National Book Festival Moves Off National Mall
WASHINGTON — After a decade on the National Mall, the National Book Festival is moving to a new location this year due to new rules and costs associated with holding a large outdoor event on the promenade between the Capitol and Lincoln Memorial.
The Library of Congress announced Wednesday that the popular literary event will move to the Washington Convention Center and will add a movie screening and cinema programs in the evening. This year’s festival is scheduled for Aug. 30.
Organizers said it will include the familiar mix of author talks, book signings and children’s activities. But the library also is extending the festival hours to 10 p.m. to showcase its large film archive and its work to preserve classic movies. The nighttime events will feature a pavilion devoted to “Great Books to Great Movies” to show the connection between a classic movie and a classic book.
New National Park Service rules for use of the National Mall prompted the change in location. The agency no longer allows tent stakes in areas with new turf because of a new underground irrigation system, and event hosts must pay for plastic decking to help preserve the grass, said National Mall spokesman Brian Hall.
“We have to be able to protect it and allow it to recover after events,” he said.
The festival began with first lady Laura Bush in 2001 inside the library, moved to the Capitol grounds in 2002 and has been held on the National Mall since 2003. It has drawn 200,000 visitors in recent years.
Library spokeswoman Jennifer Gavin said organizers worked for several months with the Park Service to see if there was a way to keep the festival on the mall, and they weighed the costs of protecting the mall’s new grass with the possibility of having an expanded indoor festival elsewhere.
“We decided that the festival goers were best served by moving it,” she said, noting the indoor space will be cooler as well. “People come for the authors and they come for the signings and for the kids’ features, and those things will all still be there. This year, they’ll get to come for some new features that they’ve never had before, and I think that will be a great draw.”
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