Christmas on the Potomac
Whether you’re a little kid or just a kid at heart, if you’re within striking distance of National Harbor, Maryland, you should make time for a visit to the Gaylord National Resort’s “Christmas on the Potomac.”
If you’re not familiar with National Harbor, this 300-acre waterfront destination is located less than eight miles south of the U.S. Capitol. The mixed-use development features a marina, condominiums (the ultimate souvenir!), boutiques, eateries, and—should you not be in the market for a condo!—hotels that you can call your home away from home.
In the four years since it opened, the Gaylord National has become known as the Washington, DC region’s “Capital of Christmas.” This year it was featured in an HGTV television special, and has already won recognition as one of the “Top 10 U.S. Hotels Decked Out for the Holidays,” by Orbitz.com; one of the “12 Most Festive Places to Find Holiday Spirit,” by AAA; and one of the “Top 100 Annual Events,” by the American Bus Association.
It’s not hard to see why. A 60-foot-tall glass Christmas tree in the soaring 19-story glass atrium, an indoor snowfall, and two million sparkling lights fairly scream “it’s the holidays!” As if all that merriment weren’t enough, the Gaylord has once again brought in renowned Chinese ice sculptors from Harbin, China, who spent a month creating a winter wonderland carved from two million pounds of colorful ice. This year Gaylord National and DreamWorks Animation have partnered to present ICE! Featuring DreamWorks’ Merry Madagascar.
Once you’re cozily attired in the fetching blue “puffer” coats handed to you (believe me, you’ll be happy you have one, even if you do wind up bearing a striking resemblance to the Michelin Man), you’ll make your way into the 15,000-square-foot indoor frozen attraction, with scene after holiday scene carved entirely of ice. If you’re dressed appropriately (that means slacks, ladies), you can even join the kids on a trip down the two-story-tall ice slides. This year’s Madagascar theme has Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman and the ever so adorable penguins delivering all the presents themselves as they try to help Santa save the holiday.
If you’re past the point of having little ones in your life and think ICE! is not your cup of tea (or in this case, hot chocolate, which is a welcome offering once you emerge into above-freezing temperatures), think again. The artistry of the sculptures themselves is simply awe-inspiring, theme or no theme. But you can’t help being charmed by the squeals of delight by the mini-set as they scramble from one favorite character to another.
In addition to ICE!, this year’s “Christmas on the Potomac” celebration features an ice skating rink, winter-themed miniature train, gingerbread decorating, nightly tree lighting show, fountain show as the indoor water fountains are choreographed to traditional holiday music, and of course, spectacular holiday decorations, and the tree of light, weighing 7,000 pounds.
Gaylord National Resort and National Harbor have numerous events sponsored throughout the year, from crafts festivals to food and wine shows with celebrity chefs to concerts and fireworks displays, so it’s well worth a visit at any time of the year.
But first, hop in your own sleigh and make your way to this year’s ICE! at Gaylord National through January 8. It’s sure to become a favorite family tradition. For more information, visit www.christmasonthepotomac.com and www.gaylordnational.com.