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The Lotus Flowers at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Are at Peak Bloom

Here is your guide to the garden’s Lotus and Water Lily Festival.

A lotus in bloom at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.

The lotus and water lilies first started to bloom earlier this month at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, but the best is apparently yet to come. According to a US National Park Service officer, the most vibrant blooms are expected to occur these last two weeks of July.

The gardens are hosting the Lotus and Water Lily Festival each weekend throughout the month. Due to the longer winter and cooler summer, the gardens are experiencing a later bloom this year, making this the perfect time to check out the bright yellow, white, and pink blooms. On weekend festival days, you can not only see the flowers but enjoy ranger talks, live animal presentations, cultural dance performances, yoga classes, and a live Mariachi band when visiting the weekends of July 23-24 and July 30-31.

A dragonfly lands on a lotus at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.

Washingtonian talked to US National Park Service Public Information Officer Sean McGinty to see how you can get the most out of the last two weekends of the Lotus and Water Lily Festival.

When is the best time of the day to go to see the flowers?
“The mornings and evenings are usually the best time to view the blooming of the lotuses, but any time during full bloom you can catch the beauty of the ponds at the gardens. It’s important to note that on Saturdays in July the park is open until 8 p.m. so you can view everything in the evening, and even catch a concert while you’re here.”

What are the best spots to view them from?
“There are a few great vantage points around the park, such as the bridge in the center where you can see the lotus ponds to the south and the lily ponds on the north side, and the smaller ponds just before our boardwalk are a great stop especially if you want to sit and relax on the park bench under a shady tree.”

A white water lily blooms in the ponds at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.

Will there be food and drinks available at the festival?
“We have two food trucks scheduled to come every weekend during the festival, one for traditional food and beverage and the other for some ice cream to cool down in the summer heat.”

What is the best way to get to the gardens?
“This summer, due to Metro construction near the park, visitors won’t be able to ride the rails directly to these stations to walk over to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens or use these parking lots. Instead, there will be WMATA shuttles from nearby Metro stations. There will be free parking in our parking lot, and the two lots nearby at Kenilworth Park. You can also bike to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by way of the Anacostia River Trail for a beautiful scenic ride.”

Are there any admission fees?
“There are no admission fees to come to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, ever.”

The pink lotus blooms rise above the pond at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.
You can also see wildlife such as turtles, birds, and beavers. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.
A guest sketches an image of a lotus flower at the Lotus and Water Lily Festival. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.
A bee flies in to land on a water lily at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Photograph by Tim Ervin/Flickr.

Sophia Young
Editorial Fellow
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