Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Merrifield Garden Center’s Ladies Night Out

November 19, 2015

This is one of my favorite events of the holiday season, and it’s free! Visit one of three Merrifield Garden Center locations (I’ll be at the one in Merrifield) for a fun evening of beautiful Christmas tree displays, shopping, music, appetizers, and wine tasting tonight from 6 pm to 9 pm.

Don’t forget your camera!

For more information, visit Merrifield Garden Center online


Ladies Night Out tonight at Merrifield Garden Center

November 21, 2013


Mark your calendar for these DC-area holiday events

November 13, 2013

IMG_1271 All events listed are free, unless otherwise noted.  There are plenty of other holiday offerings, but I thought I would list just the free or affordable ones here. 

I will update the list and I appreciate submissions and recommendations.  For updates, check the left side bar of the Cool Yule Blog.

Holiday Events

Friday, November 1 – 30

Holiday Mail for Heroes from The Red Cross. Tysons Corner Mall, Level 2 (outside of Bloomingdale’s and American Girl). Send a holiday card to service members, veterans and military families Located on level 2 outside of Bloomingdale’s and American Girl. Hours:

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday 2-6PM
  • Tuesday, Thursday 10AM-2PM
  • Saturday, Sunday 11AM-5PM
  • Black Friday 11/29 9AM-3PM

Friday, November 15

  • 5:30 – 10 p.m. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights, Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, Vienna, VA. Through January 5th. More than 500,000 LED lights and displays transform the gardens into a winter wonderland, including a flowing stream of softly glowing lights, two-story animated fountain, and Gingerbread Village. $8 kids; $13 adults.

Thursday, November 21

Friday, November 22

  • 3 p.m. – 10 p.m. Busch Gardens Christmas Town in Williamsburg, VA opens this evening, and is open weekends and select weeks through December 31st, tickets are $30.

Saturday, November 23

Monday, November 25

  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Cathedral Creche Exhibition: What Child Is This? National Cathedral, Washington, DC. The annual exhibition of nativity scenes from around the world runs through January 12, 2014. Located in the crypt (lower level), just outside Bethlehem Chapel.

Tuesday, November 26

  • 8 p.m. CBS. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer is on TV tonight.

Thursday, November 28, Happy Thanksgiving! Happy Hanukkah!

Friday, November 29, Black Friday

Saturday, November 30, Small Business Saturday

Sunday, December 1, First Day of Advent

Monday, December 2

Wednesday, December 4

  • 10 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. ASL-Signing Santa, Fair Oaks Mall. American Sign Language Signing Santa and Mrs. Claus, welcoming children who are deaf and hard of hearing to the interactive Ice Palace experience.

Friday, December 6, St. Nicholas Day

Saturday, December 7, Pearl Harbor Day

  • 10 a.m. Decorating with Fresh Greens and Flowers, Merrifield Garden Center, Fair Oaks. Learn how to use fresh cut pine, holly, cedar, boxwood, magnolia and other plants to fill your home with the fragrance and beauty of the season. Learn how to combine these greens with fresh flowers and complementary accents in holiday centerpieces, garlands and wreaths.
  • 10 a.m. Create a Holiday Theme, Merrifield Garden Center, Gainesville. Learn how to create holiday displays with a unifying theme throughout your home, from an inviting entryway and elegant tabletop to your Christmas tree and gift wrapping.
  • 12 Noon Fairfax Festival of Lights and Carols, with tree lighting ceremony 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. Live holiday music, hot cider, s’mores by the Yule log, caroling and lighting of the Christmas tree in the winter wonderland on the grounds of the Kitty Pozer Garden. Animated lights run through January 5, 2014.
  • 4 p.m. Wolf Trap Holiday Sing-A-Long Wolf Trap National Park – The Filene Center 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA. This annual musical celebration hosts a performance by the United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with choir and vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington area. Bring a candle and join the tradition of exiting the Filene Center with a candlelight processional during the last verse of “Silent Night.” There will also be a “Jing-A-Long” during the singing of “Jingle Bells,” so remember to bring a candle, a bell, and a new, unwrapped toy!
  • 7 p.m. Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, Old Town Alexandria, VA (waterfront).

Sunday, December 8, Second Day of Advent

Wednesday, December 12, Poinsettia Day

Friday, December 14

  • 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. Tysons Corner Center German Christmas Market. Also Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. In partnership with the German Embassy and the city of Dresden, Tysons Corner Center offers a unique outdoor artisan holiday market, German fare, and entertainment.

Saturday, December 14

  • 10:30 a.m. Christmas Story film for children 8 and up (2007, set in Lapland), East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing holiday packages by standard post.

Sunday, December 15, Third Day of Advent

  • 11:30 a.m. Christmas Story film for children 8 and up (2007, set in Lapland), East Building Concourse, Auditorium, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. Claude Moore Wassail, Claude Moore Colonial Farm 6310 Georgetown Pike, McLean, VA. Gather in the Farm’s orchard to wassail the trees with singing, dancing and chants to ensure a “howling crop.” Enjoy hot spiced cider, sugar cakes, a bonfire and 18th century games. Weather permitting – call ahead (703) 442-7557.
  • 5 p.m. – 6:15 p.m. Christmas in the Time of Jane Austen, Sully Plantation, Chantilly. See how Virginians celebrated the holidays while we were still an English colony. Learn dance steps, play a game of chance and take home a recipe for a great cake. House tour is 45 min. outside festivities available till 8 p.m. This event has a $10 fee.

Friday, December 20

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing holiday greeting cards

Saturday, December 21, First Day of Winter

  • Cool Yule Tip: Today is the USPS recommended deadline for mailing Priority Mail packages.

Sunday, December 22, Fourth Day of Advent

Tuesday, December 24, Christmas Eve

Wednesday, December 25, Merry Christmas!

  • National museums are closed today but Mount Vernon and the U.S. Botanic Garden are open.
  • 4 p.m. Vespers Service, National Cathedral
  • 5:15 p.m. Organ Recital, National Cathedral
  • 6 p.m. All-Star Christmas Day Jazz Jam concert, Kennedy Center

Thursday, December 26, Kwanzaa begins, Boxing Day

Tuesday, December 31, New Year’s Eve

Wednesday, January 1, Happy New Year!

Monday, January 6, Epiphany

  • Cool Yule Tip: You can buy authentic “King Cakes” at La Madeleine Bakery

Recurring Events

National Cathedral Creche Exhibit, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. through January 12.

Season’s Greenings at the U.S. Botanic Gardens, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on these dates: November 28 – January 5.

Zoo Lights at the National Zoo, 5 p.m. – 9 p.m, Nov 29 – January 1. Not open December 24, 25, or 31. More than 500,000 environmentally-friendly LED lights transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland. Lit animal silhouettes, musical light displays, and a new garden scene light sculpture.

Gallery Talk at The National Gallery of Art: The Christmas Story in Art 1 p.m. on these dates: December 6, 9, 11, 13, 17, 18, 21, 22 (50 minutes) West Building Main Floor, Rotunda

Visit with the Real Santa Claus at Merrifield Garden Center, Merrifield, VA 12-5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays, and 5 p.m.-8 p.m. on these dates: November 24-December 23, closed Mondays. Don’t miss the “press conference,” songs, an stories at the beginning of each session.

Millenium Stage Concerts at the Kennedy Center, 6 p.m. nightly. The holiday concerts are free but tend to be crowded. The good news is you can also watch them for free, live, online on the Kennedy Center website.

The Willard Hotel nightly choral concerts, 5:30 p.m.- 7 p.m. through December.

Pageant of Peace on The Ellipse: nightly musical performances, December 6 – January 1. Weeknight performances are 6 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. and weekend performances take place from 4 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. The National Tree and state trees may be viewed until 11 p.m.

Start your December off with a jingle with these holiday events today in the DC area

December 1, 2012

3874256_sHappy December!  There are a LOT of exciting holiday events going on today!

  • Holiday parade (actually right now) in Manassas and Scottish Walk parade in Old Town Alexandria. Santa flies in to the College Park Aviation Museum at noon and they will have model trains and crafts for kids
  • The National Postal Museum (next door to Union Station) has a free card making workshop today starting at 11 am
  • There is a free Swedish Christmas Bazaar at the Embassy of Sweden and a German Christmas market at the German School in DC
  • Bethesda has their Winter Wonderland festival today and tomorrow (Sunday) and on Sunday there will be ice carving demos in early afternoon.
  • At 4 pm Wolf Trap is having their annual Holiday Sing a Long (also free) but note it is today and not on Sunday like on previous years
  • Tonight at 7 pm there is the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights on the Potomac in Old Town Alexandria. That is really fun and pretty to see.

Like Plaid? Like Bagpipes? Scottish Christmas Walk this Saturday, December 3 in Alexandria, VA

December 2, 2011

Scottish Christmas Walk – Alexandria, Va.

The Annual Scottish Christmas Walk parade will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2011 at 10 a.m. The event honors Alexandria’s Scottish heritage.

More than 100 Scottish clans dressed in traditional tartans will march down King Street in Alexandria.

Call 703-746-3301 or visit for more information.

Light Up Rosslyn in Arlington, VA tonight at 5 pm

December 1, 2011

Every year, the high rise buildings in Rosslyn (the part of Arlington, Virginia nearest the Washington, DC border) illuminate their tippy-tops.  Did you know there is an annual lighting?  I didn’t either!  And guess what?  It’s tonight!

The Light Up Rosslyn ceremony will take place at 5:15 p.m. at 1100 Wilson Blvd., under the ABC 7/WJLA JumboTron.   After remarks, an assembly of dignitaries will flip the switch to light up the 40 the rooftops of 40 buildings in Rosslyn.

There will also be free music performances, hot chocolate, and chili.


Wolf Trap’s Free Annual Holiday Sing-A-Long is Sunday, 12/4

November 30, 2011

Highly recommended!

When: Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 4pm (come early to get a good seat and parking spot, gates usually open as early as 2:30 p.m.).  Metro buses will not be running to Wolf Trap for this event.

Where: Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, 1551 Trap Road, Vienna, VA

Wolf Trap’s Holiday Sing-A-Long, an annual musical celebration featuring “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band and a Sing-A-Long of Christmas carols and Hanukkah songs with a 400-member choir representing vocal groups from the metropolitan Washington D.C. area. One of the most moving parts of the event comes at the end: a candlelight recessional during the last verse of “Silent Night.”

Parking and seating are first come, first served at this free event, which is well-attended Expect crowds, and expect it to take a long while to get out of the parking lot — take the kids to the bathroom before you get in your car!  The gates open early — usually about 2:30 p.m. and refreshments (hot chocolate, cookies) are sold at the concessions.

Dress warmly (hats, mittens, scarves).  This is an outdoor event, and it gets really cold, even in the shelter of the (outdoor) Filene Center.  Also bring any jingle bells you have around the house.

Donations of new, unwrapped toys will be accepted at the park entrance for Toys for Tots.


25 Days of Christmas Celebrations: Free – $10

November 25, 2011
Crowds on the Ellipse in Washington, D.C., wat...

Image via Wikipedia

We are lucky to live in the Washington, DC area.  There are so many wonderful things to do around the holidays, and many of them are free.  If you plan it right and get your shopping done early, you never have to enter a a shopping mall at all in December, unless you really want to, of course.

Like many of you, I am on a budget.   Here are 25 things to do for the holidays that are free or cost less than $10. I intentionally picked events that tend not to be crowded, or dates and times where I have experienced fewer crowds, whenever possible.

Thursday, Dec 1. The line to see him IS really long.  But if you don’t have to speak to the man in the red suit in person, and can just peek in, poke your head in to see the real Santa Claus at Merrifield Garden Center in Merrifield, VA.  He does a little press conference (with a chimney as a podium) and poem and song performance at 5 p.m. that is not to be missed.  Then check out their beautifully decorated trees, inside.

Friday, December 2. Put on some holiday music and trim your Christmas tree.

Saturday, December 3. Bundle up and attend the Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, which gets underway at 6 p.m. FREE

Sunday, December 4.  Wolf Trap Sing-a-Long 4 p.m. Gates open at 2:30 p.m. for parking; no metro bus.  Vienna, VA. FREE

Monday, December 5. Send Christmas cards to 20 friends and relatives($8.80 for 20 stamps; cards for $1/pack at Target).  Would you like to send a Christmas Card to the President?  Address it: The President, The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20500.

Tuesday, December 6. Today is St. Nicholas Day.  Treat a child, or your inner child, to a video of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Wednesday, December 7. Take $10 and buy a few oranges, nylon Christmas ribbon (craft store) and a bottle of whole cloves (look at the dollar store or CVS for a big bottle that is inexpensive) and make Pomander Balls.  Poke the cloves in the oranges and thread the ribbon through the orange.  Nylon ribbon is important because it will not rot.  Display in a bowl or hang for scent.

Thursday, December 8. Bundle up and walk down King Street in Old Town Alexandria and look at the window decorations at night. Don’t forget to stop in at the Christmas Attic to see the amazing ornaments.  You can nip into La Madeleine or Starbucks on King Street and get something hot to drink (like peppermint hot chocolate!) if you get cold.

Friday, December 9. Relax at home.  Put on some holiday music and bake and freeze a batch or two of Christmas cookies.  I like the Betty Crocker cookie mixes that come in a bag, and they go on sale frequently.  Some people like to give cookies as gifts but I also think they’re nice to have on hand when people come over. Or have a cookie swap.

Saturday, December 10.   Enjoy a concert of carols in the National Gallery of Art, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. Santa arrives by fire truck at 4 p.m. in the Market Commons (Clarendon area) in Arlington, VA.

Sunday, December 11.  Attend an old-fashioned Wassail at Claude Moore Colonial Farm at 1 p.m. Check out the Gatehouse shop for gifts, which is open 10 a.m – 5 pm.

Monday, December 12. The Willard Hotel has free concerts everyday in December through the 23rd in their lobby from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.  This might be a good night to go.

Tuesday, December 13.  Take the metro to Foggy Bottom and take the Kennedy Center Shuttle to see a free Millenium Stage holiday concert.  Tonight, the show is provided by the Montgomery County Public Schools High Schools Senior Honors Jazz Ensemble.  They’re great!  If you can’t make it to the Kennedy Center, you can watch it live online.

Wednesday, December 14. Pile in the car and drive around to look at Christmas lights.

Thursday, December 15. Collect food from home and make a donation to your local food bank.  Food for Others accepts donations from 9:30 to 5:30.  Their address is 2938 Prosperity Avenue, Fairfax, VA 22031, right off Lee Highway in Merrifield, Virginia.  They accept

  • Canned meats – ham, turkey, chicken, tuna, and beef
  • Peanut butter and jelly/jam
  • Canned soup, stew, and chili
  • Cereal
  • Vegetables – fresh (in season) or canned
  • Fruit – fresh (in season) or canned
  • Beans – dried or canned
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Boxed Meals
  • Pasta
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Rice
  • Fruit Juice
  • Coffee and tea

Friday, December 16. Relax at home with a cup of peppermint tea, put on a fireplace DVD (these are as low as a dollar at Target), and read a classic Christmas story or holiday romance from the library.

Saturday, December 17. Go see the wreaths on the tombstones at Arlington Cemetery and pay your respects to the fallen.  Tour Arlington House between 9:30 am and 4:3o pm. FREE

Sunday, December 18. Go see the free holiday model train displays and Season’s Greenings, a display of seasonal plants, at the U.S. Botanic Gardens. Opens at 10 a.m., FREE.  This event is also open on Christmas Day, if you are looking for something to do.

On the way home, stop at the grocery store and pick up a poinsettia for yourself or for a homeb0und friend — they can be as inexpensive at this time of year.  They don’t like too much water, so be careful not to waterlog the plant.  Place near a sunny window, not too close to a direct heat source.

Monday, December 19.  Go see the Zoo Lights at the National Zoo. 5 – 9 p.m. I actually prefer the Cleveland Park stop rather than the Woodley Park/Zoo metro stop. FREE

Tuesday, December 20.  Go see the National Christmas Tree and state trees on the Ellipse in front of the White House. Stay for the performance. FREE (Metro: Federal Triangle)

Wednesday, December 21. Invite friends over for a holiday open house.  My favorite, bargain bubbly, Francois Montand Blanc de Blancs Brut, is about $10/bottle.

Thursday, December 22. Go to 7-11 and buy a cup of hot chocolate or coffee.  Take it to a cold Salvation Army bell ringer and put a dollar in the kettle.

Today is the last day of school before Winter break for Fairfax County Public School students, and school lets out 2 hours early.  Remember your child’s teachers and bus drivers with a card or small gift.

Friday, December 23. Relax at home with some egg nog or mulled cider.  Nutcracker Ballet tickets tend to be expensive — but you could rent the Nutcracker Ballet instant video for $1.99 on

Saturday, December 24. There’s a free concert at the Kennedy Center today at Noon.  But it may be very crowded.  If you’d rather avoid crowds, go anywhere but the mall or grocery store today.  How about ice-skating at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden or Pentagon Row?  Does Chinese take-out sound good?  It goes great with champagne and your favorite movie.

Sunday, December 25. Put on your Sunday best and attend the afternoon Vespers service at the National Cathedral (please don’t forget to remove your hat and speak softly in church). $5 is the suggested donation for people who tour the National Cathedral in a secular way.  You will also need money to park in the garage.  Stay afterwards for the organ recital.  If church isn’t your thing, the Kennedy Center has a free jazz concert at 6 pm today.

Reston Town Center Holiday Parade November 25

November 21, 2011

Parade begins at 11 a.m. on Friday, November 25 at Reston Town Center, Market Street and Freedom Drive, Reston, VA.

Line of highrises at Reston Town Center

Image via Wikipedia

Visits & Portraits with Santa
Times: 12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Location TBD
Any donation for a 5 x 7 portrait – all proceeds benefit a local non-profit.

Holiday Tree Lighting & Sing Along
Start Time: 6 p.m.
Watch as Santa and Mrs. Claus magically light up Reston Town Center and our holiday tree, then sing-along with the Reston Chorale and brass quintet.

Horse Drawn Carriage Rides around Reston Town Center
Times: 6:30 – 10 p.m.
$5 per person; children 5 and under ride free. Pick up in front of Talbots on Market Street. All proceeds benefit Volunteer Fairfax

Wine Tasting: Virginia Wine Pairings for Your Thanksgiving Feast, Sunday, 11/20

November 19, 2011

Olde Dominion Wine Shoppe in Occoquan, Virginia (408 Mill Street, Occoquan, VA 22125) (703) 494-1622 is having a free Thanksgiving Wine Tasting & Stock-up Sale on Sunday, November 20, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.   They will be offering tastes of six carefully selected local wines along with samples of turkey, ham, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

It would be a fantastic idea to make Virginia wine a part of your holiday meal, because we all know the first Thanksgiving was held in Virginia 🙂

In case you can’t  make it on Sunday, here are the wines they recommend, with notes:

North Gate Viognier, $19.95 (North Gate Vineyard, Purcellville, VA)

This Viognier starts with aromas of sweet jasmine and tropical fruit with a touch of vanilla and butterscotch. There is a nice balance of acidity and spice throughout, leading to a lingering finish with subtle hints of grapefruit.

James River Vidal Blanc, $16.95 (James River Cellars, Glen Allen, VA)

A fruity, off-dry wine (slightly sweet) with grapefruit and peach characteristics.

Rosemont Dry Rose, $14.95 (Rosemont Winery, LaCrosse, VA)

A dry, French style Rose’ with smoky aromas and hints of rose petal, apricot, and strawberries. A great wine to complement ham!

Lovingston Pinotage, $24.95 (Lovingston Winery, Lovingston, VA)

100% Pinotage with a lovely cherry bouquet that develops on the palate, complimented by silky tannin and round body. Terrific with Thanksgiving fare.
Trump/Kluge Simply Red, $15.95 (Trump Winery, Charlottesville, VA)

This Bordeaux-style blend is medium-bodied wine with fruit-filled expression. Nuances of blackberry and black currant with notes of spice and hints of licorice.
Gray Ghost Adieu, $26.95 (Gray Ghost Vineyards, Amissville, VA)

A late harvest Vidal Blanc with the rich peach, honey, Muscat and apricot aromas and flavors. A perfect after dinner wine with pumpkin pie!

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