April Washington, D.C. Events You Don’t Want to Miss

April is the perfect time to dust off those winter cobwebs. Get outside and enjoy the beauty of spring! Washington, D.C. offers a host of activities perfect for the whole family, and you’ll be snapping pictures of those gorgeous cherry blossoms in no time. Here’s our lineup of the best D.C. April events.

NOTE: Please check each April event in Washington, DC, as many have been cancelled in 2020.

D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival

Washington, D.C.’s iconic celebration of spring is the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Enjoy floats, music and entertainment along Constitution Avenue during the National Cherry Blossom Parade. If you love kite flying, you can bring or make your own kite to the Blossom Kite Festival and join thousands of other kite enthusiasts (great for kids!). Or, if you need a break from the little ones, attend the stylish Pink Tie Party for cocktails, a silent auction and live performances.

Credit Union Cherry Blossom Ten Mile Run & 5K Run-Walk 

Take in the cherry blossoms as you run across the monument grounds! This run is a fundraiser for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Slots fill up early; you can enter a lottery or watch and cheer on the runners. This is a great full day event in the D.C. metro area.

Japanese Street Festival 

  • Location: Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd & 7th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20004
  • Date: Early April 
  • Website: sakuramatsuri.org

The largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the United States, this street fair is the perfect closing to the Cherry Blossom Festival. Live performers offer over 20 hours of musical and dance performances on four different stages in honor of Japanese culture. Additionally, a whole host of food vendors present the best in Japanese foods. Many come from Japan just for the festival!

Petalpalooza

Hosted along the banks of the Anacostia River in the up-and-coming Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, Petalpalooza is the perfect way to celebrate a day of seeing the city’s cherry blossoms. The event features live music on multiple outdoor stages. Additionally, there are interactive art installations, a beer garden, and numerous hands-on activities for the whole family. To cap it all off, the day ends in an extravagant fireworks show set to music. 

Anacostia River Festival

This free festival is revered as the premier event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The family-friendly lineup features boating, hands-on art projects, live performances, and an artist market. The festival focuses on the history and ecology of the Anacostia River while incorporating fun activities for the whole family. This is a must-see event from the National Park Service!

International Pillow Fight Day on the National Mall

  • Location: WW2 side of the Washington Monument Lawn
  • Date: Early April 

A city-wide pillow fight? Yes, please! Join hundreds (or thousands) of your closest friends in cities across the country in a massive pillow fight. Each city organizes their own pillow fight, and they’re all conducted on the same day. More details can be found on Facebook.

Smithsonian Jazz Appreciation Month 

Started by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month celebrates the history of jazz and the heritage of those involved in its creation. In order to encourage the public to keep up on their jazz appreciation, the museum hosts concerts at its museums throughout the month. Check their website for specific dates and ticket pricing. 

D.C. Emancipation Day Cultural Events

During the month of April, universities and museums across the city celebrate D.C. Emancipation Day with various lecture series. A panel of historians, researchers, experts and others examine the politics and forces behind and resistance to slavery, abolition and emancipation. Check out the website for a full list of lectures, topics and their locations. 

National Park Week 

In order to celebrate the treasures of America’s National Parks, the National Park Service celebrates National Park Week every April around Earth Day. Select park entrance fees are waived throughout the week and some parks have themed days. Themes this year include National Junior Ranger Day, Volunteers in Parks Day, Military Monday, Transportation Tuesday, Earth Day, Throwback Thursday, Friendship Friday, Park Rx Day and Bark Ranger Day. While the themes change every year, the week is always filled with fun activities to get the whole family out into the parks. 

FilmFest D.C.

  • Location: Held at locations throughout the city 
  • Date: Late April, early May 
  • Website: filmfestdc.org

This 11-day annual festival has risen to prominence in its 33 years of existence. It features more than 70 premieres, restored classics, and special events which are open to the public. Throughout the festival, there are panels, workshops, Q&A sessions and special opening and closing events. Films and events are held at theaters around the city throughout the week. 

Bay Bridge Boat Show (MD)

Whether you’re in the market for a new boat or just browsing all of the options for nautical fun, the Bay Bridge Boat Show is sure to get you in the mood for summer. The show features more than 400 boats and a range of products from pontoon boats to jet skis, kayaks, and canoes. In addition to boats, there is a 90-minute Junior Captains Course for kids 11-15 years old with hands-on boating instruction. Or, you can improve your fishing skills during the Rod Building Lessons—build your own custom rod accompanied by a casting lesson.

Virginia Historic Garden Week 

Explore the stunning gardens and homes of Virginia during Virginia Historic Garden Week, hosted by the Garden Club of Virginia. Club members create elaborate floral arrangements that are featured in every home on the tour. The week includes over 30 tours at the most impressive houses and gardens in the area. Check out their Facebook page for glimpses of the gardens and flowers featured at the event. 

White House Spring Garden Tours

Visitors can tour the gardens of the South Lawn at the White House, which includes the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden, Rose Garden and the White House Kitchen Garden. The event is free, but timed tickets are required for entry. While this is a great opportunity to see the beauty of the White House’s lawn, be sure to check the list of allowed items on their website as you will be checked by the Secret Service.

DC Brew Fest

Enjoy some of your favorite beers and discover some new favorites at the DC Beer Festival. The festival features big West Coast beer names along with a selection of about 70 regional brewers. DC Brew Fest is held at Nationals Park, a fun outdoor setting filled with lawn games, cookout foods and a DJ. Tickets are required and can be purchased online at their website

Arlington Festival of the Arts 

Check out this free festival in Arlington for family fun and art. With a wide array of local artisans selling everything from jewelry to life-size sculptures, there are rows and rows of vendors to scour for the next cool find. Along with the hand-made art and crafts, the best part of the show is that the actual artist behind each piece will be there, ready to answer all of your questions. 

Smithsonian Craft Show 

This four-day annual craft show features over 100 carefully selected artists. About a third of the exhibitors are new to the show each year, which ensures new finds to be had. Artists show work in all mediums of contemporary crafting and design, such as ceramics, furniture, glass, jewelry, leather and so much more. There’s even the option to shop the craft fair with the Craft + Cocktails package, which includes specialty cocktails from celebrity mixologists, music, snacks and entertainment. Check the website for more information on ticketing. 

Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival 

  • Location: Winchester, VA
  • Date: Late April, early May 
  • Website: thebloom.com

Held in the historic Northern Shenandoah Valley, this festival features a series of more than forty events, including band competitions, parades, carnival, dinners, luncheons, dances, wine festival, a 10K Race and the coronation of Queen Shenandoah. This festival is a great opportunity to spend time outside near the mountains of Shenandoah National Park. 

Azalea Festival at the National Arboretum

  • Location: National Arboretum 
  • Date: Mid-April (depending on when the azaleas bloom) 
  • Website: usna.usda.gov

See the reds, pinks, purples and whites of these gorgeous azaleas at the National Arboretum. Every spring the flowers bloom and light up the whole park. Along with the azaleas, the tulips also bloom and coincide with the birth of numerous baby animals. This quintessential activity is a perfect way for the whole family to celebrate spring in the District of Columbia!

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Washington, D.C. Travel Resources

Your Washington, D.C. vacation doesn’t have to be stressful. We’ve got the resources you need to plan your trip and make the most out of your time in the city and surrounding area. If this is your first time to the capital region, check out our Washington, D.C. trip planner and itineraries.

For transportation, check out our D.C. driving guide and our guide on how to ride the metro. For those flying in, you’ll want to read our guides to BWI, DCA and IAD airports.

Dive into our things to do in D.C., which is always being updated and evolving to make sure you have the latest and greatest activities to fill your checklist of things to do. Don’t forget about food, the real reason we all travel, right? Our Washington, D.C. restaurant guide will get you started and lead you into neighborhoods full of delicious treats.

For more resources, check out our pages on Baltimore, Richmond and beyond.

Where to Stay in Washington, D.C.

Budget: When it comes to Washington, D.C. budget hotels, prices vary depending on the season. In the middle of October, a four-star hotel could be under $150, while in December it may be over $400. At any given time of year, though, Hotel Hive is a safe bet for value when it comes to resting your head. If you are looking for a hostel, Hi Washington D.C. Downtown is well located for exploring all of the D.C. museums, restaurants and bars at the fraction of the price of a hotel. Check rates and availability here.

Mid-range: Every USA hotel chain can be found in Washington, D.C., but stay at the St. Gregory Hotel when you want a local touch. The modern, light-filled rooms will welcome you to the city, whether you are in a studio or suite with wraparound terrace. The hotel is walking distance to Georgetown, the National Mall and Embassy Row, making it easy to explore without a rental car. Check rates and availability here.

Luxury: You are spoiled for choice when it comes to luxury hotels in Washington, D.C. We love cozying up at the Graham Georgetown, a sweet little boutique hotel in one of the hottest neighborhoods in the city. Check rates and availability here. Major hotel brands like The Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C. and St. Regis Washington D.C. all have outposts here as well. If you want something a bit more historic, we recommend The Jefferson, Washington D.C. Ninety-nine rooms in this luxury boutique hotel bring together an attentive staff, petite spa, and the Michelin-starred Plume restaurant with all of the history you could hope for when you are in the nation’s capital. Check rates and availability here.

Family-friendly: We always gravitate towards the Kimpton hotels whenever we are traveling with kids. Kimpton Hotel Monaco Washington D.C., once the General Post Office building, is located in the Penn Quarter neighborhood just four blocks off the National Mall near the National Gallery of Art. Price point is mid-range, depending on the time of year you visit. Parents will love the nightly wine events and evening nightcap perks as well as complimentary coffee and a tea bar each morning. Kids will love that they can borrow a fish friend for their stay, and that there is always a treat on hand that they can enjoy, and the robes are just their size. Kimpton also has adult and child-size bikes to borrow so you can cruise around town during your stay. Check rates and availability here.

Planning a Trip to Washington, D.C.? Don’t Forget Travel Insurance!

Whether you are traveling domestically or coming from an international destination, travel insurance is a must for anyone coming to Washington, D.C. You will be exploring both inside and outdoors; hiking may even happen if you get adventurous. You could find yourself on a Segway or bike tour. The city is highly populated and accidents and crime do happen. This is not to scare you, but to prepare you for what could occur when you are checking out the free museums, exploring neighborhoods, finding the best food and learning about the local street art. Should something happen, travel insurance has you covered. Check rates and availability here.

We recommend and use Allianz Travel insurance. Our family is covered under a household plan, but their individual plans are just as robust if you are a solo traveler or a couple looking to get away. I’ve been a customer for more than five years and have always been in good hands with the Allianz team.

Get your travel insurance quote for your DC trip here.

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