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Make the Most of Your Day

Library of Congress National Book Festival logo

Getting ready to attend the 2017 National Book Festival here in D.C.? Here are some tips to make it easier for you to get here and enjoy your day:

Download the App. There’s a version of the National Book Festival App for all smartphones, and you’ll find it to be a great way to plan your day. Use the tools to make a personal schedule from the hundreds of activities available. Also, we’ll use the app to push late-breaking details and program changes, so it will be your most valuable tool. (And remember, the complete festival schedule is also available on our website.)

Plan Your Travel. The Washington Convention Center is pretty accessible between 7th and 9th Streets and N Street and Mt. Vernon Place in downtown D.C., but there’s always a lot going on in our Nation’s Capital, and Sept. 2 is no exception. Here’s information from the Convention Center on parking and access.

Use Metro. If you plan to use Metro, the area’s subway, keep in mind that the system is undergoing extensive maintenance these days, which is likely to result in delays and station closings. Metro lists potential maintenance delays at its website. If you’re going to use one of the affected lines, give yourself some extra time coming in.

Help Us Keep You Safe. Once you get here, you’ll go through safety-screening protocols that are designed to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable festival. You can enter using three entrances that will be open to the center (see the map), and your bags will be checked. There will be a few restrictions that you’ll need to keep in mind, but once you’re cleared, you’ll be able travel freely inside the center and enjoy your day.

Once In, Stay In. After you’ve passed through screening, you can move freely throughout the Convention Center. However, you can’t go outside (for lunch, etc.) without having to go through screening again to re-enter. In order to move between the buildings, you may need to go up or down a level via the building connectors in order to avoid the screening lines.

Volunteers greet visitors at the 2016 National Book Festival. Photo by Ralph Small

Travel Light and Wear Comfortable Shoes. The map doesn’t do justice to the HUGENESS of the Washington Convention Center. It’s a massive place. Two big city blocks, wide hallways, multiple levels. There are escalators, but you’ll still need to prepare for long walks throughout the festival.

Think Globally, Eat Locally. Getting hungry during the day? You may want to hit the many concession spots available within the Convention Center. In addition, there are dozens of great dining venues close by if you head south outside the center. Just remember, if you leave the Convention Center, you’ll need to go back through screening upon your return.

Cluster Your Activities. The stages are grouped on different levels in different buildings. Make it easy on yourself and build your schedule ahead of time so you can map out your routes and better anticipate the time needed to get from place to place. The Lower Level spans both buildings, so on your way from sessions in the North building to sessions in the South building, give yourself a long break and check out some of the great things going on down there on the Expo Floor.

Lost? Confused? Forlorn? Ask for Help. You’ll see plenty of folks in National Book Festival Event Staff shirts holding “Ask Me” signs. Our top-notch volunteers will have the answer to your questions or know who to ask!

Be Patient—and Have Fun! During the course of this amazing day, there may be bottlenecks, snafus and the frustrations inherent during any complex event in such a big venue. But remember, we’re all here to share our love of books and have a terrific time. Our festival staff and volunteers will do everything we can to ensure that you do, too. See you on Saturday!

The 2018 Library of Congress National Book Festival, which is free for everyone, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, Sept. 1. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.


  1. Charlotte Olson
    August 30, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    Science appears to be missing from the schedule. Is there any reason for that?
    Also prefer it not be on Labor Day weekend. Sept 24th was awesome!

    Thank you.

  2. Charlotte Olson
    August 30, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Science books please!!

  3. Diane Booth
    August 31, 2017 at 10:06 pm

    All forms of science are exciting. Why aren’t these authors included in the fair?

  4. Marcy
    September 3, 2017 at 11:26 am

    I loved the Book Festival. I try to go every year. I did plan a little in advance, so that helped. Volunteers were very helpful. I think I will plan more next year.

    I had some difficulty with the Metro on line information, but that is not your problem. Maybe I should write down how to get there and put the information in a safe spot where I will remember where it was. Keep up the good work.

  5. Betty May
    September 3, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    The event was truly wonderful, but one officious, I’ll-informed volunteer pretty much ruined my day. After a two-hour trip into the city (pouring rain, Metro closures) I got there 10 minutes late for Elizabeth Strout’s talk — the one author I was really looking forward to seeing. I asked a volunteer for directions, and she gave me a lecture about arriving late — that the doors would have been closed, that no one was allowed to come in after that, it was so rude and distracting to the speakers, etc. So I didn’t even try to find the room. And then all day, of course, I sat in rooms in which volunteers worked hard to find seats for latecomers. I am sorry that I believed the word of this trained (?) volunteer and am so disappointed that I missed hearing one of my favorite authors.

  6. Betty May
    September 3, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    Previous comment — sorry, iPad autocorrected. Ill-informed, not I’ll…

  7. John Sayers
    September 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

    While unable to devote an entire stage to the subject this year, we did include science authors on our Contemporary Life stage.

  8. Jerry
    November 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    What are the festivals hours?

  9. John Sayers
    November 27, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    We expect the 2018 National Book Festival on Sept. 1 to have similar hours to this year’s event: 9 a.m. to 730 p.m. However, this has not yet been finalized and will be subject to change. Official hours will be announced in 2018.

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