Since its start in 2013, CityCenterDC’s holiday programming has brought residents tidings of comfort, joy and fun with a variety of family-friendly holiday happenings. This year, visitors can expect to be wowed by awe-inspiring art, lively programming, installations of record-breaking scale and more.
Their 2021 season kicked off with the center’s eighth annual tree lighting ceremony on Saturday, November 27, which was hosted by NBC anchor Eun Yang and featured a performance by seven-piece dance band the Revels. If you missed the lighting, no need to fret: There are still more holiday festivities to partake in throughout December with friends and family.
“One of the desires we’ve had since the very inception of this project was to create standards and traditions for the community,” says CityCenterDC Director–General Manager Timothy R. Lowery.
This year marks the center’s return to holiday programming after widespread cancellations due to the pandemic. As a result, CityCenterDC is going above and beyond to usher back a sense of community, including the installation of a 150,000 pound ice maze.
“When the team began to strategize in 2021, we decided we were going to bring the ice maze back, but bigger and better,” Lowery says. “It’s 40,000 more pounds than we had in 2019, so we’re going to break our own record.”
The ice maze will also be lit with multicolor lights designed to be reminiscent of an artist’s watercolor palette.
“We’re building a watercolor palette of illumination into the very structure itself,” Lowery says. “And we’re calling this year’s programming ‘CityCenter Illuminate’ because we’re illuminating the tree and ice maze, and there are lights all around the city center.”
The ice maze is free, with the opportunity for visitors to make a donation to the Children’s National Hospital in lieu of tickets. It will be open to the public on December 10 from 4-9 p.m., as well as December 11 and December 12 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with closures from 2-4 p.m. each day for chilling repairs.
In addition to the ice maze, other notable holiday fixtures and programming includes “Dream Closet,” an installation of 400 modern holiday ornaments suspended above Palmer Alley, created by local artist Maggie O’Neill; Lily’s Flower Truck, which will be onsite December 3 through December 5 selling flowers, wreaths and other bountiful blooms; holiday decor, with equipped greenhouses available for reservation through participating CityCenterDC restaurants such as Del Frisco’s and Fig & Olive; and performances by electric violinist Stephanie Mathias on December 10, 11, 17 and 18 at City Center.
Throughout the season there will also be chances to win gifts and deals of which patrons can take advantage. This year, shoppers can receive a fresh holiday wreath if they spend $300 or more in-store at participating CityCenterDC retailers from December 3 to December 5.
Timothy Lowery emphasized once more the importance of coming together as a community when celebrating the delight of the holidays.
“What we’re really hoping for is the ability for us to collectively come out together in the spirit of the holidays and enjoy all of these moments at CityCenter,” he says. “It’s really what we’re most excited about — to feel like a community again because we’ve been in our homes and behind Zoom cameras for so long.”
And, of course, family-oriented programming is something he hopes parents and children alike can find joy in.
“I love the faces of the children when they get to experience the tree lighting or the ice maze. The wonder of the holiday season is really what I hope people get to experience.”
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