Lotus and Water Lily Festival

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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. We hope you will have a chance to visit the park this July and that you will participate in some of the festival programs being featured online. We also encourage you to learn more about the Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens by visiting their website and/or stopping by their table at the park when you visit the festival in July.

 
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Duration:
9 minutes, 28 seconds

2022 Lotus and Water Lily Festival Opening Ceremony Video

 
Pink lotus flowers and their large leaves on a sunny day.
Lotus flowers are just part of the natural wonders to discover at the aquatic gardens.

NPS / Kendra Barat

The 2022 Festival


To celebrate the return of an in-person festival and create a more manageable experience for both the community and visitors, the 2022 Lotus and Water Lily Festival will be split into four weekends each with a specific focus and events. In addition to a larger festival, the park will extend hours until 8 p.m. each Saturday. On Wednesdays, the park will feature kid’s programs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. such as art activities, a drumming class and other hands-on nature activities.

 
Two people perform a traditional dance

Full Calendar of Events

View all events for the festival

People painting lotus flowers

Partner Events

View all events with the Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens

 

Events and Themes

 

The weekend of July 9 - Celebrating Art

Events will include a photo exhibits, painting classes, ranger talks, music with The Jogo Project, and more! 

Photo Exhibit 

All Day 

Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens has hosted a photography competition inviting park visitors to submit their photos. Enjoy several photos from one of their competitions in year's past featuring blooms, wildlife and abstract captures.  

 

Discover North America’s Native Lotus, Nelumbo lutea 

9:00 to 11:00 am and 2:00 to 4:00 pm 

Rangers will give 10–15-minute rangers talks every half hour on the beautiful native lotus, Nelumbo lutea which is a “yellow lotus” found in the park.  Location is at the ponds near the boardwalk.  Directions will be provided near the park entrance. 

 

Acrylic Painting Class  

10 to Noon 

Instructor led art class where participants will paint flowers from the garden.  Beginner’s welcome.  All materials will be provided.  Free.  Class location will be determined by the instructor and the weather.  Information on all classes and the sign-up sheets will be located at the front entrance that morning. 

 

Acrylic Painting Class 

1:00 to 3:00 pm 

Instructor led art class where participants will paint flowers from the garden.  Beginner’s welcome.  All materials will be provided.  Free.  Limited to the first 35 participants.  Class location will be determined by the instructor’s preference or weather.  Information on all classes will be posted at the front entrance that morning. 

 

Mixed Media Art Class 

3:00 to 5:00 pm 

Instructor will choose the mediums to explore in this art class to create art on a canvas.  May include a mix of painting, drawing, collage work, etc to create individual works of art.  Suitable for beginners.  Class limited to 18 participants.  Class location will be determined by the instructor’s preference or weather.  Information on all classes will be posted at the front entrance that morning. 

 

JoGo Project 

5:30 to 7:30 pm

JoGo Band Project is a Washington, DC band that fuses many styles of music together with jazz harmonies and a driving Go-Go beat at it’s core.  The JoGo Band was featured on NPR’s “Tiny Desk Concerts” and the won a Whammie in 2019 for “Best Go-Go Song” for their original “Dear Draylen.”  JoGo Project has performed multiple times at the garden and are a visitor favorite.   

Discover North America’s Native Lotus, Nelumbo lutea 

9:00 to 10:00 am and 2:00 to 3:00 pm 

Rangers will give 10–15-minute rangers talks every half hour on the beautiful native lotus, Nelumbo lutea which is a “yellow lotus” found in the park.  Location is at the ponds near the boardwalk.  Directions will be provided near the park entrance 

 

 

Watercolor Painting Class 

10 to Noon 

Instructor led are class where participants will learn watercolor painting techniques to paint a picture of water lilies from the garden.  Beginner’s welcome.  All materials will be provided.  Free.  Limited to the first 18 participants.  Class location will be determined by the instructor’s preference or weather.  Information on all classes will be posted at the front entrance that morning. 

 

Watercolor Painting Class 

1:00 to 3:00 pm 

Instructor led are class where participants will learn watercolor painting techniques to paint a picture of water lilies from the garden.  Beginner’s welcome.  All materials will be provided.  Free.  Limited to the first 18 participants.  Class location will be determined by the instructor’s preference or weather.  Information on all classes will be posted at the front entrance that morning. 
 

Drop In Lotus Making Station 

11:00 to 1:00 pm 

Drop by the picnic area to create your own paper lotus.  All materials are provided. FREE.   
 

Drumming with Instructor Katy Gaughn 

11:00 am

Learn drumming techniques and play along with the group on a variety of different drums and percussion instruments which are provided.  No experience necessary.  Located in the picnic area. 

 

The weekend of July 16 - Teaching Healthy Parks, Healthy People

Events include a community 5k walk along the Anacostia River Trail, yoga classes, dance performance and ranger-led tours.

Water Lily 5K:  a community 5K Walk 

9:00am – 1:00 pm 

Walking is a great way to see the park and to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  This 5K isn’t a “race” to see how fast you can finish but it is a friendly competition to see which community gets the most people to participate.  Start your walk at either the entrance of Keniworth Aquatic Gardens or Kenilworth Park to sign in, get your walk number and the route.  There will be activities along the way and water stations where you can take breaks and cool off.  Walk route includes the gardens, and a walk along the beautiful Anacostia River Trail.  Start your walk by Noon so you can finish by 1:00 pm 

 

Canoeing 

9:00 am 

Paddle the Anacostia River with the Anacostia Watershed Society by canoe to experience how the character of the river varies remarkably. Upstream you’ll find forests, wetlands, and wildlife that seem amazingly removed from the city; downstream are hubs of riverfront recreation, with community parks, restaurants, and sporting events. Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance as space is limited.

 

Smartphonography with Jordana 

11:15 am 

Explore the park with your family on a scavenger hunt! In this ArtReach GW WELLderness workshop, you’ll learn photography techniques all while exploring plants and wildlife at the park. Bring your phone! Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance as space is limited.
 

Board Walk Talks 

3:00 to 5:00 pm 

Join a ranger for short talks on the boardwalk to learn about the park’s surrounding tidal freshwater marshes.  Talks are 15 minutes and start every half hour between 3 and 5 pm. 

 

Cherry Blossom String Quartet 

5:30 to 7:30 pm 

Founded in 1992 by four students from George Washington University, this group continues to be comprised of students from GWU and other local universities and they perform regularly throughout the DMV.  Their repertoire includes a variety of classical music and contemporary hits.  In 2020 they were featured in a video for National Public Land’s Day that was set at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, and we are excited to have them back to perform for a live audience.  [find video link] 

 

Yoga with Audrey Roxas  

7:00 to 8:00 pm 

Audrey’s yoga classes are focused on building strength and stability (aiming for form versus depth),but offers plenty of room for students to work on expanding their own practice. Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site. 

Board Walk Talks 

10:00am to Noon and 1:00pm to 3:00 pm 

Join a ranger for short talks on the boardwalk to learn about the park’s surrounding tidal freshwater marshes.  Talks are 15 minutes and start every half hour between 3 and 5 pm. 

 

Morning Yoga in the Garden with Adrienne Shaw 

10:00am - 11:00am 

Adrienne always has fun while teaching yoga. She says, “I believe in inclusivity and teach in a way that’s inviting for all participants. The flow of my class depends largely on who is present. I teach you how to move and breathe, one step and breathe at a time.” Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site.

 

Indian Dance Performance 

1:00 pm 

Students from the Natananjali School of Dance were featured in the 2016 ceremony to unveil a U.S. Postage Stamp featuring the Aquatic Gardens and have been performing at the Lotus & Water Lily Festival annually since that time and are a favorite at the festival.  Students from the Natananjali School of dance practice bharatanatyam, a popular form of classical dance from the southern part of India.

Guitarist Miguelito Flamenco
2:00pm
Miguelito is a local flamenco guitarist who’s been actively performing in the DC area for over 30 years and has performed for various embassies and other institutions.

 

The weekend of July 23 - Exploring Nature & Environment

Events include live animal shows, ranger talks, Mariachi, a book talk, and more!

The Shaw Water Gardens 

9:00 to 11:00 am 

Join a ranger behind the visitor center to hear 10 to 15 minute talks on the history of the park when it was the Shaw Water Gardens.  See the display pools featuring a variety of water lilies.  Talks begin on the half hour. 

 

Wild World of Animals 

11:00 am 

An annual festival favorite, this program features live animals from different classes of animals such as insects, reptiles, birds and mammals.  This is a rare opportunity to see live critters up close while learning about them and their adaptations.  In the past this show has featured Madagascar Hissing Cochroaches, hawks, snakes, a skunk, monkeys and young wild cats.  Come see what they’ll bring for this year’s festival.
 

Erik’s Reptile Adventures 

1:00 pm 

Presenter Erik Callender loves reptiles and amphibians, and he has an amazing assortment of critters that he brings to his shows to help explain why we need to protect habitats to help protect amphibians and reptiles across the world.  This program is a family favorite and has been featured many times at the festival. 

 

Beaver Basics 

2:00 – 4:00 pm 

Join a ranger for a short 10 to 15 minute talk on beavers.  We’ll show visitors the active beaver lodge in the garden, and will feature some “show and tell” items like a beaver pelt and skull.  Meet at the visitor center for a short walk to the lodge. Talks begin on the half hour. 

 

Mariachi Aguila Internacional DC  

5:30 to 7:30 pm 

Bring a picnic and come enjoy an evening of traditional Mexican music by one of DC’s premiere mariachi bands.   

Board Walk Talks 

9:00 - 11:00am

Join a ranger for short talks on the boardwalk to learn about the park’s surrounding tidal freshwater marshes. Talks are 15 minutes and start every half hour between 9 and 11am. 

 

Garden Tour in Spanish 

10:00 am 

Join Jorge Borgantes from the Anacostia Watershed Society for a tour of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Spanish to learn about the freshwater marsh habitats around the garden and the park’s beautiful lotus’ and water lilies.  Tour size 20 people. 

 

Dance Class: Su Majestad - La Cumbia (Your Majesty - La Cumbia)

12:00 pm 
Presenting Colombia's national dance, La Cumbia, is a blend of Indigenous and African rhythms. This dance was developed during Colonial times in the Caribbean Colombian coast, specifically in a town called El Banco (Magdalena). During this 20-minute class, people will learn traditional cumbia basic steps, a short choreography, followed by a 3-minute Cumbia solo performance.
 

Book Talk with Florence Williams, author of “The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative” 

1:00 pm 

On some level many people know that nature has the power to help them de-stress, improve health… without really knowing how or why.  Author Florence Williams dives into the science behind nature’s ability to improve our moods, make us healthier, happier and more creative.  Using new research, Williams uncovers the powers of the natural world to improve health, promote reflection and innovation, and ultimately strengthen our relationships. As our modern lives shift dramatically indoors, these ideas—and the answers they yield—are more urgent than ever. Copies of the book will be available in the park’s bookstore. 
 

Beaver Basics 

2:00 – 4:00 pm 

Join a ranger for a short 10-to-15-minute talk on beavers.  We’ll show visitors the active beaver lodge in the garden and will feature some “show and tell” items like a beaver pelt and skull.  Meet at the visitor center for a short walk to the lodge. Talks begin on the half hour. 

 

The weekend of July 30 - Celebrating Community

Events include ranger talks, increased community organization tabling, a fashion show, cultural dance presentations, yoga classes and more!

Board Walk Talks 

9:00 to 11:00 am 

Join a ranger for short talks on the boardwalk to learn about the park’s surrounding tidal freshwater marshes.  Talks are 15 minutes and start every half hour between 3 and 5 pm. 
 

Bele Bele Rhythm Collective  

2:00 pm 

Founded in 2008, the Bele Bele Rhythm Collective is an intergenerational group of women from DC and surrounding areas who have come together to form a "sisterhood of the drum." 

Led by "Drumlady" Kristen Arant, the BBRC performs tightly sewn compositions of polyrhythms on West African dun-un and djembe drums, complete with exciting breaks, contagious songs, and dancing.  

Bring your own drum and join the performance from your seat to celebrate unity and diversity, and to spread the joy and healing power of West African drumming. Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site.
 

The Shaw Water Gardens 

3:00 – 5:00 pm 

Join a ranger behind the visitor center to hear 10-to-15-minute talks on the history of the park when it was the Shaw Water Gardens.  See the display pools featuring a variety of water lilies.  Talks begin on the half hour.

 

East of the River Steel Band 

5:30 to 7:30 pm
Enjoy an evening picnic and listen to the sounds of the steel pan as members of the East of the River Boys & Steel Band perform musical selections for all ages. This band is a music training, performing and touring program for youth 12 to 18 years of age living east of DC's Anacostia River. Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site.

Lotus or Water Lily? 

9:00 – 11:00 am 

Join a ranger for a short talk 10-to-15-minute talk in the garden so you can learn first-hand the difference between lotus’ and water lilies.  Meet in front of the visitor center.  Programs on the half hour. 

 

Tai Chi with Coach Darrell Fogan  

9:00 am 

Taught by Coach Fogan, owner of Metro Wellness Institute Inc. in D.C., Tai Chi is a meditative martial art which provides health benefits and can assist in overcoming medical challenges.Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site.

Yoga with Adrienne Shaw 

10:00 am  

Adrienne always has fun while teaching yoga. She says, “I believe in inclusivity and teach in a way that’s inviting for all participants. The flow of my class depends largely on who is present.  I teach you how to move and breathe, one step and breathe at a time.” Register for this WELLderness session powered by Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in advance or join on site.
 

Bollywood Dancing 

12:00 pm 

Carolina has been teaching global dance including Bollywood for over 20 years. Her company works to educate and inspire creativity and cultural exploration through dance performance and education.  She will provide an exciting dance performance and will end with an invitation for the audience to learn some Bollywood dance moves. During this 20-minute performance, our audience will enjoy popular Bollywood and Bhangra songs.
 

Flamenco Music and Dancing 

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. 
 

International Fashion Show 

1:00 pm
The exciting Lotus and Waterlily Multicultural Fashion show will be featuring four designers. Fashion By Design brings contemporary African designs from Ghana and Nigeria. Hermann Shasha brings contemporary designs with bold prints from Ivory Coast. Tonia Coley brings unique natural hair styles. OJeanne Wear designs Ghanaian clothing and accessories for children and adults. Powered by IPI and coordinated in Inga Kim. 
 

Dance Party with DJ Kweks 

1:45 pm

Kweks is a world renowned international and afro beats DJ hailing from Ghana in West Africa.  He has built a name for himself through bringing diverse diaspora groups together through music including hip-hop, reggae and more.  He’s performed all over the world including for BET, the World Bank, the African Union and Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens for past Lotus and Water Lily festivals.  Kweks will play music for the dance party and during the international fashion show.
 

Experience Band 

2:15 pm

Close out the Lotus and Water Lily Festival with the wonderful music of the Experience Band! Enjoy some good funk, pop, r&b, jazz, go-go, and sometimes rock music with the Experience Band of DC which were founded in 2017.The band has performed with grammy-nominated artists such as DC's own Raheem Davaughn, Lala Hathaway at the Warner Theatre in DC.They enjoy bringing all types of musicall types of people together to promote love and unity.
 

Beaver Basics 

2:00 – 3:00 pm 

Join a ranger for a short 10-to-15-minute talk on beavers.  We’ll show visitors the active beaver lodge in the garden and will feature some “show and tell” items like a beaver pelt and skull.  Meet at the visitor center for a short walk to the lodge. Talks begin on the half hour. 

 

Directions

There are three easy ways to get to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens! Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens is located at 1550 Anacostia Ave. NE.

  1. Drive: The park has a dedicated parking lot that fills up quickly on busy weekends. Please refrain from parking in the neighborhood or blocking driveways. We recommend parking on the park side of Anacostia Avenue or there is additional parking parking for visitors with disabilities is located on Anacostia Avenue between Polk St. and Ord St. NE at the old Kenilworth-Parkside Recreation Center campus and is a short walk from near the park entrance. There is plenty of additional parking at this location.
  2. Bike: Enjoy a 20 minute bike ride along the scenic Anacostia Riverwalk Trail, starting from the Anacostia Skating Pavilion (1500 Anacostia Drive SE) to the festival site. You can also bike the Anacostia River Trail from Bladensburg, Md., to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. Bike racks are available at the end of the spur trail that leads from the paved Anacostia River Trail into the gardens. Please leave your bike at the bike racks as biking on the paths around the ponds is not permitted.
  3. Metro: This summer, due to metro construction near the park, visitors won’t be able to ride the rails directly to these stations to walk to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Instead, there will be WMATA shuttles from nearby metro stations.
 
People taking pictures of the lotus flowers
People taking pictures of the lotus flowers

Tim Ervin

What to Bring

Please bring water! Bottled water is sold in the Visitor's Center. The area around the ponds does not have much shade and it can be very hot during the summer so make sure you carry water with you to stay hydrated as you walk around the park.

You can bring a picnic or snacks to the park. Picnic tables are available in the picnic and a few other locations. There are no grills in the picnic area and visitors are not permitted to bring grills to the park. On some weekends in July, there will be food trucks in the park for the convenience of park visitor since there are no places nearby to purchase food and beverages.

Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. Dogs on leash are allowed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens and owners are responsible for picking up waste.

Safety

Be prepared! July is a hot month in Washington, DC, so having a hat, staying hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion and wearing sunscreen are recommended. It is also a good idea to wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes.

Mask wearing is no longer required outdoors for anyone who is fully vaccinated though maintaining adequate social distancing is still recommended for all visitors.

Don’t leave valuables in your car, and park only in the designated parking areas mentioned above.

If you see something, say something! Call U.S. Park Police at 202-617-7500.

 
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Last updated: July 30, 2022

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Mailing Address:

1900 Anacostia Ave SE
Washington , DC 20020

Phone:

202 692-6080

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