The COVID-19 pandemic has created a lot of challenges and misery in 2020, and questions still linger about when it will be safe to return to normal activities and start seeing friends and family regularly again.
With the holiday season upon us, the impact of the pandemic is being felt a little bit stronger, and people are trying to find ways to celebrate and take part in some of their favorite holiday traditions.
The problem is, many have already been cancelled due to safety concerns. That means, no Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend in Alexandria this year, no Christmas in Middleburg celebration and even the Jingle on Lake Anne in Reston is taking the year off.
But don’t despair. We’ve found plenty of fun things that people can do during the holidays to keep traditions alive and keep people from having a Blue Christmas.
Meadowlark Gardens Winter Walk of Lights at the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna will once again be presenting a spectacular holiday light display, and is not letting COVID ruin the festive favorite. Enjoy a half-mile walk through a dazzling garden trail adorned with thousands of sparkling lights featuring outdoor themes and animated displays spread along a paved, wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail.
Even when the weather is chilly, the Winter Walk is a fun way to bundle up and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. To protect the health and safety of employees and guests, the Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is following social distancing standards recommended by the Center for Disease Control. Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights is open nightly Nov. 11 through Jan. 3, 2021.
Fairfax will be holding its annual Festival of Lights and Carols with socially-distant caroling and a Christmas tree lighting at Old Town Square, 10415 North St., beginning at 5:30 p.m. S’mores and hot cider will be available. A holiday market will accompany the festival during the weekend.
While the City of Fairfax’s 34th Annual Holiday Craft Show has been canceled, those behind the show are planning a virtual craft show so people can still talk with artisans and get some great gifts for the holidays. As of press time, details were still being worked out, but it was believed it would be held sometime in late November. For information, visit www.fairfaxva.gov.
The 30th Annual Reston Holiday Parade (CANCELED) is currently scheduled to take place at the Reston Town Center from 11 a.m. to noon on Nov. 27. The day will include plenty of “community, charity and cheer” and will include a visit from Santa Claus himself. As always, the day will include a sing-along, a horse drawn carriage and a tree lighting to end the event.
Reston Town Center will also be home to the numerous holiday performances by local performers and groups at the Promenade Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 5-20, from noon to 4 p.m.
The performance schedule will be released in late November and available at www.restoncommunitycenter.com.
The Bull Run Festival of Lights has been a Northern Virginia tradition for many during the holidays, and since participants stay in their own cars while viewing the lights, COVID will not make much of an impact.
The Festival of Lights boasts 2.5 miles illuminated by holiday light displays and is the season’s best, brightest and socially distant activity to enjoy with your family and friends. This year, Bull Run has added three extra weeks to the showings, and it will be open from Nov. 6 through Jan. 10.
Due to the pandemic, fire pits, merchandise sales, photos with Santa, the craft area and indoor food and drink sales will not take place this year, but in its place, guests are invited to enjoy a walk through an area full of lights and take photos and even ride camels. The 2020 Snowflake Stampede will also not take place this year, and the decision on the winter carnival will be made at a later date.
The Gaylord Resort’s Christmas on the Potomac is always a fun family gathering, as there are acres of decorations and holiday activities and attractions designed for making lasting holiday memories. As of press time, no decision had been made on whether the annual ICE at National Harbor attraction, which takes place in a chilly 9°F, will take place. Past ICE shows have featured holiday scenes from The Grinch and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, made from 2 million pounds of ice, and there’s also ICE slides to enjoy. Everyone is hopeful that it can still take place with socially-distance practices in place.
For those wanting to venture to D.C., the US Botanic Garden always has an amazing holiday display, which begins on Thanksgiving Day, and features unique décor and the largest living decorated indoor tree in the D.C. region. There’s also an elaborate model train display featuring iconic train stations from around the United States.
Outdoor enthusiasts, or those who just want to start 2021 on a healthier path, can take part in First Day Hikes at all 38 Virginia State parks on Jan. 1. An initiative of America’s State Parks, First Day Hikes offers everything from short strolls to vigorous hikes, and encourages everyone to start the New Year off in the great outdoors.
There will also be plenty of houses and neighborhoods decking out their homes for the holidays, so jump in the car with family and take a ride at night and view some of the great Christmas light displays in our neighborhoods. We at VivaTysons would love to see your displays, so visit our Facebook page and post photos, and let others know of where they can see fun and festive displays.
Please keep in mind that the world is ever-changing and COVID may impact some of the events mentioned above, so please check before making plans. Happy holidays to all!