May is one of our favorite months to visit Washington, D.C. With warm, spring temperatures, cool nights, and growing anticipation for the easy days of summer, it’s the best time to get outside and explore!
Plus, no mosquitos yet!
Visit Washington, D.C. and its surrounding suburbs for a unique array of spring activities, parades and festivals that are sure to please the family.
Ease into summer with our list of May Washington, D.C. events to check out in when you head to the Nation’s Capital this spring!
Flower Mart at the Washington National Cathedral
- Location: National Cathedral
- Date: First weekend in May
- Website: cathedral.org
Hosted at Washington, D.C.’s stunning National Cathedral, the flower mart features a wide array of festival foods, children’s rides, artisanal and boutique gifts and a whole lot of flowers.
The flower festival aims to attract pollinating bugs, such as bees, to help to pollinate the gardens at the cathedral while opening its historic doors to the D.C. area community.
- Location: Potomac, MD
- Date: First Saturday in May
- Website: holidc.com
Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, is a day full of colorful powder and lighthearted fun with the family.
The festival colors originate from ancient India and the practice of bhakti yoga. Krishna, a deity in Hinduism, celebrates Holi by throwing colored powders and laughing with friends and family, which is exactly how Holi D.C. celebrates too.
This all-day festival is fun for the whole family and a great event for those who LOVE to get messy.
- Location: Embassies around D.C.
- Date: First Weekend in May
- More Details
Each May, the city uses Passport DC as a chance to celebrate the city’s numerous vibrant international cultures and communities.
There’s even the option to taste the different foods and experience the customs of other countries, with great hands-on activities perfect for any group or family.
Check out the Around the World Embassy Tour, where more than 50 embassies open their doors to the public and give you a chance to explore inside. Check out our full guide to DC Passport for more details about this great event.
EU Open House
- Location: Embassy Row
- Date: Second weekend in May
- More Details
The EU Open House gives visitors the chance to explore all participating European Union embassies.
Notably, the embassies host an Embassy Chef Challenge, where chefs from around the world compete in the kitchen by creating foods, drinks and expressing their culture in hopes of winning the challenge.
The best part? Guests get to taste-test the dishes and drinks and pick their People’s Choice winner. Check out our full guide to the EU Open House for more details about this educational and delicious event.
Georgetown Garden Tour
- Location: Georgetown
- Date: Second Weekend in May
- Website: georgetowngardenclubdc.org
Explore the beauties of the Georgetown Garden Club gardens with a tour! Most gardens are within a few blocks of each other, which makes it easy to see multiple pristine and vibrant gardens in one day.
Each garden tour lasts about 15 to 20 minutes, but you are free to stay in the garden to photograph it to your heart’s content.
Be sure to book tickets for tours in advance through their website. All proceeds go towards making the community of Georgetown even more beautiful.
- Location: U Street District
- Date: First week in May
- Website: funkparade.com
Celebrate the spirit of funk in the U Street District with this one-day fair, parade and music festival. With hours upon hours of funk performers, you’ll be dancing along before you know it.
The fair events (such as the parade) are held during the day, while the music festival portion starts at 7pm and goes until midnight…or whenever the funk dies down.
First Jazz in the Garden
- Location: National Gallery of Art
- Date: Fridays in May
- Website: nga.gov
This free concert series features a wide variety of jazz artists performing a variety of styles, such as alternative modern, blues, reggae, banjo guitar, New Orleans Jazz and more.
These concerts are held every Friday evening from 5 to 8:30pm in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden.
Northern Virginia Fine Arts Festival
- Location: Reston, VA
- Date: Third weekend in May
- Website: restonarts.org
This festival brings more than 200 fine artists from across the country together as they present original works at the Reston Town Center. Artists are selected by a panel.
Explore the shops at the Reston Town Center during the festival, many of which offer exclusive one-day sales.
Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival
- Location: Kingman Island
- Date: Early May
- Website: kingmanislandbluegrass.info
The Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk festival was started in 2010 in an effort to raise awareness for the island, located between the banks of the Anacostia River, and its availability to the community as a public park.
The festival has grown into quite an event, with multiple stages, eight hours of performances, food, drinks and activities for adults and kids alike.
Besides the bluegrass, the festival also works to educate attendees about conservation, which is especially important for such a small island.
Outdoor Movie Festivals
DC Outdoor Films
- Location: Rosslyn Cinema, Gateway Park
- Date: All month
- Website: dcoutdoorfilms.com
Love the classic summer activity of watching a movie outside snuggled under blankets in the cool spring evening air?
DC Outdoor Films works to publicize outdoor movie showings throughout the city. These outdoor movies are shown in different locations but are sure to become a late spring or Memorial Day weekend tradition for the whole family.
Check out their website for a full schedule of movie showings. Times are posted as they are announced so check back frequently.
Find more outdoor movie theaters in Maryland
Movies on the Potomac
- Location: National Harbor
- Date: All month
- Website: nationalharbor.com
Enjoy some outdoor movie showings along the beauty of the Potomac River. The perfect end to a tiring day of shopping and dining along the Potomac is to relax with a waterfront movie on a huge screen.
Movie showings and times are posted on their website as they become available, so check back to stay up-to-date on the latest showings.
Looking for a Washington DC Hotel?
- Hotel Hive – Affordable, trendy, pet-friendly hotel
- Eaton Hotel – Stay in the heart of DC
- Four Seasons Hotel Washington DC – DC luxury at it’s best
- Kimpton Hotel George – Great for families and pets
- Willard InterContinental Washington – Historic hotel right near the White House
Need a car? Get the best rental car rates HERE.
PIN IT FOR LATER!
This post was published by Keryn Means, a Washington DC travel expert, and the editor and publisher of DC Travel Magazine. Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of those links we will receive a small commission.
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.
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.
Looking for Washington DC Rentals? Check HERE for the best location, size and rates.
Washington DC Rental Car
If you just flew in , you probably need a rental car. Although you can certainly take the Metro most places, especially if you fly into DCA, you may want a rental car to get out and explore. Find the best priced 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.
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.
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