Holiday activities for being stuck in D.C. with late exams

Media Credit: Sophia Young | Assistant Photo Editor

President Joe Biden presided over Thursday’s National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony, kicking off the public viewing period that lasts through Jan. 1.

GW’s final exam schedule stretches into late December, but don’t let being stuck in the city keep you from enjoying holiday festivities.

D.C. is packed with holiday events and activities to get you into the holiday spirit throughout the month. From taking a stroll along the National Mall to get a glimpse of the National Christmas Tree to trying out some of the best hot chocolate in the city, we’ve compiled activities around the District to keep you in the holiday spirit.

Holiday decoration displays
Located just a few blocks from campus, the National Christmas Tree is a convenient and festive holiday attraction. Each year, an evergreen tree located in the northeast quadrant of President’s Park near the White House is lit up and decorated with ornaments symbolizing the United States’ history. Surrounding the main tree, smaller evergreen trees will be decorated with ornaments handmade by students from each state. The public can swing by to see the tree which will be lit up from sundown to 11 p.m. every night until Jan 1.

Although the indoor areas of the Botanic Garden remain closed for pandemic-related precautions, head to the garden’s outdoor holiday display running daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Jan 2. An elaborate holiday-themed toy train track runs through multiple outdoor gardens surrounding the conservatory and glowing lighthouses are set up to guide visitors as they walk throughout the conservatory. Replicas of D.C. landmarks like the Capitol building made out of plant material decorate the spaces along with countless Poinsettias.

Outdoor activities
For a final exam study break that will get you moving, head to one of D.C.’s many ice skating rinks this holiday season. The Sculpture Garden Ice Rink is open ​​Sunday through Thursday between 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. You can skate around the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink with string lights hung overhead during your 45-minute session ($10). Skate rentals are available for $5.

Head to Georgetown to visit the Washington Harbour ice rink. The water fountain display by the river is transformed into an ice rink during the winter where you can skate surrounded by the glow of colorful holiday lights. Individual tickets cost $10 and skate rentals are $7, or go with a group of 10 or more and buy tickets plus skate rentals for a discounted combo price of $13 per person.

Break in your U-Pass card to travel to Ice & Lights: the Winter Village at Cameron Run in Alexandria, Va. to experience ice skating and winter wonderland light village ($20). This ice rink is open nightly from 5 to 10 p.m. until Jan. 2.

Hot chocolate tour of D.C.
Whether hot chocolate comes from a packet of instant mix or gets made with rich cream and real cocoa, it’s the go-to drink for cold days during the holiday season. Take a worthwhile trek to Tryst at 2459 18th St. NW in Adams Morgan to snag a hot cocoa with house-made lavender syrup ($4.52). Grab a seat among the coffee shop’s extensive selection of tables and couches and grind out some studying or paper writing while enjoying your warm drink.

Journey over to the Wharf and try out Colada Shop at 10 Pearl St. SW, for Chocolate de la Abuela, its Cuban-style hot cocoa ($5.75). Dip a cinnamon sugar coated churro ($7.50) into your cocoa, or simply stroll along the water and enjoy the views.

Known for its colorful and custom latte art, Cafe Georgetown is serving a peppermint hot chocolate ($7.50 or $4.50 for regular) this winter. This sweet drink is decorated with red and white candy cane designs floating atop the frothy milk and is served alongside a gingerbread man cookie for dipping.

Holiday performances
In one of D.C.’s most historic theaters you can sit back and enjoy a holiday play. This holiday season, Ford’s theater is putting on performances of the timeless story, A Christmas Carol, multiple nights throughout the month of December. Enjoy the holiday season and relax as you enter into the musical production of Charles Dickens’ classic holiday story. Ticket prices range between $54 and $109.

Journey to Strathmore theater in Bethesda, Md. to see modern versions of classic holiday performances like the The Hip Hop Nutcracker and a Celtic band Christmas special. Listen to the Washington Chorus sing A Candlelight Christmas Dec. 16 and 17 at 8 p.m., or enjoy a hip hop rendition of the Nutcracker Dec. 20 to 22 at 8 p.m. Ticket prices start at $10.

For a holiday movie night, visit the Kennedy Center’s Justice Forum on Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. for a screening of the Elf, featuring Will Ferrell. Admission is open to the public and free of charge.

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