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Celebrate the holidays at Christmas on the Potomac


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Photo by Julie Baughman. The Grinch peers mischievously over the entrance to Gaylord National Resort's second annual production of ICE!, which consists of 10 scenes from Dr. Suess' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" carved completely from ice.

Photo by Julie Baughman. The Grinch peers mischievously over the entrance to Gaylord National Resort's second annual production of ICE!, which consists of 10 scenes from Dr. Suess' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" carved completely from ice.

Published on: Wednesday, December 15, 2010

By Julie Baughman

Gaylord National Resort at National Harbor recently kicked off its holiday celebration events, collectively called “Christmas on the Potomac.”

This celebration consists of more than ten events in the hotel and around the property, providing guests a plethora of choices on how to celebrate their holidays. These events include ICE!, a nightly tree lighting and indoor snowfall, a musical dinner show and brunch with Santa.

The most famous and noticeable of these holiday events is ICE!, where artisans from Harbin, China, spent 40 days carving more than two million pounds of ice to recreate scenes from the Dr. Seuss classic “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

These artisans used three kinds of ice — clear ice, white or snow ice and colored ice — to create their sculptures. They began with 5,000 ice blocks weighing 400 pounds each and spent countless hours carving them down to create ten scenes from the storybook.

Elaine Fuller, a visitor at ICE!, said, “It was absolutely wonderful.”

Her friend, Jan Zamiska, echoed the sentiment, saying the ice sculptures were “something I’ve never seen before.”

The icy exhibit is located in a 15,000-square-foot “cold room,” where it is kept a chilly nine degrees Fahrenheit. It is open to the public through Jan. 9 and costs anywhere between $13 and $29 per person depending on age and time of week.

Gaylord National also hosts nightly tree lightings. Visitors can witness the 60 foot tree, located in the Atrium of the hotel and weighing in at 7,000 pounds, light up as popular holiday music plays. The lights are choreographed with the music and provide a dazzling show throughout the entire Atrium.

“That was breathtaking,” said Josh Carlson, Prince George’s County firefighter, of the tree lighting show. “It was absolutely amazing.”

A choreographed fountain show provides the foreground for the tree lighting, and these fountains appear to dance to the holiday music of Gaylord National’s “Brightest Star Fountain Show,” which occurs shortly after the tree lighting concludes.

Immediately following the tree lighting show, a delightful indoor snowfall occurs throughout the Atrium. Though this flurry lasts for about 15 minutes, no accumulation occurs. Just enough snow falls to dust the trees and dot the streets with melting snowflakes. This occurs every night at 6:15 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. This, as well as the tree lighting show, is free of charge.

Other “Christmas on the Potomac” events include Brunch with Santa, where visitors can enjoy a delicious meal with Old Saint Nick. Children can also ride aboard the miniature “Potomac Express Train” for $2 a ride.

Five bronze sculptures of Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Sam I Am, Yertle the Turtle and the Lorax are located throughout the Atrium of the hotel, and guests can enjoy breakfast and a viewing of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” at Gaylord National’s “Breakfast with the Grinch” on specified event dates.

It is not necessary to be a guest at the hotel in order to experience the events offered there. The general public is welcome to attend all of the events offered by the hotel through Jan. 9.

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