While this year’s wacky weather could mean April showers of the frozen variety, daffodils, robins, and Spring Break plans all still signify one thing:  it’s time to take advantage of D.C.’s mostly outdoor fun and culture, and mostly for free. Take a look at this fridge-worthy list of free events, and choose to lounge on the lawn at Tudor Place and Gardens for a onceayearonly picnic, or journey to faraway lands with storytellers and folk artists at Glen Echo Park.

Photo: Folger Shakespeare Library

Wish Shakespeare a Happy Birthday
Reportedly home to the world’s largest collection of materials related to ol‘ Will and his works, The Folger Shakespeare Library on Capitol Hill stages a free birthday celebration where it’s never just about letting them eat cake. Get ready for sword fighting demos, musical and theatrical performances, and an appearance by Queen Elizabeth. Learn more about the year-long slate of Saturday family programs at the Folger, catering to kids as young as five.

When: Apr. 23
Online: folger.edu

Photo: Day of the Book

Learn About an International Tradition and The Great Zucchini
If you’re looking for a way to encourage kids to read, make Kensington’s International Day of the Book a part of your family’s tradition. Paralleling the romantic tradition of St. Jordi in Barcelona Spain where on this day, couples exchange roses…and books, the festival features adult and both children’s and young adult authors, plus a family stage where the Great Zucchini will open the day, food vendors, and participation by area fine arts and antique businesses.

When: Apr. 23
Online: dayofthebook.com

Picnic at Georgetown’s Downton Abby
No less grand than their relative George Washington’s home, and certainly closer in, Tudor Place Historic House and Gardens in Georgetown was the home of the Peter family until 1983. Now a museum, the gardens allow just one day of year for free admission and picknicking, when you can also browse a plant and fine art sale.

When: Apr. 29
Online: tudorplace.org

Sneak Peeks on Embassy Row
One of those only-in-DC events to satisfy your inner wanderlust along with your young traveling companions, Cultural Tourism DC offers behind the scenes peeks at as many as 40 different embassies, part of the month-long Passport D.C. The proximity of their respective strongholds along fabled Embassy Row makes this tour from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia easily navigable with kids.

When: May 6
Online: culturaltourismdc.org 

Photo: Renwick Gallery

Celebrate Spring at the Renwick

Recently renovated, the Renwick Gallery, a nearby neighbor to the White House, plays host to several family-friendly events throughout the year, along with its parent institution, the Smithsonian American Art Museum. This one features exhibit tours, music and a clay craft.

When: May 13
Online: americanart.si.edu

Photo: Tot Rock Fest

Rock Out at Tot Rock Fest in Alexandria
If puppets, songs and stories are your speed, spend a little time with local independent kid’s band Rainbow Rock, headed by frontwoman Kate Moran, and friends including Uncle Devin and Mr. Jon at Alexandria’s Tot Rock Festival. Enjoy also the restaurants and shops of the Del Ray District and the good feeling that comes from helping to support Moran’s Rainbow Rock Collection, a charity supporting children from the DMV and beyond.

When: May 13
Online: totrockfest.com

Honor Memorial Day in Rockville and Vienna
Nothing says family fun like jam packed music line-ups, plus rides, and food in a convenient suburban location. Both Rockville, Md. and Vienna, Va. host events in their downtown districts where neighbors and visitors can gather to enjoy all-ages performers like Rocknoceros in Vienna, or the 79th Annual Memorial Day Parade in Rockville.

When: May 27-29
Online: vivavienna.org rockvillemd.gov

Sing and Dance at Glen Echo’s Folk Festival 
Introduce kiddo to traditional sights and sounds likely not available at the I-tunes store with a visit to the 37th Annual Washington Folk Festival. This event is a winner both for its showcasing of the simple and joyful, and its down-home, family-welcoming atmosphere, featuring storytellers, musicians and craftspeople.

When: June 3-4
Online: fsgw.org

Which freebie event are you looking forward to? Tell us in the comments section below. 

–Carolyn Ross