The weather outside may not be frightful, but it sure has that wintry feel to it. Fortunately, there are seasonable activities and events that warm up December days and brighten December nights.
The Vienna-Oakton Connection takes a look at readers’ favorites, year after year, plus a debut First Night celebration likely to become a readers’ favorite year after year.
*Winter Walk of Lights Meadowlark Gardens, ongoing through Jan. 6
As if Meadowlark Botanical Gardens is not spectacular enough in the fall with its crimson and gold foliage, you’ve got to see the park aglow with a half a million diamond and colored LED lights in displays and on the landscape. From a gingerbread house to animated vignettes, there is enough sparkle to brighten the chilly nights. This is the second year the park has produced its winter wonderland.
Meadowlark’s Winter Walk of Lights is open from 5:30 to 10 p.m. seven days a week from Nov. 15 to Jan. 6. Timed tickets required; shows and entertainment are included in admission price.
Monday-Thursday (excluding holidays): Age 13+: $12; ages 3-12: $7; under 3: Free.
Weekend & Holiday Rates (Friday to Sunday): Nov. 28, 29, Dec. 24, 25, 31, Jan. 1, Age 13+: $13,; age 3-12: $8; under 3: free
At the door: a limited number of tickets are on sale at the door each night and admission is not guaranteed. No discounts apply. Age 13+: $14; age 3-12: $9; under 3: free
Meadowlark Gardens is off Beulah Road, at 9750 Meadowlark Gardens Ct., Vienna, near the Dulles Toll Road overpass. It is a Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority property. To view photos, go to
*Lunch With Santa, Saturday, Dec.14
It’s no wonder Santa is so plump; he’s eating breakfast and lunch all over Vienna in December. You can join him for lunch at the Vienna Community Center, shortly after he’s feasted on all-he-can-eat pancakes at breakfast at the fire department. The cost of $5 per person includes Santa, lunch, and entertainment. Lunch with Santa runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Limited tickets are available, so, stop by the community center for tickets well in advance.
Holiday pancake breakfast at the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 a.m. to noon in the Flame Room of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department station.
The Vienna Volunteer Fire Department [VVFD] Auxiliary hosts its annual All-You-Can-Eat Holiday Pancake Breakfast at the VVFD, 400 Center Street S. The price includes all the pancakes you can eat, sausage, bacon, juice, and coffee.
Santa Claus arrives at 10:30 a.m. to greet the children. There will be tours of the fire equipment, as well.
The Auxiliary invites the public to “have some pancakes, visit with Santa and spend time with members of the VVFD and Vienna community.”
Price of the holiday pancake breakfast is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, $6 for children under 12 years old, and free for children under 4.
*Radio City Christmas Spectacular excursion is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 14, for the 4:30 p.m. matinee, sponsored by the Town of Vienna. This trip sells out quickly, the Department of Parks and Recreation says. The trip costs $138 for residents and $172.50 for out-of-town participants. Price includes transportation to NYC and tickets in the 200 section of the 3rd mezzanine in Radio City Music Hall. The tour is appropriate for ages 5 and up.
The Rockettes, who have been kicking up their heels for generations of kids, perform their famed routine of “The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers.” A charter bus departs the Vienna Community Center at 6:30 a.m. and returns around 1 a.m. Fee includes transportation and one ticket to the show. There will be movies shown on the bus and a stop going and returning. Free time before and after the show is built into the schedule. Buy tickets at the Vienna Community Center, 120 Cherry Street.
Call 703-255-6360 for details or visit www.viennava.gov.
*Santa visits the Freeman Store, Saturday, Dec. 14, and Sunday, Dec. 15, 1 to 3 p.m.
There’s not much of a waiting line at the Freeman House when Santa takes a seat in the parlor. The setting is not an artificial North Pole, either. It’s a pleasant alternative to the mall’s Santa.
*VVFD Santa Runs, mid-December to Dec. 24
Around mid-December, Santa Claus climbs onboard the antique fire truck belonging to the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department, and, along with elves dressed as emergency responders, visits neighborhoods throughout Vienna. Very loud seasonal music emanates from the cruising vehicle and Santa’s driver honks the horn as it announces its impending arrival up and down town streets. Where children converge, Santa stops and his elves distribute candy canes.
Occasionally, senior citizens open their doors, waving to Santa. Santa is probably delighted that folks of all ages are happy to see him.
*The Vienna Choral Society, a holiday concert “for a cause,” Saturday, Dec. 21.
This holiday season, the choral society partners with the Women’s Center Of Vienna in support of mental health awareness in the choral society’s performance of “Light and Dark,” a 4:30 p.m. presentation recognizing the winter solstice.
For tickets and details, go to www.viennachoralsociety.org.
*First Night Vienna Celebration, Dec. 31; 7 p.m. to midnight
The Vienna Business Association, in partnership with the Town of Vienna, kicks off the first-ever “First Night” celebration in Vienna. A family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night features food, musicians, vocalists, and activities for kids. The ball drops, figuratively-speaking, for kids at 9 p.m. Grown-ups can toast the new year alcohol-free at midnight.
First Night Vienna is free to the public. Church Street, between Mill and Center streets, closes down for the evening’s festivities.
There will be a main stage under an outside tent where the kids entertainment will be until 9 p.m.. After then, a party band performs until midnight. Throughout the First Night celebration, there will also be three venues along Church Street with musical performers at each one. Besides music, there will be food trucks for people to eat from.
The Great Zucchini is the first of kids’ favorite performers to commit.
Currently, First Night Vienna has just a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FirstNightVienna. There’s almost a website; when it’s ready, it will be www.firstnightvienna.org.