The Nationals are really embracing the “winter” portion of this year’s Winterfest, their annual offseason event for fans, by ditching the climate-controlled comfort of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center for the outside elements of Nationals Park for the first time since 2011. Tickets for the two-day event, which will be held Dec. 1-2, went on sale this week.
“Every year we start to go through the process of planning out the event and we’ve built more and more around the idea that it is holiday-themed and winter-themed,” Nationals chief revenue and marketing officer Valerie Camillo told The Post in a phone interview. “We brainstorm the different activity stations that we want to have and, while we have some limitations with the spaces at the convention center, by and large those ideas that we had that were really fun required, or were better enhanced by, being outside.”
Thus, the return to Navy Yard, where the theme for Winterfest is “Home for the Holidays.” As usual, every Nationals player and coach will be invited, but attendance isn’t mandatory. Bryce Harper has skipped the event three of the last four years, including in 2014, when he was preparing for a grievance hearing with the team, and in 2016, when he was back home in Las Vegas getting ready for his wedding. There will be photo opportunities with players, interactive games, baseball clinics, winter-themed concessions, traditional ballpark fare and autograph sessions (with the purchase of an autograph voucher, which are not yet on sale).
Some of the new indoor and outdoor activities planned for this year’s Winterfest, which was known as NatsFest until 2015, include clubhouse tours, photo opportunities with the Nationals’ bullpen cart, a pitching station in the Nationals’ bullpen, races against the Racing Presidents and curling. Additional details will be announced at a later date.
And what if it snows?
“A few snowflakes wouldn’t be a negative at all,” Camillo said. “If there was something that made it unsafe for people to be outside, we would have a backup plan to move the event inside. … It’s a way to showcase the park and experiences at the park in a way that we haven’t really done a lot — the park at winter. We think it’s a new element to introduce to our fans.”
The Nationals, who are 7.5 games behind the Braves in the National League East with 22 games to play, are staring at a long offseason. Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo has already suggested Manager Dave Martinez will be back in 2019, but Harper’s future in Washington is less clear. Before the season, the team said its plan-holder base, which includes fans with ticket packages of 10 games or more, was the largest in team history, but after a disappointing year and with D.C.’s first MLB All-Star Game in 49 years in the rearview mirror, that number could take a hit in 2019.
Tickets for Winterfest, which do not include food and beverage, start at $23 for 2019 season plan holders. For non-season plan holders, tickets are $25 and $35 for children and adults, respectively, if bought in advance. Two-day passes are available for $40 and $60 for children and adults, respectively.
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