The Capital Region of Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia is a great destination in February, especially if you're hoping to attend an annual event or festival during your vacation. Although the weather is still cold, that doesn't stop communities in the area from hosting a full lineup of celebrations of the season. From events honoring Black History Month and restaurant week dinners to Valentine's Day events and Presidents Day ceremonies at national monuments, the D.C. metro area is is full of events in February.
Since Chinese New Year depends on the first day of the year on the Lunar Calendar, its date varies on the Gregorian calendar used by the United States (and most western countries). In 2020, Chinese New Year is celebrated on Saturday, January 25, but you may still find a few events happening the following weekend on Saturday and Sunday, February 1 and 2. For instance, the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., is hosting its annual Chinese New Year Family Celebration on February 1 from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. During this family-friendly affair, guests can help ring in the Year of the Rat, watch a variety of performances, and take part in various activities facilitated by the museum and the Chinese Embassy.
February is Black History Month, and you can remember the contributions of African Americans to the United States with numerous events in Washington, D.C., throughout the month. In 2020, book a spot at the Annual Black History Luncheon at Howard University or get a ticket to the AfropoliticianDC Black Heritage Experience at Saint Yves.
However, you can also appreciate black history at a number of cultural institutions, memorials, and monuments all February long. The National Museum of African American Culture and History and the Smithsonian American Art Museum both feature special Black History Monthy exhibits, and the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum and the Martin Luther King Memorial offer special programming throughout the month.
The winter season for Washington's cultural centers runs through February each year, meaning you'll have plenty of opportunities to see a show or attend an event during your trip. Book your tickets early to see everything from performances of the Washington Ballet at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to hockey games at the Capital One Arena.
- Kennedy Center: Catch performances of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kennedy Center Chamber Players, the Washington Ballet, and Broadway Center Stage all month long at this National Cultural Center.
- Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater: This flagship American theater hosts a variety of performances throughout the year; in February 2020, get tickets to see "A Thousand Splendid Suns" through March 1.
- Ford's Theatre: Famously known as the site of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, this small theatre hosts productions throughout the winter season. In 2020, catch performances of "Silent Sky" through February 23.
- Warner Theatre: This downtown theater hosts a variety of theatrical productions, musical concerts, and special events year-round. In February 2020, get tickets to see Gary Gulman, Blippi Live, Moein, Tedeschi Trucks Band, and Cheap Trick with Rookie.
- Capital One Arena: This 20,000-capacity arena in Chinatown is not only home of the Washington Capitals hockey team and the Washington Wizards basketball team; it also hosts a variety of shows and concerts. In February 2020, catch Disney on Ice presents "Celebrate Memories," Marc Anthony, the Lumineers, or a Capitals or Wizards game.
Howard County, Maryland, which includes the cities of Columbia, Mount Airy, Elkridge, Clarksville, Fulton, Laurel, Glenelg, and Ellicott City, hosts its bi-annual Restaurant Weeks event from late January through the first weekend in February each year. During this special event, 35 participating restaurants across the county offer prix fixe chef's menus that feature local products, cut flowers, seafood, herbs, meats, and eggs often paired with local wine or beers.
This year, the winter edition of Howard County Restaurant Weeks takes place from January 20 through February 2, 2020. Participating restaurants for this year include Nora's Mediterranean Restaurant in Ellicott City, Ranazul in Fulton, Seasons 52 in Columbia, Cilantro's Neighborhood Cantina in Glenelg, the Country Cork Wine Pub in Eldersburg, Great Sage in Clarksville, Rathskeller in Elkridge, Kloby's Smokehouse in Laurel, and BOLDER in Mount Airy. Be sure to book your reservations in advance to secure your spot at one of these exclusive dinners.
Old Town Fairfax, Virginia, kicks off the month of February each year with a celebration of all things chocolate. The Chocolate Lovers Festival is a three-day event that's full of chocolate-themed activities including Taste of Chocolate, the Kiwanis BBQ Lunch, and a craft show. Don't miss the Chocolate Challenge, a contest featuring breathtaking art made completely of chocolate. The festival also features special historical re-enactments, children's activities, and plenty of free samples included with the price of admission. In 2020, the Chocolate Lovers Festival runs from January 31 through February 2.
Cupid's Undie Run is a unique charity event that started in Washington, D.C., in 2010 but now takes place in 40 cities across the country. During this one-day event, runners are encouraged to "put the hilarity in charity" by running a race in Valentine's Day-themed underwear. Participants must pay to enter the race, and all proceeds go toward the Children's Tumor Foundation. Cupid's Undie Run takes place on Saturday, February 8, 2020, from noon to 4 p.m. at Penn Social in northwest D.C.
Head to Dock 5 at Union Market in Washington, D.C., on February 8, 2020, for a full day of sweet treats and flavorful beverages at the Chocolate, Wine, and Whiskey Festival. Included in the price of admission are unlimited samples of wines, chocolates, and whiskeys as well as a wine glass and access to the Washington area's first chocolate fondue bar.
While not known to be quite as romantic of a destination as nearby Philadelphia or New York City, Washington offers up a variety of ways to treat your special someone to a night on the town for Valentine's Day. Embark on a daytime dinner cruise on the Potomac with Spirit or Odyssey Cruises or head to a romantic restaurant like Rasika West End or Iron Gate instead. For something a little different, stop by "Love Lit: A Valentine's Day Salon" at Smith Public Trust or dance the night away at Ozio Rooftop for the "Valentine's Party" from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Although many just think of the Presidents Day holiday as an extra day off work, you can celebrate the birthday of the United States' first president, George Washington, in style if you go to Gadsby’s Tavern Museum in Alexandria, Virginia. Each year, the museum hosts an 18-century style banquet featuring English country dancing, a dessert collation, toasts, and character re-enactors. Known as George Washington's Birthnight Banquet and Ball, this special event takes place on Saturday, February 15, 2020. Dance lessons are also available through the City of Alexandria website in the weeks leading up to the event.
Visit Washington, D.C., on Presidents Day, which falls on the third Monday in February each year, and pay tribute to America's most famous leaders at celebrations across the city, especially at the memorials, monuments, and museums. Check out the nation's largest Presidents Day Parade in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, or visit Mount Vernon to a full day of special events. Alternatively, stop by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on the National Mall for an exhibit on American presidents of the past.