1. The Opera Ball
On May 21, the Washington National Opera’s signature benefit took over the Embassy of the Russian Federation for the first time. The black-tie affair raised $1.5 million for the Opera and was the talk of the social year with its themed rooms that became a journey through Russian culture and history. The 2011 ball is scheduled for June 3.
2. Knock Out Abuse and Fight Night Gala
For this two-party event, 1,500 men started out the evening at the Fight Night gala at the Washington Hilton, while just a few miles away 650 women gathered at the Ritz-Carlton for the Knock Out Abuse gala, which has raised more than $5 million since 1993. The two groups joined up at midnight for a dance party at the Ritz-Carlton. The dual fund-raisers for anti-domestic-violence causes and the health care nonprofit Fight for Children return November 11.
3. Corcoran Ball
Unlike the past two years, the 55th annual Corcoran Ball on April 17 had no overall theme, but each of the eight spaces was designed to reflect a current exhibit within the gallery. Close to 900 people attended the event, which benefits the Corcoran and the College of Art & Design. Next year’s ball is scheduled for April 29.
4. The Leukemia Ball
Jackson Browne and comedian John Pinette entertained the crowd of 2,000 on March 27 for this ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The event, put on by the National Capital Area chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, raised $3 million for continued research.
5. John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts Spring Benefit
This year’s benefit was a celebration of Kennedy Center founding chairman Roger Stevens, hosted by Liza Minnelli. More than 1,500 guests attended the May 2 dinner and concert, which raised more than $2 million. Performances from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Broadway stars rounded out the evening.
6. Fight for Children’s School Night Benefit
Queen Latifah pulled double duty as headliner and M.C. for this 10th annual fund-raiser, held on April 23 at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The event raised $800,000 for education programs for low-income children in Washington.
7. Prevent Cancer Foundation’s Annual Spring Gala
More than 700 guests gathered at the National Building Museum on March 12 for the 16th annual gala, which raised $1.3 million. Inspired by a different country each year, the event’s theme was “Indelible Impressions of India” and was again designed by David Tutera.
8. National Italian American Foundation Gala
Jimmy Kimmel served as master of ceremonies at N.I.A.F.’s 2009 gala, which celebrated Italian Americans Janet Napolitano, Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and Carla Gugino and raised more than $1 million. The 2010 gala is slated for October 23 at the Hilton Washington and will feature E News anchor Giuliana DePandi Rancic as M.C.
9. Washington National Opera Midwinter Gala
Due to budget considerations, the opera’s seventh annual midwinter gala switched formats and venues this year to bring nearly 400 people to La Maison Francaise in the French embassy (instead of the Mellon Auditorium) for an “Evening in Paris” cocktail reception with tasting stations (rather than a seated dinner).
10. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Breath of Life Gala
The 2009 gala at the National Building Museum on November 14 drew 750 guests. The three-part evening included a silent auction and cocktail reception, a seated dinner and live auction, and “Club Breathe,” a temporary nightclub for after-hours dancing. The 2010 gala returns to the same venue on November 13th.
11. Gourmet Gala Benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
St. Jude’s largest Washington event featured tasting stations from 37 of D.C.’s top chefs at the National Building Museum on February 16. Over the past 12 years, the event has raised more than $2 million for the hospital.
12. Washington Ballet Spring Gala
The annual gala on May 13 took over the Swedish Ambassador’s residence and attracted 500 guests, including a variety of diplomats, members of congress, and well-heeled admirers of the ballet.
13. Trust for the National Mall Luncheon and Ball on the Mall Gala
More than 850 people raised $1.5 million at the May 6 luncheon for the nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and restoring the National Mall. The next night, the trust’s young professional branch, the L’Enfant Society, hosted the Ball on the Mall, an 800-guest gala that raised an additional $350,000.
14. Washington Ballet Jeté Society Dance Party
Held at a different embassy each year, this fashionable party is hosted by the Jeté Society, a group of young professionals dedicated to raising funds for the Washington Ballet. The April 23 event at the House of Sweden raised $500,000 from about 500 attendees.
15. Heart of America Foundation’s Sweet Charity Benefit
More than 60 local chefs showcased their talents by creating sweet and savory bites for 900 guests at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on June 21. The fund-raiser benefits the Heart of America Foundation, which provides books to at-risk children.
16. Sibley Memorial Hospital Hope and Progress Gala
Local sportscaster George Michael was the keynote speaker last year, just six weeks before he died of cancer. Michael helped raise $1 million that night. The 10th anniversary gala is scheduled for November 6 at the National Building Museum.
More than 500 guests descended on the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Kogod Courtyard on February 27 for this annual benefit. Special guests included former Project Runway contestant Nick Verreos and artist Karen LaMonte.
18. March of Dimes Gourmet Gala
Thirty Members of Congress and their spouses served their best recipe at this annual congressional cook-off at the National Building Museum on April 14. The event raised nearly $1 million for the March of Dimes.
19. Ambassadors Ball
The unofficial kickoff for the fall gala season, this 2009 ball attracted nearly 750 attendees and raised more $700,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The 32nd annual event is planned for September 14 at the JW Marriott Hotel.
20. Meridian Ball
After dining at 25 embassies and diplomatic residences around Washington, more than 600 guests gathered at the historic Meridian House on October 3, 2009, for this 41st annual ball that raised $900,000 for the center. Designer David Stark drew inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and decorated the party with a variety of red, white, and black polka dots and stripes.
21. N.F.L. Players Gala
Fifteen past and current professional football players were honored for their off-the-field service at this 2010 gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on April 14. The event raised close to $1 million for the Special Olympics.
22. Harman Center for the Arts Gala
This gala on October 25, 2009, raised more than $900,000 and featured a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with a special ceremony honoring Sir Ian McKellan. The 2010 gala on October 3 will honor Annette Bening at the Harman Center, followed by dinner and dancing at the nearby National Building Museum.
23. Phillips Collection Annual Spring Gala
Four hundred art lovers raised $520,000 on May 7 at this modern art museum during their yearly chance to dine and dance among the masterpieces.
24. Washington Humane Society Bark Ball
The only black-tie event in Washington that welcomes man’s best friend brought 600 people and 400 dogs to the Hilton Washington on June 5 for an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing that raised $283,000 for the Washington Human Society.
25. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre Gala
The dance company celebrated the 20th anniversary of artistic director Judith Jamison’s tenure with a special opening night performance on February 2 at the Kennedy Center. The 2011 gala is scheduled for February 1.
26. Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Heartsongs Gala
Typically held in the spring, the eighth annual Heartsongs Gala, which raised more than $800,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association in 2009, has moved to November 13 at the Ritz-Carlton, Washington D.C.
27.Washington Performing Arts Society Gala
Broadway star Chita Rivera headlined the 41st annual gala on May 8 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, attended by over 600 guests.
28. Corcoran 1869 Society Fall Fete
The Corcoran went with a nautical theme for its 2009 fall fete, held October 24 at the gallery. The sold out, black-tie affair attracted almost 900 young people with nearly $90,000 in proceeds going to the Corcoran’s ArtReach program.
29. Folger Shakespeare Library Gala
Inspired by the Folger Theatre’s spring production of Hamlet, the April 20 gala celebrated Shakespeare’s famous work with a special performance, followed by a dinner in the library’s elegant reading rooms. The gala raised $250,000 and will return in 2011 on April 13.
30. Capital Area Food Bank Blue Jeans Ball
One of the few casual dress events in Washington, the March 28 Blue Jeans Ball brought more than 500 to the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. Breaking previous records, the event raised $217,000 for the Capital Area Food Bank.
31. American Red Cross Fire and Ice
Nearly 600 guests made their way to the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium on October 17 for this black-tie/mess-dress fund-raiser for the American Red Cross of the National Capital Area.