Best of the Fests: D.C.’s Can’t Miss Summer Festivals


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Your Coachella days may be behind you, but that doesn’t mean the festival scene is completely off limits when you become a mama or papa. Enjoy all that D.C. has to offer by participating in one of the city’s many family- and budget-friendly festivals and celebrating an eclectic mix of performing arts, multiculturalism, imagination and creativity.

celebrate-fairfaxPhoto: Celebrate Fairfax via Facebook

Celebrate Fairfax
Northern Virginia’s largest annual community-wide celebration features a variety of live music, carnival rides, children’s activities, a community marketplace featuring more than 400 exhibitors, and fireworks (at 9:15 pm). Little ones can visit a petting zoo, use a climbing wall, put a show on at the children’s stage, enjoy a model-train exhibit, and more.

Festival fact: If you arrive early, try parking behind the Penino and Herrity buildings on Post Forest and Government Center Parkway. You can also park at Fair Lakes Circle and Fair Oaks Mall and catch a free shuttle bus to the festival.

When: June 5-7
Cost: $15/adults; $5/kids; Free/kids under 2
Fairfax County Government Center
12000 Government Center Pkwy. (Fairfax, Va)

Imagination Bethesda
This children’s street festival features musical performances, dance troupes, roving entertainment and hands-on arts and crafts all geared for the 12 and under crowd. The kids can have their faces painted, and interact with costume characters, balloonists, jugglers and more.

Festival fact: Bethesda has 16 public parking garages and surface lots, marked with a blue P that put you within a short walk of downtown. After parking, you can hop onto the Bethesda Circulator shuttle bus for free.

When: June 6, 10 am–3 pm
Cost: Free
Elm St. and Woodmont Ave. (Bethesda, Md)

Children’s Theater in the Woods
Tucked into the woods at Wolf Trap National Park, the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods is a D.C. area summer tradition for hundreds of families. Choose from a variety of performance that range from music to dance to puppetry and storytelling–all interactive, educational and fun. All shows are about an hour long and perfect for little ones ages 4 and up.

Festival fact: This summer’s line up includes the hilarious musical duo The Pop Ups, the wildly talented National Symphony Orchestra, and the highly-rated kindie band, Recess Monkey.

When: Tue.-Sat.,10:30am
Cost: $8-$10
Wolf Trap National Park

Worlds Children’s Festival
The world’s largest celebration of children’s creativity and imagination brings together hundreds of young artists and performers from around the world. The event is a culmination of the Arts Olympiad, a free global program of the International Child Art Foundation (ICAF) in which millions of children worldwide compete to win the honor to represent their home state or country. Workshops and activities designed to nurture a child’s creativity and develop her empathy will be held by experts ranging from professional artists to scientists and technologists.

Festival fact: Everyday has a different theme with related activities. Themes include Health and Environment; Creativity and Imagination, Peace and Leadership.

When: June 30–July 4
Cost: Free
The Ellipse in front of the White House

Smithsonian Folklife Festival
During the last week of June and the first week of July, the National Mall transforms itself into a multicultural explosion of diverse, authentic, living traditions both old and new. You and your kids can learn about different cultures and traditions and begin to understand the importance of differences and similarities in the world today. This year’s festival focuses on Peru, one of the world’s most biodiverse nations.

Festival fact: Parking in downtown D.C. is extremely limited and we encourage you to use public transportation. Metro stations closet to the festival site are Federal Center, L’Enfant Plaza and National Archives.

When: June 24–28 and July 1–5, 11 am–5:30 pm with special events at 7 pm
Cost: Free

National Museum of the American India
Between Third and Fourth St., NW

Did we miss one of your favorite family festivals? Let us know in the comments below. 

—Jamy Bond

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