Spring festivals worth the extra travel time

Consider venturing out to these nearby festivals, starring everything from flowers and food to beer and even sock burning.

Photo courtesy of the National Cherry Blossom Festival

National Cherry Blossom Festival
Through April 15
Every year around this time, hordes flock to Washington, D.C.’s Tidal Basin hoping to take in the beauty of the blooming cherry blossom trees, and each year the National Cherry Blossom Festival provides supplementary entertainment. On the 2018 festival’s agenda, find an opening ceremony slated for March 25—it was moved from March 24 due to the March for Our Lives rally—a March 31 kite festival, an inaugural Petalpalooza event featuring games, art installations and fireworks on April 7, and the festival’s popular parade on April 14. // Washington, D.C. 

French Film Festival
Through March 25
Film enthusiast? Well-versed in French? If so, consider this event, set to screen a long list of feature-length and short films. If it’s been a while since you’ve studied this Romance language, not to worry. All films will be accompanied by English subtitles. // Byrd Theatre: 2908 W. Cary St., Richmond

Virginia Horse Festival
March 23-25
For the equine lovers among us, this three-day event will give guests a chance to gawk at a variety of beautiful beasts via Friday’s Parade of Breeds; compete in a trail challenge; learn horsemanship lessons from Ken McNabb, a Wyoming rancher; and be entertained by Austin Anderson and the Texas Trick Riders. But horses aren’t the only animal to star in this weekend festival as—new this year—Jack Russell terriers will race one another. // 13111 Dawn Blvd., Doswell

Annapolis Film Festival
March 22-25
While waiting for the weather to warm up, what else is there to do but stay indoors and take in multiple movies? You can see more than 70 at the Annapolis Film Festival, which takes place over four days and includes a March 25 discussion with Downtown Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt, who makes an appearance in the Saturday film A Crooked Somebody. Check the complete schedule for specific event dates, times and locations. // Annapolis, MD

Annapolis Oyster Roast & Sock Burning
March 24
There’s nothing surprising about an event starring oysters in Annapolis, but sock burning? It may sound strange, but Annapolis residents have been partaking in this tradition since the mid-1980s, burning their winter socks to celebrate the arrival of spring. The appropriately named local band The Eastport Oyster Boys will provide live music while attendees have the choice to participate in an oyster shucking contest or a tasting experience featuring area restaurants and catering companies. // Annapolis Maritime Museum & Park: 723 Second St., Annapolis

Gloucester Daffodil Festival
March 24-25
In the 1930s and ’40s, Gloucester was called the “Daffodil Capital of America” due to its abundance of wild daffodils, a bright yellow flower brought over from England in the mid 1600s. The festival’s origin dates back to 1938, when the Gloucester Rotary Club and Gloucester-Mathews Gazette-Journal proposed what was first called the “First Annual Narcissus Tour.” This year, find a play area for children, amusement rides, a food court, photo booth, a “Fabulous Mutt Show,” live music performances, a parade and the crowing of the Daffodil Queen. // Main Street, Gloucester

Maryland Chicken Wing Festival
April 7
Taste this tailgate party favorite prepared by a variety of area chefs at this fifth annual event. Wash down the wings with local beer and enjoy music from multiple tribute bands  while the little ones take advantage of a kids area. There are two wing eating competitions at 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. // Anne Arundel County Fairgrounds: 1450 Generals Highway, Crownsville, MD

Tom Tom Founders Festival & Summit
April 9-15
Though this festival initially seems more educational than it is entertaining—it’s a weeklong conference about entrepreneurship and civic leadership starring comedian John Cleese; the founder of Honest Tea, Seth Goldman; and representatives from Buzzfeed News, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic and The New York Times, to name a few—don’t overlook the handful of other activities going on, including live music, art displays, special food events and more. // 100 W. South St., Suite 1D, Charlottesville

Canton Spring Festival
April 21
Sponsored by 98 Rock Baltimore, WBAL Baltimore News Radio and more, this outdoor event boasts a long list of local and national vendors, food trucks and yet-to-be-named live music performers. // Patterson Park: Baltimore, MD

D.C. Beer Festival
April 21
For the $45 general admission cost, taste unlimited beer samples from the more than 80 breweries in attendance—there will be more than 200 beers to try—listen to live music, and be admitted to both the food truck alley (note that food must be purchased separately, however) and Bobby McKey’s dueling piano bar space. // Nationals Park: 1500 S. Capitol St. SE, Washington, D.C.

The Rocktown Beer and Music Festival
April 21
With “beer” in its name, it’s only fitting for area breweries to be in attendance at this rain-or-shine festival. Presented by the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance, this typically sold-out event attracts more than 3,000 individuals each year. The Trongone Band, Adar and Illiterate Light will supply the soundtrack for the day. // Turner Pavilion: 228 S. Liberty St., Harrisonburg

91st Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival
April 27-May 6
What began as a one-day event in 1924 has grown into a nine-day celebration that includes a 10K race, talent competition, apple pie baking contest, wine festival, car show, parade, golf tournament, a Miss Apple Blossom competition and more. A former Festival Princess herself, Elizabeth “Beth” Comstock, General Electric’s first female vice chair, will make a celebrity appearance this year. // 135 N. Cameron St., Winchester