The Observer’s guide to Winter Break

By Danielle Kiefer, Features Editor

As winter break quickly approaches, many students and teachers are finalizing travel plans. However, those who are not going anywhere do not have to fear facing 12 days of boredom: the Observer is here to provide a list of the activities going on in the area that will be sure to make for the best “staycation” yet.


Watch as 500,000 LED lights transform the National Zoo from a regular zoo to a winter wonderland. The light display is animal-themed, creating scenes with traditional zoo animals made out of lights. In addition to the lights and indoor animal exhibits, special activities are available including a “Gin-grr-bread Contest”, tubing down Lion/Tiger Hill on snowless tracks and nightly musical performances. Open from 5 to 9 p.m. until Jan. 1.

National Harbor ICE!

Held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, this indoor winter wonderland uses over 2 million pounds of hand-carved ice sculptures. This year’s theme is “Frosty the Snowman,” and guests can visit six different rooms depicting scenes of the classic tale. The walk-through attraction also includes a live carving zone and two-story tall ice slides. Come dressed warmly, as the temperature will be a chilly 9 degrees to keep the sculptures from melting. Open through Jan. 4.

Tyson’s Corner Christmas Market and Winterfest

Whether you’re interested in picking up some holiday gifts or lacing up your skating shoes, Tyson’s has it all. The outdoor traditional German market features over 300 different stores with everything from jewelry to imported crafts to German food. Guests can also skate on the brand-new ice rink or listen to entertainment from local musical groups. Open through Dec. 24.

Holiday Art Show and Performances at Glen Echo Park

The historic Glen Echo Park offers a variety of activities during the winter season. Visit the Holiday Art Show and Sale to view works of art created by the Park’s in-house artist and shop for gifts for family and friends, open through Jan. 12. The Puppet Co. Playhouse at Glen Echo will also be showing a rendition of the holiday classic, “The Nutcracker,” weekends through Dec. 31.

Holiday Classics at AFI

Your favorite holiday movie isn’t on Netflix? Don’t worry: AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center is showing classic holiday movies all month long. Come see holiday classics like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol return to the big screen. Open through Jan. 2.

National Christmas Tree and National Menorah

Although the lighting took place Dec. 4, the National Christmas tree will still be lit every night through Jan. 1. Take a closer look at the tree to view one-of-a-kind ornaments, made by ordinary people, representing each of the 50 states in the U.S. Nightly entertainment includes musical groups from both Washington D.C. and the rest of the country. Nearby, visit the National Chanukah Menorah, which will be lit starting Dec. 16.