Washington, D.C. Journals

A Fistful of Festivals

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An April 2005 trip to Washington, D.C. by Idler

Megawatt smiles from thousands of miles Photo, Washington, D.C., United States More Photos
Quote: From fabulous one-offs to annual extravaganzas that have come to symbolize this capital city, Washington, D.C. provides an astonishing wealth of festivals. Here are some of this local's favorites.

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival

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Story/Tip

The Silk Road Festival Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
Only one thing coaxes me downtown during the heat and crowds of the summer, and that one thing is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Held in late June and early July, with a brief hiatus when preparations take place for the Fourth of July fireworks and flag-waving hoopla, the festival is now in its 39th year. The first Folklife Festival I attended was about eighteen years ago, and I was instantly smitten. Each festival showcases different nations, regions of the U.S., and themes, and I remember that the first festival I attended featured Hawaii. It was my first exposure to authentic Hawaiian (versus the to...Read More
Stunning choreography at the Sakura Matsuri Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
Even though sakura means "cherry blossom" and matsuri means festival, there’s scarcely a cherry blossom in sight for this jam-packed, blockbuster street festival held "inland" (off the Mall and away from the Tidal Basin) between 12th and Pennsylvania, NW. While the Sakura Matsuri is part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, its focus is more on Japanese culture and less on the cherry blossoms per se. Organized by the Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C., the street festival transforms the Federal Triangle area into a slice of Japan for a single day. But what a day – arts-and-crafts demonst...Read More

The Smithsonian Kite Festival

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Story/Tip

Kites over the Capitol Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
I’d always meant to spend a day at the Smithsonian Kite Festival, which is held each spring at the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival, and this year I finally managed to. We’d driven by the Mall in previous years when the festival was in progress, catching sight of dozens of kites fluttering in the breeze near the Washington Monument, but we never stopped, parking being what it is in Washington. This year, with the area next to the Washington Monument blocked off by immense, ugly, safety/construction barriers, the festival was held further up the Mall, near the Smithsonian museums. My husband always stubbornly insists on driving t...Read More

The National Cherry Blossom Festival

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Story/Tip

Tidal Basin Panorama Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
The quintessential Cherry Blossom Festival events consist of a parade down Constitution Avenue and the classic stroll around the Tidal Basin at peak blossom time, but there’s a great deal more than this to the two-week-long festival, which begins in March and continues well into April each year. There are bike tours, evening lantern-lit walks, a fireworks display on the waterfront, events at the National Arboretum and other local horticultural venues, and a virtual smorgasbord of food and culture at restaurants, embassies, art galleries, and concert halls around town. In short, the entire two weeks is packed with things to do. This year’s festival ran from March 26th to April 10th and benefitt...Read More

The First Americans Festival

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Story/Tip

Hula hunk Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
For openings of major museums and monuments, such as last year’s Memorial Day dedication of the World War II Memorial, Washington pulls out all the stops. This was the case again last September, when the long-anticipated National Museum of the American Indian opened. I’d seen this striking museum slowly take shape in the space between the National Air & Space Museum and the National Botanical Garden, and it was clear that this was going to be a new type of museum for the city. Tuesday, September 21, 2004, the day the museum o...Read More

The National Book Festival

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Story/Tip

Nathaniel Philbrick at the National Book Festival Photo, Washington, D.C., United States
Quote:
George W. Bush has done exactly two things in office that this lifelong Democrat approves of: letting government employees keep their frequent flyer miles and starting the National Book Festival. Actually, I should give credit where credit is due: Laura Bush, our unofficial "librarian in chief," is really the mover and shaker behind the National Book Festival. I anticipate this one-day festival the way a kid looks forward to Christmas. Beginning as a relatively low-key affair in 2001, the first festival was held in large pavilion tents set up on the West Lawn of the Capitol, each tent devoted to a broad literary genre, such as Fiction & Imagination, History & Current Events, ...Read More