A Year of Unforgettable Parties

by Catherine Trifiletti

Our picks for the best events of 2018.


Photo courtesy

Chandeliers fashioned from 100 oversized plaid umbrellas hung from the rafters, just a sampling of the spectacular British-themed decor by Silver Linings Design Group for the event, for which Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador to the U.S., served as honorary chairman.

MOST CREATIVE ATTIRE | Burning Man Exhibit Opening at the Renwick Gallery

Artist Gia Gelareh (Photo by Tony Powell)

Onlookers gaped in awe as a parade of guests in outlandishly colorful and creative costumes arrived at the Renwick Gallery to celebrate the spirit and style ofBurning Man,the week long art and music festival in the BlackRock Desert in Nevada.

FINEST DINING | Inn at Little Washington Celebrates 40

(Photo by Tony Powell)

The glitzy celebration at Mount Vernon spearheaded by chef Patrick O’Connell featured Beluga caviar, Dom Perignon, foïe gras, lobster and poulet á la Creme á la Lafayette. That was after the fifes and drums and before the fireworks. Need we say more?

BEST ENTERTAINMENT | Hirshhorn Spring Gala

(Photo by Ben Droz)

The ’80s-themed evening was anchored by a special artistic performance created by Jennifer Rubell. Known for her spectacular largeformat food extravaganzas, the New York-based artist enlisted the help of 30 local performers clad in clown suits for a hilarious production entitled “Send in the Clowns.” Each entertainer used different schtick to summon guests to interact for an edible prize — “ You have to sing for your supper,” Rubell explained.

MOST SUCCESSFUL FUNDRAISER | Inova Schar Cancer Institute Dinner

Karl Rove and George W. Bush (Photo Courtesy)

Former president George W. Bush and former White House advisor Karl Rove were the headliners who helped raise a walloping $26 million for the Inova Schar Cancer Institute, setting a new record for a single-event nonprofit fundraiser in the Washington, D.C. area.

BEST PARTY TO MEET TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BIGWIGS | Kuwait-America Foundation Dinner at Embassy of Kuwait

Thomas Lloyd, Rickie Niceta, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner (Photo by Tony Powell)

Trump administration notables turned out in droves to honor Karen Pence, the recipient of the Kuwait-America Foundation’s Humanitarian Award, for her commitment to members of the military and art therapy initiatives (last year first lady Melania Trump was honored). The event was hosted by Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Al-Sabah and his wife Rima.

BEST BIPARTISAN MIX & MASH | White House Correspondents Association Weekend Party at the British Ambassador’s Residence

Former and current White House press secretaries Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders (Photo by Tony Powell)

Media personalities, diplomats and politicos sipped gin and tonics and nibbled on Stilton at this WL co-hosted “Come Together” themed party where folks from both sides of the aisle made appearances to do just that. Spotted: Chris Van Hollen, Kellyanne Conway, Michael Avenatti and Anthony Scaramucci.

WHERE TO SPOT THE OLD GUARD | Cafritzes’ Welcome Back from Summer Party

Calvin and Jane Cafritz (Photo by Tony Powell)

The Washington Social Set awaits Calvin and Jane Cafritz‘s annual “Welcome Back from Summer” party as eagerly as football fans do the Redskins’ opening game — in secure knowledge that the former will have far better ambience, music and food. Boldfaced names from politics, business, diplomacy, arts and philanthropy think of it as a command performance and never miss attending without a very good excuse.

MOST COVETED INVITATION | Albritton Brunch after the WHCA Dinner

(Photo by Tony Powell)

For this year’s British-themed event, Politico publisher Robert Albritton and his wife Elena spared no effort or expense. Guests snapped selfies with members of the “Queen’s Guard” manning the entrance, nibbled on fish and chips and drank suds from a makeshift corner pub dubbed “The Drunken Journalist.”

MOST OVER THE TOP DECOR | CNN’s Political Hangover Brunch

(Photo by Nick Klein)

The extravagant “Alice in Wonderland”-themed brunch at Longview Gallery featured walls of greenery and live hanging flora. Party planners John Legittino and his team  at Advoc8 worked through the night on scenes that included a tunnel of giant cards leading guests through a “rabbit hole” to a photo station with a gold throne and large animal topiaries.


Azerbaijan Amb. Elin Suleymanov and Lala Abdurahimova (Photo by Tony Powell)

From its genesis in 1969, when Jane Sloat founded and chaired the event as a way to introduce the diplomatic community to the rest of Washington, the Meridian Ball’s unique format has remained unchanged. Guests dine at numerous embassies before congregating for dessert and dancing at Meridian House to end the evening.


Boxing Legends Buster Douglas and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini (Photo by Tony Powell)

In its 29 years, Fight For Children’s annual event has raised more than $65 million to support physical, social-emotional and academic development of current and aspiring student athletes through youth sports programming in at-risk communities. The event, known for its cigar smoking and live boxing matches, is a man’s dream.


Ball Chairs Jack Davies, Kay Kendall, Neil and Marcy Cohen, Michelle Freeman and Jean-Marie and Raul Fernandez (Photo by Tony Powell)

More than 900 guests came out to the annual event, which raised over $3 million for patients at Children’s National. A range of local philanthropists, including owners of Monumental Sports and Entertainment (who encouraged guests to rock the red), joined in the festivities for a cause everybody can get behind.

WHERE THE BUSINESS ELITE MEET | Harvard Business School of Washington Gala

David Bradley, Jeffrey Immelt and Antonio Alves (Photo by Ben Droz)

After 400 guests walked the red carpet and enjoyed a three-course dinner, they heard from former chairman and CEO of General Electric Jeffrey Immelt and HBS Club CEO Antonio Alves who said: “The caliber of guests we had this year was unprecedented. They are role models, titans and unicorns, and we are gathered at this celebration to learn from them the secret sauce for success and prosperity.”

MOST UNIQUE VENUES | The Anthem and the Washington National Cathedral

(Photo by Tony Powell)

The concert venue at the Wharf, which usually plays host to popular musical acts, was the scene of several spectacular galas this year including the Washington Ballet Gala (pictured).

(Photo by Tony Powell)

Halcyon (pictured) and the Human Rights Campaign are among the organizations that lit up the majestical nave of the cathedral for their signature events.

This article appeared in the Holiday 2018 issue of Washington Life magazine.

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