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Top Things to Do in Alexandria This Holiday Season 2023


Experience holiday magic on historic streets in Alexandria, Virginia, located just minutes from Washington, D.C. Recognized by Good Housekeeping as one of the Best Places to Travel in December 2023, Alexandria transports visitors with an sweeping 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

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 18, 2023, 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. 52nd Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade Sponsored by Wegmans


Join the revelry of Alexandria’s Biggest Holiday Weekend from December 1 to 3, 2023, with the 52nd Annual Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk Parade sponsored by Wegmans on December 2. 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, as well as terriers and hounds, community groups and more.

Check out our guide to making the most of Alexandria’s merriest day here.

3. 23rd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights Sponsored by Amazon

On the same day as the Scottish Christmas Walk Parade during Alexandria’sBiggest Holiday Weekend, Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront will shine for the 23rd Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights sponsored by Amazon on December 2, 2023, 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 1 to 8 p.m. in Waterfront Park including a pop-up beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, holiday music and giveaways from 97.1 WASH-FM, hot chocolate from Dolci Gelati, pizza by the slice from Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, American comfort food from Mason Social and cookies and snacks from Together We Bake and more. Also at Waterfront Park, from 1 to 5:30 p.m. enjoy hands-on activities from independently owned Alexandria businesses Shop Made in Virginia, Penny Post and AR Workshop Alexandria. Plus, shop sustainable gifts from Ten Thousand Villages at ALX Dog Walk‘s plastic-free pop-up.

Check out our guide to making the most of Alexandria’s merriest day here.

4. Seasonal Shopping Along Enchanting Streetscapes

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. 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 18 and 20, 2023. Then, enjoy early bird, storewide discounts and free gifts with purchase at more than 50 independent shops during Plaid Friday: Alexandria’s Small Business Black Friday on November 24, followed by deals and special offerings during Alexandria’s Small Business Saturday on November 25.

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 holiday markets for the perfect gifts or treats to take home. On Alexandria’s Small Business Saturday, head to Made in ALX’s Holiday Makers’ Market at Port City Brewing Company to peruse hundreds of locally handcrafted items, craft beer, foods trucks and more.

On December 9, 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. Plus, during the first three weekends of December plus December 22 and 23, head to Del Ray Artisans’ 28th Fine Art and Fine Craft Holiday Market to discover handcrafted wares from a rotating roster of artists. Explore Old Town North’s festive holiday markets on November 21 and 26 and December 3, 5, 10, 12 17 and 19, for handcrafted gift items and specialty food items.

6. 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 24 and 25 and December 1, 2, 8, 9 and 17, 2023. During Christmas Illuminations on December 15 and 16, 2023, browse the winter market for colonial crafts and wares and soak in beautiful wintry lights and sparking fireworks.

7. 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 17, 2023, to January 1, 2024. New this year, daytime ice skating is available December 18 to 30 and weekends and holidays throughout January and February.

8. Historic Holiday Events

Pictured: Historic Holiday Events; Photo Courtesy of the City of Alexandria

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 9, 2023, you’ll find a patriotic Union Santa Claus, reenactors in winter camps celebrating the season, kids’ activities and more. Fridays and Saturdays from December 1 to 16, enjoy holiday tours of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Pope-Leighey House decorated for a mid-century holiday.

On December 9, bring the family to the Alexandria Black History Museum to learn about the origins, concepts, practices and foods of Kwanzaa and leave knowing how to celebrate the holiday. At Carlyle House, you can attend the Scottish Walk Open House after the parade on December 2, then experience a Colonial Holiday Evening on December 9.

9. Festive Concerts and Shows

Pictured: The Little Theatre of Alexandria; Image Credit: Brian Knapp Photography

Get ready to give a standing ovation when you see a live show and support the city’s performing arts groups this holiday season. New this year, the City’s Office of the Arts presents A Very Merry ALX Jazz Fest on December 16, 2023. Be swept away by seasonal jazz and spoken word performances at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial. Plus, follow Scrooge through Christmases past to future during Little Theatre of Alexandria’s heartwarming adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” from December 2 to 16. On December 16 at Schlesinger Concert Hall and December 17 at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, Alexandria Symphony Orchestra presents its annual holiday concert, With a Twist, featuring a mix of traditional and contemporary favorites to celebrate the season.

10. Del Ray Revelry


During the holidays, Del Ray’s made-for-strolling Mount Vernon Avenue is even merrier than usual. On December 3, 2023, see the annual Holiday Tree and Menorah Lighting. Continue the celebration with a walk 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 7. Then, take a break from the bustle of holiday preparations and enjoy specials at more than 20 Del Ray restaurants during the 8th Annual Candy Cane Bar Crawl on December 10.

11. New Year’s Eve Fireworks and Festivities

Alexandria will usher in 2024 with fireworks above the Potomac River following live music and performances during First Night Alexandria. Plus, don’t forget to plan a New Year’s Day brunch for a luxurious start to 2024.

Prime viewing locations:

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

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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