See the Festival of Lights at Washington DC Temple

Posted By Katie on Dec 5, 2013

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Make time this holiday season to see the Festival of Lights at the Washington DC Mormon temple.  This stunning display of over 600,000 Christmas lights is open every night in December and is free to the public.  Plan to take in a free, family-friendly Christmas concert at the Visitor’s Center and enjoy the creche display as well as the life-sized outdoor nativity. This very popular holiday event can be crowded, so these tips will help make your trip easy and enjoyable.

1.  Attend a free concert.

Each evening, a free 40-minute concert is offered at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. in the Visitor’s Center.  Check out the concert schedule here.  The state-of-the-art theater is a wonderful venue for musical entertainment and yet is very family friendly.  When I visited the Festival of Lights last year, I took all my young children to the concert and was pleasantly surprised to see many families with children attending.  The short duration is the perfect amount of time to keep little ones quiet and still introduce them to talented musicians.

Free concert tickets are available in the visitor’s center 90 minutes before the concert until they are all given out.  Most nights you will be able to get tickets up until the start of the concert, but on occasion they do run out so plan to get there at least a few minutes early.

Festival of Lights

In 2012 we saw Jenny Oaks Baker perform celtic music and were greeted by this bagpiper as we entered the theater.

2.  Plan for holiday traffic.

Washington DC traffic is notoriously bad, so if you intend to arrive for a 7:00 p.m. concert, leave plenty of time to deal with traffic on I-495 before parking and arriving for the concert.  Consider leaving early and grabbing dinner in nearby Bethesda, Maryland, to avoid rush hour.  No food is for sale at or adjacent to the Washington DC temple, so plan where you want to eat in advance.

3.  Bundle up to enjoy the Festival of Lights.

There should be plenty of parking at the Visitor’s Center or the nearby temple.  Either before or after the concert, walk around outside to enjoy the lights, the life-sized outdoor nativity, and walk over to get a close-up view of the Mormon Temple.

temple lights

4.  Learn about the Washington DC Temple in the Visitor’s Center.

The Visitor’s Center will be crowded in the evenings in December, but take advantage of your time there to see the creche displays and to wander through the Visitor’s Center to learn more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Many visitors are curious about the Mormon temple, what happens inside the temple, and what it looks like.  Learn more about Mormon temples here, or at the Visitor’s Center visit the display on the right just as you enter the main doors and you will see pictures of the inside of the Washington DC temple along with explanations of what happens inside the temple.

Festival of Lights

Visitor’s Center at Washington DC Temple

Good to Know

Where:  9900 Stoneybrook Drive, Kensington, Maryland 20895 

When:  The Visitors’ Center of the Washington D.C. Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Each performance is presented twice nightly, 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

How Much:  Free

Amenities:  Theater and displays in the Visitor’s Center.  Restrooms and drinking fountains.  No food for sale.






Katie is a busy mom living in Northern Virginia with her husband and five children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. When she isn't traveling, she is planning her next trip. Katie loves all types of travel, but she especially loves beach vacations. The Outer Banks of North Carolina is a favorite family destination.


  1. I’d love to do this but I always thought you had to be Mormon to enter a temple, no? There is a gorgeous Mormon temple in La Jolla (near me in San Diego) that I would love to visit sometime! Did you go there during your San Diego travels by chance? (Is it as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside?)

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    • Hi Colleen. You do have to be Mormon to enter the temples, but some temples such as the one in Washington DC have Visitor’s Centers that are open to anyone. The grounds of all Mormon temples are open to anyone. I visited the San Diego temple this summer with my family and we had a lovely afternoon walking around the grounds and taking pictures. Feel free to drop by anytime!

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    • Thanks, Katie. Photo credits to my husband–he really does a nice job!

      Post a Reply


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