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Fall Festivals and Fun
Fall in Washington means festivals, neighborhood fairs, and lots more fun. Check out our guide to plenty of upcoming festivities to kick off fall.
Good Fall Reads
The National Book Festival, put on by the Library of Congress, takes over the Mall with a celebration of reading on Saturday, September 27. Cokie Roberts, Salman Rushdie, and Arthur Frommer are a few of nearly 60 participating authors. The Teens & Children Pavilion will feature readings and presentations by young poets and artists. At the Library of Congress Pavilion, sample interactive activities offered in the recently launched Library of Congress Experience: Kids can sign up for a “passport to knowledge” to bookmark favorite spots inside the library and go back to visit them online. Free. The Mall between Third and Seventh sts., NW; 202-707-2905; loc.gov/bookfest.
George Mason University’s Fall for the Book Festival attracts big names: This year’s lineup includes novelists Michael Cunningham, Chinua Achebe, and Sue Miller. It’s the festival’s tenth anniversary as well as the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, so a full day of discussions with notable Lincoln historians will take place Tuesday, September 23. The festival runs September 21 through 26, with events at George Mason’s Fairfax campus and throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia; visit fallforthebook.org for locations. Free. 4400 University Dr., Fairfax; 703-993-3986.
The DC Jewish Community Center’s Hyman S. & Freda Bernstein Jewish Literary Festival is also celebrating its tenth year September 14 through 24. Speakers include French journalist Bernard-Henri Levy, novelists Darin Strauss and Adam Langer, philanthropist Edgar Bronfman, and former George Washington University president Stephen Trachtenberg. The opening-night event is “Laugh for God’s Sake,” a performance about humor in Jewish literature. Call 800-494-8497 for tickets; events range from free to $20. Activities will be held at the DCJCC unless otherwise noted online. 1529 16th St. NW; 202-777-3250; washingtondcjcc.org/litfest.
On Saturday, September 13, downtown DC’s restaurant-and-gallery-filled Penn Quarter becomes a lively street fair for the annual Arts on Foot festival. There’s an art market with works for sale by local artists, a restaurant-sampling area, and arts and crafts for kids. More than 45 venues throughout the neighborhood will host events including author talks and film screenings. For a full list, visit artsonfoot.org.
The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a day of music and dance, food, and handmade crafts indoors and out on Sunday, September 14. There’s a children’s area with interactive musical games, dancing, and storytelling. The food selection celebrates Takoma Park’s diversity. You can sample dishes from the West Indies and Latin America as well as standards such as pizza. Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Rd.; 301-589-0202; tpff.org.
Every September since 1978, the Adams Morgan Day Festival has taken over one of DC’s liveliest neighborhoods. The 30th-anniversary festival is Sunday, September 14. Eighteenth Street is blocked off to cars and lined with vendors, and there are live music stages at either end. On Belmont Street, you can browse the work of local artists and artisans offering everything from jewelry to photography. 18th St., NW, between Florida Ave. and Columbia Rd.; 202-232-1960; adamsmorgandayfestival.com.
Artists come from all over the country to exhibit paintings, sculpture, jewelry, photography, ceramics, and more at the annual Alexandria Festival of the Arts on Saturday and Sunday, September 13 and 14. More than $15 million in art is displayed along Old Town’s King Street. Individual works range from $20 to $20,000. King St. between Union and Washington sts.; 703-838-5005; artfestival.com.