Guide to Easter in Washington, D.C.: Festivals, Events, Things to Do

People with Easter baskets at a Ukrainian Catholic church

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Every year, Washington, D.C. is a hotspot for Easter celebrations and holiday fun for kids. From the commercial egg hunts to religious services and tasty brunches, there are plenty of things you can do to make Easter extra special this year during your visit to the U.S. capital.

Go Out for Easter Brunch

Washington, D.C., is a great town for brunch at any time of year, but many of the city's finest restaurants put out special menus especially for Easter. From an elegant white tablecloth meal to a family-friendly buffet feast, it's easy to find somewhere special to dine out for the holiday. For families with young children, many restaurants will even organize visits and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny. It's one of the busiest brunch days in the city, so you'll want to make your reservations ahead of time.

Roll Eggs at the White House

Every year the president of the United States welcomes families to the White House lawn for one of the year's most popular events. The White House Egg Roll is a tradition that dates back to the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1878. With wooden spoons in hand, children race to roll a hard-boiled egg across the grass for a day of good fun and appearances by the president, the first lady, and the Easter Bunny. The event is free, but you'll need to enter a competitive lottery in order to get a ticket.

Hunt for Easter Eggs

You may have trouble finding the eggs, but you shouldn't have trouble finding somewhere organizing a good old fashioned egg hunt. In Washington, there are lots of venues like museums, hotels, parks, and country farms that host annual egg hunts for families during Easter. Some of the most popular include the Eggstravaganza at Tudor Palace and the egg hunt at Green Meadows Petting Farm. Egg hunts typically occur on weekends in the two weeks leading up to Easter or on the big day itself, so check the calendar on the venue's website. If you do manage to get a ticket to the White House Egg Roll, there is also an egg hunt in addition to the race.

Wake Up for the Sunrise Service at the Lincoln Memorial

A tradition since 1979, thousands gather at the Lincoln Memorial for an inspiring interdenominational Easter service at sunrise. The hour-long service, organized by Capital Church, begins at 6:30 a.m. on Easter Sunday. You don't need a ticket, but attendees are encouraged to arrive early because seats do fill up fast. Dress comfortably and warmly because it can get chilly this early in the morning at this time of year.

Celebrate at the National Zoo

Each year on the Monday after Easter, the Smithsonian National Zoo hosts a special event with Easter egg rolls and hunts, crafts, live entertainment, animal demonstrations, a food bazaar, and family-friendly fun. There will also be story times, sing alongs, and many educational stations that aim to teach children about conservation efforts through fun games and activities.

Basilica of National Shrine of Immaculate Conception Catholic church
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Attend an Easter Service

If you can't make the early morning service at the Lincoln Memorial, there are plenty of other churches in D.C. that will be open for Easter Sunday mass. This is a great opportunity to see some of the city's historic churches and cathedrals at their most devout and majestic, such as the Washington National Cathedral or the Basilica of the National Shrine. Sitting presidents occasionally attend Easter service in the capital, though it's not necessarily tradition. You may want to check the latest news updates on the president's public schedule before you choose a church. The hubbub of the presidential motorcade and security measures could make attending the service challenging.

Visit D.C. Landmarks

Although it's good to check online before heading out, many of Washington's attractions, like the Smithsonian, the National Mall, and the National Gallery of Art are typically open on Easter Sunday. Keep in mind that the holiday usually occurs during spring break for many school districts, so landmarks and museums may be crowded.

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