Santa Claus has already taken up temporary residence at Tysons Corner Center, but that won’t stop him from dropping by a couple of other spots around Tysons this week.
Coming up first, a particularly debonair St. Nick will host an evening of cocktails, cinema and charity on Friday (Dec. 8) at CMX Cinebistro in Tysons Galleria (2001 International Drive).
The character of Fashion Santa was created in 2014 by runway model Paul Mason, whose career has included work with designers like Gianni Versace, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana and Armani — brands that can all be found at Tysons Galleria, either through their own stores or department stores like Neiman Marcus.
Mason says the character emerged during a somber period in his life when he stopped shaving out of grief over his mother’s death. Realizing that his beard made him resemble Santa, he decided to use the look for a good cause.
“The Fashion Santa character has had a really positive reception,” he told FFXnow by email. “It’s just a lighthearted new approach to jolly old Saint Nick. Fashion Santa brings awareness to different charitable initiatives and causes instead of making toys. It’s a new take on holiday giving.”
Fashion Santa previously visited the mall last year for a holiday reception that included a sneak peek of the restaurant Jiwa Singapura, which opened this past February. Attendees were encouraged to donate to the Capital Area Food Bank.
This year’s event will consist of a meet-and-greet at CMX Cinebistro’s bar from 7-9 p.m. and a “special” 7:45 p.m. screening of the Disney movie “Wish.”
Meet-and-greet attendees will get a complimentary photo with Fashion Santa and sip “festive” cocktails, according to the event page. Admission is free, but reservations are required, and the mall is encouraging $10 donations to the Make-A-Wish Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic chapter, the event’s charity partner.
Access to the “Wish” screening comes with a $25 donation, which also includes a Santa photo and a “goody bag.” Last month, Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic, a nonprofit that supports kids with critical illnesses, organized a preview of the animated film for local families at AMC Theatres in Tysons Corner Center.
Tysons Galleria Senior General Manager Rich Dinning says the mall is “always honored” to work with Fashion Santa “in support of important causes.”
“This year, Fashion Santa’s appearance at CMX CineBistro…promises to be a festive evening,” Dinning said in a statement. “Tysons Galleria has had an ongoing partnership with Make-A-Wish Mid-Atlantic and we are thrilled to close out the year with this fundraiser.”
Santa’s Workshop Holiday Extravaganza at The Boro
Santa is also scheduled to appear at The Boro (8350 Broad Street) this Saturday, Dec. 9 for photos, crafts, music and other free festivities.
“At Santa’s Workshop at The Boro, guests of all ages will be invited to enjoy a fun filled morning of holiday kids crafts, a DJ dance party, specialty hot chocolate bar with lots of fun fixings from Bluestone Lane, a holiday themed bounce house, and calligrapher on site to customize ornaments,” the event page says.
Santa will be available in his workshop at Boro Park from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The overall event will start at 11 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.
If the event gets rained or snowed out, it will be rescheduled for Dec. 16.
“If there is no need for an alternative date, there will be a Santa Pop-Up on December 16 in Boro Park as another chance for guests to come see Santa,” The Boro said.
Santa is also continuing to take photos at Tysons Corner Center through Christmas Eve on Dec. 24.
Sugar plum fairies are getting ready to descend on Fairfax County, which will host multiple productions of Pytor Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” this holiday season.
The 131-year-old ballet, now a Christmastime tradition, will first waltz into Tysons, with two shows at Capital One Hall (7750 Capital One Tower Road) on Sunday, Dec. 3.
Produced by Talmi Entertainment with dancers from around the world, NUTCRACKER! Magical Christmas Ballet is returning to the concert hall’s main theater as part of its 31st annual North American tour. Doors will open an hour before the 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. showtimes.
“We’re the only nationally touring Nutcracker production, so we strive to top ourselves each year,” Talmi Entertainment Executive Producer Dan Talmi said in a press release. “There is a sense of pride and responsibility when it comes to this show. It has become a holiday tradition in households across the country and our team works year round to give audiences the best of everything.”
Starring Ukrainian ballerinas Karyna Shatkovskaya and Elena Pechenyuk as Clara, the production deviates in its second act by shifting the setting from the usual Land of Sweets to a Land of Peace and Harmony “where there are no wars and no children suffer.” Clara and the Nutcracker Prince are guided through the land by two dancers in the unique acro-ballet adagio “Doves of Peace.”
Other notable elements include marionettes and animal puppets, a hand-crafted Christmas tree that grows up to 100 feet tall, and the introduction of a Herald character that represents “the spirit of the forest.”
For those interested in a more local production, Capital One Hall will also host the Dance Academy of Virginia’s inaugural performance of “The Nutcracker Sweet” in The Vault at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 4.
In addition, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra (FSO) and Fairfax Ballet Company will team up once again to present “The Nutcracker” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts (4373 Mason Pond Drive) in Fairfax.
Scheduled for 4 p.m. on Dec. 16 and 17, the production is one of the few in the D.C. area with live music by a full orchestra, according to the FSO. This iteration — the seventh that the orchestra and ballet company have brought to GMU — will feature New York City Ballet members Emily Kikta and Aarón Sanz as guest soloists.
“Our unique production has become a cherished tradition of the season,” FSO Executive Director Jonathan Kerr said in a statement. “Audiences delight in the incredible dancers on stage, while Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable music is performed live by our orchestra musicians. The dance, live music, plus the stunning, digital scenery creates a winter wonderland in a magical production that’s perfect for the entire family.”
Fairfax Connector will pull into the Fairfax County Government Center soon for its first-ever Winterfest.
Space is quickly disappearing for the public bus system’s holiday event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 9 in parking lot B of the government center (12000 Government Center Parkway).
Featuring three holiday-themed buses, free food and other treats, Winterfest is free to attend, but a general admission ticket is required for entry. As of this afternoon (Wednesday), more than half of the 500 available slots had been taken, according to the sign-up page.
Separate tickets for a planned Santa Bus, where visitors can meet jolly St. Nick, sold out within hours of going online, a Fairfax County Department of Transportation spokesperson says. In response to the demand, a second bus where attendees can get a free cookie from Mrs. Claus has been added.
Access to the “Cookies with Mrs. Claus” bus is included with general admission.
Winterfest will also feature free hot chocolate and kettle corn, games, music, a “Letters to Santa” station, and Duck donuts and Grill Cheese food trucks. Fairfax Connector will hand out coupons for free rides and other “goodies” throughout the event, according to a news release.
Following in the tracks of Metro, which has decorated a train and buses to resemble gingerbread houses, Fairfax Connector’s holiday buses hit the road earlier this week. They’re wrapped in plaid Christmas tree, Santa gnome and cookie designs.
“These buses are sure to bring a smile to your face,” the news release said. “If you spot one, safely take a picture and share with us on Facebook or Twitter. Use the hashtag #HolidayBus or #FairfaxConnector.”
People who share a photo of the buses on social media will be entered into a drawing for a $50 SmarTrip card, which can be used for Connector buses as well as Metro, Fairfax CUE buses and other local transit systems. The winner will be announced the week of Jan. 1, 2024.
During Winterfest, the tree-decorated bus will serve as the Santa bus, while Mrs. Claus will be in the cookie bus. The gnome bus will host a Stuff-a-Bus donation drive.
“To support our community, Fairfax County Department of Transportation, Fairfax Connector & Transdev are collecting new, unwrapped toys and coats for children ages 5 to 10 years old,” FCDOT said in its news release. “…The toys and coats collected will be delivered to children at three Fairfax County public schools the week of December 11, 2023.”
In a separate charitable effort, today (Thursday) marks the last day of Fairfax County’s virtual Stuff the Bus campaign, which encourages community members to make monetary donations to local nonprofits that provide food assistance.
Thanksgiving is still two weeks away, but Christmas is already in the air at Tysons Corner Center.
After adding holiday decor to its Plaza earlier this month, including a 40-foot-tall walk-in tree, 10-foot-tall snowflakes and a sleigh, the mall rolled out the red carpet today (Thursday) for Santa Claus, who arrived at 7:30 a.m. for a VIP event in Fashion Court on the first floor outside Nordstrom.
The festivities included holiday cookie decorating, letter-writing and gift bags.
Participants were required to donate $10 Best Buddies, which offers mentorship and support to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The nonprofit relocated its Virginia and D.C. office to Tysons Corner Center last year.
Santa will be in town for photos through Dec. 24. Sessions are available from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays, though hours may vary on holidays.
Walk-in visitors will be accepted, but Tysons Corner Center advises pre-booking a time slot to reduce wait times.
Now in his 33rd year appearing at the mall, Santa’s stay will include Pet Nights on Nov. 20 and 27 and Dec. 4, along with a breakfast from 8-9:30 a.m. in the third-level food court on Dec. 2. The breakfast is free for all and will include entertainment, face-painting and other family-friendly activities.
Tysons Corner Center will officially kick off the winter holidays with its annual tree lighting ceremony in the Plaza at 6-8 p.m. on Nov. 17. The “enchanted evening” will include recognition of “a local hero for their commitment to service and passion for education,” according to a press release.
Like in previous years, the ceremony will be accompanied by music and dance performances, a complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate bar, a pop-up retail market, custom drinks from Barrel + Bushel, giveaways and more.
Tysons Corner Center says shoppers can expect additional holiday surprises throughout the next two months.
“Throughout the season, Tysons Corner Center will be delighting its customers with surprise entertainment, festivities, and random acts of kindness, all to enhance their holiday shopping experience,” the mall said in the press release. “For a truly festive holiday, Tysons will feature carolers, gift wrapping, and more surprises to come.”
The mall will be closed on Thanksgiving (Nov. 23), but it will reopen from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. the next day for Black Friday.
Tysons Galleria is getting a triple dose of Santa Claus this December.
In addition to the previously reported “Pictures with Santa” event, which is now taking place daily near Sweetgreen, the mall will host a Fashion Santa and the return of Black Santa, who proved to be a big draw for Neiman Marcus last year.
Neiman Marcus confirmed to FFXnow that it has partnered again with Santas Just Like Me to bring a Black man dressed as Santa to its Tysons Galleria store (2255 International Drive).
As the first time in its 33-year history that the department store hired a non-white Santa, last year’s appearance morphed from a three-hour storytime to two days of photos to accommodate the demand.
“Neiman Marcus has a storied history of holiday traditions and in-store celebrations that are beloved by our customers, especially as we look to make each moment special this season,” Neiman Marcus General Manager Kathy Leigh said. “We are delighted to have a Santa that represents our community join us again…Customers and their families can share their wish lists, enjoy hot chocolate and cookies, and explore our remarkable holiday gifting assortment.”
The “Black Santa Experience” will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday (Dec. 10-11). Appointments cost $74.95, including the cost of the photos, and can be booked online through Santas Just Like Me.
Just two days later, on Tuesday, Dec. 13, Fashion Santa will strike poses from 6 to 8 p.m. outside Neiman Marcus.
Described as “the suave brother of our favorite jolly holiday icon,” this Santa will host a sneak peek of Jiwa Singapura, the 10,000-square-foot Singaporean and Malaysian restaurant coming to Tysons Galleria’s redeveloped Macy’s wing.
Previously expected to open in October, the restaurant is now slated to open in early 2023, according to a public relations representative.
Jiwa Singapura is being developed by the team behind Cranes, a D.C.-based Spanish and Japanese fusion restaurant. Chef Pepe Moncayo, who’s also working on a concept at Capital One Center, will be present at next week’s event to offer a preview of the planned menu.
“Designed by //3877, Jiwa Singapura takes inspiration from the modern built forms of Singapore with traditional patterns,” the public relations representative said by email. “The space will capture the best of Singapore’s street-food culture and high-end dining, giving the larger D.C.-metro area a taste of some of the Asian city-state’s boldest, nuanced flavors. Expect to see the classics like Hainanese chicken rice, laksa and chili crab.”
Santa Claus is coming to Tysons this November, giving kids plenty of time to put in their gift requests for Christmas.
Tysons Corner Center announced Tuesday (Nov. 1) that Santa will arrive on Nov. 11 for photo sessions at the mall’s Fashion Court, located on the first floor of the Nordstrom wing.
Advance scheduling is now open. The mall recommends pre-booking a session “for the best experience” and to get a free, personalized call “from Santa.” Visitors who also purchase a photo package will get a “free, personalized video from the North Pole after the visit.”
Santa will be at the mall on most Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 24, though his hours will vary. There are pet nights on Mondays from Nov. 14 to Dec. 5, and the 9-10:30 a.m. slot on Sunday, Dec. 4 will be exclusively for children and families who need a sensory-friendly environment, according to the event webpage.
All sessions are free, but the professional photo packages range in cost from $39.99 to $49.99.
St. Nick — presumably played by a different person — will also take up residence at Tysons Galleria from Nov. 18 to Dec. 24, including for pet nights and a Santa Cares Day on Dec. 4 for kids with disabilities.
In addition, Tysons Galleria’s Neiman Marcus will host a “Breakfast with Santa” event at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3. Tickets are currently available through Eventbrite, costing $65 for adults and $55 for kids aged 3-12.
The department store made waves last year by inviting its first-ever Black Santa. The event proved so popular that it morphed from a three-hour storytime to two days of photo sessions with hot chocolate and cookies provided to those waiting in line.
In other events, the Town of Vienna will usher in the winter holiday season with its annual Church Street Holiday Stroll at 6-8:30 p.m. on Nov. 28. The festivities will include a tree lighting, music and deals from local businesses, though it’s unclear whether Kris Kringle will be in attendance.