For families experiencing a post-holiday lull and those with out-of-town visitors who are seeking to treat them to a unique event, the folks at the Gaylord resort at National Harbor have the perfect answer. Their “Christmas on the Potomac” and its spectrum of spectacular events and activities carry on the spirit of the season throughout the weekend. It’s an event that has become an annual tradition for many area families.

As they enter the lobby, visitors will be treated to an over-the-top holiday display, showcasing this year’s Gingerbread Masterpiece, a whimsical Tree House Village featuring a 9-foot tree house surrounded by a village forest in which dozens of smaller tree houses are nestled. The 10-by-20 foot display involved the investment of 1,000 hours by a team of 18 skilled bakers.

In the dazzlingly decorated Garden Atrium, guests are invited to experience the nightly illumination of the 55-foot suspended Starlight Christmas tree, the Christmas Miracles laser-light and music show, dancing fountain, and magical indoor snowfall. The atrium is also serves as the stage for the performances of the newest version of “Cirque Dreams Unwrapped,” a holiday production showcasing the awe-inspiring feats by acclaimed acrobats, contortionists and aerialist artists from across the world.

The highlight of the annual “Christmas on the Potomac” celebration is the unveiling of its “ICE!” sculpture exhibit and this year’s theme is sure to delight and amaze visitors of all ages. The exhibit depicts 12 scenes from the beloved tale of Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” hand-carved from 2 million pounds of ice by 35 artisans and artists who traveled from Harbin, China, and worked 30 days to produce the fascinating creation.

The scenarios, illuminated from within by more than 1,500 specially designed light tubes, features structures that range to nearly 20 feet in height and portray the Grinch’s ventures: from the earliest scene where he observes Whoville and plans his scheme, to his chimney descents to steal the Christmas trees and gifts, to the sight that grows his heart to three times its size, to his final gathering with the Whos in celebration of the holiday. Upon entry to the “ICE!” exhibit—which is maintained at a nippy 9 degrees—each guest is presented with one of the event’s hallmark blue parkas, which range from baby to adult sizes, allowing kids to be comfortable, even when they take a zip down one of the four two-story slides in the Slide Room.

An enchanting feature of the celebration is the Christmas Village. In the Gingersnap Christmas Kitchen, visitors can create and decorate their own gingerbread house with their choices from a selection of 26 varieties of candies—under the guidance of resident gingerbread man Nutmeg. The village also is home to a Build-a-Bear Workshop, where participants can create their own lovable bear in his comfy red pajamas as a memento or gift for a special friend or relative. Toddlers will enjoy taking a tour around the village delights on a tot-sized Village Express train, and visitors can circle around Mrs. Claus for her favorite traditions, including a reading of “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” as they share cookies and milk. And of course, Santa will be on-site for photo ops with the families.

Highlights of this year’s celebration also include ice tubing and outdoor ice skating in the new Winter Square under twinkling lights overlooking the Potomac River. In addition, children can take on the challenge of The Grinch’s Wonderful Awful Scavenger Hunt and families can avail themselves of the new Feast with the Grinch breakfast buffet, featuring Whoville-inspired dishes and table-side visits from the Grinch and his pup, Max.

“Christmas on the Potomac” includes every element of celebration from culinary experiences to the arts. There is really something for everybody and this year’s theme, ‘Dr. Seuss’s How the Grinch Stole Christmas,’ has a special place in everyone’s heart,” said public relations manager Stefanie Ball.

See website for times and ticket prices for special attractions. Special “bundle” prices are available as well as special rates for overnight guests.

Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.

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