Programs & Events
Gadsby's Tavern Museum offers an array of public programs for all ages and interests. From 18th century dancing to scout programs, experience the diverse history of the tavern through exciting educational activities. Check the calendar of events for upcoming programs and events or see below for additional information. Phone registrations can be made with Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover. Tickets are also available online.
Take a break from the fast pace of the holiday season and experience the unique charm and history of Old Town during Alexandria’s most popular holiday event. Tour Old Town’s most historic sites by candlelight on the second weekend of December and enjoy seasonal decorations, entertainment and light refreshments.
Just as guests at the tavern did over 200 years ago, enjoy different rum punch creations from local distilleries, restaurants and caterers and vote for your favorite! Also enjoy food and a silent auction filled with great items.
It's never too early for your kids to appreciate history! The museum hosts weekly open play times for toddlers (walkers through 36 months) and their caregivers. Drop by Mondays September through April anytime between 10:30 a.m. – Noon. Closed for Federal Holidays. Cost is $7 per group of three (must include one adult), or purchase a 5 week pass for $30. No reservations needed!
Interested in living the history of Gadsby’s Tavern Museum?
George Washington's Birthnight Banquet and Ball
Celebrate the birth of the Father of our Country by participating in this annual tradition that dates back to 1789 in Alexandria. The Washingtons themselves danced in the historic City Tavern ballroom at this celebration in 1798 and 1799. Sponsored by the GWBCC during the weekend of President’s Day, join costumed interpreters portraying the Washingtons and other notable figures of the day, partake of a period-inspired meal, then join in the 18th century English Country Dancing. Reservations required.
18th Century Balls
Dance in the historic ballroom that was once the setting for the elegant events that marked George Washington's birthday and other important social occasions in Alexandria. Period music, re-enactors and guests clad in period attire, a dessert collation, and candlelight combine to make Gadsby's balls festive events. These balls are held several times a year, featuring a variety of themes and time periods. Period clothing is not required, though after-five attire is suggested.
Civil War Balls
Experience 19th century Alexandria by attending the Civil War Ball. Period music and desserts, guests clad in 1860s attire, and a variety of waltzes and marches combine to make this ball a unique experience. Period clothing, either military or civilian, is not required, though after-five attire is suggested. Reservations recommended.
Learn 18th Century English Country Dancing or dances from the Civil War era with a trained dance instructor. A series of dance classes is held prior to every ball. Classes before the balls are strongly encouraged.
Held every four years to coincide with the modern presidential election, this special period banquet and program is based on Thomas Jefferson’s Inaugural Banquet at the City Tavern in 1801.
Interested in learning more?
All families are invited to see the tavern through kid’s eyes as our young Junior Docents provide stationed tours of the Museum and share their enthusiasm for history. Tours take place Sunday afternoons throughout the late spring and summer, and are included with regular tour admission.
FREE Tavern Day Open House
Want to learn to dance like George Washington? Ever heard of a learned pig? Then come to Gadsby's Tavern Museum's open house - Tavern Day – the first Saturday of August. Enjoy free admission as you experience Alexandria's five-star hotel of the 18th century through costumed guides, period dancing, refreshments, and much more!
FREE Parade Day Open House
Enjoy the annual George Washington parade on President’s Day and then tour the tavern for FREE! Learn from costumed guides about the place where George Washington dined and danced.
Held in the fall and spring, lectures at the museum cover a range of topics relevant to all aspects of the tavern’s history. Scholars in many different fields give lectures in the historic ballroom. Past topics have included George Washington, 18th century music, restoring Gadsby's Tavern, tavern beverages, the evolution of hospitality, interpreting inventories, recognizing colonial architecture and more. Reservations recommended.
Interested in bringing your scouts to the tavern?
Juniors: Complete two-thirds of the It’s Your World—Change It leadership journey for Junior Girl Scouts by joining Gadsby’s Tavern Museum for an overnight that walks girls step by step through what makes a great leader and how to lead a project of their own. The evening will use the story of how the museum buildings were saved as a case study for creating their own community-changing project. Girls will complete the Power of One and Power of Team sections of the journey and begin planning their community project for the final Power of Community section. Troops will need to take action and carry out their project at home to complete the journey.
Cadettees: Media is an unavoidable part of life, but are you controlling it or is it controlling you? Girls will use the collection of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum to examine types of media, persuasion techniques, and stereotypes. Then, using their new media savvy, they’ll take action and create a Public Service Announcement to get the real message about a topic that’s important to them. By the end of the overnight, girls will have completed all of the steps for the It’s Your Story—Tell It: Media leadership journey for Cadette Girl Scouts.
These overnights run concurrently. The different troop levels complete separate activities but share a common sleeping space and breakfast.
Tea with Martha Washington
Tea was the preferred social beverage of the 18th century. Serving it was a sign of politeness and hospitality, and drinking it was a custom characterized by distinctive manners. Children and adults are invited to experience the ritual of tea, as well as 18th century fashion and deportment, with special guest Martha Washington.
During the 18th century traveling sword masters used taverns to give lesson to local townsmen. Now you can experience this too! Learn about 18th century swordplay and weaponry from the Living History Foundation's master fencers. Participate in lively discussions, witness breathtaking displays of swordplay, and test your new-found skills of the sword. Reservations recommended.