Washington, D.C., is always flush with visitors in the spring and summer, but with outstanding museums, grand monuments, a booming food community and thriving cultural scene filled with music, movies and theater, D.C. is a year-round playground. Here are some highlights to make your trip a capital visit, no matter when you decide to come.
• Every four years, Washington celebrates as the president is sworn into office on the Capitol steps. After the official ceremony, the party continues with a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue and a variety of balls.
• Enjoy some of the city's best restaurants at a discount during Restaurant Week, a bi-annual event in which restaurants offer discounted fixed-price lunch or dinner menus.
Celebrate the Chinese New Year with traditional firecrackers, music and colorful dragon dancers during the Chinese New Year Parade on H Street NW, between 5th and 8th Streets. The festivities take place in January or February, depending on the Chinese calendar.
• It's easy being green during the St. Patrick's Day Parade. Floats, bagpipers, marching bands and Irish dancers head down Constitution Avenue NW, between 7th and 17th Streets, on the Sunday before March 17.
• Washington's best-known annual event, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, takes place for two weeks when the more than 3,000 Japanese cherry trees that surround the Tidal Basin are in full bloom – typically late March/early April. The festival features concerts, special art exhibits, guided talks and tours, a parade and fireworks. (nationalcherryblossomfestival.org)
• During the annual Smithsonian Kite Festival, the sky around the Washington Monument is crowded with kites of all shapes, sizes and designs. The festival always takes place on a Saturday during the National Cherry Blossom Festival. (kitefestival.org)
• For two weeks in April, Filmfest D.C. presents a global cinematic treat as the annual festival showcases more than 100 works at theaters throughout the city by filmmakers from around the world. (filmfest.org)
• On the Monday after Easter – celebrated in March or April – kids take over the South Lawn for the White House Easter Egg Roll. The festivities include costumed characters, puppet shows, an egg-rolling contest and an Easter egg hunt.
• Everything's coming up roses – and daffodils, tulips and rosemary – at the Washington National Cathedral Annual Flower Mart. Beyond flowers and herbs, the free market features decorating demonstrations, food booths and children's activities. The event takes place the first Friday and Saturday in May.
• Washington honors the men and women who died while in military service during several Memorial Day celebrations. At Arlington National Cemetery, a wreath-laying ceremony is followed by military band music and a service; ceremonies are also held at the National World War II and Vietnam Veterans memorials. The National Memorial Day Parade marches from near the Capitol down Constitution Avenue to the White House. And the Sunday before Memorial Day, the National Symphony Orchestra performs a free concert on the West Lawn of the Capitol.
• Each year, the Shakespeare Theatre presents a different Shakespeare play for a two-week run at the Carter Barron Amphitheatre for free. The Shakespeare Theatre Free For All takes place at the end of May through early June.