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Freebies: Christmas fun for the whole family

Thursday - 12/19/2013, 1:59pm  ET

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WASHINGTON - If you're looking for family-friendly things to do on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we found a bunch of options for you to choose from all around the region.

Here's WTOP's list of free and low-cost activities scheduled for Dec. 24 and Dec. 25:


  • Visit the National Christmas Tree, Pathway of Peace and Santa's Workshop on the Ellipse in President's Park on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, no charge.

  • There's an Open House and Procrastinators Sale at the Mansion on O Street from 10 a.m. Christmas Eve until just past midnight on Christmas Day. Admission is free.

  • Drive by the "Miracle on 34th Street," an always out-of-the-ordinary holiday light display put together yearly by a group of dedicated neighbors on a stretch of 34th Street in Baltimore. On Christmas Eve, the lights stay on all night for Santa.

  • If you're a jazz lover, go to the Kennedy Center for the free All Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam, starting at 6 p.m.

  • Head to National Harbor to watch water-skiing Santa, his kneeboarding reindeer, the jet-skiing Grinch and others have some wet fun on the Potomac, starting at 1 p.m. Christmas Eve. It's free to see.

  • Huge holiday wreaths decorate the outside, and you'll find holiday tree and train displays inside D.C.'s Union Station. It's a great, free seasonal photo-op.

  • The Festival of Lights at the Washington, D.C., Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be enjoyed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Two live musical performances are planned each night. Free tickets are handed out 90 minutes ahead of each.

  • Poinsettias, model trains and models of D.C. landmarks made from plant materials are what you'll see at "Seasons Greenings," the special holiday exhibit at the U.S. Botanic Garden's Conservatory. It's open daily.


  • Go see the classic film "It's a Wonderful Life" at the AFI Silver Theater. There are screenings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. General admission tickets are $12.

  • Shadrack's Christmas Wonderland Drive-thru light show at Adventure Park USA in New Market is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The cost is $20 per car.

  • There's a holiday glow at the Bull Run Festival of Lights in Centreville, open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 5:30-10 p.m., for $15 per car.

  • Take an evening cruise of Spa Creek in Annapolis with Captain Santa aboard the "Jolly Express," a boat covered in holiday décor. There will be holiday music, hot cocoa, and cozy blankets on board. Tickets for cruises on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are $22 for adults.

  • There is a Christmas Eve performance of Adventure Theatre MTC's "The Twelve Days of Christmas," based of course on the song. Tickets are $19.

  • Busch Gardens in Williamsburg has been transformed into Christmas Town, which is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Ticket prices start at $22.50 for visitors age 3 and up, but could be lower if you take advantage of one of their current ticket promotions.

  • Put your holiday on ice by visiting the ice rink at Washington Harbour, which is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Ice Rink will close at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, and will be closed Christmas Day. The ice rinks at Rockville Town Square and Pentagon Row are also open on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Admission and skate rental fees vary.

  • See Paul Morella's adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" at the Olney Theater Center. There are two Chrismas Eve performances, at 1:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. Tickets start at $18.

  • The drive-through Symphony of Lights in Columbia is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are $20 per car.

  • Mount Vernon is open daily, including Christmas Day. You can take a candlelight tour of the mansion, and visit with Aladdin the Camel. Tickets are $17 for adults.

  • ICE featuring 'Twas the Night Before Christmas at National Harbor is open Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Adults are $34, Kids age 3-11 are $27.

  • Looking for holiday lights? The Gaithersburg Winter Lights Festival at Seneca Creek State Park is open on Christmas Eve (closed Christmas Day). Admission is $12.
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