From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Merry Christmas from the Harbor!

Potomac Express in Atrium
Potomac Express in Atrium

Seems like just yesterday that I was racking my brain about what I was going to include in the July Harbor column and now I sit here pulling out all of the holiday stuff! Those of you who have been reading this column on a regular basis know that I regained my Christmas spirit a couple years ago after a stretch of leaning more toward the “Grinch” side the of isle. Last year was the discovery of The Elf on the Shelf for my great nephew and the year before that I credit the Shrek & Friends (most specially Puss ‘n Boots) themed ICE show here at the Harbor. Last month we gave you a preview of this year’s ICE extravaganza at the Gaylord, Frosty the Snowman, and once again it doesn’t disappoint.

While I am not a fan of Christmas decorations, tree lightings, etc. happening BEFORE Thanksgiving, I have to admit that it does give way to making this December column a little more interesting since we go to press before the bird is on the platter.

This means that we had the opportunity to see Frosty in action along with all of the other fun things that are going on here for the next 4 weeks. The photos on these pages don’t really do the ice sculptures justice. And….they look even “cooler” when you can hear the music in the background and see the expressions on the kids (young and old) faces as they walk through the maze. I didn’t do the ice slide this year because we were on a timeline but I recommend that you take the opportunity. Just be sure to lean WAYYY back on your parka (provided by the Gaylord) so that you get up to maximum speed!

Gingy – yet another fabulous character of Shrek legend – holds gingerbread house decorating sessions (see Gaylord ad in this section) during Christmas on the Potomac at the resort. I have a kit in hand right now and am going to make the attempt at going it alone in the privacy of my condo. Didn’t want a bunch of little kids to show me up! This activity is for all ages but there is a fun train ride in the atrium for the little ones called the Potomac Express and, of course, Santa with a photo op as well.

The Harbor looks a bit different this year than it did last year with the addition of The Capitol Wheel and several new retail shops. Expanding the dining, we welcomed Redstone Grill and Walrus Oyster and Ale House this spring and fall. Both ad a new element of fare and atmosphere.

The Harbor has added two fire pit areas aka “Warming Stations” in two locations during the holiday season. One in the market area on American Way and the other on the pier running out toward the Capitol Wheel. It is rumored that you can pick up a “Smeeps” ( smores made with Peeps instead of plain marshmallows) kit at the Peep store on the waterfront and roast them at your leisure at either station. I may even try that out. These are nice new additions to the 2014 holiday events. The station by the Wheel is covered and has a concession stand offering local sweets and hot and cold beverages. This is a nice place to stop in and grab something while watching the movies on the big screen!

While you are in the Harbor please take time to patronize those advertisers who regularly contribute in order for us to keep this section alive: Public House Restaurant, Harrington’s Pub and Kitchen, Gaylord Hotel & Resort and Stonewall Kitchen.

Remember that you can take the water taxi from Old Town to the Harbor and visa versa. Would be a great day if you start out with the history and shopping in Old Town and finish with the nightly tree lighting at the Gaylord and the Harbor after a relaxing 20 minute ride on the Potomac. Lots to do on both sides of the river!

Merry Christmas to everyone!

National Harbor Calendar of Events through Dec. 20th

Photos with Santa at The Capital Wheel
Every Saturday through the 20th
2pm – 4pm
The Capital Wheel
On The Waterfront
Get your photo taken with Santa before you ride The Capital Wheel in enclosed, temperature-controlled gondolas. Photos available for purchase with admission to The Capital Wheel; visit for ticket pricing.


Every Saturday through the 20th
12-pm – 2 pm
Enjoy a festive carousel ride with Santa at National Harbor’s Carousel. $5 per child for unlimited rides; adults ride free when accompanying a paid child.


Ongoing Holiday Programming
Every Saturday through the 20th
Noon – 6:00pm
National Harbor Plaza
Warm up at one of National Harbor’s fire pits and enjoy live holiday entertainment and holiday movie screenings every Saturday during the holiday season.

1pm – 2pm and 4pm – 5pm: Musical performances
2pm – 4pm: Holiday Movie on the Jumbotron at the Plaza

12/6: The Muppet Christmas Carol

12/13: The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol

12/20: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

National Harbor Events through Dec. 21st

The Harbor Holiday Market on American Way
Every weekend through the 21st
12pm – 5pm
Shop the seasonal Farmer’s Market, now with Christmas trees, wreaths, holiday greenery, and more. Warm up with hot chocolate, winter treats and seasonal goodies from National Harbor’s retailers and have fun making your own “Smeeps”.
Visit for more information and holiday itineraries.

Written by: Lani Gering

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