Category Archives: Festival

The KFDC Guide to the 2021 Fall Festival Season

Autumn delight at Clarke’s Elioak Farm

 

Fall is right around the corner, and so are the many festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to art to historic times. You can have a blast on a farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst gorgeous autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date (and mostly reprised/updated from previous years — I’ve been posting fall fest round-ups for a decade!), will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 24
Admission: Thru 9/12: $21/age 16+, $11/age 7-15
9/14-10/20: $28/age 16+, $13/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century tudor village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Huzzah!

Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under

September may mean back to school for many, but at Great Country it means back to the farm for freshly pressed cider and apple picking. You can celebrate it with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in our 12-acre play area, and some educational fun in the What’s Regenerative Agriculture Corn Maze. As you meander the paths, learn about how the deep roots in the soil can keep the farm’s food and environment as healthy as possible. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races,  and cider pressing demos, too!

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 7
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: September 3 – October 31
Admission: $11/weekdays, $15-17/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD, with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more. Dates to note: September 11-12: Military and First Responders Appreciation Weekend | September 18-19: Touch a Tractor | September 25-26: Apple Harvest Festival | October 1-31: Pumpkin Harvest Festival.

DC Walls
Where: NoMa, DC
When: September 8-18
Admission: Free

For six days, this international mural festival brings together local, national, international artists for a 10-day outdoor festival to create larger than life works of art. The goal is to “make the city a brighter and more vibrant place, while sharing art and creativity from around the world.” Find wall locations on this Google Map to see works in progress, and plan to join the family-friendly opening event at Alethia Tanner Park (227 Harry Thomas Way NE) on September 12 from 12-4pm.

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 11, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 45th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations.  This year’s event also includes a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic inside the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). Fairfax Health will offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer Vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up from 11am – 4pm.

Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 12, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.

National Dance Day Festival
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 16-18
Admission: Free

Celebrate the joy of dance and movement at the Kennedy Center! Head to The REACH plaza for the 12th year of the National Dance Day Festival which includes free performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more from local organizations.

National Book Festival
Where: Online
When: September 17-26
Admission: Free

This may be the event that I’m most bummed won’t be back in person this year, but it’s one that definitely warrants inclusion here. The Library of Congress’ wonderful annual National Book Fest will be virtual, but offering an extended 10 days of book-related events and opportunities onlines. Audiences are encouraged to create their own festival experience during the “Open a Book, Open the World”-themed event. Over 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be participating — view the list of them here.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
Admission: $14.95

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. This year’s Sunflower Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field will be open September 17-26 (closed Monday). Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 18, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is returning! This one is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do.  In past years, the event has featured loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 18-19, September 25 – November 7
Admission: $7-20 depending on dates

This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling grounds that contain multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and much more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 18-19
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as experts demonstrate period crafting techniques. And you can see General Washington in the General’s Tent. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 18 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. Some of the festivities are add-ons, so plan to spend extra.  They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the big corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $35-40 for the 5k

Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. There will be arts and crafts, pony rides, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 18 – Ocotber 31
Admission: $15.95-19.95/adult, $13.95-16.95/child, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups, and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more. It’s also a great place for a fall birthday party. Get $2 off Mon-Thurs admission after 2pm by subscribing to their email list!

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 18 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$17.50, depending on time/day

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Artsfest ’21
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 18-19
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under

Enjoy a fabulous weekend of the visual and performing arts with 160+ artists booths, 35 performers on four stages, activities for kids, great food, wine & beer, and much more. Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the 30 acre sculpture garden, explore the excitement of the Tent Circle and the Arts Building, then wander the shady Wooded Path to find artists and activities nestled in the beautiful woods. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Weekends September 24 – October 31
Admission: $10

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more! Note: They are now offering Farm Fun Fridays with hours 1-6pm.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $28/child, $6/adult

Celebrate the season and have fun at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the whole fam for all kinds of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, a learning maze,  bouncy fun, and more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions on weekends. Visits will be offered in 90-minute sessions.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 25
Admission: Free

This free neighborhood festival is organized by and for the residents of Petworth, but all are welcome to enjoy. Celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods, festivities include Petworth history storytelling, live music and performers, kids activities, tasty food, and a dog show. View the schedule here.

PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 25 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 25 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $8/Friday, $10/weekends

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and note that only pumpkin picking and pony rides are available Monday – Friday.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 25-26
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 50th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, September 25 – October 31
Admission: $10-15/weekdays, $12-17/weekends 

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Oinkintucky Derby pig races; a cow train; wagon rides to pick pumpkins; five mazes; big slides; rope swings; tractor rides; and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, one of the largest u-pick patches in the area. See allllll of the many activities here.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $8/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds once again will be transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 2
Admission: Free

It’s that time of yea… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your dachshund, and head to The Wharf to celebrate Oktoberfest! Join a day of German-inspired food and specials at the many riverside restaurants and shops. There will be food and drink specials to enjoy — more deets to come soon!

Oktoberfest: Battle of the Polka Bands
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 2, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Break out your lederhosen and dirndls and head to The Boro to celebrate Oktoberfest featuring a Battle of the Polka Bands! This unique, family-friendly fete will feature a battle of the bands-style competition where traditional and modern polka groups will go head-to-head to be crowned the fan favorite! Guests of all ages are invited to take part in even more themed activities, like photo booths, craft stations, and a variety of outdoor games located all around the park.
Turkish Festival
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 3, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

The American Turkish Association of Washington, DC, is bringing Aegean Türkiye to the District. Join them on District Pier for the free Turkish Festival with a theme this year of Turkaegean, meaning Coast of Happiness. The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, fortune telling, cultural events and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.

PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 2, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 60 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day. RSVP if you’re planning on going!

Art on the Avenue
Where:Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 2, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Numerous artists — jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians — will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival — there will be crafts especially for young festival-goers to enjoy and take home. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 9, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family. Details for 2021 are still to come, but past years have included live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, a variety of performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and much more.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 9-10
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District is transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation. “Art Fair Sourcebook” and “Sunshine Artists” have recognized the event as one the most important in the country, and over 45,000 attendees agree! In the past there has been a Kids’ Tent with art activities especially for them, but it remains to be seen if that will return this year (will share updates!).

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 9-10 & 23
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 9-10, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: multiple varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 23 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Venues around the District
When: October 9 & 16
Admission: Free

You don’t have to cross the pond to enjoy European entertainment! Consider your passport to continental entertainment as the 14th Annual Kids Euro Festival brings art and cultural events right to DC. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the exciting acts that perform, Usually in-person over several weeks, the festival is modified this year due to Covid. There will only be two Family Days on October 9 & 16 featuring live acts and activities hosted by performers from a variety of EU Member States! You can enjoy even more online.

OctROWber Fest
Where: 8th Street SE |Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 23
Admission: Free

There’s no Barracks Row Festival this year; instead, you can support local 8th Street SE businesses this October, Munich-style. Join for a day of live music from a traditional Oompah band and more fun. To keep neighbors safe and adhere to social distancing recommendations, they won’t be closing down the street or having outside vendors.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
Admission: TBD

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too. More details available soon!

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!

 

An early Cox Farms visit … this little guy now measures up to FARM!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Huzzah…Ren Fest is Returning with Merriment for All!

 

I usually hesitate to deem one particular place or activity “the best.”  It’s rare that you’ll see Top 10 lists here on KFDC; they feel misleading to me.  Even my round-up of the best outdoor places consists of more than 60 of them in random order.  That’s because “the best” is so personal, specific, and dependent on ages, interests, convenience to where one lives.  I have favorites, for sure, but calling something the best generally is a no-no for me.

Except for one thing: Ren Fest.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile surely already knows that the Maryland Renaissance Festival is my very, very, VERY favorite annual event in the area.  We’ve been going since before we had kids, and bringing them since they were babes. There are a multitude of reasons why it’s my fave — you can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more on that — but ultimately I love that at the core, it’s a celebration of the unconventional, a kingdom of mirth, where fun and delight reign and offbeat is normal.  Ren Fest is the best.  It’s just fact — in my book, anyway.

After very sadly but understandably being cancelled last year, the Maryland Renaissance Festival returns in 2021 starting this weekend, August 28-29! And I oh-so-highly recommend going.  I pride myself on the number of people I have converted into Ren Festers — and I promise you want to be among them.

Logistics
The merriment begins this Saturday, August 28, and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through October 24 in the lovely 16th century-style hamlet of Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD. Hours are 10am – 7pm. Through September 12, admission is $21/adults, $19/seniors, $10/ages 7-15, free for ages 6 and under.  After that, ticket prices go up to $28/adults, $24/seniors, $13/ages 7-15, still free for 6 and under. Multi-day passes that offer a discount are also available. This year, tickets must be reserved in advance online. There are no day-of, in-person ticket sales.

Notable Dates
In previous years, many weekends had special themes, like a Celtic celebration and pirate weekend, with events and activities offered on just those dates.  While most aren’t happening this year due to Covid, there still are a few special weekends to be aware of:
* August 28-29: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
* September 6: Seniors day — Free admission for all seniors age 62+
* September 11 & October 10: ASL Interpretation Days – Selected stage shows will be interpreted in ASL

KFDC Tips
* Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there is  a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that navigates over dirt paths easily.
* Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day, but I recommend not overthinking it; Ren Fest is best experienced with a “go with the flow” mindset.
* If there’s a show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats, so the kids have a good view.
* You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football.
* Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids — all reasonably priced, but it can add up.
* Tickets can sell out, especially on beautiful fall days as the chances to go dwindle. Between that and the new online sales only, you might want to reserve further in advance than usual.
* Consider pros and cons to going at different times: Early in the season, crowds are smaller because it’s usually very hot, and the admission fee is lower. Later in the season, the cool, crisp weather and autumn foliage adds some extra splendor to the visit, but also draws the masses.
* Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, and pirates will fit right in.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD ( get directions)
When: Weekends August 28 – October 24, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $21-28/adult, $19-24/senior, $10-13/age 7-15, free/6 & under

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Summer, Weekend

The Weekend Round-Up: October 9-12

 

Happy Long Weekend!

 

Fallin’
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Whether you want to experience traditional fall fun activities or enjoy the season in more mellow ways, there are plenty of options for both.  Check out this round-up of festivals that are happening around the area for pumpkin picking, farm animals, hayrides, and the like. And see this post for some great places to enjoy autumn (that are not fall festivals).

Fall Wine Festival & Sunset Tour
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: Friday – Sunday
Admission: Starts at $42/member, $46/non-member

Enjoy wine and the season at George Washington’s (former) digs. Taste unlimited samples from Virginia wineries after hours as you enjoy twilight on the grounds of Mount Vernon. Tickets are sold out for Saturday evening, but you can still snag them for Friday and Sunday.

Dinner & Concert (Kind Of)
Where: The Hamilton | Downtown DC
When: Friday & Saturday evenings
Admission: Free, but $100 food/drink minimum/table

The Hamilton can’t host live concerts right now, but they’ve come up with a different way to enjoy live music. On weekends, they are hosting screenings of concert films by awesome acts. You can watch them as you enjoy dinner — their extensive menu will be available. This weekend they are showing Pink Floyd – The Wall on Friday and The Rolling Stones: Shine a Light on Saturday. Dors open 6:30pm, and the concert begins at 7:30pm. Tables seat up to 4 or 6, and there is a $100 deposit to reserve, which will be applied to the bill.

Drive-In “Spooky” Movie Nights
Where: DC Party Box | Rockville, MD
When: Friday, Saturday, & Sunday
Admission: $15/adult, $10/13 & under

Enjoy Sppoktacular theater at this drive-in, featuring an LED screen, FM broadcasting, and spooky surprises. There are two showings each night, a family-friendly film at 7pm and a classic or scary movie 10pm. This weekend it’s Hotel Transylvania and Halloween on Friday, Beetlejuice and Children of the Corn on Saturday, and Ghost Busters and Paranormal Activity on Sunday. Reserve in advance online, one reservation per car.

Fun at Fairfax Parks
Where: Parks around Fairfax County, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

The Fairfax County Park Authority hosts all kinds of events on weekends for guests of all ages. Take teens on a fall foliage kayaking expedition. Practice mindfulness at Green Spring Gardens. Investigate salamanders at Riverbend Park. Details and registration for these and more nature activities this weekend and beyond are available here.

King Bullfrog Virtual Concert for Biden- Harris
Where: Online
When: Saturday, 1pm
Admission: Donations start at $25/family

Join local kids band King Bullfrog online for a fun way to support Joe & Kamala’s campaign — a virtual roots-and-blues concert for families! Want to join the fun, but are busy on October 10th? Audio and video of the concert will be available to ticket buyers on King Bullfrog’s website.

Plenty of space to explore exhibits safely at the National Portrait Gallery

Inside Info
Where: Around the area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by activity

With a chance of wet weather this weekend, you may be seeking indoor activities. There are plenty of options for them, and venues are taking extra precautions to ensure safety during COVID. This post has details on outings that take place inside and this one has suggestions especially for little kids.

Monuments: Creative Forces
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: Through October 25
Admission: $5-30

This unique outdoor art installation throughout Strathmore’s 16 acres sounds like an ideal exhibition for COVID times, being in fresh air with a lot of space.  Monuments: Creative Forces by Australian artist Craig Walsh features moving, dimensional video portraits of artists whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the shape of our community in profound ways. The expansive portraits of these creative heroes were chosen by a diverse panel of community and arts leaders  are projected on to towering trees, transforming them into animated sculptural monuments.

Carpe Librum
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The mobile book store returns to the Capitol Riverfront, selling high-quality, gently-used items. Browse thousands of books, CDs, DVDs, and vinyl records, all on sale for under $6. There’s something for everyone at this sale: children’s books, teen reads, brand-new bestsellers in amazing condition, classic vintage hardbacks, and more! Masks are required, check out will be no-contact, and social distancing will be practiced during browsing. Payment via e-pay methods such as Apple Pay or credit card is accepted; no cash. Carpe Librum is a donation-based used bookstore benefiting the DC nonprofit Turning the Page.

Duets on Ice
Where: Online
When: Saturday, 4pm
Admission: Free

In anticipation of Laurie Anderson: The Weather scheduled to open at the Hirshhorn in Spring 2021, internationally renowned artist Laurie Anderson is recreating her iconic performance Duets on Ice and streaming it live online for the first time from the Hirshhorn’s outdoor Plaza. Debuted in New York in 1974, the performance comprises the artist wearing skates frozen into blocks of ice and playing her violin in a series of electronic duets until the ice melts, and she loses her balance.

Riding the trails at Kingman Island

Ride On
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Bike rides are an excellent activity for right now. You can enjoy the  fall weather while social distancing, and get some exercise, to boot. The DC area has plenty of good routes to ride, with something for every age and rider level. This post has a bunch of pedal-worthy recommendations.

Go Disc Golfin’
Where: Courses around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free

Hit the links, the chain links, that is! Disc golf is a great way to enjoy a nice fall day outdoors with the family. Not only is it fun and challenging, the courses, many of them set up in scenic places, are lovely this time of year. This post has info about one in College Park, and there are also great courses at Seneca Creek State Park in Gaithersburg and Burke Lake Park in Burke.

Do Some Garden-ing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

Fall is a great time to roam the many gardens in the area as the changing leaves start to brighten up the summer green. Enjoy the fall flowers and manicured grounds of the Enid A. Haupt Garden behind the Smithsonian Castle (then visit the museums).  Explore, play, and see a variety of plant collections at the National Arboretum. Wander around Green Spring Gardens on a scavenger hunt. Venture out to the gorgeous Meadowlark Botanical Garden. Relish in the peace at the Brookland Monastery. Or roam the expansive grounds of Brookside Gardens.  You can bring along a picnic to many of these places and make it a whole day’s outing.

A peek at the powerful Americans exhibit at the NMAI

Indigenous People’s Day
Where: American Indian Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Free with timed entry ticket

There’s no special event going on, but the NMAI is an ideal place to go for learning about Indigenous People. While the museum is closed on the actual day (Monday), it’s open all weekend and safety protocols are in place for COVID, including timed entry passes to limit capacity. If you can’t go this weekend, let this listing serve as a reminder to book passes for another day.  Reserve free tickets here.

Even More Activities
Where: Around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale

If you want even more ideas for things to do over the long weekend, this post has plenty of inspo, listing both ongoing activities around the area as well as information on reopenings.

 

***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* Time 4 Mom is a new monthly subscription box especially for busy moms, and there’s a giveaway for a chance to win a complimentary box!
* Kids of all ages can join the Tiny Chefs and Teen Chefs Cooking Club, a new and fun (& yummy) online membership program from Tiny Chefs.
* Plan for Halloween with this round-up of wicked fun (& safe) activities coming up over the next few weeks.
* Hanna Andersson has super cute character inspired clothes for kids, plus pajamas on sale.
* N Street Village is hosting its annual SHERO Family Walk next Saturday, though it will be virtual this year. The event benefits N Street Village, the city’s largest provider of housing and services for women experiencing homelessness.
* This has been “shockingly” useful.
* Something fun and delicious to make this fall weekend.
* Scary Costume Ideas for 2020 😱 😂

 

Note: KFDC may earn a commission when you click on one of the links and make a purchase. Thank you for the support!

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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Fall, Farm, Festival, Maryland, Ongoing, Outdoor, Seasonal, Social Distancing, Special Event, Virginia, Weekend

Activities & Events for Families During Cherry Blossom Season (2020)


UPDATE: Due to the coronavirus, the National Cherry Blossom Festival and just about all other events have been canceled. You can still try view them, but use good judgement doing so.

Cherry blossom season is almost upon us, and it’s time to start getting ready for it! Because not only is the city at its prettiest when the beloved flowers are in bloom, there also are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. The National Cherry Blossom Festival, running March 20 – April 12 this year, presents all kinds of fun and enriching activities over a few weeks, plus there are even more blossom-inspired happenings that aren’t part of the official festivities. I’ve picked the best of them for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!

Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March
Admission: Free

Viewing the cherry blossoms may just be the top thing to do during the season — and lots of people agree. The scenery really can’t get more iconic DC than the flowering trees around the Tidal Basin at their peak pink and white brilliance with our grand memorials in the background. However, viewing the famous blooms can be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things, so be sure to check out these KFDC tips before you go to see them. And view scenes from last year’s bloom here.

STORYTIME: Under the Cherry Blossom Tree CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 11, 10-11am & March 15 & 22, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

In celebration of cherry blossoms, join the Hirhshorn for a read aloud of Under the Cherry Blossom Tree by Allen Say. Take a close look at the museum’s lobby’s tables, created by artist Hiroshi Sugimoto using a 700-year-old nutmeg tree, then create your own tree- and blossom-inspired works.

Hanami: Beyond the Blooms
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 13 – May 25
Admission: $16-20/adult, $8-10/child

ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and it’s only apropos that its spring offering highlights the cherry blossoms. Hanami: Beyond the Blooms “pushes the limits of the cherry blossom experience, inviting visitors to enter an immersive world of spring re-imagined. Now an annual tradition, ARTECHOUSE’s cherry blossom-inspired installation continues to celebrate springtime and women in the arts and tech.” Look for a KFDC review of it soon!

Cultural Performances CANCELLED!
Where: Tidal Basin Welcome Area
When: Weekends, March 21 – April 12
Admission: Free

Catch live entertainment as you take in views of the blossoms! On weekends during the National Cherry Blossom Festival, there will be music and dance performances on a special stage set up at the Tidal Basin Welcome Area. A highlight will be the Miyako Takio Takeover Saturday on March 28 from 11am to 6pm.

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: American Art Museum | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 21, 11:30am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Join SAAM and the National Cherry Blossom Festival for a celebration of Japanese culture. A taiko drumming performance kicks off the day, followed by Les The DJ spinning Japanese pop, funk, and boogie beats and the Koto Ensemble performing traditional Japanese dance. Enjoy face painting, make cherry blossom crafts, and go on an art scavenger hunt throughout the exhibition Chiura Obata: American Modern in the first-floor galleries. 

Japanese Fashion Family Day CANCELLED!
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: March 21, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Japanese fashion during cherry blossom season this spring. Join the Textile Museum & George Washington University museum for a family day featuring kimono, happi coats, accessories, and the creative shapes of contemporary Japanese fashion designers. Enjoy dance performances of Eisaa and Ryubu traditional dances from Okinawa. See a demonstration for how to dress in a kimono and take the opportunity to design one of your own. Make a cherry blossom pendant to take home. And enjoy family-friendly tours of the Japanese artwork on display in Delight in Discovery: The Global Collections of Lloyd Cotsen. This is a fantastic opportunity to experience a museum that usually may be a bit sophisticated for little ones!

Go with the Flow
Where: Local waterways
When: Starting mid-March
Admission: Rates vary

Get a new perspective of the blossom and enjoy a fun activity on a paddling excursion. Many boathouses will open around the same time the National Cherry Blossom Festival begins, offering canoe, kayak, and other rentals to take you out on the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Tidal Bason, where you can see the blooming cherry trees from the water. This KFDC post has more information on where to go with the flow around DC.

River Cruisin’
Where: Local waterways
When: Ongoing
Admission: Varies by tour operator

Enjoy blossom filled scenery from the comfort of a cruise on the Potomac. Several companies offer boat rides along the river, many of them specifically for the season when the cherry trees are in bloom. Right now you can find great deals with Washington Marina National Ferry Corp, Boomerang Boat Tours, and Capitol River Cruises. Potomac Riverboat Company and DC Water Taxi are a couple more to check out.

Last year’s cherry blossom inspired exhibit at ARTECHOUSE

STORYTIME: The Tiny Seed CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 25, 10-11am
Admission: Free

Join the Hirshhorn for a special STORYTIME, their regular program for littles, and join them to celebrate spring with the journey of a tiny seed. Take a close look at the round bronze sculptures of Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and read-aloud The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night with the Washington Wizards CANCELLED!
Where: Capitol One Arena | Penn Quarter, DC
When: March 25, 7pm
Admission: Tickets start at $19

Celebrate the cherry blossom season with the Wizards and some basketball as they take on the Phoenix Suns! Each ticket purchased through this link comes with a limited edition Wizards Cherry Blossom t-shirt. In addition first 10,000 fans entering the arena will receive a Rui Hachimura Cherry Blossom inspired bobblehead!

Blossom Kite Festival CANCELLED!
Where: Washington Monument Grounds | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 10am – 4:30pm
Admission: Free

The annual Blossom Kite Festival is a favorite for many during the blossom season. The sight of thousands of kites in all colors, shapes, and sizes soaring around the Washington Monument truly is a sight to behold. The sails you see flying at the Festival each spring range from simple to pretty darn creative. Dragons, sharks, butterflies, giant soccer balls, even some that look like big, beautiful origami works way outnumber your basic diamond. And anyone can go fly their kites, so BYO or make one there at an activity station. There’s a competition aspect to the event, too; expert kite enthusiasts will wow crowds with cool stunts, and prizes will be awarded to winners of various categories such as most beautiful, funniest, and aerodynamics.

Cherry Blossom Celebration CANCELLED!
Where: Freer|Sackler Gallery | National Mall, DC
When: March 28, 12-4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the season at the museum dedicated to Asian art! At this special event, explore Japanese art and culture through musical performances, making art, and taking a tour of Hokusai: Mad about Painting and Meeting Tessai. Try Japanese bookmaking, listen to taiko drumming, and then join the kite festival right outside on the National Mall. Japanese-inspired food and drink will be available for purchase.

Into the Woods
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Centreville, VA
When: March 28, 11am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the cherry blossoms at the farm park! Hike the nature trail to experience the changes of spring. Visit stations peppered throughout the trail to build a fairy house, help tally migratory and year round resident birds, and search for critters in the soil and water. Enjoy Japanese teas at the historic Frying Pan Meeting House, too. Stop by the Indoor Arena first for a map and instructions.

Cherry Blossom STEM Day
Where: Children’s Science Center Lab | Fairfax, VA
When: March 29, 10am – 6pm
Admission: $13

Celebrate the Cherry Blossom Festival with a twist of STEM! Visitors can learn more about the special flower and festival through hands-on activities and experiments inspired by the cherry blossom throughout the entire Lab. Read more about the Children’s Science Center Lab in this KFDC post.

Cuenta-Cuentos: STORYTIME in Spanish CANCELLED!
Where: Hirshhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: March 29, 11am – 12pm
Admission: Free

Join a special STORYTIME in Spanish and inspired the season! Celebrate spring with a close look at the round bronze sculptures Spatial Concept: Nature by Lucio Fontana, and a reading of The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle. Then, explore how plants move and change throughout their life cycle. Following the story, children will participate in a hands-on art activity.

Cherry Blossom Night at DC United
Where: Audi Field | Southwest DC
When: April 3, 7pm
Admission: Ticket prices vary

Support local sports and be a part of the Cherry Blossom Festival at once! DC United’s home match against New York City FC will include cherry blossom-themed activations, activities, and celebrations for fans along with the action on the pitch. Score tickets here.

National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade CANCELLED!
Where: Constitution Avenue, 7th – 17th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10am – 12pm
Admission: Free

The pinnacle of cherry blossom festivities just might be the parade. Thousands of people line Constitution Avenue every year to watch the procession of lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and a variety of performers roll through the city. Tickets for grandstand seats are available for $20, but you can stake out a spot along the curb for free. Plan to arrive early to get a good view — the crowds come out for this one, especially if it’s a pretty spring day.

See Racing Presidents rolling down Constitution Ave at the annual parade

Sakura Matsuri
Where: Pennsylvania Ave, 3rd-7th St NW | Downtown DC
When: April 4, 10:30am – 6pm
Admission: $10/ages 13+, free/12 & under

Following the Cherry Blossom parade, many folks head over to Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese Street Festival that is America’s largest one-day exhibition of Japanese culture. The 60th annual event will feature live music and dance performances, all kinds of Asian and Western foods, martial arts demos, Japanese art, and more. Be prepared for a crowd.

Bloomaroo
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: April 4, 2-9pm
Admission: Free

Join The Wharf for Bloomaroo, their local version of Bonaroo, where they’ll be celebrating the cherry blossoms with a full day of art, music, and family-friendly fun along the waterfront! If you want to make this a special adult experience with food and drinks included, VIP tickets are available for $55. Read more about The Wharf in this KFDC post.

Art Blooms at Mosaic
Where: Mosaic District | McLean, VA
When: April 4 & 5, 11am – 5pm
Admission: Free

The 2nd annual Art Blooms at Mosaic is celebratory weekend with fun for all ages. Do some shopping at the market, catch live entertainment and art exhibits, do some kids activities, enjoy a pop-up beer garden & wine patio, snap pics at selfie stations, join a free yoga session, and much more!

Sakura Sunday
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: April 5, 11am – 8pm
Admission: Free

National Harbor’s Sakura Sunday is an official event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival — and a taste of the traditional Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan! The day’s activities include a traditional Japanese picnic, unique Japanese market, foods of Japan, Japanese music & entertainment, and a sake, beer & rose garden!

Anacostia River Festival
Where: Anacostia Park | Southeast DC
When: April 5, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

The 6th annual Anacostia River Festival is a premier event of the 2020 National Cherry Blossom Festival. This year will feature an artist market, special performances, and activities that include boating, hands-on art projects, musical performances, and other unique programs engaging families with the river, its history, and ecology.

Blossoms & Baseball
Where: Nationals Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 6
Admission: Ticket price vary

The Nats are getting in on the Cherry Blossom festivities again this year with a petal-packed, pink takeover of Nationals Park as they host the Marlins. A portion of ticket proceeds from the game will also benefit the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Japanese Culture Day
Where: Library of Congress | Capitol Hill, DC
When: April 11, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free

Children of all ages and their families can learn about Japanese culture through reading, writing, and craft-making with Japanese cultural and linguistic professionals. Japanese-related books will be on display, and a special highlight of the day is “Japan-In-A-Suitcase,” an inspiring program about Japanese life and culture. Other activities include Japanese drum music and dance performances, instructions on the art of tiara-making by former Cherry Blossom princesses, origami artwork lessons, decorative Konobori coloring, and the kimono dress-up experience. Children can also explore the Library’s Young Readers Center, which is full of current and classic children’s literature — read more about it here.

Petalpalooza
Where: The Yards | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 11, 12-9:30pm
Admission: Free

Join the Capitol Riverfront community for Petalpalooza! It’s the first time the event will be held in neighborhood, and it should be a blast. The event will celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival with live music, art installations, a beer garden, and lots of family-friendly activities. Plan to go for awhile, or just stop by for a bit. The day will cap off with a fireworks show over the Anacostia River.

Ikebana Demonstrations
Where: National Arboretum | Northeast DC
When: April 11 & 12, 10am – 1:30pm
Admission: Free

Enjoy spring flowers with a Japanese twist! The Washington DC Chapter of Ikebana International is co-hosting four different Ikebana masters. Each master represents a different school and and will highlight the characteristics of their school. Demonstrations will be held in the Auditorium of the Visitor Center and are free to attend.


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