MLK Day (Jan. 20) isn’t just a day off, it’s an opportunity for your future leader to learn about one of the greats in pretty special ways. Celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a parade, take in a concert or try a hands-on activities that brings the message of love and unity home. Here are our top picks on commemorating the Civil Rights leader in 2020.

6314757763_ee34a931a3_zphoto: Mark Haller via Flickr

Not Just Another Day Off
This free event showcases the historical speeches of Dr. King, Gandhi, Frederick Douglass, Mary McLeod Bethune and more. Readings also include inspirational poetry.

When: Jan. 20, 10 a.m.
Where:201 East Capitol St. SE, Capitol Hill
Online: folger.edu/events/not-just-another-day-off-2020

MLK Jr. Family Program
“And the whole day should be spent in full remembrance of those who lived and died for the oneness of all people.” In the spirit of Stevie Wonder’s song, Happy Birthday, the Anacostia Community Museum celebrates the life and work of Dr. King, Jr. with a family-friendly workshop that includes hands-on art projects.

When: Jan. 18, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Where: 1901 Fort Pl. SE, Anacostia 
Online: anacostia.si.edu/Events

Living the Dream… Singing the Dream
The Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choir, co-presented with the Choral Arts Socity of Washington, pay tribute to Dr. Martin Lutehr King, Jr. in this uplifting, annual concert. Tickets start at $25.

When: Jan. 26, 7 p.m.
Where: 2700 F St. NW, Foggy Bottom
Online: kennedy-center.org

Let Freedom Sing
In the words of Dr. King, “without music, the civil rights movement would have been like a bird without wings” This family-friendly concert celebrates the gift of music while honoring MLK, Jr. Featuring the Howard Gospel Choir of Howard University, those that can not attend in person can enjoy the choir on Spotify.

When: Jan. 18, 7-9:30 p.m.
Where: 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, Douglas
Online: howardgospelchoir.com/

Peace Walk & Parade
Everyone loves a parade and on January 20, the Martin Luther King Jr. Parade starts its annual peace walk. This Anacostia parade is a tradition that started in 1968 and is still going strong today.Over a thousand participants walk for peach each year; registration is not necessary.

When: Jan. 20, 9 a.m.
Where: 2500 MLK Jr. Ave. SE, Anacostia
Online: mlkholidaydc.org

MLK Day of Service
“A day on. Not a day off.” What started in 1994 continues today with the city’s eight wards participating in over 1300 acts of service to honor Dr. King’s legacy as a civil rights activist and leader. Check out the National Service guide for a volunteer opportunity for you and your tiny tots to work for the greater good (or brush up on our guide to volunteering in the DMV here). 

When: Jan. 20, all day
Where: Various locations
Online: nationalservice.gov

photo Anna via flickr

Annual Birthday Celebration and Tribute

Who doesn’t love a good birthday celebration? Head over to the Strathmore for music, theatrical performances, audiovisual elements and more with this fun for all ages event. Tickets are available at the door and are all general admission. Go early to nab a great seat.

When: Jan. 20, 4 p.m.
Where: 5301 Tuckerman Ln., Bethesda, MD
Online: strathmore.org

National Parks Free Day
If you are an adventure loving family and you love free then head to the national parks. MLK day marks the first day of entrance fee-free days to National Parks (you can also get in free on April 18, Aug. 25, Sept. 25 and Nov. 11). Bonus: There are a slew of them in the DMV.

When: Jan. 20, all day
Where: Various locations
Online: nps.gov

photo: Frank Tellez via flickr

20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade
Whether Baltimore is a closer drive or you’re looking for something slightly out of town, check out Baltimore’s parade. More than 50 different bands, dance squads, civic organizations and more gather to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. along the streets of Baltimore.

When: Jan. 20, parade begins at 12 p.m.
Where: Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. between Eutaw St. and Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD
Online: promotionandarts.org

A Tribute to Dr. King
Songs and stories come together in this celebration of King’s legacy which ends with readings from excerpts of Dr. King’s “Letter From a Birmingham Jail.”  

When: Jan. 19 at 4 p.m.
Where: 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, National Cathedral
Online: cathedral.org

Give Together: A Family Volunteer Day
Start them young. It is one of the best ways to teach wee ones about the values of volunteering and giving back to their community. Volunteer Fairfax celebrates MLK Day with a family-oriented day of service. This teachable opportunity gives families the chance to work on volunteer-based projects with the preschool and elementary set that are both hands-on and fun.

When: Jan. 20, noon
Where: 8900 Little River Turnpike, Fairfax, VA
Online: volunteerfairfax.org/events/give-together-martin-luther-king-jr-day-of-service/

—Meghan Yudes Meyers and Victoria Mason