If there’s one activity to put on your must-do list sometime over the next week and a half, it’s The REACH Winter Lanterns at the Kennedy Center. In celebration of the Lunar New Year, the grounds overlooking the Potomac will glow with beautiful illuminations — around 100 lanterns, all of them crafted by Chinese artisans, made up of 10,000 LED lights. It’s breathtaking and delightful all at once, with luminescent scenes of cute, dazzling creatures and pretty flora. And it’s all free for the public to enjoy.
Stroll along the paths to view the Coral Reef, Panda Grove, Mushroom Forest, Flower Path, Butterfly Garden, and Flamingo Lagoon, all of them featuring a variety of animal and plant shaped lanterns.
And on select dates, Winter Lanterns Plus will offer extra activities. Featuring China from Thursday – Sunday, January 27-30, guests can take photos with Tiger and Panda characters, write letters to the National Zoo’s pandas, make wishes for 2022, and enjoy refreshments. And February 3-6 will have Korea-inspired activities, including photo ops with Korean mascots, a traditional costume display, and wish-making for 2022. Freebies and refreshments for sale will be available both weekends, too. There are tables on the Plaza with heat lamps, where you can enjoy them.
The closest, most convenient parking is in the Kennedy Center garage — it’s a flat rate of $25. There is also parking at the Watergate garage, which is just across the street, for about $15/two hours. There is street parking nearby, but it’s always tough to get a spot in that area. (And when you consider the event is free, paying a bit for parking isn’t so bad.) The closest Metro station is Foggy Bottom on the Orange/Blue line.
Make a plan to go, and in the meantime, view more scenes from the fantastic exhibition!
Mount Vernon is hosting it’s annual weekend celebration for George’s big day
Spending the long weekend in town? Here’s where you and the kids can enjoy it. Happy Weekend!
Discover Engineering Family Day
Where: National Building Museum
When: Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but a $5 donation is recommended
The National Building Museum and the National Engineers Week Foundation invite you to drop in and debunk the myths of engineering and discover how professional engineers turn an idea into reality. Celebrate National Engineers Week by participating in this free, hands-on, and fun-filled festival. We’ve gone the last couple of years and had a great time. It gets crowded, but there are so many activities available, kids can always be involved in the fun. Recommended for children ages 4-12 with adult supervision.
Party at George’s Place
Where: Mount Vernon
When: Saturday, Sunday, & Monday, 9am – 4pm
Admission: $15/adults, $7/kids ages 6-11, children under 5 are free
Every Presidents Day weekend, George Washington’s former estate hosts special festivities in celebration of our first POTUS’ big day. This year will start with “Breakfast with George Washington”, food demos, music, and samples while they last. Later on, guests can join characters from the 18th century as they tell stories about the first president, and the General himself will relay some tales of his own. There’s even more on Monday, February 18 — go here to see the full schedule. And as a special present to visitors, the Estate will open one hour earlier at 8am and admission on Monday is FREE. Just a heads-up that it’s one of the busiest days of the year. We were there last year, and encountered a line of cars waiting to park. Once inside, though, it was a lot of fun — the sprawling grounds offer plenty of space for the crowd to spread out.
Where: Patriot Center
When: Saturday, 3pm & 6pm
Admission: Tickets start at $25 (look for a deal here)
Take the kids to see a production based on a cartoon that you probably enjoyed as a kid! Scooby-Doo, one of television’s longest running animated series, spans the generations. And the live version is coming to town this Saturday for two performances. In this exciting new show, Scooby-Doo and the Mystery Inc. Gang have been called upon to help solve an epic mystery. Their adventure will feature big musical numbers, original groovy tunes, wacky new characters, and uproarious antics. Be sure to look for a deal before purchasing tickets through the website.
Where: National Museum of Natural History
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Feel the flutter! Celebrate the fifth anniversary of the exhibit Butterflies + Plants: Partners in Evolution and the Live Butterfly Pavilion with special arts and crafts activities for children of all ages. Meet museum educators and learn about metamorphosis and native butterfly species of our region.
Chinese New Year Celebration for Kids
Where: Port Discovery
When: Saturday, 10am – 5pm
Admission: $13.95/ages 2 and up, free for under 2
Head to up to Baltimore to celebrate the Year of the Snake at Port Discovry’s annual Chinese New Year Celebration! Festivities will include Chinese Lion Dancers of the Tai Yim Kung Fu School, Chinese themed arts and crafts activities, story times and Chinese performances, activities with the Baltimore-Xiamen Sister City Committee, and Chinese food sampling with P.F. Changs. Of course, the permanent exhibits will be open for exploration, too!
Presidents’ Family Day
Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum.
When: Saturday, 11:30-3pm
Start off your Presidents’ Day weekend at a patriotic family day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and National Portrait Gallery. Enjoy a variety of crafts and performances dedicated to our nation’s past leaders. Stick around to make a top hat and meet some special guests from Lincoln’s Cottage, and pose for your own Presidential portrait. This will take place in the Kogod Courtyard.
Mardis Gras Family Day: Riverfest
Where: Anacostia Community Museum
When: Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Can’t make it to New Orleans? No worries. Enjoy a river-themed Mardi Gras at the Anacostia Community Museum in a day of exciting river-inspired activities, including storytelling about the Mississippi River, river art, Mississippi River culture-themed music by the Dixie Power Trio band, WPFW’s Zydeco DJ Cowboy Fred dance party, face painting, and balloon animal making. Plus, you can sign up for the Adornment Workshop with Januwa Moja-Nelson and receive a keepsake photo of yourself in colorful attire to take home. While you’re here, also visit the related exhibition, Reclaiming the Edge. Whatever your age, there is sure to be something to capture your interest.
LEO: The Anti Gravity Show
When: Saturday, 8pm
Admission: $30/adults, $25/students & children
What would happen if the law of gravity were to suddenly change? The newest creation from innovative Berlin-based production company Circle of Eleven, LEO leaves audiences wondering which way is up and which way is down. Winner of the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Fringe Festival Award, LEO is a mind-bending, funny, surreal and surprisingly touching work that challenges the senses and tests perceptions of reality through the clever interplay of live performance and video projection. Recommended for ages 7 and up.
Stories in Art
Where: National Gallery of Art
When: Saturday & Sunday
Kids ages 4-7 can explore the work of artist Romare Bearden, as they hear a reading of the book My Hands Sing the Blues: Romare Bearden’s Childhood Journey by Jeanne Walker Harvey, and discover how Romare Bearden pieced together his creative works of art using everyday materials with strong patterns and textures. Then, they will do an art project inspired by his work. Sessions are at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm on Saturday, and 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30 on Sunday. Sign-in takes place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 10am on Saturday (11am on Sunday) and continues until all spaces are filled. Admission is free. Read a KFDC review of the Stories in Art program here.
Where: Freer-Sackler Galleries
When: Saturday & Sunday, 2pm
Drop in at the Smithsonian museums featuring Asian Art to celebrate the Chinese New Year with some art. Use a miniature activity guide to explore the Silk Road Luxuries from China installation. Discover Tang China luxury objects, such as mirrors, wine cups, and cosmetic boxes, and learn about their foreign inspirations. Then return to the classroom to make your own repoussé Tang mirror.
Where: Strathmore Center for the Arts
The arts center’s free community open house will be a day packed with family-friendly music and activities, including performances by Justin Roberts, Aaron Nigel Smith, and the locally-inspired GO GO for the Kids, designed by D.C. band Mambo Sauce. There will also be hands and face painting, interactive performances, hands-on activities, and much more. Visit the website for the schedule and full scope of activities.
George Washington Birthday Parade
Where: Old Town Alexandria
When: Monday, 1-3pm
On Monday, Old Town Alexandria hosts the largest parade in the country celebrating George Washington’s birthday with marching bands, historic re-enactment troops and more. The procession will travel through Old Town from 1 – 3pm. See the website for more info and route details.
Where: Fort Dupont Ice Arena
When: Monday,10am – 12pm
Glide Monday morning away at Fort Dupont! The Ice Arena is hosting a Presidents Day Open House, which includes free skating, rentals, and lessons. They also encourage guests to celebrate National Hockey Month by wearing your favorite teams’ jersey or colors.