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Guide to Free Embassy Tours in Washington, DC During Passport DC
Visit Washington, DC during Passport DC, a month-long celebration of international cultures
Passport DC is a month-long festival in May that pays tribute to Washington, DC's thriving international culture. As part of the festival, the first two Saturdays in May are devoted to embassy open houses. Consider this your chance to stroll Embassy Row – a stretch of Massachusetts Avenue NW that runs through Dupont Circle and Upper Northwest – and visit some of the more than 170 embassies based in the nation's capital.
Thanks to this only-in-DC experience, you can take advantage of two chances to step inside a foreign embassy with the Around the World Embassy Tour (May 5) and the EU Open House (May 12). Arbiter of DC's rich local, national and international cultures, Cultural Tourism DC organizes the embassy walkthroughs, and does so in tandem with the Delegation of the European Union to the U.S. for the EU Open Houses.
Here's what you should know before you go.
Embassies will be open on Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will span five continents with a diverse range of programming and activities for guests. Plan ahead: In the days leading up to the event, Cultural Tourism DC will release a full list of participating embassies, map and other info to help plot your course. Most visitors should expect to visit about five embassies in a full day.
Take your very own shortcut to Europe on Saturday, May 12 and enjoy the Old Continent without any jet lag. From Ireland and Italy to Spain and Slovakia, all 28 European Union member states participate in this citywide open house experience. Download the EUintheUS events app and check the website for the latest information.
Like so much of Washington, DC, this unique event is free to the public. If this pumps you up as much as it does us, then express gratitude to your hosts. Surprise them by learning to say "thank you" in their native tongue before you move to the next embassy.
What's even more exciting than a great deal? Answer: The opportunity to celebrate a once-in-a-lifetime experience, which Washington, DC delivers on with each and every visit. There's no city in the U.S. that can offer embassy open houses, let alone give you access to so many different embassies. So celebrate the ends of the globe during Passport DC, and the fact that DC helped make it happen.
We don't encourage you to expect your day of embassy walkthroughs to double as a bona fide food tour, but many embassies offer up international treats for visitors. Savor as much of the global spread as you can, and then make a full meal out of it in DC's exciting dining scene.
We know, all of this embassy hopping will make you feel like you have diplomatic immunity, but remember to bring your ID if you'd like to sip on adult beverages, which may be available in select embassies.
Make sure your camera is ready to take action shots of everything from traditional folk dances in colorful clothing to Afro-Brazilian displays. On some occasions, crowd participation is welcome, so don't be surprised if you're asked to show off your best moves.
The language of music really is universal, and every culture puts their own spin on things. Soak up a symphony of sound as you bop from embassy to embassy.
There's no predicting what you'll encounter on your embassy journeys. If you're lucky, hopefully some alpacas! All you can do is keep an open mind and take it all in, then plan to come back next year to check out even more embassies.
Chefs from 40+ participating embassies serve up their best bite and sip in the hopes of winning the People's Choice and Judge's Choice awards. Get your tickets for this year's special 10th anniversary event (Thursday, May 17 at the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center), which promises globe-spanning gastronomy.
The annual Fiesta Asia Street Fair takes over Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd and 6th streets NW with exciting performances, flea markets and food stalls. This year's rendition will take place on Saturday, May 19 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more international flavor in the nation’s capital, check out our guide to free ways to globetrot without leaving the District.