Late spring and early fall are when Washington is at its best, and street festivals certainly contribute to this. One of my favorite local traditions is coming up: the DC Turkish Festival, held every year in late September, an explosion of colors, tastes, and sounds.
The Festival is held across from Freedom Plaza, on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 12th and 14th Streets NW, only two blocks from the White House and the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. We arrived by the opening at 11 am and got great seats to watch the performances, my favorite part of festivities: folk music and dances from different parts of Turkey, performed by Turkish musicians and dance companies, as well as local studios. Costumes were intricate, smiles bright, and sounds exhilarating.
Performances by children from a local dance club were very impressive, and it was wonderful to see the crowd support them as they initially stumbled and applaud them and their proud parents and teacher after they finished their complicated routine, firing up all of us.
Last year, I spent most of the festival by the stage, but this year I will make sure to check out the bazaar, where you can buy jewelry, textiles, spices, and crafts; cultural tents, with demonstrations, photography exhibits, and book signings; and food court (I didn’t bring cash last year, and that proved difficult). I look forward to Turkish coffee and fortune telling in particular: as I was growing up, one of my aunts and I would regularly spend Saturday mornings grinding and brewing Turkish coffee (to do it just right, it takes a while and a lot of precision), and she would then read my fortune from tiny, delicate cups. It felt magical.
Leading up to the festival, there will be several opportunities to learn more about Turkey and its culture. For me, the highlights always are the Turkish Restaurant Week (from the list of participating restaurants, Zaytinya is my perennial favorite) and the two-day film festival, with the featured director usually in attendance.
I do look forward to this fall!
Other DC Area Festivals:
- George Washington’s Mount Vernon: An American Celebration and the Fall Wine Festival (Summer and Autumn)
- Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens: The Lotus Season (Summer)
- A Garden and a Festival: US Botanic Garden and Kaypi Peru 2012 (Summer)
- Making Merry at the Maryland Renaissance Festival (Autumn)
- Farewell, Year of the Dragon: DC’s Lunar New Year Parade (Winter)