Winter Culture Guide

Spending the holidays at home? Here are five free events in Washington, D.C. over GDS’s winter break. Three of the events are holiday-themed, one is an art installation and the last is a museum exhibit.

The Downtown Holiday Market outdoor shopping extravaganza began in November, and will end on Sunday, December 23, giving you three days at the beginning of winter break to visit and peruse the seasonal offerings from local artisans and craftspeople. It is an opportunity to support local economy and buy thoughtful gifts. Open noon to 8pm daily.

The United States Botanic Garden is running its annual holiday show, “Season’s Greenings: All Aboard,” until January 1. Iconic American train stations like New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, St. Louis’ Union Station and our very own Union Station will be recreated out of different plant species. Open 10am to 5pm daily. The website says that the best time to visit is on weekdays.

ZooLights at the National Zoo is a breathtaking series of light displays, as it is every year, and will be open until January 1. Half a million LED lights, live music and hot chocolate make this event a perennial classic. Open 5pm to 9pm daily, excluding December 24-25, 31.

Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer is exhibiting his “Pulse” installations at the Hirshhorn Museum, until April 2019. Winter break will be a perfect opportunity to catch it. In the interactive exhibits, heart-rate monitors create audiovisual experiences from visitors’ biometric data. Together, the biometric signatures will respond and produce “spellbinding sequences of soundscapes, lights and animations.” Open 10am to 5:30pm.

Another museum exhibit worth checking out is the “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas” in the National Museum of Natural History. Stop by and see fossils of rare sea creatures that lurked on Africa’s southwest coast approximately 120 million years ago. See the bones of plesiosaurs, sea turtles and other giant reptiles. The biggest fossil set is of a 23-foot-long predatory mosasaur. Open 10am to 5:30pm daily.

It is easy to come back to school in the early days of the new year, faced with a new semester of work and responsibilities, feeling like your time off was ill-spent. 17 days of break is a boon, but a boon that can easily be missed. Surely, it is a time to rest. To take advantage of your home by watching a new show, or drinking hot chocolate or reading a new book. But understand that this city is also your larger home, and take advantage of it too.

By: William Goldberg ’19

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