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Posted at 2:23 AM ET, 12/ 7/2009

Free and easy events

By Fritz Hahn

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will light the 2009 Capitol Christmas tree on Tuesday evening. (2008 photo by Melina Mara - The Washington Post)

This week, a Christmas tree and a menorah are lit to celebrate the holiday season, but free events also include a parade (and free carriage rides) in Leesburg, an '80s-themed "apres-ski" dance party and the Going Out Guide's monthly happy hour, where we'll give out free food as well as concert tickets and an iPod Touch.

'Playing With Fire' at GALA Hispanic Theatre
Professional actors participate in a staged reading of new works from the Young Playwrights' Theatre. Come at 6:15 p.m. for a reception before the reading and stay afterward for a discussion of the issues raised in the plays.

Lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will light this year's Capitol Christmas Tree, an 85-foot blue spruce donated by Arizona and decorated with 5,000 ornaments created by people of the state. (Unlike the lighting of the White House Christmas tree, no tickets are required to attend this event on the Capitol grounds.) The tree will be lit from dusk to 11 p.m. every night through New Year's Day.

'K Blows Top' at the National Archives
In 1959, Nikita Khrushchev spent several weeks touring the United States, meeting the public and, at one point, haranguing Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and other Hollywood stars about his disappointment at not visiting Disneyland. This surreal cross-country trip is described in great detail (and with great humor) by author Peter Carlson in "K Blows Top: A Cold War Comic Interlude, Starring Nikita Khrushchev, America's Most Unlikely Tourist." The former Washington Post reporter discusses and signs his book in this lunchtime event.

Going Out Guide Happy Hour at Buffalo Billiards
The Going Out Gurus wrap up a year of monthly happy hours by taking over Dupont Circle's largest pool hall for an after-work affair. Arrive early for free snacks (wings, veggie egg rolls, Guinness meatballs). There'll also be a chance to win prizes, including an iPod Touch or tickets to see the Roots, Gogol Bordello, and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings at the 9:30 club. Bring your own camera to get your picture taken with Santa.

Slalom at Dahlak
Dahlak will take on an "apres-ski" vibe at this holiday party, where vintage skiwear is the suggested outfit -- especially puffy '80s outerwear. (The inspiration comes from Wham's 1984 video for "Last Christmas," which you can see below.) Dress up and get ready to dance to '80s tunes, including some holiday-themed selections.

Leesburg Holiday Parade and Festival
Leesburg's historic downtown transforms itself into a storybook holiday destination for a day. Santa and his friends are featured in a 10 a.m. parade. Afterward, take a free carriage ride, listen to church choirs, watch an ice-carving demonstration or get your photo taken with Santa, Rudolph and Frosty. Local businesses give away "Secret Santa" gifts.

Hanukkah on the Ellipse
Celebrate the lighting of the National Menorah with hot latkes, doughnuts and performances by the Three Cantors and the U.S. Air Force Band. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Call 202-332-5600 or visit to make reservations.

-- Fritz Hahn

By Fritz Hahn  | December 7, 2009; 2:23 AM ET
Categories:  Events, Free and Cheap  
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Posted by: sigmagrrl | December 8, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

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