Lotus & Water Lily Festival

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2023 Festival: July 15th- July 22nd

Thank you so much for joining us for the 2023 Lotus & Water Lily Festival at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens! We had an amazing time celebrating with you all, and we hope you enjoyed the programming! Scroll through some of the highlights in the photo gallery below:

The 2023 Festival Line-Up:

Programming: 8:30am – 4:00pm
Special Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm

Visiting parks is a great way to improve your mental and physical health through exercise, meditation, art, music. The festival kicks off with a variety of fun physical activities. Exercise your brain by learning something new or find a quiet place to chill out in the evening after the entertainment is done for the day.  Today is all about doing something that’s good for you! 

Lily 5K Walk- 8:30 am to 12:30 pm 

Bring your neighbors and friends and start the festival by doing something healthy for yourself while enjoying the park! You can start this fun 5K walk at the entrance to the garden or at Kenilworth Park.  The first 100 walkers to complete the event get goody bags. The neighborhood with the most walkers wins this year’s “Brag Banner.”   

Lotus Yoga – 9:00 am 

Bring your yoga mat and enjoy flow of the garden during this free yoga class for all ages. 

Drumming with Katy Gaughan – 11:00 am

Find your rhythm in this group drum circle led by Katy Gaughn. This festival favorite is a fun way for people of all ages to make some noise. Drums provided. 

Capoeira  – 12:00 pm

Capoeira DC will perform this distinctive liberating martial art form that was developed by enslaved Africans in Brazil to help them fight for their freedom.   

VaVa Samba – 12:45 pm 

VaVa United School of Samba is back this year to perform a variety of colorful dances. Learn more about the beautiful artform and join the dance!

Sir Harvey Fitz – 1:45 pm 

Spoken word poet, Sir Harvey, will perform a set of his original DC centered poetry. 

Elikeh2:30 pm 

Ready to get your groove on?  Making their first festival appearance, the DC based, Afropop band Elikeh will close out the festival entertainment on Saturday.  Elikeh uses elements of Tongalese rhythms as it explores American-influenced blues, funk and rock.  We dare you not to dance along! 

Programming: 9:00am – 3:00pm
Special Hours: 8:00am – 5:00pm

The festival will celebrate Asian cultures who have used lotus and lily plants for centuries as symbols in art, as medicine, food and more.  Make your own paper lotus lantern, enjoy a variety of Asian dance and music, try lotus tea and more.   

Boardwalk Talks- 9am, 11am, 1pm, 2pm

Join a ranger on the boardwalk for a 15 minute talk about the marsh history and ecosystem. 

Foraging Class10:00 am 

Start the day on this walk to learn about the edible plants that are found in the around Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens.  This walk is limited to 20 participants.  Register at the Welcome Tent just inside the main entrance of the garden. 

Buddhist Chanting – 10:45 am

The stage opens Sunday morning with chanting, welcoming everyone to the festival. 

Music and Dance of Thailand – 11:00 am 

Enjoy the beautiful dance and music of performers showcasing arts from Thailand. 

Chinese Lotus Dance – 12:00 pm

Visit the festival stage to see the captivating lotus dance. 

Classical Indian Dance – 1:00 pm 

Students from the Sharanya Dance School will be back to perform at the festival. These festival favorites bring their infectious energy each year. 

Bollywood Inspired Dance2:00 pm   

Cultural performances continue with this joyful and artistic showcase of Bollywood inspired dancing. 

DJ – 2:30 pm 

Enjoy the DJ’s musical stylings while enjoying the blooming lotuses in the park or dancing with your loved ones and new friends! 

Break Dancing by “Toyzarus” – 3:00 pm 

Sunday closes with the captivating skills of “Toyzarus”

Programming: 9:00am – 2:00pm
Regular Hours: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Spend the day learning about the incredible history and ecology at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. The rangers at the park will each lead individual talks emphasizing their areas of expertise. Join for one program or stay for multiple to learn different perspectives on the gardens. 

Ranger Steph’s Garden Tour – 9:00 am – 9:30 am

Join Ranger Steph for a ranger program on resilience and perspective. Explore the connections between the natural ecosystem and community history. 

Ranger Kristy’s Boardwalk Talk- 10:00 am – 10:15 am 

Ranger Kristy will give a 15 minute boardwalk talk around the importance of marsh ecosystems and native plants. 

Ranger Remi’s Garden Tour – 11:00 am – 11:30 am 

Join Ranger Remi for a tour of the gardens. Learn about the lotus, the water lily, and the animals that call the garden home.

Ranger Steph’s Boardwalk Talk – 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm

Ranger Steph will give a 15 minute boardwalk talk on the human history of the marsh, from indigenous stewardship to community advocacy. 

Ranger Kristy’s Garden Tour- 1:00 pm – 1:30pm 

Join Ranger Kristy on a garden tour. Learn fun facts about aquatic plants and their incredible adaptations. 

Ranger Remi’s Boardwalk Talk2:00 pm – 2:15 pm 

Ranger Remi will give a 15 minute boardwalk talk on the ever changing marsh. Learn about how the marsh changes daily and how it has changed over time.  

Programming: 8:30am – 2:00pm
Regular Hours: 8:00am – 4:00pm

This festival day is about the birds! The rangers will bring out the spotting scope and dedicate the morning to all thing’s birds with garden tours centered on the birds connections to the ecosystem. 

Bird Walk8:30 am – 10:30 am  

Join park rangers and expert volunteers on this special Lotus and Water Lily Festival Bird Walk! bring your binoculars or an ID to borrow a pair from the visitors center. 

Ranger Remi’s Garden Tour- 11:00 am – 11:30 am 

Join Ranger Remi for a tour of the gardens and learn about the ecosystems that make Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens such a special place for birds in the region.

Ranger Steph’s Garden Tour – 1:00 pm – 1:30 pm 

Join Ranger Steph on a garden tour to learn about the ways in which community advocacy brought many birds back to the  Anacostia Watershed. 

Ranger Joe’s Garden Tour- 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm 

Join Ranger Joe on a tour of the garden and see how learn the history of how the gardens became the national park site it is today! 

Programming: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Regular Hours: 8:00am – 4:00pm

Its Kids’ Day in the park! Activities will be geared to kids and their families. Come out to the park to make observations with your Junior Ranger and participate in the games, show and class. 

Beehive and Bee Activities- 10:00 am – 2:00 pm  

Explore the wonders of a live beehive (the bees are safely behind glass) and other hands on fun for kids.

Read with a Ranger – 10:00 am 

Come read with a ranger and learn more about the environment at Kenilworth Aquatic gardens 

Raptor Program11:00 am 

Learn about local birds of prey and their adaptations in this program with live hawks and owls by Secret Garden of Birds and Bees.  

Games with the Rangers- 12:00 pm 

Get your after lunch energy out and enjoy games with the rangers! Learn about fish, birds and other animals while having fun in the park. 

Art Class – 1:00 pm 

Get creative! Join artist Darrelynne Strother for this mixed media art class and have something you can take home after your day at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. 

Family Ranger Walk – 2:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Use your observation skills and learn what makes Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens special. Rangers will lead family through the park on the thirty minute walk. 

Programming: 4:00pm – 8:00pm
Special Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a National Park nestled in a wonderful neighborhood. The park is inviting the neighbors over for a fun evening of activities and a place to visit with other neighbors. 

Ranger Garden Tour – 11:00 am – 11:30 am 
Join a park ranger on a tour through the gardens. Learn about the history and ecology of the park. 

Scavenger Hunt5:00 pm 

Team up with a neighbor to complete this scavenger hunt and maybe you’ll get a prize! 

Acrylic Painting Class – 5:30 pm 

Join Paint Amore to create a painting of plants in the garden. Class is open to 20 participants. Register at the welcome tent just inside the park entrance. 

Kizomba Dance Class – 6:15 pm 

Kizomba School of Dance will perform and then will invite everyone to get their groove on with this dance class. 

Foraging Walk – 6:00 pm 

Learn about plants in the park that are edible or have medicinal properties with park neighbor, Dr. Yew. 

Class size is 20. Register at the welcome tent just inside the park entrance.

Foraging is not allowed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and may be limited or not allowed in many park sites. Find out the rules for foraging before visiting any park.

Ranger Garden Tour – 6:30 pm
On this garden tour you’ll learn about the history of the garden, and we’ll be sticking with this year’s theme of “people using plants” to highlight some of the plants in the garden that people use for food, medicine, and other things. 

East of the River Steel Band – 7:00 pm 

Bring a picnic dinner or get food at one of the food trucks in the picnic area and enjoy the music of Ward 7’s own, East of the River Steel Band. This youth band is a crowd favorite and has performed many times at the Lotus and Water Lily festival. 

Programming: 8:30am – 8:00pm
Special Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm

In honor of the garden’s founder, Civil War Veteran, Walter Shaw, today we’re inviting and celebrating Veterans with a variety of programs and music.  

Bird Walk – 8:30 am 

Kenilworth has a variety of different habitats, so we get a great variety of birds at the park. Bring your binoculars and join us to see what we’ll discover on the bird walk.  Beginners are welcome. 

Forest Bathing – 9:30 am 
Forest bathing originated in Japan and is a meditative form of walking that involves using your senses. It’s also been found to lower blood pressure and improve health. Sage Raindancer has been leading walks at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens as part of the park series “Wellderness” that is sponsored by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. 

Acrylic Painting Class – 10:00 am 
Join Paint Amore to create a painting of plants in the garden. Class is open to 20 participants. Register at the welcome tent just inside the park entrance. 

Drumming with Katy Gaughan- 11:00 am

Find your rhythm in this group drum circle led by Katy Gaughn.  This festival favorite is a fun way for people of all ages to make some noise.   Drums provided. 

Mightier than the Sword: A Recovery through Writing Workshop for Veterans and Others – 1:00 pm 

Michelle Petties  author of “Living Large; the Story of a Food Addict” and motivational speaker using writing and storytelling to make change in her own life and will guide participants in this workshop to use writing as a catalyst for transformation and healing. 

Walter Shaw and the history of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens Program – 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm

Learn about garden founder, Walter Shaw who was a wounded, Civil War Veteran who started a water garden as a hobby which turned into a “side-hustle” and finally a thriving business growing water plants. 

Origem Concert5:30 pm 

Brazilian jazz band, Origem, brings their smooth sounds to the garden for this evening show.  

Programming: 10:00am – 5:30pm
Special Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm

The closing day of the festival is a celebration of African, Latin and Indigenous cultures through a variety of programs and performances. Join a ranger for a boardwalk talk, get your groove on drumming or samba dancing, enjoy our annual multicultural fashion show and learn about “Indigenous DC”.

Rodney’s Raptors – 10:00 am 
Start the last day of the Lotus and Water Lily Festival with a live birds of prey program led by community legend Rondey Stotts.  

Nl Bemya African Drum and Dance – 10:30 am 

Enjoy the music and moves of NI Bemya African Dance and Drumming. 

“Indigenous DC” – 11:00 am 

Washington, DC is Indigenous Land but the stories and contributions of the original inhabitants of what is now Washington, DC are often untold stories in the local and national narrative. Author and Chickasaw Scholar, Dr. Elizabeth Rule, will discuss her new book, “Indigenous DC” that explores the often overlooked stories and contributions of tribal leaders, politicians, artists and activists to the rich history of Washington, DC.  

Corazón Folkorico- 12:00 pm 
Experience the beautiful dancing of Corazón Folkorico. Corazón Folkorico promotes and celebrates the cultural diversity of Mexico through Ballet Folklórico dance performance by building a community of passionate dancers throughout the DMV area.

Flamenco Music and Dance with Miguelito – 12:30 pm 
Miguelito is a local flamenco guitarist who’s been actively performing in the DC area for over 30 years and had performed for various embassies and other institutions.  Along with his dancers (bailaora), they will be bringing us a taste of Spanish (Andalusia) with Moorish inspired guitar playing and use of other instruments such as tamborines, bells and wooden castanets.  They have an extensive repertoire of music and dance that they perform. 

Stories of the Land: Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – 1:30 pm 

Storyteller Opara Nubianina weave a tale about the history of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens while an artist live paints a garden mural. 

Annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival

Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens is a one-of-a-kind destination within Anacostia Park and it is a hidden gem in Washington, DC. The summer lotus and lily blossoms are a “must see” during their peak blooming period in July, not unlike viewing the cherry blossoms in the spring.

Every year, during peak season for the lotus blooms, the National Park Service puts on the Lotus & Water Lily Festival. Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens collaborates with NPS to create a celebration you won’t forget! Read below to check out this year’s schedule and previous year’s fun!

Previous Lotus & Water Lily Festival Themes:

Last year’s festival was all about Harmony, Health and Healing! Check out the Opening Ceremony video here!

In an effort to ensure nature lovers could safely experience and celebrate the blooming of the lotus and water lilies all that nation’s only National Park site devoted to aquatic plant life has to offer, Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and National Park Service kicked of a Virtual Lotus and Water Lily Festival July 8, 2021, featuring on-demand videos, interactive activities, and events for the entire family through the end of the month. Themed, “Power of Plants and People,” visitors were welcomed to enjoy Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for daily Ranger-led talks, viewing of the lotus and water lily blooms, crafting, and scavenger hunts, in addition to online events and activities including:

Festival Sponsorship Opportunities

Sponsorships help make the Lotus & Water Lily Festival possible. 

The Lotus & Water Lily Festival is co-hosted by the National Park Service and Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. 

With generous support provided by Infinite Possibilities, the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities, and other foundations and individuals.

If you are interested in supporting the Annual Lotus & Water Lily Festival by sponsoring the event, please contact our Executive Director at executive@fokag.org.

We look forward to investing in the park and surrounding neighborhoods with you.

WELLderness Classes Available All Month Long!

The outdoor wellness fun doesn’t stop during festival time. We’ve got a packed schedule of events going on in the month of July, including canoeing, Journaling, Wellness Workshops, Yoga, Tai Chi, Forest Bathing, Dance Workshops, and Painting. Get more out of the festival by registering early on our Eventbrite

Transportation Note

To access the park via Metro you will need to take the Orange line to the Deanwood stop, followed by a ~ 10-15 minute walk to the park!