It’s the official start of fall this weekend, and you’ve got your pick of ways to usher it in. Celebrate the season at a festival on a farm or right here in the city, get building or bookish at a couple of fantastic annual events, enjoy a museum program, harvest honey, visit Abe’s place… This round-up is chock full of details on local happenings, and this list of indoor activities will be a good one to keep on hand, too, according to the latest weather forecast. Happy Weekend!
The Big Build
Where: National Building Museum
Any kid (or adults, for that matter) with an interest in building and construction will absolutely dig the National Building Museum’s annual event celebrating all things, well, building. The Great Hall will be chock full of different stations where guests of all ages aren’t just welcome, but encouraged, to try their hands at all kinds of construction and design techniques. There will also be also craft areas, storytime, a scavenger hunt, construction vehicles to explore, a children’s play, and so much more. And it’s all totally free!
National Book Festival
Where: National Mall
When: Saturday & Sunday
One of DC’s biggest annual events is happening on the National Mall all weekend: The 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival. Over 200,000 visitors to the National Mall for a fantastic celebration of books and reading. More than 100 authors, poets, and illustrators from every literary genre will be presenting – book readings, talks Q&A’s, book signings, and more . These will take place along with lots of other reading-related activities for all. For a glimpse at what to expect, see this post about our experience there last year.
Where: Around the DC-Metro
When: All weekend long
Admission: Varies by locale
Fall officially begins on Saturday, and you can celebrate the season and then some at one of many festivals happening this weekend, from city neighborhoods to country farms. The popular H Street is on Saturday (see below), Ren Fest gets medieval every weekend through October, and more farms are opening to welcome visitors for all kinds of autumn-inspired fun. Get details on all of them in this guide to fall festivals around area.
Gimme an H!
Where: H Street NE
When: Saturday, 12-7pm
The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving corridor is always a big one. If you don’t mind crowds, there is so much to see and do. The event features loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and kids’ activities, with face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is recommended, as parking is guaranteed to be difficult.
Hispanic Heritage Month: Innovators in Air and Space
Where: Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: Free, but parking is $15
In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, the Dulles arm of the Air & Space Museum is hosting a day of activities for the whole family. Guests can hear about Latin Americans’ contributions to aviation and space exploration, meet current Hispanic scientists and engineers working in the local community, and take part in bilingual story times and hands-on activities presented in collaboration with the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Where: Local Theaters
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by venue
Here’s where you can find live family entertainment over the next few days: Goodnight Moon opens tonight for a 5-week run at Adventure Theater. Really little ones will enjoy Bunny Business on Saturday and Old McDonald’s Farm on Sunday at The Puppet Co.’s Tiny Tots series. Winnie the Pooh is still on stage at the Workhouse Arts Center. And ¡Uno, Dos, Tres con Andrés! is the 10:30am show at Jammin’ Java on Saturday.
Nats Season Closer
Where: Nationals Park
When: Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Admission: Ticket prices vary
The Nats are hosting the Florida Marlins in their final series of the season. Catch evening games on Friday and Saturday or an afternoon match-up on Sunday. If the games are anything like their meetings against the Braves this week, they’ll be closing out the season on an exciting note.
Day of the Dog
Where: Congressional Cemetery
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
If you’re a dog owner, thinking of becoming one, or just really love dogs, this event at Congressional Cemetery (known for its off leash dog walking community) will get tails wagging. Costume contests (dress up those doggies!), games, demos, live entertainment, local vendors, and pet adoptions will be part of the festivities. Even if you don’t come with a dog, you may be gong home with one!
Musical Stories for Kids
Where: Brucker Hall, Fort Myer
When: Saturday, 10am
At this kids’ concert, even the littlest audience member can experience the can-do spirit of their America and their Army through history, literature, art, movement, and music. Get your hands on real instruments in the “Black Jack’s” Instrument Petting Corral (at 10am) and more.
Free Film Shorts
Where: E Street Cinema
When: Saturday, 11:30am
The 10th annual DC Shorts Film Festival, the largest short film event on the East Coast, presents a showcase of family-friendly mini flicks on Saturday. Ranging from 2 to 15 minutes long, the featured shorts explore a variety of themes that young audiences will enjoy. Read descriptions and see previews of the films here.
Honey, it’s Harvest Time
Where: Patuxent Research Refuge
When: Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Discover the busy world of bees and other pollinators as the Patuxent Research Refuge hosts the Maryland Honey Harvest Festival. Guests can enjoy arts& crafts, honey tastings, candle-making demos, environmental tram tours and much more — all for free! The event will be held at the Refuge’s National Wildlife Visitor Center.
Family Day at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage
When: Saturday, 10am – 3pm
Admission: $15/adult, $5/ages 6-12, free for 5 and under
Enjoy the grounds of President Lincoln’s Cottage and Armed Forces Retirement Home as the Lincoln family did! There will be live entertainment and activities inspired by the Lincoln family and their life at the Soldiers’ Home: A petting zoo, Civil War encampment, crafts, Civil War-era games, guided tours, and more will be part of the day’s festivities. Reservations are requested but not required
Where: DC Convention Center
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $10/online, $15/at door
The nation’s premier sustainability event is where you will see the best in green. Enjoy more than 125 renowned authors, leaders and educators; great how-to workshops; cutting-edge films; fun activities for kids; organic beer and wine; a green marketplace; and delicious vegetarian cuisine and diverse live music. And the Green Kids Zone will feature entertaining and enriching activities, including eco-crafts, yoga, story time, trivia and more!
Where: Pennsylvania Ave. 9th to 14th Streets NW
When: Sunday, 11am – 7pm
Celebrate Latino culture at the 42nd Annual Fiesta DC. It all starts with the Parade of Nations along Constitution Avenue at 11am. Following that, festivities on Pennsylvania Avenue will include five stages featuring live performances, a children’s mini festival, a science fair, international cuisine, and arts & crafts.
Junior Botanist Festival
Where: US Botanic Garden
The USBG’s Junior Botanist program is back and they’re celebrating with a festival! Have an adventure at the U.S. Botanic Garden and discover all the talents needed to become a Junior Botanist. Between hands-on activities and engaging discussions with USBG staff and volunteers, ponder plants with Emily Porter of Project BudBurst, concoct cuisine with nutritionist Danielle Navidi and brood over bees with apiarist Tim Schuler. Then stick around and check out the all-new Junior Botanist program in the Conservatory!
Where: Claude Moore Colonial Farm
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Admission: $3/adult, $2/child
The Summer’s garden bounty is beginning to dwindle and and the Farm family needs to save some of it for the long winter ahead. Come help the Farm Wife prepare vegetables and other tasty treats for pickling as they show you how to combine salt, water, vinegar and spices to preserve their summer crops.
Where: Little Loft
When: Sunday, 2;30-3:30pm
Admission: $18 (or $160 for a 10-class pass)
The creative space for kids on Capitol Hill is kicking off its new Sunday series for ages 5-10. Feel free to drop your child off while they get crafty creating something new each week. During this weekend’s “Mr. Roboto” session, they can make a small robot using recycled materials like old cds, legos, and cassette tape cases. Advance registration is requested, but pay at the door. Read more about Little Loft’s art offerings this fall for kids of all ages.
Stamp Gallery Opening
Where: National Postal Museum
When: Sunday, 10am – 5:30pm
Be among the very first visitors to the world’s largest stamp gallery as the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum opens its new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the only one to show stamps and mail in the context of American history and culture. To celebrate, the Museum is hosting a Family Day full of special activities, including a chance to make your own stamp collection; a stamp design contest; meet-and-greets with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Tweety; a U.S. Postal Service First-Day-of-Issue Ceremony; a correspondence salon; a scanvenger hunt; and more fun for all ages.
Cavalcade of Street Cars
Where: National Capital Trolley Museum
When: Sunday, 12-5pm
Admission: $7/ages 18 and up, $5/ages 2-17
Hop on for a day of fun! Along with the museum’s array of exhibits and regular trolley rides, there will be several European trams and North American street cars offering visitors a spin through Northwest Branch Park during a single visit.