It’s time to ring in the Year of the Rat, and there are a bunch of fun ways to do so around DC (see the latest Weekend Round-Up for details on several). The Kennedy Center has already begun the celebration with The REACH Winter Lanterns, a wonderful exhibition of about 100 stunning illuminations. Crafted by Chinese artisans, the display is made up of 10,000 colored LED lights, including the Chinese Four Symbols and 12 Zodiac Signs, Panda Grove, Mushroom Garden, Floral Garden, and Jellyfish Lagoon — all of it delightful and so beautiful.
Along with the lanterns, there are more activities to enjoy. When Sasha and I visited, there was a Beijing Opera make-up demo, panda photo ops, traditional costumes to try on, a calligraphy station, and a paper lantern making workshop. Food trucks are there for bites, and outdoor seating areas warmed by heaters provide a place to eat them.
A special Family Day on Saturday, January 25, will have free fun for all ages from 1:30-4:30pm. Activities will include arts and crafts, a traditional costume photo booth, zodiac stickers, demonstrations of sugar painting and wood block printing, magic shows, and more. Plan to stick around for the Winter Lanterns, which begins at 5:30pm. And the Beijing Bamboo Orchestra is the Millennium Stage performance that evening at 6pm.
The REACH Winter Lanterns will be on display select dates through Sunday, February 2 — this weekend through Sunday, January 26, then Thursday, January 30 – Sunday, February 2. It begins at 5:30pm each evening except for January 26, when it starts at 4pm. All of it is free, though parking at the Kennedy Center is $23. You can try for street parking nearby (though difficult to find a spot), so pubic transportation (nearest Metro is Foggy Bottom) is recommended. And all of the lanterns are outdoors on The REACH campus, so dress warmly! Other activities, however, take place inside.
I have to start this weekend round-up with a special shout-out. It was six years ago yesterday that my favorite little man arrived, and life became a fantastic adventure I never could have imagined prior to becoming a parent. My tiny baby, who was less than six pounds upon his early arrival and fit snugly in the crook of my arm, now reads, writes, runs fast, jokes around, expresses his dreams. When I take a moment (when I have a moment) to digest it all, it’s pretty darn astounding. And I couldn’t be prouder of the boy he’s become. Happy Birthday, my sweet O.
And with my sentimental moment indulged, let’s talk about the weekend. Museums programs and special events, children’s theatre, a clothing swap, and hoops action are among my recommendations for family fun. And with dreary weather in the forecast, the indoor list makes the round-up, too. Happy Weekend!
Spy Fest 2012 – Is your child the next 007? Find out at the International Spy Museum on Sunday from 11am – 2:30pm. Recommended for ages 7 and up, the event will include mini missions, tradecraft demos, and a chance for guests to try their spy skills. Tickets are $10, and advance registration is required. Go here to sign up!
Celebrate Africa! – Kids of all ages are invited to the Textile Museum’s 3rd Annual Mid-Winter Festival celebrating the art and culture of Africa. On Saturday from 12-4pm guests can enjoy dress-up, storytelling, dancing, crafts, and more. Try on contemporary clothing and accessories inspired by cultures of Central Africa, then pose for a professional photographer and walk away with your picture. Hand-sew a Kuba-inspired textile. Enjoy snacks of cassava chips and South African red tea while master drummer Joseph Ngwa leads traditional drumming and dance, and master storyteller Baba-C entrances listeners with interactive storytelling. Visitors will also entered to win great prizes. Admission to the event is free.
Happy Lunar New Year! – Usher in the Lunar New Year a little early at Rockville Town Center with a day full of lively festivities, including a parade hosted by VisArts, street performers, live music, martial artists, lion dancers, an 18-person golden dragon, VisArts exhibitions, vendors, crafts, and more! It’s all free and happening on Saturday from 11am – 4pm.
Multi-Prints Family Day – Press, stamp, and rub to make an artistic impression during this printmaking family day at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. On Saturday from 11:30am – 3pm, artists from George Mason University will demonstrate a variety of printing techniques to kids of all ages, who can then visit our workshop tables to create a print of their own to take home! This free event will take place in the Kogod Courtyard of the museum located at 8th & F Streets, NW.
Farm to Table Family Day – The Kogod Courtyard is going to be a busy place this weekend. Head there on Sunday as the National Portrait Gallery celebrates the arrival of the recently commissioned portrait of chef, author, and restaurant owner Alice Waters by artist Dave Woody. Enjoy live music, learn about the “farm to table” movement, and participate in hands-on activities. The free event takes place from 11:30am – 3pm.
Swap ‘Til You Drop – Or for a few hours, anyway. Saturday is World Swap Day and peace. love. swap. – The Original Maternity, Baby Kid Clothing & Gear Swap is celebrating with a swap event on Saturday at Jonah’s Treehouse in Glover Park. Pass on your old clothes and gear and score some (sorta) new stuff! Item drop-off is from 5-6pm, and the swapping is from 6:30-7:30pm. Admission is $5 if you register in advance, $7 at the door. Go here for more information and to register online
Rubber Ducky, You’re the One – The National Children’s Museum is hosting a joint birthday party for Ernie and his best pal, Rubber Ducky, at the Launch Zone on Saturday. From 11am – 4pm, children can take part in “Percussion Playtime” to celebrate Ernie’s love of playing the drums and make bubble art to celebrate Ernie and Rubber Ducky’s favorite pastime. No R.S.V.P. is required for this party, just drop in for a splish-splashin’ good time!
Wizards vs. Celtics – How aboutsome hoops action on Sunday afternoon? Never mind that it’s not a winning season for the Wizards so far; the games are still exciting and a fun time for all ages. Our family caught the match-up against Toronto a couple of weeks ago – Sasha’s first basketball game, and the Wizard’s first W this season – and we all had a blast. Along with the on-court thrills, kids will love the games, entertainment, and giveaways during time-outs and halftime. Game time on Sunday is 1pm, and tickets start at $10.
Art History 101 – The drop-in program a the National Gallery begins its Artful Conversations series and continues Stories in Art this weekend. On Saturday, kids ages 8-11 and an accompanying adult, can attend the former to learn about a work of art and participate in a related poetry-writing activity. Sessions are at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 10:00 a.m., and will continue until all spaces are filled. On Sunday, kids ages 4-7 can again learn about Henri Matisse through storytelling, discussion, and an art project. Sessions are at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm, and 2:30pm. Sign-in will take place in the East Building Atrium, beginning at 11am, and will continue until all spaces are filled. Read a KFDC review of the program here.
Stage Time – There’s a variety of entertainment to be enjoyed in local theatres this weekend. The Snowy Day opens at Adventure Theatre, a rousing tale about the War of 1812 is the free show at Saturday Morning at the National, Peter and the Wolf and Tiny Tots are at The Puppet Co., and Mouse on the Move is at Imagination Stage. Find details on all of these productions in this post about winter entertainment.
The “In” Crowd – Looks like it’s going to be a good weekend to hang indoors, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out of the house. For sheltered adventures around town, check out this list.