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Washington During December

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Washington is a great place to spend the Winter holidays. Here are some great things during the month. Some are holiday related and some are not. A more Christmas-focused calendar will be posted soon.

President Obama and the First Lady will light the National Christmas Tree on Dec. 1, 2011. The special lighting has taken place for 89 years. It takes place on the Ellipse in President’s Park. This year’s event will be hosted by television and radio personality Carson Daly, and include performances by will.i.am, Big Time Rush, Ellie Goulding, and Kermit the Frog. Tickets for the 4:30 p.m. event have already been distributed but it can be watched at online or on public broadcasting stations.

Old Town Alexandria will hold candlelight tours on Dec. 10 from 6 PM to 9 PM and Dec. 11 from 3 PM to 6 PM. You’ll experience the holidays during the 1860s, as you visit Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House, and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum, all by candlelight. Aside from seeing seasonal decorations, there will be some entertainment and light refreshments. A shuttle among the sites is included. The cost is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors (ages 65 and older), and $5 for children (ages 6-17). Tours leave from Gadsby’s Tavern Museum at 134 N. Royal St., Alexandria. Call 703-746-4242 for more information.

The Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor just outside of Washington in Maryland has already kicked off its infamous ice attraction. This year’s theme is DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar. Between now and Jan. 8, 2012, you can see what 2 million pounds of ice sculpted into scenes from the movie look like. The sculptures were hand crafted by artisans from as far away as China, who worked an entire month in 12-hour shifts. Adult ticket prices range from $25 to $35; children ages 4-12 are $20 to $30; seniors age 62 and older are $19 to $24; military adults are $22 to $32; children of military are $17 to $27; and children under 3 are free. Ticket prices range depending on the day of the week. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone at 301-965-4000.

The National Zoo in Washington recently kicked off its annual ZooLights event. Brightly-colored light displays can be seen throughout the zoo in the evenings for free. From Nov. 25, 2011 through Dec. 11, 2011, Zoo Lights will be on display Fridays through Sundays from 5 PM to 9 PM. And then from Dec. 16 through Jan. 1, ZooLights will be on every night except Dec. 24, 25 and 31, from 5 PM to 9 PM. The zoo will also have an ice skating rink available for 30-minute sessions for $5. Skates can be rented for $2. Other fees will include parking: $30 for nonmembers and $20 for members. If you take Metro, you can enter the zoo through the Connecticut Avenue or Harvard Street entrances.

The National Museum of American History opened “The First Ladies” exhibit that features 26 dresses and more than 160 other objects. The exhibit goes back to Martha Washington and has dresses from as recent as our current First Lady. It also includes White House china and personal possessions. Some of the dresses include Grace Coolidge’s flapper-style evening gown, Jackie Kennedy’s yellow-silk gown worn to the first state dinner in 1961, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s slate blue crepe gown worn to the 1933 inaugural ball.

Jersey Boys, a musical about the Four Seasons, is playing through December until Jan. 7, 2012. Playing at the National Theatre, the performance has already received rave reviews. Tickets range from $36.50 to $151.50 and can be bought online.

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