Things to Do

12 Stellar Ways to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing Around DC

July 20 marks 50 years since Neil Armstrong took his first steps on the moon. Here’s how you can celebrate that momentous day around DC.

“By the Light of the Silvery Moon: A Century of Lunar Photographs to Apollo 11”

National Gallery of Art, July 14–January 5, 2020

A mix of science and art, this exhibit features lunar photography that dates to the 19th century. Older stereographs and photogravures will be displayed next to recent photographs taken by unmanned spacecraft. Free.

Apollo 50 at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Udvar-Hazy Center, July 16

Head to Chantilly on the 16th as the center opens early to honor the Apollo 11 launch with an all-day event. At 9:32 AM, the museum will air takeoff footage with commentary from space historians. Afterwards, walk on the moon yourself in a virtual reality experience and see artifacts from Apollo 11. Free.

Neil Armstrong’s Apollo 11 Spacesuit

National Air and Space Museum, July 16

After decades of wear and tear from touring the country, Armstrong’s spacesuit was pulled off display in 2006 for conservation. 13 years and $700,000 later, the famed 21-layer suit will return to the museum on July 16. Free. 

Apollo 50: Go for the Moon

National Mall (9th and 12th St.), July 16–July 20

The Washington Monument will be transformed into the 363-foot Saturn V rocket that took Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon. The spacecraft will be projected on the monument for five nights, culminating on July 19 and 20 with a 17-minute “Apollo 50: Go for the Moon” show that recreates Saturn V’s historic launch in a combination of projections and archival footage. Free.

Apollo 50 Festival

National Mall (4th St and 7th St.), July 18-20

Check out 20 tented exhibits and activities on the Mall and hear from NASA scientists about the latest space exploration breakthroughs at this three-day festival. Free.


Kennedy Center, July 18–August 4

Popular playwright Lauren Gunderson created this kid-friendly play that incorporates live music, cool projections, and actual NASA footage. $20.

Exploring the Moon

Lake Accotink Park, July 20

Take the whole family to eat s’mores by the campfire while learning about space travel. The program, which runs from 7:30-9:30 PM, will also have telescopes that participants can use to observe the moon. $8 per person, (ages 8 and up).

One Small Step, One Giant Leap

The Kennedy Center, July 20

Join the National Symphony Orchestra for a lunar tribute with NASA visuals, new music, and celebrities. Hear Star Wars: Rogue One composer Michael Giacchino‘s made-for-the-moon-landing score and catch never-before-seen footage of David Bowie performing “Space Oddity” live. The star-studded evening will include performances and appearances from Pharrell WilliamsNatasha BedingfieldLeVar Burton, and Mark Armstrong, the late astronaut’s son. $29-149.

“The Eagle Has Landed” Late-Night Celebration

National Air and Space Museum, July 20

Count down to 10:56 PM to celebrate the exact time of Armstrong’s moon walk during this night at the museum. Stick around for space-themed movies and trivia. Free.

Discover the Moon Day

National Air and Space Museum, July 19

Enjoy a whole day of family-friendly events centered around lunar knowledge. Explore the moon up close with 3D imagery, play with mini robots, see moon meteorites, and catch the planetarium show. Free.

One Giant Leap: Space Diplomacy Past, Present, Future

Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, July 18

Yes, space diplomacy is a thing. Learn about international space relations from this panel featuring Apollo 11 astronaut Maj. Gen. Michael Collins, National Air and Space Museum director Dr. Ellen Stofan, and other experts. They’ll speak about how lunar exploration created a new era of diplomacy and what the future of space exploration holds. Free (ticket required).

The Day We Walked on the Moon

College Park Aviation Museum, July 20

Set up a lawn chair and bask under the moonlight to relive the day that changed the way we think about human discovery in this movie screening. Hear personal stories from the astronauts and scientists of Apollo 11 and their families. Free (must reserve a ticket).

Editorial Fellow

Madeline Rundlett is an editorial fellow for Washingtonian. She previously covered All-Met sports for the Washington Post and was an editorial intern at The Hill. Madeline graduated from the George Washington University with a degree in Political Communication in 2019.

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.