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Washington's Top 100 Events 2012

AT&T National
#2 Sports Event (new to the list)
The AT&T National golf tournament, which benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation and local youth organizations, returned to Washington after spending two years in the Philadelphia area while the course was renovated, drawing more than 135,000 spectators despite being closed to fans for an entire day because of bad weather. The tournament also launched the District on the Green party Sunday in the clubhouse and veranda, where guests could watch action on the 18th green, including Woods's win. Next: June 24-30, 2013
Photo: Gary Newkirk/Tiger Woods Foundation

Political events remain the hallmark of Washington's event scene, with the success of some events gauged by whether President Barack Obama attends. First Lady Michelle Obama continues to be a coveted honorary chairwoman for the city's galas, many of which counted record fund-raising totals despite questions about the economy and re-election events making competing demands. Here's a look at events with innovative formats, inventive themes, and targeted fund-raising strategies that have helped the landscape of festivals, benefits, conventions, and other gatherings flourish as well as attract new affairs.

To choose and rank the annual events on this list, we look at several factors, including economic impact, buzz, innovation, and an event's prominence within the communities it intends to serve.