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It’s a holiday weekend and you aren’t sure where to take your friends and family.

If they’ve visited you before, you’ve probably already taken them to Old Town, and there’s a hint of disappointment in their eyes when you suggest revisiting the waterfront or Captain’s Row.

One local asked where to take some friends and family visiting from out of town: here were some responses from other Alexandrians.

Look, it’s Friday before a holiday weekend: nobody is winning any Pulitzers here.

Indoors

Assuming the bitter cold keeps up over the weekend, your friends and family might prefer not to explore the great outdoors around Alexandria this weekend. In that case, here are a few indoor activities:

  • Port City Brewing (3950 Wheeler Avenue): The brewery has special extended hours around the holiday. It’s open from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24. It’s closed on Sunday, but is open from noon to 9 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 26.
  • Lost Boy Cider (317 Hooffs Run Drive): The cidery is open from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday but, like Port City, is closed on Sunday.
  • The Birchmere (3701 Mount Vernon Avenue): No shows are scheduled for Saturday or Sunday, but actor and musician Charles Esten has a show tonight at 7:30 p.m.
  • Local Museums: From the new Freedom House museum to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary, there are several museums around the city (granted, most of them are in Old Town) continuing to host tours over the holiday weekend.

Outside

Provided the temperature unexpectedly warms up or your family is more resilient to the cold, there are several outdoor activities around the city.

  • Fort Ward (4301 W Braddock Road): The most commonly suggested response to the original query was Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site. The former Union Army bastion during the Civil War later became a home for those who came to Alexandria to escape slavery — before being forced out by the city in the 1960s.
  • Mount Vernon (3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway): While not in the City of Alexandria, it’s a major nearby attraction with extensive tours both indoors and outdoors. The grounds will close today at 3 p.m. due to weather, but will open at 10 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday).
  • Gravelly Point: Also not in Alexandria, but a great nearby spot for watching planes take off and land at National Airport.
  • Manumission Tour: The local company offers tours of Alexandria with a look at the city’s history through the lens of its Black residents, both enslaved and freemen.
  • Mount Vernon Avenue: If your friends or family are tired of Old Town, take them to Del Ray to explore the variety of drinks, dinners and desserts on offer along the avenue.
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Alexandria Symphony presents ‘The Nutcracker’ (courtesy photo)

The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s holiday program promises to bring an eclectic selection this weekend.

ASO will take the stage on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center, followed by a 3 p.m. performance at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial.

The program includes selections from Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,” Duke Ellington’s “The Nutcracker Suite” and Mariah Carey’s version of “All I Want for Christmas is You.”

“Our special guests include both BalletNova creating some Nutcracker magic on the lip of our stage on Saturday, and the fabulous non-binary soprano of Salvadoran heritage, Helena Colindres, a recent graduate of the Peabody Institute and a rising superstar,” said ASO Music Director James Ross.

Dancers with the BalletNOVA Center For Dance will perform pieces from The Nutcracker suit and soprano Helena Colindres will sing a Swedish carol, a selection from Handel’s Messiah and more.

“Helena can, does, and will sing anything! Beloved Lester Green will be our narrator for The Night Before Christmas in a new mashup with a theme from Harry Potter,” Ross said.

Tickets run $5 for kids 18 and under and up to $90 for adults.

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2018 Candy Cane Bar Crawl (via Del Ray Candy Cane Bar Crawl/Facebook)

An annual holiday bar crawl will work its way through Del Ray on Saturday.

The seventh annual Candy Cane Bar Crawl will be held from 12:30 to 6 p.m., and the event includes trolley transportation between bars, raffles, trivia, costume contests and swag bags.

The event is hosted by the Del Ray Business Association and will raise funds for the nonprofit Blessings in a Backpack.

Tickets range from $15 per person for those who register in advance and $25 on the day of the event. The first 250 registrants will get receive a swag bag, which includes a 16-ounce souvenir cup.

Participating restaurants include:

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The Del Ray Christmas tree and menorah lighting, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2022. (staff photo by James Cullum)

In case you missed it, the lighting of the Del Ray Christmas and menorah was packed on Sunday.

The evening was full of families and friends caroling with hot chocolate with marshmallows.

NBC$ Washington reporter Pat Collins made the countdown to light the 30-foot-tall tree at Pat Miller Neighborhood Square, along with Santa Claus, Kate Moran of the Rainbow Rock Band and members of the City Council. Santa Claus was escorted to the event by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office.

“Who wants snow for Christmas? Collins said, and started to chant, “We want snow, we want snow!”

Collins said he’d see what he could do, and brought along the official Pat Collins Snow Measuring Stick for publicity photos.

“Who wants snow for Christmas? Collins said, and started to chant, “We want snow, we want snow!”

Collins said he’d see what he could do, and brought along the official Pat Collins Snow Measuring Stick for publicity photos.

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Alexandria Police Foundation Christmas tree sale (via Alexandria Police/Twitter)

If you’re still looking for a Christmas tree, buying at one spot in Old Town could also help send kids to a local youth camp run by the Alexandria Police Department.

Proceeds from an ongoing Christmas Tree sale at 110 Callahan Drive — just outside Alexandria’s Union Station and the King Street Metro station — will help send kids to the Alexandria Police Youth Camp.

The camp, sponsored by the Alexandria Police Foundation, includes activities like water skiing, kayaking, sailing and fishing out in Kilmarnock, Virginia.

The sale runs every weekday from 4-8 p.m. and on weekends from 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

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It was an unseasonably warm 60 degrees on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 3) in Old Town for the Campagna Center’s 51st Scottish Christmas Walk Parade.

The parade is one of the most popular events in the city, bringing thousands of participants, including Irish dancers, historic reenactors and the City of Alexandria Pipes and Drums. It is considered the highlight of a weekend full of events.

This year’s grand marshal was former City Council Member Del Pepper.

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More than 450 families in Alexandria have signed up for this year’s Holiday Sharing Program with the Fund for Alexandria’s Child.

The annual program provides gift cards to low-income families, children in foster care, older adults and residents with disabilities.

“The generosity of our community helps ensure that no Alexandrians are left without during the holidays,” the city’s Department of Community and Human Service said in a release.

Eligible families are receiving services from DCHS because they are facing severe economic conditions.

“They are eligible because they are experiencing serious economic, medical or psychological distress,” DCHS said in a release. “Sometimes the only support system they have is a network of government agencies. Sometimes they have never sought assistance from others. As a member of the Alexandria community, YOU are reaching out to extend a hand to them, as they face a variety of crises and traumas.”

The deadline to sponsor a family is Dec. 5, and all donations are tax deductible. So far, about 150 families have been matched with sponsors.

Donations can also be directly made out to the Fund for Alexandria’s Child, or to the DCHS Senior Fund, and sent to:

Holiday Sharing Program
2525 Mount Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301

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The Daughters of the British Empire Pimm’s and Poppies Chapter marches at the 50th annual Scottish Christmas Walk Parade in Old Town, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021. (staff photo by James Cullum)

The Alexandria Scottish Christmas Walk, one of the biggest events of the year in Old Town, is marching through the city this weekend.

It will be the 51st year for the event, which features Scottish clans, dancers and bagpipes working along a route through the city. The one-mile-long parade starts at 11 a.m. at the intersection of Wolfe and St. Asaph Streets and ends up outside City Hall (301 King Street).

The event, hosted by the Campagna Center and Visit Alexandria, celebrates the city’s founding by Scottish merchants in 1749.

The parade is the centerpiece for a full weekend of holiday activities, including a parade of boats decorated with holiday lights starting at 5:30 p.m. along the city’s waterfront.

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The Del Ray Christmas Tree will be lit on Dec. 4, 2022 (via Facebook)

The Del Ray Menorah and Christmas tree lightings are back on Sunday.

Holiday carols will bring Santa Claus back to the neighborhood for the event, which starts at 6 p.m. at Pat Miller Neighborhood Square. The Avenue will also be lined with luminaries to honor the late Nancy Dunning.

It’s the 12th straight year that Homegrown Restaurant Group selected and cut down the tree at the Naughty Pines Nursery in Maryland, and last week it was picked up and given to the Del Ray Business Association. BMC Smoot provided the flatbed truck and a driver to haul the 30-foot-tall tree to Del Ray, and Mike Dameron of Windmill Hill donated his cherry picker crane to put it in place.

“Participants are urged to bring toiletries for Carpenter’s Shelter,” DRBA said.

Additionally, the Del Ray Candy Cane Bar Crawl is happening in Del Ray on Saturday, Dec. 10. The event will provide donations for Mount Vernon Community School’s Blessings in a Backpack program.

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A mailbox for Santa Claus letters at 3103 Russell Road in the Warwick Village neighborhood of Alexandria (courtesy photo)

(Updated 2:30 p.m.) If you’ve got a Christmas list, there’s a mailbox in Alexandria dedicated to sending letters to Santa Claus and he’s responding.

For the second straight year, Bill and Stephanie Pastewait included the Christmas-red mailbox to their ever-growing holiday display in front of their home at 3103 Russell Road in Warwick Village.

Only five kids have sent in letters so far, Bill says. He encourages good boys and girls to put letters in the red mailbox with their name and return address by Thursday, Dec. 15 — enough time to get a response before Jolly Old St. Nicholas makes his annual around-the-world flight on Christmas Eve.

 

“If you put a letter in the mailbox, you’ll get a response from Santa,” Bill said. “Last year we only got three or so letters, and this year we’re hoping to send him more.”

The Pastewait family have also been putting the final touches on their massive holiday display, which will be lit this Thursday night.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Bill said. “It’s makes us feel really good, and there’s nothing better than seeing little kids outside the house saying how much they enjoy it. We’re happy to do it.”

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