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The exclusive benefit night for the Smithsonian's National Zoo will feature a giant panda photo opp, jingle-bell canopy, interactive New Year’s Eve ball and the mistletoe photo booth. (Image: Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/DC Refined)
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Weekend Report: The Christmas edition

If you’ve never spent the holiday season in D.C. and find yourself here this weekend, you are actually in for a real treat! The city is a total ghost town around Christmas, since D.C. is still predominantly a city of transplants and many, if not most, people travel home or schedule a vacation this time of year.

Think of this as your time to truly take advantage of all our city has to offer, without the hassle of fighting crowds or not being able to get a reservation. Discover just a few of the best ways to make this holiday weekend a memorable one!

Friday, December 21

Elf the Musical: Get into the holiday spirit by taking in a showing of this festive story based on the hit Will Ferrell movie. This warm-hearted family musical tells the story of Buddy, a human accidentally transported to the North Pole as a baby who grows up believing himself to be an elf, despite his large size and sub-par toy-making. The humor of the original film is boosted by a carol-inflected score and lots of dancing to guarantee plenty of smiles and laughter for the whole family. The show runs through January 6 and tickets start at $40.

Hot Chocolate Happy Hour: Stop by the Hamilton Hotel for free hot chocolate! The hotel will be serving up a special Caribbean hot chocolate – a nod to Alexander Hamilton’s hometown of Charlestown – along with a classic creamy hot chocolate option. Free to attend.

Saturday, December 22

12 Days of Cocktails: Opaline Brasserie + Bar may be hosting the most spirited celebration this weekend, with the final days of their 12 days of cocktails promotion. The bar has been serving up 12 festive, artfully concocted cocktails since December 12 and will continue sharing spirited new ways to savor holiday flavors through the 24th. Free to attend, all cocktails $12.

Handel's Messiah: Join the the NSO in the concert hall for a long-cherished tradition. Messiah's beauty has delighted and inspired audiences since its premiere nearly three centuries ago, and it continues to reign unchallenged as the ultimate celebration of holiday cheer. Tickets start at $15.

Sunday, December 23

Panda-Monium: Join Drink Company for its Eve of the Eve Panda-monium event at the Miracle on 7th pop-up. The exclusive benefit night for the Smithsonian's National Zoo will feature a giant panda photo opp, jingle-bell canopy, interactive New Year’s Eve ball and the mistletoe photo booth. 100 percent of the proceeds from craft cocktails, beer and wine will benefit the zoo and our city's most beloved residents: pandas! Tickets are $20.

Jewish Christmas with Espita: This Christmas Eve Eve dinner will feature an array of specialty food and drink items with all proceeds going to Carecen, a local non-profit that helps to facilitate Latino immigrants’ transition to the US. Espita will welcome guest chefs Scott Drewno and Danny Lee of ChiKo, who will offer a Crispy Duck Taco with orange-chili marmalade and cucumber and herb salad. Guest bartenders, Benny Hurwitz and Andy Bixby of Dram and Grain, will be on hand serving specialty cocktails. Espita’s own Executive Chef, Robert Aikens, will feature Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts in addition to the restaurant’s nightly dinner menu.

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