From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

ICE, ICE Baby!

ICE, ICE Baby!


starlight-christmas-treeIt is officially the holiday season and we are celebrating big time in the Harbor. My very favorite event is here – ICE! If you have been following this column for the last several years you know that this is probably one of the Delmarva (DE, MD, VA) regions most unique holiday happenings. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World” and it is a fitting tribute to the many cultures that not only live in our area but visit by the thousands every year. The 9 degree Fahrenheit walk-through exhibit showcases holiday traditions from Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico and more. Adults and kids alike can enjoy the two-story ice slides (I make at least one slide every year and am probably one of only a handful of 63 year olds that does), the Parade of Toys, a live ice carving by master artisans and several interactive photo opportunities including sitting in Santa’s sleigh – all experienced in the comfort of a provided blue parka (these parkas do not have pockets, however, so bring your gloves).


img_3530Due to space constraints in this fun-filled issue, I don’t have much room to pontificate on everything that I wanted to touch on when it comes to this year’s Christmas on the Potomac (COTP) since I want to entice you with some great photos as well. The Gaylord National Resort has been hosting COTP for the past 6 plus years or so and every year it just gets better. This year they have added a Christmas Village complete with a Build-A-Bear section, a Tea Cup ride – think of a mini version of the tea cup ride at Disneyland – in addition to last year’s indoor carousel and my new favorite, the Cookies with Mrs. Claus experience. Kids – young and old – can enjoy a delicious treat and listen to a Christmas story with Santa’s favorite lady and walk away with an autographed Twas the Night Before Christmas keepsake book. I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Claus when I attended the opening of ICE and she is a very special person. She is also married to the Gaylord Santa Claus in real life. I am hoping to write about their story in a future edition.

img_3512Back again is the Gingerbread Decorating Corner hosted by Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas, The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt and the Potomac Express Train that is located in the Atrium. COTP wouldn’t be complete without some of our favorite cartoon characters. This year Charlie Brown and the Gang from Peanuts are on board.

This year there are some adult-only holiday experiences. Inspired by the theme of this year’s ICE! theme, the resort has introduced a new class, Cask and Cocoa: International Wine and Chocolate Pairing. Participants will enjoy three curated red wines from different regions of the world paired with a variety of gourmet chocolates. The interactive tasting experience is led by the resort’s pastry chef and restaurant sommelier. The class is offered on December 3rd, 11th and 17th and daily from December 22nd through the 30th.


The resort’s full service spa, Relâche, is joining in the holiday cheer with new seasonal treatments themed around the delectable scents of peppermint and chocolate. Spa-goers can choose from a massage, facial and pedicure or experience all three with its Mint Chocolate Mistletoe Package.


img_3510ICE! runs through January 1st excluding December 5th, 6th and 7th. Hours vary and can be found at To experience unlimited Christmas fun, visitors can purchase a Play All Day Pass that includes one admission to ICE!, the Gingerbread Decorating Corner experience, admission to three holiday rides – including the Potomac Express Train, The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt and a cup of hot cocoa. Ticket pricing for ICE! and the cost of attending the various events varies depending on what day of the week you attend and there are specials being offered throughout the run of the event. Your best bet is to consult the aforementioned website for details.


The best way to experience all of the resort’s Christmas on the Potomac offerings in National Harbor is through an overnight stay. There are various packages to accommodate everyone’s needs. Details can be found on the website as well.


Don’t’ forget to check out the Starlight Tree – a 55 foot “Jetson-esque” structure suspended from the ceiling of the Atrium. There are lightings and musical accompaniment at 6, 7, 8 and 9 pm every night throughout the holiday season. The indoor snowfall also occurs at these times.


You won’t regret visiting the Harbor during the holiday season. There are all sorts of events and happenings to entertain you and lots of great places to drink and dine!


I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading the Old Town Crier and to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season. We look forward to many new adventures in 2017.

tequila-at-nhTequila Hall (yes, Tequila is her real name), Manager at the Converse Shoe outlet in the Tanger Mall is one of the best examples of what customer service is all about. I wanted to give her a special shout out and thank her, again, for my newly acquired Chuck Taylors!

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