By Caitlin Cryan

The fall class at WMI has the unique experience of watching the seasons change from the hot summer to the leaves changing in fall, and finally into the cooler winter. The transitional period of November into December is always a magical time, but experiencing it in the city makes it extra special. Slowly, you start to notice lights, wreaths, trees, and other decorations going up to celebrate the season. So even though the final few weeks we have in DC will be very busy, be sure to make some time for some holiday festivities only DC can offer.

Here are the top five free things to do as the weather get cooler and the District gets jollier.

1. National Christmas Tree

The 95-year-old tradition of the National Christmas Tree lighting is broadcasted nationwide on the Hallmark Channel, but why watch it on TV when you can visit it in person? The 2017 lighting is on November 30th; beginning December 1st the tree is available to visit for free all Christmas season – there are even free musical performances to really put you in the holiday spirit.

2. Zoo Lights

Beginning on Thanksgiving night, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo will light up the night. Zoo Lights is open until 9pm each night until New Year’s Eve. Walk through a magical display of color, music, and lights while enjoying a warm cup of hot chocolate – who doesn’t love a panda made of christmas lights?

3. Seasons’ Greenings & holiday music at the Botanic Garden

The United States Botanic Garden is always a warm oasis when the temperature outside begins to drop, but beginning on Thanksgiving, the garden gets decked out for the holidays. This year’s display is extra special- celebrating 100 years of the National Parks Service. Lights adorn the trees and a train visits recreations of national park sites made out of plants!

4. Seasonal events at The Wharf

December 1st and 2nd are the days to celebrate at The Wharf, DC’s newest destination. The two day celebration kicks off with Light Up The Wharf Christmas Tree lighting, complete with hot chocolate, s’mores, crafts, music, decorations and more. The celebration continues the next day with the Holiday Boat parade. Watch from the pier as boats float by decorated in bright lights. Stick around for food and ice skating!

5. Georgetown GLOW

From December 8th – January 7th, Georgetown’s nights will be a little brighter. From 5pm-10pm art installations will illuminate DC’s oldest neighborhood. Interactive light displays will make the perfect background for #insta-worthy photos.