Things to Do

9 AAPI Heritage Month Celebrations Around the DC Area

Festivals, book talks, and performances are happening throughout May.

Photograph of Passport DC Performers by Donovan Marks

May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and there are a number of area events marking the occasion. Check out these festivals, educational talks, performances, and more:


IlluminAsia Festival

May 10-12

location_on 1100 Jefferson Dr., SW

language Website

To commemorate AAPI Heritage Month, the National Museum of Asian Art is hosting three days of family-friendly arts and culture. This weekend’s IlluminAsia Festival will include an evening of wellness and meditation (guests can journal and make origami), a vendor market, an electronic music performance by artist/activist Madame Gandhi, and Mother’s Day-themed activities for kids (free).


“Good Fortunes” Open House

May 10

location_on Heurich House Museum

language Website

Asian American artist Xena Ni brings an interactive art installation to Heurich House Museum. “Good Fortunes” is the second installment of the We Should Talk series, which invites community members to join visionary Asian American women in imagining the future. You can explore the exhibit (and the biergarten) at the Dupont museum’s Friday open house. In the coming days, there will also be a charm-making craft event, and a lion dance celebration (free).


Howard County’s AAPI Festival

May 11

location_on Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods

language Website

Sample ice cream, shaved ice, poke, and barbecue from Asian food trucks at this AAPI Festival in Columbia, Maryland. The third annual community gathering spotlights dishes and cultural goods from up to 100 vendors and exhibitors (free).


AAPI Heritage Month Family Day

May 11

location_on Library Congress

language Website

May Family Day at the Library of Congress commemorates AAPI month with a mask-making workshop for children, and an author talk with Star Trek actor/activist George Takei about his book, My Lost Freedom: A Japanese American World War II Story ( free, but timed-entry pass required).


White House Forum on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders

May 13

location_on Andrew W Mellon Auditorium

language Website

This daylong event marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the White House Initiative and the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. The “Lasting Legacies” schedule has yet to be released, but last year’s lineup included performances, panels, speeches, and informational sessions led by Vice President Kamala Harris, actor Daniel Dae Kim, poet Rupi Kaur, and more (free, but registration is required).


Fiesta Asia

May 18

location_on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, between Third and Sixth streets

language Website

The Passport DC festivities continue this month with Fiesta Asia. The celebration of pan-Asian heritage will include over 1,000 performers,  food vendors, and artisans, plus kid-friendly activities, a talent competition, street dancing, and a colorful parade. The fair has been a popular tribute to Asian culture since 2006 (free).


Asian Festival on Main

May 19

location_on Main St., Fairfax

language Website

Take the entire family to this outdoor party in Old Town Fairfax City, which will feature dozens of food options, performances, and vendors, in addition to a cosplay costume contest, and an appearance by the Choy Wun Lion Dance Troupe (free).


Trivia Night: AANHPI Heritage Month

May 28

location_on Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

language Website

Feeling competitive? Test your knowledge by yourself, or join a team, to answer questions and solve puzzles about Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander athletes, activists, entertainers, and engineers from the Portrait Gallery collections (free).


Asia on the Creek

June 1

location_on Carroll Creek Park

language Website

Visit downtown Frederick to experience traditional Asian art, dance, music, cuisine, and fashion, along with family-friendly activities, a vendor market, and live performances at Carroll Creek Park’s outdoor amphitheater (free).

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.