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Spring Bucket List: 40+ Festivals & New Things to Do in the DMV

Mar 13, 2024

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Spring is in full bloom around the Washington, D.C., area.

From new museum exhibit during April showers, to getting a jump on May flowers, here are ways to enjoy the season in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Historic Downtown Leesburg is set to host two days of live entertainment (including a children’s stage), the People’s Choice Landscape Competition, plus lots of vendors selling flowers, plants and gardening supplies. It’s free and open to the public.

With the Super Bowl in the rear-view mirror, football fans can check out Washington’s XFL team, the D.C. Defenders. The team’s home turf is at Audi Field.

The most fun things to do and places to be in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

2 Chainz, Juicy J and Free Nationals are set to headline the National Cannabis Festival concert on Saturday, April 22, but this festival says it has much more planned — including the East Coast’s largest cannabis exhibitor fair, the National Cannabis Championship and plenty of munchies.

The longest-running and largest film festival returns to D.C. Stay tuned for details on which films will be screened.

Cherry trees aren’t the only blossom game in the DMV! Centered in Winchester, Virginia, the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival includes two parades, a carnival, wine fest, sports tournaments, beauty pageants and more over 10 days.

Get your glow sticks ready! Zeds Dead, Gorgon City, Tiësto and dozens of other electronic acts are descending on the RFK Festival Grounds for this two-day music festival.

Pharrell’s music festival is headed back to Virginia Beach this year. Pharrell, Lil Wayne, Kid Cudi, Mumford & Sons are among the big names performing. The lineup crosses several music genres, like country star Maren Morris, EDM DJ Skrillex, indie pop singer Remi Wolf and genre-bending Grace Jones. D.C.’s Wale will also be performing.

Head to Leonard, Maryland, to celebrate the heritage of the Celtic nations: Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, Brittany, Cornwall and Galicia/Asturias.

Glen Echo Park’s historic Dentzel Carousel will be open Wednesdays through Sundays until Aug. 28.

Burnside Farms cultivates field upon field of the quintessential spring flower — perfect for some selfies before picking your own tulips to bring home.

The National Museum of Asian Art is marking its 100th anniversary with its first festival marking Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

On May 13, Singer-songwriters Eric Nam and Raveena will perform on stage at the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building, and the show will be broadcast onto the National Mall and Freer Plaza. You’ll find many more chances to celebrate Asian culture through art, performance, film, food and more.

In addition to the huge plant sale, Flower Mart visitors can enjoy international floral displays, ride an antique carousel and watch free performances.

Journey around the world without your passport. More than 50 embassies are set to open their doors so you can learn about different cultures — and get some international snacks if you’re lucky. It’s part of the month-long Passport DC program.

Styx, Kix, Warrant, Extreme and more are set to turn up their amps at Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The National Gallery of Art’s themed, Thursday soirees this season include (S)heroes (March 9), Garden Party (April 13) and Homegrown (May 11). Free tickets become available at noon one week before each event. New in 2023, the NGA will host “First Saturdays” on March 4, April 1 and May 6 featuring a more relaxed version of the National Gallery Nights events — no registration required.

Enjoy the art, culture, food and film specifically for countries in the European Union. Details for 2023 are expected soon.

The WNBA season begins on Friday, May 19, with the Washington Mystics facing New York Liberty at the Entertainment and Sports Arena. Also: Take your shot to cheer on the Wizards — the NBA’s regular season ends April 9.

Sip wine and tour George Washington’s estate after hours. Mount Vernon’s wine festivals often sell out, so plan ahead (tickets go on sale March 6).

Oh, the places you’ll go! Enter the world of Dr. Seuss at this immersive experience in Tysons Corner Center. Tickets start at $38 for kids and $43 for adults.

You may know this indoor mini golf course’s Dupont location — but you’ll have twice the opportunity to putt when Swinger’s second D.C. location opens.

ARTECHOUSE’s sixth annual cherry blossom digital art installation brings you into a world bursting with butterflies and blooms. Adult tickets cost $25.

The pedal boats return to the Tidal Basin on Saturday, March 11. Each boat can hold up to four people (with a weight limit of 500 pounds). A one-hour rental costs $38 on weekdays and $40 on weekends. Bookings are available into October.

If kayaking is more your speed, check out cherry blossom tours from Thompson Boat Center in Georgetown and The Wharf Boathouse beginning March 24.

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute will reopen its Bird House after a six-year, $69 million renovation. The new and improved, 30,000-sqaure-foot space will be the largest zoo exhibit to feature migratory birds across the Americas. The National Zoo requires free timed entry passes.

While the Tidal Basin cherry blossom blooms are the star of D.C.’s biggest spring celebration, fun is flourishing before and after peak bloom. Pedal boat along the Tidal Basin, tour Petal Porches and snack on cherry blossom-themed treats.

Mark your calendars for the Blossom Kite Festival (March 25), a cherry blossom 5K and 10-mile run (April 1-2), Petalpalooza (April 8), the parade (April 15), Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival (April 15) and the Anacostia River Festival (May 20).

The Black Panther costume worn by Chadwick Boseman in the Marvel films is one of the big highlights of the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s expansive exhibit on Afrofuturism (Here’s a primer on the concept of Afrofuturism).

Japanese-born artist Ay-Ō (pronounced eye-o) won a global reputation as the "Rainbow Artist" for his colorful prints and tactile experiences. The Smithsonian says this exhibit at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery will be the first in the U.S. dedicated to Ay-Ō's work. In case the title didn’t tip you off: Some work may not be suitable for all audiences, the museum says.

Washington Spirit kicked off their season in March, and catching a game is a great time at Audi Field set for Sunday, March 26. Also: D.C. United’s schedule features plenty of home games this spring, including many on Saturdays.

The Nationals jumped into baseball season by hosting the Atlanta Braves in D.C. for Opening Day on Thursday, March 30.

Phillip Guston is considered one of the greatest modern painters, and this traveling exhibit will bring more than 200 paintings and drawings from dozens of collections to the National Gallery of Art. The D.C. exhibit is set to include 30 exclusive pieces and a special showing of drawings inspired by Richard Nixon. The highly-anticipated exhibit’s arrival in D.C. has been postponed twice: Once due to the pandemic, and again so curators could reframe artworks depicting KKK members. NGA senior curator Harry Cooper will offer an introduction to the exhibit on Sunday, March 5 at noon.

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In addition to screenings of narrative, documentary, animated and short films, the DC Independent Film Festival will offer seminars and workshops with industry professionals.

The Black Experiences short film program on Sunday, March 5, will include three short films with DMV ties ("East of the River," "Freetown," and "Amor"). "Millstone" features an all-Deaf cast including Daniel Durant from the Oscar-winning film "CODA."

You can buy a festival pass (ranging from $45 to $105) or tickets to individual screenings at Landmark's E Street Cinema and The Miracle Theatre.

Get ready for four days of music at Black Girls Rock! Festival "honoring the creative genius of Black women,” the Kennedy Center says. The headline event is the BGR! Concert on Saturday featuring Alice Smith, Estelle and Jade Novah — but you'll also find free performances on the Millennium Stage, nightly DJ parties and more.

Have a sweet tooth? Make your way to the DC Chocolate, Wine, and Whiskey Festival on March 11. Held in the National Union Building, the festival will offer decadent treats — from sweet hand-rolled truffles to premium wines and whiskies.

The musical powered by Alanis Morrissette’s bangers will be at The National Theatre.

Returning for its 31st edition, the D.C. Environmental Film Festival aims to showcase films that inspire viewers to protect the environment.

The Wharf’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration includes bagpipers, traditional Irish performers — and plenty of Guinness, whisky and Irish coffees for the 21+ crowd.

The legendary trick basketball team is coming to Capital One Arena — doors will open at noon.

The Congressional Cemetery is officially opening its “living monument to nature,” a green space with 60 linden trees, a stone walking path and benches. The park is designed to look like a compass rose — and will provide a special vantage point to track the sun’s path on the spring and fall equinoxes, plus the summer and winter solstices. The dedication will begin with a drum line parade led by Batalá Washington DC.

French high wire artist Philippe Petit — famed for walking between the Twin Towers — will perform 50 feet above the ground in the National Building Museum’s stately Great Hall in Wonder on the Wire. Tickets start at $300.

Toast to cherry blossom season with live music, unlimited samples of 100+ wines, craft beers and ciders, plus full pours of Hook Hall larger at the National Union Building.

The Boss is coming to Capital One Arena for one night only.

Three federally recognized Cherokee tribes — Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians — will share music, pottery, storytelling, weaponry, crafting and more at The National Museum of the American Indian.

The Wharf’s own cherry blossom party will come with art, live music and fireworks. Expect family-friendly activities and beer gardens at the District Pier.

"Virginia's premier National Cherry Blossom Festival event" will bring musical performances, a beer and wine garden, food trucks and plenty of pink to the Long Bridge Aquatics & Fitness Center. Black Alley will headline the music festival, and other guests include DJ Chan Don, Crush Funk Brass, Umami House, Reesa Renee and Footwerk. You can also bring the kids early for a pink-themed swim in the Long Bridge Aquatics Center (special registration is required).

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