Where to Celebrate MLK Day Around the DC Area (2024)


Whether you’re looking for ways to teach kids about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., want to give back on the Day of Service, or hope to partake in another special activity to observe MLK Day, 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 an outdoor volunteer clean-up at a local park, and there are a lot of them happening throughout the weekend. Check here, herehere, and here.

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 15
Admission: Free

Commemorate the life of MLK, Jr. with a Peace Walk and Parade along Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave.  A Peace Rally begins at 9am, then the Peace Walk steps off at 10:45am from Shepherd 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.

The People’s Holiday: The Many Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Where: NMAAHC | National Mall, DC
When: January 15, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but be sure to RSVP

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. And there will be special activities on Monday to celebrate MLK: the Student artists from the Cinematic Arts & Media Production Department at Duke Ellington School of the Arts will perform original work that reimagines and reinterprets the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. There will also be hands-on activities and pecan pie (MLK’s favorite) available at the Sweet Home Cafe. Of course, plan to tour the exhibits, too, but be sure to read the KFDC Guide to visiting the museum with kids before you go.

Shaping the Dream: a Community Clay Event
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: January 13-15, 11am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but RSVP required

Join Annmarie Sculpture Garden for an uplifting community art event and exhibit inspired by the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  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 Claudette Taylor lto earn how to make a bas relief tile in air-dry clay and sculpt their your own unique and uplifting motif to display on the wall.  Be sure to RSVP!  Read more about the wonderful Annmarie Sculpture Garden here.

MLK at the Library
Where: Libraries around the DC area
When: Through January 15
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).

It Starts with Me!
Where: MLK Jr. Memorial Library | Penn Quarter, DC
When: January 15, 1-5pm
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 for a day of celebration and reflection. Musical performers, spoken word artists, and more activities will take place to celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Read more about the MLK Jr. Memorial Library here.

MLK Dare to Dream Day
Where: American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, MD
When: January 15, 10am – 5pm
Admission: Free
Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at one of the neatest art museums around. Along with the exhibits, enjoy open mic, art-making, music, dance, and more. And for this special day of remembrance, the museum will be open on a Monday, and all festivities (including museum admission) will be FREE!  Be sure to RSVP!

Not Just Another Day Off
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library | Capitol Hill, DC
When: January 15, 11am – 1pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday with this annual free and family-friendly event that’s back in the Folger after being closed for a few yeas’ removation. The day will feature music, contemporary poet Alexa Patrick, and actors Sara Barker, Fatima Quander, Greg Reid, and others reading historic speeches from Dr. King as well as their own poems.

MLK Service and Learning Day
Where: Frying Pan Farm Park | Herndon, VA
When: January 15
Admission: $8

Introduce your young ones to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as we gather at the Frying Pan Farm Park Visitor Center to learn about Martin Luther King and the importance of giving back to our community. Rotate through stations to hear about the Civil Rights Movement, participate in a service project, and reflect on the power of community cooperation. All participants must be registered.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tribute
Where: City Hall | College Park, MD
When: January 15, 9am, 10am, 1pm, & 2pm
Admission: Free

Join the City of College Park at a performances of two children-focused educational shows! The “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” show, offered at 9am ad 10am, will focus on the life and works of the famed civil rights leader, while the “Spirit to Overcome” show, at 1pm and 2pm, highlights the many contributions of African American women. Be sure to reserve a spot!

Visit Memorials
Where: National Mall & Tidal Basin, DC
When: January 15 (and ongoing)
Admission: Free, registration required

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 15
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!)

Let Freedom Ring!
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom
When: January 15, 6pm
Admission: Free

This annual performance in honor of MLK Day is a DC tradition.  The Kennedy Center and Georgetown University host this musical celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. This year the concert will feature Jordin Sparks, Nolan Williams Jr., and Cécile McLorin Salvant. 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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