Washington D.C. attracts huge amounts of visitors all year round with its history, amazing cultural landmarks and the outdoors drawing people from across the world. But if you want to make the most of your trip to Washington D.C., choosing when to come can make a big difference.
The best time to visit Washington D.C. is for the Cherry Blossom Festival in late March to early April or in September if you want to enjoy the outdoors and walk the historic sites in warm weather after the summer tourist crowds have disappeared.Read on to find out all about the best time to visit Washington D.C. for the weather, local events and festivals and to get the best value hotels.
When should you go to Washington D.C.?
When to visit Washington D.C. - Summary
- Best Time for Good Weather: The best months for weather in Washington D.C. are September through to Early October and mid-April to May. During these months, the weather is warm and pleasant for roaming around the historic capital, not hot and humid like it is during the summer months. The rainfall is moderate although this is quite consistent in D.C. throughout the year.
- Best Time for Sightseeing: The best time to come to Washington D.C. for the amazing collection of historic and cultural sights is from September to October. The summer crowds are gone after the Labor Day weekend but the weather is still warm making it perfect for strolling from one location to another and enjoying the views.
- Best Time for Saving Money: The lowest part of the tourist season in D.C. is From October to mid-March. January and February have some of the best value travel and hotel options after the festive season ends. One thing to note is that Washington D.C. has a large business and politics-related visitors who come all year round which means the tourist seasons are not the main reason why people come to the city. Hotel rates are much cheaper at weekends because of the business travel factor and travel to the city just before the weekend and back just after tends to be the best value so a long weekend in January is about the best value trip you can get.
Best time to visit Washington D.C.
- Best Time for Museums and Activities: The best time for visiting museums and exploring everything there is to do in Washington D.C. is in September and October. March and April can also be great as the weather is warm and pleasant like it is in early fall but the Cherry Blossom Festival means there's a burst of tourists coming to the city and the various museums can have longer lines as a result.
- Best Time for Restaurants: There are two Restaurant Weeks in D.C. in January and August when 250 restaurants from across the city have fixed price menus with $22 lunches and $35 dinners which means you can try some outstanding places for an unbelievable price. Foodie events in the city also include the DC Chocolate, Wine and Whiskey Festival in February, the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle in June and the Taste of Georgetown Festival and DC Beer Week in September. Check the festival details at the end of the article for more details.
- Best Time for Concerts and Music: June and July are great for those who love music - the Jazz Festival, Smithsonian Folklife Festival and the Capital Fringe Festival are all on and there is plenty of other events with live music. If you want a more local feel, come in September when the different D.C. neighborhoods host their own street festivals with great local up and coming musicians on stage.
- Best Time for Families and Kids: The best time to come as a family is in September or October. There are a lot less tourists at the main sights meaning you don't have to wait in line to get in and the weather is still great and not too hot for the kids. You can come in April as well, but the Cherry Blossom Festival attracts a lot of crowds and there are people coming on various school and cultural exchanges which can make the place feel more busy.
- Best time to Avoid Crowds: If you want to avoid the lines queuing to get into the main sights and have less people about, your best option is to come to Washington D.C. at some point in late January or early February. Sure - there's still business people about, but the museums and cultural sights will be very empty, especially at weekends.
Washington D.C. travel seasons
High Seasons for Tourists (Late March/Early April and July to August)
The majority of tourists come to D.C. in July and August during the popular summer vacation season. Visitors from across the United States and abroad brave the hot and humid summer weather and this is the season with the highest hotel prices as a result.
The Cherry Blossom Festival at the end of March and beginning of April is another very popular time and has a burst of tourist activity around this period although it is not quite as busy as it is during the summer months.
Shoulder Seasons (Mid-April to June and September)
After the peak of the Cherry Blossom crowds dissipates, it is generally less busy for a few months until late June when the summer traffic picks up.
September is also a shoulder season - the number of visitors drops sharply after the Labor Day weekend, but as the weather is still very warm, you get some tourists picking the less busy time to visit instead.
Low Season (October to March)
October to March is generally the low season for tourism in Washington D.C. Low season in the nation's capital is not quite the same as it may be in other cities - you will still see busloads of tourists from countries far and wide pouring out at the key spots to get that snap of the Lincoln Memorial, but it is generally a lot quieter during these months.
The majority of U.S. tourists come in the summer which leaves the cold winter months less busy and hotels can offer some great deals in January and February.
When to go to Washington D.C. for the Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a 3-day event that starts on the 2nd last Friday in March and ends on the 2nd Sunday in April.
The cherry trees all over the capital are typically in full pink and purple bloom which gives the city a unique feel and visitors pour in to enjoy the scenery and the many events and activities that take place over these weeks.
The main events during this time are on Saturdays. The opening ceremony typically happens on the Saturday after the first day of the festival. The following Saturday is the Blossom Kite Festival with a huge number of kites taking to the air near the Washington Monument and on the first Saturday in April the big Parade takes over the streets of D.C.
Weather in Washington D.C. across the year
Average monthly temperature and rainfall for Washington D.C.
|January||44.3 °F / 6.8 °C ||3.09 in / 78 mm |
|February||48.0 °F / 8.9 °C ||2.90 in / 74 mm |
|March||56.4 °F / 13.6 °C ||3.72 in / 94 mm |
|April||67.5 °F / 19.7 °C ||3.51 in / 89 mm |
|May||76.7 °F / 24.8 °C ||4.28 in / 109 mm |
|June||85.6 °F / 29.8 °C ||4.08 in / 104 mm |
|July||89.6 °F / 32.0 °C ||4.32 in / 110 mm |
|August||88.3 °F / 31.3 °C ||3.41 in / 87 mm |
|September||81.1 °F / 27.3 °C ||3.76 in / 96 mm |
|October||69.9 °F / 21.1 °C ||3.79 in / 96 mm |
|November||59.3°F / 15.2 °C ||3.47 in / 88 mm |
|December||48.2 °F / 9.0 °C ||3.20 in / 81 mm |
Washington D.C. weather by month
- Washington D.C. weather in January: January is the coldest month of the year in D.C. Daily highs average 44.3 °F (6.8 °C) while nighttime lows fall below the freezing point at 26.7 °F (-2.9 °C). Snow is common and the weather will feel chilly and icy. Although precipitation is relatively low, expect rain or snowfall every 3 days on average. Average temperature: 35.5 °F / 1.9 °C. Average precipitation: 3.09 in / 78 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in February: The temperatures get a little warmer in February although snow will remain commonplace and nights continue to dip below freezing to an average of 28.8 °F (-1.8 °C). February is statistically the driest month of the year, although it is almost identical to January when you account for the difference in the number of days. Expect snow flurries or freezing rain a couple of times week for the majority of the month. Average temperature: 38.4 °F / 3.6 °C. Average precipitation: 2.90 in / 74 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in March: March is a shoulder season for weather in Washington D.C. The month starts off cool and can continue having occasional snow and ice, but it warms up quickly with daily highs going above 60 °F (16 °C) for a few days at the end of the month causing the famous cherry blossom. Nighttime lows average 36.0 °F (2.2 °C) but it's a month of two halves with late March typically staying well above freezing. Average temperature: 46.2 °F / 7.9 °C. Average precipitation: 3.72 in / 94 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in April: The warm spring really arrives in Washington D.C. in April. Night temperatures bottom out at 45.3 °F (7.4 °C) with only one day in the month dipping below freezing in the average year. Rainfall remains moderate and daily highs reach an average of 67.5 °F (19.7 °C) with temperatures frequently going into the 70s (over 21 °C) in late April. Average temperature: 56.4 °F / 13.6 °C. Average precipitation: 3.51 in / 89 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in May: May is statistically the wettest month in the year going by the number of days on which it rains. Although July tips it in the total volume of water that plummets from the sky, May averages over 12 wet days - pack your umbrella! The temperatures warm up and nighttime lows are a comfortable 55.1 °F (12.8 °C). Towards the end of the month, expect a few days to break 90 °F (32 °C) was the summer turns up in earnest. Average temperature: 65.9 °F / 18.8 °C. Average precipitation: 4.28 in / 109 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in June: The hot and humid summer really kicks in in June. Average daily highs are at 85.6 °F (29.8 °C) with every third day climbing to over 90 °F (32 °C). June is the middle of the wetter period in terms of total rainfall, but you are more likely to get an afternoon downpour than spring drizzle. Expect it to be a little cooler at night with average lows at 64.7 °F (18.2 °C). Average temperature: 75.1 °F / 23.9 °C. Average precipitation: 4.08 in / 104 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in July: July in Washington D.C. is hot, humid and sticky. This is the month with the highest temperatures and the most total rainfall. Most days will have a daily high of over 90 °F (32 °C) and even the lows are high at 69.6 °F (20.9 °C). You will want lots of water, clothing that is kind to hot and humid temperatures and to spend as much time as you can in air conditioned museums! Average temperature: 79.6 °F / 26.4 °C. Average precipitation: 4.32 in / 110 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in August: August in D.C. stays very hot and humid but there are fewer rainstorms than earlier in the summer. Daily highs continue to feel hot, averaging 88.3 °F (31.3 °C) and there is little respite at night when the temperatures stay a warm average of 67.7 °F (19.8 °C). Seek refuge indoors or at one of the water features where you're allowed to dip your toes to cool down. Average temperature: 78.0 °F / 25.6 °C. Average precipitation: 3.41 in / 87 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in September: Early September stays warm, but temperatures begin reducing to a much more comfortable level from Labor Day onward. Later on in the month daily highs stay below 80 °F (27 °C) which will still feel pleasantly warm but not unbearably hot. Nighttime lows average 59.4 °F (15.2 °C) which makes evenings near-perfect with a breeze blowing in from the ocean. Average temperature: 70.3 °F / 21.3 °C. Average precipitation: 3.76 in / 96 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in October: The weather in D.C. changes fast in October. Early in the month, the daily highs will stay in the 70s (above 21 °C) but as the month progresses, it will get a lot cooler with daily highs dropping to around 60 °F (15.6 °C) and a few nights dropping to or even below the freezing point as November approaches. Average temperature: 58.5 °F / 14.7 °C. Average precipitation: 3.79 in / 96 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in November: Winter begins arriving in Washington D.C. in November. Daily highs begin dropping towards the 50 degree mark (10 °C) and below freezing at nights at the end of the month making for icy mornings. Rainfall is relatively low with only 1 or sometimes 2 days a week with any substantial rain coming down but it will begin feeling very chilly and you will need to get your scarf out! Average temperature: 48.8 °F / 9.3 °C. Average precipitation: 3.47 in / 88 mm.
- Washington D.C. weather in December: December is the first proper month of the cold winter season in D.C. There is not much rainfall or snow but the days become cold with the averages hovering a little above freezing and everything freezing over during the night. The relative humidity and the proximity of the ocean can make it feel cooler than the temperature measurement - wrap up warm! Average temperature: 39.2 °F / 4.0 °C. Average precipitation: 3.20 in / 81 mm.
Washington D.C. events and things to do by month
January in Washington D.C.
- Washington Auto Show - 35 car manufacturers showcase hundreds of new vehicle models over a weekend in late January at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
- Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week - Some 250 restaurants in the D.C. area join forces and offer fixed price lunches for $22 and 3-course dinners for $35 which is incredible value at some of the city's best venues.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day - There are events all over the city to celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. which is a Federal holiday.
- Chinese New Year Parade - The annual parade at the end of January is getting bigger and bigger with traditional culture floats and the obligatory dancing dragons.
- Remember that every 4 years the Presidential Inauguration happens in January - thousands of people flock to the city for the event and some public places will get very crowded.
February in Washington D.C.
- DC Chocolate, Wine & Whiskey Festival - There are few events I can get as excited about as one that combines chocolate and wine as well as the opportunity to try smokey whiskeys. Other foods and beverages are also available!
- Black History Month - A wide selection of events that celebrate the history, culture and achievements of African Americans with the Black Film Festival, presentations by famous black authors and fascinating speakers.
- Ice Yards - A winter wonderland for grown-ups that comes with an snow beer garden, ice cocktail bar, various winter games and food stalls serving up hot food.
March in Washington D.C.
- DC Independent Film Festival - Taking place at the beginning of March, the DC Independent Film Festival has presented the best of indie movies, shorts and alternative film for over 20 years.
- St. Patrick's Parade - A celebration of Irish culture, tradition, beer and the color green has been happening in D.C. for 50 years on a Sunday in the middle of March.
- Rock 'n Roll USA Marathon - A unique opportunity for the runners to complete a marathon while doing a full sightseeing tour of the capital going past the White House, Lincoln Memorial the Capitol Building and dozens of other key sights. Whether taking part or just coming out to cheer the runners, this is a great event at the end of March.
- National Cherry Blossom Festival - The biggest event in town takes place at the end of March and start of April when the famous pink and purple hues appear on local cherry trees. From the Opening Ceremony at the Warner Theater to the Blossom Kite Festival by the Washington Monument and the cherry blossom-themed parade, this is a great time to visit Washington D.C.
April in Washington D.C.
- White House Easter Egg Roll - An annual event on the lawn of the White House where children age 13 and younger can have a go at pushing eggs along with a spoon through the grass and take part in other activities. Take note that you have to enter a lottery to win tickets with a narrow 4 day window at the end of February - beginning of March.
- Arlington Festival of the Arts - Ok - it may be in Arlington which is a different city in a different State, but it's only just across the river and the 2-day art festival is great for coming to look or buy paintings, sculpture and a lot more.
- Filmfest DC - The DC International Film Festival celebrates everything to do with making movies with screenings of movies from dozens of countries over 11 days starting in late April.
- Smithsonian Craft Show - 4 days of celebrations of the arts and crafts world at the National Building Museum that include shows and displays by day and drinks events by night.
May in Washington D.C.
- Passport DC - A $25 passport that gives you 11 days of perks like exclusive access to specially organized parties, 2 for 1 drinks and major discounts at 66 venues ranging from coffee to beer, wine and cocktails.
- Memorial Day Parade and Weekend - The largest Memorial Day parade in the country and a weekend full of events like the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally and the Memorial Day Concert.
- DC Bike Ride - A day when many of D.C.'s streets are closed to cars and you can explore the city's best sights on a bicycle with no motor vehicles about.
- National Cathedral Flower Mart - On the first Friday and Saturday in May, plant and flower lovers gather outside the Washington National Cathedral with 70 booths selling plants, a floral display, art performances and street food.
June in Washington D.C.
- DC Jazz Festival - Over 300 artists performing at over 40 venues all over D.C. over 10 days in June - the perfect reason to visit Washington D.C. in the summer.
- Smithsonian Folklife Festival - This festival focuses on the music, culture, art and the way of life of cultures from across the world from South America to the Middle East at the National Mall.
- Capital Pride - Several days of events and parties that culminate in the colorful Pride Parade, Festival and Concert over a weekend in the middle of June.
- By the People Festival - An international arts and dialogue festival that celebrates visual and performing arts ranging from ballet to an augmented reality art hunt with all events free to attend.
- Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle - One of the largest BBQ events in the country that has a Rib Contest, a competition for the best BBQ sauce, a hot dog eating contest and a huge selection of the best meat right out of the smokers and off the grills. Live music, beer and guaranteed fun for all.
- AFI Docs - Screenings, workshops and loads of other events on the theme of documentaries from in-depth TV series to some of the most famous documentary films.
July in Washington D.C.
- Fourth of July DC Independence Day Celebration - Quite possibly the best place in the United States to celebrate Independence Day (tied with Philadelphia) with a huge fireworks display and a weekend full of events all over the city.
- Citi Open Tennis - A week-long tennis tournament that is part of the ATP and WTA circuits that takes place at the end of July - beginning of August in Washington D.C.
- Capital Fringe Festival - The Washington D.C. edition of fringe festival madness with everything from comedy to alternative music and quirky performances in small venues.
August in Washington D.C.
- Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week - the restaurant week returns in August with a huge variety of amazing restaurants offering fixed price menus for lunch and dinner at a fraction of the usual cost.
- 17th Street Festival - A great local neighborhood event with outdoor merchants, food stalls, music and art performances and the opportuity to meet the community of the 17th Street corridor.
September in Washington D.C.
- H Street Festival - This local festival covers 11 blocks of H Street with hundreds of performances by dancers, musicians and singers, visual displays and youth and children's activities.
- Labor Day Concert - The free concert by the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Labor Day and starts the Kennedy Center's season of performing arts.
- Adams Morgan Day - Washington D.C.'s longest running neighborhood festival that has run for over 40 years. Music, art, food, drink and general family fun are all here in the Adams Morgan neighborhood.
- Library of Congress National Book Festival - A huge celebration of books with over 100 authors, writers and poets gathering, stalls with different kinds of books, rare book sales and a lot more.
- Taste of Georgetown Festival - Local restaurants come together with food, beer and wine in yet another amazing neighborhood event with fun contests and a great family day out.
- DC Beer Week - Events in different locations around D.C. dedicated to beer. Big beer parties, brewery events and even a Home Brew competition (this one can get messy) for those who love any kind of beer.
October in Washington D.C.
- Taste of DC - A huge culinary event that not only has beer gardens, countless food stalls and amazing cooking displays, but live music and evening events.
- Marine Corps Marathon - The hugely popular marathon is the largest in the world that does not entice top athletes with prize money. It's all about fitness and 30,000 people take to the streets to run the 26.2 miles.
- Washington International Horse Show - A week of exhibitions, various horse competitions, shows and contests at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C.
November in Washington D.C.
- Kids Euro Festival - One of the largest performing arts festivals for children in the United States that is organised together with the European Union with 2 weeks of free events from dance performances to movie screenings.
- International Arts and Crafts Fair - The event takes place at the World Bank with local and international vendors taking part supporting the Margaret McNamara Educational Grants organization that promotes higher education for women in developing countries.
December in Washington D.C.
- Downtown Holiday Market - A traditional festive market in the run up to Christmas with your favorite Christmas food and drink, gifts and plenty of seasonal cheer.
- National Christmas Tree Lighting - The National tradition of lighting a Christmas Tree in the National Park is almost 100 years old and you can be in D.C. when it happens in early December and one of the first to see the huge tree afterwards.