Lotus Festival for ‘Grammers and Regular Photographers


There’s only one national park dedicated to aquatic plants, and that’s Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, located surprisingly IN the District of Columbia. I was there in Mid-July for their Lotus and Water Lily Festival.

All summer but especially at the peak flowering time and during the festival, the place is swarming with photographers. This year the 2-day festival attracted about 13,500 visitors, and I’m told attendance has been growing.

The only visitors I saw getting photos taken of themselves.

I wondered about the effect of social media, especially Instagram, on hyper-photogenic places like this. Friends of Kenilworth Aquatic Park volunteer coordinator David Drawbaugh confirmed that he’s “sure a lot of people learn about the park through pictures of it on social media.” So selfies can be a good thing?

Funny thing, though. When I was there early Sunday morning of the festival I didn’t see a single selfie taken! I wonder if it’s generational, or even cultural.

I say that because SO many of the visitors I saw here are older, and from East Asia, where I’m told that lotus blossoms have a long cultural importance.

I asked about portraits and selfies and David confirmed that they’re popular here and I found the best possible one among the 2018 winners of the park’s Photo Contest.

Lotus blossoms with Corgi was a sure winner in the people category. (Is posing with a dog cheating?)

Here’s a couple more winners.

David urges the public to come anytime. “There may not be as many flowers in bloom in the fall, winter or spring, but the park has a different kind of beauty.” No doubt, and lots of wildlife there along the river.

Gardens and ‘Grammers
Looks like this garden survives the onslaught of photographers and Instagrammers better than some. According to the Slate article “Stop and ‘Gram the Roses,” “Influencers, bloggers, YouTubers, and onlookers go to great destructive lengths to snap and share pictures of flowers.”

Sometimes plants get no respect.


  1. I was there all day Saturday and can attest to seeing a number of selfies taken – including several young women (16-25) who looked like they dressed and did hair and make-up just for the pics – some had friends/helpers assisting them.
    I think your Sunday morning timing was not a good one for catching this crowd – they’d either have been sleeping in or heading to the highlight of their week: brunch.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here