Three DC Christmas sights, markets, and events to enjoy right now!

US Botanic Gardens next to the Capitol

The US Botanic Gardens will be all decked out for DC Christmas. Every year, the gardens showcase a collection of DC landmarks made from plant materials. This year a new landmark, Union Station, has been added to the collection. These plant-based monuments are set in a display of heirloom and newly developed poinsettia varieties.

Plus, take a train ride across America as the garden’s annual holiday show Season’s Greenings showcases train stations! Plant-based recreations of iconic train stations from across the United States will be represented in the train room. Explore classic stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, St. Louis’ Union Station, and many more. Join us as we celebrate the holidays and America’s railroad history.

This train display is a video taken last year. This year the display is all new and it includes models made of pieces of plants of train stations across America. Here is a link to a booklet about the different train stations that can be seen in this year’s display.

DC ChristmasThe best holiday markets in DC

Washington, DC, has a phenomenal number of Christmas Markets. These marktets can be found in Maryland, Virginia, and downtown. Other Christmas fairs can be visited in the surrounding countryside from Sugarloaf in Maryland to Middleburg’s quaint streets in the midst of horse country.

There’s really nothing worse than fighting traffic, searching for parking, and spending hours at the mall, only to go home virtually empty-handed without anyone crossed off your list. It’s the kind of thing that will turn even the jolliest elf into a full-blown Scrooge. Sure, there’s online shopping, but that doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, and who knows when your gifts will actually arrive? This year, ditch your normal shopping routine, and visit any one of DC’s many holiday markets with one-of-a-kind items, entertainment, and tasty goodies to help fuel your day of browsing.

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DC ChristmasChristmas at Mount Vernon — complete with a camel (there’s a story behind that)

A camel walked into Mount Vernon … sounds like the beginning of a rather offbeat joke. However, such is not the case. On Dec. 29, 1787, our nation’s soon-to-be first president, at home on his estate in Alexandria, Virginia, played host to a rather exotic animal for the holidays.

I first heard this DC Christmas story from a friend of mine who works at Mount Vernon. Every year, the estate brings in Aladdin the camel for its Candlelight Christmas festivities in an attempt to recreate life and experiences from Washington’s time. I thought it quite fascinating that Washington had such a tradition and figured that perhaps he employed a live nativity for his 18th century holiday celebrations or brought the camel in for the enjoyment of his step-grandchildren, George and Nelly Custis.

You and your family can enjoy a visit with Aladdin and a tour of George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon, at Christmas. Come for the candlelight tours and for the fireworks. It is historic Christmas magic.

READ MORE: What do camels, Mt. Vernon and sightseeing have in common?