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Make the Most of Your Festival Day

Group of people at the Information Booth at the 2018 National Book Festival.

Getting ready to attend the 2019 National Book Festival here in D.C. next week? 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 August 31 — Labor Day weekend — is no exception. Here’s information from the Convention Center on parking and access.

Use Metro. Metro, the Washington D.C. area’s subway system, has a stop right at the Convention Center! Very convenient! But keep in mind that the system is undergoing extensive maintenance these days, which may 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 four 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 anywhere 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.

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 between the various festival venues.

Think Globally, Eat Locally. Getting hungry during the day? You may want to hit the 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.

Sign saying "Ask Me"Cluster Your Activities. The stages and activities are grouped on different levels in different buildings. Make it easy on yourself and build your schedule ahead of time (use that App!) so you can map out your routes and better anticipate the time needed to get from place to place. The Concourse and Lower Level span 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—and if they don’t, they 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 run by volunteers in such a big venue. But remember, we’re all here to share our love of books and reading, and to 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, August 31!

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival, which is free for everyone, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Saturday, Aug. 29. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.

26 Comments

  1. Shirley Williams M.D.
    August 22, 2019 at 10:41 am

    Hi! This is an event which is for people whom enjoy books, reading and writers alike. Here in Jackson, MS. we just had our book festival this past weekend. I enjoyed all the vendors and writers exhibits. There was plenty to give away. Then, there was plenty I got! Even, the new leads on contest for writing on many different levels. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. What I enjoyed the most of all was the Downtown Abbey Exhibit. Thanks for everything.

  2. Ralph Whetzel
    August 22, 2019 at 11:51 am

    I thought that along with this would come some some Vidios to hrlp explain whad your traying to explain. Wll Be looking for them RALPH

  3. David
    August 22, 2019 at 3:16 pm

    Question, not a comment… If I’m in a room and need to leave for a bathroom, does it require me to get back in the long line again for re-entry to the room?

  4. John Sayers
    August 22, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    David, the answer is yes (with one exception), so try to make sure you’ve taken care of your needs before you get into line. The exception is the Main Stage, which has its own bathrooms inside the seating area.

  5. Jennifer
    August 23, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Will you need to get tickets ahead of time for the main stage presentations? If so, how do you get tickets? Thank you!

  6. John Sayers
    August 23, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    Jennifer, no tickets are required for any of the National Book Festival venues this year. See you next Saturday!

  7. Jim
    August 24, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    Is David Mccullough sighting books this year? Thank you.

  8. Mindy
    August 25, 2019 at 10:30 am

    This will be our first time. Do we purchase books in advance for book signings or at the event? Thanks!

  9. Jessica
    August 26, 2019 at 9:53 am

    Once I am inside the Main Stage, can I stay for multiple presentations without having to wait in line again?

  10. John Sayers
    August 26, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Jessica, we will not be clearing any of the stages following each presentation, so as long as you remain in the room, you won’t have to go through the re-entry line.

  11. John Sayers
    August 26, 2019 at 10:20 am

    Jim, Mr. McCullough will not be signing books at this year’s festival.

  12. John Sayers
    August 26, 2019 at 10:22 am

    Mindy, we’re so glad you’re coming to the festival this year! You may bring books of your own to have signed, or you may buy books on-site at our Book Sales site near to the Book Signing lines on the Expo floor. There’s more information here: //www.loc.gov/events/2019-national-book-festival/festival-information/safety-tips/

  13. Ellie
    August 26, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Will all bags need to be checked, or will be allowed to carry anything with us inside the center?

  14. John Sayers
    August 26, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    Hi Ellie. For the safety and enjoyment of festival patrons, event staff, authors, sponsors and volunteers, the Library of Congress has instituted safety-screening protocol. Here are the details: //www.loc.gov/events/2019-national-book-festival/festival-information/safety-tips/

  15. edie
    August 26, 2019 at 8:58 pm

    are you going to clear venues to make room for the next speaker? This had been a problem in the past.

  16. John Sayers
    August 27, 2019 at 8:33 am

    Edie, we will not be clearing any of the stages following each presentation, so as long as you remain in the room, you won’t have to go through the re-entry line.

  17. Megan
    August 27, 2019 at 10:09 am

    Good morning! This will be my first time attending, so I had two quick questions:
    1. I don’t see food specifically listed on the bag check page; are we okay to bring in outside food?
    2. How long before panels/signings should we be lining up?
    Thank you so much for all the helpful info! I’m super excited for this weekend!

  18. John Sayers
    August 27, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    Hello, Megan! We’re glad you’ll be joining us. (1) Outside food is permitted in the Convention Center. (2) Queuing times in signing and presentation lines will vary from author to author, based on popularity. We’ve worked hard to make sure there’s enough time and room for everyone to see their favorites, but it’s very hard to estimate time-in-lines, etc. But we’ll do our very best to give everyone the best experience possible. See you on Saturday!

  19. K R Williams
    August 28, 2019 at 9:31 pm

    Will festival posters be available on site?

  20. Kaye
    August 29, 2019 at 1:22 am

    How early can we line up for the main stage?

  21. John Sayers
    August 29, 2019 at 8:57 am

    Hello KR. There will be a supply of posters available at the Festival information booths and at the Book Sales area. Free, but first-come, first-served and they tend to go quickly! See you Saturday.

  22. John Sayers
    August 29, 2019 at 9:04 am

    Hi Kaye! The doors to the Convention Center will open at 8:30 am, and people may proceed directly to the Main Stage after they exit security screening.

  23. Stephanie Huegel
    August 29, 2019 at 7:14 pm

    So I can sit through Richard Ford then Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg?

  24. John Sayers
    August 29, 2019 at 7:37 pm

    Stephanie, we will not be clearing the stages between presentations. Festival goers may stay in their same seats all day, if they have the desire and the fortitude. See you Saturday!

  25. Martha
    August 30, 2019 at 9:24 am

    Will there be a security check at each entrance or will we be guided to one security area? If it’s one area, which entry is closest to that security check area?

  26. Stephen Roberts
    August 31, 2019 at 9:10 pm

    This comment pertains to David’s question. I was in a room today and needed to leave to use the restroom. When I returned I was not allowed back into the room. So, John Sayers, rest assured I was very frustrated this morning at the National Book Festival.

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