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FESTIVALS, HOLIDAYS AND OTHER ANNUAL EVENTS IN Washington

There are a number of festivals, holidays and other events celebrated in Washington, D.C. each year. The main ones are listed below.

January 1: New Year's Day (national holiday)

Third Monday in January: Martin Luther King Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States, celebrating the life and achievements of Martin Luther King, Jr. In recent years, it has increasingly been seen as a day of service, when Americans are encouraged to volunteer to help others less fortunate than themselves. Many events inspired by Dr. King's legacy are held each year in the nation's capital: musical concerts, other performances, exhibitions, debates.

January/February: Chinese New Year (celebrated nationwide in major cities)

Festivities are held each year to ring in the Chinese New Year in Washington's Chinatown, including dragon and lion dance performers, paper dragons and live musical performances.

March 12: Rock 'n' Roll USA Nation's Capital Marathon (local event)

The Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon takes runners through a tour of many of Washington, D.C.'s historic sights, including national monuments, foreign embassies, wooded areas and upscale residential districts, cheered on by crowds of enthusiastic spectators.

July 4: Independence Day (national holiday)

A federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, by which the 13 American colonies officially severed their political ties with Great Britain. Celebrated with parades, barbecues, picnics and fireworks.

First Monday in September: Labour Day (national holiday)

Second Monday in October: Columbus Day (national holiday)

Commemorates the landing of Christopher Columbus in the New World (October 12, 1492). Many cultural events are organized to mark this anniversary each year, including performances, exhibitions and parades.

September 15–October 15: National Hispanic Heritage Month (celebrated nationwide)

This observation began as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan to cover a 30-day period. The event celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America, through exhibitions, film series, readings, activities for families, music, dance and theatre around the nation and especially in Washington, D.C.

October 31: Halloween (celebrated nationwide)

Halloween is celebrated each year by Americans of all ages. In the late afternoon and early evening hours, children don costumes and go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods to ask for treats, typically candy. Adults often attend costume parties in the evening.

Fourth Thursday in November: Thanksgiving (national holiday)

Originally a Christian religious observance, for many years Thanksgiving has been a secular holiday in the United States, celebrated by Americans of all faiths. Families come together to prepare and enjoy a large feast at home. The meal typically includes roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce as well as various side dishes and ends with an assortment of pies (pumpkin, pecan, apple).

December 25: Christmas (national holiday)

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CLIMATE AND WEATHER IN Washington

Washington has a humid subtropical climate. Summers are hot and very humid, with high temperatures frequently reaching 35°C (95°F). Heat waves are often accompanied by warm rains, but these are usually brief in duration. The weather is mild in the spring and autumn, but the arrival of winter is often abrupt, with bitterly cold temperatures and snow.

Month Min. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Max. Average Temperature (°C/F°) Average Rains (MM) Best Time to Travel
January -2/28 6/43 71/2.8 Not the best period to go
February -1/30 8/46 65/2.6 Not the best period to go
March 3/37 13/55 88/3.5 Not the best period to go
April 8/46 19/66 78/3.1 Not the best period to go
May 14/57 24/75 101/4.0 Good period to go Good period to go
June 19/66 29/84 96/3.8 Good period to go Good period to go
July 22/72 31/88 94/3.7 Not the best period to go
August 21/70 30/86 74/2.9 Good period to go Good period to go
September 17/63 26/79 94/3.7 Good period to go Good period to go
October 10/50 20/68 86/3.4 Good period to go Good period to go
November 5/41 14/57 80/3.1 Not the best period to go
December 0/32 8/46 77/3.0 Not the best period to go
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Washington Dulles International Airport

The airport is located about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Washington, D.C.

  • One terminal

Getting from the airport to Washington, D.C. and back :

  • By car
    • Accessible via I-495 N and I-66 W.
    • A total of 24,000 parking spaces are available:
      • Cell Phone Lot (free parking for up to 1 hour; vehicles may not be left unattended)
      • Garages 1 and 2, Terminal Hourly and Terminal Daily Parking (short-term parking, USD 6 per hour)
      • Economy Lot (long-term parking, USD 10 per day)
    • Several car rental companies have counters at the airport (free shuttle buses take customers between the rental lot and the Main Terminal).
  • By bus
    • The Silver Line Express Bus connects the Main Terminal with the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail station, just minutes away (USD 5.00 each way). From Wiehle-Reston East, the trip via the Metro's Silver Line to L'Enfant Plaza takes 45 minutes (USD 3.60 each way).
    • Metrobus Route 5A connects the airport to Rosslyn, VA and L'Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. The trip takes about 55 minutes and the fare is USD 7.00.
  • By shuttle
    • Free shuttles connect the Main Terminal with all parking facilities.
  • By taxi
    • Taxis are available just outside the Main Terminal. The fare to Washington, D.C. is about USD 60.
  • By shared-ride shuttle/van
    • Shared-ride shuttle and van services are available from the airport to the Washington, D.C. Metro Area, about USD 30 per person.
  • Services: shops, bars and restaurants, Internet access (Wi-Fi) available in the airport.

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GETTING AROUND Washington

Washington, D.C. is truly a city worth discovering. Its public transport system, its cycling paths and the design of the city make getting around especially convenient and pleasant, wherever you travel to within the metropolitan area.

By rail

Washington, D.C.'s Metrorail system has six colour-coded lines: Red, Orange, Silver, Blue, Yellow and Green. It operates from 5 a.m. to midnight Monday–Thursday, from 5.a.m. to 3 a.m. on Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. on Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. Metrorail fares vary depending on the day of the week, the time of day, and the distance travelled. Trips start at about USD 2.

Useful tip: The One-Day Pass (USD 14.50), valid for one day of unlimited Metrorail travel, may be purchased at any Metrorail station Farecards & Passes machine. The 7-Day Fast Pass (USD 59.25), purchased from the same machines, is valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited Metrorail travel.

By bus

Metrobus, Washington, D.C.'s main bus route network, comprises more than 300 different lines. In contrast to Metrorail, the bus fare on regular routes is always USD 1.75, regardless of the distance travelled.

Useful tip: The 7-Day Regional Bus Pass (USD 17.50) is valid for seven consecutive days of unlimited bus travel.

By taxi

Taxis are plentiful in Washington, D.C. You should never have any difficulty finding one! The fare indicated already includes a gratuity of 15 percent.

By trolley

Modelled after turn-of-the-century trolleys, the Old Town Trolley network offers sightseeing tours of the city and its main monuments. The lines all operate according to a “hop-on, hop-off” format, allowing riders to get off at various stops and pick up another trolley at their convenience a bit later. Old Town Trolley has three lines with a total of 20 stops. A daily pass costs USD 39 at ticket booths, less if purchased online.

By bicycle

Washington, D.C. is a great city to explore by bike because there are many cycling trails, lanes and routes. There are several places to rent bicycles as well as Capital Bikeshare, a bike-sharing system with 3,000 bicycles and over 350 stations in Washington, D.C. and its suburban areas (the first 30 minutes are free and the usage fee is USD 1.50 for every additional 30 minutes).

By car

Visiting Washington, D.C. by car is not really recommended. Parking garages and meters are expensive and there are time limitations during the day.

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Visitor information

Upon your arrival in Washington, D.C., you can get in touch with local tourism professionals for further information and to help organize your stay.

Destination DC

Offers practical information and many useful recommendations (accommodation, restaurants, public transport, festivals, cultural events, etc.).

  • Address: 901 7th Street NW, 4th floor, Washington, DC 20001-3719
  • Telephone: +1 800 422 8644
  • Website: http://www.washington.org

Further information available online for visitors to the United States

Discover America, a public-private marketing entity, works closely with the travel industry to promote tourism in communities around the country. Its website offers excellent information on all US travel destinations, including Washington, D.C.

Website: http://www.visittheusa.com

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Currency and Exchange Rates

The currency used in the United States of America is the dollar ($).

1 RUB = 0.02 USD

1 USD = 50 RUB

The above exchange rate is given for information because is variable.

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Medical information

See your doctor before you travel.
Excellent medical care is available in Washington, D.C., but costs are high. As the United States has not entered into reciprocal health agreements with other countries, you should take out appropriate insurance before you leave home, covering both medical expenses and medical evacuation or repatriation.

Vaccinations

There are no vaccination requirements for visitors to the United States.

For more information, contact Air France's international vaccination centre:

Water

Tap water is safe to drink in Washington, D.C.

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Administrative formalities

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens or nationals of the following countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, whether for tourism or business: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.

For further information, see the Visitor Visa page on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visitor.html

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Essential phrases

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Good to know

intl. access code + 1
+ phone number (calls to Washington, D.C.)
-7 : 00
of time difference with
Moscow
Start of daylight saving time: second Sunday in March
End of daylight saving time: first Sunday in November

Banks
Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon
Government offices
Usually open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
120 V / 60 Hz

And what about tipping?
In Washington, D.C. as in the rest of the United States, a service charge is not included in the bill and tips form a major portion of income for waiting staff. Prices on restaurant menus are indicated before taxes and tips. You are therefore expected to leave a tip (generally between 15 and 20 percent of the bill). Tipping less than 15 percent (or leaving no tip at all) means that you are very dissatisfied with the service.