Skip to Main Content

With an iconic ice rink, festive flower displays, wintry works of art, seasonal treats, and special programs, the National Gallery is a classic destination this time of year.

Is bringing your family a holiday tradition, or are you joining us for the first time? Or just trying to find a few moments of holiday cheer for yourself? Here’s our guide to making the most of your visit.

1. Ice skate at the Sculpture Garden

Take a spin on the ice while taking in views of grand national museums and monuments. You’ll also see splendid large-scale sculptures from artists such as Alexander Calder, Louise Bourgeois, and Roy Lichtenstein. From skating lessons to special events, there’s plenty to enjoy at the ice rink. 

Learn more

2. Stop and smell the flowers

During the holidays, our grand West Building Rotunda transforms into a winter wonderland with poinsettias, evergreen trees, and other seasonal decor. But our horticultural team doesn’t stop there: festive arrangements deck the halls of the East Building, too.

3. Bring art to life for kids of all ages

From sumptuous feasts to chilly winter scenes and dashing ice skaters, our collection can inspire a winter art scavenger hunt. Join us for our December First Saturday for art making for all ages, films, pop-up experiences, and more.

Busy week? Join us from home! Practice sketching in our virtual after-school Sketchbook Club.

Don’t miss our full family guide to the holidays.

4. Find the perfect gift

With three onsite shops and thousands of items available online, we have your holiday gifts covered. Shop for everyone on your list with locally made products, children’s toys, modern home decor, exceptional books and catalogs, and more. Plus, National Gallery members always enjoy 10 percent off.

Learn more

5. Explore our exhibitions

Are you a regular? We have plenty of new things to see. Experience the work of 50 Native artists working across the United States in The Land Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans.  See a different side of a groundbreaking American photographer in Dorothea Lange: Seeing People. Or discover a modern painter's rarely seen works in Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paper.

All current exhibitions


6. Discover a new work of art

Every other Friday, take a lunch or coffee break with The Art of Looking. These virtual, interactive conversations focus on a single work of art. 

Learn more

7. Hear the “Christmas Story in Art”

This illustrated Christmas lecture explores the birth of Christ through our permanent collection. Enjoy this holiday tradition with a two-part in person and virtual lecture on December 3 and 10.

Learn more

8. Enjoy a free concert

One of the nation’s longest-running concert series fills our halls with music in December. Tune in for performances of seasonal music from medieval chants to cherished classics.

Learn more

9. Sample seasonal flavors

Looking for a delicious meal? Enjoy freshly made soups, sandwiches, salads, pizza, and more at our five cafés. From November 22 through 25, you can enjoy a Thanksgiving feast in the Cascade Café. On a cold day, warm up with hot cider or mulled wine from the Sculpture Garden’s Pavilion Café. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with seasonal gelato flavors like caramel apple and candy cane at our Espresso & Gelato Bar.

Learn more

10. Strike a pose

From an ever-changing light tunnel to a giant blue rooster on the roof, we’ve got plenty of photo ops. Whether it’s a selfie or your next family photo, don’t forget to tag us @ngadc and #myngadc.

Explore related stories

November 10, 2022