tree farms (per square root of the population), 0.0225, which is 20.4 times more than in Fort Worth, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0011.
  • Orlando, Florida, has the most gift shops (per square root of the population), 0.2119, which is 51.7 times more than in Garland, Texas, the city with the fewest at 0.0041.
  • New York has the most toy stores (per square root of the population), 0.1312, which is 62.5 times more than in North Las Vegas, Nevada, the city with the fewest at 0.0021.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, visit:
https://wallethub.com/edu/best-places-for-christmas/41924/

More from WalletHub

Best Winter Holiday Destinations

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Discover Holiday Magic in Washington, DC

November 16, 2018
Capitol-DC-nght-011804e2 (c) Karen Rubin

The Capitol Building at night. Washington DC is a sensational destination for the winter holidays © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(Washington, DC) – The nation’s capital is one of the best destinations for winter holiday travel, and Destination DC (DDC), the official destination marketing organization for Washington, DC, helps visitors craft a magical holiday. Find inspiration for memorable getaways on DDC’s holiday landing page on washington.org, and its Instagram and Facebook channels, including festive hotel packages, menus, holiday lights, ice skating rinks, gift markets, can’t-miss exhibitions and events across the city’s welcoming neighborhoods. Speak with a DC travel expert (1-800-422-8644), Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm (EST).

“Washington, DC goes all out for the holidays. Maybe your wish-list includes meeting Santa, light displays and a classic holiday show. It might include visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture, shopping for made-in-DC gifts then dinner at one of DC’s 15 Michelin-starred restaurants. We’ll connect you with the real DC,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of DDC.

In 2018, DDC’s print, digital and out-of-home holiday advertising campaign urges national consumers to “Discover Holiday Magic in Washington, DC,” with assets targeting New York City and Philadelphia. For added promotion between Nov. 30-Dec. 2; Dec. 7-9, the tourism bureau hosts a holiday-themed Instagram exchange with influencers from key feeder markets.

HOTEL PACKAGES
• Toast the season with “Caviar and Champagne” at The Darcy. This package bundles late check-out, a welcome Taittinger toast and decadent caviar cookies from Siren, the in-house Michelin-starred restaurant. Rates start at $169, thru Feb. 28, 2019.
• This December, Kimpton’s 10 boutique hotels in DC spread cheer with pop-up shops curated by Shop Made in DC, a retail incubator showcasing local makers. Book a “Make a Getaway” package to receive a swag bag and $15 gift card.
• The historic Willard InterContinental offers a Wintertime Holiday Package that wraps upgraded accommodations, $50 food and beverage credit and official 2018 White House Christmas Tree Ornament, starting at $299 (two-night min.), Nov. 16, 2018-Feb. 16, 2019.

SKATING RINKS
• Twirl around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s rink, November-March. Warm up inside the Pavilion Café.
• Rent skates at riverside rinks at The Wharf, Georgetown and Capitol Riverfront.
• Iceless skating rinks return to the courtyard at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown and atop the Watergate Hotel.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS
• Tour America’s historic train stations in miniature at Seasons Greenings: All Aboard! at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, Nov. 22-Jan. 2, 2019. FREE
• Smithsonian National Zoo dazzles with more than 500,000 LED lights, snowless tubing and more at ZooLights, 5-9pm. Nov. 23-Jan. 1, 2019 (closed Dec. 24, 25, 31). FREE
• George Washington’s Mount Vernon celebrates with Colonial dancing, chocolate-making and caroling, Nov. 23-Dec. 31. Candlelit tours run Nov. 23, 24, 30; Dec. 1, 7, 8, 16.
• The District’s Holiday Boat Parade welcomes Santa to The Wharf with lighted boats and fireworks, 6-9pm, Dec. 1. FREE
• Holiday in the Park thrills Six Flags America with lights, rides and s’mores: Nov. 23-25, Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 21-23, 26-31.
• Lit in early December, National Christmas tree in President’s Park on the Ellipse will be attended by 56 decorated state and territory trees, Santa’s Workshop and nighty musical performances thru Dec. 31. FREE
• The National Menorah will be lit on the Ellipse throughout Hanukah. On Dec. 2 at 4pm, American Friends of Lubavitch celebrate with Dreidelman and donuts. FREE

SHOPPING
• The Downtown Holiday Market runs Nov. 23-Dec. 23 in Penn Quarter. Source more local gifts at Shop Made in DC in Dupont; Union Market in NoMa; Brookland Exchange at Monroe Street Market and Steadfast Supply in Capitol Riverfront.
• CityCenterDC dresses up with two monumental reindeer, an overhead installation in Palmer Alley and holiday tree lit on Nov. 24.
• Georgetown Glow, an outdoor light art exhibition, illuminates the historic district between 5-10pm, Dec. 1-Jan. 1, 2019.

PERFORMANCES AND ATTRACTIONS
• The Kennedy Center hosts shows including The Second City’s Love, Factually (Dec. 4-31), Washington National Opera: The Lion, the Unicorn and Me (Dec. 14-16) and the National Symphony Orchestra’s Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 20-23).
• At Warner Theatre, the Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker recasts the classic in the Lincoln White House (Nov. 29-Dec. 28).
• Richly dressed, A Christmas Carol (Nov. 15-Dec. 30) cheers Ford’s Theatre.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE
• Circle around outdoor firepits at Masseria near Union Market; Bourbon Steak in Georgetown and Tavern at Ivy City Smokehouse, a 2019 Michelin “Bib Gourmand” pick.
• Indulge in holiday teas at Peacock Alley at the Willard InterContinental Washington, DC; the Empress Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC; Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt Washington DC and the lobbies of the St. Regis Washington D.C. and Line DC.
• Among tempting New Year’s Eve options, humanitarian and Michelin-starred chef José Andrés offers tasting menus at China Chilcano, Jaleo and Oyamel.

Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities. washington.org.

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Snow Resorts are Magical Places for Winter Holidays

December 8, 2017
Whistler-Blackcomb-Mitchell-Winton e2

Whistler-Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada (© Mitchell Winton)

Snow-covered mountain resorts are particularly magical at the holidays, and they go all out.

“The quintessential holiday vacation is a ski trip in the mountains,” says CMO at Ski.com and industry veteran, Dan Sherman. “From elaborate light displays in quaint mountain villages and Santa races to holiday markets and torchlight parades, mountain destinations offer the epitome of an idyllic holiday atmosphere.”

Here are just a few examples:

Stowe, Vermont An idyllic New England town, Stowe is a winter wonderland. The streets of historic downtown come to life during the holidays with a local artisan market. From candy cane-making demos to the annual winter-themed ice carving, there is plenty to do off the mountain. Catch a holiday concert at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center or take the kids to a community screening of It’s a Wonderful Life. Ring in the New Year with Stowe’s on-mountain Torchlight Parade and Fireworks Show over Spruce Peak.

Vail, Colorado: Vail’s Holidays are held from November 29th through December 31st. The festivities kick off with the annual Kris Kringle Market, an outdoor market featuring 34 local and regional Colorado vendors, where travelers can pick up unique last minute gifts. On the evening of December 17th, join the Mayor and take in the Town of Vail Tree Lighting by the Covered Bridge, while the Vail Children’s Choir sings. On December 22nd, Vail Winterfest Ice Theater hosts their Grand Opening Celebration. Ice Sculptor Paul Wertin creates oversized ice chairs where travelers can kick back and relax while enjoying film projects, such as How the Grinch Stole Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, ski instructors and locals form a glowing train down the mountain, while fireworks bring in the new year, lighting up Vail’s iconic setting. Other activities include ice skating, lantern making, holiday sweater runs to burn off some extra calories and children’s cookies and tea parties.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada Dress like Santa and Ms. Claus and ski for free on the annual Santa Ski Day, this December in Whistler. The first 75 guests to arrive at the Garibaldi Lift Company dressed in holiday garb will be awarded a free lift ticket. The iconic Fire & Ice shows light up the town every Sunday evening as skiers and snowboarders hit a big air jump through a ring of fire. The 34th annual Christmas Eve Carol Service takes place at the Westin Resort and Spa, bringing to life the story of the birth of Christ along with traditional carols and music. In addition, children can ice skate with Santa throughout the holiday season at the Whistler Olympic Plaza.

Vorderstadt Kitzb¸hel

Kitzbühel, Austria (© Markus Mitterer)

Kitzbuhel, Austria An ultimate holiday destination for skiing and festivities, the town of Kitzbuhel transforms into a Christmas market and winter wonderland from November 30th through December 26th. Featuring traditional Tyrolean crafts, food and traditions, the market celebrates the holidays with a variety of musical acts featuring local choirs and musicians, Christmas readings, petting zoos and pony rides for the children. On January 1st, thousands of locals and visitors ring in the New Year with a torch skiing and flame jumping show, complete with the 64th annual fireworks show put on by fireworks champion, Armin Lukasser.

Squaw Valley, California: The holidays kick off in Squaw and Alpine Meadows on December 16th with the Opening Ceremonies. The Ceremonies include a glow stick parade, lead by the one and only Santa. The parade meanders through Squaw’s “Ye Olde Christmas Village” and the “Merry Wonderland” (a transformed Olympic Village Lodge). Check out the Ice Garden and performances by the Truckee Tahoe Community Chorus. Participants will also enjoy the “Taste of Squaw,” where local dining establishments provide free bites of signature items. Santa continues his visits throughout the week, stopping at the Merry Wonderland, the Ice Garden, Village at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. On December 21st, visitors can enjoy a concert put on by the Squaw Valley Institute featuring blues-infused covers of classics by likes of BB King, Kat King Cole, Otis Redding, Eric Clapton and more. Other festivities include Ugly Sweater parties, brunch with Santa and skiing with Santa on December 25th.

Innsbruck, Austria: From mid-November through early January, the capitol of Tyrol is awash with Christmas festivities. The neighborhood of Alstadt features popular Medieval houses on the narrow Kiebachgasse street. Brothers Grimm characters peer down from the widows and tickle the imagination of children and the young at heart. Vendor booths are laden with festive goods like gingerbread, wooden toys and hand-blown ornaments. Every day at dusk, trumpeters perform traditional carols on the 500-year-old Golden Roof. Don’t miss Kiachln, a traditional Advent doughnut served with hot cranberry sauce. Take a ride up the funicular to Hafelekar, located just outside of Innsbruck to enjoy the twinkling city below.

Sun Valley-Kevin-Syms e2

Sun Valley, Idaho (© Kevin Syms)

Sun Valley, Idaho The birthplace of skiing in the U.S., Sun Valley, Idaho is a small town with five-star amenities, but without the crowds. Christmas festivities start early with the annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 16th. Santa will be present, as well as the Sun Valley Carolers, an ice carving demo and free cookies and hot chocolate. Carolers perform daily performances throughout the Sun Valley Village and at various Sun Valley restaurants through the holidays. A European-style open-air market on the Sun Valley Lawn features vendors and holiday goodies. On Christmas Eve, enjoy the Winter Wonderland Ice Show while warming up with free hot chocolate and fresh-baked cookies at the Lodge. Don’t miss Christmas Eve fireworks and a sky-illuminating torchlight parade down Dollar Mountain. Take sleigh rides to Trail Creek Cabin for dinner or amble down Main Street in Ketchum, lit up with a festive holiday gallery walk and festive decorations on all of the beautiful lodges.

Aspen, Colorado: The 12 Days of Aspen usher in the holidays in Aspen, Colorado. On December 20th, kids can make their parents a special gift at the St. Regis, while LeAnn Rimes will perform at the Belly Up that evening. The following day, Santa will be at the Winer Wonderland with his live reindeer. Come meet St. Nick and enjoy free hot cocoa and cookies while getting your picture taken. Santa will also be conducting sleigh rides throughout the 12 Days through town with Mrs. Claus; visitors can reserve spots in advance to take a ride. During the afternoons the spirited Hotel Jerome will be hosting carolers for visitors and locals alike. On the 23rd, everyone’s favorite characters from Peanuts come to life at the Wheeler Opera House with a presentation of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And finally, on the 31st, ring in the New Year with an astounding fireworks show over Aspen Mountain. The Infamous Stringdusters will cap off the evening with a performance at the Wheeler Opera House.

For assistance making travel arrangements, visit Ski.com (you can do an on-line chat with a specialist) or call 800-908-5000 or 970-429-3099.

 

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Gaylord National Resort Announces More Thrills and Chills This Holiday Season

December 5, 2017
Opryland's ICE!

The thrill of coming down the ice slide at Gaylord National’s ice sculpture attraction, ICE! during the resort’s fabulous Christmas on the Potomac festival © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(National Harbor, Md)– The holiday festivities are already underway at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, just outside of the nation’s capital. Christmas on the Potomac, presented by FUJIFILM INSTAX® features its famous ice sculpture attraction, an indoor Christmas village, ice skating experience and more.

No holiday season would be complete without the resort’s famous ice sculpture attraction, ICE!, presented by Pepsi, featuring a brand new theme. Families and friends can relive the beloved 1964 TV classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, as they walk through 13 scenes of more than two million pounds of colorful ice sculptures that tell the story of how Rudolph’s red-nose first helped Santa guide his sleigh.  Kept at a chilly nine degrees, visitors also can enjoy four thrilling ice slides and a crystal clear, breathtaking Nativity scene.

ICE! opens daily from November 18, 2017 through January 1, 2018. Discounted ticket pricing is available now through October 1 on select days starting at $28 for adults ages 12 and older and $20 for children ages 4 to 11. Tickets after October 1 start at $32 for adults and $24 for children on value days; $38 for adults and $31 for children on general admission days; and $39 for adult and $32 for children on peak days. Kids 3 and younger are free. Military and group ticket pricing is available. Hours vary and can be found at www.ChristmasOnThePotomac.com.

If a winter wonderland of ice sculptures wasn’t enough, the resort also is introducing a new Glacier Glide Ice Skating experience. The young and young at heart will delight in this timeless holiday tradition in the resort’s ornate Christmas Village. Ice Skating costs $16.99 for all ages.

The Christmas Village also is home to a variety of warmer, family-friendly entertainment including Cookies with Mrs. Claus, a carousel, miniature train ride, photos with Santa and Gingerbread Decorating Corner presented by Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas.

The resort also is bringing back its Build-A-Bear Workshop® experience where guests make their very own furry winter friend – a cuddly, cute polar bear plush, designed exclusively for Gaylord Hotels that can be personalized with cozy winter clothing and accessories. For even more fun, families can work together to solve the Build-A-Bear Workshop® Scavenger Hunt to gain a “beary” special prize.

To enjoy multiple experiences at a reduced price, the resort has bundled several attractions in its Play and Save packages. The packages include a gingerbread man decorating kit, scavenger hunt, unlimited rides on the train and carousel and the option to add-on an ICE! ticket. Without ICE!, the package starts at $29.45 for all ages. With an ICE! ticket, the prices vary depending on the day of visit.

The Christmas Village isn’t the only area to experience holiday cheer within the resort. New this year, Gaylord National is introducing a live entertainment show, JOY – A Holiday Spectacular, set within its stunning 19-story atrium. Visitors can enjoy the rich harmonies of classic and modern songs that celebrate the joy of the holiday season performed by Gaylord National singers. The show is immediately followed by a spectacular Tree Lighting Show that includes laser lights, a dancing water fountain, indoor snowfall and holiday music – all centered on the resort’s suspended Starlight Christmas Tree. To reserve VIP seating for JOY, tickets costs $19.99 for all ages.

Gaylord National also will offer a new family breakfast experience featuring the star of ICE!, Rudolph! Rudolph’s Holly Jolly™ Breakfast is a one-of-a-kind interactive character breakfast experience featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster and Clarice. Children of all ages will enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet, play reindeer games and sing-a-long to favorite music from the beloved television special. Rudolph’s Holly Jolly Breakfast is offered on select days and costs $39.99 for adults ages 12 and older and $26.99 for children ages 4 to 11. Kids 3 and younger are free.

To experience the best of Christmas in the Capital Region, the resort offers overnight packages that offer unlimited priority entry to ICE! Packages include:

ICE! Is Nice Package

  • One night room accommodations
  • Unlimited, priority entry tickets to experience ICE!featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Package starts at $219 for two people.

Christmas on the Potomac Package

  • One night room accommodations
  • Unlimited, priority entry tickets to experience ICE!featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • $100 resort credit per night for hotel dining and Relâche Spa services
  • One (1) complimentary souvenir ICE!photo

Package starts at $279 for two people.

For more information on Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Resort and to book a package or tickets to ICE!, visit www.ChristmasOnThePotomac.com or call 301-965-4000.

 

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Capital Christmas: A December Vacation in Washington, DC Checks Every Box on a Holiday Wish List

December 5, 2017
Capitol Building at Night, Washington DC

December is an enchanting time to visit Washington DC. Destination DC can help plan a visit © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

(Washington, DC) –- Destination DC (DDC), the official marketing organization for Washington, DC is primed to help travelers plan unforgettable December holidays in the nation’s capital. Washington.org is packed with seasonal inspiration on a holiday landing page including hotel packages and deals, festive menus, ice skating rinks, Christmas markets, can’t-miss events and more. Scroll instant inspiration on DDC’s Instagram and Facebook accounts or speak with a travel concierge (1-800-422-8644), Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5pm EST.

“Whether your ideal December getaway includes a family photo with the National Christmas tree and A Christmas Carol at Ford’s Theatre or a morning at the MLK Memorial, an afternoon of ice skating at the National Gallery of Art’s rink and a Michelin-star dinner, we can help you plan an unforgettable holiday in Washington, DC,” said Elliott L. Ferguson II, president and CEO of DDC.

Among special packages and events:

SEASONAL HOTEL PACKAGES

Between Nov. 28-Dec. 20, the Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC displays lavish holiday décor from 20 area designers. The luxury Georgetown hotel treats travelers with 30% off suites, Dec. 4-31, 2017.
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown’s Deck the Halls offer includes Santa’s milk and cookies at turn-down and an in-suite holiday tree. The Ritz-Carlton Washington, DC welcomes guests to Savor the Season with a 30-foot gingerbread Washington Monument and a $50 food and beverage credit.
Winter packages at the Willard InterContinental include a delicious welcome amenity and the official 2017 White House Christmas ornament thru Dec. 31.

ICE SKATING RINKS

Twirl around the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden’s rink thru March 11, 2018. Warm up inside the Pavilion Café and visit Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting: Inspiration and Rivalry in the West Building thru Jan. 21, 2018. FREE
New: The Potomac-side rink at The Wharf in SW DC joins the party of neighborhood rinks in Georgetown and Capitol Riverfront.
New: Glide on iceless”rinks at the Fairmont Washington, D.C. Georgetown and the Watergate Hotel.

HOLIDAY LIGHTS AND TOURS

ZooLights animates the National Zoo with more than 500,000 LED lights, snowless tubing and concerts between 5-9pm until Jan. 1 (closed Dec. 24, 25, 31). FREE

George Washington’s Mount Vernon offers character-guided candlelit tours, 18th century dancing and fireside caroling, Dec. 1-2, 8-9, 17.
Holiday in the Park illuminates Six Flags America with lights, rides and s’mores Dec. 2-3, 9-10, 16-17, 22-23, 26- Jan. 1.
Tour America’s roadside attractions in miniature at Seasons Greenings: National Parks and Historic Parks at the U.S. Botanic Gardens thru Jan. 2. FREE
The National Christmas tree in President’s Park on the Ellipse is attended by 56 decorated trees, Santa’s Workshop and musical performances thru Dec. 31. FREE
The National Menorah will be lit on the Ellipse throughout Hanukah. On Dec. 12 at 4pm, the American Friends of Lubavitch celebrates with dreidels and donuts. FREE

SHOPPING

Find only-in-DC gifts at Made in DC, a new store in Dupont Circle and Steadfast Supply in Capitol Riverfront. Pop-up Christmas markets: Downtown Holiday Market in Penn Quarter and Union Market’s Brief Assembly run thru Dec. 23.
CityCenterDC, the Penn Quarter’s luxury shopping and restaurant destination, dresses up with a giant reindeer, a sky-high tree for the season. Between Dec. 1-3, a 12-foot-high igloo adds to the Instagram fun.
Georgetown Glow, an outdoor exhibition of light-art installations dots the historic shopping district between 5-10pm, Dec. 8, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018. FREE

PERFORMANCES AND ATTRACTIONS

New: Digital gallery Artechouse welcomes The Imaginary World of the Nutcracker, Dec. 7, 2017-Jan. 7, 2018.
The Kennedy Center hosts seasonal shows including Merry Tubachristmas! (Dec. 11, FREE), Second City’s Twist Your Dickens (Dec. 5-31) and the National Symphony Orchestra’s Handel’s Messiah (Dec. 14-17).
The Washington Ballet’s version of The Nutcracker (thru Dec. 24) swaps George Washington for the Nutcracker Prince at Warner Theatre.
A richly dressed A Christmas Carol (thru Dec. 31) takes over Ford’s Theatre.
New: Christmas Illuminated is one of many exhibits at the Museum of the Bible.

DINING AND NIGHTLIFE

Toasts the season at Drink Company’s Miracle on Seventh Street, a trio of over-the-top pop-up bars thru Dec. 31.
Find lavish holiday teas in the Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Washington, DC and Tea Cellar at the Park Hyatt Washington DC. The St. Regis Washington D.C. celebrates 12 days of Champagne (Dec. 12-24).
Among the city’s New Year’s Eve delights, Michelin-starred chef José Andrés offers tasting menus at China Chilcano, Jaleo and Oyamel.

Destination DC, the official destination marketing organization for the nation’s capital, is a private, non-profit membership organization of 1,000 businesses committed to marketing the area as a premier global convention, tourism and special events destination with a special emphasis on the arts, cultural and historic communities.

Visit washington.org.
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