Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 4/10-4/16: DC Emancipation Day Parade, Japanese Street Festival, and the NOVA Cider Festival

Plus, a National Gallery Night Garden Party.

Sakura Matsuri in 2017. Photograph by S Pakhrin/Flickr.

Happy Monday, everyone!

From Easter Monday to cherry blossom festivities and DC Emancipation Day, there’s a number of special occasions being celebrated this week around DC.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. DC Emancipation Day Parade. Commemorate the 1862 DC Compensated Emancipation Act—which freed 3,100 formerly enslaved people in DC—with festivities at Freedom Plaza. A DC Emancipation Day parade will kick things off, followed by live entertainment from ’90s R&B group Dru Hill, gospel singer JJ Hairston, rapper Rakim, and more artists. There will be a fireworks show to close out the event (Sat, free, Downtown).
  2. Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival. The cherry blossom-inspired celebrations of Japanese culture in America continue this week with the arrival of the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival. This two-day cultural showcase hosts J-Pop, traditional Japanese music, and martial arts performances across four stages, Japanese goods and artwork at the Ginza Marketplace, and international treats at the Taste of Japan pop-up (Sat-Sun, $10+, Downtown).
  3. NOVA Cider Festival. Say “cheers” with your friends at the NOVA Cider Festival this week. Guests can sample more than 30 different cider flavors, and grab bites to eat from food trucks, while enjoying live music outdoors from the Bull Run Special Events Center main stage (Sat, $45+, Centreville).
  4. National Gallery Nights Garden Party. The National Gallery of Art’s after-hours party is back this week. You can make wearable flower art, discover the correlations between art and nature with pop-up talks and artist demos, and dance to tunes by DJ Ayes Cold and Gretchen and the Sidecar Six at the gallery’s Garden Party (Thurs, free, but registration required, National Gallery of Art).
  5. Easter Monday at the Zoo. Although the White House Easter Egg Roll is full, there’s family-friendly ways to celebrate Easter at the National Zoo. Kids are invited to have a science-centered Easter egg scavenger hunt on Lion-Tiger Hill, and then spend the day joining in on animal feedings, enriching demos led by zookeepers, and chances to meet a reptile (Mon, free, timed passes required, National Zoo).

Short billed dowitcher dunlin sanderlings. Photograph courtesy of Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. View Japanese flower arrangements at the Ikebana International exhibit (closes Sun, free, U.S. National Arboretum).

Arts and culture. Author and musician Michelle Zauner discusses her memoir Crying in H Mart (Mon, $12+, Penn Quarter). Take a master class on analog music at The Pocket (Mon, free, Northwest DC). Learn the behind-the-scenes creative process of Louis Bayard’s The Pale Blue Eye (Mon, $20, Capitol Hill). Humorist Alexandra Petri talks about her new book of made-up history at Politics and Prose (Mon, free, Northwest DC). Sit in on a panel about environmental activism at The Outrage (Mon, $5+, Northwest DC). Podcasters Sarah Costello and Kayla Kaszyca discuss asexuality and aromanticism at Busboys and Poets (Mon, free, Takoma). Be a part of creating the community’s biography as part of Folger Shakespeare Library’s folio workshop (Wed-Fri, free, Anacostia). “Going through Hell: The Divine Dante” exhibit uncovers paintings and sculptures influenced by Italian writer Dante Alighieri (through July 16, free, National Gallery of Art).

History and community. Biologist Valentina Alaasam discusses the effects of light pollution on the health of birds (Wed, free, virtual). Learn how location is connected to invention and innovation with the Smithsonian American History Museum (Wed, free, virtual). Meet the African Americans who made groundbreaking contributions to the Smithsonian (daily, free, virtual, Southwest DC). Weather expert Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd gives a science lecture at the library (Wed, free, MLK Library). Attend this happy hour at Sudhouse DC to learn about ways to stop local pollution (Mon, free, U Street).

Theater and shows. Experience the development of new plays at Keegan Theatre’s Boiler Room Series (Mon through May 15, free, but registration encouraged, Dupont). It’s the last call for Sometimes the Rain, Sometimes the Sea (closes Sun, $10+, H Street Corridor). Story District shares foolish tales at Miracle Theatre (Tues, $25, Capitol Hill). Sing along to all of your favorite West Side Story songs at Signature Theatre (Fri, free, Arlington). Get tickets to the Shakespeare-inspired play Our Verse in Time to Come (through April 23, free, MLK Library). See the popular musical Les Misérables (Tues through April 29, $69+, Kennedy Center).

Music and concerts. Don’t miss The Legendary Temptations perform at the Black-Tie Public Awareness and Awards Affair (Mon, $125+, Howard Theatre). Local rapper and record producer Oddisee performs live at Songbyrd (Tues, $25, Northeast DC). Listen to the carefree raps of Pink Navel at Pie Shop (Mon, $12+, H Street Corridor). Experience nature on the big screen paired with symphony orchestra sounds at the Our Planet Live concert (Sat, $65+, National Theatre). DC area saxophonist Braxton Cook comes to Songbyrd (Wed, $15+, Northeast DC).

Outdoor fun. Explore nearly 80 species of  birds at the National Zoo Bird House (daily, free timed-entry passes required, National Zoo). Play interactive games, listen to live music, visit a rooftop beer garden, and decorate rocks at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival (Sat-Sun, free, Leesburg). Tour Hillwood’s seasonal plant display with director of horticulture Jessica Bonilla (Tues, Fri, $18 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 18, Northwest DC). Passengers can hear about the Potomac watershed during the Kennedy Center’s Ferry Tales tours (Thurs-Sat, free, Georgetown, Kennedy Center).

Bites and beverages. Find out who makes the best booze-free drinks at The Zero Proof Soirée & Battle of the Mocktails (Wed, $100, Navy Yard). There’s all-you-can-eat pancakes and more than 750 pieces of artwork to browse at Hook Hall (Thurs, $10+, Northwest DC).

Things to do with kids. Learn how rockets work with the Air and Space Museum (Fri-Sat, free, virtual). Kids can play in the bounce house and party with Frozen characters and Spiderman at the Shipgarten Kids and Family Spring Festival (Sun, free, McLean).

Game night. Compete for prizes at Red Bear with District Trivia (Mon, free, Northeast DC). Enjoy cocktail specials and play trivia at Clubhouse (every Tues, free, Georgetown), or compete in trivia at Open City (every Tues, free, Woodley Park).

Get involved. Watch the The Washington Capitals defeat the New York Islanders for a good cause. A portion of each game ticket will support the planting and care of trees in local underserved parks (Mon, $49+, Capital One Arena).

If you enjoyed these events, please don’t forget to share this post with a friend on social media, and sign up for our newsletter for more things to do.

Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide who specializes in the research of D.C. history and culture. She is the author of the Black history book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., a story that was first published in Washingtonian in 2016.