Ways to Celebrate MLK Day Around the DC Area (2023)


Whether you’re looking for ways to teach kids about MLK, want to give back on the Day of Service, or hope to partake in another special activity to observe the holiday, these ideas will have you covered.

Day of Service
Where: Various locations around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
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.  A good option for the whole gang is anoutdoor volunteer clean-ups at a local park, and there are a lot fo them happening throughout the weekend.

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 — whether on the actual day or at a later time inspired by the holiday. All of the organizations listed welcome kids to help out, though some have age requirements, so be sure to note them.

MLK Peace Walk, Parade  & Fair
Where: MLK Jr. Avenue | SE, DC
When: January 16
Admission: Free

Commemorate the life of MLK, Jr. with a Peace Walk and Parade along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. The Peace Walk begins at 10:45am from Sheperd Park and the Parade will commence at 11am at St. Elizabeth’s East with a Health and Community Fair in the parking lot at 2006 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE. All ages are welcome to join.

MLK at the Library
Where: Libraries around the DMV
When: Through January 16
Admission: Free

Many public libraries are hosting MLK-inspired events and activities for both kids and adults.  There are crafts, story times, open mic poetry, take home reading challenges, and more.  The above link take you to DC Public Library website where you can find details.  And for quick links to see what’s happening at public libraries outside of the district, see this very early KFDC post (scroll all the way down for links).

Not Just Another Day Off
Where: MLK Jr. Memorial Library | Penn Quarter, DC
When: January 16
Admission: Free
If there’s a library event to single out, it’s one that takes place at the MLK Jr. Memorial Library. In honor of the day, join DC Public Library and the Folger Shakespeare Library for readings in honor of Dr. King. The tribute will combine poetry with historical speeches from Dr. King, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and others. Readers include James Johnson, Fatima Quander, Naomi Ayala, Truth Thomas, and others. (Note: This one likely will appeal more to older tweens and teens.). Read more about the MLK Jr. Memorial Library here.

MLK Dare to Dream
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: Monday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at one of the neatest art museums around. For this special day of remembrance, the museum will be open on a Monday, and all festivities (including museum admission) will be FREE! Visit the website to see special activities being offered. Be sure to RSVP!

Artsy MLK Days
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: January 14-16, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but RSVP required

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. This weekend, join visiting artist Sharon Robinson, and create a mixed media collage and journal entry to be added to an ever growing artwork in the gallery. Be sure to RSVP!  Read more about the wonderful Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

Visit Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: January 17 (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 there, you can head to the Lincoln Memorial, where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech and look for his words etched in the stone at the top of the steps.

Free Parking
Where: National Parks
When: January 16
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 in Baltimore, or enjoy hiking and history at Harpers Ferry. Find even more national parks around the area and beyond. (PS: You can do your own trash cleanup while you’re there!)

African American History & Culture
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: Ongoing, 10am – 5:30pm
Admission: Free, but timed entry passes required

A visit to the National Museum of African American History & Culture is insightful and enriching anytime, but perhaps a bit more poignant on MLK Weekend. There currently are plenty of tickets available for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. It’s a huge museum with a lot of exhibits to navigate, some of them very heavy and somber, so be sure to read the KFDC Guide to visiting the museum with kids before you go.

Let Freedom Ring!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: January 16, 6pm
Admission: Free

This annual performance in honor of MLK Day is back!  The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University host theis musical celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. This year the concert will  Leslie Odom, Jr. along with the Let Freedom Ring Choir led by Music Director Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. 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.


Leave a Comment

Filed under 2023, DC, Holidays, Maryland, Virginia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *