Category Archives: Music

Where to Celebrate MLK Day Around the DC Area

Visiting the memorials is one way to celebrate MLK


Whether you’re looking for ways to teach kids about MLK, want to give back on the Day of Service, enjoy live entertainment that pays tribute to his legacy, or hope to join a special event to observe the occasion, these recommendations will have you covered.

Day of Service
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: January 20
Admission: Just your time

If you want to volunteer on the MLK, Jr. Day of Service, there are many ways and places you can do so around the area. Start here to find opportunities that suit your family.

More Family Volunteer Ops
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: Ongoing
Admission: Just your time

For more places to volunteer as a family that aren’t included in the official MLK Day of Service database, this KFDC post has suggestions. All of the organizations listed welcome kids to help out, though some have age requirements, so be sure to note them.

MLK Jr. Family Program
Where: Anacostia Community Museum | Anacostia, DC
When: January 18
Admission: Free

Celebrate the Birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with the whole family at the Anacostia Community Museum! Inspired by Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday song, guests can create art using King’s familiar theme of the “Beloved Community” in a workshop led by art educator, Alma Robinson. Participants can also take part in a second workshop with art educator, Rain Young to create original balloon art of a peace medal or a “I Have a Dream” hat to take home. Both workshops include a guided tour of the exhibition “A Right to the City” with an emphasis on Dr. King’s visit to DC’s Shaw neighborhood. All materials will be provided. Register in advance!

The Kevin Durant MLK Classic
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: January 18, 11am – 6pm & January 20, 10am – 6:45pm
Admission: $20 per day

The Kevin Durant MLK Classic is an elite high school basketball showcase celebrating the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Top high school players will include freshman Elijah Fisher from Crestwood Prep, JT Thor from Norcross High School, and Mady Sissoko from Wasatch Academy. Local DMV highlight players include Cory Barnes Jr. and Tegra Izay from Archbishop Carroll High School, Erik Reynolds and Rodney Rice Jr. from Bullis School and more. All games will be played at The St. James in Springfield, VA — the state-of-the-art 450,000 square foot complex is home to more than 30 sports, including Team Durant at The St. James, Kevin Durant’s youth basketball organization. Read about what else is at The St. James in this KFDC post.

Portrait Story Days
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Penn Quarter, DC
When: January 18-19, 1-4pm
Admission: Free

Drop in to the National Portrait Gallery to listen to a story about Martin Luther King, Jr. and complete a hands-on art project. Read (and see) more about the program and museum here and here. And note this takes place both Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

MLK at the Library
Where: Libraries around the DMV
When: Through January 20
Admission: Free

Many public libraries are hosting MLK-inspired events and activities geared especially toward children. Learn to recite the famous “I Have a Dream” speech at Bellevue Library, join a “Social Justice” Family Story Time at Woodridge Library, celebrate MLK’s Legacy with Author Amy Nathan at Mount Pleasant Library. There are just a few activities in DC. For quick links to see what’s happening at other libraries around the area, see this KFDC post (scroll all the way down for library links).

Be the Light — Celebrating the Legacy of MLK Jr.
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: January 18-20
Admission: $17.95/ages 1+, free for members

If you can dream it you can change it! Join Port Discovery in celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy during this “Be the Light” event. Experience the strength of celebrating differences in our community and learn how you, too, can become a Change Maker. Take part in interactive programs and performances designed to educate, inspire, and help children understand the positive impact that their actions can have, inspired by Dr. King’s message of promoting fairness. Activities are planned daily throughout the entire weekend — check the website for a daily schedule.

Artsy MLK Days
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Dowell, MD
When: January 18-20, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King with community art activities. Each year on this weekend, Annmarie Sculpture Garden invites guests of all ages to help create a community art installation in honor of a dream. Baltimore artist Gary Webb leads the 20120 MLK Days project titled, “Faces of a Dream.” Guests of all ages can create a wire mask using using his “webbing technique” of twisting and bending different kinds of wire into a self-portrait mask, which will be added to an ever growing wall of faces, celebrating the diversity and beauty of the community. Read more about the wonderful Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

KanKouran West African Dance Company
Where: Dance Place | Brookland, DC
When: January 18, 8pm & January 19, 4pm
Admission: $15-30 (1 child free with adult paid ticket*)

KanKouran West African Dance Company returns to Dance Place for their annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Introducing the essence of traditional African dancing and drumming to audiences, KanKouran enriches American cultural heritage through the integration of authentic West African arts and promotes intercultural understanding. The annual MLK Day concert celebrates over 35 years of fulfilling their mission of “giving back that which was lost.” The Sunday 4pm performance is part of the Family Series – Get 1 free ticket for a child 12 & under with paying adult.

Paint for Peace
Where: Art Jamz | Dupont Circle, DC
When: January 18 & 19
Admission: $12-20

Bring the whole family Art Jamz for their Painting for Peace Weekend. In honor of MLK Day, they are donating $5 per canvas order to DC Central Kitchen, a local organization that helps combat hunger and poverty. During the event, they encourage the creation of original art under the guidance of local artists and with inspiration from their jamming social art studio and lounge. There will be plenty of images and quotes inspired by Martin Luther King Jr. plus stencils to help you create a unique masterpiece! Book your session in advance here.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: Jauray 20
Admission: Free!

In honor of MLK Day, it’s the first fee free day of the year for national parks, which means there’s no cost for entry where they usually charge to get in. Take advantage of complimentary admission and the day off from school. Some ideas: Hit the trail at Shenandoah or Great Falls, explore Prince William Forest Park, go to Fort McHenry, or visit Harpers Ferry.

Visit Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: January 20 (and ongoing)
Admission: Free

Pay tribute to Dr. King at places that honor his legacy. Visit the MLK Memorial, a powerful and poignant site along the Tidal Basin. From 9-10am, there will be a special ceremony honoring Dr. King with speakers, the placing of a wreath on the memorial, and a song. Later, you can take a tour with a Park Ranger — they will be offered at 2pm & 6pm. From there, you can head to the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and see if you can find his words etched in the stone there at the top of the steps. And for a longer guided walking tour that includes those locations, check out DC by Foot, which offers name-your-own-price tour options.

MLK Dare to Dream Day
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: January 20, 10am -6pm
Admission: Free

The American Visionary Art Museum will pay lively tribute to one of the world’s greatest visionaries, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with its annual, all-ages-welcome event. The intergenerational community party honors the great Dr. King’s legacy and vision with birthday cake, a Power Patch printmaking workshop, an artist talk by exhibiting artist Kyle Yearwood, a poetry slam and open mic, and more — all of it free for everyone! Read more about the wonderful AVAM here.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Tribute & Celebration
Where: Strathmore | Bethesda, MD
When: January 20, 4pm
Admission: Free, but tickets are required

Montgomery County celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s life through dramatic readings, and musical and dance performances with the theme, “Children of the Dream.” In addition, there will be the presentation of the Humanitarian Award, Children of the Dream Awards as well as a visual arts display honoring Dr. King. Free tickets are required for this event and will be distributed on-site on the day of the performance starting at 3pm.

MLK Parade, Peace Walk, & Fair
Where: Throughout SE, DC
When: January 20
Admission: Free

Commemorate the life of MLK, Jr. on a peace walk and parade along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. The Peace Walk begins at 11am and the Parade will commence at 11:30am from Good Hope Road near the Anacostia Park entrance and continue up MLK Avenue, concluding at the campus of St. Elizabeth’s East with a Health and Community Fair at the Gateway Pavillon located at 2700 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. All ages are welcome to join.

Rockville Celebrates MLK
Where: Montgomery High School | Rockville, MD
When: January 20, 11am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Rockville’s 48th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration will include multicultural performances, awards, and a keynote speech a keynote speech focused on the theme “Light in the Midst of Darkness.” The celebration is free and open to all ages. Free refreshments, information booths, and community service projects will also be part of the festivities.

Let Freedom Ring!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: January 20, 6pm
Admission: Free

At this annual performance in honor of MLK Day, the Kennedy Center and Georgetown University host a musical celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. This year, the musical tribute features ten-time Grammy Award winner Chaka Khan with the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by Music Director Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. Georgetown University will also present the 18th Annual John Thompson Jr. Legacy of a Dream Award to Sandra Jackson, executive director of House of Ruth. Free tickets will be given away, up to two per person in line in the Hall of Nations starting at 4:30pm on a first-come, first-served basis.


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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Monuments & Memorials, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekend, Winter

Where to Play on the Weekdays: January 13-17

The National Arboetum is a great place to enjoy warmer-than-normal weather


Monday – Go to Story Time at the National Postal Museum. Taking place every Monday, the program includes a book reading and activities for little ones in the museum’s education space. Of course, stay to explore the rest of the museum, which is full of interactive exhibits that appeal to all ages. Story Time is at 10:30am and repeated at 11am. Admission is free. Read more about the museum in this KFDC post.

Tuesday – Take kiddos to bounce, climb, swing, tumble, and slide at the PG Sports & Learning Complex Gymnastics Center in Landover, MD. The hour-long weekly open play workshop is a great way for kiddos to be active indoors (it was a regular outing for us when the kids were younger)! The session begins at 11:30am, and admission is $7/child. This also takes place on Wednesdays at 11:30am and Fridays at 4:30pm. Read more about the open play sessions here.

Wednesday – Spend what’s forecast to be a warmer-than-normal winter day at one of the prettiest places in DC, the U.S. National Arboretum. Explore the plant collections on nature walks, view the bonsai exhibit, visit the Washington Youth Garden and romp on the natural playground, check out the old Capitol columns, picnic in the Grove of State Trees, and so much more. Hours are 8am – 5pm, and admission is free. Read even more about the Arboretum in the round-up of the best places to spend a day outdoors — it tops the list! — as well as this post and this one.

Thursday – Explore the local environment at Buddie Ford Nature Center. The facility in Alexandria houses fascinating exhibits (including live creatures!), hands-on activities, and a staff of friendly and knowledgeable naturalists that all ages will appreciate. Afterwards, take the fun outdoors with a short hike at the adjacent Dora Kelley Nature Park. Buddie Ford hours are 10am – 5pm (Wednesday – Saturday, 1-5pm Sunday). Admission is free.

Friday – Rock out with local kids’ fave Rocknocerous at Jammin’ Java in Vienna, VA. You can also nosh while you’re there — the smoothie, juice, acai bowl, and coffee menu will be available. Showtime is 10:30am, doors open at 10am. Tickets are $5.


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Filed under 2020, All ages, DC, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Nature, Outdoor, Seasonal, Story Time, Virginia, Weekdays

Family Celebrations to Ring in 2020

The 12pm balloon drop at Noon Yards Eve


The year is winding down, and the countdown to 2020 is on! If you’re looking for ways to ring in the new decade with young revelers, you have some great options! There are a bunch of family-friendly ways to celebrate around the area, from organized events to plan-it-yourself activities. Here are details and inspiration for your crew to get in on the fun. Happy New Year!

Rumpus Room (Almost) NYE Family Dance Party
Where: Black Cat | 14th Street NW, DC
When: December 29, 2-4:30pm
Admission: $12-15

Celebrate a trip around the sun in style with DC’s best (and only) family dance party! Get the fun started early (and practice your moves for the actual day) at this event that caters to tiny dancers and their fams. Tunes are played at a kid-friendly volume and all ages are welcome to groove on the dance floor together. Rumpus Room is designed for kids 10 and under and their caregivers, but older siblings are welcome.

Family Paint Countdown Party
Where: ArtJamz | Dupont Circle, DC
When: December 29, 11:30am – 1pm
Admission: $22

Start the countdown a couple of days early at ArtJamz with creative and kid-friendly afternoon New Year’s celebration. Admission includes 1.5 hours of studio time, plus access to paints, brushes, art tools, pens, glitter and more to decorate and paint the jamming studio walls with resolutions and goals. Kids can enjoy festive decorations, a noon countdown and non-alcoholic toast, family-friendly party tunes, and tips, guidance and encouragement from jamming local artists. For adults, the bar will be open! While kids paint downstairs, the lounge upstairs will be serving creative cocktails, wine, mimosas, and beer.

Noon Yards Eve
Where: The Yards Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: December 31, 10am – 1pm
Admission: Free

The Yards is once again hosting its Noon Yards Eve festival to ring in 2020! The seventh annual event will transform the park into a family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration with fun for both kids and adults. Activities will include trackless train rides through the park, inflatable moon bounces, glitter tattoo artists, balloon artistry, music, and a countdown and big balloon drop at noon.

First Night Alexandria
Where: Old Town | Alexandria, VA
When: December 31, 6pm – 1am
Admission: $30-35/adult, free/age 12 & under

It’s the 25th anniversary of the area’s largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration, so the fun and entertainment will be in abundance. Enjoy Kids Karnivals in four locations, with loads of activities for young revelers — face painting, story time, balloon sculptures, interactive games, and much more ($5). And numerous performances on multiple indoor stages throughout Old Town Alexandria will feature live entertainment from a wide variety of genres. The evening will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River at the foot of King Street. For details on where shows will take place, see the schedule on the website.

Rocknoceros New Year’s Eve Party
Where: Jammin Java | Vienna, VA
When: December 31, 11am & 2pm
Admission: $10

For the 13th straight year, the widely popular band that always gets kids rockin’ will be playing a special New Year’s Eve gig at Jammin Java. Sing along to some of your favorite tunes and enjoy the full menu of food and drinks while you’re there. Opt for the lunchtime show at 11am, or go in the afternoon at 2pm. Doors open half-hour before the show and general admission seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Show Time
Where: Around the DMV
When: December 31
Admission: Varies by venue

Let some live entertainment take you into the new decade! There are several shows running that the whole family can enjoy…here’s what’s on stage at local theatres with tickets still available for December 31:
* The Velveteen Rabbit at Adventure Theatre (use code 5OFF to save!)
* Squeakers & Mr. Gumdrop at the Atlas Performing Arts Center
* Singin’ in the Rain at Olney Theatre
* Jersey Boys at National Theatre (find discount)
* My Fair Lady at the Kennedy Center (find discount)
* The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe at Imagination Stage

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: Badlands | Rockville, MD
When: December 31, 9am – 2pm
Admission: $20/age 3+, $12.50/2 & under, $5/adult

Dance, play, and craft it up all day with an amazing balloon drop goin’ down at noon. They’ll have their egular Toddler Time but all ages are welcome to join in on the festivities and to run, jump, play, and ring in the new year!

Noon Year’s Eve
Where: The St. James | Springfield, VA
When: December 31, 10:30am – 12:30pm
Admission: $37/non-members, $15/under 4, free/adults

Ring in the new year with a New Year’s Eve kids party in the active entertainment center. Super, Awesome & Amazing will feature a magician, DJ, photo booth, face painting and a balloon drop at noon. We’ll have a few light bites, desserts, snacks and juice and water for the kids in case they get hungry. Parents do not need to purchase tickets but will have access to a cash bar. Tickets are limited and may sell out prior to the event. If available, ticket prices will increase and be available for purchase at the door.

Midnight Noon
Where: Maryland Science Center | Baltimore, MD
When: December 31, 10am – 2pm
Admission: $24.95/adult, $18.95/3-12, free/2 & under

Join the MSC for their annual New Year’s Eve celebration, Midnight Noon, where children can enjoy the ball drop before bedtime. There will be fun New Year’s festivities throughout the day, including a live concert by popular kids band Milkshake — their Grammy-nominated tunes will keep everyone dancing throughout the day. And, of course, the rest of the museum will be open to explore! All activities are free with paid admission (and completely free to members).

New Years at Noon
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: December 31, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $15.95 ages 2+

Countdown to the new year at this family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration! Help Port Discovery welcome 2020 with a celebration that includes a magical noontime countdown, a juice and cookie toast, festive tunes, and more. Other special activities along with the whole multi-level children’s museum include noisemaker and party popper making, a photo ops corner, and a wishing tree to spread your hopes for the new year.

Get Medieval on NYE
Where: Medieval Times | Hanover, MD
When: December 31, 3:30pm (doors open at 2pm)
Admission: $37.95/adult, $30.95/child

Experience an epic afternoon of fun and celebration as you countdown to 2020. Along with a four-course feast and thrilling jousting action, young guests can get free knight training (space limited, arrive early), a free activity book, and story time with Lord Cedric. Be sure to use the code NYE20 for the ticket discount!

Watch Night New Year’s Eve Celebration
Where: Intersection of Broad & Washington St. | Falls Church, VA
When: December 31, 7pm – Midnight
Admission: Free

Ring in the New Year with free, family-friendly festivities at Falls Church’s 22nd annual New Year’s Eve celebration. Enjoy food, music, singing, dancing, entertainment, performances and interactive festivities that appeal to all ages. Highlights for kids include an Extreme Air Jumper, rock climbing wall, mechanical bull, obstacle course, inflatable slides, bungee jump, Velcro wall, puppet shows, face painting, caricaturist, balloon sculptor, and more. Plus, restaurants will have special Walking Watch Night Menus at local restaurants. The evening concludes at midnight with the traditional countdown and lowering of the City of Falls Church Star. All events take place around the intersection of Broad and Washington Streets. A free shuttle bus with 11 stops runs from the East Falls Church Metro throughout the evening.

Midnight at 7
Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion | Columbia, MD
When: December 31, 5-7:30
Admission: $15-20, $50/family 4-pack, free/3 & under

Head to the Merriweather in Columbia for early fireworks on New Year’s Eve surrounded by the twinkling Lights. The event will feature food, activities, music, and fireworks at 7pm, as well as the last chance to walk through the lovely Symphony of Lights course.

Swoosh into 2020
Where: Ski Liberty | Carroll Valley, PA
When: 5pm – 1am
Admission: Lift tickets start at $24/child (free/5 & under)

Hit the slopes to ring in the new year! Ski Liberty’s celebration will include late-night skiing and snowboarding until 1am, fireworks at midnight, and a variety of special events happening around the resort. There is also a special, by reservations only, party at Boulder Ridge with Snow Tubing from 10pm to 1am. Find something for everyone and every age!

Glide into 2020
Where: Ice rinks around the DMV
When: Throughout the day & evening
Admission: Varies by rink

Skate under the stars to celebrate the start of the new decade. Gliding on ice surrounded by twinkling lights, art sculptures, and/or the hubbub of people in festive spirits is a fun, active way to revel. Join a special event like Rock & Skate at Washington Harbour or just do your own thang. Be sure to check times for each rink, as hours may change for the holiday.

New Year’s Night Lights
Where: Around the DMV
When: After dark
Admission: Varies by locale

Start your own family New Year’s Eve tradition with a seasonal treat: Bundle up for a stroll or take a drive through one of several spectacular light displays! Most of the light shows that dazzle this time of year are open on New Year’s Eve. If you’re enjoying it from the comfort of a car, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, yummy snacks, and prepare a festive playlist for the ride.

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Filed under 2019, 2020, All ages, Annual, DC, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Music, Seasonal, Special Event, Theatre, Virginia, Weekdays, Winter

Giveaway: American Pops Orchestra Presents “The Pied Piper” this Winter!


The American Pops Orchestra will kick off the New Year with another one-of-its-kind performance for kids and kids at heart. APO’s The Pied Piper will add a musical element to the classic story by placing the Piper in a town where music and dancing aren’t allowed. Piper, reimagined as a woman in this production, will have a tricky time convincing the locals that music can solve their rat problem, but if they keep their promise of a hefty reward, things just might work out!

The performance will spotlight outstanding actors from around our region. Featuring songs that we all know and love, including “9 to 5,” “Think,” “I Put a Spell on You,” and “I Wanna Dance with Somebody.”

The show is perfect for pre-K through fifth grade students — and adults will love it, too. APO brings fun, engaging activities for the whole family!

The Pied Piper performances are on Saturday, January 18, 2020, at 11am and 2pm at Arena Stage (1101 6th Street SW, WDC). Tickets are $17/child, $32/adult, and they make for perfect holiday gifts! They are available for purchase online, and of course, you can also enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a pair.

Stay up to date with The American Pops Orchestra on social media:
Instragram: @theamericanpops
Twitter: @TheAmericanPops
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theamericanpops/

* * * * *

Giveaway: For a chance to win a pair of tickets to see the American Pops Orchestra’s “The Pied Piper” on January 18, 2020, simply leave a comment below letting me know the best holiday gift you’ve ever received. Get an extra chance to win by entering on the KidFriendly DC Facebook Page, too. This giveaway will run through Friday, January 3, 2020, then a winner will be drawn at random and notified shortly thereafter. Good luck!


This post is sponsored by the American Pops Orchestra, however, I only promote programs, places, and events that I genuinely believe in and think will be of interest to KFDC readers.


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Filed under 2019, 2020, DC, Gradeschoolers, Live Entertainment, Music, Theatre, Ticket Giveaway, Weekend, Winter