DC at Night

DC at Night

Monday, December 24, 2012

Ways to Keep Christmas Lasting a Little Longer

One of about 300 White House ornaments
For some, the yuletide season ends when, after a Christmas Day of unwrapping gifts and other holiday festivities, the tree lights are turned off and everyone gets snuggled up warm in their beds. Others try to extend the Santa season to, at the very least, New Year's Day. If you are in the second category and can make it to downtown DC, the historic Willard Hotel is a good place to continue Christmas.

The Willard Intercontinental has been observing the season in grand fashion since 1986 and has become a part of the holidays for thousands of DC-area families and visitors from all parts of the world.

The famous Willard tree
The center piece of the hotel's presentation is its grand 14-foot tree, which is dotted with more than 300 official White House Christmas ornaments from the past 30 years. The collectibles are issued each year by the White House Historical Association. This year's trinket, a charming classic car, honors the Taft White House, which was the 1st to embrace the automobile.

Good enough to eat 
Also in the lobby is an impressive edible recreation of an outdoor Willard scene created with great craft by Willard pastry chef Gary Hanlon.  And yes, you can lean close and smell the sweetness of the icing. You will also want to tour the rest of the 1st floor of the ornate Beaux-Arts building, where columns are encircled in greenery and ornaments and small trees line the halls.

Now you can experience the Willard's take on Christmas for free, but if you want something a little more memorable, you can pretend to be part of the cultured, formal wealthy set (unless you really are and then you don't have to pretend) and indulge yourself with a British-style high tea. The Holiday Afternoon Tea will be offered daily with the exception of New Year's Eve. Guests will experience elegant harp music throughout their tea experience. The price for Holiday Afternoon Tea is $42 for adults and $22 for children (ages 4 though 12). And for $56, you can add even more spirit to the adventure. That is the price for the Champagne tea.

Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
The Willard Hotel is only one suggestion for extending your Christmas in DC for free. Here are a few others.
  • Season's Greetings at the Botanical Garden features Holiday Magic, a unique exhibit including model trains, woodland fairy folk, and incredible replicas of some of Washington, DC's most famous buildings and monuments
  • From 5 until  9 p.m.,the National Zoo presents a seasonal display of thousands of sparkling animated lights, winter-themed crafts, ice sculpting demonstrations, choral groups, and storytellers.
  • The Washington, DC Church of Jesus Christ of Latter–day Saints, also known as the Mormon Temple, is open to all during the Christmas season. This impressive church and its surrounding grounds shine brightly with more than 450,000 sparkling Christmas lights. Each night, a different local musical group performs a live concert in a state-of-the-art theater. 
  • Christmas at Mt. Vernon and Mt. Vernon by candelight 

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