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For a look at yearly events, visit www.washington.org, the website of the tourist bureau.

Winter

National Christmas Tree Lighting/Pageant of Peace (202/208–1631 www.thenationaltree.org Dec.). Each year in early December, the president lights the tree at dusk on the Ellipse, with concerts, a Yule log, and Nativity scene held later in the month.

Restaurant Week (www.ramw.org/restaurantweek Jan. and Aug.). More than 200 top restaurants offer lunch and dinner menus for around $20 and $35 respectively—often a steal.

Washington Auto Show (www.washingtonautoshow.com Late Jan.). This yearly event showcases the latest offerings from the world of automobiles.

Spring

National Cherry Blossom Festival (877/44–BLOOM www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org Late Mar.–early Apr.). D.C.'s most eye-catching annual festival opens with a Japanese lantern-lighting ceremony at the Tidal Basin.

Georgetown French Market (202/298–9222 Late Apr.). Shop, eat, wander, and enjoy strolling mimes and live musicians in one of D.C.'s most beautiful neighborhoods.

National Cathedral Flower Mart (202/365–3222 Early May). This 76-year-old free event on the Cathedral grounds features food, music, kids’ activities and, of course, flowers.

Summer

Capital Pride Festival (202/719–5304 www.capitalpride.org Early June). This weeklong festival with parade celebrates gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered citizens.

Washington Shakespeare Theatre Free for All (202/547–1122 www.shakespearetheatre.org June). For two weeks, the theater company mounts free nightly performances at the Sidney Harman Hall, near Chinatown. Tickets are required.

Smithsonian's Folklife Festival (202/633–6440 www.folklife.si.edu Late June–early July). This two-week festival includes traditional dance and music, storytelling, and ethnic food.

Independence Day Celebration (202/619–7222 July). A parade fills Constitution Avenue, fireworks fly over Washington Monument and the NSO plays on the west lawn.

National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day Concert (202/416–8114 www.kennedy-center.org Labor Day weekend). This free concert is held on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol.

Fall

National Book Festival (202/707–1940 Late Sept.). This two-day event attracts some of the world's top authors and poets to the National Mall, where visitors can get books signed.

Washington International Horse Show (202/525–3679 www.wihs.org Late Oct.). Held at Verizon Center, this annual show features jumping, dressage, barrel racing and more.

Veterans Day (703/607–8000 for Cemetery Visitor Center, 202/619–7222 for National Park Service Nov. 11). Services held at Arlington National Cemetery, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and U.S. Navy Memorial with a wreath-laying at 11 am at the Tomb of the Unknowns.