Get Ready for the Holiday Season With These Festive Programs

Smithsonian Associates offers plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays in person as well as from the comfort of your own home

Wide shot of people admiring the Christmas Tree lights at Market Square.
Step back in time with guide Lynn O’Connell on a walking tour of Old Town Alexandria, Virginia and explore of how Christmases of yesteryear were celebrated.  K. Summerer

Individual programs and tours offer insights into classic holiday traditions and studio art workshops add a touch of nature to your holiday décor. To view the latest Smithsonian Associates digital program guide, visit


Learn how to make a modern evergreen wreath for the holidays in an online Smithsonian Associates studio arts workshop on November 30 or December 7. Arrin Sutliff

Wednesday, November 30

Modern Evergreen Wreath: Just in time for the holidays, create a modern wreath design with fresh evergreens on a metal hoop. Using a method similar to floral arrangement, combine local textures, shapes and colors in your design. This studio arts workshop will be held online from 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET. A second workshop will be held Wednesday, December 7. $35-$45


Friday, December 2

Natural Milkweed Floss Ornament: Learn to transform a milkweed pod and its floss into a whimsical nesting swan that will add a touch of nature to your holiday décor. This studio art workshop will be held online from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET. $65-$75


Saturday, December 3

Holiday Keepsakes: Using mini-canvases as the base, decorative embellishments and photos and other personal mementos, create one-of-a-kind small hanging artworks that can be individualized to fit any occasion for giving. This workshop will be held in person at the Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. $80-$90


Sunday, December 4

The Holidays in Old Town Alexandria: Step back in time as you stroll along Old Town Alexandria’s red-brick sidewalks to explore how Christmases of yesteryear were celebrated here. The rich history shared by guide Lynn O’Connell covers the people, places and traditions that make Old Town a picture-perfect spot during the holiday season. This program will meet at 10 a.m. in Market Square at 300 King Street. Tours will also be held Friday, December 9, and Saturday, December 17. $60-$70.


Wednesday, December 7

Birding in a Winter Wonderland: Not all birds fly south for the winter: Many species find their way to homes in temperate North America. Naturalist Matt Felperin shares valuable tips on how to make the most of winter birding in the mid-Atlantic region and why it’s one of the most rewarding and magical times for spotting seasonal visitors from ducks and geese to songbirds and raptors. This program will be held online at 7 p.m. ET $25-$30

Join Smithsonian Associates for an all-day tour on December 8 to see Radio City Music Hall’s famed Christmas Spectacular performance. Smithsonian Associates

Thursday, December 8

Radio City Music Hall: Front and Center for the Christmas Spectacular: There’s no more iconic holiday performance in New York than Radio City Music Hall’s famed Christmas Spectacular. And there’s no better way to see the precision dancing of the Rockettes than from prime orchestra seats in the fabulous art deco theater where the show has been a tradition since 1933. A behind-the-scenes tour of the Music Hall adds to the experience. This all-day tour meets at 6:45 a.m. and departs by bus from the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., Connecticut Ave. and DeSales St., NW. $355-$405


Friday, December 9

Orchids for the Holidays: Take a break from the stress of the season to enjoy an entertaining and informative afternoon with an orchid expert and come away with an elegant orchid centerpiece. This program will be held online at 12 p.m. ET $35-$45


Sunday, December 11

Decking the Halls at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: Author and historian Coleen Christian Burke, a 2014 White House design partner, leads a journey through Christmas history as she reveals how the annual decorating themes developed by first ladies are turned into sparkling realities. She also discusses how the holiday White House functions as both a private home and public space and offers views of some of the most memorable seasonal settings created at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This lecture will be held online at 1 p.m. ET $30-$35


Thursday, December 15

Spices 101: Cinnamon: The spice we love in apple pie, tagines and churros has been treasured across cultures since ancient times, and used for culinary, medicinal and spiritual purposes—even including ancient Egyptian embalming methods. Christine Rai explores cinnamon’s fascinating origins, history and variety, and shares tips on using the spice in your own kitchen. 12 p.m. ET $25-$30

To view Smithsonian Associates digital program guide, visit