From outdoor concerts to historical tributes to cultural events, DC is primed to shower you with fun this April. Create your very own to-do list from the events below, and check back again – we’ll add events throughout the month.
National Cherry Blossom Festival
Check out the blossoms near the Tidal Basin during peak bloom, which the National Park Service predicts to be between April 11-14.
National Cherry Blossom Festival - Ends April 12 (Peak Bloom April 11-14)
Be a part of DC’s world-famous springtime celebration and check out the full calendar of events on the official festival website. Most events are free and open to the public, including the all-day-long Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival on April 4, which culminates with the fireworks display at 8:30 p.m. The festival finishes strong with the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade presented by Events DC on April 11, featuring a colorful march down Constitution Avenue with costumes, music, floats, balloons and celebrity performers, all coated in cherry blossom decor. Want more? Check out our piece How to Ring In Cherry Blossom Season in DC.
DC Beer Festival
Enjoy craft beer, food and music inside Nationals Park at the annual DC Beer Festival on April 11. (Source: facebook.com/DCBeerFestival)
DC Beer Festival – April 11
The annual DC Beer Festival takes place on the field at Nationals Park, with two sessions of outdoor partying available. Dozens of craft breweries will be spouting their seasonal suds, as local food trucks divvy out their tastiest eats. Prepare to compete in plenty of lawn games, with the whole shebang soundtracked by deejays.
1 p.m. and 6 p.m., tickets
Nationals Park, 1500 South Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Lincoln's Last Ride – April 13
Retrace President Abraham Lincoln's four-mile commute from the White House to President Lincoln's Cottage on April 13, exactly 150 years since his final trip to his DC retreat. Pop by a viewing station along the route (see below) to catch a caravan of a dozen horses and riders. A brief ceremony at the cottage will occur when the riders arrive.
12-3:30 p.m., Route: 15th Street NW > Vermont Ave NW > Rhode Island Ave NW > Georgia Ave NW > Rock Creek Church Road NW > Arrive at President Lincoln’s Cottage
President Lincoln’s Cottage, 140 Rock Creek Church Road NW, Washington, DC 20011
The Lincoln Tribute
Honor the 16th president with non-stop Lincoln programming at Ford's Theatre from April 14-15. (Source: Ford's Theatre)
The Lincoln Tribute - April 14-15
Church bells will chime across the city at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, part of the citywide vigil marking the exact time at which President Lincoln died exactly 150 years ago. Prior to the bell-tolling, Ford’s Theatre commemorates Lincoln with an all-day, all-night tribute featuring ranger talks, discussions about Lincoln’s life and assassination, a one-act play on the topic and street actors who will share accounts of the end of the Civil War, the assassination and the president.
Events start at 9 a.m. on April 14. Day 1 Tickets | Day 2 Tickets
Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
DC Emancipation Day – April 16
In honor of the abolition of slavery in the District on April 16, 1862, DC has quite the (free) party planned. The day kicks off with a celebratory parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, featuring the U.S. Armed Forces band, floats, neighborhood groups and college marching bands. A concert in Freedom Plaza follows, with an all-star lineup (past shows have featured Talib Kweli, MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh), as well as food and drinks. Cap the day off with a vibrant fireworks display after the show.
All events are free.
Parade: Begins at 4th Street NW and Pennsylvania Avenue NW
End of Parade, Concert and Fireworks Display: Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004
Get your sneaker fix with Sneaker Con at DC Armory on April 18. (Source: sneakercon.com)
Sneaker Con Washington DC – April 18
Sneaker heads unite! Sneaker Con is back in DC, and it’s got 80,000 square feet worth of kicks this go-round. DC Armory will be flooded with shoe addicts looking to buy, sell and trade the freshest footwear. 250 vendors will also be on hand showing off the latest editions and sought-after pairs. Yup, there’s a reason this event is known as the Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth.
12 p.m., $25 tickets
DC Armory, 2001 East Capitol Street SE, Washington, DC 20003
Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day
Celebrate the environment with pop music all-stars on the Washington Monument grounds at Global Citizen Earth Day, April 18 at 11 a.m. (Source: globalcitizen.org)
'Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day' – April 18
Groove to some all-star tunes in the sun after you sign up for the free Global Citizen 2015 Earth Day, a celebration of environmental awareness featuring No Doubt, Usher, Fall Out Boy, Mary J. Blige and My Morning Jacket, among others. The elite cast will kick out the jams on the Washington Monument grounds starting at 11 a.m. Make sure your activist spirit tags along.
11 a.m., sign up
Washington Monument Grounds, 2 15th Street NW, Washington, DC 20007
Smithsonian Craft Show – April 23-26
This annual event showcases some of the most impressive sculptural design and objects in the U.S. Talented ceramic, jewelry, metal and furniture crafters – some 120 artists in all – will show off their creativity in an expansive exhibition at the National Building Museum. A special Preview Night benefit will be held on April 22 with featured artists, bespoke cocktails and a first chance to buy wares.
National Building Museum, 401 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
‘Picturing Mary: Woman, Mother, Idea’ – Ends April 12
View the Virgin Mary through new eyes with this extensive exhibit from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Through six thematic sections, Mary is presented in numerous stages of womanhood. Featuring more than 60 paintings from the Renaissance and Baroque eras, the exhibit challenges visitors to understand Mary’s role in the modern concept of womanhood, and how her image has been used for both religious and social purposes.
Monday – Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m./Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Adults: $10, Seniors and Students: $8, 18 and under: Free, tickets
National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005
Jacob Lawrence at Phillips Collection
View Jacob Lawrence's Struggle series at the Phillips Collection through August 9. (Source: Phillips Collection)
‘Jacob Lawrence: Struggle…From the History of the American People’ – Ongoing through August 9
Scenes of struggle were common in America’s infancy, and Jacob Lawrence captures many of these moments with vibrant, intense colors in this series of paintings on display at The Phillips Collection. Ranging from the Revolutionary War to the westward expansion in 1817, Lawrence’s Struggle Series illuminates a fascinating perspective on American history across its 12 panels.
Adults: $12, Students & Seniors: $10, 18 & Under: Free
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
View a vital Lincoln artifact at the National Museum of American History through May 25. (Source: The National Museum of American History)
‘Lincoln’s Carriage’ – Ends May 25
In conjunction with Ford Theatre’s Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination, the National Museum of American History displays the carriage that transported Abraham Lincoln, his wife, Major Henry Rathbone and his own fiancée to Ford’s Theatre on the fateful night of the 16th President’s assassination.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Some days have extended hours – view schedule, free
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20001
‘The Artistic Journey of Yasuo Kuniyoshi’ – April 3 – August 30
Yasuo Kuniyoshi is considered one of the most influential modernist painters, so it’s no wonder that the artist is receiving his first comprehensive exhibit in the U.S. in over 65 years. Known for his eccentric work that featured disproportionate figures, intriguing usage of color and even political overtones later in his career, Kuniyoshi remains as essential as contemporaries such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Stuart Davis.
11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., free
Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F Streets NW, Washington, DC 20004
Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed
Discover rich Central American cultures at the National Museum of the American Indian's new exhibit. (Source: National Museum of the American Indian)
‘Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed’ – April 18 – January 2017
Dig deep into the captivating cultural heritage of Central America through this display of over 150 objects at the National Museum of the American Indian. Ceramics dating back to 1000 B.C. highlight the creativity across seven regions of Central America, including areas that became part of Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua. Objects made from gold, jade, shell and stone shed light on the complexity of these vibrant civilizations, honored passionately through this new exhibit.
10 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., free
National Museum of the American Indian, 4th Street and Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 205060
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the 2013 Tony Award-winner for Best Play, runs at Arena Stage from April 3-May 3. (Source: Arena Stage)
‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’ – April 3 – May 3
Chekhov doesn’t always have to be taken so seriously. Winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Play, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike satirizes Chekhovian characters and themes to remarkable effect. Vanya and Sonia live in perpetual boredom until their sister, Masha (at the tail end of a career in film), whips into town with her dashing young boyfriend and some big news. Christopher Durang’s masterpiece dishes out familial comedy by the gallon in this irresistible farce.
Arena Stage, 1101 6th Street SW, Washington, DC 20024
Swan Lake runs at the Kennedy Center from April 8-12. (Source: washingtonpost.com via Queensland Performing Arts Centre)
The Washington Ballet’s ‘Swan Lake’ - April 8-12
Superstar ballet dancer Misty Copeland will perform on April 9 and 12 under the creative eye of artistic director Septime Webre in The Washington Ballet’s take on Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet. Gracing the Kennedy Center stage for a limited run, the seminal tale sees Princess Odette cast into swanhood by the evil von Rothbart. Her only way back to normalcy is through the love of a faithful young man.
SOLD OUT (Check StubHub or craigslist for tickets)
Eisenhower Theater, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566
2015 Shen Yun will showcase Chinese culture at the Kennedy Center from April 17-26. (Source: Kennedy Center)
‘Shen Yun 2015: Reviving 5,000 Years of Civilization’ - April 17-26
Shen Yun Performing Arts, an acclaimed Chinese dance and music company that hails from the U.S., will encapsulate 5,000 years of Chinese culture in this vibrant new performance. The show weaves fascinating legends, heroic stories and ethereal wonder together through wonderfully executed musical and dance numbers.
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20566
‘Man of La Mancha’ – Ends April 26
Inspired by one of the most influential novels of all-time, Man of La Mancha jumps inside the imaginative world of writer Miguel de Cervantes and his classic tale, Don Quixote. As de Cervantes presents his masterpiece, the journey of Don Quixote comes to life, and a play-within-a-play ensues. Featuring acclaimed music and a humorous story filled with monsters and maidens, Man of La Mancha makes for a grand night at the theatre.
Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
‘Dame Edna’s Glorious Goodbye: The Farewell Tour’ – April 21-26
The outlandish character of Dame Edna Everage (played by Barry Humphries) has been conquering stages since the 1950s. Now, it’s time for the Dame to fade from the limelight, and she (and he) are going out with a bang. Expect belly laughs as you witness Edna lay out brutal truths during her last hurrah. And who knows, Edna’s guru-like powers may leave you feeling ready for your own life’s journey once the curtain drops.
The National Theatre, 1321 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004
Neil Diamond – April 4
A pop music mainstay since the 1960s, Neil Diamond looms large in the canon of American singer-songwriters. You’ve heard his songs in films, baseball stadiums and thousands of times on the radio. Diamond has remained relevant across multiple generations, and a packed Verizon Center will attest to that. Study up on his tunes – the whole crowd will be singing along.
8 p.m., $40-$600, tickets
Verizon Center, 601 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Hear one of modern jazz's all-time greats at Blues Alley, April 9-12. (Source: facebook.com/RamseyLewisJazz)
Ramsey Lewis – April 9-12
Over 50 years, over 80 albums, seven gold records and three Grammy Awards. Ramsey Lewis’ incredible track record speaks for itself, and you can hear his inventive jazz tunes across four nights at the Blues Alley. Considered one of the most important figures in contemporary jazz, Lewis will get all kinds of acquainted with the venue, as he’ll perform twice each evening. Don’t miss a chance to catch a living legend, known for his vibrant personality as much as his immense musical talent.
8 p.m. and 10 p.m. each night, $60, tickets
Blues Alley, 1073 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007
Get your ya-yas out with Dan Deacon at the 9:30 Club on April 11. (Source: facebook.com/dandeacon)
Dan Deacon – April 11
Hailing from the indie music hotbed that is Baltimore, Dan Deacon is known for his intense live shows that combine his pulsing electronic music with large-scale audience participation. Deacon has dabbled in numerous modes of artistic expression, but his unforgettable performances remain his calling card. Deacon will perform well-known pieces, as well as songs from his newest release, Gliss Riffer. Expect an enthused crowd, since Deacon’s home base is just up the road.
10 p.m., $15, tickets
9:30 Club, 815 V Street NW, Washington, DC 20001
Blitzen Trapper – April 18
The rock stylings of Blitzen Trapper wander, yet never waver far from their country-rock roots. Bursting into the public consciousness with the release of the universally acclaimed Furr in 2008, the Portland-based band retains a dedicated following and continues to venture into uncharted waters with each release. Always experimental and always worth a listen, the four-piece will rock the Black Cat’s main stage with beards and bouncy tunes in tow.
9 p.m., $20, tickets
The Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Keith Sweat – April 25
If you don’t know Keith Sweat, you don’t know R&B. A true soul master, Sweat has been wooing ladies with his sensual songs since the late 1980s. But Keith can lay down upbeat grooves too – along with producer Teddy Riley, he’s considered the inventor of the New Jack Swing sound that dominated charts in the early ‘90s. Howard Theatre will proudly host a release show for his new album, a celebration that will see Keith grace the stage in all his smooth glory.
6 p.m., $42.50-$80, tickets
Howard Theatre, 620 T Street NW, Washington, DC 20001