Alexandria, VA—Thousands will join in the revelry for the 288th anniversary of George Washington’s birth in his adopted hometown of Alexandria, Virginia. The city celebrates the General’s birthday throughout the month of February with more than 15 festive events, including the George Washington Birthday Parade, a Cherry Challenge among Alexandria’s restaurants, free admission to historic sites, popular walking tours and an 18th-century banquet and ball.
Alexandria is a “best of” when it comes to the spectrum of sites and special events associated with General Washington. With George Washington’s Mount Vernon just eight miles south of historic Old Town, more than 140 locations in present-day Alexandria are associated with the nation’s first president who conducted business, gathered with friends, worshiped and even owned a townhouse in the city.
For complete event information, visit www.VisitAlexandriaVA.com/GWbday.
George Washington Birthday Parade – February 17, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Old Town Alexandria
The nation’s largest George Washington Birthday Parade marches a one-mile route through the streets of Old Town Alexandria. The parade grand marshal is RADM Robert Shumaker (ret.) who had a distinguished career in the United States Navy. As a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, he was shot down on a mission and spent the next eight years as a POW. At the Pentagon, as a Rear Admiral, he was responsible for coordinating the research efforts of the Navy’s air, surface, electronics and space activities and was a finalist in the Apollo astronaut selection. This year’s parade is dedicated to Kathleen Kelly (1944-2019), a volunteer for Historic Alexandria for more than 30 years. For more information, including parking, maps, route and status, visit www.WashingtonBirthday.com or call 703-829-6640. FREE
Other Featured Events:
Cherry Challenge – January 26-February 9, 2020, various restaurants throughout Alexandria
In honor of George Washington’s birthday, more than 50 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 every area of Alexandria and along the George Washington Memorial Parkway. Participating restaurants include Cheesetique, Fontaine, Lost Boy Cider, Sonoma Cellar and Union Street Public House. Patrons rate their favorite dishes, and winners are given special recognition at the George Washington Birthday Parade. For more information, visit WashingtonBirthday.com or call 703-829-6640.
George Washington’s Alexandria Tours – Every Sunday in February 2020 (2nd, 9th, 16th and 23rd), 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., beginning at the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s south entrance
Explore historic Old Town Alexandria as George Washington knew it. These free 90-minute guided walking tours will explore sites associated with Washington and his closest colleagues. The tours begin behind the Torpedo Factory Art Center’s south entrance in front of Vola’s Dockside Grill (101 N. Union Street). No advance reservations required. Contact 703-599-4010 for more information. FREE
SOLD OUT: George Washington’s Birthnight Banquet & Ball – February 15, 2020, 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. (8:30 p.m. if attending the ball only), Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
Don your 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. Cost is $150 per ticket. $175 per person ticket includes dinner in the same room with the Washingtons. $275 per person ticket reserves your spot at a table with the Washingtons for dinner. Reservations required and event sells out quickly. To purchase tickets, visit AlexandriaVA.gov/Shop or call 703-746-4242.
Washington’s Birthday Celebration – February 17, 2020, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Celebrate the first president of the United States on the most exciting day of the year. Witness a presidential tribute featuring honored guests and a wreath laying at Washington’s tomb. Listen to remarks given by esteemed speakers during the Official Observance Ceremony of George Washington’s Birthday. Watch Continental soldiers conduct a marching drill, fire their guns and charge at their enemy in an exciting military demonstration. After the smoke clears, listen to the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps play patriotic music. Listen to the Washington family share stories about past celebrations of the General’s birthday, including the first public celebration and the gathering during the winter encampment at Valley Forge. All day, pose like George Washington in front of our life-sized version of Gilbert Stuart’s Landsdowne painting in the Education Center Lobby. For more information, visit www.MountVernon.org/Birthday or call 703-780-2000. FREE
Historic Alexandria Open Houses – February 17, 2020, hours vary by site, six historic sites throughout Old Town Alexandria
In honor of George Washington’s birthday, admission is free at these historic Alexandria sites: Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, Christ Church, Friendship Firehouse Museum, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Old Presbyterian Meeting House and the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum. FREE
18th Century Dance Classes – January 30, February 6 and February 13, 2020, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
In preparation for George Washington’s Birthnight Ball on February 15, 2020, learn 18th-century English country dancing from expert dance instructors at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum. Tickets are $12 per class or $30 for the series. Reservations are recommended. For more information, visit AlexandriaVA.gov/Shop or call 703-746-4242.
Chocolate with General Washington – February 8, 2020, 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Children and accompanying adults are invited to spend an hour with General Washington talking about the events of the revolution, asking questions of our first citizen and enjoying hot chocolate and delicious comestibles. To learn more, visit WashingtonBirthday.com or call 703-829-6640. FREE
Breakfast & Meeting of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association – February 17, 2020, 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., The Westin Alexandria Old Town
Meet special guests and enjoy a hearty breakfast with members of this historic association at this annual tradition. Be there for the first appearance of the day of General and Lady Washington and a talk by a renowned special guest. Tickets are $40. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.FriendshipFireCo.org or call 703-829-6640.
Hunt for Washington – February 17, 2020, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Parade Reviewing Stand
Enjoy a fun and challenging game to uncover clues about Alexandria and George Washington. The hunt, which should take about an hour to 90 minutes to complete, will take you to a few of the places in Alexandria associated with the General. You will learn some fun facts about the father of our country and visit several historic sites around Old Town as you search for the answers to the clues. Start by picking up a clue sheet at the Parade Reviewing Stand after 10 a.m. and then use your sleuthing skills to find answers to the clues. There are prizes and mementos associated with this new event. For more information, visit www.WashingtonBirthday.com or call 703-829-6640. FREE
Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the Revolution – February 17, 2020, 11 a.m., Old Presbyterian Meeting House
Join the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Sons of the American Revolution as they honor the soldiers of the Revolution at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House (321 S. Fairfax St.). FREE
Concert at Market Square – February 17, 2020, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m., Market Square
Come enjoy a one-hour concert by the parade marching band units and other musical units in honor of the General and Lady Washington at Market Square. FREE
Armed Forces Community Covenant Ceremony – February 17, 2020, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., Market Square
Salute our nation’s veterans and active military, and sign the community covenant document showing your support for our armed forces and their families at this special ceremony at the Parade Reviewing Stand adjacent to Market Square. FREE
Lecture: George Washington: Commander-in-Chief – February 20, 2020, 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
During this lecture, Professor Peter Henriques will examine how George Washington, despite his limited experience and numerous mistakes, was somehow able to overcome obstacles to win independence for the new country he committed himself to without reserve. Henriques will touch on Washington’s view of a professional army, the need to win over the general populace and the necessity of civilian control of the military, as well as how Washington saved the American cause with his actions at Trenton and Princeton. Tickets are $12 per person ($10 Gadsby’s Tavern Museum Society members and volunteers). For more information, visit AlexandriaVA.gov/Shop or call 703- 746-4242.
George Washington’s 288th Birthday – February 22, 2020, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., George Washington’s Mount Vernon
Celebrate the first president of the United States on the most exciting day of the year. Take a selfie while posing like George Washington in the Education Center Lobby. General Washington greets his guests in the historic area, and the Sons of Liberty provide birthday music. Savor a piece of birthday cake in the Vaughan Lobby (while supplies last) and hear the Air Force Strings perform in the Smith Auditorium. For more information, visit www.MountVernon.org/Birthday288 or call 703-780-2000. FREE
George Washington Symposium – February 22, 2020, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., George Washington Masonic National Memorial
The theme of the 2020 George Washington Symposium is “George Washington’s Construction of the United States Capitol.” The symposium will take place February 22, 2020, as part of the memorial’s celebration of Washington’s birthday. The lectures begin at 1 p.m. in the memorial’s theater. 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. Admission is free, and free parking is available. Details, including information about the speakers, are available at www.GWMemorial.org. FREE
Annual Washington’s Birthday Gala – February 22, 2020, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., George Washington Masonic National Memorial
Formal (white tie optional). Reception at 5 p.m. Entertainment in the Memorial Theater at 6:30 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. Tickets are $200. Reservations are required. To purchase tickets, visit www.GWMemorial.org or call 703-683-2007.
For the most up-to-date information about related celebrations, visit www.WashingtonBirthday.com. 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.
ABOUT ALEXANDRIA, VA
Named the #1 Best Value U.S. Travel Destination 2018 by Money magazine, a Top 3 Best Small City in the U.S. 2019 by the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards and one of the South’s Prettiest Cities 2018 by Southern Living, Alexandria hums with a cosmopolitan feel and a walkable lifestyle—a welcoming weekend escape next to our nation’s capital. A nationally designated historic district founded in 1749, Old Town Alexandria is home to more than 200 independent restaurants and boutiques alongside intimate historic museums and new happenings at the waterfront. At the heart of it all is bustling King Street, a walkable mile recognized as one of the “Great Streets” of America. New restaurants tucked in to 18th– and 19th-century architecture still intact from the city’s days as George Washington’s hometown ignite historic and off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods as the waterfront district evolves with new energy. Learn more at VisitAlexandriaVA.com.
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