WASHINGTON, D.C. The first year of a president’s first term is always expected to impact the social and cultural scene in Washington, and the current White House certainly didn’t disappoint. President Trump made history in 2017—and will continue to do so through year-end—by abstaining from several parties and dinners or making newsworthy comments at those where he appeared.
But across the city’s event landscape this year, organizers seemed to focus on the attendee, providing more personalized and interactive experiences than in prior years. For example, Washington Ideas, which is known for its prestigious speaker roster, added area tours and tastings; Bethesda Row changed its annual affair from a fashion show to a carnival; Chefs for Equality added an option to spend one-on-one time with chefs; and the benefit fashion show Walk this Way brought a dozen domestic-abuse survivors on stage to tell their stories.
Meanwhile, chef José Andrés seemed to be either cooking at, or spearheading, numerous affairs, and events such as Awesome Con and the Satellite Conference geared some programming to the next generation. Politicians may set the tone at many Washington events, but organizers rightly worked this year to ensure that events were productive, meaningful, fun, and tasty for guests.
As with all lists, these rankings are subjective. 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.