As a Northern Virginia native who spends a lot of time in Washington, D.C., I can honestly say that spring is THE BEST time to be in D.C.!
The city is filled with beautiful gardens in full bloom, especially around the National Mall, and the weather is generally at its best – not too hot or humid, and not too cold.
|Three Spring Festivals in Washington, D.C. that you don’t want to miss!
|1. Cherry Blossom Festival (March 20 – April 14, 2024)
2. Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour – Mount Vernon (May 17 to 19, 2024)
3. Passport DC (May 1 – 31, 2024)
Washington, D.C. also has some incredible spring festivals to mark the season. The centerpiece is, of course, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which generally takes place around the end of March and the beginning of April.
This is an event that you don’t want to miss. I’ve had the opportunity to go almost every year, and it’s the perfect way to say goodbye to winter and hello to spring!
But there’s much more than just the Cherry Blossom Festival to celebrate in spring. Below are some of my top recommendations for the best Washington, D.C. spring festivals and things to do.
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11 Best Spring Festivals in Washington, D.C.
Dates: March 20 – April 14, 2024
Each spring, thousands of cherry blossom trees reach full bloom around the Tidal Basin in D.C. The event is celebrated by the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which is one of the most exciting and popular events in D.C.!
The event is marked by music performances, a parade, a kite festival, a Pink Tie Party, fireworks, and much more.
Many of the festivities take place around the Tidal Basin, which is conveniently located right next to the National Mall, the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and other major attractions.
There is a main performance stage near the Tidal Basin, where musical performances take place throughout the festival. The performers range from jazz, to classical, to folk, to country, and more.
The cherry blossom trees were originally a gift from Japan in 1912, and so many of the festival events honor Japanese culture and traditions.
The Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. hosts the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, which is the largest celebration of Japanese culture in the United States. It features a full day of traditional Japanese music, martial arts, cultural exhibitions, food, drink, and much more.
The Cherry Blossom Parade is another highlight of the festivities. It features colorful floats, balloons, marching bands, celebrities, dancers, performers, and more making their way down Constitution Avenue.
You can also head over to Petalpalozza, which is a family and pet-friendly event that takes place at the Capitol Riverfront. It features more music performances, hands-on activities, entertainers, drinks, and more.
And of course, just walking around the Tidal Basin to see all of the cherry blossoms in full bloom is enough of a reason to head out! You’ll be surrounded by a sea of white and pink blossoms floating above your head as you make your way through the sidewalks that line the Tidal Basin.
I enjoy taking the time to stop at the various monuments around the Tidal Basin, including the Jefferson Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial.
And if the weather’s nice enough, you can even rent a pedal boat to ride around the Tidal Basin, which is one of my favorite fun activities to do in D.C.!
Peak bloom varies year to year, and is generally only known about a month in advance. The exact dates are impacted by the weather conditions in the winter months leading up to peak bloom. And the blossoms only reach peak bloom for a few days.
You can find all of the most up-to-date information about the Cherry Blossom Festival online!
Date: March 23, 2024
Bloomaroo is another spring event that celebrates the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
The event takes place at The Wharf, which is one of the newest and most exciting neighborhoods in D.C.
There are plenty of activities at Bloomaroo. Many of them celebrate Japanese culture and heritage, including kite decorating, a haiku creation station, a karaoke stage, balloon artists, a blossom beauty bar, matcha tea and sake sampling, an Ikebana demonstration, and Japanese music performances.
And you’ll want to stay till the end because the evening is marked by fireworks!
The Anacostia River Festival is also part of the Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival. The festivities take place in Anacostia and many of the events center around water. You can take a free fishing workshop or go on a canoe ride!
There are music performances all day too, as well as special events that celebrate Anacostia and its rich history.
You’ll also find many local vendors, food trucks, ice cream carts, games, and much more. It’s a great event for the whole family!
4. Passport DC
Dates: May 1 to May 31
Passport DC lets you travel the world without leaving the nation’s capital!
Washington, D.C. is one of the most international cities in the world. It’s home to embassies from around the world and a thriving international community.
Passport DC is an event that takes place every spring and highlights the rich cultural attractions that the city has to offer.
As part of the event, embassies and other cultural sites around town host special events celebrating dance, music, art, food, and much more.
Some of the unique events from years past have included getting to pet an alpaca, attending an EU Open House, and shopping at an international Flower Mart.
Beyond the embassy visits, there are also street festivals highlighting cultures from around the world, special exhibitions, and more.
5. Memorial Day Parade
Date: May 27, 2024
Every year, Memorial Day is observed in the United States on the last Monday of May. Initially established in 1868 to pay tribute to those who fought in the American Civil War, the day has since become a solemn occasion to honor and remember individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice for the security of their nation.
Washington, D.C. commemorates the special day with the largest Memorial Day parade in the nation. Military groups from around the country march down Constitution Avenue to mark the event.
The parade honors the men and women who served and sacrificed in the armed forces. The parade includes members from each branch of the military, celebrity hosts, and musical guests.
Another major Memorial Day weekend event is the annual remembrance at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall. The event is organized by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and National Parks Service. It pays tribute to fallen service members and features speeches delivered by distinguished members of the armed services.
6. Film Fest DC
Dates: April 18 – 28, 2024
If you love films, then you’ll want to mark your calendars for Film Fest DC, which is DC’s very own international film festival!
The festival takes place over 12 days each spring and features 65 films from 30 countries.
You’ll find a movie for every taste, including uplifting comedies, stirring dramas, nail-biting thrillers, and revelatory documentaries.
One of the hallmarks of the festival is that it highlights films from around the world. Past festivals have featured films from France, India, Senegal, Argentina, Tunisia, and Lebanon.
The mission of the film fest is to bring unique films and filmmaker perspectives to D.C. audiences in a live, energetic setting where the spirit of the movies can be shared as a group experience.
There are film screenings throughout town as part of the festival, with locations as diverse as The Wharf, the French Embassy, the National Gallery of Art, and Penn Social.
Date: April 1, 2024
Though it’s not technically a festival, if you’re a fan of baseball, then the Nationals season opener is definitely a time of celebration!
Taking in a ball game at Nationals Park is another one of my top fun things to do in D.C.!
Though the air can still be a little cool in early spring for an outdoor game, it’s still a refreshing way to spend an afternoon! Just sit back, grab a beer and hot dog, and enjoy a game from the 2019 World Series champions!
The season opener varies each year, but generally occurs around the beginning of April. It’s right up there with the cherry blossoms as the much-anticipated sign that spring has arrived in D.C.!
8. DC Wine Fest
Date: April 13, 2024
Spring is one of my favorite times to visit some of the amazing wineries in Virginia and Maryland. But you don’t even have to leave D.C. to experience some of the best wines!
DC Wine Fest kicks off on April 13 and gives you a chance to sample wines from dozens of wineries.
When you purchase an event ticket, you have access to unlimited wine tastings, but please drink responsibly! Using public transportation or ride-sharing to get to and from the event is also highly encouraged.
The event takes place all day from 12 pm to 10 pm, but when you purchase an event ticket you’ll only get access to one of three different sessions. Each session lasts 2 hours. You can also purchase an early bird ticket, which will give you an extra hour before each session.
Beyond wines, you can also find other vendors ranging from coffee to jewelry and more.
There is even live music and food vendors at the event to form the perfect pairing with your next sip of merlot or pinot grigio!
You’ll also have the opportunity to buy discounted cases of wine from all of the vendors. Shipping is also available.
Please note that the event is inside and occurs rain or shine (another huge bonus!) Also, you must be over 21 to attend and pets are not permitted.
Dates: May 17, 18, and 19, 2024
A little further out of town in Virginia, make sure to check out the Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour at Mount Vernon! The famous home of George Washington hosts an annual event that features wines from the best Virginia wineries!
Be sure to grab your ticket early, because the event is very popular! In fact, it’s the biggest annual event at Mount Vernon!
The ticket price will get you access to unlimited wine samples at the historic home.
Bring a blanket and spread out with your drink of choice on the large lawn outside of Mount Vernon. The views of the Potomac River at your feet are the perfect complement to that refreshing glass of chardonnay!
There is also food available for purchase from the Mount Vernon Inn.
And while you’re visiting, you can even take some time to explore the historic home. It’s open to the public until 8:30 pm on the festival days.
Dates: April 19 and April 20, 2024
For all things cannabis, head over to the National Cannabis Festival at RFK Stadium on (naturally) 4/19 and 4/20!
The event features music performances, a Munchies Zone, plus over a hundred vendors offering swag, grower’s gear, art, wellness products, and more!
You can grab a food or beverage (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) of choice from one of dozens of shops, ranging from pizza to Mexican, to frozen yogurt, to tacos.
Some of the vendors include Lattimore’s Funnel Cakes, Holy Crepes, Capital Chicken & Waffles, Sweet Frog, and much more!
You’ll even find educational resources for growers to help them learn about everything from the best soil and light conditions to the right equipment, to small farm practices.
11. Project Glow
Dates: April 27 and 28, 2024
Project Glow is all about one of my personal favorite music genres: electronic dance music! The music is really more atmospheric, with few or no lyrics; pulsing rhythms; hypnotic repeating sounds; deep layers; and mind-blowing visuals.
The event takes place at RFK Stadium and features, you guessed it, music, music, and more music!
The festival has three stages with different musical acts: the Eternal Stage, the Pulse Stage, and the Secret Garden.
Many of the biggest names in club music are on full display at the festival. The 2024 lineup is yet to be announced, but last year’s lineup included dozens of artists, including Benny Benassi and Tiesto.
FAQs About Spring Festivals in Washington, D.C.
Before you plan your next trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring, here is some more information to help you along the way.
When should I visit D.C. in spring?
As you can see, there are exciting events in D.C. all spring long, however, the very best time to go is probably during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, because it features so many diverse and interesting events around town. However, this is also a time when hotel prices are high and crowds are big.
What is Washington, D.C. like in the spring?
Washington, D.C. in the spring is generally mild, with some chillier days in the early spring. High temperatures range from the 50s to the 70s. Spring rainfall averages about 3 to 4 inches of rain per month, with May being slightly rainier than average.
What is the best time to see cherry blossoms in D.C.?
The best time to see cherry blossoms in D.C. varies year to year based on the late winter weather. Generally, the peak blossoms occur for a few days in late March or early April. An updated forecast for peak blossoms is usually announced by local meterologists around early March.
How long does full bloom cherry blossom last?
Full bloom cherry blossom (peak bloom) generally only lasts a few days, however, there is a longer period of time when the blossoms are still beautiful. This period can last anywhere from about a week to two weeks.
How to Get to Washington, D.C.
You can easily get to Washington, D.C. by car, plane, train, or bus.
By car, use I-95, which runs along the entire East Coast. Washington, D.C. is about 11 miles away from I-95. Depending on where you’re coming from, you can take I-95 to I-395 from the South, I-95 to Route 50 or the Baltimore-Washington Parkway from the North, or I-66 from the West.
By plane, the nearest airport is Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). It’s located in Arlington County and just 3 miles from the city. There is a metro stop directly at the airport, which is an easy and affordable way to reach Washington.
The next two closest airports are Dulles International Airport (IAD) in Virginia (which is 29 miles from D.C.) and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) in Maryland (which is 34 miles from D.C.)
By train, Amtrak offers services from various cities along the East Coast. In Washington, D.C., the main train station is Union Station, which is conveniently located right next to the U.S. Capitol Building.
Union Station is also a major metro station, which makes it easy to travel around D.C. and even into Virginia and Maryland.
By bus, there are many bus routes and carriers with service to Washington, D.C. Most of the busses stop at Union Station. Some popular bus companies are:
I have personally taken Flixbus (formerly Bolt Bus) and Megabus many times when traveling between D.C., New York, and Philadelphia, and I think they’re a great and very affordable alternative to traveling by train. Some of the fares can be as low as $1, which is crazy!
Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.
There are many great hotels to stay near the National Mall. Below are some of my top recommendations.
The Holiday Inn Washington Capitol is just blocks from the National Mall. It also has an outdoor pool and it is pet-friendly!
The Hilton Washington DC is another great choice. It is located near both the National Mall and The Wharf, which features excellent shopping and restaurants along the Potomac River. The four-star hotel also has an outdoor pool, bar, and restaurant.
Conclusion: 11 Best Spring Festivals in Washington, D.C.
Hopefully, this has convinced you that spring is definitely an amazing time to visit the nation’s capital!
Whether you’re here to take in the beautiful cherry blossoms, sip the best wines, take in an international film, or cheer at a ball game, you’ll find no shortage of exciting events to mark the spring season!
Learn about even more great things to do in and around Washington, D.C.!