Most of us have our events and traditions well engraved into our Novembers and Decembers, looking forward to them all year long. But if you’re looking to mix things up this year, our uniquely international hometown offers, quite literally, an entire world of celebrations to enjoy. Here’s how to experience the holidays as they do in India, Russia, or Scotland, and add a little global flavor to the most wonder time of the year.

Photo: Partha Sarathi Sahana via flickr

Indians living in and around the district don’t wait for Thanksgiving to be over to dig strings of lights out of the attic. They hang their twinkling lights for Diwali in the late autumn. Spread across five days, the celebrations really gear up onbthe third day with the celebration of light over darkness and the Festival of Lights. Hindu temples around the district celebrate the holiday but, for a less formal celebration, check out the Heritage India Festival held each year at the Dulles Expo Center. Though it has already passed this year, add it to your calendar for next Fall and enjoy Indian dance and music performances, traditional food and all kinds of shopping.

Heritage India Festival

Photo: israel_photo_gallery via flickr

If you’ve been living near Washington, D.C. for more than a year, you recognize the sight of the National Menorah and National Christmas Tree appearing to tower above the White House. But have you ever attended the lighting of both? Check out the Lighting Ceremony this year on December 6. And then, for more celebration, the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center’s family friendly Chanukah Celebration (complete with games, crafts, treats and a moon bounce!) takes place a week later.

Lighting National Menorah
When: Dec. 6

Chanukah Celebration 2015
When: Dec. 13

Photo: Mr.TinDC via flickr

European Christmas Festivals
Remember being amazed in elementary school when you learned about how countries around the world celebrate Christmas? The differences were always subtle but still fascinating. And this year, you can bring them to life for your family with these celebrations throughout the city.

Danish Christmas Bazaar
Sponsored by the Royal Danish Embassy, the Danish Christmas Bazaar offers Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates, cross-stitch embroidery, jewelry and Christmas decorations. Grab a Danish sandwich or pastry and browse for unique holiday gifts for the season.
When: Nov. 14

Scottish Christmas Walk
A parade, a marketplace, arts and crafts, and a visit from Santa mark this tradition in Old Town Alexandra. And, of course, we promise there will be bagpipes.
When:Dec 4-6

Although not specifically holiday-focused, Winternational is an annual Embassy Showcase with everything from interviews with diplomats and information on travel and tourism to a wide selection of international specialties. Enjoy a cup of coffee from someplace far away and get a little holiday shopping in while you enjoy how close you live to Embassy Row.
When: Dec. 9

Russian Winter Festival
Grandfather Frost is Santa’s Russian name and you can meet him (and his daughter the Snow Maiden) at the Russian Winter Festival at the Hillwood Museum this year. The event also offers crafts, music, and entertainment.
When: Dec. 12-13

Photo: Adam Alexander Photography

Chinese New Year
Finally, if you haven’t yet attended the Chinese New Year Festival downtown, make this the year. Safely outside of the busy holiday season, make some time for live performances, food, and games.
When: Feb 6

How will you celebrate the holiday season this year?

–Tricia Mirchandani

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