DC Embassy Tours: 7 Open Days to Visit This Month

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After a two-year pandemic hiatus, Passport DC returns this monthwith his beloved Embassy tour around the world. On May 7 and 14, you can get a travel microdose as DC embassies and cultural centers on three continents open their doors for history lessons, food and entertainment.

There will be pisco sours at the Peruvian embassy and bachata and merengue dance lessons at the Dominican Republic, among other programs from more than 30 countries participating in the first weekend alone.

European Embassies will make their debut with the EU Open Day May 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Find more information on the participating countries via the event website.

Steven Shulman, executive director of Cultural Tourism DC, recommends making the most of weekends by visiting embassies that are close to each other.

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Jade Womack, who manages the events site DC clock, created useful maps with itineraries to visit the embassies close to each other. The EU Open Day also made a Google Map for visitors. Womack warns that countries popular with American travelers, such as Costa Rica or Greece, draw crowds and that smaller embassies may have longer lines because they can accommodate fewer guests at a time.

Womack suggests exploring less familiar embassies which should have shorter queues, as well as better access to food and gifts.

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Austin Graff, author of By The Way’s local DC guidebook, suggests either going as early as possible or waiting until later in the afternoon after many families have finished their tours. He also recommends starting with the embassies farthest from metro stations. Embassies near the Dupont Circle subway may be overwhelmed, while those near Observatory Circle and Van Ness Street should be less so.

Here are seven embassies to visit and tips to keep in mind as you tour the “world” this month.

Tickets or reservations are not required for tours, but you should expect to wait in line. In the past, waits were around 20 to 30 minutes, but they can be double that at people’s embassies, Womack said.

Bring government-issued ID, as well as a mask since each embassy sets its own mask requirements. It’s a good idea to also bring your vaccination record, as embassies may have warrants. Embassies are generally open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a few exceptions, so find out in advance when planning your visits.

For those with accessibility issues, Shulman says the embassies along the International Court have more contemporary buildings with ramps for wheelchairs and strollers.

Womack likes to visit embassies that don’t hold public events often, such as the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq. Visitors can expect to see photography exhibits, sample Iraqi cuisine, and enjoy musical performances featuring Dabka dancing.

1801 P Street NW, Washington, DC 20036

One of Graff’s favorite visits in recent years has been Eritrea, which he calls a hidden gem. Womack has a one mile route which begins with a visit to the Eritrean Embassy – where you will see cultural exhibits and learn about the history of the African country – followed by a drive south to stop in Iraq, Trinidad and Tobago and Tunisia, ending at the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center to learn more about Oman.

1708 New Hampshire Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 20009

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 7, the Royal Thai Embassy Open Day covers all the cultural bases, from presenting Muay Thai (Thai boxing), traditional music, Thai dancing and demonstrations of cooking with samples promised afterwards. For more information on the Royal Thai Embassy Open Day, visit his website.

1024 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20007

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Graff recommends stopping at the Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan, located near the embassies of Nepal, Iraq, South Africa and Bolivia. Visitors can expect cultural activities, live music and dancing, a photo booth, children’s activities, and flavors of Azerbaijani cuisine.

2741 34th Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

Graff suggests putting the Latvian Embassy on your list for May 14. Guests have the chance to visit the Alice Pike Barney Studio House, a historic building listed on the National Register of Historic Places. As the building was often used for musical performances at the beginning of the 20th century, the embassy will host Latvian folk dancers for the occasion.

2306 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

This year, the open day of the Mexican Cultural Institute will highlight the state of Puebla in honor of Cinco de Mayo, which celebrates Mexico’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Ix-Nic Iruegas, the center’s executive director, says visitors can s expect a “full day of Mexican joy” with music, mezcal, storytellers, traditional food, lottery (a traditional Mexican card game) and a pop-up shop selling Puebla goods including textiles, honey and Talavera pottery. Mexico Open House runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on May 7 and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 14.

2829 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009

On May 14, the Embassy of the Czech Republic (one of Womack’s recs) will host a dog show among other activities. The weekend’s theme is the 1930s, with entertainment from a jazz band and Lindy Hop dancers. If that wasn’t enough, there will also be a bouncing house and folk fashion show.

3900 Spring of Freedom Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

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