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WASHINGTON, DC

In addition to it's many historical, political and cultural attractions, Washington, DC's annual festivals and special events are closely followed throughout the world. Thousands flock to see the elegant cherry trees that adorn the tidal basin with their spring blossoms, while others congregate along the National Mall to watch the spectacular Fourth of July fireworks light up the Washington, DC sky.

WASHINGTON, DC ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE: March
Annual celebration brings Irish culture, costumed dancers and music to Constitution Avenue. www.dcstpatsparade.com.

NATIONAL CHERRY BLOSSOM FESTIVAL: March - April
Washington DC's annual National Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of the coming of spring and commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to the U.S. by Tokyo mayor, Yukio Ozaki in 1912. The two-week festival includes many cultural, sporting and culinary events. Highlights of the festival include the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and the Japan America Society of Washington, DC's Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival, presenting more than 80 organizations highlighting Japanese performances, arts, crafts and food. The Parade showcases entries from across the country and around the world, including Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, lavish floats, gigantic helium balloons, exciting international performance groups, marching bands and celebrity guests. Both the Sakura Matsuri and Cherry Blossom Festival parades are scheduled April 14. www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org

ANNUAL SMITHSONIAN KITE FESTIVAL: March
Colorful kites fill the sky on the grounds of the Washington Monument. www.kitefestival.org

FILMFEST DC: Washington International Film Festival: April
For 11 days in April, filmgoers take a cinematic journey around the world, without ever leaving the nation's capital. The Washington, DC International Film Festival brings outstanding world cinema right to Washington, DC with more than 100 features, documentaries, short films and special programs. www.filmfestdc.org

WHITE HOUSE EASTER EGG ROLL: April
This annual tradition dates back to 1878 and President Rutherford B. Hayes. Children ages 3 to 6 frolic on the South Lawn searching for more than 24,000 wooden eggs that have been hidden throughout the grounds. There is also an Easter celebration at the Ellipse including entertainment, music, storytelling and food giveaways for the whole family to enjoy. www.whitehouse.gov/history/tours/easter.html

CAPITAL PRIDE: June
The fourth-largest gay pride event in the United States, Capital Pride events and the Capital Pride Festival is a nine-day festival focusing on diversity, cultural achievement, civil rights issues and entertainment by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals, families, and friends. Capital Pride celebrates the uniqueness of all individuals who participate in the annual celebration through creating involvement in the annual parade and street festival. www.capitalpride.org

BARBECUE BATTLE: June
Now entering its 15th year, the Barbecue Battle features serious competition between top BBQ competitors, great BBQ restaurants from our area and around the country, cooking demonstrations, free food samples, interactive cooking displays and children's activities. Tens of thousands of people witness barbecue teams and restaurants from around the country compete to win cash and prizes and a chance to represent the Mid-Atlantic United States at the Barbecue World Championship, Memphis in May. www.barbecuebattle.com

DC CARIBBEAN CARNIVAL: Late June
The DC Caribbean Carnival returns to its new home in downtown Washington with colorful costumes, music and regional food. The highlight of the Carnival is the annual parade. Twenty-two colorful bands of masqueraders accompanied by the sweetest, most infectious music, will be dancing up a storm down Constitution Avenue, 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Parade participants and the general public will be entertained in a three-block enclosed section of Pennsylvania Avenue. www.dccaribbeancarnival.com

SMITHSONIAN FOLKLIFE FESTIVAL: June - July
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is a national, even international, celebration of contemporary living traditions. The 2007 festival will focus on Mekong River, Northern Ireland and Virginia, in honor of Jamestown's 400th anniversary celebration. The Festival typically includes daily and evening programs of music, song, dance, celebratory performance, crafts and cooking demonstrations, storytelling, illustrations of workers' culture, and narrative sessions for discussing cultural issues. The Festival encourages visitors to participate - to learn, sing, dance, eat traditional foods, and converse with people presented in the Festival program. Over the years, it has brought more than 16,000 musicians, artists, performers, craftspeople, workers, cooks, storytellers and others to the National Mall to demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and aesthetics that embody the creative vitality of community-based traditions. To date the Festival has featured exemplary tradition bearers from 54 nations, every region of the United States, scores of ethnic communities, more than 100 American Indian groups, and some 50 occupations. Festivals typically include international, regional/state, occupational, and thematic cultural programs and events. www.folklife.si.edu

INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION: July 4th
Celebrate the nation's birthday in the nation's capital. Don't miss the parade, with more then 100 marching units stepping out at noon along Constitution Avenue. When that's over, popular music groups entertain from mid-afternoon until the fireworks. The National Symphony Orchestra, with guest stars and soloists, performs at 8 pm The fireworks show begins around 9:20 pm over the Washington Monument grounds.

LEGG MASON TENNIS CLASSIC: July - August
Professional tennis action comes to the District in this annual tournament. Past winners include Andy Roddick and five-time champion Andre Agassi. Located in Rock Creek Park, the host facility is the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center, a top-flight stadium with permanent seating for 7,500 spectators. www.leggmasontennisclassic.com

WASHINGTON, DC RESTAURANT WEEK: January & August
This bi-annual tradition encourages visitors and locals alike to sample some of the region's top restaurants with special three-course, fixed-price meals. To correspond with the year, lunches are priced and $20.07 and dinners at $30.07. www.restaurantweekdc.com

KENNEDY CENTER PRELUDE FESTIVAL: September
For the fifth consecutive year, the Kennedy Center gets ready for the fall season with a multi-week festival full of dazzling performances and free events that celebrate the best of the arts in Washington. The festival includes local theatre companies, dance and music including the Washington Ballet and the National Symphony Orchestra. www.kennedy-center.org

REEL AFFIRMATIONS FILM FESTIVAL: October
One of the largest gay and lesbian film festivals in the country showcasing great gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered films from around the world. Eleven-day festival features nearly 60 films and events including Opening Night, Women's Filmmaker Brunch, and Closing Night Awards Ceremony. www.reelaffirmations.org

MARINE CORPS MARATHON: October
The 26 mile, 385 yard, USATF certified course is relatively flat, winding through Arlington, Georgetown and the District of Columbia. Passing many of the area's attractions, including the Capitol, Union Station, the Jefferson, Lincoln and FDR Memorials, the Pentagon, the Smithsonian Museums and the Kennedy Center, it is truly a beautiful course that has been aptly nicknamed the "Marathon of the Monuments." www.marinemarathon.com

NATIONAL CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING AND PAGEANT OF PEACE: December
For 84 years, the American tradition of lighting a national Christmas Tree has continued, interrupted only briefly in its history during moments of great national travail. Every year, the Christmas Pageant of Peace officially begins when the wife of the Vice President places the topmost ornament on the National Christmas tree, usually a few days before the opening night lighting ceremony. The tree itself is a live 40-foot Colorado blue spruce transplanted from York, Pennsylvania to its present site on the Ellipse in 1978. The Pageant of Peace includes live performances and the turning on of the lights of the National Christmas Tree. Each night during December, musical groups perform free concerts for the entertainment of visitors to the Ellipse. www.nps.gov/whho/pageant

Be sure to contact each event for current dates and times.

Photos and wording courtesy of Washington, DC Convention and Tourism Corporation

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