March Festivals and Events in the Washington, DC, Area

The Cherry Blossom Festival

Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

March is a month full of events around Washington, D.C., and the surrounding suburbs in Virginia and Maryland. Not only is it the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the biggest events around the capital, but you can also take part in St. Patrick's Day events, film festivals, a marathon, and much more. It's also the time when temperatures start rising and the long winter is finally giving way to spring.

01 of 08

National Cherry Blossom Festival

Cherry blossom tree in bloom in D.C.

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Welcome in spring weather by attending the National Cherry Blossom Festival when thousands of cherry blossom trees burst into bloom, turning the entire Tidal Basin spectacularly bright pink. The trees, which were a gift from the Japanese government, can be seen during a scenic stroll along the National Mall or by renting a paddleboat to enjoy them by the water. It's one of Washington's biggest annual events and attracts huge crowds, so be sure to make your hotel reservations as early in advance as possible.

Even though the dates of the festival are set months in advance, the timing of the flower bloom depends on the weather and can happen early or late. The dates for the 2021 festival are March 20 to April 11, with peak bloom predicted to occur April 2–5, 2021. Many of the usual accompanying events—such as the parade, kite festival, concerts, and Japanese cultural activities—are canceled or taking place virtually in 2021.

02 of 08

Francophonie Cultural Festival

DC Francophonie Festival

DC Francophonie Festival

Washington, D.C., hosts the largest festival dedicated to French speakers in the world: Francophonie. Since 2001, this event has taken place at various locations across the city, including different embassies and museums. Throughout the entire month of March, you can learn about French-speaking cultures across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas through a variety of concerts, theatrical performances, films, culinary tastings, literary salons, children’s workshops, and more. 

The 2021 version begins March 1 and goes on all month long, but all of the events are taking place virtually.

03 of 08

Women's History Month

Hillwood Museum & Gardens

Jlm06 / Public Domain

With March being Women's History Month, it's a great time to visit the museums and historical sites in Washington dedicated to honoring the important and often overlooked contributions of women in our country's history.

Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, the 25-acre estate of Marjorie Merriweather Post, displays an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century Russian and French decorative arts and lovely gardens. Throughout March 2021, all of the programming is taking place virtually, including mansion tours and views of the orchid garden in bloom.

Most art museums around the world have a clear bias toward men, but in Washington, you can visit the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the world's only major museum dedicated solely to celebrating women's artistic achievements. 

04 of 08

Frederick Restaurant Week

Burger at Family Meal

Family Meal

For one of March's most delicious events, take a journey to Maryland for Fredrick Restaurant Week. The seven-day promotion features fixed-price lunch and dinner options in the charming city of Frederick, Maryland, as well as the surrounding area. Visitors can get a deal on a multi-course meal and try somewhere new at the same time, all while supporting local businesses.

There are numerous eateries involved in the event and all kinds of cuisine, so make the most of the deals by trying as many as you can throughout the week. The dates for 2021 are from March 1–7.

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05 of 08

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation's Capital

The largest green film festival in the world, the Environmental Film Festival in Washington, D.C., showcases over 100 different films each year that focus on taking care of the planet. Projects range from feature films to animated pictures and documentaries, and they're typically screened at venues all across the city and many of them are free of charge.

For the 2021 Environmental Film Festival, which takes place March 18–28, all of the movies are available to watch online, so even if you aren't in the area you can still take part.

06 of 08

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

Marine Corps Marathon

The Marine Corp Marathon is taking place virtually in 2021 and scheduled for March 20.

One of the largest marathons in the world, the Marine Corps Marathon offers a unique 17.75K distance (11.03 miles), which gives a nod to the year that the U.S. Marine Corps was founded: 1775. With the support of more than 2,000 marines and sailors, the event is held just outside Marine Corps Base Quantico and takes runners on a course through some known landmarks and along the wooded paths and scenic roads of Prince William Forest Park.

07 of 08


Shamrock Fest


ShamrockFest for 2021 was canceled.

Green-clad revelers will gather for ShamrockFest, one of the largest Saint Patrick's Day parties in the U.S. The ticketed event typically features around 50 live rock bands, Irish village vendors, carnival rides, food, Irish dancers, games, beer, and more.

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Saint Patrick's Day Parades

St. Patrick's Day Parade


The majority of events for St. Patrick's Day in 2021 were canceled, including the parades in Washington, D.C., and Alexandria.

Celebrate the luck o' the Irish around Washington, D.C., in one of the many St. Patrick's Day parades throughout the region. The biggest one is in Washington and marches along Constitution Avenue on the Sunday before the holiday with step dancers, bagpipes, and lots of festivities.

However, that's not the only place to celebrate the holiday. Just across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia, there's another St. Paddy's parade with a car show and dog parade. And up north in Annapolis, Maryland, there's a week's worth of celebrations to commemorate the Emerald Isle.

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