From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The Harbor is In S-L-O-W Mode…..

By Lani Gering

….with the exception of the 20th Anniversary of MAGFest, aka Music and Gaming Festival, taking place at the Gaylord Resort from the 5th through the 8th. This year’s gathering is classified as a SUPER MAGFest!

I was introduced to MAGFest several years ago. I was living in the Harbor at the time and on one of my “walkabouts” I saw literally hundreds of people pretty much dressed the same (faded jeans, plaid shirts and a several in what I would call odd costumes) unloading case upon case of water, energy drinks, etc. in front of every hotel in the Harbor. It appears that being a 24 hour-a-day gamer is very dehydrating.

Here is the Readers Digest explanation of MAGFest:

MAGFest, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization — that’s right! MAGFest is more than just a fun musical festival to party at several times a year! Our status as a non-profit organization is a way for us to further our mission statement, which is:


We achieve this through numerous events, such as Super MAGFest, MAGWest, MAGStock, and Bit Gen Gamer Fest. During these events, we also support other not-for-profit organizations, such as Child’s Play. Other primary goals of MAGFest include:

-To educate the public about video game music, art, and history.

-To promote public appreciation of video game music, art, and history.

-To preserve for posterity the culture and history of video games.

Being of a certain age I immediately thought that this was a gathering of teenagers and college kids who hung out to play video games. Upon closer inspection, I saw people from every age group gravitating to the Resort to “begin the games”. It really is pretty sophisticated and fodder for some amazing people watching. For everything you need to know about this event check out

Back to Slow Mode…the month of January is a good time of the year to take a spin on the Wheel on a crisp clear day – hoping we will have several of those – without having to stand in line. The gondolas are heated and offer a fantastic view of the river front on both sides. On Saturdays and Sundays through the month of January they are offering a “Brew & View” package that includes your ticket, a beverage (alcoholic or non) of your choice (no need to drink a brew if you don’t want to) and a souvenir cup all for a mere $20!

Treat yourself to one of the many amazing eateries in the Harbor without having to deal with crowds and a ton of kids milling around. Bond 45 and Fiorella’s are two of my favorites near the water and it’s always fun to sit by the fireplace and have a pint at the Irish Whisper on Fleet Street.

This month is a good time to check out the latest addition to the Harbor – Spirit Park. I wrote a piece about it as it was in the last throes of construction in October and seeing it in completion is very impressive. The flag is amazing but the iron sculptures of the bison family are my favorite parts.

Also a good opportunity in the cold weather is to head up the hill to the MGM for another form of fabulous people watching and to spend some of that Christmas money you got in your stocking.  I have targeted a portion of my take and I am actually pretty lucky at the video poker – it’s about the only thing I can afford besides the slots. If you aren’t a gambler, just sitting in the Conservatory among the seasonal décor is a treat. The holiday theme will be coming down mid-month and the winter display will be up and running around the 20th. If you didn’t get a chance to see the Christmas theme last month, it is worth checking out.

Wishing all of you a very Happy New Year and a Prosperous 2023!

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