Thousands will join in the revelry for the 285th anniversary of George Washington’s birth in his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. The city celebrates the General’s birthday throughout the month of February with 16 festive events.
2017 Schedule of Events:
George Washington Birthday Parade–February 20, 2017, 1-3 p.m.
The nation’s largest George Washington Birthday parade marches a one-mile route through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. With nearly 3,500 participants, this community parade honors one of the Alexandria’s favorite sons. Grand Marshal: Retired Police Chief Earl Cook. Special guest: Olympic silver medal winner, boxer Shakur Stevenson. For information about participating units, parking, maps, route and status, go to www.washingtonbirthday.net or call 703-829-6640. In case of weather cancellation, the parade will be held on June 3, 2017. FREE
Cherry Challenge–January 29-February 12, 2017
In honor of George Washington’s birthday, participating Alexandria restaurants will create unique, cherry-centric dishes in celebration of one of the most cherished legends surrounding our first president. This year features dishes from dozens of restaurants from every area of Alexandria—Old Town, Del Ray, the West End, and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Patrons rate their favorite dishes, and winners are given special recognition at the George Washington Birthday Parade. A “Frequent Cherry Diner Award” will go to the customer who buys and rates the greatest number of Cherry Challenge entries.
18th Century Dance Classes–February 2nd, 9th and 16th 2017, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
In preparation for George Washington’s Birthnight Ball on February 18, learn 18th-century English country dancing from expert dance instructors at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Tickets: $12 per class or $30 for series.
Winter Warmer Tea at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum–February 5, 2017, 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. seatings
Enjoy the warmth and hospitality of the tavern this winter! Choose from a variety of 18th-century desserts while you sip John Gadsby’s special blend of tea or take a cup of American Heritage Chocolate. Historic guest Martha Washington will catch you up on the latest Alexandria news during the tea. Seatings at 3 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. Arrive early for the 2:15 p.m. or 2:45 p.m. FREE tour before your tea. $35 inclusive. Reservations required.
Walking with Washington Tours–Every Sunday in February 2017 (5th, 12th, 19th & 26th) at 2 p.m.
Walk in George Washington’s footsteps through his hometown of historic Alexandria and view some of the sites connected to the General, like where he filled his prescriptions or wined and dined with important Alexandrians. Meet at the Alexandria Visitor Center (221 King St.) FREE
Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution–February 20, 2017, 11 a.m.-noon
Join the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution as they host colonial military and civilians to honor the soldiers of the Revolution at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. FREE
George Washington’s Birthnight Banquet & Ball–Saturday, February 18, 2017, 5:30-11 p.m.
Don dancing shoes for this famous celebration of Washington’s Birthday at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, set in the year 1799. The evening includes an 18th-century banquet, English country dancing, dessert collation, character re-enactors plus the General and Mrs. Washington. Period costume optional; “after-five” attire encouraged. Tickets are tiered starting at $125. Advance reservations required. Call 703-746-4242 for ticket availability.
Revolutionary War Reenactment at Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site–February 19, 2017, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Historic camp and tactical demonstrations throughout the day, including a Revolutionary War skirmish at 2 p.m. between the Redcoats and the Colonial Army. Participants include renowned reenactment units from around the United States dressed in authentic period costumes and demonstrating authentic 18th-century weaponry. FREE
Wonders of Science–February 19, 2017, 1-4 p.m.
Program includes a tour of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and hands-on demonstrations of the scientific interests of George Washington, including period medicine, inventions, and espionage. $6 per person. Tours from 1-4 p.m. Tickets available online.
Historic Alexandria Open Houses–February 20, 2017, times vary
In honor of George Washington’s birthday, admission is free at these historic Alexandria sites: Carlyle House, Christ Church, Friendship Firehouse Museum, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Old Presbyterian Meeting House, Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum and The Lyceum: Alexandria’s History Museum. FREE
Breakfast & Meeting of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association–February 20, 2017, 9-10:30 a.m.
Sponsored by the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association, this annual tradition at The Alexandrian, Autograph Collection features “George Washington’s” first appearance of the day plus an address by retired Four-Star General John H. Tilelli, the awarding of the prestigious Ben Lynt Award and a hearty breakfast. Tickets: $35. Ticket information at http://www.friendshipfire.net or at 703-751-6416.
Mount Vernon Open House–February 20, 2017, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Enjoy free admission at George Washington’s beloved home, the most visited historic estate in the United States. Observe the traditional wreath laying ceremony at Washington’s tomb, hear patriotic music and delight in a meet and greet with the General, who roams the grounds all day. FREE
Armed Forces Community Covenant Ceremony–February 20, 2017, 11-12:30 p.m.
Come honor our nation’s veterans, active military, and their families with music, games, and activities for children with military vehicles, demonstrations, informational booths, and displays at the Parade Reviewing Stand at Market Square. FREE
Lecture: George Washington, America’s Foremost Entrepreneur–February 22, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The United States was conceived in business, founded on business, and operated as a business—all because of the entrepreneurial mind of the greatest American businessman of any generation: George Washington. Using Washington’s extensive but often overlooked financial papers, Edward G. Lengel, Chief Historian of the White House Historical Association, chronicles the fascinating and inspiring story of how this self-educated man built the Mount Vernon estate into a vast, multilayered enterprise and prudently managed meager resources to win the war of independence. Lengel’s book, “First Entrepreneur,” will transform how Americans think about George Washington and how his success in commercial enterprise influenced and guided the emerging nation. Doors open at 7 p.m., and the lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. $12 per person or $10 for Society members and volunteers. Book signing to follow lecture.
George Washington Symposium at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial –February 25, 2017, 1-3:00 p.m.
The theme of the 2017 George Washington Symposium is George Washington and the Northern Virginia Frontier, 1732 to 1775. The symposium will take place as part of the Memorial’s celebration of Washington’s Birthday. The lectures begin at 1 p.m. in the North Lodge Room. The George Washington Symposium is held annually on Washington’s Birthday to provide the public with enlightening contemporary research on the life of George Washington. Mark Tabbert, the Memorial’s director of collections, serves as the symposium’s master of ceremonies. Admission is free, and free parking is available. Attendees are asked to preregister via http://bit.ly/101Callahan. Registrants will receive periodic news from the Memorial, as well as a complimentary gift upon attendance. FREE
Annual Birthday Gala at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial–February 25, 2017, 5:30-9:30 p.m.
Black tie. Reception at 5:30 p.m. Entertainment in the Memorial Theater at 6:45 p.m. Banquet in the Memorial’s Grand Masonic Hall at 7:30 p.m. The presentation of the George Washington Memorial Award will take place during the banquet. $125; reservations required.
The most up-to-date information about related celebrations can be found on http://www.washingtonbirthday.net. The George Washington Birthday Celebration Committee also maintains a 24-hour phone line that will report any change of status or the cancellation of any event (in case of inclement weather, for instance). Call the events hotline at 703-829-6640.