Apollo 50th Celebration Hero

11+ Events to Celebrate the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary This Summer

In Space on Earthby Space Tourism Guide10 Comments

In July 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first two people to step foot on the moon. Now, 50 years on, it’s amazing how far the space program has come – and how far we have left to go. To mark the occasion, there are a variety of commemorative Apollo 11 events around the country. These “Apollo 50th” Anniversary events are happening at some of the best space museums and NASA facilities and are open to all ages!

Note: We’ve gotten emails about lots of new Apollo 11 Anniversary Events, and many of them are listed in the comments. Be sure to read the comments to see those events too!

Apollo 11 Mission Timeline

Before we launch into the list of events, it’s helpful to know the exact timeline of the Apollo 11 mission. Most of the Apollo 50th Celebrations happen on the anniversary of these dates:

  • July 16, 1969Liftoff from Kennedy Space Center. Three astronauts (Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins) set out on the three-day journey to the moon.
  • July 20, 1969Lunar Landing. After several maneuvers, astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin take the Lunar Module to the Moon. 
  • July 21, 1969First Man on the Moon. After a few hours of rest, Armstrong and Aldrin begin a multi-hour EVA on the surface of the moon.
  • July 24, 1969Splashdown. Armstrong and Aldrin launch from the surface of the moon, rejoin Collins aboard the Apollo 11 spacecraft and make their journey home. The crew splashes down just over 8 days after they left earth.

Keeping those dates in mind, let’s dive into the list of Apollo 50th Anniversary celebrations around the country!

Related: Want to see the Apollo 11 Command Module? Here’s where it is!

Apollo 50th Anniversary Events – Portland, Oregon

Apollo 50th Anniversary - OMSI
  • Where: OMSI
  • When: July 10-31, 2019
  • Website: link

If you’re in the Portland area, you already know that OMSI is one of the best places to go for science education and experiences. They’re also pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Apollo 50th Anniversary this July. While special planetarium shows focused on the moon and moon landing will be showing all month, the events really kick off on July 10th with a Reel Science screening of The Right Stuff (one of our favorite space movies!)

From there, you can attend a Rocket Day celebration of propulsion, a whole Space Day experience on July 20th to mark the moon landing (and a star party at the end of the night), and even a special OMSI After Dark about Astronomy on July 31st. 

Apollo XI 50th Anniversary Gala – Simi Valley, California

Apollo XI Gala
Photo credit: roadtoapollo50th.com
  • Where: Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
  • When: July 13, 2019
  • Website: link

There’s only one event where you can celebrate with an astronaut who was actually on the Moon for the whole thing! Buzz Aldrin is holding a special 50th Anniversary Gala in southern California, and it’s one of the first events to kick off a two-week window of festivities around the country.

Aldrin’s gala tickets aren’t cheap: the lowest tier starts at $1,000 per person but includes a meet-and-greet, photo of you with the Apollo 11 astronaut himself, a multi-course meal, and auction. The proceeds of the event will support Aldrin’s nonprofit, Human SpaceFlight Institute which focuses on utilizing a collaborative approach to advancing human spaceflight beyond low Earth orbit. So it’s for a good cause and an Apollo 11 enthusiast’s dream opportunity to meet Buzz Aldrin!

Apollo 50th Anniversary Celebration Events – Huntsville, Alabama

Huntsville Apollo50 banner
Photo credit: U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • Where: U.S. Space & Rocket Center
  • When: July 13-20, 2019
  • Website: link

If you’re looking for a week of festivities, look no further than Huntsville, aka Rocket City! From July 13th to 20th, there’s a full schedule of events, including a car show, a celebration dinner, and the Rocket City Summer Fest (a moon landing concert). Oh, and bring your model rockets: on July 16th, Rocket City will attempt to set a Guinness World Record by launching 5,000 model rockets simultaneously (part of Global Launch Day!).

Apollopalooza – Denver, Colorado

Apollopalooza Banner
Photo credit: Wings Over the Rockies
  • Where: Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum
  • When: July 13-20, 2019
  • Website: link

For an entire week surrounding the Apollo 11 mission, Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum is hosting a variety of events, lectures, seminars, and other space-y activities. You can hear from Apollo 17 astronaut Dr. Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, who was one of the last men to walk on the moon, or meet with folks from Spaceport America to hear about the future of space travel. If you’re in the Denver area, this is the place to be to mark the Apollo anniversary!

Apollo 50th Gala – Merritt Island, Florida

Apollo 50th Gala Banner
Photo credit: Kennedy Space Center
  • Where: Kennedy Space Center
  • When: July 16, 2019
  • Website: link

Kennedy Space Center is understandably one of the epicenters for Apollo 11 50th Anniversary celebrations. After all, this is where liftoff took place on July 16, 1969!

To mark the occasion, KSC is hosting a 500-guest gala at the Apollo Saturn V Center. Your fellow guests will include Apollo, Shuttle, and ISS astronauts, flight directors and space legends, Apollo families, NASA executives, celebrities and global movers and shakers, international media, space collectors and educators. The best part? The dress code is “Golden Galactic” (black tie with a twist!). Oh, there’s also an after party and brunch the next morning for certain ticket tiers.

Apollo 50 – Washington, D.C.

Apollo50 Smithsonian Banner
Photo credit: National Air & Space Museum
  • Where: National Air & Space Museum
  • When: July 16-20, 2019
  • Website: link

If you’ll be in the nation’s capital for the Apollo 50th Anniversary, head to the National Mall! There, based around the National Air & Space Museum, there’s a series of fun events for all ages. On July 16th, Neil Armstrong’s suit will be put on display for the first time in over a decade. On July 20th, stay late at the museum to celebrate the exact moment the first steps were taken on the Moon with an evening of activities until 2:00am! And in between, from July 16th to 20th, there will be other events along the mall, too. Your calendar can be as full as you want it to be!

Apollo 50th Anniversary Events – Houston, Texas

Photo credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science
  • Where: Space Center Houston
  • When: July 16-20, 2019
  • Website: link

Houston, like Huntsville, is the other epicenter of Apollo 50th celebrations. In addition to celebrating Space City Month all July, there are hotel and restaurant specials all over town, especially during the week of the Apollo mission. From a Lunar Landing Party to outer space trivia nights, local businesses are getting into the spirit. Space Center Houston will have pop-up science labs, briefings about the Apollo 11 mission, and a special tram experience at nearby Johnson Space Center.

(STG Founder Valerie will be in Houston all week for the Apollo 11th celebrations!)

Summer Moon Festival – Wapakoneta, Ohio

Summer Moon Festival
  • Where: Armstrong Air & Space Museum
  • When: July 19-21, 2019
  • Website: link

Each summer, the town of Wapakoneta hosts a Moon Festival, but this year is a particularly special one. Neil Armstrong’s hometown is pulling out all the stops to celebrate their most beloved citizen’s monumental milestone as the first man on the moon. Enjoy presentations from astronauts, exhibits from NASA, aviation inflatables, free activities, science demonstrations, the Run to the Moon races, and more. A full schedule of events and activities is forthcoming, so keep an eye on the website if that’s where you want to celebrate the Apollo 50th Anniversary.

One Giant Leap Festival – Raleigh, NC

One Giant Leap Festival Banner
Photo credit: North Carolina Museum of History
  • Where: North Carolina Museum of History
  • When: July 20, 2019
  • Website: link

There are possibly no more momentous words spoken in human history: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” 

To mark 50 years since Neil Armstrong spoke those words after his boots touched down on the lunar surface, the North Carolina Museum of History is hosting the One Giant Leap Festival. On July 20th, you can try your hand at hands-on crafts, demonstrations, and activities. You’ll be able to step into a virtual-reality lab where you can “travel” to space and be on the moon and enjoy a bungee-jumping station where you, too, can experience weightlessness, like real astronauts. More details coming soon.

Apollo 50th Anniversary Flight – Merritt Island, Florida

Go ZeroG Banner
Photo credit: ZERO-G
  • Where: Space Florida’s Launch & Landing Facility
  • When: July 20, 2019
  • Website: link

Curious what it was like on the moon? Here’s your chance to experience it! On July 20th, board the ZERO-G plane for a specialized anniversary flight that will demonstrate the feeling of exploring the moon’s surface by recreating lunar gravity and allowing you to float with the ease of carrying one-sixth your normal body weight (aka moon gravity!). Astronaut Scott Kelly will be aboard the flight to mix and mingle – and (probably) answer all your deep burning space questions. 

Moon Landing Anniversary at JGAP – Logan, Ohio

JGAP Apollo 11 Anniversary

From 4pm to 1am on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, head to the plaza at John Glenn Astronomy Park (JGAP) to celebrate. As the afternoon turns to evening, learn about the events of the first landing and moonwalk exactly 50 years after they happened – down to the minute. After sunset, stargaze and learn about objects in the sky. Then, when the moon rises, soon after midnight, peer through the JGAP telescope to get a closer look at the place where it all happened.

Space Out Saturday & Landing on the Lawn – Hutchinson, Kansas

Cosmosphere - Apollo 50th Slide
  • Where: Cosmosphere 
  • When: July 20, 2019
  • Website: link

Even Midwest space enthusiasts have fun ways to celebrate the Apollo 50th Anniversary! Following their standard Space Out Saturday event (which usually happens on the 3rd Saturday each month), stay for Landing on the Lawn. Bring the whole family and attend a puppet show, lab demos, a Moon “selfie” station, giant lawn games, a showing of the CBS footage of the lunar landing… and loads more! This is perfect for young children to grade school age kids.

Apollo 11 50th Anniversary – San Francisco, California

Apollo 11 Banner - Exploratorium
  • Where: The Exploratorium
  • When: July 20, 2019
  • Website: link

On July 20th, San Francisco’s Exploratorium science museum will host a day of festivities to mark the lunar landing. Opening at 10am, the museum will stay open until midnight with a chance to view restored footage of the 1969 landing or bask in the glow of a detailed 16-foot spherical sculpture of the moon. There are other events and exhibits that will be on display as part of Moon Month, too.

Destination Moon – Seattle, WA

Museum of the Moon Banner
  • Where: The Museum of Flight
  • When: April 13 – September 2, 2019
  • Website: link

If you love the moon, head to The Museum of Flight! From now through September 2nd, you can see the Destination Moon exhibit during its only west coast stop. The exhibit includes a giant moon (part of the Museum of the Moon exhibits elsewhere), one-of-a-kind artifacts from the Smithsonian, many flown on the historic mission, plus dozens of NASA and Russian spaceflight additions from the Museum’s renowned collection. The Apollo 11 capsule is also on display. During the weekend of the Apollo 50th anniversary, there will be a festival to mark the lunar landmark.

Flagstaff’s Lunar Legacy – Flagstaff, Arizona

Flagstaff Lunar Legacy Banner
Photo credit: Flagstaff
  • Where: Across Flagstaff
  • When: throughout 2019
  • Website: link

You might not think of Flagstaff, Arizona as a part of the Apollo lunar program, but it actually was. NASA astronauts including Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepard, Buzz Aldrin, and Jack Schmitt (who hails from Flagstaff) all trained in the craters surrounding Flagstaff. To mark the anniversary year, Flagstaff is hosting lectures and events that focus on moon science, the Apollo missions, and the future of human spaceflight. Check the calendar for full details.

Have you heard of other great Apollo 50th Anniversary Celebrations? Which one do you plan to attend?

About the Author

Space Tourism Guide

Space Tourism Guide was founded with a mission to help every traveler find wonder among the stars. We produce expert guides to stargazing, seeing eclipses, the aurora, and rocket launches, travel tips for dark sky destinations, and advice on space tourism.


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    Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Moon Landing Contest –
    NASA Goddard Visitor Center in Greenbelt, MD.

    Saturday July 20, 2019 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landing. Attempt to land your model rocket nearest the center of a “moon” drawn on the ground. We will distribute free commemorative “moon landing” items to the first 200 contest registrants. Trophies and model rocket kit prizes will be awarded to the top youth and adult finishers. A narrated demonstration launch of models of historic NASA space vehicles will take place before the contest.

    The contest is free. On-site registration is required on contest day. You must bring your own rocket and motors, or purchase them at the nearby Goddard Gift Shop. An awards ceremony follows the contest. For more contest details download the contest flyer at https://www.narhams.org

    1. Valerie Stimac

      Thanks so much, Alex! We’ll add this event to our post soon!

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        Sorry not space related but are you related to a Frances (Pozek) & Nick Stimac? ON SUBJECT… SOOOO EXCITED ABOUT 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF MOON LANDING. I was 11!!

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    Hi you have a great site here, and was hoping you could add our event here in the UK on July 20th.

    A Free Entry – Suitable for all ages – Please register for talks there are free
    Celebrating 50 years of the First Man to set foot on the Moon, Astronomy Adventures along with St Richards Catholic College are bringing together artefacts, scientists and much more. To tell the story about the Race to be first on the Moon.

    Like Astronomy Adventures to pickup you Free commemorative badge of “50 years on the Moon” on your visit.

    Have your photo taken in the space suit on the Moon – donation
    Astronomy and Space related stalls
    DR David Whitehouse – Apollo 11 the inside story
    Inflatable Planetarium – Sussex University
    RVA – STEM Club with hands on activities
    Star Wars UK Garrison
    Daytime viewing of the Sun
    Evening Viewing of the Moon
    Rolling Video of launch, Landing and splashdown
    Live video link to NASA
    Make your own Saturn V Rocket and Launch them
    Nick Howes – Moon Artefacts
    Professor David Rees – The story of the Saturn V rocket
    Refreshments available

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    It was quite an event in my life! I was the Launch Crew Supervisor for the Sat V Second Stage and was in the Firing Room w/ the Von Brauns, Petrones, DeBus’s et al to include President Nixon and VP Agnew who came around and congratulated us.
    Fred Cordia

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      Wow! Wow! Wow! That is so amazing. You should be a speaker at one of these events. You must have some really interesting memories and insights.

      Thank you for sharing with us. I can imagine you being in the room and what it was like. Just fantastic.

      God Bless you and all the people who helped accomplish this life changing achievement.

      Mrs. P.

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    Having been born on that day, I have always loved anything that is space themed, from TV shows and movies, books, events, and even games (video and tabletop). Shame that there are no events close by or cheap to attend where I reside.

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    We are looking for any event featuring Buzz Aldrin as he lived not far from our childhood home. My sister handed him a poem written by our immigrant grandfather during his welcome home parade in Montclair NJ that summer. My grandfather subsequently made a mosaic plaque with the poem and a signed picture of the astronaut as a thank-you. It features the independence hall in Philadelphia and Lady Liberty in mosaics. I would love for the honored astronaut to see this piece of memorabilia.

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    Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Celebration
    Saturday, July 20, 10am-2pm
    Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory in Rancho Mirage, CA

    This summer marks the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest achievements of mankind. Join us on July 20, fifty years to the day of when American Astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin first walked on the Moon. Both the Library and Observatory will be filled with activities and experiences for the whole family to enjoy. You’ll be able to take an Observatory tour, explore the moon in virtual reality, view video clips and documentaries about the Apollo program, enjoy moon-themed children’s activities, and much more. Then join us in the Community Room at 1 p.m. as we use our state-of-the-art audio video system to transport you back to 1969, recreating the moon landing with touchdown at 1:17 p.m. exactly fifty years after the first manned trip to the lunar surface. This FREE event is open to the public, and food will be available for purchase. Join your fellow community members to celebrate this amazing achievement together!

    -Observatory Tours
    -Kids Moon-themed Crafts
    -Special Story times
    -Face painting
    -Light up yo-yo give-away for first 750 in attendance
    -Science Demonstrations
    -Virtual Reality Experiences
    -See yourself on the moon using our photo booth
    -3-D printed lunar landscape models and footprint
    -Historical Artifacts and original NASA Apollo-era photos
    -Video clips and documentaries
    -Hot dogs and more available for purchase
    -Re-creation of the Moon landing at 1 p.m.

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