Tag Archives: Smithsonian Folklife Festival

2020 Vision: 10 Awesome Things Families Can Look Forward to in DC this Year

To infinity and beyond… Yayoi Kusama’s art will return to DC this year


Some people make New Year’s resolutions, I make new… plans. (Well, mental notes for plans, anyway.) I like to take a look ahead at the coming year, see what new and exciting things are on the horizon, and put them on my radar to, hopefully, enjoy at some point — and, of course, share with the KFDC community. Which is just what I’ve done here. With this new year comes many opportunities for awesome experiences. Here are 10 that I think will be especially appealing to DC families. Happy 2020!

1. National Children’s Museum | Late January
The much anticipated reopening of the redesigned and newly-located museum especially for children is slated for the end of January. And if the sneak peek back in the fall is a good indicator of what’s to come, it sounds like the wait will be worth it. There will be STEAM-focused exhibits and creative play spaces, with the Dream Machine, a three-story climber and slide, as the centerpiece. This will all be easily accessible right downtown at Woodrow Wilson Plaza, next to the Ronald Reagan Building. I’ll, of course, keep you posted on opening specifics as more details are released.

2. The Lane | February
How I wish something like this existed when my kids were younger! Opening in February, The Lane Social Club will be a place where families — kids and parents — can hang. And by hang, I mean engage in active play, partake in special programming, throw birthday parties, enjoy good food or a drink, and make new friends. This is all the brainchild of two local moms, Rachel and Molly, who decided to make their yearning for a venue like this a reality. I’ve had a chance to spend some time with them, and can tell you that 1) They have thought of all the details 2) You’ll want to include them among those new friends. The location is in Ivy City near the new Target. Look for more info about the opening soon!

Get ready to welcome back the World Series Champions!

3. Nationals Baseball Season | March – October
Rooting for our home team isn’t a new thing, but cheering them on as the World Series Champions is — and it definitely adds some extra excitement to the anticipation of the Nats baseball season. Sure, the roster has changed a bit (we miss you, Tony!) but most of the squad is returning, and there are a couple of new players to watch out for. Plus, I’ve always recommended a day at the ballpark as a fun way to enjoy family time together. While Opening Day is March 26, the first home game this year isn’t until April 2. You can view the whole schedule here, and as you’re planning for game days, be sure to check out these KFDC tips first.

4. Yayoi Kusama Returns to the Hirshhorn | April 4 – September 20
Three years ago, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrors exhibition at the Hirshhorn was the hot ticket to score. The presentation of five infinity rooms — immersive installations that transformed small rooms into boundless wonderlands with brilliant, imaginative sculptures and mirror-lined walls — caused quite a frenzy among art enthusiasts, Instagram fiends, and what seemed like everyone else, for that matter. I, personally, had mixed feelings about it — I loved the art, but wasn’t super keen on the viewing experience. This spring, some of Kusama’s works, including two infinity rooms, are coming back to the museum for an exhibit called One with Eternity. This time, there will be no advance tickets, just same-day passes. Fingers crossed it will be easier to get them!

5. Planet Word Museum | May 31
I am so intrigued by and excited for this opening! With a mission to “inspire a love of words and language,” the museum promises immersive exhibits and magical experiences to demonstrate how words and language help shape our lives. According to the website, there will be all kinds of word play opportunities (that go well beyond your crosswords and Scrabble) — create a marketing campaign, give a famous speech and watch it, hear authors read from their books, join songwriting and storytelling classes, and more. Details for visiting aren’t yet available, but I’ll be sure to share when they are!

6. Hamilton Revisits the Kennedy Center | June 16 – September 20
If you missed seeing the award winning Broadway smash when it was here in 2018 (like I did) and still have yet to see it anywhere else (like me), you have another chance this summer. Hamilton will be back at the Kennedy Center for a three-month run. Tickets will go on sale in the spring, and tip: Kennedy Center members always get first dibs at a selection of tickets (though this didn’t do me much good last time, as there was an online glitch and I got booted out of the system before finishing my purchase… but I’m not throwin’ away my shot to try for them again). It’s recommended for kids ages 10 and up, so be sure to take that into consideration and get some feedback if you’re hoping to bring children younger than that.

7. The Bard at the Building Museum
This year’s Summer Block Party at the National Building Museum is presented as a partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. Shakespeare’s Playhouse will feature an Elizabethan-inspired outdoor stage, designed by a team from the University of South Carolina, in the cool comfort of the museum’s Great Hall. Guests will be able to engage in Shakespearean activities, like stage combat, during the day, and in the evenings, there will be performances of the enchanting A Midsummer Night’s Dream. (PS: If you think Shakespeare and kids don’t mix, think again! Read about some of our experiences with it here and here.)

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival brings international art and culture to DC every summer

8. Smithsonian Folklife Festival | June 24-28, July 1-5
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is far from a new event to DC, but I’m including it here because after being shortened to a weekend last year, it will return to its regular, longer 10-day run. I always recommend checking out the festivities on the National Mall during that time, because they’re always a fantastic celebration of living cultural heritage, showcasing different regions around the world through hands-on activities, performances, demonstrations, and exhibits for all ages to enjoy. And the great thing about the return to the long run is more opportunities to go. This summer, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates will be highlighted as well as the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon and Smithsonian Conservation Commons. Admission to all of it is free. Read about and get a glimpse of the 2018 festival here.

9. MLK Jr. Library Reopening | Fall
DC’s flagship public library closed in early 2017 to undergo a major renovation, and it will reopen this fall with loads of modernized features. Newly designed spaces include an transparent entryway, large auditorium and conference center, creative spaces for the arts, a ground level café with a patio, an interactive children’s space, and more. And like all of our public libraries, there will be programming to go along with it, with plenty of it especially for kids. MLK Jr. Library is located in Penn Quarter at 9th and G Streets NW.

10. Presidential Election | November 3
So, this is more an ongoing event for 2020 even though the actual election isn’t until November. It also reaches well beyond DC, but it’s always especially interesting and exciting (and stressful) to be here during the race for the White House. Kids all over the country learn about our government and politics, but here in DC ours practically have front row seats for it. For a related activity, take a tour of the U.S. Capitol. And as we head into the election year, note these important dates: DC primaries are June 2, Maryland primaries are April 28, and Virginia primaries are March 3. Be sure to vote — and bring your kiddos along!

What are you looking forward to most in the coming year? Leave a comment and let us know!


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Filed under 2020, All ages, Annual, Art, DC, Educational, Exhibit, Fall, Festival, Free, Indoor Play, Live Entertainment, Museums, Outdoor, Special Event, Sports, Spring, Summer, Theatre, Winter

2016 Independence Day Celebrations Around DC

flag

What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? This is where the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!), and celebrations take place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. But the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks on the National Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th weekend in DC. Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!

National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets
When: July 4, 11:45am
Admission: Free

Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.

Independence Day Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
Admission: Free

After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 3rd to 4th Streets, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, and more. And the grand finale of it all: At 9:09pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display. Fireworks will be launched from the Reflecting Pool area, so plan accordingly.

A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Admission: Free

Down past the other end of the Mall, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will feature even more musical pageantry. This year’s show will include performances by Smokey Robinson, Kenny Loggins, Gavin Degraw, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society of Washington, the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band, and many more exciting acts. (KFDC tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)

An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon
When: July 4, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.

The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.

Fourth of July at the National Archives
Where: National Archives
When: July 4, 8am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate July 4th at the National Archives Building with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests, patriotic music, and family activities from 11am – 4pm. The full schedule of events is available on the National Archives website.

America’s Pastime
Where: Nationals Park
When: July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary

A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Catch the July 4th game against the Milwaukee Brewers, which is part of the 2016 Patriotic Series honoring members of the military. And be sure to check this post about ways to save on a Nats game.

Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School
When: July 4, 7pm
Admission: Free

The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance, with fireworks following at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.

Neighborhood Parades
Where: Throughout the area
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Admission: Free

Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town. (And even though the list is from 2015, the information is largely the same, and all of the links lead to this year’s events.)

Star-Spangled Spectacular
Where: Oregon Ridge State Park
When: July 3 & 4
Admission: $9-18

For something a little different than the usual DC July 4th festivities, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md, on Friday or Saturday. You can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst a gorgeous setting as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The starbursts in the sky as a live symphony plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Be sure to note these parking instructions, as on–site parking is $15, but you can park off site and take a shuttle for free.

Rockville 4th of July Celebration
Where: Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park
When: July 4, 7-9:45pm
Admission: Free

Rockville’s Independence Day Celebration is hosted by the Mayor and Council of Rockville at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in King Farm. Join in a night of music, entertainment and fireworks. See the website for the lineup of entertainment and parking information.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Educational, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Sports, Summer, Virginia

2015 Independence Day Celebrations

Capitol Hill's "little" neighborhood parade

Capitol Hill’s “little” neighborhood parade



What better place to celebrate Independence Day than in our nation’s capital? I mean, the actual Declaration of Independence is housed (and will be read!) here, and celebrations take place place among some of the country’s most iconic landmarks. And the excitement doesn’t stop there. From fireworks on the National Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, there are loads of ways to revel on July 4th in DC. Here are details on a bunch of them. Happy Independence Day!

National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets
When: July 4, 11:45am
Admission: Free

Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.

Independence Day Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
Admission: Free

After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival from 3rd to 4th Streets, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, and more. And the grand finale of it all: At 9:09pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display. Fireworks will be launched from the Reflecting Pool area, so plan accordingly.

A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Admission: Free

Down past the other end of the Mall, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will feature even more musical pageantry. Barry Manilow is headlining this year’s show, and there will also be appearances and performances by Alabama, KC and The Sunshine Band, Nicole Scherzinger, Hunter Hayes, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Choral Arts Society, the U.S. Army Band, and many more exciting acts. And Bradley Whiteford will be the new host. (KFDC tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)

An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon
When: July 4, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adults, $9/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.

The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.

America’s Pastime
Where: Nationals Park
When: July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary

A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Catch the July 4 game against the San Francisco Giants, which is part of the 2015 Patriotic Series which honors members of the military. And be sure to check this post about ways to save on a Nats game.

Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School
When: July 4, 7pm
Admission: Free

The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance by the Beach Bumz, with fireworks following at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.

Neighborhood Parades
Where: Throughout the area
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Admission: Free

Keep it close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town.

Star-Spangled Spectacular
Where: Oregon Ridge State Park
When: July 3 & 4
Admission: $9-18

For something a little different than the usual DC July 4th festivities, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md, on Friday or Saturday. You can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst a gorgeous setting as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The starbursts in the sky as a live symphony plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Be sure to note these parking instructions, as on–site parking is $15, but you can park off site and take a shuttle for free.

Fourth of July at the National Archives
Where: National Archives
When: July 4, 8am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate July 4th at the National Archives Building with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests, patriotic music, and family activities from 11am – 4pm. The full schedule of events is available on the National Archives website.

Rockville 4th of July Celebration
Where: Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park
When: July 4, 7-9:45pm
Admission: Free

Rockville’s Independence Day Celebration is hosted by the Mayor and Council of Rockville at Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park in King Farm. Join in a night of music, entertainment and fireworks. See the website for the lineup of entertainment and parking information.


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2014 Independence Day Celebrations

july4

Our lovely city is one of the most exciting places to be this time of year, as people from all over the world to celebrate America’s birthday. And from fireworks on the National Mall and concerts at the Capitol to special events at George Washington’s house and the home of the Declaration of Independence to neighborhood parades and ballpark fun, they (and you!) won’t be let down. Here are details on the many ways to celebrate July 4th in DC. Happy Independence Day!

National Independence Day Parade
Where: Constitution Avenue NW, 7th-17th Streets
When: July 4, 11:45am
Admission: Free

Many national holidays get a parade in DC, and July 4th is no exception. Scores of spectators are expected to line the Constitution Avenue sidewalks to watch the procession celebrating Independence Day make its way from 7th to 17th Streets. Marching bands, floats, giant balloons, equestrian groups, drill teams, and military units will be among the pageantry. Stake out your spot along the route early, as this event attracts hundreds of thousands of viewers every year.

Independence Day Celebration on the Mall
Where: National Mall
When: July 4, all day (and evening)
Admission: Free

After the parade (even earlier for some), the National Mall will begin filling up for a day of July 4th festivities — the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, Junior Ranger activities, concerts, picnics, and more. And the grand finale of it all: At 9:10pm, the sky above will explode with color when the amazing iconic fireworks display.

A Capitol Fourth
Where: West Lawn on the Capitol
When: July 4, 8pm; gates open at 3pm
Admission: Free

Down past the other end of the Mall, A Capitol Fourth, the annual Independence Day concert that airs live on PBS, will feature even more musical pageantry. Patti LaBelle is headlining the show, and there will also be appearances and performances by Frankie Valli, Phillip Phillips, Jordin Sparks, The Muppets, the National Symphony Orchestra and many more exciting acts. And Tom Bergeron of “Dancing with the Stars” is hosting once again. (KFDC tip: Enjoy the show with less crowds at the dress rehearsal on July 3 – same time and place!)

An American Celebration
Where: Mount Vernon
When: July 4, 8am – 5pm
Admission: $17/adults, $8/ages 6-11, free for ages 5 and under.

The home of George Washington salutes the first commander-in-chief with a dazzling display of made-for-daytime fireworks during its annual Independence Day event. Visitors will be treated to spectacular smoke fireworks in patriotic colors fired over the Potomac River. The event also includes an inspirational naturalization ceremony for 100 new citizens, military reenactments, a special wreathlaying ceremony, and a visit from the “first” first couple, “General and Mrs. Washington.” See the full schedule of events here.

America’s Pastime
Where: Nationals Park
When: July 4, 11:05am
Admission: Ticket prices vary

A day at the ballpark is about as all-American as it gets when it comes to sports, and you can experience it and celebrate the holiday at Nationals Park. Catch the July 4 game against the Chicago Cubs, which is part of the 2014 Patriotic Series which honors members of the military.

Falls Church 4th of July Celebration
Where: George Mason High School
When: July 4, 7pm
Admission: Free

The City of Falls Church Recreation and Parks Department will present its annual free July 4th Celebration at George Mason High School (7124 Leesburg Pike). Musical entertainment begins at 7pm with a live performance by The Original Moonlights, with fireworks following at 9:20pm. Blankets and flat-based chairs are allowed for seating on the field. Food and drinks will be sold on site.

Neighborhood Parades
Where: Throughout the area
When: Most on July 4, times vary
Admission: Free

Keep it mellow and close to home at a community celebration. You likely are aware of July 4th events taking place in your neighborhood or nearby, but if you’re still looking for a hyperlocal fête, check out this list of parades around town.

Star-Spangled Spectacular
Where: Oregon Ridge State Park
When: July 3 & 4
Admission: $9-18

For something a little different than the usual DC July 4th festivities, head north to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Md, on Thrusday or Friday. There, you can spread out a blanket or set up chairs on the sloping green lawn amidst a gorgeous setting as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra performs their Star-Spangled Spectacular, culminating with a magnificent fireworks display. The starbursts in the sky as a live symphony plays is truly magical. The park opens at 5pm, and the show begins at 8pm both days. Be sure to note these parking instructions, as on–site parking is $15, but you can park off site and take a shuttle for free.

Reading of the Declaration of Independence
Where: National Archives
When: July 4, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate July 4th at the National Archives Building with a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence. There will also be historical guests, patriotic music, and family activities from 11am – 4pm. The full schedule of events is available on the National Archives website.

Rockville 4th of July Celebration
Where: Montgomery College – Rockville Campus
When: July 4, 7-9:45pm
Admission: Free

Rockville’s Independence Day Celebration is hosted by the Mayor and Council of Rockville at Montgomery College’s Rockville Campus located at 51 Mannakee Street. Join in a night of music, entertainment and fireworks. See the website for the lineup of entertainment and parking information.


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Filed under All ages, Annual, DC, Festival, Free, Holidays, Live Entertainment, Maryland, Museums, Music, Outdoor, Parade, Seasonal, Summer, Virginia