8 Awesome Things to See and Do at the National Cathedral Flower Mart

Shop for flowers and artisan gifts at this family-friendly fest May 1 through 2.

The All Hallows Guild has been bringing together the community for a outdoor floral festival since 1939, and this year’s celebration has a lot to offer a out-of-town visitors and locals who want to enjoy the gorgeous weather Washington is promised this weekend (currently: sunny and a high of 73). Even those who have no interest in strolling through fresh flowers on a sunny Saturday—of whom, we must politely ask, “What is wrong with you?”—will find plenty to see and do at this year’s market.

Here’s some of the best things you can experience at the National Cathedral on May 1 and 2.

1. Climb the cathedral. Though a trip to the top of the cathedral is rarely open to the public, this weekend visitors can ascend the 333 steps up the 300-foot belltower between 12:30 and 4:30 PM on Friday and 10 AM and 3:30 PM on Saturday. Tickets to climb are $7.50.

2. Check out a 1890’s wooden carousel. There’s only two of these ancient wooden rides in the country, and for the weekend, this one is making a stop in Washington so kids can see the hand-painted animals on the vintage carousel. There’s also a plethora of other carnival rides and activities for the little ones—a climbing wall, an old-fashioned puppet show, and musical performances are all on the roster.

3. Eat festival foods. And by that we mean funnel cakes, kettle corn, soft-serve ice cream, and the holy grail of festival foods: fried Oreos. You will also find Maine lobster rolls, several varieties of Asian cuisine, and Ben’s Chili Bowl among the 20 food vendors.

4. Stop and smell the International Floral Exhibit. The nave of the Cathedral will be filled with floral displays designed by foreign embassies, who use the blooms native to their countries in over-the-top arrangements.

5. Learn from the pros how to fix up your garden. Outdoor aficionados tend to flock to the Flower Mart, and it’s a great place to shop for plants and tools from retailers such Garden Spires, Instant Garden, Kris Krafts Stained Glass, or Presentability LLC, who sell everything from birdbaths to wind chimes.

6. Shop artisan vendors. From the Joyful Bath Co.’s organic bath salts to the Arts of Asia’s fair-trade crafts from Bali, Burma, and Afghanistan, the market will be packed with over 80 vendors selling unique gifts and home goods. Pro tip: get ahead on Mother’s Day and Father’s Day shopping this weekend.

7. See an Iron Florist competition. Washingtonian’s own Sarah Zlotnick will be judging a fast-paced floral competition on Saturday at 11 AM, during which local florists will face off to claim the honor and glory of being the “Iron Florist.”

8. Take home beautiful blossoms. Pick up a bonsai tree from Celestial Gardens or an orchid from The Orchid Station to bring some greenery to your desk, or go for some hanging flower baskets from Melwood Horticultural Training Center to add some dimension to your landscaping.

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Associate Editor

Caroline Cunningham joined Washingtonian in 2014 after moving to the DC area from Cincinnati, where she interned and freelanced for Cincinnati Magazine and worked in content marketing. She currently resides in College Park.