Photo: Courtesy of Gaylord
Photo: Courtesy of Gaylord

‘Tis the Season at Gaylord National Resort

A 55-foot Christmas tree decked out with more than two million lights is suspended from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center’s 19-story atrium, signifying that the holiday season is upon us.

“The holiday season in National Harbor is unlike any in the area,” says Jenna Buck, Gaylord National’s special events director.

After all, where else can one experience colorful, larger-than-life ice sculptures, amazing entertainment shows, indoor snowfalls and more in an indoor wonderland kept at nine degrees? The destination is also walkable and offers picturesque views of the Potomac River along with shopping, dining and millions of twinkling lights to get people in the holiday spirit.

“Every year, we add new and unique offerings to keep Christmas on the Potomac one of the most spectacular holiday experiences in the capital region,” Buck continues. “This year is no different, and we are thrilled with our program lineup.”

More than a dozen holiday activities are planned for the 11th annual Christmas on the Potomac, including Gaylord National’s popular ICE! attraction. This year’s ICE! features one of TV’s most iconic Christmas specials, A Charlie Brown Christmas, as well as four two-story ice slides, a full nativity created from crystal clear ice and two million pounds of colorful ice sculptures hand-carved by 40 artisans from Harbin, China.

“Picking themes for our ICE! attraction can take several years to work through – from getting licensing approvals to creating the designs and more,” Buck says. “A Charlie Brown Christmas is a holiday classic that was high on our list to produce. It’s something that appeals to multiple
generations, and we are excited to showcase 12 scenes from the TV special through larger-than-life, colorful ice sculptures.”

Fans of Charles Schulz’s beloved characters can also take part in the Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt or attend an interactive Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends featuring Snoopy, Linus and other favorites. But ICE! isn’t just for the kids. The Arctic Dash on December 5 is a new event designed for 21-plus visitors making use of the attraction.

“We wanted to create an ICE! experience that would be fun for adults and play to the ‘extreme factor’ of the attraction,” Buck says. “Participants will get to dash through the resort’s nine-degree ICE! attraction in their bathing suits and then celebrate with a signature cocktail in the lobby bar. We hope the event will inspire friends to brave the cold, have fun and get a taste of the holidays at Gaylord.”

Visitors to the resort will also experience two brand new shows in the atrium: a laser light show and the world-class entertainment of Cirque Dreams Unwrapped, both playing through January 1.

“This year’s atrium laser light show is called A Christmas Wish, which tells the story of a grandfather explaining to his grandchild the magic of the Christmas season,” Buck says. “You’ll hear holiday favorite tunes choreographed to our water fountain and laser lights, all set within the resort’s 19-story atrium. It also includes an indoor snowfall, so it’s quite magical.”

Cirque Dreams Unwrapped was designed exclusively for Gaylord National, according to the show’s founder Neil Goldberg.

“It is a 25-minute entertainment attraction that combines Cirque elements, elaborate costuming and theatrics within a stage set that reinforces the Christmas wishes of dreams come true,” the Broadway director says. “The show offers something for everyone and is a perfect experience to share with loved ones.”

Thanks to the enormity of Gaylord National’s atrium, Cirque Dreams Unwrapped is able to present swinging, flying and soaring aerial performances unique to this experience – all designed to emulate the holiday season and share the aspiration of wishing for dreams.

“Some of the acts are magical and majestic, while others truly personify the spirit of possibilities,” Goldberg continues. “We’ve searched the world to engage a couple of young principle artists who showcase their potential through astounding performance artistry as part of the show’s grand finale. Kids will be mesmerized, adults left in awe and all fascinated.”

Buck says Gaylord National couldn’t be more honored to have Cirque Dreams Unwrapped performed for guests during the holiday season.

There’s also a Christmas Village, where guests can ice skate, decorate gingerbread houses, ride a Christmas carousel, sing Christmas carols with Mrs. Claus and get their picture taken with Santa Claus. And the popular Build-A-Bear Workshop returns, allowing kids the chance to create their own cuddly, cute polar bear plush designed exclusively for Gaylord Hotels.

With all of the offerings provided during Christmas on the Potomac, Buck feels the best way to experience the celebration is with an overnight stay. Guests who book one of their holiday packages get exclusive perks with ICE! including unlimited entry to the attraction, a special admission line and early access to the attraction on weekends. Guests can also upgrade to an atrium view room.

The holiday season is traditionally a time to gather, share, reflect and celebrate together with loved ones. The events during Christmas on the Potomac offer the perfect entertainment options that appeal to audiences of all ages.

“At the end of every holiday season, we look back at all of our offerings to review what was popular and discuss what we are missing, as we are always looking to add to our events and create some of the best holiday entertainment in the region,” Buck says. “At the end of the day,
our goal is to provide an experience where people walk away with smiles on their faces and memories that will last a lifetime.”

ICE! featuring A Charlie Brown Christmas runs from Friday, November 16 through Tuesday, January 1 with tickets starting at $24 for children and $32 for adults. Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends runs from Saturday, November 17 through Monday, December 31 with tickets starting at $26.99 for children and $39.99 for ages 12 and older. Cirque Dreams Unwrapped runs from Friday, November 16 through Tuesday, January 1 with tickets starting at $19.99 for all ages; limited free seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Christmas on the Potomac tickets and holiday packages are available at www.christmasonthepotomac.com or by calling 301-965-4000.

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center: 201 Waterfront St. National Harbor, MD; 301-965-4000 www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/wasgn-gaylord-national-resort-and-convention-center