Washington's Top Arts & Entertainment Events 2010

1. Kennedy Center Honors
One of Washington’s highest-profile events, this annual celebration recognizes individuals for their contributions to American culture. In 2009, the event honored Mel Brooks, Dave Brubeck, Grace Brumby, Robert De Niro, and Bruce Springsteen. The president and first lady were on hand for the performance, after hosting the honorees at a previous White House ceremony. The 2010 Honors ceremony is scheduled for December 5.

2. Ford’s Theatre Annual Gala
A sold-out crowd and the first family took in performances from Kelly Clarkson, Renée Fleming, Lionel Richie, and Dick Van Dyke at the historic theatre on June 6. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and South African Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs were honored with the theater’s Lincoln Medal.

3. National Design Awards Luncheon
Tim Gunn offered the keynote address at this White House Luncheon on July 21 that serves as a prelude to the National Design Awards, which will be handed out in New York on October 14. Joining the first lady in the East Room was a who’s who of leading designers along with the finalists and award winners.

4. BET Honors Awards Ceremony
Black Entertainment Television’s third annual celebration of African-American achievement headed to the Warner Theatre on January 16. Whitney Houston, Queen Latifah, Sean “Diddy” Combs, educator Ruth Simmons, and neurosurgeon Keith Black were awarded for their contributions.

5. Will on the Hill
Members of Congress and many senior staffers took to the Harman Center for the Arts stage on April 26 for the eighth annual Will on the Hill fund-raiser. The sold-out affair, which included a cocktail reception, dinner, and a performance of “The Play’s the Thing,” raised $267,000 for the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s artistic, education, and community programs.

6. SilverDocs Film Festival
More than 22,000 attendees screened over 100 films from 52 countries during this weeklong internationally renowned documentary film festival held June 21 to 27. Oliver Stone was one of the many directors on hand to screen their new films at the American Film Institute Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Spring, Maryland.

7. Virgin Mobile Festival
This annual music festival switched venues in 2009, taking over the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, for a day of live music from Weezer, Blink 182, and many others. The festival also became known as the Virgin Mobile Freefest in that all tickets were free, but concertgoers were encouraged to donate $5 to youth homelessness. The 2010 festival on September 25 will once again be a free event at the same venue.

8. Artomatic
Last year marked the 10th anniversary for Artomatic and the free monthlong art festival took over a new and vacant office building in Southeast Washington last May, June, and July. More than 70,000 visitors had the opportunity to see nine floors full of visual art as well as theater and musical performances. The next festival is tentatively scheduled for late 2010.

9. FotoWeek
Now in its third year, this weeklong photography festival features a juried exhibition, gallery openings, book signings, lectures, and an awards gala honoring professional, amateur, and student photographers across several genres. The Corcoran Gallery of Art will be the new home of FotoWeek 2010, which kicks off November 6.

10. FilmFest DC
Screening more than 80 films at a variety of embassies, theaters, and museums across Washington, this movie festival attracted nearly 25,000 attendees from April 15 to 25. The 25th anniversary of the festival is tentatively scheduled for April 2011.

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