Free, Fun, No-Planning-Necessary Ways to Celebrate Labor Day

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August is winding down and school is starting but autumn isn’t in the air quite yet. We’ve still got one more longweekend to fill with all sorts of summer fun. Make the most of the unofficial end of summer with these events and activities across the DMV. Best part: these hip happenings are (mostly) free!

3896123917_f3c523fb85_zPhoto: Dan Dan The Binary Man via Flickr

National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day Capitol Concert 
Older kids (or your all-nighter toddler) will love listening to the NSO’s annual free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol Building, featuring vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Aoife O’Donovan in an America-inspired program featuring marches, folk music, and bluegrass-inspired songs, including O’Donovan-penned songs “Red & White & Blue & Gold,”  “Magic Hour,” and “The King of All Birds,” plus the Bob Dylan favorite “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol.”. You can also attend the (also free) open rehearsal at 3:30 pm!

When: Sept. 3, 8 pm
West Lawn of the United States Capitol Building (Capitol Hill)

Library of Congress National Book Festival
Hear authors speak, learn about the Library of Congress, and find fun family activities like a Waldo hunt and story times. Don’t forget to pick out a new book before you leave.

When: September 2, 8:30 a.m.–7:30 p.m.
Washington Convention Center

American Enterprise ExhibitPhoto: National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History 
Explore the history of labor at the “American Enterprise” exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Kids will get a kick out of the Japanese McDonald’s sign, old ad posters, and one of Michael Dell’s early computers (“Mom, where’s the touch screen?”). Engage them with questions about how they hope to give back one day (and bring home a paycheck).

When: Everyday, 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
National Museum of American History (National Mall)

Gaithersburg Labor Day Parade
Marching bands, dance groups, community groups and more gather on the streets of Old Towne Gaithersburg to celebrate Labor Day.

When: September 4, 1 p.m.
Old Towne

11221575_10153518980000865_5349484710826687660_nPhoto: Kennedy Center

Kennedy Center Annual Page-to-Stage New Play Festival 
More than 50 D.C.-area theater companies perform a series of free readings and open rehearsals of plays and musicals in development by local, regional, and national playwrights, librettists, and composers–some with scripts in hand, others almost fully staged. Topics range from the presidents to Peter Pan and fabled historic figures (confirm in advance that your selected performance is labeled Family Friendly—all others contain mature content).

When: Sept. 2-4
Venues throughout the Kennedy Center
2700 F St., NW

11953128_10153547299445729_6521033758850839933_nPhoto: Glen Echo Park

Glen Echo Park Labor Day Art Show 
This free annual art show exhibits more than 200 artists from the mid-Atlantic region and includes media such as painting, drawing, glass, jewelry, photography, ceramics, furniture, sculpture, and fiber arts. Follow your visit with a trip to your local Michael’s and have your kids create their own gallery-worthy pieces!

When: Sept. 2-4
Glen Echo Park, Spanish Ballroom
7300 MacArthur Blvd. (Glen Echo, Md)

13680562_1200455679979343_2477229214781310406_nPhoto: Virginia Scottish Games

Virginia Scottish Games 
Though adult tickets are $20, kids 12 and under are free on Sunday—so come enjoy a day of piping and drumming, highland dancing, and fiddling competitions along with sheep-herding demonstrations (your kids will coo over the Border Collies), an antique British car and bike show, vendors and crafts, clan and society exhibits, children’s activities (games, archery, and face painting), live music, and plenty of Scottish food and drink. Kilts welcome but not required!

When: Sept. 2-3
Great Meadow
5089 Old Tavern Rd. (The Plains, Va)

What are you doing this Labor Day Weekend? Tell us in the comments section below. 

–Tricia Mirchandani and Katie Brown