Top Things to Do in Alexandria This Holiday Season 2022


Experience holiday magic on historic streets in Alexandria, Virginia, located just minutes from Washington, D.C. Recognized by Oprah Daily as one of the Most Charming Christmas Towns and Villages Across the World, Alexandria transports visitors with an old-fashioned sense of holiday wonder along Old Town’s centuries-old brick-lined streets, twinkling with holiday traditions and magical events. From Alexandria’s parade-filled Biggest Holiday Weekend to al fresco holiday markets and seasonal shopping events, keep reading to see our top reasons to visit Alexandria this holiday season.

1. Holiday Magic Along Historic King Street

Pictured: Daniel O’Connell’s Irish Restaurant & Bar; Image Credit: Chris Bridner for Visit Alexandria

In historic Old Town Alexandria, twinkling lights shine in the trees above brick-lined streets, and dozens of independent boutiques welcome you with greenery at their doorsteps. Take a stroll down King Street and feel transported into a European Christmas village as you pass lantern-lit doorways and pop into buzzing shops and eateries. On November 19, 2022, see the city sparkle during the annual Tree Lighting in front of City Hall, with a welcome by the Town Crier, musical performances and an appearance from Santa and Mrs. Claus.

2. 51st Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade

Image Credit: Rusty Kennedy for Visit Alexandria

Join the revelry of Alexandria’s Biggest Holiday Weekend from December 2 to 4, 2022, with the 51st Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade on December 3. The parade begins at 11 a.m., as dozens of Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans parade through the streets of Old Town, joined by pipe and drum bands from around the region, plus terriers and hounds.

3. 22nd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights Sponsored by Amazon

Image Credit: Evan Michio for Visit Alexandria

On the same day as the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade during Biggest Holiday Weekend, Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront will shine for the 22nd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights sponsored by Amazon on December 3, 2022, at 5:30 p.m. as more than 50 brightly lit boats cruise along one mile of the Potomac River shoreline. Enjoy dockside festivities from 2 to 8 p.m. in Waterfront Park including a pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, local food, music from 97.1 WASH-FM and hands-on activities from Alexandria boutiques. At 3:30 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive by fireboat before attending the annual Holiday Festival at Torpedo Factory Art Center. Meanwhile, the Old Town North Alliance presents a family friendly event on the North Waterfront from 2 to 7 p.m. at Canal Center and Oronoco Bay Park featuring artist vendors, music, food and drink, interactive demonstrations and kids activities, plus the opportunity to view boats arriving in Alexandria for parade assembly.

Please note there is limited visibility for parade viewing within the Alexandria City Marina (0 Cameron St.), while parks offer a more comfortable, less crowded viewing experience. Visit the event website for more info.

4. Christmas at Mount Vernon

Pictured: Christmas Illuminations; Image Credit: George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Holiday programs and tours fill each day with delight at George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Visitors can tour the mansion, meet Aladdin the Christmas camel, enjoy holiday fifing and pick up gifts at the Shops at Mount Vernon. Experience Mount Vernon by Candlelight on November 25 and 26 and December 2, 3, 9, 10 and 18, 2022. During Christmas Illuminations on December 16 and 17, 2022, browse the winter market for colonial crafts and wares and soak in beautiful wintry lights and sparking fireworks.

5. Open-Air Holiday Markets

Pictured: Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Show; Image Credit: The Carlyle Council

Bundle up, grab a hot drink and peruse Alexandria’s al fresco holiday markets for the perfect gifts or treats to take home. During Port City Brewing Company’s Holiday Makers Market on Small Business Saturday, November 26, 2022, more than two dozen Alexandria-based makers, artists and creators will offer handmade goods and cozy holiday items to accompany a pint or two. On December 10, enjoy a Christmas Market and Holiday Craft Show at John Carlyle Square with more than 100 artisans and crafters, a Christmas carols show and an Elves’ Shop where little ones can create a customized Christmas ornament. Sip and stroll during Aslin Beer Company’s Snow Daze market on December 17, featuring a live DJ, handmade goods from local vendors, a special menu and more.

During the first three weekends of December, head to Del Ray Artisans’ Fine Art and Fine Craft Holiday Market to discover handcrafted wares from a rotating roster of artists. Plus, explore Old Town North’s festive holiday markets on December 4, 11 and 18, for hand-crafted gift items and specialty food items.

6. Ice & Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run

Image Credit: J. Weilepp Photography for Visit Alexandria

Ice and Lights: The Winter Village at Cameron Run will return this year, featuring an ice rink, multiple holiday light displays perfect for Instagramming, a retail area, food, music and more. Ice & Lights is open nightly from November 18, 2022 to January 1, 2023, and then for skating only on weekends from January 7 to February 26, 2023.

7. Historic Holiday Events

Image Credit: Lee-Fendall House

Step back in time for a seasonal celebration at some of Alexandria’s centuries-old sites, in addition to Mount Vernon. At Fort Ward’s Civil War Christmas in Camp on December 10, 2022, you’ll find a patriotic Union Santa Claus, reenactors in winter camps celebrating the season, period decorations, carol singing, fireside holiday meals and more.

On December 10, partake in A Victorian Christmas at Lee-Fendall House, complete with traditional décor, music, seasonal crafts, a visit with Santa, a toy exhibit and more, or take a Candlelight Tour on December 3, 10 and 17. At Carlyle House, you can attend the Scottish Walk Open House after the parade on December 3, then experience Colonial Holiday Nights on December 9 and 10.

8. Seasonal Shopping Along Enchanting Streetscapes

Image Credit: Kristian Summerer for Visit Alexandria

For a mood-boosting and merry-making holiday shopping experience, stroll Old Town’s enchanting King Street mile, part of the largest collection of independent boutiques in the D.C. region throughout Alexandria. Step inside local shops charmingly decorated for the season and offering curated selections of stationery, home goods, sustainable fashion and more. Savor sweets while you shop during the Annual Old Town Alexandria Cookie Crawl, featuring 25 participating retailers, on November 19 and 20, 2022. Then, enjoy special promotions and discounts during Plaid Friday: Alexandria’s Small Business Black Friday on November 25, followed by more fun and activations during Small Business Saturday on November 26.

9. Festive Concerts and Shows

Image Credit: The Little Theatre of Alexandria

Get ready to give a standing ovation when you see a live show and support the city’s performing arts groups. Catch Alexandria Symphony Orchestra in concert with “Home for the Holidays” performances on December 17 and 18, 2022, and attend Little Theatre of Alexandria’s heartwarming adaptation of “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol” from December 3 to 17. Plus, don’t miss the Alexandria Harmonizers’ “Comfort and Joy” concert on December 9.

10. Del Ray Revelry

Image Credit: Instagram User @diydelray (left); Courtesy of Del Ray Business Association (right)

During the holidays, Del Ray’s made-for-strolling Mount Vernon Avenue is even merrier than usual. Work up an appetite for Thanksgiving supper with the 47th Annual Turkey Trot on November 24, 2022. On December 4, see the annual Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting. Continue the celebration with a stroll down Mount Vernon Avenue, which will be illuminated by thousands of luminarias and feature storefront windows hand-painted for the holidays.

Savor special promotions, complimentary wine and refreshments and extended shopping hours during the Shops of Del Ray’s Holiday Sip & Shop on December 8. Then, take a break from the bustle of holiday preparations and enjoy specials at more than 15 Del Ray restaurants  on December 10 during the 7th Annual Candy Cane Bar Crawl.

11. Winter-Proof Outdoor Dining

Pictured: Augie’s Mussel House; Image Credit: Cameron Davidson for Visit Alexandria

Keep warm while dining al fresco with heaters, firepits and a festive ambiance outside Alexandria eateries. Pair moonshine with a gourmet grilled cheese at Hops N Shine’s heat lamp-lit back patio, or try Belgian ales from Augie’s Mussel House in the cozy beer garden. Gather around a firepit at The Garden Del Ray, relish river views at BARCA Pier or raise a glass at Ramparts Tavern & Grill. Or, reserve a heated igloo—complete with Bluetooth speakers and twinkling lights—at King & Rye.

12. New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Festivities

Image Credit: J. Clifford for Alexandria

Usher in 2023 with a midnight fireworks show above the Potomac River, the culmination of an afternoon and evening of live music and performances during First Night Alexandria. The midnight show will last for approximately 10 minutes. Plus, roll up your sleeves at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s Olde Year’s Day party. Don’t forget to plan a New Year’s Day brunch for a luxurious start to 2023.

Prime viewing locations:

Looking for more inspiration? Discover all the holiday happenings in Alexandria.

Header Images Credits: Carol Jean Stalun Photography for Visit Alexandria

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