By Bill Reagan
Even though we’re losing daylight, the months ahead are far from gloomy. The holiday season is already underway with decorations, lights, the occasional costume and the most beautiful transition between seasons in our Mid-Atlantic region.
Alexandria’s charming neighborhoods are the perfect backdrops for the upcoming seasonal celebrations. Throughout the fall, you can’t miss the abundance of advertisements for concerts and special events. The trick is not to wait until too late when they’re sold out, so order tickets early.
Below are some ideas for each of the holidays that will hopefully motivate you to get out, experience more of what’s arounds you, and support local businesses in the community.
In October, stroll the residential streets and look at the incredible door and yard displays. Our retailers also get in the spirit with great window displays and decor, so check out the local shops as well. This year, Alexandria has a very special opportunity: El Galeon, a 170-foot replica of a 16th century Spanish ship, will be docked at the Alexandria Marina in Old Town some time in the coming weeks.
If you’re in the mood for something spookier, book a ghost tour and follow candle-toting guides down dark streets, past eerie homes, and into historic cemeteries. These tours aren’t just for tourists and are the perfect complement to falling temperatures and changing leaves. And, of course, the Sunday afternoon Del Ray Halloween Parade with kids, pets and parents in costumes is a can’t-miss occasion.
November is the calm interlude before the frenetic holidays. Invite family and friends to take in the Alexandria Film Festival or the holiday tree lighting at Market Square. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday offer special deals and the great feeling of supporting local entrepreneurs. It’s so much more festive to spend time browsing the unique stores in our charming shopping districts rather than fighting crowds in malls around the region.
In December, Old Town and Del Ray are the prototypic holiday shopping settings. Kick off the month with the Scottish Christmas Walk. Make a day of it, stopping for lunch or refreshments along the way. You’ll be amazed at what new things you’ll find and at the variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options — including some new pop-ups. The charming shopping districts that have served many generations are sure to put you in the holiday mood.
New Year’s Eve in Old Town offers the family-oriented First Night Alexandria and spectacular fireworks over the Potomac to ring in the New Year. There’s nothing else like it in this area.
And while January 1 may mark the end of the holiday season, you can continue to support local retailers, event venues, art galleries, and restaurants throughout 2017.
You owe it to yourself to make this season a more rewarding experience, and Alexandria has so much to offer for every holiday. So, call up a friend, gather your family, and explore your City.
The writer is the executive director of the Alexandria Small Business Development Center.