Street festivals are ingrained in Washington’s history, dating to L’Enfant’s original plan for the city in 1791. “One of the things he put on the map was locations for markets,” says Jane F. Levey, chief historian of the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. Today, dozens of festivals celebrate the unique character of neighborhoods across the District.
Take H Street. What started as one of the city’s busiest commercial hubs in the mid-1800s began to decline after World War II. Now, the H Street Festival (Sept. 16) celebrates the revived — and gentrified — corridor’s retail and arts scene. This year’s event will span 11 blocks and feature an array of music, dancing, fashion, children’s programs, arts and more. While you’re in the neighborhood, get to know some of the restaurants and bars that recently opened or are scheduled to open this fall, including Bar Elena, Spile & Spigot Tap House and Blue Diner.
Over the next few months, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a weekend where there’s not a street festival happening somewhere. Here are a few:
Looking to spend a weekend away? The Maryland Seafood Festival (Sept. 9-10) in Annapolis has a crab soup cook-off. Or you can head west to Oakland, Md., for the 50th annual Autumn Glory Festival (Oct. 11-15), a five-day celebration of fall.
The Alexandria King Street Art Festival (Sept. 16-17) will have more than 200 artists, music and the Art League’s ice cream bowl fundraiser — where patrons can purchase ice cream served in a handmade ceramic bowl for $15.
Kick off Hispanic Heritage Month at Fiesta DC (Sept. 17) and celebrate Latino culture with food, music, dancing, crafts and the Parade of Nations (Sept. 16), featuring traditional clothing and entertainment from our neighbors to the south.
The 24th annual Taste of Georgetown (Sept. 24) will be an epicurean feast with more than 30 neighborhood restaurants offering more than 60 dishes. For the ambitious, the festival once again will host an eating competition featuring oversize treats from participating restaurants.