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Adventures at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival

This post is part 11 of our Wednesday Adventure Series. Each week we will highlight something different in the Washington, D.C., Metro Area, many of which will be options for part of your own BookCrossing Journey. With so many things to see and do, how will you choose?

NOTICE: There’s a new special deal in place for just the month of January. Buy one convention shirt and be entered to win a convention sweatshirt!


Photo from the Kensington Book Festival

The Kensington Day of the Book Festival in Old Town Kensington, Maryland, is a street festival with live music, author readings & signings, storytellers, booksellers, publishers, and literary groups like BCinDC! It is organized each year by Eli, book-lover and owner of the Kensington Row Bookshop. This year, the festival will feature the Nighthawks Band with special guest mystery/crime writer George Pelecanos, who will read from his new book, The Cut.

The festival celebrates books by paying tribute to literature on an international level. The festival usually takes place on the Sunday closest to April 23, which is the International Day of the Book or World Book and Copyright Day. This was first celebrated in 1995 by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing, and copyright issues. This date holds literary significance in many different countries: the birth and death of William Shakespeare; the deaths of Miguel de Cervantes (author of Don Quixote), Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and Josep Pla; and the births of Maurice Druon, Vladimir Nabokov, Manuel Mejía Vallejo, and Halldór Laxness. April 23 is also Saint George’s Day, which is traditionally celebrated by men giving roses to their lovers, inspired by the rosebush that sprouted from the dragon Saint George slew. Women give books to their lovers in return.

Though there are often roses at the Kensington Day of the Book Festival, there are far more books. Some other common sights at the festival:

  • Local authors reading from their works (visit the website for an ongoing listing of this year’s lineup; last year there were more than 60 authors)
  • Author panels (discussing their works, genres, writing process, and more)
  • Local artists and book illustrators
  • Storytellers and characters in costume (we’ve met Sherlock Holmes and Long John Silver at previous festivals)
  • Live music (so far this year includes The Nighthawks, J.P. McDermott & Western Bop, & Doris Justis)
  • A chess master (if you win or draw against him, you get a prize)
  • Festival foods as well as great shops on the historical avenue and nearby
  • Booksellers and publishers (lots of info about upcoming books and the opportunity to buy as many books as you can carry)
  • Open poetry mic (hear poets read their works or sign up for a 5 minute slot to share your own)
  • Local community groups, charities, schools, and more

What else could you find at previous Kensington Day of the Book Festivals? BCinDC! We have had a table at the festival since 2006, where our local group has given away free books and introduced festival attendees to the fun hobby that is BookCrossing. One year, we gave away more than 1000 books! We’ve even had a few festival authors give us copies of their books to be registered and turned into bookrays.

Luckily, this year’s Kensington Day of the Book Festival takes place on the Sunday of our Convention. If you’d like to join this celebration of literature, sign up for this choice in the Add-ons form.

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