What is the Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival?
The festival is a day long, multi stage event that takes place on an island in Northeast Washington DC and raises money to support the Living Classrooms Foundation. “Now in its 8th year, the Festival offers an exciting opportunity for residents and visitors to celebrate DC’s bluegrass roots, while exploring local habitats and wildlife, as the District restores the Anacostia River.” says Director of DC’s Department of Energy and Environment (and festival founder), Tommy Wells. Event organizers expect the event to sell out and it is a seasonal favorite of Ward 6 Council-member Charles Allen who says “While it has grown from a small concert with a few hundred neighbors into one of the largest bluegrass festivals in the region, it’s still a fun and unique way to enjoy a great day of music surrounded by the natural beauty of Kingman and Heritage Islands right here in DC. I’m proud to support an event that draws people of all ages to outstanding performances of local music and provides them an opportunity to learn about the Anacostia River and the wildlife that it supports.”
Why I’ll be going again with my family this year.
The only thing I knew about the festival before going last year was that my neighbor’s band, The Iris Bell, would be playing. But we learned that as we were walking out the door, so really, I had no idea of what to expect. Per the suggestion of the event website we took the metro and after walking across the footbridge to the island it was as if we had arrived at a giant campsite. Families sat on blankets with picnics while kids ran around dancing and hula hooping. The stages were scattered throughout the island, and there were more intimate performances tucked into wooded alcoves.
As if being a super chill family friendly scene were not enough there were tours of the Anacostia River hosted by the Anacostia Riverkeepers, canoeing opportunities provided by REI and food trucks serving things like cheesecake on a stick (it was good, I tried it). And my husband was a big fan of the stainless steel souvenir cup provided with each ticket, beers are served on site and can also be bought with your ticket online.
Our daughter was about one and a half the time of the festival last year but enjoyed the egg shakers being given out by a local music shop as well as the river tour we went on. It could have been a mistake to take our then baby on an hour-long boat ride, but she had a good time. Additionally I liked hearing about the Anacostia River from the perspective of a biologist, Trey Sherard of the Anacostia Riverkeepers.
What can families expect this year.
The festival will feature a kids zone this year. Children and parents can enjoy; facepainting, games, giveaways from the Washington Nationals and a special performance by the Great Zucchini at 5pm.
Tickets start at $30/person but add ons like beer can be bought online
Children 13 and under are free
Buy tickets, here
- Bring a picnic blanket or a chair
- Buy your tickets in advance
- Kids under the age of 13 are free
- It may be muddy, choose footwear accordingly
Website & social media for the festival
The Living Classroom Foundation website
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