1. State of the Union Address
Despite never changing venues and having one of the most secure guest lists in town—only members of Congress and a few invited guests—the State of the Union is one the most talked about events in Washington and across the country.
2. White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner
Commonly referred to as “nerd prom,” the annual dinner has become a magnet for Hollywood stars as news outlets try to outdo one another with controversial and headline-grabbing guests. Comedian Jay Leno was the featured speaker at the May 1 dinner at the Washington Hilton, which garnered 2,000 politicians, journalists, and celebrities. The dinner has also gained recognition for the array of pre- and post-parties hosted by media outlets throughout the weekend.
3. Washington Press Club Foundation’s Congressional Dinner
Members of Congress, elected officials, and the diplomatic corps mixed and mingled with members of the press corps at the 66th annual congressional dinner on April 21 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski served as M.C.s for the evening as Senator Claire McCaskill and Congressman Mike Pence squared off for a comedic off-the-record debate.
4. Conservative Political Action Conference
Thousands of conservative members of congress, lobbyists, and pundits gathered at the Marriott Wardman Park on February 18 to 20 to discuss the future of the conservative agenda at this conference. C.P.A.C. returns February 10 to 12.
5. AIPAC Policy Conference
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and nearly 7,500 activists and lobbyists came together for the meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee from March 21 to 23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
6. The Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner
John Legend was honored at this dinner for more than 1,200 guests, who raised more than $1 million in one night. The 2010 dinner, scheduled for November 5 at the National Building Museum, will honor Nelson Mandela.
7. Alfalfa Club Dinner
A members-only club that exists solely to host one annual event, Alfalfa was founded in 1913 and counts members of Congress and former Presidents among its small membership. Its annual black-tie gathering held each spring is off-limits to reporters and usually features a speech from the current president. Obama spoke his first year but decided to skip in 2010, breaking a chain that dated back to Jimmy Carter.
8. Human Rights Campaign National Dinner
President Obama was the featured speaker at this gay rights group’s fund-raising event, which also welcomed the cast of Glee, Lady Gaga, and nearly 3,000 guests. The 2010 dinner is set for October 9 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
9. Radio and Television Correspondents’ Association Dinner
Rounding out the trio of journalist-and-politician dinner dates, the R.T.C.A. dinner moved over to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in 2010. Vice President Joe Biden stole the show with a host of somewhat controversial one-liners.
10. Gridiron Club Dinner
Former President Bill Clinton filled in for President Obama at the 2010 white-tie dinner on March 20 at the Renaissance Hotel. Obama remains the only sitting President not to speak at the “singe, not burn” comedic dinner for several decades.
11. Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Annual Legislative Conference
Recognized as one of the most important gatherings of African-Americans leaders in the U.S. , the 2009 event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center included more than 70 workshops on issues pertinent to African Americans. The 40th annual conference took place September 15 to 18.
12. National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation Celebration of Service to America Award
Radio and TV stations from around the nation will be honored for outstanding community-focused programming at this annual ceremony, slated for June 14, 2011, at the Hyatt Regency Washington.
13. America’s Future Now! Conference
Hundreds of progressive leaders and activists came together at the Omni Shoreham Hotel from June 7 to 10 for four days of debates, planning sessions, keynote speeches, and a gala event awarding top progressive thinkers.
14. Atlantic Council’s Dinner Awards
The non-partisan international affairs organization honored Bill Clinton and Bono at its annual dinner awards at the Ritz-Carlton on April 28, awarding them for their humanitarian work around the globe.
15. National Governors Association Winter Meeting
First lady Michelle Obama urged governors to get serious about the issue of childhood obesity during their three-day meeting February 20 to 22. The 2011 meetings are scheduled for February 26 to 28.
16. U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting
The first lady also spoke to 250 of the nation’s mayors about childhood obesity at the 78th annual gathering, held each January at the Capital Hilton Hotel.