Do the names Thomas, Percy, and Topham have special meaning in your household? Does your child go loco for locomotives? If you’ve got a young train enthusiast in your midst, then take note: This Saturday, May 7, is the 4th Annual National Train Day, a coast-to-coast celebration of America’s love of trains and the 40th anniversary of Amtrak service in the U.S.
Locally, the main festivities will take place at the obvious venue — Union Station. From 11am – 4pm, guests of all ages can enjoy and experience a variety of train-related fun. Live entertainment, interactive and educational exhibits, kids’ activities, model train displays and tours of Amtrak equipment, freight and commuter trains, and notable private railroad cars.
Young engineers are also invited to help Amtrak celebrate its birthday at the AmtraKids Depot, where non-stop fun will include creating party decorations, engaging in cool arts and crafts, and decorating cookies. Kids can also rock out with the Diggity Dudes, a group that performs “hip music for hip kids.”
From there, you can chug on over to the National Postal Museum, where even more National Train Day activities will take place, also from 11am – 4pm. Relating to its “Moving the Mail” exhibit, the celebration will include hands-on fun for the whole family. Guests can speed-sort mail, watch model trains, toot a train whistle, make a souvenir stamp, and more. The National Postal Museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue NW, and the event will take place in the Museum Atrium.
There is a lot of celebrating happening this weekend. Many area farms and organizations are kicking off Easter festivities with egg hunts and more spring fun. An Emancipation Day commemoration is taking place with a big event downtown. National Parks are kicking off a special week. William Shakespeare is turning 395 years old. The earth will also be an honoree. Even coral reefs have a family festival dedicated to them.
And you’re invited to be part of it all. Here are details on all of the above-mentioned, plus a few more recommendations for family fun. Happy Weekend!
Its a scramble for Easter eggs at a local Eggstravaganza last year
Thank You Easter Bunny – Local festivals celebrating the spring holiday have begun, and several will be on this weekend. Already underway through April 24 is Ticonderoga Farms’ annual festival. Saturday marks the start of Bunnyland at Butler’s Orchard, and the National Community Church is launching their seasonal Eggstravanganzas on Saturday at Top Golf in Alexandria from 10:30am -1pm and Grace Church in Georgetown (1041 Wisconsin Avenue NW) from 9:30-11am. See the website for more details. For something with a little extra sparkle, the annual Adeler Jewelers Children’s Spring Festival and Egg Hunt is on Sunday in Great Falls. For more area Easter celebrations, Go Out & Play has a lengthy list of local egg hunts.
Park It – National Park Week begins on Saturday and runs through April 24. To celebrate, entrance to over 100 parks that usually charge admission will be free. Log some time on the trails at a local park or even one a bit further away. For suggestions on good hikes with kids, see this post about hiking with little ones.
Get Out – For more outdoor pursuits, see my new list of the area’s best places to spend a beautiful day outdoors. As this weekend round-up goes up, the weather forecast for the weekend isn’t looking fabulous, but there’s always a chance that will change. Fingers crossed.
DC I AM: An Emanicpation Day Celebration – Commemorate the signing of the DC Compensated Emancipation Act 149 years ago with National Geographic. The museum is hosting a special event on Saturday from 10am – 4pm that will include readings, performances, art and writing activities, family workshops, opportunities to tour the American I Am exhibit, and more. Admission to the event is free.
Explore the Universe – On Saturday, the National Air & Space Museum invites guests of all ages to a special Family Day that explores the skies and beyond. Observe the sky through a telescope, experience how different cultures see the sky, hear stories about astronomy, and participate in hands-on astro-activities. The free event runs from 10am – 3pm.
Coral Reef Family Festival – Celebrate the National Museum of Natural History’s exhibition of the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef on Saturday from 11am – 3pm. There will be Discover Stations in the Sant Ocean Hall, a chance to learn about different corals with scientist Stephen Cairns, and other special activities throughout the day.
Nature’s Best Photography – Take the kids to see some amazing moments in nature captured in pictures. A new exhibit is opening at the National Museum of Natural History on Saturday that features the winning photos from the Nature’s Best Photography Windland Smith Rice International Awards. The images of wildlife, the plant world, sea creatures, and more will be fascinating and fun for the whole family. Admission to both the exhibit and museum are free.
On the Really Big Screen – If you’re planning on a visit to the museums (or even if not), how about catching an IMAX as well? Most are less than an hour long and can easily be combined with a trip to see the exhibits or one of the special festivals happening at the Natural History and Air & Space Museums, which just happened to be where both Smithsonian IMAX theaters are located. Read reviews of a few films currently playing: Born to Be Wild 3D, Arabia 3D, and Grand Canyon Adventure 3D. All tickets are $9.
Happy Birthday to the Bard – Celebrate William Shakespeare’s birthday at the Folger Shakespeare Library on Sunday from 12 – 4pm. Enjoy jugglers and jesters, music, song and dance, stage combat workshops, and more. It’s the one day of the year when the Folger reading rooms are open to all. Plus, there will be birthday cake for everyone! Admission is free, but there will be a charge for some food and drink.
Jammin’ Musical Experiences – Two kids’ music performers will be at Jammin’ Java this weekend entertaining with their unique shows and super fun sounds. The Diggity Dudes will take the stage in Vienna on Saturday at 10:30am, and Gustafer Yellowgold will take the audience on a musical journey on Sunday at 2pm. Tickets for both shows are $10 and available for purchase online.
Celebrate the Earth – Join Brookside Gardens on Sunday for a daylong Earth Day celebration. Festivities will kick off at 9am with an Earth Day Garden Project – volunteers are welcome to help Brookside get ready for the gardening season. Enjoy nature, wildlife, and plant walks starting at 10am. Participate in interactive family-friendly activities throughout the afternoon and visit the “green” vendor and craft fair.
Show Time – Several productions are happening in local theatres this weekend. Find out what you can see where in this post about spring shows.