Calling all curious kids and tiny travelers! Next month is your chance to experience European culture without a plane ticket. Kids Euro Fest, the wonderful annual event that presents art and cultural programs for children, is returning to the DC area!
Kids Euro Fest has become a tradition in the nation’s capital. For the last 14 years, it has been one of the largest performing arts festivals for children in America. Artists and performers from across the 27 European Union countries have participated, including puppeteers, dancers, musicians, and children’s book authors.
For the first time this year, Kids Euro Fest will feature two in-person Family Days located at two different embassies in Washington! The first will take place October 9 at the Embassy of France, and the second on October 16 at the Embassy of Sweden. From 12-4pm on both days, families are invited to enjoy an afternoon full of European performances, activities, crafts, games, and food.
The best part? Everything is FREE!
All kinds of fantastic cultural activities await: Kids can learn from a Latvian children’s book illustrator, catch an Irish dance performance, and make Portuguese art. A German theatre will transport young minds into a fairy tale, and France will get kids thinking about climate change. Throughout the day, kids can get creative at the craft table, take part in traditional European outdoor games, and indulge in food from the embassy’s own chef.
Health and safety precautions will be in place at both Family Days, including masks for kids ages 2-12. Activities will take place both indoors and outdoors with social distancing and limited attendance; therefore, families should be sure to register ahead of time on the KEF website.
For those outside of the DC area, Kids Euro Fest will also launch virtual activities on October 9. These include online performances, storytelling, films, and workshops.
To learn more about Kids Euro Fest events and register to attend the Family Days, visit Kidseurofest.org.
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This post is sponsored by the European Union Delegation to the United States, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers. To learn about other Delegation events in the area, visit www.events.euintheus.org.
Cherry blossom season is one of the best times of the year to be in DC. Not only is the city at its prettiest when the iconic flowers are in bloom, there usually are loads of special events and activities to celebrate it all. It’s also when I share my tips for viewing the famous flowers, an annual post that I love and have been updating since 2011 that others seem to enjoy as well (it’s always very highly viewed and shared).
For obvious reasons, so much about cherry blossom season is different this year. It still remains to be seen what kind of access to the Tidal Basin the National Park Service will allow to see the peak bloom, which is predicted to occur April 2-5. Big, beloved in-person events like the Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri have been cancelled along with museum programs that used to be IRL. And my annual viewing tips… well, much of them apply to seeing them at the Tidal Basin, so they may not get a redux this spring.
However, there still are some fantastic ways to celebrate cherry blossom season! The National Cherry Blossom Festival (NCBF), running March 20 – April 11, has reimagined many of its events as at-home or virtual activities to present them safely for Covid. And even though we may not be able to experience the bloom at its best near the National Mall, there are other spots to enjoy the pink and white brilliance around the area. I’ve highlighted the best of all of it for families to help you plan for a peak experience. Happy Spring!
Peak bloom in Stanton Park
Cherry Blossom Viewing
Where: Around the DMV
When: Late March – Early April
Viewing the cherry blossoms is the top thing to do during the season. As we’re still awaiting guidelines for viewing at the Tidal Basin this year, here’s a tip that comes straight from my annual post from previous years: Seek out other spotsto see the bloom. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to enjoy them. National Harbor has 200 trees planted on it grounds. Stanton Park on Capitol Hill flourishes with pick and white come spring. Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees. In Northern Virginia, Green Spring Gardens and Meadowlark Botanical Gardens have some of the pretty trees to see, too. (Thinking I should just put together a whole post about viewing sites…) In the meantime, check out these scenes from a peak bloom past.
Where: ARTECHOUSE | Southwest DC
When: March 15 – September 6
Admission: $24/adult, $17/age 4-15, free/under 4
ARTECHOUSE introduces a new exhibit every season, and spring is always inspired by the cherry blossoms in some way. Here’s the description of year’s show, Renewal 2121: “Transporting us 100 years into the future, it immerses us in an industrial city where nature fights to survive amid an overdeveloped metropolis. This is a future that will arrive if humanity continues unchecked at its current pace. However, there is a hopeful message to be discovered as blossoms are seen peeking through the plastic, concrete and neon lights, ready to renew the season with the help of those willing to take action.”
National Cherry Blossom Festival Opening Ceremony
When: March 20, 6pm
The Festival’s signature Opening Ceremony, an artistic celebration of the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to DC is also an annual tribute to the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States. Watch a livestream of the event that will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries.
Petal Porch Parade
Where: At home & around the DC area
When: March 20 – April 11
Since we can’t have a big parade, locals are invited to get creative and show their cherry blossom spirit by decorating their porches, yards, or windows — and spread joy to neighbors and connect communities across the region! The National Cherry Blossom Festival will produce a virtual map with locations of all registered Petal Porches, so you can plan a walk or drive to see and share in the celebration of spring. On the weekend of April 10-11, a Petal Procession will drive through select Petal Porch Parade neighborhoods in and around DC. So, get your neighbors to register and join in the springtime celebration to increase your chances of having the Petal Procession cruise through your ‘hood!
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Celebrate spring and the blossoms at the The Wharf. Bloomaroo will bring nearly a month of cherry blossom-themed art installations, and specialty cocktails. Anime Movie Days will have 13 anime movie screenings, including the newest Sonic the Hedgehog movie, from March 26 through April 11 — all films will be dubbed in English. Check out a special mural created by ARTECHOUSE, too. Restaurants at the waterfront destination will have cherry blossom-inspired menus, and keep an eye out for special samplings, beer dinners, and more. Ride the Wharf Jitney or hop on the Water Taxi for an up-close look at DC’s favorite landmarks — the cherry trees. For more about The Wharf, see this KFDC post.
Book Hill in Bloom
Where: Book Hill Community | Georgetown, DC
When: March 20 – April 11
Georgetown is celebrating cherry blossom season at its Book Hill community. More than 25 small businesses on upper Wisconsin Avenue are participating by decorating their storefronts with pink and cherry blossom-themed decorations, offering special promotions, and donating prizes for an enter-to-win drawing.
Art in Bloom on Capitol Hill
Art in Bloom Where: Around the DC area When: March 20-31 Admission: Free
This visual arts exhibition spanning all eight wards of DC, plus a few areas in Maryland and Virginia, radiates the spirit of spring! Go on a Blossom Hunt to find 26 oversized cherry blossom statues painted by local artists and share on Instagram or Twitter with the #artinbloom tag. The NCB will randomly select winners of Festival prize packages.
Where: National Harbor | Oxon Hill, MD
When: Sundays during the Festival
With in-person Sakura Matsuri, the annual Japanese street fair presented during the Festival, off this year, National Harbor is stepping in. Free cultural activities, including Japanese inspired art creations, culinary classes, in person or virtual, and much more will be offered there. See what else will be at National Harbor during the season.
Virtual Cherry Blossom Celebration
Where: American Art Museum | Online
When: March 20, 10am
Join the Smithsonian American Art Museum for a virtual program full of springtime fun for the whole family. Enjoy a lively performance of traditional Japanese Taiko drumming by the group Nen Daiko. Then learn more as the group demonstrates how they plan their performances and design their own instruments. Explore art, nature, and color with SAAM‘s docents in the new virtual edition of our popular Art Cart series. For more activities, check out their ongoing Family Zone for seasonal crafts, coloring pages, videos, and more. Register here.
Where: Alley off 7th St NW (btwn H & G) | Gallery Place, DC
When: March 20 – April 30
Visit DowntownDC’s ChalkWalk to step into an immersive spring art experience. It will be a unique, Instagrammy, and cherry blossom-inspired 3D art installation backdrop to celebrate spring in the city. Share your photos using the hashtag #ChalkWalkDC for a chance to win prizes from the DowntownDC BID.
Pop-Up Street Theater
Where: Locales around Arlington, VA
When: March 21 & 28 April 4 & 11 | 11am – 2pm
Synetic Theatre, which presents some of the most innovative shows around, will be clowning around with pop-up performances all around Arlington during the Festival. To work with these social distancing times, they are bringing back street theater as a pair of improv actors make appearances at the Art Wall in Virginia Highlands Park, the Crystal City Water Park, and the Long Bridge Park Esplanade.
Blossom Kite Fly
Where: Your backyard or local park
When: March 27-28
The annual Kite Festival on the Mall — one of the best events of the NCBF (& anytime in DC, for that matter) — is not happening this year. Instead, the Festival encourages all to take part in the kite-flying tradition on their own — but with the help of workshops and demos. Find more information about registering here.
Celebrating Cherry Blossoms
Where: National Museum of Asian Art | Online
When: March 27, 10-10:45am
Just in time for peak bloom, ring in the arrival of spring with the art doctors in this online Art & Me Preservation Family Workshop. From paintings to Japanese tea bowls, discover how Smithsonian conservators preserve these colorful artworks. Then try your hand at making your own cherry blossom-inspired creation. Designed for ages 3-8 and caretakers. Register in advance, one per family, and a Zoom link and list of suggested materials will be sent to participants 24–48 hours in advance of the workshop.
Blossoms & Baseball Drive-in
Where: Akridge Lot | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: April 2 & 3, 7pm
The Capitol Riverfront BID is welcoming the spring season back to the neighborhood during MLB Opening Day Weekend with cherry blossom cheer and baseball-themed movies featuring 42: The True Story of an American Legend and A League of Their Own.
Kimono for Kids
Where: GWU & Textile Museum | Online
When: April 3, 11am – 1pm
Kids can enjoy an interactive discussion of Japanese traditional clothing, plus a simple craft project made from materials found at home and inspired by Japanese textiles in this program led by staff from the George Washington University Museum and The Textile Museum. Be sure to register to get the program link.
Virtual Sakura Matsuri
When: April 3, 12-3pm
Join Japan-America Society of Washington DC for the Sakura Matsuri – Virtual Community Gathering. Enjoy stage performances and the opportunity to interact live with many of your favorite Sakura Matsuri exhibitors, vendors and participants.
* Do you know of a great cherry blossom event that’s not listed here? Let us all know in the comments!
February is Black History Month, and if you’re looking for ways to celebrate it with kids, you have plenty of options, both virtually and in person around the DC area. Museum programs, guided and self-guided tours, visits to significant sites, story time sessions, online concerts, and more will be enlightening and entertaining for all ages. And while some of these are happening on specific dates this month, many of them are ongoing for year-round enjoyment and education. For even more good reads and related content, check out the Black Lives Matter page.
African American History and Culture
Where: NMAAHC | Online
When: Through February
The National Museum of African American History & Culture may just be the best place to learn about Black history and culture in America. And while the actual place is closed right now, there still are lots of digital resources available through the website that let you explore it all, including online exhibits, programming for children and adults, and a whole section on talking about race.
The Underground Railroad Experience Trail
Where: Woodlawn Manor Cultural Park | Sandy Spring, MD
Take a hike that provides insight into the experience of enslaved peoples’ escape to freedom. This walk through woods and along edges of fields (with a map and explanation of the hike) is interesting and enlightening as well as an active, socially distanced way to spend time outdoors.
Visit BLM Plaza
Where: 16th Street NW | Downtown DC
The two blocks along 16th Street NW, between K Street and Lafayette Park just across from the White House, was emboldened with the giant yellow BLACK LIVES MATTER statement this past summer as the BLM movement began to swell after the murder of George Floyd. The now pedestrian area became a meeting place and focal point of protests and other events — and a site of historic significance in DC. The protest signs that covered the fence around the park have been removed, but the location still provides good context for a conversation with kids about BLM.
Where: Several locations in DC
Tour some memorials around the city that highlight notable African Americans and related historic events. Head to the MLK Memorial at the Tidal Basin, where you can view the grand sculpture of Dr. King and read some of his most inspiring quote engraved in surrounding walls. From there, head to the Lincoln Memorial, where even more MLK words, “I Have a Dream” are etched into the steps where he gave his famous speech. In the Shaw neighborhood, the African American Civil War Memorial honors the service and sacrifice of soldiers and sailors who served in the U.S. Army and Navy. On Capitol Hill, the Mary McLeod Bethune Memorial in Lincoln Park isa tribute to the civil rights leader.
Discover Women’s Landmarks
Where: Various locations around the DMV
The Wander Women Project, a has gathered all the places honoring pioneer black women in the DMV area (and slightly further). Since many indoor museums are closed due to Covid-19, mostly outdoor sites and online resources are listed, making outings to visit to them perfect for social distancing.
Black History in MoCo Parks
Where: Parks around Montgomery County, MD
Several sites within the Montgomery Parks system have connections to Black history. See Civil War ruins, visit a place named for the man who inspired Uncle Tom’s Cabin, explore the site of a 19th century African American roadside community, and more. Get more details here.
Black History with PG Parks
Where: Parks around PG County, MD
When: Through February
Celebrate and honor African American heritage with the PG County park system during Black History Month in February. From performances to history lessons to tours, there are a lot of exciting events and activities planned throughout Prince George’s County, both virtual and in person.
The Slave Memorial & Exhibits
Where: Mount Vernon Estate | Mount Vernon, VA
Admission: $20/adult, $12/ages 6-11, free/5 & under
Make a point to see these on a visit to George Washington’s estate in Northern Virginia. The memorial is located approximately 50 yards southwest of George and Martha Washington’s tomb, on a bluff above the Potomac River. A gray, truncated, granite column which represents “life unfinished” is the center of three concentric brick circles. The three steps leading up to the column are inscribed, respectively, “Faith,” “Hope” and “Love” — the virtues that sustained those living in bondage. The exhibit Lives Bound Together explores the personal stories of the people enslaved at Mount Vernon while providing insight into George Washington’s evolving opposition to slavery.
Where: National Portrait Gallery | Online
When: February 3, 10, 17, and 24
The National Portrait Gallery’s program for children ages 3+ shines a light on Black historymakers and their portraits this month. Kids will learn more about art, hear the stories behind the portraits, and even hear some new vocabulary.
Royal Fun with Culture Queen
When: February 6, 2-2:30pm & February 21, 1:30-2pm
Culture Queen, the children’s author, entertainer, and educator known for presenting empowering entertainment — music, movement, and storytelling — for kids, has a couple of online events this month. Join for Black History Live on February 6 and for a Virtual Dance Party on February 21.
Where: DC Public Library | Online
When: Throughout February
The DC Public Library proudly celebrates Black History Month during February with all kinds of online programs — story times, book discussions, crafts, and more. Visit the website to see when they are taking place.
Let It Shine
Where: Port Discovery | Baltimore, MD
When: February 6 & 13
At the wonderful children’s museum in Baltimore, celebrate Black History Month by reading festive stories inside The Oasis at the Reading Corner. Of course, plan to enjoy the multiple levels of fun and educational exhibits while you’re there.
Black History Month at the Tiny Desk
Where: NPR Music | Online
When: Through February
NPR Music’s awesome Tiny Desk Concert series is celebrating Black History Month by featuring 13 Tiny Desk (home) concerts by Black artists across genres and highlighting performances by Black artists from the archives with weekly curated playlists. The celebration will spotlight different genres and generations each week.
*Do you know of a Black History Month event or activity that you don’t see listed here? Feel free to share in the comments!
[Note: This was originally written in 2011 (hence, the now very outdated Lost reference) and has been updated every year since. But because the tips always apply, I’m re-posting yet again, just with a few minor updates applicable to this year’s bloom. Also, I realize that coronavirus may be a factor as you make plans to see the flowers; however, I am not a health expert, but know that KFDC has an audience of smart, discerning parents, so I will leave those judgements up to you.]
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, it is NOT recommended to go see the cherry blossoms, especially at the Tidal Basin and on the National Mall, as it is NOT conducive to social distancing. Instead, view them virtually from home or just wait to set them next year.
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Taking the family to the National Mall to see some pretty flowers sounds easy enough. If only it actually was. The cherry blossom peak, predicted to occur March 27-30 this year, is one of the best times to visit DC. The city is at its most beautiful, and the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides loads of fun activities to help enjoy it all. But viewing the famous blooms can also be a bit challenging without being aware of a few things. Here are seven recommendations to consider if seeing the cherry blossoms is on your family’s spring agenda.
1. Don’t drive if you value your sanity. Take the Metro, ride the bus, bike, walk, jet pack. Get here however you can, just leave the car at home. Traffic is beyond frustrating during the cherry blossom peak, and your chances of finding decent parking are about as good as hitting the Powerball with Hurley’s numbers (okay, slight exaggeration, but it ishard). The masses descend on Washington, DC, this time of year, and way too many do so in their vehicles. Besides, kids love riding the Metro — it’s like an urban version of Hogwarts Express. The Smithsonian stop on the Blue/Orange Line is mere minutes from all of the blossom action, but it’s also guaranteed to be crowded. Consider riding to L’Enfant on Yellow/Green, Federal Center on Blue/Orange, or even a stop downtown or in Penn Quarter and taking a nice stroll to the Tidal Basin for the blossom scene. Another good option is the bus — the DC Circulator will run between Eastern Market and L’Enfant Plaza, a convenient route with even more to do on both ends. And the 32, 34, and 36 routes of Metrobus stop at the National Mall close to the Washington Monument. *If you absolutely must drive and need parking you might find a spot at Hains Point, where there is free and metered parking, then walk or take the Cherry Blossom Shuttle ($1/person) to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin. There is also a parking garage at L’Enfant Plaza. Your best bet, though, might be to find a garage in the downtown or Penn Quarter area, then walk or Metro to the National Mall. You can ensure yourself a spot with Parking Panda, an online parking reservation service that lets you search for and reserve garage spaces in advance.
Flying amid the flowers
2. Visit on a weekday if you have the flexibility. Crowds are significantly smaller from Monday to Friday, so you can stroll around the Tidal Basin at a nice pace, and public transportation won’t be nearly as packed (though it still will be more crowded than usual). But if the kids are in school or daycare during the week, think about going later in the day. The National Mall and monuments look beautiful at sunset, and the blossoms make it even more sublime. In the same vein, if you can go super early, the morning light on the Mall makes for quite a picturesque setting, too.
Peak time around the National Mall
3. Consider using a child carrier instead of a stroller for little ones. This is especially applicable if you take Metro, since elevator lines can be very long and slow-going. I learned my lesson back in my kids’ baby days on a weekday and ended up taking my daughter out of the stroller and carrying both on the escalator, which was probably as unsafe as it was difficult. Even if you don’t take Metro, a carrier is still a wise option. Navigating crowded walkways while pushing a pram takes focus, and you could end up spending more time concentrating on not rolling over others’ heels than enjoying the sights you came to see. It’s a bonus for wee ones, too — perched on your back, your babe will get a better view of the blossoms.
4.Check the National Cherry Blossom Festival schedule, so you can plan your visit accordingly. Some of the city’s most anticipated events are part of the annual celebration, the Blossom Kite Festival, National Cherry Blossom Parade, and Sakura Matsuri among them, and there are many non-official festival happenings as well. Most events take place nearby the blossoms or an easy Metro ride away. Peak bloom is expected to occur mid-Festival this year, so you can enjoy blossom-inspired activities and the efflorescent trees at the same time. This post has details on the best cherry blossom season celebrations and activities for families.
6.Seek out other spots to see the cherry blossoms if you don’t want to deal with crowds and chaos around the Tidal Basin and National Mall. Several places around the DC-Metro area are well known for their annual cherry blossom displays. When I worked in Bethesda many years ago, it was an annual tradition for my colleagues and me to take a drive through Kenwood, a lovely neighborhood between Little Falls Parkway and River Road with cherry tree-lined streets. The National Arboretum also has a nice collection of the trees and offers a beautiful, peaceful environment in which to view them in bloom. Dumbarton Oaks Gardens is one of the prettiest places in DC and its annual blossoms only add to it. And Brookside Gardens in Wheaton, MD, has a lovely collection of cherry trees, too.
7. Have your camera ready to take advantage of some of the best photo ops DC offers. The peak colors plus the memorials are about as iconic as you can get when photographing Washington. Get your kids to sit still — or even let them run and play for a fun candid — and you’ve got this year’s holiday card.