Day trip: Light up your weekend
Ride the train, take in holiday ice sculptures and see astounding acrobats
The National Acrobats of the People's Republic of China perform at George Mason University's Center for the Arts. (Handout photo / November 14, 2011)
Direct from Beijing
The National Acrobats of the People's Republic of China, one of the largest acrobatic and circus acts in the world, are making a stop at George Mason University's Center for the Arts this weekend as part of their North American tour. The company is known for displaying astounding flexibility and agility by using a variety of household objects, such as tables, ladders and plates. Sure, they want to entertain, but the acrobats also perform to honor the ancient Chinese tradition that combined deep cultural roots and dramatic folk art.
The performance is in the concert hall at George Mason's Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $24-$48. Call 888-945-2468 or go to cfa.gmu.edu/calendar.
Winterfest of Lights
As the weather starts to get colder, a visit to the Winterfest Village in Ocean City provides all the elements to get you in the holiday mood. Travel through giant light displays in the park while sipping hot chocolate, board the Winterfest Express to sing some Christmas carols or visit the Yukon Cornelius Gift Shop. Bring the kids along to take pictures with Santa every night until Dec. 23.
The Winterfest of Lights begins this weekend and runs through Jan. 1 at Northside Park, 125th Street and the bay, in Ocean City. Admission is $5 for children 12 and older and free for those 11 and younger. Call 1-800-626-2326 or go to ococean.com.
A Day Out with Thomas
What kid doesn't love Thomas the Tank Engine? Bring the whole family up to Strasburg to take a ride on the full-sized steam locomotive. It's Thomas' last visit to Strasburg Rail Road this year, and it's bound to be quite a finale. Ride the train pulled by Thomas, meet Sir Topham Hatt and visit the gift shop for Thomas souvenirs.
A Day Out with Thomas runs Friday through Sunday at Strasburg Rail Road, Route 741 East in Strasburg, Pa. For tickets and more information, call 1-866-468-7630 or go to strasburgrailroad.com.
To prepare for the National Harbor's ICE!, artisans from Harbin, China, gathered in the D.C. area to create colorful frozen figures out of more than 2 million pounds of ice. The fruits of their labor now fill Gaylord National Resort's 15,000-square-foot convention center — at a temperature of 9 degrees. Travel through a world of carved ice sculptures, with a special focus on Santa's sleigh that crashed on the island of Madagascar and see how Alex, Marty, Gloria, Melman and the penguins figure out a way to save Christmas. Winter coats are provided.
ICE! is open daily until Sunday, Jan. 8 at Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront St., National Harbor in Prince George's County. Admission is $25-$35 for adults and $20-$30 for children. Children ages 3 and under are free. Call 301-965-4000 or go to gaylordhotels.com/gaylord-national.
Virginia Beach, Va.
Holiday Lights at the Beach
Ocean City isn't the only tourist destination turning on the lights this weekend. Virginia Beach has Holiday Lights at the Beach, an expansive nautical-themed light display, including fish, dolphins and porpoises, which runs along Virginia Beach's expansive boardwalk. Santa, his elves and a 40-foot Christmas tree complete the holiday cheer. Since each vehicle receives a free CD full of holiday music, you can take some of the holiday spirit home with you.
Holiday Lights at the Beach through Jan. 1 along the Virginia Beach boardwalk. Free. Call 757-491-7866 or go to visitvirginiabeach.com.