Posts Tagged ‘Willard InterContinental Hotel’

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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