Visiting DC for Memorial Day? This post is about things that are happening for Memorial Day in 2023.
There are usually a number of different events and ceremoniesei that commemorate this special weekend including a national concert, parade, and motorcycle rally.
This post covers things to do in Washington DC on Memorial Day 2023.
Read our master post on things to do in DC any time of year - we talk about what museums are open right now!
Memorial Day is an important national holiday that honors the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military.
Washington D.C. is a special place to mark this day with various events and activities that pay tribute to the country’s military history.
If you're planning to visit the capital city this May, then you're in luck as there are a lot of things to do in DC for Memorial Day Weekend.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top activities and events that you can attend.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO ON MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND
DC is the perfect place to spend Memorial Day. There are plenty of places to see and things to do to honor our fallen service members.
This section covers our top five list for Memorial Day.
Some of the items listed in this post are included for free with the purchase of a tourist discount pass.
1. Memorial Day Parade
May 29, 2023 - 2 pm - 5 pm along Constitution Ave NW
Come see the nation's largest Memorial Day parade right here in the nation's capital.
Marching bands, floats, performers, and veterans will promenade down Constitution for this exciting event.
The National Memorial Day Parade is a long-standing tradition in Washington D.C. that takes place annually along the National Mall.
This year, the parade will feature military bands, marching units, and veterans who will march from the National Archives to the Lincoln Memorial.
The opening ceremonies will include musical performances by Colbie Caillat, Andy Grammer, Craig Morgan. Actors Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinese as well as astronauts from the Apollo Missions over 50 years ago will be marshalling.
It's a sight to behold, so make sure you head down early to get a good view.
The parade livestream may be viewed on YouTube here.
Where is the best place to watch the Memorial Day Parade?
The Memorial Day Parade starts at Constitution Ave NW at 7th Street and continues along until 17th Street. You can find a spot anywhere along Constitution Ave NW but here are a few places you may want to arrive early because they offer the best view:
- Steps of the National Archives
- Constitution Ave Side of American History Museum or Natural History Museum - there is more shade in this area and low laying walls that you can sit on!
How to get to the Memorial Day Parade?
The closest Metro stations to the Parade Route are Federal Triangle and Smithsonian but those are likely to be very crowded! As as well as the Archives station!
If you're planning on being near the end of the route (15th or 17th and Constitution Ave NW), then we suggest going via the McPherson Metro Station.
If you're going to the start of the parade route, Chinatown stop on the Red Line is a straight walk down 7th Street!
How Long is the Memorial Day Parade
The parade is usually about 3 hours.
Opening ceremonies start at 1pm and the parade itself begins at 2pm.
The parade begins at 2 pm, but come early to catch a good spot! The steps of the National Archives are usually the most popular place!
You can easily get to the parade by Metro so you don't have to worry about parking in the area.
2. Memorial Day Tours
What better way to honor veterans than visiting their memorials?
3. Visit Arlington National Cemetery
Honor our fallen heroes by visiting Arlington National Cemetery.
You can also take an audio tour of the cemetery. Be sure to catch the Changing of the Guard Ceremony on the hour.
You will see flags decorating each of the over 250,000 tombs and free roses will be provided for visitors to pay tribute thanks to the Memorial Day Roses Foundation.
Be sure to read our post on Arlington National Cemetery to better plan your trip!
4. National Memorial Day Concert
May 28, 2023
One of the best Memorial Day traditions is PBS's annual National Memorial Day Concert.
The concert is open to the public and no tickets are required.
The concert begins at 8pm and ends around 930pm. Gates open at 5pm.
The National Memorial Day Concert is a broadcast event that airs live on PBS on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend.
The concert is held on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol and features live musical performances, the National Symphony Orchestra, and dramatic readings.
The best way to reach the Memorial Day Concert is via Metro - Union Station and Federal Center SW are the closest stations to the Capitol's West Lawn.
It's a wonderful tribute to our fallen heroes and a great opportunity for tourists to experience something truly special.
For 2023, you can see Joe Mantegna, Gary Sinise, Mary McCormack, Jack Everly, The National Symphony Orchestra, The Military District of Washington, The U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The U.S. Army Chorus, The U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters, The U.S. Air Force Singing Sergeants, and the Soldier’s Chorus of the United States Army Field Band.
For more information, click here.
For more nighttime activities, visit our Things to do at Night in DC post.
5. Visit the American History Museum
The Smithsonian Museum of American History is a popular destination on Memorial Day Weekend as it features a number of exhibitions that pay tribute to America's military history.
Some of the highlights include the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the national anthem, and and the Price of Freedom: Americans at War exhibit.
The museum is free to visit and it's located on the National Mall.
6. Visit the Air Force Memorial
It honors Air Force men and women who have served since its beginning in 1992.
If you're surprised we have an Air Force Memorial, it's probably because it wasn't until 2006 that it was completed and dedicated, so you might have visited before it was around.
Come out and visit it on Memorial Day to honor our Air Force and to catch a breathtaking view of Arlington Cemetery and the city.
7. Navy Memorial
Honor our Navy veterans past and present by visiting their memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue.
On May 29, 2023 at 1pm there is a wreath laying ceremony that features the Navy Band & Ceremonial Guard and is completely free to the public.
Afterward, you can go across the street and visit the National Archives to see our Charters of Freedom: the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence, the documents of our freedom that our veterans have fought for.
Other memorials in DC that you can visit over Memorial Day weekend. There are usually various wreath laying events at this memorials on Memorial Day.
- WWII Memorial
- Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- Korean War Veterans Memorial
- WWI Memorial
- American Veterans Disabled for Life
- American Indian Veterans Memorial
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial
- National Guard Memorial
- African American Civil War Memorial
8. Visit Iwo Jima at Night
The Marine Corps Memorial, (or the Iwo Jima Memorial, as it’s often unofficially referred to) is an impressive sight during the day but especially lit up at night.
It features six 32-foot figures raising a 20-foot bronze flagpole in honor of every Marine who has served since the founding of the Marines in 1775.
We recommend coming back after dark because lit up the memorial is extra imposing. Feel free to stop by anytime between 6 am and midnight to pay tribute to our Marines.
9. Go to a Game
May 28-30, 2023
The Washington Nationals are spending Memorial Day in New York City, but they will be playing the Rockies at home over the weekend.
The stadium is limiting how many people can attend a game and preference goes to season ticket holders, but you can buy tickets from resell websites, like StubHub.
- May 27, 2023, @ 4:05 PM
- May 28, 2023, @ 1:35 PM
- May 29, 2023, @ 1:05 PM
You'll find a number of great restaurants and bars before or after the game, but Nat's Park is an experience in itself.
May is also the postseason for NBA (basketball) and NHL (hockey) so keep an eye on the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals!
10. See Rolling to Remember (the new name of Rolling Thunder)
May 28, 2023
Rolling Thunder, the nation's most iconic display of support for veterans, has a new name but the same mission.
Rolling To Remember raises awareness for those still missing and calls for action to find real solutions to the over 22 veterans who die from suicide each day.
Friday, May 26, 2023 9pm - Candlelight vigil at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
Sunday, May 28, 2023 12pm - Rolling to Remember ride from the Pentagon around the National Mall.