Washington's Top Parades, Walks & Festivals 2008

By Brendan Spiegel September 26, 2008, 1:46 PM EDT

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure founder Nancy Brinker greeted runners.

Photo: Courtesy of Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

1. National Cherry Blossom Festival
More than 1 million visitors turned out to see the city’s signature pink flowers during this two-week event, which includes nearly 200 performances and a parade. Festival president Diana Mayhew and program manager Lillian Iverson are organizing the 97th celebration, slated to run March 28 to April 12.

2. Smithsonian Folklife Festival
More than 1 million people turn out for this 10-day festival on the National Mall. Held around July 4, the festival featured exhibits on Bhutan and NASA. Sponsored by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage and the National Park Service, the event is led by festival director Diane Parker.

3. National Black Family Reunion
The 23rd annual Black Family Reunion is expected to bring more than 500,000 participants to the National Mall from September 6 to 7. The reunion will feature themed pavilions showcasing African-American businesses and organizations. An R&B concert closes the event. The reunion is organized by the National Council of Negro Women in conjunction with Shiba Freeman Haley and Odette Hawkins of Mahogany Entertainment.

4. Capital Pride Parade and Festival
The third-largest gay pride event in the U.S., Capital Pride is a weeklong party that includes a music and entertainment festival on Pennsylvania Avenue and a parade, which this year drew nearly 200,000 people. The 34th annual pride week is scheduled for June 5 to 14 and is being organized by Capital Pride, led by director David Mallory.

5. Susan G. Komen National Race for the Cure
More than 50,000 participants and 1,000 volunteers attended the June 7 run, and 500 showed up for the Eve of the Race gala at the Newseum. The 5K race raised $4.9 million and was produced by Susan G. Komen Foundation managing director of marketing communications Emily Callahan with TBA Global.

6. Rolling Thunder
This nonprofit dedicated to American POWs puts on this event, led by executive director Artie Muller. During the “Ride for Freedom,” more than 400,000 veterans ride motorcycles from the Pentagon to the Lincoln Memorial; performances follow at the reflecting pool. The 22nd annual event is scheduled for May 23 to 24.

7. Smithsonian Kite Festival
This March 29 event focused on Chinese kites and featured more than 20 cultural and education programs on the Mall. Hosted by the Smithsonian Associates, next year’s 43rd annual event will take place March 28. 

8. Takoma Park Folk Festival
The 31st annual festival will be held on September 14 on the grounds of the Takoma Park Middle School in Maryland and will feature a juried crafts show and children’s activities. The event is organized by the nonprofit Takoma Park Folk Festival Inc.

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