Some events are quintessentially Alexandria.
Two that come quickly to mind are the Scottish Christmas Walk in December that celebrates the heritage of many of Alexandria’s founders and our George Washington Birthday Parade each February – the largest in the country – honoring our most famous son.
But there are many more. Our annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade, hosted by the Ballyshaners, is the earliest in the United States and a festival of all things Irish. In addition to an ocean of green, a multitude of city vehicles have at times rolled through city streets in the parade. A Taste of Del Ray, hosted by the Del Ray Business Association, sells out every year and reinforces that neighborhood’s strong sense of community and its growing reputation as a food destination.
Our home tours are magnificent, with the Garden Club of Virginia hosting Historic Garden Week each April, in which homes and gardens are opened to the public around the state. In Alexandria, the Hunting Creek Garden Club and Garden Club of Alexandria host the event, providing home docents and beautiful floral arrangements.
In the fall, Twig hosts the Historic Alexandria Homes Tour – the 78th annual tour was held in September – to raise funds for Inova Alexandria Hospital. In December, the Campagna Center holds a Holiday Homes Tour during Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend, their 49th this year, that helps fund the center’s programs.
Also, annual tree and menorah lighting events in Del Ray and Old Town are fun ways to launch the holiday season.
Other events are newer, but up-and-coming. The Alexandria Film Festival is about to hold its 13th weekend of new and interesting movies. From Nov. 7 to 10, free films will be shown at the Beatley Central Library, and films that require payment at AMC Hoffman Theater 22.
An array of festivals seem destined to become annual events along Alexandria’s revitalized waterfront, buoyed by the arrival of the tall ship Providence.
And then there’s Halloween. While this creepy holiday on the eve of All Saints’ Day has become a favorite nationwide, our celebration in the Port City has few rivals.
As our page 1 story in this week’s Times, “Trick-or-Treat Lee Street,” shows, a fun neighborhood gathering that began organically on Lee Street in Old Town has, for better or for worse, become a regional event. Originally a festive, five-street block party – with residents holding gatherings for ghoulish grown-ups while passing out candy to youthful goblins – it has for the past 10 years or so drawn thousands of trick-or-treaters.
While Lee Street festivities take place on Halloween itself, the annual Del Ray Halloween Parade – a tradition for 23 years – with prizes for costumes in an array of categories, is generally held the Sunday afternoon preceding Oct. 31.
There are many more annual events in Alexandria held by or at organizations ranging from the Torpedo Factory to the Symphony to Gadsby’s Tavern to the Boys and Girls Club. Each of these events are special in their own way and raise funds for an array of good causes.
Halloween in Alexandria, on the other hand, is just good, spooky fun. Enjoy, and happy Halloween!
(Read more: The mystery of the Female Stranger)