National Gallery Nights Return This Spring. Here’s How to Get Tickets.

Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Few things are more romantic than admiring world-class art while the moon rises. Throw in wine, music, and, well, you get why tickets to the National Gallery’s after-hour events are so coveted. So get ready: The popular nights return next month.

This spring’s three upcoming programs—”Color Theory,” “Flowers After Hours,” and “Art Prom”—will take place on the second Thursday of March, April, and May from 6 to 9 p.m. in the East Building. Per usual, expect light fare, gelato, and spirits, including beer, wine, and cocktails, along with artsy activities, dancing, and pop-up talks with museum experts.

But don’t forget: To enter, you’ll need a free pass, which can be won through a lottery system that opens up the week before here (in past years, when tickets were distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis, they would sell out within minutes). While the number of passes released changes based on the event, the National Gallery says it expects to welcome about 3,000 people over the course of an evening this season. 

You can also sign up for email reminders notifying you when the lottery for each event opens here. Those who win are notified on the Friday the week before the event. Still miss out on tickets? You can always swing by the 4th Street Plaza during the April and May events for outdoor pop-up performances that are open to everyone.

Here’s a look at this spring’s events, along with dates for when each of the lotteries open:


Thursday, March 14: Color Theory

Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Dress in your favorite color (or all the colors) and peruse the varying hues inside the exhibition Mark Rothko: Paintings on Paperset to close at the end of this month—before creating your own Rothko-inspired (or Washington Color School-inspired) masterpiece. Hot Club of Baltimore, DJ Lady Lavender, and DJ Native Son will provide the soundtrack for the night dedicated to celebrating all colors of the rainbow, while museum experts share their knowledge of color theory during pop-up talks.

Lottery opens: March 4 at 10 AM

Lottery closes: March 7 at noon

Winners notified: March 8


Thursday, April 11: Flowers After Hours

The gallery will lean into cherry blossom season for this floral-filled evening during which you can craft wearable flower art with DC’s botanical artist Emily Paluska, who’s known for her bespoke paper blooms, before snapping a pic in front of a live flower wall or embarking on a blossom-themed scavenger hunt. Take the party out onto the Roof Terrace for more art viewing or enjoy performances from New York’s Emerge 125 dance company along with artist demonstrations on the 4th Street Plaza. 

Lottery opens: April 1 at 10 AM

Lottery closes: April 4 at noon

Winners notified: April 5


Thursday, May 9: Art Prom

Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Whether you slip into your finest gown or come adorned in the zaniest clothes your closet has to offer, everyone gets to be class king or queen at this “art prom,” which includes a DIY crown craft and the chance to commemorate the evening with a gloriously-awkward prom photo. When not dancing to DJ Heat, don’t miss the diverse fashion, art, and design that will be on display in the upcoming exhibit Woven Histories: Textiles and Modern Abstraction.

Lottery opens: April 29 at 10 AM

Lottery closes: May 2 at noon

Winners notified: May 3

Jessica Ruf
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