While most schools in the United States remain in session throughout the month of May, there are still plenty of events and festivals happening in the Capital Region this time of year.
Whether you're visiting Washington, D.C., or the surrounding communities in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, there are plenty of things to do this May, including annual celebrations, community engagement projects, and a variety of cultural performances and parades.
Capital Region Weather in May
With the spring season in full swing and summer ever-approaching, the temperatures continue to rise across the Capital Region throughout the month of May. Warm days give way to mild nights, but you can also expect occasional bursts of winter chills on rainy days or even a heatwave or two toward the end of the month.
- Average high temperature: 75 degrees (24 degrees Celsius)
- Average low temperature: 57 degrees (14 degrees Celsius)
May is also the rainiest month of the year in D.C., with an average of 11 days of rainfall and an accumulation of four inches. Additionally, the humidity is near its highest in May at over 65 percent (compared to 70 in September and 58 in April).
What to Pack
Since the weather's getting warmer yet wetter in May, you'll want to pack a variety of lightweight and waterproof clothing. Bring shorts, pants, long and short-sleeved shirts, and maybe even a pullover hoodie or cardigan in case it gets cold. Additionally, consider packing a raincoat or poncho and an umbrella as well as comfortable, waterproof shoes for exploring all tourist attractions and wandering around special events.
May Travel Tips
- To attract tourists, especially those traveling without kids, many hotels, resorts, and even attractions offer discounts for off-peak visitors.
- However, Memorial Day Weekend is typically the official start of the summer tourist season, meaning hotels, attractions, and restaurants will likely be packed throughout the holiday and afterward.
- The best time to visit museums and other popular attractions in the Capital Region is during the early afternoon, from around 2 to 4 p.m., when you're less likely to run into school groups or lunchtime crowds.
- Since school is still in session, be sure to watch out for designated school zones when parking anywhere in the city. Many of these streets don't allow parking during drop-off and pick-up hours (7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.).
May Events in the Capital Region
From the National Cathedral's annual flower market to Memorial Day weekend events and celebrations, there's something everyone can enjoy this time of year during a vacation to the Capital Region in May.
From April 24 through May 3, 2020, the 93rd Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival will return to Winchester, Virginia, to celebrate the blooming apple trees in the Shenandoah Valley, a great way to discover this beautiful mountain town near the nation's capital.
This annual homage to spring features more than 40 events including the Coronation of Queen Shenandoah XCIII, one of the oldest customs of the festival; the Grand Feature Parade; band competitions; dances; a carnival; a 10K race and the Shenandoah Valley Orthodontics Kids Bloomin’ Mile race; and a series of demonstrations by local firefighters. Some parts of the event are free to attend, though certain areas do charge admission and require tickets in advance.
A festive event that has taken place since 1939 to benefit the Washington National Cathedral and its garden, the Flower Mart will be held on May 1 and 2 in 2020. Guests can enjoy the grounds of this famed cathedral, browse through dozens of floral displays, take part in family-friendly activities, and enjoy free musical entertainment, including singers, dancers, and choral groups. Local food vendors, including farmers selling herbs, flowers, and produce, will also be on-site, so you won't need to bring a lunch to this event.
Taking place all month long each year in May, Passport DC is an event sponsored by Cultural Tourism DC that features a wide range of performances, talks, exhibits, and tours of foreign embassies in the nation's capital.
In 2020, Cultural Tourism DC will partner with the Around the World Embassy Tour on Saturday, May 2. Visitors can learn for free about the art, dance, food, fashion, and music of different countries through artists, performers, lecturers, teachers, and politicians.
Since 2013, the U Street neighborhood of Washington, D.C., has hosted an annual parade and street festival to honor the diverse culture of performance and art in one of the city's liveliest entertainment districts. On May 9, 2020, the Funk Parade will return to the U Street District with a one-of-a-kind fair, parade, and music festival.
The annual steeplechase obstacle race in lovely Virginia horse country, one of the country's largest such competitions, has been a tradition since 1922. Featuring Jack Russell Terrier races, tailgate competitions, and a fancy hat contest, the event takes place at the Great Meadow in The Plains, Virginia, on Saturday, May 2, 2020. Check with Virginia Gold Cup regarding tickets in advance.
Attendees can reserve tailgating spots on the Member's Hill, North Rail, and South Rail of the Great Meadow, but must register in advance (for free) to enter the Tailgate Contest to show off their theme, decor, and recipes for food and drinks.
There are plenty of opportunities to improve your own health while raising money for worthwhile D.C.-area charities at the same time.
On May 3, 2020, you can participate in the Race for Hope, which supports funding research for brain tumors. On May 9, you can take part in the Semper Fi 5K to raise money for victims of the 9/11 attacks, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and their families.
Nothing quite says summer in the Capital Region like watching a recent (or classic) film on a large outdoor screen in D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. From DC Outdoor Films in Chinatown Park to Movies on the Potomac at the National Harbor in Maryland, there are plenty of chances to catch outdoor films all month long.
Movie nights in May typically take place on Fridays and Saturdays, but in June through August, there are many more movie events, some of which happen on weeknights.
Although not as famous for theater as New York City's Broadway, there are still plenty of touring and local productions in Washington, D.C., this spring. Coming to the Capital Region in 2020, you can see "Guys and Dolls" at Ford's Theatre from March 13 to May 20 or catch the music, comedy, and stories of "Blue Man Group" from May 8 to 17 at the National Theatre, among others.
The Major League Baseball's National League East plays 81 home games each season at Nationals Park Stadium in Southeast Washington, D.C. You can enjoy a fun-filled day cheering on the capital's baseball team all month long. In May 2020, there are more than 10 home games to enjoy.
However, be sure to check the official MLB schedule for ticketing and special events before you go.
Each year since 1940, the Georgetown Garden Club has sponsored guided tours of the area's most exquisite gardens. The 92nd Annual Georgetown Garden Tour will take place on May 9, 2020, starting at Christ Church on 31st and O Streets and including gardens on both the East and West sides of Georgetown, which you can see in the order you like.
You'll also be able to stop by the boutique to purchase the book "Gardens of Georgetown," along with aprons, totes, and scarves.
CAN'T CONFIRM YET FOR 2020
The flagship event for Fiesta Asia takes place in Silver Spring, Maryland, on May 5, 2019. Celebrate Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with an Asian street fair featuring live entertainment and interactive displays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The Fiesta Asia Street Fair will also take place in front of Capitol Hill as part of the Passport DC program in May of 2020. This larger street fair includes outdoor food and craft vendors, martial arts and cooking demonstrations, and a talent show as well as several musical and dance performances.
*Too early to update (Tudor Place)
If you're visiting the Washington, D.C., area for Mother's Day on May 10, 2020, there are several special events and activities worth checking out to give your mom a treat.
Start the day off right with Mother's Day brunch specials at some of the city's best restaurants, and don't forget to stop for afternoon tea at Tudor Place Historic House & Garden from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for a special mother-centric service. You can also take a cruise along the Potomac River, a free Mother's Day tour of the Gadsby's Tavern Museum, or go for a hike or picnic in Maryland or Virginia.
National Police Week events will take place all week long in Washington, D.C. to honor law officers and their families from Saturday, May 11 through May 16, 2019.
Celebrations start with the Police Unity Tour Arrival Ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the National Police Week 5K on Saturday. Other activities of the week include a candlelight vigil, a memorial service, and the National Police Survivor's Conference.
Featuring over 175 different brews from more than 40 Maryland breweries, the Maryland Craft Beer Festival returns to Carrol Creek Park in Frederick on May 11, 2019.
The one-day festival features beer tastings and proceeds from ticket sales benefit the Brewers Association of Maryland, which helps these 40 independent breweries get started and stay afloat. Tickets range from $15 for the designated driver (free for kids under 15) to $55 for a VIP pass that grants early entry and access to limited edition and small-batch brews.
You can browse the works of over 140 contemporary artists and enjoy live entertainment, children's activities, and downtown restaurants at the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival on May 11 and 12, 2019.
Located in what's known as the Woodmont Triangle in Bethesda, Maryland, this free event features ceramics, clothing, furniture, glass, jewelry, mixed media, paintings, photography, printmaking, sculpture, wood carving, and film all in one place—just 30 minutes from downtown D.C.
The Edlavich Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. (DCJCC) will present its annual Washington Jewish Film Festival from May 8 to 26, 2019. Each year, the Edlavich DCJCC organizes a series of film screenings, panel discussions with filmmakers, bar crawls, and awards presentations as part of the event. Tickets are required to attend and can be purchased online or at the DCJCC in D.C.
The U.S. Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron, an elite team of 18 pilots known as the Blue Angels, tour the United States all year long to put on aerial demonstrations of their skills.
In May 2019, you'll have several chances to catch the Blue Angels perform. The U.S. Naval Academy Air Show will happen on May 22 in Annapolis and the Joint Base Andrews Air Show will happen on May 11 and 12.
The D.C. Dragon Boat Festival returns to Thompson's Boathouse Center with dragon boat races, cultural performances, and hands-on activities along the Potomac River on May 18, 2019. The dragon boat festival is sponsored by the Taiwan-U.S. Cultural Association (TUSCA) and serves to promote Taiwanese culture in the Capital Region.
In 2019, Memorial Day weekend starts on Friday, May 24 and ends Monday, May 27, and the Capitol Region offers dozens of special events to celebrate this federal holiday.
Rockville's Hometown Holidays in Maryland is a three-day street festival in celebration of the holiday weekend with music, children's entertainment, and a parade. Alternatively, head out to the Delaplane Strawberry Festival at Sky Meadows State Park for an annual event featuring pony and hayrides, a petting zoo, a 5K run, live entertainment, and all the strawberries you can eat.