Discover far more than politics in Washington D.C this year

Storm rising over United States Capitol Building, Washington DC
Edited by Travel Weekly


    There’s more than politics going on in the Capital of the United States in 2024 with a range of quirky bars, Michelin-starred dining and a calendar of exhilarating events that keep the city buzzing all year long. 

    In 2024, experience the city in full bloom during the iconic cherry blossom season, take a sneak peek behind the scenes at one of the city’s 175+ embassies, feel the beat of smooth jazz across the city or discover more about America’s luminaries and intriguing history at one of the city’s 74 museums, most of which are free.

    SIGNATURE ANNUAL EVENTS & FESTIVALS

    National Cherry Blossom Festival – 20 March to 14 April 2024 It’s a sea of pink during the annual festival that celebrates the blossoming of over 3,000 cherry trees gifted from Japan in 1912. Don’t miss a photo opportunity of the city in bloom from the Tidal Basin with the Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial in the background and take advantage of ‘Cherry Picks’ with special menus offered by city restaurants. Passport DC – 1 to 31 May 2024A month-long journey in May during Global Diversity Awareness month, to showcase Washington, DC’s thriving international diplomatic community with more than 175 embassies. Enjoy embassy open houses and tours for a behind the scenes experience, get hands-on in workshops, enjoy street festivals, performances, exhibitions and more.Capital Pride – 31 May to 9 June 2024Washington, DC has long been central to LGBTQ+ arts, culture, intelligentsia, and civil rights, as home to one of the first gay rights organisations in the world. Celebrate its annual pride event, with ten days full of vibrant colour and festivity including the iconic parade, and a full schedule of music, film, and theatrical performances. Washington, DC will host WorldPride in 2025.Independence Day – 4 July 2024

    Washington, DC goes off with a bang for this annual all-American celebration. Sing along with music icons at the free ‘A Capitol Fourth’ concert at Capitol Hill, followed by a dazzling fireworks display against the skyline of only-in-DC monuments and memorials.

    Independence day. (Supplied)

    DC JazzFest – 20th Anniversary – September 2024Celebrating 20 years in 2024, experience this distinctly American musical genre in the birthplace of Duke Ellington – one of the greatest jazz composers of his time. The festival is held over two nights on the city’s waterfront at the newly completed The Wharf precinct, featuring musicians from all over the world.

    HISTORY & CULTURE

    National Book Festival – 24 August 2024Each year, the Library of Congress hosts the National Book Festival, a literary event that brings together best-selling authors, poets and illustrators for author talks, panel discussions, book signings and other interactive activities. Over its 20-year history, the festival has become one of the most prominent literary events in America. Smithsonian Folklife Festival – Indigenous Voices of the Americas – 26 to 30 June and 3 to 7 July 2024A free family-friendly event on the National Mall, involving Indigenous artists and makers, chefs, musicians, dancers, athletes, and storytellers, with demonstrations of ancestral tradition and modern approaches to cultural expression. Join the celebration of stories, songs, and dance. Experience ancestral foods and learn how Indigenous voices are reclaiming their languages through spoken-word and hip-hop. Hirshhorn Museum – 50th Anniversary – 2024During its 50th anniversary year, the modern art museum is undergoing a renovation of its Sculpture Garden and opening a landmark exhibit that showcases Black feminism through bronze sculpture.Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian – 20th Anniversary – 2024The first national museum dedicated exclusively to Native Americans will celebrate with special exhibitions and events, some of which will be centred around the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.Smithsonian National Museum of American History – 60th Anniversary – 2024Celebrating 60 years in 2024 and with a world class collection of over 1.7 million objects, the museum is dedicated to showcasing the complex history of the United States. It includes dedicated kids interactive exhibition spaces, including Spark!Lab for kids 6-12 years, and Wegmans Wonderplace for younger kids aged 0-6 years.

    New Museum Openings & News

    Go-Go Museum & Cafe – opening February 2024

    Digital and interactive exhibits showcase go-go music and culture, a genre of funk, R&B, hip-hop and Afro-Latin rhythms with its roots traced back to West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. These cultural roots will also be reflected in the style of dishes on the museum cafe’s menu.

    Folger Shakespeare Library – unveils new expansion June 2024

    Folger Shakespeare Library. (Render – Supplied)

    Housing the world’s biggest Shakespeare collection and historic theatre, the major renovation is an expansion of public spaces including two exhibition halls and an accessible outdoor pavilion and garden filled with both native plants and botanica mentioned by Shakespeare.

    National Museum of American Diplomacy – 2024

    The museum will tell the story of the history, practice and challenges of American diplomacy. The four halls will support interactive decision-based games, media, exhibits and live programming. Housed artefacts including a bugged brick from the U.S. embassy in Moscow and the first base from the 2016 U.S. vs Cuba baseball game.

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