Washington DC Events and Festivals 2014 / 2015

(Washington, District of Columbia - DC, USA)

Washington Events, Festivals and Things to DoAs the American capital, Washington DC is not only an important political city, but also a busy city of culture, with many annual festivals, concerts, protests and presidential events often being staged around the National Mall. Each summer, the National Mall plays host to the increasingly popular Screen on the Green, an open-air evening film fest drawing large crowds.

Live music is an important part of life in the capital and the choice of venues is huge, with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts being affiliated with the National Symphony Orchestra, as well as the National Opera. A number of official inaugural presidential balls have been held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, while at the multi-purpose Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, baseball, American football and soccer games are the order of the day.

Previously named the MCI Center, the Verizon Center was constructed in 1997 at the cost of more than $250 million and is where you will find the Washington Wizards basketball team playing regular games to large crowds.

Specific events worth looking out for in Washington DC include Emancipation Day on 16th April and Capital Pride each May, as well as Shakespeare in the Park, the Capital Jazz Fest, the Fort Reno Summer Concert Series and the Mount Pleasant Festival each June. Those in the city at springtime should look out for the spectacular National Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrating the huge quantity of cherry trees donated by the Mayor of Tokyo in 1912. Many of the trees and their descendants now line the Tidal Basin, growing in West Potamac Park, next to the Jefferson Memorial and around the National Mall.

National Public Holidays

  • 1st January - New Year's Day
  • Third Monday in January - Martin Luther King Day
  • 12th February - Lincoln's Birthday
  • Third Monday in February - Washington's Birthday
  • Third Monday in April - Patriot's Day (Massachusetts)
  • Last Monday in May - Memorial Day
  • 4th July - Independence Day
  • First Monday in September - Labor Day
  • Second Monday in October - Columbus Day
  • 11th November - Veterans Day
  • 4th Thursday in November - Thanksgiving
  • 25th December - Christmas Day

Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015


  • Martin Luther King's Birthday - third weekend in January, a birthday celebration is held on the steps of Washington's Lincoln Memorial, where Martin Luther King gave his famous 'I have a dream' speech in 1963
  • Chinese New Year - late January / early February, celebrations for the Chinese New Year start with dancers, dragons, firecrackers and parades through downtown Washington and continue for ten days
  • Mount Vernon Open House - third Monday in February, free admission to Mount Vernon, includes drums on the green and the laying of wreaths


  • Black History Month - throughout February, the Smithsonian Institution holds a number of special events and cultural programs during February
  • Famous Birthdays - a trio of famous men's birthdays takes place in Washington during February, Abe Lincoln's birthday on February 12th is celebrated at the Lincoln Memorial, George Washington's birthday is celebrated on the third Monday in February at Mount Vernon in Virginia, and the Frederick Douglass birthday tribute celebrates this great African American statesman around February 14th at the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Anacostia
  • DC Independent Film Festival - late February to early March, first staged in 1999 and known for its world premieres, independent filmmakers, workshops and seminars


  • St. Patrick's Day Celebrations - March 17th, with parades of dancers, bands, bagpipes and carnival floats
  • Smithsonian Annual Kite Festival - last Sunday in March, kite lovers of all ages proudly show off their handmade kites, including demonstrations
  • Washington Flower and Garden Show - March 25th to 28th, with a number of gardens, statues and plants, at the Convention Center on Mount Vernon Place
  • DC Spring Antiques Fair - this popular antiques fair takes place at the DC Armory in Capitol Street and attracts large crowds
  • Environmental Film Festival - March 18th to 28th, held at the National Museum of Natural History, with numerous films


  • Annual White House Easter Egg Roll - first Monday after Easter, for children aged between three and six years old, this fun event starts at the Southeast Gate at the corner of East Executive Avenue and E Street and features an appearance by the president. Arrive early to avoid the crowds
  • National Cherry Blossom Festival - celebrations are held throughout the city, including blossom parades, Japanese drumming, fireworks, kite flying, fashion shows and the Japanese Lantern Lighting Ceremony, as well as performances at the Sylvan Theater, Jazz at the Jefferson, Family Days at the National Building Museum and the popular Pink Tie Party
  • Filmfest DC - April 21st to May 2nd, held at local movie theaters and museums in Washington DC
  • White House Spring Garden Tours - mid-April, tours of the White House gardens, including music and general festivities


  • Eastern Market Day - first Sunday in May, this popular local festival features arts and crafts, games, rides, entertainment and food, close to Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Washington Memorial Day Celebrations - last weekend in May, held on the Sunday evening, the National Symphony Orchestra performs a free concert on the West Lawn of the US Capitol, plus another concert on Labor Day in September
  • Memorial Day Jazz Festival - last Monday in May, held in Alexandria, Virginia, this jazz fest features up to ten jazz artists and a number of food stalls
  • Black Pride and Capital Pride - last Monday in May, this four-day event culminates in a parade of around 10,000 African American gays and lesbians


  • Shakespeare in the Park - mid-June, two weeks of free performances of Shakespeare plays at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park
  • Fort Reno Summer Concert Series - June to August, many up-and-coming and well-known bands perform at this lively event, held at Reno Park, close to Wisconsin Avenue
  • Marine Band's Summer Concert Series - June to August, free, twice-weekly outdoor concerts, from classical to brass bands, are held at the West Terrace of the US Capitol and the Sylvan Theater in the grounds of the Washington Monument
  • Capital Jazz Fest - this popular two-day jazz festival began in 1993 and is now billed as the 'world's largest showcase of contemporary jazz music'
  • Uni-Fest - first weekend in June, celebrating the African American community, this festivity includes gospel singers, dancers and food stalls
  • Mount Pleasant Festival - first Sunday in June, this lively street fair based in the district of Mount Pleasant celebrates the diverse neighborhood of Adams Morgan (next-door), with live music, games and food
  • National Race for the Cure - first Sunday in June, one of the largest 5-km / 3-mile runs / walks in the world, this popular sporting event attracts over 70,000 participants and many cheering spectators, raising money for breast cancer research
  • Dupont-Kalorama Museum Walk Day - early June, ten museums and houses in Washington's Dupont Circle area take part in an 'off the mall' museum day, with free food, music and tours
  • Dance Africa DC, Annual Festival - mid-June, this two-day event celebrates African and American dance and music, at Dance Place on Monroe Street
  • Caribbean Festival - last Saturday in June, held on George Avenue, this popular event attracts thousands of islanders who take part in a large parade, with many festivities


  • Smithsonian Folklife Festival - first weekend in July, this is a major highlight in the Washington DC calendar and celebrates the arts, crafts and food of selected US states and other countries
  • Independence Day - July 4th, official events begin at 10:00 at the National Archives, attracting large crowds
  • Bastille Day - early July, with live entertainment and food stalls, held at Pennsylvania Avenue
  • Latino Festival - last weekend in July, this busy two-day South American-themed extravaganza includes the food and music of the large resident Latino community in Washington DC
  • Screen on the Green - July and August, outdoor movie screenings starting at around 20:30, held on the National Mall


  • George Avenue Day - late August, held at the intersection of East Avenue NW, America's large business corridor comes alive with exciting parades, carnivals, rides, live music and ethnic food stalls
  • National Frisbee Festival - late August, world-champions compete around the National Mall
  • DC Blues Festival - late August, held at the Carter Barron Amphitheater in Rock Creek Park


  • HFStival - an annual rock festival based at venues in both Washington DC and neighboring Baltimore, first held in 1990 and now drawing almost 100,000 people
  • Adams Morgan Day - first Monday in September, many thousands of residents in Washington DC celebrate the Adams Morgan community, with general festivities, music and food stalls
  • Kennedy Center Open House Arts Festival - early to mid-September, this day-long event in the Foggy Bottom area celebrates the performing arts and features locals and national artists on the front plaza and river terrace, overlooking the Potomac River
  • Abbey Road on the River - early September over the Labor Day weekend, with music played by Beatles tribute bands covering a five-day period
  • Washington National Cathedral Open House - late September to early October, this event celebrates the anniversary of the laying of the cathedral's foundation stone in 1907
  • St. Sophia Greek Festival - late September / early October, held on Massachusetts Avenue NW, with live Greek music, cathedral tours and Greek food stalls


  • DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival (DC APA) - early October, lasting around ten days and screening all manner of movies and short films at venues within the downtown district. These include the Smithsonian Institution's Meyer Auditorium, the Freer Gallery of Art and the E Street Cinema, as well as both the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Goethe-Institut
  • Taste of DC - second Monday in October, this is the largest annual outdoor food and music festival on the east coast, being held at restaurants throughout Washington DC
  • Reel Affirmations (RA) - mid-October, one of America's biggest and best supported LGBT film fests, arranged and manned entirely by volunteers and attracting more than 30,000 people. Venues include the Goethe-Institut, the Lincoln Theatre, the E Street Cinema and the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
  • Annual High Heel Race - late October, this amusing event attracts drag queens from the Dupont Circle area and beyond, taking part in this popular race
  • Oktoberfest - second to last weekend in October, this popular German-themed celebration is held in Reston town center and includes four days of beer, polka and food
  • Washington DC International Horror Film Festival - late October, spooky movies and horror films are screened each year around Halloween, at the Artisphere Dome Theatre


  • Veterans' Day Ceremonies - November 11th, this is a solemn ceremony held at the Arlington National Cemetery and features military bands, honoring the country's soldiers who died in battle
  • Alexandria Antiques Show - second or third weekend in November, this busy antiques fair is held in Old Town Alexandria and features furniture, paintings and many European pieces
  • Civil War Living History Day - November 10th, held at the Fort Ward Museum in Alexandria, this event includes reenactments of Civil War camp life, featuring an artillery drill


  • National Christmas Tree Lighting - early December, the president starts the holiday season by switching on the lights on Washington's giant Christmas tree at the Ellipse, in the Federal Triangle area. Advance tickets are required
  • Lighting of the Menorah - mid-December, a huge menorah (the nine-branched candelabra that signifies the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah) is lit for all eight nights of the holiday
  • White House Christmas Candlelight Tours - late December, on these free evening tours, visitors get to see the White House decorations. It is advisable to arrive early to avoid the lengthy queues
  • New Year's Eve Celebrations - December 31st, general festivities throughout Washington DC, culminating in fireworks at midnight