By Brendan Speigel Posted June 22, 2009, 11:30 AM EDT
1. National Cherry Blossom Festival
More than one million visitors were expected for this two-week celebration in March and April, which included an opening ceremony at the National Building Museum, musical performances at the Tidal Basin, and a parade led by grand marshal Alex Trebek.
2. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
More than 23,000 musicians, artists, craftspeople, and cooks (along with one million spectators) will descend on the National Mall for this cultural celebration. Slated for June 24 to 28 and July 1 to 5, the festival will focus on Latin American music and Welsh traditions, among other themes.
3. National Black Family Reunion
The National Council of Negro Women organizes this 24-year-old event, expected to bring more than 500,000 participants to the National Mall on September 12 and 13 for a weekend of music, sports, networking, and educational events.
4. Capital Pride Parade and Festival
This weeklong celebration of gay pride drew some 200,000 people to events throughout the District from June 5 to 14. This year’s “Stonewall at 40” theme marked the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York.
5. Susan G. Komen Global Race for the Cure
More than 50,000 runners and walkers took part in this 5K fund-raiser on June 6, which raised $4.9 million in 2008. Formerly known as the National Race for the Cure, the event was renamed this year to recognize the growing breast-cancer crisis worldwide.
6. Rolling Thunder
Around 400,000 participants—many on motorcycles—gathered on the National Mall on May 24 to raise awareness of American POWs. The “Ride for Freedom” wound from the Pentagon to the Lincoln Memorial, followed by performances by the reflecting pool.
7. Smithsonian Kite Festival
This 43rd annual high-flying party took on a green theme March 28 with demonstrations of how to make kites from recycled materials. The event, which coincides with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, returns next March.