December is both a blessing and a curse. Everyone is looking forward to winter break — but getting there isn’t easy. Students have to survive long nights cramming in the library before festivities can begin. However, taking the occasional breather from school is healthy, especially if the stress of finals has you feeling down.
Washington, D.C., has a lot going on throughout December. There are light shows, ballets, holiday markets and many more activities to help you stay cheery. If you’re looking for a break from the finals grind this weekend, take a trip to D.C. and get excited for the upcoming holidays.
[Read more: The best DMV modern art museum you’ve never heard of]
- National Christmas Tree — Dec. 5
The official lighting of the National Christmas Tree takes place on Thursday. This week marks the start of the evergreen being lit all holiday season. When people envision massive Christmas celebrations, the Rockefeller Center tree probably jumps to mind, but D.C.’s tree is also a beautiful spectacle, without the hassle of going all the way to New York City.
- Georgetown GLOW — Dec. 6
Georgetown GLOW is a free light exhibit scattered throughout the neighborhood, featuring 11 light art installations from multiple artists. Strolling around Georgetown is one of my favorite hobbies — I love looking at the quaint townhouses, restaurants and shops. Now I can shop, eat and view art all at the same time! The installations look insanely fun this year, from light-up cloud swings to dangling “snow cones.” Walking tours are offered on the website.
- AURORA: The Spirit of Northern Lights — Dec. 7
It’s been a dream of mine to travel and see the aurora borealis, and, now, ARTECHOUSE is bringing the northern lights to me, with its new D.C. exhibit opening on Saturday. Like the gallery’s other exhibits, it’s a mix of art and technology, an immersive and interactive experience for the audience. There will be magical and wintery installations of rainbow skies, forests and an ice cavern. Sadly, ARTECHOUSE isn’t free, but this exhibit looks worth it.
- Swedish Holiday Market — Dec. 7
Celebrate Sweden with Nordic artists and vendors this Saturday. The Swedish Holiday Market sells crafts, textiles, books and many other special treats. There will be Swedish eats such as meatball sandwiches and “Glögg,” or mulled wine. The bazaar is located at the House of Sweden on the Potomac River, near Georgetown. The building itself is a very cool and contemporary work of architecture. Don’t miss out on this Swedish party!
- Holiday Boat Parade — Dec. 7
The District’s Holiday Boat Parade takes place Saturday along the Potomac River. Boats of all shapes and sizes are decorated in colorful and extravagant Christmas lights. Across the river, Alexandria also has its Holiday Boat Parade of Lights the same evening, so you can view decorated boats from either side of the Potomac. The parade reminds me of driving through different neighborhoods as a kid, looking decorated houses — but on a boat. The Wharf will also have live music and fireworks.
- The Illusionists: Magic of the Holidays — Dec. 3 – 8
I don’t hear about magic shows very often, so I was excited to learn that a holiday-themed magic show was coming to D.C. The Illusionists are performing at the National Theatre at various times this weekend. The show promises mind-blowing illusions and magical acts. I haven’t seen a magic show in ages, so this sounds like a great trip for some good ole’ family-friendly fun.
- The Washington Ballet’s Nutcracker — All December
Nothing puts me in the holiday spirit like The Nutcracker. It’s beautiful, wintery and magical — what more could you want from ballet? The soundtrack is a classic. When I hear “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy,” I automatically go to my happy place. The Washington Ballet will be performing at the Warner Theatre all December long. You will definitely see me there, humming along, before the holiday season is over.