A gingerbread man balloon floats over the crowd during the Reston Holiday parade.
Photo of the 2021 Reston Town Center Holiday Parade via restontowncenter.com

This Week’s Family-Friendly Events

‘Tis the season for turkey trots, tree lightings, and holiday cheer! We’ve got your list of 13 family-friendly things to do now through November 27.

Ellen Howes
Ellen Howes

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‘Tis the season for turkey trots, tree lightings, and holiday cheer! If you’re looking to spruce up your schedule around Thanksgiving, then we’ve got your list of 13 family-friendly things to do now through November 27.

Below you’ll find everything from holiday parades and train rides, to baby goat visits and historic candlelit tours:

Fairfax Turkey Trot

Runners and children take off at the starting line of a turkey trot.
Image via fxva.com

Gather with friends and neighbors on Thanksgiving morning for the 10th annual Fairfax Turkey Trot! Proceeds from the Fairfax Turkey Trot will be donated to Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread). For more than 30 years, Britepaths has provided help and hope to struggling, low-income residents in the Fairfax County area.

When: Thursday, 11/24 at 9 am
Price: $40 - online registration closes Monday, 11/21
Address: 9330 Pentland Place, Fairfax, VA 22031
Click here to register.

31st Annual Virginia Run Turkey Trot

Runners take off at the start line of the Virginia Run Turkey Trot.
Image of the 2016 Virginia Run Turkey Trot via connectionnewspapers.com

Founded in 1989, the Virginia Run Turkey Trot welcomes participants into the holiday season by promoting a spirit of community. This year, runners and families are invited back to this beloved tradition, gathering for a special day of turkey hats, dogs with feathered coats, and the excitement of the race. The Trot has raised roughly 1 million dollars for charity since its inception. Held on Thanksgiving, it is not just a race, but a reminder of what really matters.

When: Thursday, 11/24 at 8 am
Price: $45 to participate in the 5k if you register by Tuesday, 11/22. Price increases to $50 on race day. $5 to participate in the 2k walk.
Address: 15355 Wetherburn Court, Centreville, VA US 20120
Find out more and register on their website.

Reston Holiday Parade

A festive holiday parade marches through a town center.
Image via restontowncenter.com

For its 31st year, the Reston Holiday Parade will return to Reston Town Center this Friday beginning at 11 am. The celebration will feature balloons, marching bands, antique cars, and more! The half-mile parade ends with the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus via horse-drawn carriage. Consistently named one of the Top 10 holiday parades in the nation by USA Today. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will return to Reston Town Center in the evening for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 6 pm at Fountain Square.

When: Friday, 11/25 at 11 am
Price: Free
Address: Reston Town Center, 11900 Market St., Reston, VA 20190
Find out more here.

Holiday Train Rides at Reston Town Center

A mini train ride passes through a festive town center.
Image of Reston Town Center via Eventbrite

Beginning this Friday and continuing throughout the holiday season, enjoy a magical mini-train ride through Reston Town Center!

When: Begins Friday, 11/25 from 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Price: $20/reservation. One reservation accommodates up to 4 people.
Address: Reston Town Center, 11900 Market St., Reston, VA 20190
Reserve your spot here.

Tour Mount Vernon by Candlelight

A family interacts with a character actor at Mount Vernon during a candlelight tour.
Image via mountvernon.org

Celebrate the holidays at George Washington’s Mount Vernon at a special event perfect for the whole family! Visit with Mrs. Washington and other 18th-century residents of Mount Vernon in a 45-minute candlelit tour of the estate. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about holiday traditions of 18th-century Virginia, and hear stories of Christmases past from costumed character actors portraying Washington’s family and friends, and enjoy complimentary ginger cookies, spiced cider, and carolers. Plus, greet Aladdin, the Christmas camel, and participate in 18th-century dancing in the Greenhouse.

When: Select dates beginning Friday, 11/25 with ticket entry times for either 5:15 pm or 5:30 pm.
Price: Member prices are $26/adult and $18/youth. Non-member prices are $36/adult and $28/youth.
Address: George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon, VA 22121
Learn more and purchase tickets here.

Holiday Tree Lighting & Santa Firetruck Parade

Crowds gather for the tree lighting at Mosaic District in Fairfax, Va.
Image via mosaicdistrict.com by Katie Bucklew

Ring in the holiday season with a merry and bright holiday parade and tree-lighting celebration with Mosaic! Families are invited to greet Saint Nick as he spreads holiday cheer and makes his way through Mosaic on a firetruck and greets onlookers. Visitors can enjoy live entertainment before the parade, meet and greet Santa in the Target lobby following the tree lighting, and catch a screening of Dr. Seuss’ “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” in Strawberry Park.

When: Friday, 11/25. Live entertainment from 4:30 pm - 6:30 pm; holiday parade from 6:30 pm - 6:45 pm; tree lighting at 7 pm; screening of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at 7:30 pm.
Price: Free
Address: Mosaic District, 2910 District Ave., Fairfax, VA 22031
Find out more on their website.


Twinkling holiday lights wrap around trees and signs at the Smithsonian National Zoo.
Image via nationalzoo.si.edu by Nicholas Karlin

The colorful glow of Washington, DC’s beloved Smithsonian’s National Zoo holiday tradition returns on select nights beginning this week! Join the thousands of visitors who make ZooLights a part of their annual holiday tradition. A free, ticketed, event, ZooLights includes live music performances, tasty winter treats, and plenty of opportunities for holiday shopping. Environmentally friendly LED lights and dozens of glowing animal lanterns transform the Zoo into a winter wonderland!

When: Select nights beginning Friday, 11/25 through Friday, 12/30 from 5 pm - 9 pm
Price: Free, but entry passes are required. Parking is $30.
Address: National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
Get your pass here.

Winter Walk of Lights

A park and gazebo decorated in holiday lights.
Image via novaparks.com by William B. Folsom

Another beloved holiday light display is still going strong! Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights takes visitors on a half-mile stroll through the enchanting Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, featuring lighted nature themes and animated displays along a paved wheelchair and stroller-accessible trail. Guests can warm up with a hot beverage (with or without spirits) and finish out the evening with s’mores.

When: Happening now through Sunday, 1/8/2023. Open from 5:30 pm - 10 pm
Price: Free for children ages 2 and younger. Everyone else must have a ticket. Ticket prices depend on the day, but range from $5-$18.
Address: Meadowlark Botanical Gardens, 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct, Vienna, VA 22182
See all the details here.

Christmas Fair & Holiday Craft Show

Handmade soaps for sale at a craft fair.
Image via Unsplash by Kristina Balic

Join the Manassas Museum for a holiday craft show featuring more than 80 artisans, crafters, and small businesses! Hosted on the lawn of the Manassas Museum, you’ll find jewelry, bath & body products, candles, home decor, and more. This rain-or-shine event is family-friendly, and admission is free.

When: Saturday, 11/26 from 10 am - 3 pm
Price: Free
Address: Manassas Museum, 9101 Prince William St., Manassas, VA 20110
Learn more here.

Turkey Walk at Ellanor C. Lawrence Park

A bridge along a walking trail in Ellanor C. Lawrence Park in Northern Virginia.
Image of Ellanor C. Lawrence Park via funinfairfaxva.com

Stretch your legs post-Thanksgiving and head out to Ellanor C. Lawrence Park to discover the wild turkey’s habits and secret ways during a walk in the cedar forest. Families can look for wild turkeys! This event is recommended for participants ages 4 and up, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

When: Saturday, 11/26 from 10 am - 11 am
Price: $8/participant
Address: Ellanor C. Lawrence Park, 5040 Walney Rd., Chantilly, VA 20151
Register here.

Thanksgiving Barks & Brews Festival ft. Encanto

Shipgarten biergarden before opening.
Image Shipgarten before any visitors via ffxnow.com

Join Shipgarten on Saturday for a Thanksgiving Barks & Brews Festival! Enjoy live music and activities for the whole family. Adults can enjoy beer samplings brewery reps meet-and-greet, and more, while the whole family can meet Bruno, Mirabel, and Isabella from Encanto (thanks to character performances from Princess Parties DC), as well as enjoy face painting, crafts, and games throughout the day!

When: Saturday, 11/26 from 1 pm - 6 pm
Price: Free
Address: Shipgarten, 7581 Colshire Dr., McLean, VA 22102
See more details and RSVP here.

Baby Goat & Bunny Snuggle and Bottle Feed

A young boy bottle feeds a baby goat.
Image via Eventbrite

Get in some snuggles with adorable baby farm animals. Join Little Goat Farm at the Lake on Saturday for a chance to bottle-feed these loveable creatures. The goats will be dressed up for the holidays, making for a great photo op!

When: Saturday, 11/26 from 2 pm - 3 pm
Price: Free for children ages 4 and younger. $40 for all other attendees.
Address: Little Goat Farm at the Lake, 8954 Burwell Rd., Nokesville, VA 20181
See the full list of animals and get your tickets here.

CityCenterDC Holiday Tree Lighting

Crowds gather with holiday cheer for the CityCenterDC tree lighting.
Image via citycenterdc.com

Join CityCenterDC for their Annual Holiday Tree Lighting Celebration in The Park at CityCenter. Visitors will be met by the 75-foot tree, one of the largest in the city, decorated with more than 150,000 lights and 4,500 ornaments. The festivities will be emceed by NBC 4 Anchor Eun Yang, with a special performance by Elan Artists seven-piece dance band, The Revels. In addition to the tree and performances, guests can also enjoy face painting and balloon art, sweet and savory treats from CityCenterDC favorites, and a few surprises along the way that will have everyone dreaming of a whimsical snow-filled holiday.

When: Saturday, 11/26 from 6 pm - 7 pm
Price: Free
Address: CityCenterDC, 825 10th St. NW, Washington, DC 20001
Click here to learn more.

EventsCentrevilleDCFairfaxManassasNational ZooOutdoorsRestonWinter

Ellen Howes

Ellen is a bookworm, runner, and proud auntie. She makes her home in DC and can usually be found somewhere in Rock Creek Park.