Festivals in Washington, D.C.
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Festivals in Washington, D.C.
From protests to parades, there's always something going on in Washington. For a comprehensive look at what's happening throughout the year, check out www.washington.org, the Web site of the Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corporation. Here are some of our favorite D.C. events representing the city's local, regional, and national pride.
National Christmas Tree Lighting/Pageant of Peace (202/208-1631 www.thenationaltree.org December). Each year in early December, the president lights the tree at dusk on the Ellipse. For the following few weeks the Ellipse grounds host choral performances, a Nativity scene, a Yule log, and a display of lighted Christmas trees representing each U.S. state and territory.
Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday (January). Local celebrations for the civil rights hero include speeches, church services, and dance and choral performances. A new memorial to King was scheduled to open on the Mall in summer 2011.
Restaurant Week (www.washington.org/restaurantwk January and August). Twice each year, during this promotion, more than 200 restaurants throughout D.C., including some of the city's best, offer three-course prix-fixe lunch and dinner menus for around $20 and $35 respectively—often a steal.
Cherry Blossom Kite Festival (877/44-BLOOM www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org Late March-early April). Thanks to a bizarre law still on the D.C. books, kite-flying is forbidden in Washington except on one day in the spring. Kite makers and fliers of all ages are welcome to this event on the Washington Monument grounds.
National Cherry Blossom Festival (877/44-BLOOM www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org Late March-early April). Washington's most eye-catching annual festival opens with a Japanese lantern-lighting ceremony at the Tidal Basin. Some years, the cherry trees actually cooperate with the festival's planners and bloom on schedule.
Filmfest DC (202/234-3456 www.filmfestdc.org Early-mid-April). 2011 marked the 25th anniversary of this festival, which seems to grow more popular each year. Buy tickets ahead of time.
Capital Pride Festival (202/719-5304 www.capitalpride.org Early June). This weeklong festival, the nation's fourth-largest celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered citizens, features a parade with eye-catching floats, plus street performers and community events.
Washington Shakespeare Theatre Free for All (202/547-1122 www.shakespearetheatre.org June). For two weeks, the theater company mounts free nightly performances at the Sidney Harman Hall, near Chinatown. Tickets are required.
Smithsonian's Folklife Festival (202/633-6440 www.folklife.si.edu Late June-early July). This engrossing two-week festival on the National Mall juxtaposes the rich traditions of various corners of the United States and cultures around the world. Highlights include traditional dance and music performances, storytelling, and ethnic food of all sorts.
Independence Day Celebration (202/619-7222 July). July 4 at the nation's capital begins with a grand parade along Constitution Ave. and culminates in awe-inspiring fireworks over the Washington Monument. At dusk, the National Symphony Orchestra plays from the Capitol's west lawn.
National Book Festival (202/707-1940 Late September). Sponsored by the Library of Congress, this two-day event attracts some of the world's top authors, poets and illustrators to the National Mall, where visitors can get books signed, snap photos with their favorite scribes, or just swim the seas of literature. It's a great place for kids.
Veterans Day (703/607-8000 Cemetery Visitor Center, 202/619-7222 National Park Service November). Services take place at Arlington National Cemetery, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the U.S. Navy Memorial. A wreath-laying ceremony is held at 11 am at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
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