What's On in Washington DC
- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Washington DC Guide (PDF)
Washington is a historical and cultural centre of the United States and there are many great festivals and celebrations highlighting the country's diversity and honouring its heroes and significant achievements.
Here are some of the most popular annual events in Washington DC to look forward to.
Annual events in Washington DC
Martin Luther King Day (January)
The life of Martin Luther King Jr is honoured annually in January, the month of his birthday. A number of commemorative events take place around the city on the third Monday in January. Events include a wreath-laying service at the Martin Luther King Memorial and a parade. The day is also designated as a national day of community service.
St Patrick’s Day Parade (March)
Washington DC’s version of this famous event is a family day out to celebrate the unique culture of Ireland. Expect dancers and singers, Irish musicians, marching bands, pipe bands and floats.
National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade (April)
The annual Cherry Blossom Festival Parade is a fun and colourful event that takes place along Constitution Avenue. Floats, marching bands and celebrity performers put on a grand spectacle of music and entertainment in a celebration of spring.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival (July)
This unique Washington DC tradition is the city's largest annual cultural event, attracting around a million people a year. The festival aims to celebrate the heritage of different states and regions as well as international communities. Attendees can enjoy music and dance performances, storytelling, exhibitions, and delicious tastings of traditional foods.
National Independence Day Parade (July)
Washington DC is the place to celebrate the Fourth of July in America. The city comes alive with a huge and impressive parade, numerous music performances, arts and crafts festivals, a famous evening performance by the National Symphony Orchestra on the steps of the Capitol building, and of course a massive fireworks display.
National Book Festival (August/September)
The National Book Festival is an annual celebration of literature, involving a full day of book signings and performances, as well as a poetry slam and select film screenings. This festival is a great place for expats to feed their literary appetite and broaden their cultural understanding of the United States through representatives from across the country showcasing books from their states.
National Christmas Tree and Pageant of Peace (December)
This unique festival celebrating the holiday season takes place amidst decorated trees all around the White House Ellipse, with a Santa's Workshop and musical performances from bands, choirs and dancers. The celebration includes a National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, in which the president turns on the decorative lights and ushers in Christmas festivity across the country.