LIGHTS! CAROLS! ACTION!

The holiday season -- Christmas, Hanukah and Kwanzaa -- arrives in full force this week. Christmas takes center stage with major festivals of lights in Maryland, the Kennedy Center's month-long musical festival, caroling at Wolf Trap and the Pageant of Peace on the Ellipse.

More than 125,000 lights are a-twinkle in the Winter Festival of Lights at Watkins Regional Park at 301 Watkins Park Dr. in Upper Marlboro, from dark to 9:30 daily through Jan. 3. Free; call 301/699-2407.

A larger Festival of Lights is at the Washington Temple Visitors Center in Kensington, where more than 200,000 lights and 14 beautifully decorated trees are on display from 5:30 to 10 each evening through Jan. 6. Concerts will be offered at 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 each night through Dec. 30. The center is at 9900 Stoneybrook Dr., next to the Mormon Temple. Free; call 202/662-7480.

The Pageant of Peace and lighting of the National Christmas Tree takes place at 5 Thursday on the Ellipse south of the White House. The annual lighting ceremony will feature Willard Scott as Santa Claus and entertainment by Ricky Van Shelton, Jane Powell, the Army Band and other groups. From 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 14 through Dec. 23, choirs and bands from the area will present holiday music programs. The tree will remain lighted until Jan. 1. Free; call 202/619-7222.

Join the Marine Band for a free concert of carols at 4 Sunday at the Filene Center, Wold Trap Farm Park, 1624 Trap Rd. in Vienna. Free, but tickets are required; call 703/255-1900.

The Kennedy Center celebrates the holidays with a sleighful of concerts, plays, sing-alongs and more. Many of the events are free. See the accompanying box for a complete schedule.

Following is the calendar of additional events. Recurring activities are listed only on the dates on which they start.