50 years ago, on July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to step foot on the moon. The Washington, DC area is buzzing with activities to celebrate this momentous occasion, from major events downtown to special local park events and more. There are also several places you can visit year-round to learn more about the Apollo 11 mission and how it changed the landscape of space travel.
Local Fairfax County Events
The Fairfax County Park Authority will also be celebrating the anniversary of man’s giant leap from Earth to the moon this summer with its new Discovery Trail Map, which explores area parks and historic sites and their connection to transportation throughout history. Visit eight sites, collect stickers at each, and be entered to win a new bicycle. Pick up a map at county park sites and county libraries, or download a copy online. Several other special park events include:
- July 16: The Moon and the Stars Campfire – E.C. Lawrence Park
- July 20: Walking on the Moon – E.C. Lawrence Park
- July 20: Moon Landing Campfire – Lake Accotink Park
On July 18, celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing at the Pohick Regional Library with a special screening of "First Man" - the 2018 film starring Ryan Gosling about the moon landing. The screening begins at 7pm.
At the Children's Science Center Lab in Fair Oaks Mall on July 20, kids can take part in special hands-on activities throughout the Lab to commemorate the launch and landing of Apollo 11. From 12pm - 3pm, visit the different hands-on stations with the Moon Passport. Complete all the activities to receive a temporary Moon tattoo. From 3pm - 4pm, meet with Dov Rhodes, a Research Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, who will talk about the lunar environment and implications for human and robotic explorers.
Head to DC for Some Once-in-a-Lifetime Anniversary Events
The Washington, DC location of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum will hold a five-day celebration on the National Mall, from July 16-20, culminating with a late-night event at the museum to celebrate the exact time the first steps occurred. Here is just a sampling of what's coming up during this multi-day celebration:
- Neil Armstrong's Spacesuit on Display: Starting Tuesday, July 16, visitors can see moonwalker Armstrong's spacesuit in person for the first time in 13 years as it will be on view at the museum.
- Experience a once-in-a-lifetime celebration by witnessing a 363-foot Saturn V rocket projected on the east face of the Washington Monument to celebrate this momentous anniversary (pictured above). The projection will be live from 9:30-11:30pm July 16-18, building up to a 17-minute "Go for the Moon" show combining full-motion projection mapping artwork and archival footage to recreate the launch of Apollo 11 and tell the story of the Moon landing. The free full show will run at 9:30, 10:30, and 11:30pm on July 19 and July 20.
- On July 17, the museum will host a screening of "Ready Jet Go!," the award-winning animated space-themed PBS KIDS series on the IMAX screen. The screening will be followed by live music performances, games, a meet and greet with the series' star, and more.
- On July 18, watch Mythbusters star Adam Savage collaborate with Tested.com for a special replica build project of the Apollo 11 Command Module Columbia.
- From July 18 - 20, the "Apollo 50 Festival" will take place on the National Mall, which will include hands-on activities and exhibits, costumed characters, live performances, and an exciting lineup of speakers that include Mythbusters star Adam Savage, ISS astronauts, authors, NASA scientists and engineers and more.
- On July 19, the museum will present "Discover the Moon Day" - a program of educational and fun family activities about lunar exploration, research and missions. Visitors can retrace the astronauts' steps, visiting stations along the same route they walked on the moon.
- On July 20, attend the free late-night celebration from 8pm to 2am to commemorate the exact time the first steps occurred.
- Also on July 20, the Kennedy Center will host an Apollo 11 Tribute Concert in collaboration with NASA. Hosted by Meredith Viera and Adam Savage, the event will feature the National Symphony Orchestra and appearances by Pharrell Williams, LeVar Burton, Natasha Bedingfield, Charles Fishman, and Mark Armstrong (son of the late Neil Armstrong). You can also witness a never-before-seen music video of David Bowie performing "Space Oddity" live in 1997. The concert begins at 9pm and tickets range from $30 - $150.
See Moon-Related Sites Year Round
Apollo 11 Flotation Collar, on display at the Udvar-Hazy Center - courtesy Smithsonian
Get up close and personal with several artifacts that are on display year-round at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, including the Flotation Collar and Boiler Plate Command Module, as well as the Mobile Quarantine Facility where the astronauts were kept for 65 hours after landing back on Earth. On July 16, head to the Chantilly museum early for the Apollo 11 Launch Celebration, as they broadcast NASA TV's actual launch and hold special storytimes, lectures, and activities. The event runs from 9am - 3pm. Admission is free; parking is $15.
Did you know that you can see real-life moon rocks at two spots in Washington, DC? There's a tiny piece of moon rock embedded inside a beautiful blue and red stained glass window at the National Cathedral. The rock itself is 3.5 billion years old and it was picked up by Neil Armstrong in 1969. Read more about the history of the "Space Window" here. Of course, you can also see a moon rock on display at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. This piece was brought back to Earth on the Apollo 17 in 1972.
How will you celebrate this 50th Anniversary of the Moon Landing? Tell us in the comments below or share with us on social media using #FXVA and @VisitFairfax.