The Washington D.C. area hosts fabulous food festivals and events throughout the year. From local seasonal specialties to international cuisine, the capital region is a festival-goer's paradise. While there are dozens of large and small culinary celebrations worth checking out, there are popular annual events in Washington D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia that you shouldn't miss. Mark your calendar and enjoy some great food around the capital region.
Restaurant weeks are held throughout the year. Neighborhoods from across the Washington D.C. area host annual events (some twice a year) to encourage diners to try new restaurants and sample some of the best food in the region. Special menus are offered with reduced prices for a limited time.
Washington D.C.'s Restaurant Week, taking place in summer and winter is one of the most popular. Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week features more than 250 of the Washington, D.C., area’s finest restaurants, which offer decadent 3-course lunches for $22, dinners for $35 and brunch for $22.
Some restaurants in the neighboring suburbs of Maryland, and Northern Virginia participate in the District's event and many of the restaurants extend their promotions an additional week or two.
Enjoy Restaurant Week offerings in Alexandria, Bethesda, Annapolis, National Harbor, Frederick, and more.
Chocolate lover's look forward to events running January through April. During the winter months, a few festivals in the Washington DC area focus on the world's favorite sweet treat.
Learn about the history of chocolate and taste a variety of artisan products. The largest festival, the Chocolate Lovers' Festival, is held annually in early February in Fairfax, VA.
The nation's capital focuses on the blooming cherry trees and cherry-related cuisine March 20-April 14, 2019. During the Washington DC 's most popular spring event, the National Cherry Blossom Festival, dozens of local restaurants serve cherry-infused dishes to celebrate the season. From sumptuous entrees to decadent desserts, Cherry Picks show off the creativity of the region’s culinary community and offer some surprising food and drink combinations.
Held on April 13, 2019, a major event of the National Cherry Blossom Festival is the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival which includes cuisine from more than 25 Japanese and Asian restaurants.
The festival also features Japanese performances, martial arts demonstrations, interactive cultural exhibits and vendors selling Japanese products. The Japanese Culinary Arts Pavilion features cooking demonstrations and tastings throughout the day.
Held in National Harbor, Maryland on May 4, 2019, the National Wine & Food Festival, a waterfront event includes tastings, cooking demonstrations and educational seminars on culinary and wine trends. More than 150 wines, spirits, and beers are featured along with local and regional favorites. Three stages of live music and the beautiful Potomac River setting make this an ideal springtime event.
Held in May, the Arlington, Virginia Taste of Arlington, is a lively street festival featuring the cuisine of more than 60 restaurants and local food trucks, live entertainment, arts and crafts, children’s activities, and a farmer’s market. Proceeds benefit Arlington charities.
April 2, 2019, is the date for the Embassy Chef Challenge. As part of the annual embassy showcase, Passport DC, this event brings together embassy chefs to present signature delights in a friendly culinary competition. Awards are given for the Judges' Choice and People's Choice Award. Tickets are pricey but include cuisine prepared by embassy chefs from around the world, a top-shelf bar and silent and live auctions.
June 22-23, 2019 in Washington D.C., it's the annual showdown between top BBQ restaurants from the Washington, D.C. area and around the country. Attendees enjoy food samples, cooking demonstrations, interactive displays, and children’s activities. The nation’s best barbecue teams cook-off for over $40,000 in cash and prizes.
June 24, 2019, in Alexandria, Virginia, Vine on the Waterfront at Oronoco Bay Park, showcases local cuisine along with a full day of entertainment including music, arts and craft exhibits, and children activities. Attendees sample food and wine from a variety of local restaurants and Virginia’s wineries. Local restaurants participate in a friendly competition for the best appetizer, the best main course, and the best dessert.
Thursday, May 30—Sunday, June 2, 2019, in Wheaton, Maryland, downtown Wheaton hosts the annual food festival offering samples from local restaurants, cooking demonstrations, a craft beer garden, live musical performances and kids activities. Proceeds benefit the Mid-County United Ministries food pantry.
The Taste of Reston will be held June 14—15, 2019 at the Reston, Virginia Town Center. Produced by the Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce, the outdoor food festival offers two days of restaurants and community vendors, live entertainment, kids activities, and a Wine ‘n Dine area.
Taste of Reston is touted as "the largest outdoor food festival in the area," and has been voted “Northern Virginia’s Best Food Festival” by Virginia Living magazine for the past six years.
Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival
June 15, 2019, at National Harbor, Maryland, the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival brings foodies a huge beer sippin', bourbon tastin', music listenin', cigar-smokin', and barbeque eatin' event. Your admission buys you a sampling glass so you can enjoy an "all you care to taste" sampling of beer and bourbon.
Saturday, August 17, 2019, you can travel the world through food without leaving Washington D.C. Celebrating the rich intercultural diversity of the nation's capital, the festival features delicious foods from around the world, live entertainment, a fashion show and more. The event is held at Freedom Plaza, downtown Washington, D.C., on Pennsylvania Avenue at 13th and 14th (right across from the White House). This is a grassroots event organized by the community and businesses in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area.
August 24, 2019, at National Harbor, Maryland you can spend a day enjoying crab and more. The Festival is an "all you care to taste" extravaganza with more than 65,000 crabs, lots of beer, arts and crafts, live music, and family activities. With its prime location on the Potomac Riverfront, the festival sets up thousands of tables and chairs and huge tents for cracking crab to your heart's content.
September 7—8, 2019 in Annapolis, Maryland, the focus is seafood. The weekend event features fun competitions like the Capital Crab Soup Cook-off and an Oyster Shucking Contest, as well as live musical performances, craft booths, and family activities. Top restaurateurs and chefs showcase Maryland's seafood specialties bringing people together from all over the East Coast.
You'll find Oktoberfest celebrations throughout the Washington D.C. area from late September through Early October. The German-themed celebrations feature Bratwurst, beer and wine, dancing, music, children's events and much more. The fall festivals are scheduled to coincide with the world's largest Volksfest held annually in Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
October 26—October 27, 2019, Washington D.C. is home to this premier food festival featuring tastings from more than 50 of D.C.’s best restaurants, live entertainment, a Beer Garden, a Wine Walk, a Farm-to-Fork Zone, interactive games and family entertainment, and local chef demonstrations. The Annual Ben's Chili Bowl's World Chili Eating Championship is one of the highlights of the day.
Held September 2019 in Washington D.C., this food festival includes samples of signature dishes from Washington D.C.'s best restaurants, craft beer, wine, and a variety of entertainment for all ages.
Local chefs face off, testing their culinary skill during the Georgetown Chef Showdown, judged by D.C.'s top food experts and media. Awards are given for "Best use of Seasonal Ingredients", "Best Overall Dish" and "Best Way to Satiate a Sweet Tooth". Proceeds benefit the Georgetown Ministry Center to support the homeless.
October 2019, this food truck party recognizes the best food trucks in the District with live music, mobile retailers and games for the whole family. It is a celebration of small businesses in the heart of the nation's capital.
October 5, 2019, in Bethesda, Maryland, the downtown Bethesda restaurants prepare massive amounts of food and baked goods for the annual festival. Participants sample cuisine from more than 50 restaurants, enjoy five stages of live entertainment and visit the kids’ corner for arts and crafts, face painting and balloons.
Admission is free and tickets are sold on-site for food at $5 for 4 tickets.
Taking place November 16—17, 2019, the metropolitan cooking and entertaining show is held each year at the Washington Convention Center. The event includes more than 400 exhibitors including specialty food companies, caterers, party planners, personal chefs, kitchen planners, and appliance manufacturers. The highlight of the weekend is the appearances and cooking demonstrations by award-winning local and national chefs. You can "shop, sip, and sample" your way through this huge show.