Washington, DC, is one of the most exciting places to be this time of year, as people from all over the world come to our capital city to celebrate America’s birthday. Whether or not you think that’s a good thing is another story. Some relish the crowds and the big celebrations, while others prefer to keep the holiday low-key. The great thing about our little section of the Land of the Free is that, no matter what your preference, there are plenty of options for fun and recreation all weekend long. Here are events happening around town where you can embrace the spirit of the 4th, have a mellow holiday, or fall somewhere in between. Happy Weekend! And have a happy and safe Independence Day!
Smithsonian Folklife Festival – The annual celebration of living cultural heritage and community traditions around the globe will be happening on the Mall through July 4 (then again from July 7-11). This year’s festival spotlights the nature of Colombia, 50 years of the Peace Corps, and Rhythm & Blues music in the United States. Special exhibits and programs will offer guests all kinds of opportunities — workshops, performances, exhibits, demos, and more — to discover and explore all three genres, including plenty of activities especially children.
Tales of the Lincoln – Storyteller Jon Spelman takes to the Ford’s Theatre stage for a reprise of his popular one-man show. Explore the varied legends of Abraham Lincoln the man, parent, and president in a series of anecdotes. Tales of the Lincoln will be performed on Saturday and Sunday at 10:30am and 11:30am, and is recommended for ages 6 and older. The show is being offered as part of the Ford’s Theatre daytime programming schedule, so tickets can be obtained free of charge on the day of performance at the theatre box office. Advance reservations are also available through Ticketmaster, though a small service fee will be applied.
Have a Ball (Game) – The Nationals are playing at home all weekend, hosting the Pirates on Friday evening and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. You can also celebrate the 4th at Nationals Park as they begin a four-game series against the Cubs. Tickets are available for all of the games – purchase in advance online or at the box office. And you can currently get half-price tickets for Sunday’s game with a special offer from Certifkid.
Fruits of Your Labor – Pick-your-own on the farm is recommended for yet another week, as many berries and even peaches are ready for harvest. This post lists local farms that offer opportunities to pick ‘em yourself.
Star-Spangled Spectacular – If you want to get out of dodge (ie, take a break from DC) for a bit, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, MD, on Saturday or Sunday. There, you can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst lovely scenery as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks dispay. The starbursts in the sky as live classical musical plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Tickets are $18/adult, $9/kids 12 and under.
National Independence Day Parade – Every good holiday has a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. The festivities begin at 11:45am, but with the masses coming to watch, it’s best to get there early to get a good view. Free to the public.
Independence Day Celebration on National Mall – After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities—picnics, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, concerts, and the spectacular fireworks display as the grand finale. The music begins at 6pm when the U.S. Navy band kicks off the concert at the Washington Monument grounds, followed by a performance by special guest artist Jo Dee Messina . Down at the opposite end of the Mall on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, A Capitol Fourth Concert, which airs live on PBS, will feature Josh Groban, Steve Martin, Jordin Sparks, Matthew Morrison, the National Symphony Orchestra, and more exciting performers. Gates open at 3pm for the 8pm show, and the public is invited to enjoy it for free. Finally, the sky over the Washington Monument will explode with color when the amazing fireworks show begins at 9:15pm.
Reading of the Declaration of Independence – Celebrate July 4th at the National Archives Building with a reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests and family activities starting at 8:30am. The full schedule of events is available on the National Archive’s website.
An American Celebration at Mount Vernon – The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief on Monday with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events on the Mount Vernon wesbite. Admission is $15/adults, $7/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.
Posts to check out any time:
Joys of Summer – Outdoor concert series, pools and spray grounds, movie under the stars, and more fun happening over the hot months.
Rainy Day Recreation (ie, Indoor Fun) – For when the weather doesn’t cooperate, or you want to get out of the sun.
Family Entertainment – See what’s on stages this season.