This May, DC puts on its annual culture month, with scores of foreign embassies opening their doors to share the customs, food, music and crafts that make each nation unique
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Zoë Manzi, Editor, MO magazine, The Condé Nast Publications
As election fever hots up in the US and the long-awaited return of the ruthless President Francis Underwood and his equally conniving wife, Claire, in Season 4 of Netflix's triumphant House of Cards series gets underway, Washington DC is having quite a moment. Underwood, perfectly played by Mandarin Oriental fan Kevin Spacey, is also, in this parallel cinematic universe, a fan of the Group's properties: in Series 2, he mentioned a party at the Washington DC hotel! How I leapt off the sofa when he namechecked us on screen… Thank you, President Underwood (I think).
If, like me, you've been riveted by the strangely prophetic fictional drama playing out alongside real-life events, as frontrunners Clinton, Sanders and Trump battle it out for perhaps the ultimate in political prizes, you may be interested in Passport DC, which kicks off in the US capital this May.
Passport DC takes place during International Cultural Awareness Month, which offers 31 days of events that incorporate 70 embassies and more than 40 of DC's cultural institutions. I love DC (a special shout-out to Georgetown) and would be delighted to spend an afternoon or two exploring its neighbourhood heritage trails with WalkingTown DC, or travelling the globe with the Around the World Embassy Tour (7 May).
And ooh, how I would love to poke my nose behind some of those closed doors and gain insight into the inner workings of embassy life. With the art and culture of each nation highlighted, you can learn an indigenous dance, pat alpacas, and witness the Embassy Chef Challenge Gala (25 May), where embassy chefs prepare small, traditional bites to showcase their skills and the culinary heritage of their countries. My money is on Peru to win this year.
In a nod to global neighbourhoods, visitors can take part in European Union Delegation day (14 May), while Fiesta Asia (21 May) celebrates the arts, crafts, music and culture of that great, diverse continent. A truly international celebration that is free for all who wish to attend. How fabulous is that!