Trees and lights help everyone get into the holiday spirit

Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., hosts a drive-through animated display of more than 1 million lights.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, the holiday season is here. As the nation turns its attention to the holidays, here are a few festive activities for the whole family to put everyone in the holiday spirit.

The National Christmas Tree Lighting and Pageant, Washington, D.C.

The 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting  was held Dec. 4 on the Ellipse near the White House. Now in its 92nd year, the event has grown into a nationally televised production with musical performances and a presidential message of peace.

Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., hosts a drive-through animated display of more than 1 million lights.
Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md., hosts a drive-through animated display of more than 1 million lights.

Visitors can enjoy the tree and surrounding displays the entire month of December, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. In addition to the large national tree, there is the Pathway of Peace, made up of smaller, decorated trees representing each state and territory of the United States. Performances by volunteer choirs, bands, and dancers will be held nightly throughout the month.

Festival of Lights, Upper Marlboro, Md.

With new, original animated displays every year, this 2-1/2-mile drive-thru view of more than a million holiday lights in Watkins Regional Park is a popular destination.

Admission to the park is $5 per car, and the festival is collecting non-perishable food to donate to local food banks. The lights will be on display Nov. 28–Jan.1, every night, 5:00–9:30pm.

Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, Vienna, Va.

Meadowlark’s magical walk of lights is now in its third year. The half-mile walk through the botanical garden has a display of more than a half million lights, which brings a lot of smiles and excited reactions from children of all ages.

“We sold 40,000 tickets last year. It was very popular,” said Keith Tomlinson, garden manager.

The show starts Nov. 14 and runs through the first Sunday in January.

There are big “fountains” of lights made to look like water, with animation to music. New this year is the tunnel of lights. There is also a nature walk, a flowing stream, and bird and water sounds.

Insider tip: Tomlinson recommends visiting during the week to save money, and to buy tickets online.

At the end of the trail, there is hot chocolate and a bonfire for roasting s’mores.

 

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