The birds are chirping, the daffodils are blooming, the weather has finally become—dare we say it—predictably inviting…but if your local playground isn’t enough to drag you out of the house, try one of these upcoming festivals. From croissants to books to sculpture to math games, consider your spring calendar f–u–l–l.
Cherry Blossom Festival
The most popular way to welcome spring, the National Cherry Blossom Festival centers around the blooming of DC’s breathtaking Cherry Blossom trees, and the gift of enduring friendship their spectacular beauty represents. This month-long festival kicks off on March 24th at the Tidal Basin with entertainment, food, souvenirs and more. Signature events include the Blossom Kite Festival on March 31st, live music and fireworks at Petalpalooza on April 7th, and the Festival Parade on April 14th featuring lavish floats, giant helium balloons, marching bands, and more. Most events are free and open to the public.
When: Mar. 20-Apr. 15
Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
America’s favorite fruit gets the royal treatment at this multiple weekend party featuring a carnival full of gravity-defying rides, concerts, an oldies rock-n-roll dance, an apple pie baking contest, a wine fest, an amateur tennis tournament, and more. There’s even a contest for unusual talents of all kinds. So polish your act and build up an appetite, because who can say no to pie?
When: Apr. 27-May 6
Anacostia River Festival
This fun festival marks the end of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and celebrates the Anacostia River with canoe rides, a bike parade, lawn games and art displays. The 2018 festival marks the 100th anniversary of Anacostia Park. Put on your rubber boots, grab an oar, and come enjoy a day full of river fun.
Arlington Arts Festival
Clarendon, Virginia’s hotspot of fun, blossoms with true visual inspiration as over 100 artists showcase their works, including glass, mixed media, paintings, jewelry, and pottery. The kids can take care of their Mother’s Day gifts while you casually point out your favorite pieces. Make a day of it by saving room for lunch and romping at a local playground. Free admission.
When: Apr. 21–22; 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
SpringFest Fairfax 2018
Head to Fairfax for a day of family fun with workshops, vendors and activities to help you learn about building a healthy planet with healthy people. More than 75 vendors, exhibitors and food trucks will participate. Your kids will learn about the great work our county parks do, plus pet an alpaca, run through an environmental obstacle course, make environmental crafts, examine bees and trees, and learn about gardening.
When: Apr. 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
This popular spring festival brings dozens of DC’s favorite food trucks together for a day of eating, drinking, and enjoying live entertainment. Truckeroo is a great way to introduce your kids to new foods and flavors, such as bahh mi, tapas, kafta, and specialty cheeses, or play it safe with guaranteed-to-please ice cream and frozen custard. Admission is free.
When: Apr. 5
Easter Monday: A Washington Family Tradition
Everyday is a good day to head to the National Zoo, but this one-day event includes a meet and greet with a naked mole rat—how can you possibly say no? If vermin aren’t your thing, you and the kids can also meet or observe feedings and trainings for otters, elephants, cheetahs, tortoises, orangutans, red river hogs and, yes, heart-clenching Pandas! With almost 40 animal demonstrations to choose from, as well as music, dance, games, and more, your little ones will leave with newfound energy to beg for that family pet.
When: Apr. 2, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival
As the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the country, this festival (anchored at the corner of M Street and New Jersey Avenue SE) brings music, food, dance, art, and language-learning to the Cherry Blossom Festival. Listen to Japanese rock music (performed in traditional kimono and hakama); feast on hibachi, sushi, miso soup, and soba noodles; learn about aikido and classical Japanese martial arts; and enjoy contemporary compositions that use taiko, fue (bamboo flute), and other narimono (percussion instruments). You had us at soba noodles.
When: Apr. 14, 10:30 a.m.–6 p.m.
Georgetown French Market
For little Francophiles dreaming of a trip to Paris, satisfy their wanderlust at the Georgetown French Market where a “je ne sais quio” – or perhaps the scent of chocolat croissants – will capture their attention. Open air shopping, flowers, bicyclettes, pastries for days, and more await mini Parisans, while strolling musicians, mimes and other performers keep little ones dazzled between bites of those aforementioned pain au chocolat.
When: Apr. 27-28
National Cathedral Spring Flower Mart
Nothing says spring like a rainbow of flower blossoms, and the National Cathedral’s flower mart will help your kids appreciate the colorful array of flora our area has to offer. The mart has close to 80 exhibitors showing floral designs, gardening products, jewelry and more. But flowers aren’t the only thing your kids will love about this festival. It also features All Hallows Guild’s antique carousel, one of two surviving carousels dating from 1890.
When: May 4-5
Do you have a favorite family-friendly outdoor festival? Tell us about it in the Comments section below.
—Jamy Bond and Katie Brown