Thursday, March 27, 2014

DC Favorites, Part II

Continuing a list of some of the best that the DC area has to offer...

Favorite pan-European events:
1) European Union Open House Day
While some of the larger embassies regularly host public events, many smaller embassies do not have the space and staff for that. However, once a year, every May, all EU embassies throw open their doors for one Saturday. Begun only a few years ago, this has become an immensely popular event. Some embassies offer food and drink samples and kids' activities, others allow you to meet and greet the ambassador, while others fill their buildings with live music. If a visitor is committed to seeing a number of embassies, then picking up a passport is a must - you'll get a stamp at every embassy you visit.
Quite a few embassies are within walking distance of one another on Massachusetts Avenue (otherwise known as Embassy Row), including the Latvian and Estonian missions. Shuttle buses are provided in order to allow visitors to more easily reach embassies that are a bit off the beaten track, including the Lithuanian.
This year's Open House is scheduled for Saturday, May 10. 
The folk music ensemble "Sudrabavots" entertains visitors at the Embassy of Latvia (credit: P. Alunans)

2) European Union Film Showcase at AFI movie theatre
Where else can a film lover see 44 different European films in a two-and-a-half week time period? I've seen many interesting, enlightening and entertaining movies here, and look forward to this event every fall.

Favorite free non-European event:
National Book Festival
Only a decade old, this is annual book lovers' event is already a mainstay on the DC area cultural calendar. Initially suggested by First Lady Laura Bush (a former librarian) and organized by the Library of Congress as one-day festival, it has grown into a two-day festival where one can hear dozens of authors, get their signatures, and pick up all sorts of book and reading-related freebies (although, really, how many bookmarks does a person need?). For its entire existence thus far, the festival has taken place under large tents on the National Mall, but apparently the National Park Service has now booted it off the Mall due to damage caused by the tents and by the festival's 200,000 (!) visitors. This year the new location will be the Convention Center, certainly a less picturesque spot, but one that is more conducive to DC area weather, as I've skipped more than one festival due to rain. DC is full of incredibly literate individuals, and it is not unusual to see visitors who bring along small rolling suitcases, full of books they wish to have signed by authors participating in the festival.
For each festival a poster is commissioned, and these tend to be quite whimsical. The three below are a few recent examples (apologies for the less than stellar quality; you can find all of the posters here). My favorite is the one with Abe Lincoln, and the third one is just for my friend Liene and her mom.
Artist: Suzy Lee

Artist: Jon J. Muth
Artist: Jan Brett


  1. Wow, a bunch more things to put on our "to-do" list... The tour of embassies especially sounds great, like taking a tour around the world in one day. Not sure we'll be doing the film festival anytime soon (the boys are more Thomas the Train movie fans), but the book festival seems just my speed. I wonder how much the last poster is going for on ebay?

  2. Yup, Liene's mom's favorite children's book illustrator (unless Linda Treija started her own series...) definitely IS Jan Brett! This poster would be an INCOMPARABLY WONDERFUL gift....!

    1. Haha, I'd heard that Liene's mom and grandmother read my blog. :) Glad to see it's true! I agree that kids' books illustrated by Linda would be fantastic.


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