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2017 Christmas on the Potomac

November 20, 2017
Jamie Davis Smith
201 Waterfront Street
National Harbor, MD 20745
Average: 5 (1 vote)

There is nothing quite like an elaborate holiday display to bring a sense of wonder and joy to children and adults alike.  And there is nothing quite like Christmas on the Potomac celebration at Gaylord National Resort to ensure that the holiday season includes at least one magical day. 

ICE!® featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, is unlike any other type of holiday exhibit and can’t help but make a big impression.  Visitors to ICE! see room after room of larger-than-life hand carved ice sculptures, most of which are colored in festive, bright colors.  This year’s exhibit tells the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

The story is told through sculptures and story panels.  Some children will love reading every word while others are completely immersed in viewing the sculptures themselves. Throughout the exhibit there are ways for children to interact by doing things like pushing a button to make Rudolph’s nose light-up and walking up an staircase to stand above the Yeti.

ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

One of the most popular parts of the exhibit is the room full of slides made of ice, complete with lights that change color as you descend.  My kids went down over and over again, including my two year old who went down the smaller slide just for children four and under.  At the end of the exhibit, is a breathtaking nativity scene made out of serene, white ice.  All of our kids, ranging in age from 11 to 2.5 enjoyed the exhibit. 

ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

ICE! is cold - nine degrees to be exact.  We recommend that you wear a winter coat, boots, a hat, a scarf, and gloves.  While you will be wearing a mandatory big blue parka over your coat, the parka alone is not enough to keep you toasty in the exhibit and does not have pockets to keep your hands warm.  While in line I heard some Dads and kids complaining about getting bundled up, especially since it was a warm day during our visit, but it’s a must if you want to stay warm enough to enjoy the entire exhibit and not rush through because you are too cold.

ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Once you exit the ICE! exhibit, you are let out into Gaylord’s Christmas Village, which is more extensive this year than in past years.  For those who need some warming up, make a stop for hot chocolate or coffee.  Children can ride the Potomac Express train, a carousel or try their hand at ice skating on the large, indoor ice skating rink.  There is also the chance to visit Santa Claus, have cookies and Story Time with Mrs. Claus and, one my children’s favorite activities, decorate gingerbread houses or gingerbread men cookies. 

Gingerbread decorating at the Gaylord National  Gingerbread decorating at the Gaylord National

If you are looking for even more activities to make a day of your visit, consider starting the day at Rudolph's Holly Jolly Breakfast.  To extend your visit into the evening, see Gaylord’s new holiday musical, Joy - A Holiday Spectacular, Tickets start at $9.99/person for this show.   If you are looking to save a little, then instead for the nightly atrium tree complete with laser lights, a dancing fountain and holiday music galore.

Gaylord National Nightime Holiday Light Show

While you are visiting ICE! also take some time to explore the National Harbor including the Capitol Wheel which boasts amazing views of the Potomac and DC.  If it’s a warm day, also visit the sandy “beach” area and outdoor carousel and playground.  There is even a special Build-A-Bear workshop in the Christmas Village, complete with a blue-parka option for your child’s stuffed friend. 

A visit to ICE! and exploring Gaylord during the holidays is one of my family’s favorite traditions.  Even if you spend the night at home, a day at Gaylord can feel like a vacation and ensure your entire family gets in the holiday spirit! 

Good to Know

  • Parkas are available in sizes as small as 2T.  If you are going with a smaller child, consider using a baby carrier.  I visited with an infant a couple of years ago and he stayed plenty warm in a carrier with my parka snapped over him.
  • Strollers are permitted in the exhibit.
  • Since all visitors wear the same blue coat, consider wearing distinctive hats in bright colors or with pom-poms if you have them to make spotting family members easier. 
  • Tickets range from $17.00 to $39.00 depending on the day.  Packages that include ICE! admission and other activities are available starting at $50.46.  There are also ticket discounts for groups, military and scouts.
  • Parking is $15.00.
  • ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is in town until January 1, 2018.
  • If you want to make it a stay-cation, check out the overnight stay options.

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