Link up to local activities galore in these go-to posts:
* Best Outdoors in the DC Area
* Off-the-Beaten-Path Museums
* Kid-Friendly Eats
* The Great Indoors
* Swim Spots
* On the Water
* Local Hikes with Kids
* Baltimore with Kids
* Bike Rides
* Peaceful Places
Where: Around the DC area
Friday, September 15, is PARK(ing) Day, when people across the globe create temporary pop-up parks and social spaces where there usually is curbside parking. Several park(ing) spots will be popping up around the DC area, and you can see where on a map here to check check them out!
Family-Friendly Exhibit Celebration
Where: Hishhorn Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Friday, 5-8pm
Celebrate the opening of the Hirshhorn’s latest exhibition, Jessica Diamond: Wheel Of Life, at this special evening event with extended hours and activities for all ages. View Diamond’s artworks that reflect her life as an artist or take a mobile video tour with Hirshhorn Eye. You can also do some magnetic poetry, create circular installations, bring little ones to a kid-friendly construction zone, check out a large-scale concrete poetry station, and a make-your-own Möbius loop project with educators from the National Air and Space Museum. Dinka and gelato will be available for purchase on the Plaza.
Washington Ukrainian Festival
Where: St. Andrew Ukrainian Cathedral | Silver Spring, MD
When: Friday, 5-8pm; Saturday, 11am – 9pm; Sunday, 11am – dusk
Admission: $20/adult, $20/senior, free/kids
Bring family and friends to the 20th annual Ukrainian Festival of the Washington, DC, Metro Area. All are welcome to enjoy Ukrainian artists and dancers, crafts, children’s activities, delicious Ukrainian food, a Kozak beer garden, and live entertainment. A portion of the proceeds is for humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
Where: Around the DC Area
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by place
The season may not be official on the calendar yet, but seasonal festivals have begun at several area farms, right on city streets, and in locales that recall historic times (huzzah!). And they’re welcoming visitors for all kinds of fun. Some are listed below, and you can get details on the rest of them in this round-up of autumn celebrations around the area.
Homecoming at Abe’s Place
Where: President Lincoln’s Cottage | Petworth, DC
When: Saturday, 9am – 3pm
Admission: Free for Family Day, $50 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 and a petting zoo, hands-on activities for young learners, cottage tours, and picnic ops followed by a family-friendly afternoon performance by the Petworth Jazz Project.. Go for just the race, just Family Day activities, or stick around to enjoy both!
Colonial Market & Fair
Where: Mount Vernon, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday, 9am – 5pm
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! Read more about Mount Vernon here.
Play Date: Colors in Nature
Where: Natural History Museum | National Mall, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 12pm
Join this very special Saturday Play Date, as the Natural History Museum is joined by other Smithsonian museums and units — the National Postal Museum, National Zoo, and more — all to celebrate different colors found in nature. Families will be able to make close observations of different specimens and learn about the different connections different museums make with each other through nature. Enjoy r a morning full of color, play, art, and exploration!
Literary Hill Book Fest
Where: Eastern Market | Capitol Hill, DC
When: Sunday, 11am – 3pm
Join us on Sunday, September 17 from 11 am to 3 pm in the North Hall of Eastern Market for the 12th annual Literary Hill BookFest, a beloved annual celebration of books and authors on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. This year, we’ll feature more than 40 authors, poets, booksellers, publishers, literacy groups, and more, including acclaimed national bestselling novelist Louis Bayard, author of The Pale Blue Eye, a mystery thriller adapted into a recent hit Netflix film starring Christian Bale. Other featured authors include debut novelist and former spy, I.S. Berry; National Book Award finalist Carole Boston Weatherford; Washington Post columnist and Thurber prize finalist Alexandra Petri; award-winning educator and author Liz Kleinrock; two-time Lambda Literary Award finalist Cheryl Head; and many more. Visitors will meet some of their favorite authors of fiction, history, children’s literature, mystery, poetry, memoir and more and enjoy timely panel discussions and a full slate of family-friendly activities in our bustling Children’s Corner. The BookFest is completely free and open to the public, with a popular poetry open mic immediately following the main event, where established and aspiring poets will entertain an enthusiastic crowd.
National Dance Day Celebration
Where: The REACH | Kennedy Center, DC
When: Saturday, 10am – 11:15pm
Celebrate National Dance Day and kick at this full-day dance party that kicks off the Kennedy Center’s season-long celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Hip Hop. Free interactive dance classes, performances, live music, and more inspired by some of hip hop culture’s foundational pillars. There’s so much to enjoy — view the full schedule on the KC website!
Gimme an H!
Where: H Street NE, DC
When: Saturday, 12-7pm
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.
Where: Annmarie Sculpture Garden | Lusby, MD
When: Saturday & Sunday
Admission: $10/online, $12/at gate, free/11 & under
Celebrate the visual and performing arts at this event that brings together the country’s most accomplished artists for a fabulous weekend extravaganza of the arts! Set amidst the spectacular backdrop of the beautiful woods of Annmarie Sculpture Garden & Arts Center, Artsfest is a unique art experience with a multitude of artist booths, 35 performers on four stages, creative fun for kids, artist demos, and great food and drink. Read more about Annmarie Sculpture Garden here and here.
Cox Farms Fall Festival
Where: Centreville, VA
When: Saturday & Sunday
This largest area fall festival begins this weekend ! This one is 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. There is also a Kiddie Zone just for little ones aged 5 and under. Be prepared for a crowd!
Cirque du Soleil: ECHO
Where: Under the Big Top | Tysons II, VA
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Start at $33/child, 42/adult (look for a deal)
This new Circque du Soleil show just made its US debut in DC and runs through October. Fueled by the power of change, the hope of the youth, and the value of empathy, ECHO follows an inquisitive young woman named FUTURE as she wanders into a fantasy world that explores humans’ sacred bond with animals and nature. When FUTURE and her best friend the DOG encounter a mysterious CUBE, they quickly learn how their actions have the power to shape this world, and if we come together, we can rebuild our planet to create the world we all want to live in.
Moulin Rouge: The Musical
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Bottom, DC
When: Through September 24
Admission: $45-199 (look for a deal)
Enter a world of splendor and romance, of eye-popping excess, of glitz, grandeur, and glory! A world where Bohemians and aristocrats rub elbows and revel in electrifying enchantment. Baz Luhrmann’s revolutionary film comes to life onstage, remixed in a new musical mash-up extravaganza. Recommended for ages 12+.
Halfway to St Patrick’s Festival
Where: Waterfront Park | Old Town Alexandria, VA
When: Saturday, 12-6pm
Head to Old Town Alexandria to celebrate the half-way mark to St. Patrick’s Day. Music, crafts,Irish dance performances, pipe bands, vendors, and more entertainment will be part of the festivities. A beer truck will be there for adults, too.
Old Firehouse Block Party
Where: Old Firehouse | McLean, VA
When: Saturday, 1-4pm
Help celebrate the Old Firehouse’s 33 years of serving the Greater McLean community. Listen to a DJ from 99.5 playing hits as their broadcast live or groove in the silent disco. Enjoy food from Listrani’s Italian Gourmet Pizza and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Try rock climbing, and play game in a mobile arcade truck. Explore a vintage fire truck, and learn about the Firehouse history. There will also be a sensory room, art activities, and outdoor games for all ages, along with a local health and wellness booth. The Old Firehouse is located at 1440 Chain Bridge Road in McLean.
Amal Walks Across America
Where: Various locales
A global symbol of compassion and human rights, Little Amal is a 12-foot puppet portraying a 10-year-old Syrian refugee child who has traveled through 13 countries and been welcomed by more than a million people on the streets since 2021. Her immersive walking journeys highlight the cross-cultural experiences of the millions of refugee children fleeing war, violence and persecution throughout the globe, each with their own story. Accompanied in Washington, DC, by outdoor music performances, Amal’s walking journeys are festivals of hope, showcasing the power of compassionate welcome as strangers build stable homes in new lands, and the contributions and potential they carry within them that enhances communities as they do so. See (and walk with) her around DC on Sunday on a few different routes — in Southeast DC, at Black LiveMatter Plaza and Franklin Park, and at the Washington Monument. View complete details.
DC Family Bike Fest 2023
Where: Alethia Tanner Park | NoMa, DC
When: Sunday, 10am – 2pm
This annual gathering for kid bikers, family bikers, and the bike-curious will have fun for the whole fam! Check out family bike options, snatch up goodies community partners, join a Trike Storytime and Kids Bike Parade, get free tuneups, and enjoy free sno cones, and more!
Lotus Festival of Food & Culture
Where: Chinatown Park | Downtown, DC
When: Sunday, 11am
The culmination of a week of events at Chinatown Park. Join this culinary journey at an Asian street food festival. Enjoy an eclectic mix of mouthwatering dishes and an amazing lineup of music and performances from lion dancers, DJ Katazui, and Les The DJ.
Meet the Author: Tricia Elam Walker
Where: Takoma Park Library | Takoma Park, MD
When: Sunday, 2pm
Meet local children’s author Tricia Elam Walker! She will be presenting her award-winning picture book, Dream Street, named one of the five best chidrens’ books of the year by the New York times. After the presentation, stay to make a crown inspired by the book.
Shofar Experience in the Park
Where: Lincoln Park | Capitol Hill
When: Sunday, 4-4:30pm
If you’re celebrating Rosh Hashanah or want to learn about it, join this event at 11th & Mass NE, the NW corner of Lincoln Park. What makes a horn fit for Rosh Hashanah? Check out the beautiful Shofar display in the park to find out! Songs, stories, snacks, and shofar will be part of the fun, and get a special holiday gift bag, while supplies last. All ages welcome, and it’s a great way to include the whole family in the Rosh Hashanah traditions. Shana Tova!
Where: Around the National Mall
When: Through Monday
This series of installations around the National Mall is “designed to create a more inclusive, equitable, and representative commemorative landscape.” Beyond Granite features six evocative works in different areas of the Mall. Some of them are interactive, and one is even a playground that welcomes visitors to play! See more details and get a glimpse here. A great way to see them all is by bike, but most aren’t too spread out for a walk. View the map of installation locations here.
To Dip in the Honey
Where: Orchards & farms around the DMV
When: Throughout the weekend
Admission: Varies by locale
We’re in the thick of apple season, and there are several spots around the region where you can pick your own. It’s also a great activity of Rosh Hashanah weekend — pick some to dip in honey for a sweet new year! This round-up of area farms and orchards offering PYO opportunities has details. And I always recommend calling ahead to be sure the pickings are good the day you plan to go.
***MORE GOOD STUFF***
* Make plans to see some great shows around the area with this round-up of live entertainment on local stages this fall!
* In case you missed it, there’s a giveaway going on to win a Family 4-Pack of tickets to see You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Adventure Theatre.
* Pickleball is coming to the National Mall Septmeber 28-30!
* Can’t believe what a game changer this is! (Have to give cred where I learned about the concept, but the one I bought is half the price and has a higher rating.)
* Have you heard about this outfit on Amazon that is a dupe for this Free People set at less than half the price? I got it and can vouch that it’s awesome and perfect for early (maybe even later) fall.
* Shana Tova (Happy New Year) to all — whether you’re celebrating or not 🍎