Capital Pride Festival
2018 marks the 43rd anniversary of Washington, D.C.’s Capital Pride Festival. The festival is sponsored by Capital Pride Alliance, a nonprofit organization based in the D.C. area that serves the LGBTQ community through educational events, community celebrations and festivals. For four days each summer, Capital Pride Alliance sponsors a celebration of the rich intersections and unique perspectives of all facets of the LGBTQ community.
This year’s theme is “Elements of Us,” which celebrates the vibrant components of identity within the LGBTQ community and examines the intersections between race, sexuality, gender, spirituality and more. The District’s first annual pride celebration took place in 1975 as a one-day street festival following an increased movement in the D.C. area and nationally toward LGBTQ pride, acceptance and awareness. Following the 1975 celebration, the festival grew into a multi-day event, and it attracted up to 150,000 attendees at the 2017 festival.
This year’s festival includes events like an opening party June 8 titled “Earth, Wind, Glitter and Fire” from 9 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. at Echostage featuring LGBTQ DJs such as DJ Alex Lo, DJ Kitty Glitter and Naomi Smalls. Tickets range from $20 to $30. The opening party is followed by a “Crack of Noon” Pride Brunch for 21-plus attendees from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on June 9 at the Human Rights Campaign’s D.C. headquarters at 1640 Rhode Island Ave. NW and the Capital Pride Block Party later that day. The block party is a festival with music, food and drink that precedes the festival’s parade and takes place at the parade’s starting place at 22nd and P streets NW from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The parade is one of the festival’s largest events, following a 1.5-mile parade route from P Street in the Dupont neighborhood to 14th and R streets NW in the U Street corridor and starting at 4:30 p.m. and ending at roughly 7:30 p.m. The parade features over 200 LGBTQ organizations registered as “contingents” in the parade. The contingents decorate floats, march and perform while being judged for awards and celebrating their pride. Both the opening party and brunch require tickets, but the parade and block party are free for spectators.
The festival culminates Sunday, June 10, with a concert festival adjacent to Capitol Hill on Pennsylvania Avenue. The festival includes free music and entertainment, as well as food, drink and local vendors and is headlined each year by concert appearances from well-known musical artists. This year’s Pride Concert features vocalist Alessia Cara, upcoming popstar Troye Sivan, soul singer MAX and Asia O’Hara of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fame. Previous concerts have been headlined by acts like Miley Cyrus, “Crybaby” singer Melanie Martinez and “Glee” star Alex Newell.
Tickets to events including the opening concert, brunch and VIP concert access, as well as more information about locations and times, can be found at capitalpride.org.
Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle
The Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle is a BBQ festival and competition set to take place in the District on June 23 and 24. This year’s battle is the 26th annual festival and will pit amateur and professional barbecue masters from around the country against each other in the unofficial “Official Start to the Summer” sponsored by Giant Food stores. The festival is also hosting a contest in which professional barbecue masters and aspiring chefs face off to become the National Barbecue Champion.
This characteristically American event takes place on Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues in the heart of Capitol Hill. Tickets are required to enter the event, and general admittance tickets cost $12 online and $15 at the gate. This year, all proceeds from the festival will be donated to the USO-Metro branch and the Capital Area Food Bank. The event lasts from 11 am until 9 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Barbecue restaurants from across the country are featured at the event as vendors serve up all things barbecue — ribs, brisket, chicken, pork and everything in between. Giant Food sponsors two sampling tents, included in the price of admission. In addition to barbecue as far as the eye can see, the event provides an array of alcoholic libations to wash down the smorgasbord of meats. There will be a wine and micro-brew tent in addition to drinks provided by Anheuser-Busch. At the same time, the event is family-friendly, with kid-oriented events including Nathan’s Famous Hotdog Eating Contest and appearances from D.C. area sports teams such as the Washington Wizards, Nationals, Redskins and D.C. United.
The highlight of the festival is the National Barbecue Championship Contest, which includes participants ranging from amateur barbecue masters to the TV stars of TLC show “Pitmasters.” Other categories include the largest National BBQ Contest, the Perdue Sizzlin’ Chicken Contest, Smokin’ with Smithfield, the National Pork BBQ Competition and Military Chefs Cook-Off Benefiting USO Metro, with cash prizes ranging from $100 to the grand prize of $3,000. Contestants compete in Battle Teams with creative protein-based names like “Meat Coma,” “Aporkalypse Now” and “Hamtown Smokers.”
In addition to these cholesterol-building festivities, the festival hosts an array of musical acts across genres from reggae to rock to jazz, as well as cooking demonstrations and celebrity appearances. Musical headliners for the event include internationally recognized acts like soft-rockers Plain White T’s and local D.C. metro area acts such as the funk band Clones of Funk and blues guitarist Lynwood Taylor. The festival boasts three stages and 30 bands with an impressive spread of acts to accompany an impressive spread of barbecue.
More information about the festival can be found at bbqindc.com.