- The Mount Pleasant Library will host “Little Builders!,” a STEM program for the library’s youngest guests. 10 a.m. Free. Mount Pleasant Library, 3160 16th St. NW. 202-671-3121.
- Discovery Theater will present a screening of the animated film “The Snowy Day,” with a singalong of holiday songs (for ages 3 through 7). 10:30 a.m. and noon. $3 to $8. Discovery Theater, S. Dillon Ripley Center, 1100 Jefferson Drive SW. 202-633-8700. The film will also be shown Dec. 15 and 19 at 10:30 a.m. and noon.
- The Georgetown Library will present “Rock Dog.” 4 p.m. Free. Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW. 202-727-0232.
- The Kid’s Chess Club will offer weekly chess instruction. 5 p.m. Free. Chevy Chase Library, 5625 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-282-0021.
- The “Holiday Lobbying” concert series will feature the Congressional Chorus. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free. Lobby, The Willard InterContinental, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-628-9100.
- The Pan American Symphony Orchestra will celebrate Argentina’s National Tango Day with a concert of traditional tangos and nuevo tango selections by Astor Piazzolla and his contemporaries. 6 p.m. Free. Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center. 202-467-4600.
- Lox & Vodka will play klezmer and Jewish music as part of the U.S. Botanic Garden’s “Holiday Music in the Garden” series. 6 to 8 p.m. Free. Conservatory Garden Court, U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Ave. SW. 202-225-8333.
- The National Symphony Orchestra will present Handel’s “Messiah,” featuring conductor Jeannette Sorrell, the University of Maryland Concert Choir and soloists Sophie Daneman, Ann McMahon Quintero, Karim Sulayman and Christian Immler. 7 p.m. $15 to $89. Concert Hall, Kennedy Center. 202-467-4600. The performance will repeat Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
Discussions and lectures
- The National Portrait Gallery’s “Thursdays at Noon: 3 in 30” program will focus on three legends of the entertainment business — George Gershwin, Ginger Rogers and Ethel Merman. Noon. Free. National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F streets NW. 202-633-1000.
- National Gallery of Art lecturer David Gariff will discuss “The Christmas Story in Art.” 2 p.m. Free. West Building Rotunda, National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW. 202-737-4215. The talk will repeat Dec. 18, 20, 21 and 22 at 2 p.m.
- Nan Alexander Doyal — author of “Dig Where You Are,” about seven men and women who have solved major societal challenges — will talk about making a difference. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Free. The Loft, Busboys and Poets 5th & K, 1025 5th St. NW. 202-789-2227.
- Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic National Committee, will discuss her book “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” 7 p.m. $20 to $25. Woman’s National Democratic Club, 1526 New Hampshire Ave. NW. 202-232-7363.
- The Georgetown Book Club will discuss Katie Kitamura’s 2017 novel “A Separation,” about a woman who travels to Greece in search of her estranged and missing husband. 7:30 p.m. Free. Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW. 202-727-0232.
- Local book critic Bethanne Patrick — who tweets at @TheBookMaven — will offer suggestions for books as holiday gifts. 8 p.m. Free. The Den at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-364-1919.
- The Textiles at Twelve series will feature the documentary “In Search of Lost Color: The Story of Natural Dyes,” about the wide-ranging sources of natural dyes that were used exclusively until about 150 years ago. Noon. Free. George Washington University Museum and Textile Museum, 701 21st St. NW. 202-994-5200.
- The National Archives will screen two films related to the war in Vietnam: “Hidden War in Vietnam” (1963) and “Why Vietnam?” (1965). Noon to 1:15 p.m. Free. McGowan Theater, National Archives Building, 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. 202-357-5000.
- The Phillips Collection will screen Jean Renoir’s film “La Grande Illusion,” about two French soldiers in a German prisoner of war camp during World War I. 6 p.m. $12; reservations recommended. Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW. phillipscollection.org/events.
- The Takoma Park Library’s “Book to Film Club” will watch the film adaptation of Yann Martel’s “Life of Pi” after reading the fantasy adventure novel. 6:30 p.m. Free. Takoma Park Library, 416 Cedar St. NW. 202-576-7252.
- Director Helen Young will present a screening of her documentary “The Nuns, the Priests, and the Bombs,” followed by a discussion with Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Weisgall and anti-nuclear activist Sister Megan Rice. 7 to 10 p.m. Free; reservations required. Room 602, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 1957 E St. NW. elliott.gwu.edu.
- Ovations Studios will present Tchaikovsky’s ballet classic “The Nutcracker.” 6 p.m. $25. Greenberg Theatre, American University, 4200 Wisconsin Ave. NW. 202-885-2587. The performance will repeat Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Washington National Opera will present “The Little Prince,” a holiday family opera based on Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic illustrated storybook. 7:30 p.m. $45 to $65. Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center. 202-467-4600. The performance will repeat Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.
- ThePianoGuys — who became YouTube stars by way of their immensely successful series of strikingly original self-made music videos — will perform their new live show “Christmas Together.” 7:30 p.m. $60.75 to $103.75. National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. thenationaldc.org/events. The performance will repeat Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 4 and 8 p.m.
- “Alone & Together,” a musical series featuring musicians playing one another’s songs as well as their own, will feature Elvis Perkins, Joe Russo, Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats, Sam Cohen and Josh Kaufman. 8 p.m. $35 to $40. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. sixthandi.org.
- The 13th annual Downtown Holiday Market will feature exhibitors, local food and live music. Noon to 8 p.m. Free admission. Sidewalk of F Street between 7th and 9th streets NW, in front of the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. downtownholidaymarket.com. The market will continue through Dec. 23 from noon to 8 p.m. daily.
- The Washington Harbour ice rink will offer public skating. Noon to 9 p.m. $9 to $10. Washington Harbour, 3000 K St. NW. 202-706-7666. Regular hours are Monday and Tuesday from noon to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 9 p.m., Friday from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- “ZooLights” will feature environmentally friendly LED displays, a light show set to music, 150-foot-long “snow tubing” tracks, the Conservation Carousel, live entertainment, and a glow-in-the-dark play zone for children. 5 to 9 p.m. Free admission. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. 202-633-4470. The event will repeat daily through Jan. 1 (except Dec. 24, 25 and 31).
- “Design Showcase: Student-Designed Housing Solutions” will highlight a proposal for a building in Penn Quarter to meet the neighborhood’s housing needs, designed by students at Takoma Education Campus and School Without Walls at Francis-Stevens participating in the CityVision program. 6 to 7:30 p.m. Free. National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. 202-272-2448.
- The National Museum of American Jewish Military History will host its annual Hanukkah party with latkes, jelly doughnuts and song, as well as a look at ways Jews in the American military have continued the tradition of the Maccabees. 6:30 p.m. Free; reservations required. National Museum of American Jewish Military History, 1811 R St. NW. 202-265-6280.
- The Georgetown Library’s monthly Trivia Night will offer a chance to team up with friends or join fellow nerds to take home a prize (for adults and savvy teens). 7 p.m. Free. Georgetown Library, 3260 R St. NW. 202-727-0232.
- The Embassy of France will host a “Nuit Du Champagne Holidays Celebration,” featuring a selection of 40-plus Champagne cuvées, more than 10 epicurean tasting stations, and French music and entertainment. 7 to 10 p.m. $75 to $175. Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road NW. NuitDuChampagne.com.
- “Gardener’s Focus: Holiday Decor” will feature a tour led by Hillwood floral and event decor designer Ami Wilber highlighting Christmas trees inspired by Marjorie Post’s spectacular gems and jewelry. 12:45 to 1:15 p.m. $15 to $18; tickets distributed at the Visitor Center upon opening each day. Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Ave. NW. 202-686-5807. The tour will repeat Friday at 12:45 p.m.
- Tudor Place will host a candlelight tour featuring the mansion’s glittering holiday decor and outdoor illuminations. 6 to 7:30 p.m. $15 to $25; reservations required. Tudor Place Historic House and Garden, 1644 31st St. NW. tudorplace.org.