Tag Archives: DC Family Activities

Five Spooky & Mysterious Sites & Stories to Explore Around DC this Halloween Season

[Note: This is a guest post contributed by JoAnn Hill, a DC area educator and author of the book “Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.” ]

 

An Attorney General’s missing skull, a former first lady interred in a public vault for two years, a forsaken ghost town that was formerly a booming industrial town, intricately carved chainsaw sculptures in a local cemetery, and signs of the occult at the White House. Below are five fascinating sites and stories to uncover as you set out to explore the mysterious, bone-chilling, and downright spooky side of DC and its surrounding area this Halloween season.

Check out Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure to learn more about the hidden histories below as well as to discover dozens of additional gems and off-the-beaten path locales in and around the Washington, DC, area.

 

Congressional Cemetery: “Head’s Up: The Case of An Attorney General’s Missing Head”

Imagine receiving a phone call where the caller asks, “Would you be interested in getting William Wirt’s head back?” Such was the mysterious call that a Congressional Cemetery manager received in 2003.

William Wirt served as Attorney General under Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Wirt holds the title of longest serving attorney general
 in United States history, and he is also credited with turning the position into one of national importance. In 1853, Wirt’s son-in-law built a massive family vault near the highest point of the cemetery, so large that it remains the biggest and most visible monument on the grounds.

Following the puzzling 2003 phone call, the cemetery manager decided to probe further. The lock had been removed from the door, and the vault had indeed been vandalized. It was eventually determined that Robert L. White had collected Wirt’s skull, adding to his bizarre collection of 40-some skulls.

Read All About It: Learn more about the bizarre case of Attorney General William Wirt’s missing head on pages 150-151 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
Go and Explore: Congressional Cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Where: Congressional Cemetery is located at 1801 E Street SE.

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Congressional Cemetery: “Keep It in the Vault”

Over 3,000 individuals have been interred in the Congressional Cemetery’s Public Vault, including three presidents, one vice president, and two first ladies. Many stay here for only one to two days since it was never intended to be used for long-term stays. So, why was Dolley Madison interred in the Public Vault for two years, making her the longest known interment of the vault?

Dolley Madison was a trailblazer. She helped define the role of First Lady, was often credited with helping advance James Madison’s career, and perhaps most notably, saved a historic portrait of George Washington from being burned by British troops during the War of 1812. While the Madisons were among the elite, they weren’t immune to falling on hard times. As James Madison’s health began to deteriorate, he prepared his presidential papers to help secure financial security for Dolley after his death. Their son Payne’s recklessness, however, destroyed their finances.

Read All About It: Learn more about the Madison family’s financial woes and Dolley’s two-year stint in the public vault on pages 36-37 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
Go and Explore: Congressional Cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Where: Congressional Cemetery is located at 1801 E Street SE.

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The Ghost Town of Daniels, MD: “Ghosted in Daniels”

When visiting a ghost town, it’s often difficult to imagine what stood there before. Signs of desertion and decay often cloud our ability to envision the possibility of past life and vibrancy. Daniels, once a booming industrial town in Ellicott City, Maryland, is now one of the most mystifying ghost towns in the DC area. An abandoned shell of its former self that’s faded away in a deep wooded forest, the ghost town of Daniels is now sadly characterized merely by rotting wood and crumbling stone.

Straddling the Patapsco River, the town of Daniels was originally settled in 1810 when Thomas Ely and his family moved here to establish a textile mill. The area around the mill became known as Elysville. Over 40 years later, the town was bought by the family of James S. Gary and renamed Alberton in recognition of their son Albert. The mill stayed within the Gary family for nearly a century until the Daniels Company came along and purchased the entire village in 1940. $65,000 bought them 500 acres and the right to change the town’s name from Alberton to Daniels.

Read All About It: Learn more about the ghost town of Daniels and its history on pages 70-71 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
Go and Explore: The forsaken town is free and open dawn to dusk.
Where: Remnants of the ghost town of Daniels can be found in present-day Ellicott City, MD.

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Glenwood Cemetery: “Sprucing Things Up with Some Chainsaws”

Since 1852, Glenwood Cemetery, a historically private and secular cemetery, has been characterized by elaborate Victorian monuments and its notorious residents. It is the final resting place of George Atzerodt, a co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and the infamous murderer Frederic De Frouville. More recently, however, the countless graves have been joined by less typical cemetery inhabitants: towering intricately carved wooden sculptures emerging out of the ground.

Faced with many aging and dead trees, along with those severely damaged in heavy storms, Glenwood Cemetery decided to turn an eyesore into creative art. The cemetery contacted a professional chainsaw artist, Dayton Scoggins, to transform the deteriorating trees into unique wooden sculptures. Inspired by passages in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, Scoggins used four large oak trees to carve the soaring sculptures.

Read All About It: Learn more about the four intricately carved chainsaw sculptures on pages 84-85 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
Go and Explore: The sculptures are situated behind the cemetery’s Romanesque mortuary chapel.
Where: Glenwood Cemetery is located at 2219 Lincoln Road NE.

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The White House: “As White as a Ghost”

The White House, often regarded as the People’s House, boasts the most recognizable address in America. While the stately residence symbolizes power, patriotism, and the American people, it has also been connected to the occult and is considered by many to be quite haunted, with countless sightings of former presidents, first ladies, and White House staff members.

One of the most frequent ghostly sightings is that of First Lady Abigail Adams. Adams used to hang laundry in the East Room, the warmest and driest room of the White House. Her apparition has been reportedly seen walking toward the East Room dressed in a lace shawl and cap with outstretched arms like she’s carrying laundry. President Andrew Jackson has been said to haunt the Rose Room as well as the halls of the president’s chambers. The Rose Room served as Jackson’s bedroom and is believed by many to be one of the White House’s most haunted rooms.

Without a doubt most persistently reported ghost sighting has been of President Abraham Lincoln. Many psychics believe that Lincoln’s presence has remained in the White House to serve as an aide during crises as well as to finish the work that was interrupted by his assassination.

Read all about it: Discover more about which famous White House ghosts have been sighted on pages 166-167 of Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure.
Go and Explore: Public tour requests must be submitted through your Member of Congress. These self-guided tours are generally available on Fridays and Saturdays.
Where: The White House is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.

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JoAnn Hill has lived in Washington, DC, with her husband Thalamus and dog Jackson for over 19 years. An avid traveler and foodie, JoAnn writes about their DC living and dining experiences, as well as their global travel adventures, on her blog dcglobejotters.org. Her writing has been published in BELLA Magazine, Escape Artist, and Triptipedia. JoAnn served as a DC Public Schools teacher for 17 years before co-founding Capitol Teachers, a tutoring company servicing the greater DC area. Secret Washington, DC: A Guide to the Weird, Wonderful, and Obscure is her first book.

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Filed under DC, Halloween, Maryland

Join the Alma Thomas Community Celebration at the National Gallery of Art this Weekend!

 

The National Gallery of Art reopened its doors last spring, and it’s been wonderful to return to one of our favorite museums again.  Even better, it’s open daily, making it a go-to any day of the week.  But this coming weekend, September 24-26, will be an especially great time to visit, as the museum hosts a Community Celebration honoring late pioneering artist Alma Thomas!

The in-person, on-site event will feature a variety of activities and experiences that explore Thomas’s life and her wide range of creative endeavors, all of them self-guided for Covid safety.  Plus, there are extra goodies and discounts to enjoy while you’re there!  The weekend offerings and festivities include:

·    Free art kits with a coloring book of National Gallery works by local artists, coloring materials, and a cutout doll designed by Brittany Jackson, illustrator of the acclaimed children’s book Parker Looks Up: An Extraordinary Moment.

·     A special flower display inspired by Alma Thomas’s Pansies in Washington (1969)  

·     A display showcasing works by local community members, celebrating Alma Thomas’s art and legacy 

·     50% discount on Alma Thomas-inspired gelato at the Espresso & Gelato Bar  

·     15% discount on shops purchases with the code ALMA15 (onsite and online) 

·     A pop-up performance from Howard University Bands at 4pm on Sunday 

 

Thomas’ painting, Tiptoe Through the Tulips, inspired by sights, sounds, & smells of DC

 

The event is part of a larger citywide celebration featuring a symposium with virtual sessions September 22-23. Geared toward adults, it will bring together noted scholars, artists, and curators to discuss Alma Thomas’s life and legacy, including an introduction by Michelle Obama.

The National Gallery of Art’s Community Celebration will take place in the East Building from 1-5pm on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Admission is free.

Alma Thomas Community Celebration
Where: National Gallery of Art | National Mall, DC
When: Friday – Sunday, September 24-26, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

 

This post is sponsored by the National Gallery of Art, however, I only promote events, programs, and places that I genuinely believe in and think will appeal to KFDC readers.

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Filed under 2021, All ages, Art, DC, Fall, Free, Museums, Weekend

The KFDC Guide to the 2021 Fall Festival Season

Autumn delight at Clarke’s Elioak Farm

 

Fall is right around the corner, and so are the many festivals that come along with it. They celebrate everything from the season to city neighborhoods to art to historic times. You can have a blast on a farm, savor local food and culture, go medieval or colonial — all amidst gorgeous autumn scenery in the cool, crisp air. This list of celebrations, ordered by start date (and mostly reprised/updated from previous years — I’ve been posting fall fest round-ups for a decade!), will help you plan for it all. Happy Fall!

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD
When: Weekends through October 24
Admission: Thru 9/12: $21/age 16+, $11/age 7-15
9/14-10/20: $28/age 16+, $13/age 7-15 | free/6 & under

This medieval time trip began in late August and gets a huge endorsement from me as one of the best annual events in the area. You just can’t beat the amazing variety of entertainment — exciting jousting matches, cheeky comedy shows, fire eaters, sword swallowers, tight rope walkers and other balancing acts, jugglers, musical performances, puppetry, plus slides, play areas, and games. And walking among knights, maidens, pirates, and villagers in Revel Grove, the charming location that resembles a 16th-century tudor village, as you chomp on turkey legs and down cups of “mead” is an immensely fun and interesting jaunt back in time that any age can enjoy. Huzzah!

Corn Maze & Apple Harvest
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: Through September 30
Admission: $12-16/adult, $10-14/child, free/2 & under

September may mean back to school for many, but at Great Country it means back to the farm for freshly pressed cider and apple picking. You can celebrate it with apple picking, award-winning apple cider donuts, a romp in our 12-acre play area, and some educational fun in the What’s Regenerative Agriculture Corn Maze. As you meander the paths, learn about how the deep roots in the soil can keep the farm’s food and environment as healthy as possible. On weekends, there’s live music, marshmallow roasting, pig races,  and cider pressing demos, too!

Fall at Clark’s Elioak Farm
Where: Ellicott City, MD
When: Tuesday – Sunday through November 7
Admission: $8

This fairytale of a farm doesn’t have a special fall festival per se, but with so many activities, including seasonal delights like pumpkins, cider, and Halloween fun, it’s like a celebration all the time. And it all takes place on the sprawling grounds adorned with installations practically straight out of a storybook (they were actually salvaged from The Enchanted Forest, an old Ellicott City amusement park). Kids can sit on a wall with Humpty, Peek in the Three Bears’ windows, climb aboard Cinderella’s pumpkin coach, explore the Old Woman’s shoe. If that’s not enough, there are hayrides, cow train rides, slides, farm animals to pet, a pumpkin patch, the pine tree maze, and even more. Hours are 10am – 5pm Tuesday – Friday; 10am – 5:30pm Saturday & Sunday. Closed Mondays.

Fall Fun Festival
Where: Gaver Farm | Mt. Airy, MD
When: September 3 – October 31
Admission: $11/weekdays, $15-17/weekends, free/2 & under

Celebrate the arrival of fall in Frederick, MD, with farm activities for the whole family family and other great seasonal traditions. Conquer twists and turns of the corn maze, jump on the giant pillow, pet and feed farm animals, and cruise down giant slides. There are over 50 attractions appropriate for any age including mini mazes, playgrounds, duck races, ball games, photo centers, and much more. Dates to note: September 11-12: Military and First Responders Appreciation Weekend | September 18-19: Touch a Tractor | September 25-26: Apple Harvest Festival | October 1-31: Pumpkin Harvest Festival.

DC Walls
Where: NoMa, DC
When: September 8-18
Admission: Free

For six days, this international mural festival brings together local, national, international artists for a 10-day outdoor festival to create larger than life works of art. The goal is to “make the city a brighter and more vibrant place, while sharing art and creativity from around the world.” Find wall locations on this Google Map to see works in progress, and plan to join the family-friendly opening event at Alethia Tanner Park (227 Harry Thomas Way NE) on September 12 from 12-4pm.

Falls Church Festival
Where: City Hall Campus | Falls Church, VA
When: September 11, 10am – 4pm
Admission: Free, but tastes and rides are a fee

The 45th Annual Falls Church Festival returns to The Little City with plenty of family fun. It features The Taste of Falls Church, a beer garden, live music, children’s entertainment, plus booths of local crafters, businesses, and civic organizations.  This year’s event also includes a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic inside the Community Center (223 Little Falls St.). Fairfax Health will offer the first or second dose of the Pfizer Vaccine to anyone ages 12 and up from 11am – 4pm.

Adams Morgan Day
Where: Throughout Adams Morgan, DC
When: September 12, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate one of the city’s most diverse communities at the 41st Annual Adams Morgan Day, offering a day full of music, art, culture, dancing, and more. The family-friendly celebration will have activities for all ages, including free crafts, multiple stages of entertainment, all kinds of demos, a whole Family Fun Zone, and tons more. More details and the schedule of performances are available on the website.

National Dance Day Festival
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: September 16-18
Admission: Free

Celebrate the joy of dance and movement at the Kennedy Center! Head to The REACH plaza for the 12th year of the National Dance Day Festival which includes free performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more from local organizations.

National Book Festival
Where: Online
When: September 17-26
Admission: Free

This may be the event that I’m most bummed won’t be back in person this year, but it’s one that definitely warrants inclusion here. The Library of Congress’ wonderful annual National Book Fest will be virtual, but offering an extended 10 days of book-related events and opportunities onlines. Audiences are encouraged to create their own festival experience during the “Open a Book, Open the World”-themed event. Over 100 authors, poets, and illustrators will be participating — view the list of them here.

Harvest Festival
Where: Belvedere Plantation | Fredericksburg, VA
When: September 17 – November 7
Admission: $14.95

This heritage farm has loads to keep the whole gang entertained for hours. The Maize maze, slides, hayrides, ziplines, pumpkin patch, playground, flower picking, jumping pillow are just some of the attractions that little ones will love. This year’s Sunflower Spectacular, a pick-your-own sunflowers field will be open September 17-26 (closed Monday). Plan to eat there — the Red Rooster Grill offers a variety of grilled favorites to satisfy all appetites.

H Street Festival
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: September 18, 12-7pm
Admission: Free

The annual festival on northeast DC’s thriving hip corridor is returning! This one is always huge — so beware that there could be a crowd — and there is tons to see and do.  In past years, the event has featured loads of live entertainment, including a kids stage; cool art exhibits; food trucks; crafts for sale by local vendors; fashion shows; dancin’ in the street; and children’s activities, including face painting, story telling, and moon bounces. Public transportation is highly recommended, as parking is always difficult.

Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: September 18-19, September 25 – November 7
Admission: $7-20 depending on dates

This festival is enormous! So big I recommend giving the website a good look to help prepare and navigate your way around the sprawling grounds that contain multiple slides, swings, games, mazes, pumpkins, picnics, live entertainment, farm animals, and much more. Expect some lines, especially for the giant slides that take you swooping down several humps over a hillside. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd, especially on weekends.

Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: September 18-19
Admission: $26/adult, $13/age 6-11, free/5 & under

At George Washington’s old stomping grounds, they re-create a lively early-American marketplace with demonstrations, crafts, and entertainment. Take in the sights and sounds of it all on Mount Vernon’s 12-acre field and chat with colonial artisans selling traditional handcrafted food and wares. Colonial music transports you back to the 18th century as experts demonstrate period crafting techniques. And you can see General Washington in the General’s Tent. There’s plenty of fun for the whole family!

Montpelier Farms Fall Festival
Where: Upper Marlboro, MD
When: Weekends September 18 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

Enjoy all of the staples of a fall festival on the farm — pumpkins, hayrides, animals, hill slides, farm-themed games and rides, and much more. Some of the festivities are add-ons, so plan to spend extra.  They also offer field trips and birthday parties, something to keep in mind for autumn-born children. And a tip based on our experience there: Do not miss the big corn maze. It’s EPIC.

Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: September 18, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $35-40 for the 5k

Lincoln’s Cottage is once again combining their two popular events, the Freedom 5K and Family Day, into one full day of racing and family fun: Homecoming! During the Civil War the Lincoln family called the Cottage home. This year they welcome everyone back “home” to join in a full day of activities where you can run, walk, and play like Lincoln. There will be arts and crafts, pony rides, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!

Pumpkin Village Fall Fest
Where: Leesburg Animal Park | Leesburg, VA
When: September 18 – Ocotber 31
Admission: $15.95-19.95/adult, $13.95-16.95/child, free/2 & under

The animals are usually the main draw at the park, but this time of year, there are activities galore that bring visitors to enjoy some seasonal fun. Year after year, families, groups, and schools spend a crisp fall day enjoying loads of great activities such as giant hill slides, hay rides, moon bounces, pedal carts, and more. It’s also a great place for a fall birthday party. Get $2 off Mon-Thurs admission after 2pm by subscribing to their email list!

Fall Adventures at Summers Farm
Where: Frederick, MD
When: September 18 – October 31
Admission: $12.50-$17.50, depending on time/day

With so much farm fun, there undoubtedly will be something to excite every kid. A pumpkin patch, giant jumping pillows, live entertainment, hay rides, hay slides, pig races, rubber ducks races, straw mountains, a mini obstacle course, even a campfire area if you want to “chill” out. Be sure to check the calendar for any special events going on.

Artsfest ’21
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: September 18-19
Admission: $10, free/age 11 & under

Enjoy a fabulous weekend of the visual and performing arts with 160+ artists booths, 35 performers on four stages, activities for kids, great food, wine & beer, and much more. Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the 30 acre sculpture garden, explore the excitement of the Tent Circle and the Arts Building, then wander the shady Wooded Path to find artists and activities nestled in the beautiful woods. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.

Corn Maze & Fall Festival
Where: Winterbrook Farms | Thurmont, MD
When: Weekends September 24 – October 31
Admission: $10

The farm in Frederick County claims the largest corn maze in Maryland, and it comes with loads of other farm fun, including slides, a pumpkin patch, animals, the moo choo train, cornhole, zip lines pedal karts, apple cannons, a tractor tire mountain, and lots more! Note: They are now offering Farm Fun Fridays with hours 1-6pm.

Farm Market Fall Fest
Where: Reston Farm Market | Reston, VA
When: September 24 – October 31
Admission: $28/child, $6/adult

Celebrate the season and have fun at the Reston Farm Market. Bring the whole fam for all kinds of activities, including train rides, a petting zoo, a learning maze,  bouncy fun, and more. Get ready to pick a pumpkin, pansies, and mums as well. Seasonal produce will be available for purchase, and food trucks will be there with concessions on weekends. Visits will be offered in 90-minute sessions.

Celebrate Petworth
Where: 800 block of Upshur St. NW | Petworth, DC
When: September 25
Admission: Free

This free neighborhood festival is organized by and for the residents of Petworth, but all are welcome to enjoy. Celebrating the creativity, diversity, culture, and people of Petworth and its surrounding neighborhoods, festivities include Petworth history storytelling, live music and performers, kids activities, tasty food, and a dog show. View the schedule here.

PYO Pumpkins & Fall Fun
Where: Berryville, VA
When: September 25 – November 7
Admission: $12, free/2 & under

The whole family can enjoy hours of farm fun for visitors of all ages. Get lost in the corn maze, watch piggies race, pick out a pumpkin, visit farm animals and check out the goat walk, whiz down slides, romp in the play yard. Admission covers all of those activities and even more. Plan on lunch from the Feed Trough and stock up on fresh farm goods from the Food Stall.

Jumbo’s Pumpkin Patch
Where: Middletown, MD
When: September 25 – October 31
Admission: Free/weekdays, $8/Friday, $10/weekends

Pick out a pumpkin and enjoy other fun activities for little ones at this 131-acre farm. A 15-acre corn maze, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, and wagon rides will delight young farm-goers. Concessions and craft shopping are part of the offerings, too. Some activities may cost extra, and note that only pumpkin picking and pony rides are available Monday – Friday.

Occoquan Fall Arts & Crafts Show
Where: Mill Street in Occoquan, VA
When: September 25-26
Admission: Free

Plan for a day of family fun as the streets of Occoquan come to life with beautiful art, live music and great food! For the 50th year, the historic town will close its streets and host over 300 contemporary and country crafters and artisans from across the US. Find one-of-a-kind, hand crafted items galore! Located just 20 minutes south of Washington, DC, but far from the hustle and bustle of a big city, exhibitors and shoppers alike will enjoy the small town oasis nestled along the Occoquan River.

Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival
Where: Germantown, MD
When: Wednesday – Sunday, September 25 – October 31
Admission: $10-15/weekdays, $12-17/weekends 

Enjoy a country outing and join Butler’s in celebrating the harvest with traditional autumn activities. An area favorite, kids love jumping in the hayloft, heading out on hayrides, the tube slide, a rubber ducky derby, animal petting area, pony rides, pumpkin picking, corn maze, face painting, and much more. Some activities and food cost extra. Purchase there or bring along a picnic, but be sure to treat the kids – and yourself – to a yummy caramel apple!

Autumn Activities
Where: Larriland Farm | Woodbine, MD
When: Late September thru October
Admission: Free (fee for some activities)

Larriland is best known for their PYO fields, but in the fall, they offer a little more for farm-goers. Take a hayride out to the pumpkin patch to find a potential jack-o-lantern, then play in the Boo Barn or make your way through the straw maze. Apple fritters and food trucks are available on Saturdays and Sundays.

Fall Pumpkin Harvest Festival
Where: Great Country Farms | Bluemont, VA
When: October 1-31
Admission: $10-12/adult $8-10/child, free/2 & under

Great Country is known for its awesome festivals, and the Pumpkin Harvest is no exception. Thrills for little people (okay, us grown-ups, too) include P-Rex, the pumpkin eating dinosaur; Oinkintucky Derby pig races; a cow train; wagon rides to pick pumpkins; five mazes; big slides; rope swings; tractor rides; and even more fun in the country. Find a future jack o’ lantern in the pumpkin patch, one of the largest u-pick patches in the area. See allllll of the many activities here.

Homestead Farm Fall Festival
Where: Poolesville, MD
When: October – exact dates TBD
Admission: Free, but there are fees for some activities

While Homestead doesn’t have an official festival, the farm embraces the spirit of autumn every year. Tractor rides out to the pumpkin patches, apple picking, hot cider, farm animals, and scarecrows make it a great place to spend a few hours enjoying the season with the family. And the good thing about the lack of a festival, admission is free! You still pay for pumpkins and cider – and their can’t-miss caramel apples.

Frederick’s Oktoberfest
Where: Great Frederick Fairgrounds, MD
When: October 1-2
Admission: $8/21+, $5/ages 4-20, free for 3 and under

The Frederick Fairgrounds once again will be transformed into a German village where dancing, live music, children’s events, bratwurst, Oktoberfest bier, German wines, and much more will make for a fun time for all ages. Especially for kids: face painting, pumpkin decorating, scarecrow making, and musical entertainment. Note that Friday night is 21+ only.

Oktoberfest
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 2
Admission: Free

It’s that time of yea… put on your dirndl or lederhosen, grab your dachshund, and head to The Wharf to celebrate Oktoberfest! Join a day of German-inspired food and specials at the many riverside restaurants and shops. There will be food and drink specials to enjoy — more deets to come soon!

Oktoberfest: Battle of the Polka Bands
Where: The Boro | Tysons, VA
When: October 2, 1-5pm
Admission: Free

Break out your lederhosen and dirndls and head to The Boro to celebrate Oktoberfest featuring a Battle of the Polka Bands! This unique, family-friendly fete will feature a battle of the bands-style competition where traditional and modern polka groups will go head-to-head to be crowned the fan favorite! Guests of all ages are invited to take part in even more themed activities, like photo booths, craft stations, and a variety of outdoor games located all around the park.
Turkish Festival
Where: The Wharf | Southwest DC
When: October 3, 11am – 7pm
Admission: Free

The American Turkish Association of Washington, DC, is bringing Aegean Türkiye to the District. Join them on District Pier for the free Turkish Festival with a theme this year of Turkaegean, meaning Coast of Happiness. The free event will include live music, folk dancing performances, fortune telling, cultural events and more. Enjoy authentic Turkish cuisines and shop Turkish ceramic bowls, carpets, and other cultural items from local vendors.

PorchFest
Where: Adams Morgan, DC
When: October 2, 2-6pm
Admission: Free

Get the best seats in the house (or on the sidewalk) as the front porches of homes and store fronts of local businesses are transformed into intimate performance spaces to be enjoyed by anyone who happens to stroll by. Enjoy a variety of music styles from over 60 bands playing on porches, patios, and stoops in the neighborhood. Music maps are usually available at the corner of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW on Porchfest Day. RSVP if you’re planning on going!

Art on the Avenue
Where:Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray | Alexandria, VA
When: October 2, 10am – 6pm
Admission: Free

Celebrate the diversity of Alexandria’s Del Ray community at this multicultural arts festival. Numerous artists — jewelers, woodworkers, pottery makers, soap crafters, glass makers, painters, sculptors, fabric artists, and musicians — will have their work on display and for sale. And kids activities have always been a vital part of the festival — there will be crafts especially for young festival-goers to enjoy and take home. Food vendors will also be there offering hot dogs, BBQ, Indian fare, crab cakes, chocolate bananas dipped on a stick, and home made cider donuts.

College Park Day
Where: College Park Aviation Museum | College Park, MD
When: October 9, 12-6pm
Admission: Free

Join friends, neighbors, and the entire City of College Park community at the Annual College Park Day Festival. This FREE event is fun for the whole family. Details for 2021 are still to come, but past years have included live music and bands, awesome kids zones, delicious food and drink, a variety of performers, helicopter fly-ins, exhibitors, and much more.

Bethesda Row Arts Festival
Where: Downtown Bethesda, MD
When: October 9-10
Admission: Free

All ages are welcome to join one of the region’s most exciting and esteemed outdoor festivals. Bethesda Row’s Shopping and Entertainment District is transformed into an outdoor art gallery, featuring more than 200 juried fine arts and crafts from artists around the nation. “Art Fair Sourcebook” and “Sunshine Artists” have recognized the event as one the most important in the country, and over 45,000 attendees agree! In the past there has been a Kids’ Tent with art activities especially for them, but it remains to be seen if that will return this year (will share updates!).

Marker-Miller Orchards Festivals
Where: Winchester, VA
When: October 9-10 & 23
Admission: Free

There’s a variety of fun to be had throughout the season with a couple of different festivals taking place. The Apple Harvest Festival is October 9-10, offering a weekend of, well, everything apples: multiple varieties of apples, apple cobbler, apple caramel sundaes, plus the wagon rides and cow train for kids. October 23 is their annual Pumpkin Festival, when you can find your own Great Pumpkin and enjoy all the usual festivities at the orchard.

Kids Euro Festival
Where: Venues around the District
When: October 9 & 16
Admission: Free

You don’t have to cross the pond to enjoy European entertainment! Consider your passport to continental entertainment as the 14th Annual Kids Euro Festival brings art and cultural events right to DC. Musicians, storytellers, dancers, and puppeteers are just a few of the exciting acts that perform, Usually in-person over several weeks, the festival is modified this year due to Covid. There will only be two Family Days on October 9 & 16 featuring live acts and activities hosted by performers from a variety of EU Member States! You can enjoy even more online.

OctROWber Fest
Where: 8th Street SE |Capitol Hill, DC
When: October 23
Admission: Free

There’s no Barracks Row Festival this year; instead, you can support local 8th Street SE businesses this October, Munich-style. Join for a day of live music from a traditional Oompah band and more fun. To keep neighbors safe and adhere to social distancing recommendations, they won’t be closing down the street or having outside vendors.

Pumpkins in the Park
Where: Canal Park | Capitol Riverfront, DC
When: October 30
Admission: Free

The 8th Annual Pumpkins in the Park is back. The middle block of Canal Park will be transformed into the neighborhood’s very own pumpkin patch as the community is invited to pick their pumpkin in a safe, socially-distanced fashion (no more than 15 people in the pumpkin patch at one time) while supplies last. After selecting your pumpkin and enjoying live music, free take-home decorating kits will be available (also while supplies last), so that you can make your pumpkins your own.

Autumn Harvest
Where: Schlagel Farm | Waldorf, MD
When: Weekends in October
Admission: TBD

The farm known for it’s strawberry picking in spring also welcomes guests to pick out pumpkins in the fall. Hayrides, farm animals to visit, and small slides, and a straw maze give kids a little extra fun, too. More details available soon!

Have a favorite festival you don’t see listed here? Let us know about it in the comments!

 

An early Cox Farms visit … this little guy now measures up to FARM!

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Virginia, Weekdays, Weekend

Huzzah…Ren Fest is Returning with Merriment for All!

 

I usually hesitate to deem one particular place or activity “the best.”  It’s rare that you’ll see Top 10 lists here on KFDC; they feel misleading to me.  Even my round-up of the best outdoor places consists of more than 60 of them in random order.  That’s because “the best” is so personal, specific, and dependent on ages, interests, convenience to where one lives.  I have favorites, for sure, but calling something the best generally is a no-no for me.

Except for one thing: Ren Fest.

Anyone who has been reading my blog for awhile surely already knows that the Maryland Renaissance Festival is my very, very, VERY favorite annual event in the area.  We’ve been going since before we had kids, and bringing them since they were babes. There are a multitude of reasons why it’s my fave — you can go here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for more on that — but ultimately I love that at the core, it’s a celebration of the unconventional, a kingdom of mirth, where fun and delight reign and offbeat is normal.  Ren Fest is the best.  It’s just fact — in my book, anyway.

After very sadly but understandably being cancelled last year, the Maryland Renaissance Festival returns in 2021 starting this weekend, August 28-29! And I oh-so-highly recommend going.  I pride myself on the number of people I have converted into Ren Festers — and I promise you want to be among them.

Logistics
The merriment begins this Saturday, August 28, and runs every weekend, rain or shine, through October 24 in the lovely 16th century-style hamlet of Revel Grove in Crownsville, MD. Hours are 10am – 7pm. Through September 12, admission is $21/adults, $19/seniors, $10/ages 7-15, free for ages 6 and under.  After that, ticket prices go up to $28/adults, $24/seniors, $13/ages 7-15, still free for 6 and under. Multi-day passes that offer a discount are also available. This year, tickets must be reserved in advance online. There are no day-of, in-person ticket sales.

Notable Dates
In previous years, many weekends had special themes, like a Celtic celebration and pirate weekend, with events and activities offered on just those dates.  While most aren’t happening this year due to Covid, there still are a few special weekends to be aware of:
* August 28-29: Children’s Weekend – FREE admission for ages 15 and under with adult
* September 6: Seniors day — Free admission for all seniors age 62+
* September 11 & October 10: ASL Interpretation Days – Selected stage shows will be interpreted in ASL

KFDC Tips
* Bring a stroller or carrier for little ones, as there is  a lot of walking. I recommend a stroller that navigates over rough terrain easily.
* Get a map and schedule on your way in to help you navigate and plan your day, but I recommend not overthinking it; Ren Fest is best experienced with a “go with the flow” mindset.
* If there’s a show you really want to see, get to the stage a few minutes ahead of time to get good seats, so the kids have a good view.
* You might encounter less crowds on Sunday, when many folks are watching football.
* Plan to spend on extras like food, games, and fun for kids — all reasonably priced, but it can add up.
* Tickets can sell out, especially on beautiful fall days as the chances to go dwindle. Between that and the new online sales only, you might want to reserve further in advance than usual.
* Consider pros and cons to going at different times: Early in the season, crowds are smaller because it’s usually very hot, and the admission fee is lower. Later in the season, the cool, crisp weather and autumn foliage adds some extra splendor to the visit, but also draws the masses.
* Let the kids dress up! Princesses, knights, fairies, and pirates will fit right in.

Maryland Renaissance Festival
Where: Revel Grove | Crownsville, MD ( get directions)
When: Weekends August 28 – October 24, 10am – 7pm
Admission: $21-28/adult, $19-24/senior, $10-13/age 7-15, free/6 & under

 

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Filed under 2021, All ages, DC, Fall, Festival, Maryland, Summer, Weekend