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November 17, 2011 Published in Holiday Happenings

2011 Holiday Events In Alexandria, Virginia: A Top 10 Christmas Town

Alexandria, Virginia is famous for its holiday traditions and festivities. See why Alexandria was named a Top 10 Christmas Town by HGTV and take part in special events throughout the season. Feel transported by an old fashioned sense of holiday wonder as you celebrate, dine and shop on America’s historic main streets.

For parades, historic candlelight tours, tree lightings, visits with Santa and more, check out the listings below or go for even more on Alexandria’s event calendar.


December 2 & 3, 2011
41st Annual Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend
Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: Free for Parade and Marketplace; $75 Taste of Scotland; $35 Designer Tour of Homes

Even the dogs wear tartans during the annual Scottish Christmas Walk in Alexandria, Virginia. On Saturday, December 3, more than 100 Scottish clans dressed in colorful tartans will parade through the streets of Old Town. They'll be joined by pipe and drum bands from around the region, as well as terriers and hounds of every description. The parade is free. Other events of the weekend include A Christmas Marketplace and A Taste of Scotland on December 2, and the Campagna Center’s Holiday Designer Tour of Homes on December 3.

December 3, 2011
12th Annual Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights
Boat Parade 6 p.m. Dockside festivities 4 p.m.
Alexandria's Historic Waterfront at the foot of Cameron Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: Free!

Alexandria's harbor lights up when more than 50 illuminated boats cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. Festivities begin at the Alexandria City Marina behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center at 4 p.m. with live performances and Santa arriving by fireboat at 4:15 p.m. to take free photos with kids and canines. The boat parade begins at 6 p.m.

December 31, 2011
First Night Alexandria
Performances: 7 p.m.; Venues throughout Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314
Multimedia Finale: George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria, VA 22301
Admission: $15 before December 21; $20 after. Children 12 and under are free.

This annual New Year's Eve bash takes over Old Town Alexandria with 100 live performances at 18 indoor venues, plus the Third Annual Fun Hunt, children's face painting and games, and a multimedia finale spectacular at the George Washington Masonic Memorial. Performances start at 7 p.m. throughout Old Town.


November 25, 2011
City of Alexandria Tree Lighting Ceremony
7 p.m.
Market Square, 301 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: FREE!

As the official kick off to the holiday season, the City tree is lighted. Entertainment features a visit from Santa, a performance of Santa’s Frosty Follies by the Metropolitan Fine Arts Center, caroling and a community sing along.

November 25, 2011
Alexandria Black Friday Sale and Festivities
6 a.m. and all day

Alexandria is rolling out the red carpet for shoppers on Black Friday with free parking at meters and in City-owned garages and parking lots, plus early bird hours and deep discounts at dozens of locally owned stores. Shop as early as 6 a.m. and warm up with a hot beverage and breakfast from some of Old Town's charming cafés. Stay for the City’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony at 7 p.m.

Nov. 26 – Dec. 18, 2011
Santa Claus is Coming to Old Town
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., noon-5 p.m. Sun. Special parade day schedule Sat., Dec. 3, 1-6 p.m.
210 S. Union St.
Admission: $15 for 5x7 photo

Come to Old Town Alexandria to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus have photos taken starting the Saturday after Thanksgiving and any Saturday and Sunday until Christmas. The cost for pictures is $15 for a 5x7 print.

December 1, 2011
Torpedo Factory Art Center Holiday Open House
6 to 9 p.m.
Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: FREE!

Add a little Aloha to your holidays at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s annual Holiday Open House! Wear your favorite Hawaiian outfit and enjoy refreshments and live music by the Aloha Boys as you shop for one-of-a-kind gifts. A Holiday Gift Guide will be available for visitors with unique gift ideas from Torpedo Factory artists and galleries for everyone on your list. Bring non-perishables food to contribute to our food drive benefitting Carpenter's Shelter.

December 2 – 4, 2011
16th Annual Holiday Market at Del Ray Artisans
Friday, December 2, 6 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, December 3, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, December 4, 12 to 4 p.m.
Del Ray Artisans, 2704 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22301
Admission: FREE!

Join us for the 16th annual Holiday Market at Del Ray Artisans! The Market offers unique handmade fine arts and crafts from 20 exhibitors (including pottery/ceramics, photography, jewelry, cloth, paper crafts, and glass). All exhibitors are DRA artists and artisans, and all crafts are handmade.

December 2, 2011
Holiday on the Avenue in Del Ray
5:45 to 10 p.m.
Del Ray Farmer's Market at Mt. Vernon Ave. and E. Oxford Ave., Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: Free!

Join us for the annual Del Ray holiday tree lighting, visit with Santa and lighting of the luminaries; a holiday tradition in Alexandria. Carols begin at 5:45 pm and hot chocolate, hot cider and cookies will be provided. At 6 p.m. sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" when Santa arrives! Santa will lead you down Mt. Vernon Avenue to enjoy the luminaries lining the street to where he will sit and hear what children want for Christmas. Candy canes for the children and photos can be taken on Santa's lap. Stroll down Mt. Vernon Ave. where thousands of luminaries will be lit from Mt. Vernon & Commonwealth down to Luray Avenue until 10 p.m. Stop by one of the many businesses that will be staying open until 9 p.m. as part of the Holiday celebration.

December 10 & 11, 2011
Historic Alexandria Candlelight Tours
Saturday, December 10, 6 to 9 p.m.; Sunday, December 11, 3 to 6 p.m.
Gadsby's Tavern Museum and three other sites, 134 North Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: $20 adults/$15 seniors/$5 kids
Special pre-sale discount if tickets purchased before December 1.

Take a break from the fast pace of the season and experience the unique charm and history at Old Town Alexandria's most popular holiday event. As part of the Civil War Sesquicentennial events, experience 1860s Alexandria during the holidays. Tour Gadsby's Tavern Museum, Carlyle House, Lee-Fendall House and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum by candlelight and enjoy seasonal decorations, entertainment and light refreshments. Shuttle among the sites included.

December 10, 2011
Christmas in Camp Holiday Open House at Fort Ward
12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site 4301 W. Braddock Road, Alexandria, VA 22304
Admission: $2/adult, $1/child

Join a Civil War Santa-era at this family-fun holiday event that explores how Christmas was observed during the Civil War. The program features living-history interpreters, a Victorian Christmas tree, period music, refreshments, readings of “The Night Before Christmas” and a patriotic Santa Claus inspired by Thomas Nast’s Civil War cartoon. Guided tours of the fort, weather permitting.

December 10, 2011
“The Black Candle: A Kwanzaa Celebration” Film Screening
4:30-6:30 p.m.
Alexandria Black History Museum, 902 Wythe Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: Free!

This vibrant documentary from M.K. Asante uses Kwanzaa as a vehicle to explore and celebrate the African-American experience. Filmed across the United States, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, “The Black Candle” is a timely illumination on why the seven principles of Kwanzaa are so important to African Americans today. Narrated by Maya Angelou, it traces the holiday’s growth out of the Black Power Movement in the 1960s to pan-African holiday embraced by 40 million celebrants.

December 18, 2011
Holiday Favorites with the Colonial Handbell Ringers
2 - 3 p.m. and 4 - 5 p.m.
The Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: Free!

Join the Colonial Handbell Ringers as they present their festive holiday musical show! Get into the holiday spirit as you listen – and sing along – with their performance of holiday classics using a long set of Whitechapel bells. Two one-hour shows! First at 2 p.m. and then repeated at 4 p.m.

December 23, 2011
Breakfast with Santa
8:30 - 10:30 a.m.
Union Street Public House, 121 S. Union Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Admission: $10/child, $20/adult

The Old Town Boutique District (OTBD) will cap off the holiday season with a send-off Breakfast with Santa on Friday, December 23. This will be the last opportunity for children to share their Christmas wishes with Santa before he heads back to the North Pole. Tickets for Breakfast with Santa can be purchased on the OTBD’s website. The breakfast will be held from 8:30-10:30 a.m. on Friday, December 23 at the Union Street Public House. The cost is $10/child, $20/adult and includes a breakfast buffet, craft stations, cookie decorating. Guests are welcome to take their own photos with Santa.

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