Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 4/13-4/16: National Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade, “Les Misérables” Musical, and Wunder Garten’s Spring Festival

Plus, a Dante exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

National Cherry Blossom Parade. Photograph courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Close out the cherry blossom season this weekend at the national parade and festival, or stay cool indoors and see the opening performances of Les Misérables at the Kennedy Center.


Best Things to Do This Weekend

  1. National Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade. Our beloved spring festival comes to an end this weekend with a parade featuring decorative floats and giant character balloons. Grand marshals Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse will kick off the march along Constitution Avenue, which also features performances by American Idol contestant Leah Marlene, 12 marching bands, Motown singer Thelma Houston, and other talents. Abbott Elementary actress Lisa Ann Walter is the parade’s honorary marshal and host  (Sat, $40 for a  telecast ticket, $25+ for a Grandstand ticket, Northwest DC).
  2. “Les Misérables.” In 1986, this world-renowned musical made a pre-Broadway debut at the Kennedy Center. Now, Les Misérables returns to DC under the direction of Cameron Mackintosh. This new production set in 19th-century France tells the familiar tale of love and redemption in a modern way (Thurs through April 29, $69+, Kennedy Center).
  3. Fruhlingsfest at Wunder Garten. Visit the Wunder Garten garden and taste German beers and spring beverages in celebration of Frühlingsfest. For two weekends in a row, guests can enjoy drink tastings, live band and DJ performances, and Bavarian bites from Cali Burger food truck, and compete in a Stein-holding contest; dirndl and lederhosen costumes are encouraged. The event is family-friendly (Fri-Sun through April 23, free, NoMa).
  4. “Going through Hell: The Divine Dante” exhibit. Celebrate National Poetry Month and observe the creative works influenced by Italian poet and philosopher Dante Alighieri at the National Gallery of Art. “Going through Hell: The Divine Dante” exhibition highlights 20 artworks, including paintings and sculptures, that were inspired by Dante’s more-than-700-year-old literary manuscript Divine Comedy (through July 16, free, National Gallery of Art).

Photograph by mammuth via iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Ease into the weekend with yoga, mocktails, music, and conversation at the Onyx Therapy Group’s Spring Mental Health Fair (Sun, free, Northeast DC). Snap a photo in front of giant butterflies and flowers at the MGM National Harbor Conservatory (through September 9, free, National Harbor).

Arts and culture. View paintings and sculptures from the McLean Project for the Arts spring solo exhibitions (Thurs through June 10, free, McLean). It’s Founder’s Day at the Reston Museum. The family-friendly event features music, dance, food, and art (Sat, free, Reston). Jazz-history professor Rusty Hassan talks about the music career of Charles Mingus (Thurs, free, Northwest DC). Discover ancient Maya writings (Sun, free, National Gallery of Art). Attend a colloquium on African American art (Fri, free, National Gallery of Art). Shop Black-owned vendors at the Heurich House Museum’s  Emancipation Day Mini Market (Sat, free, Northwest DC). The authors of Say Their Names: How Black Lives Came to Matter in America talk about their collective work (Sat, free, MLK Library). Artist Mathew New gives the inside scoop on publishing a comic book (Sat, free, virtual, MLK Library). Shop vintage items at Atlas Brew Works’s pop-up market (Fri, free, Northeast DC).

History and community. Attend a homebuyer master class at the library (Sat, free, Cleveland Park). Honor the ancestors of DC Emancipation and learn about their histories with author CR Gibbs (Sun, free, Georgetown).

Theater and shows. Catch the opening of The Wilting Point at Keegan Theatre and follow the story of a climate-change podcaster (Sat through April 30, $50, Northwest DC). Jane Franklin Dance demonstrates storytelling through movement (Sun, $22, Germantown). The new production I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky uses gospel, pop, and rock to tell the account of the 1994 Northridge earthquake (Fri through April 30, $30+, Baltimore, H Street Corridor). See the classic stage play The Wizard of Oz at Maryland Hall (Fri through May 21, $25+, Annapolis).

Music and concerts. Enjoy a duo piano performance by Allyn Johnson and Orrin Evans at the University of the District of Columbia (Thurs, free, Northwest DC). Take a salsa dance class at Bryant Street Market (Fri, $15, Brentwood). Get tickets to see a variety of contemporary dance acts at the Versatility Dance Festival (Sat, $15+, H Street Corridor). Party to sonic sounds and house music with Nü Androids (Thurs, $35, Northeast DC). The National Philharmonic orchestra and special guests perform Beethoven’s 7th Symphony (Sat, $19+, Bethesda). The Kimbrough and Company music collective plays swing music and classical tunes at Quadrant (Fri, $50+, Northwest DC). There’s jazz music at the Kreeger Museum (Sat, free, Northwest DC). Opera and jazz singer Joshua Banbury is live in concert at Mehari Sequar Gallery (Sat, $30+, Northeast DC).

Outdoor fun. Take a narrated boat excursion on the Potomac River to learn about George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Sat, $26 for grounds pass, $11 for cruise ticket, Wharf). Watch the movie Top Gun: Maverick at the U.S. Navy Memorial (Thurs, free, Penn Quarter). Flower enthusiasts can participate in a plant potluck on the patio at Doubles (Sat, donations welcome, Northwest DC).

Bites and beverages. Taste curated wines and meet winemakers at the Maryland Wine Experience (Sat-Sun, $15+, Annapolis). Celebrate the solar new year and learn how to cook Indian cuisine at Bollywood Bistro (Thurs, $49, Fairfax). Celebrate Holi Fest at Glassey with food, drinks, and music (Sat, $20, Northwest DC). DC Brau is throwing a birthday party with live music and family-friendly fun (Sat, free, Northeast DC).

Things to do with kids. Tour the Tudor Place garden and then design your own garden (Sat, $10, Northwest DC). Draft haikus at the library in celebration of Poetry Month (Thurs, free, Northeast DC). Watch the The Super Mario Bros. movie with your family at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema (Sun, $16, Northeast DC).

Get involved. Help support education organization EmbraceRace at Anju’s culinary arts charity dinner (Thurs, $175, Northwest DC).

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.