After a two-year hiatus of in-person events due to the global pandemic, the popular open houses at embassies around Washington, DC return, offering visitors a chance to experience countries around the world in an afternoon.
Passport DC, the month-long event celebrating the robust international diplomatic scene in Washington, DC, kicks off on May 1. Embassies open their doors to allow visitors to experience food, dance, music and the manufactured goods produced in the respective countries.
The events themselves are free, but visitors often purchase a souvenir “passport” to have stamped at each embassy.
Just like with international travel, the pandemic disrupted the annual event which allows visitors to peek inside some of the embassies around the US capital city. The event was canceled in 2020 and moved online for 2021.
This year marks the return of a month-long calendar of events, but if you want to visit the most embassies in an afternoon, there are three dates to add to your calendar if you plan on being in DC.
May 7: Around the World Embassy Tour
On May 7, Passport DC will host the Around-the-World Embassy Tour, which is the signature event of the month-long celebration.
From 10am to 4pm, 22 different embassies around DC will open their doors to welcome visitors to experience the food, drink and culture of their respective countries.
For instance, at the Embassy of Mexico, the country with the Mexican Cultural Institute will host “VISIT MEXICO! Puebla in the USA” celebrating the state of Puebla in central Mexico. Puebla is home of the “Cinco de Mayo” battle and events will offer traditional dances and music as well as arts, crafts and Mezcal.
Other countries participating in the Around the World Embassy tour on May 7 include Africa Union, Albania, Algeria, Barbados, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, The Gambia, Guatemala, Iraq, Kenya, Libya, Nepal, Omar (Sulton Qaboos Cultural Center) Pakistan, Panama, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia and Uganda.
May 14: European Union Open House
The following weekend on May 14, the countries that make up the European Union host a separate event.
The EU always coordinates its own event on the Saturday after May 9, Europe Day, which marks the signing of the Schuman Declaration. The declaration established the European Coal and Steel Community, “a multinational entity that would eventually become the European Union as we know it today.”
Pastêis de Nata, Portuguese traditional creamy pastry © Sabino Parente / 500px
This year, that falls on May 14. From 10 am to 4 pm, the European Union and embassies of the respective countries will host events at 25 separate locations. Travelers to the different embassies can design Stand up for Ukraine buttons at the European Union and can enjoy everything from Pastêis de Nata in Portugal, waffles in Belgium and Heineken in the Netherlands.
Parking at some of the embassies can be difficult, so the EU is partnering with Lyft to offer $2 off any LyftScooter ride that begins or ends in front of one of the embassies on this map.
May 21: Fiesta Asia Street Fair
The Fiesta Asia Street Fair, organized by the Asia Heritage Foundation to celebrate the Asian Heritage month, returns on May 21.
The free event celebrating 20 different cultures will take place in front of Capitol Hill, at Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Third & Sixth Streets. It runs from 11 am to 7 pm.
During the fair, visitors can enjoy performances on multiple stages, purchase food from a variety of vendors and enjoy a shopping bazaar all to celebrate “the rich and diverse heritage of America’s Asian Community.”
What else to know before you go
This year, the open houses have returned to in-person events but know that each embassy has its own COVID-19 rules. Make sure you bring a mask and your proof of vaccination in case it is needed at the particular embassy.
To buy a souvenir passport, visit the information booths at Dupont Circle or Van News.
This is a popular event so things can get crowded. Passport DC advises the embassies on International Drive have more space and often have shorter lines than the ones on Embassy Row.
Street parking can sometimes be difficult near embassies so consider alternative transportation. Most of the embassies are walking distance from the Dupont Circle and Van Ness metro stations.
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