Jun. 26th, 2013 | Updated Aug. 6th, 2015

7 of D.C.'s Most Prestigious Annual Balls and Galas

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the alice in wonderland ball
Photo Courtesy of The Washington Ballet

When Washington D.C. politicians, socialites, and high-profile community leaders get together in ornate gowns, perfectly tailored suits and cocktails in hand, significant changes are sure to follow. Each year, the District holds some of the best galas, balls and events that bring a community of world-changers together to fundraise in lavish ways. While the main goal of the evening is to boost funds, no expense can be spared at these functions; everything from the music, speakers, décor and prizes are immaculately planned to a tee. Here’s a look inside some of Washington D.C.’s most prestigious balls and galas whose efforts continue to raise millions for charities and causes each year.

 Official Inaugural Balls
Photo Courtesy of 2013 Presidential Inauguration

The Official Inaugural Balls

Every four years, the Official Inaugural Balls pay tribute to the nation’s new or second-term President. Anyone who’s anyone in politics shows up to these events and 2013 was no different with 30,000 in attendance. Typically the official inaugural balls are by invitation only, so snagging a seat inside is a notable honor. Due to the state of economic affairs for the country, the balls were limited to the Children’s Concert, Commander-In-Chief Ball and the Inaugural Ball, all held at the Washington Convention Center.

With that in mind, organizers were made to think creatively with a minimalist approach. The room was converted using only a few drapes and decorations against the exposed ceiling and fluorescent lights. The Obamas took to the floor for the first dance during Jennifer Hudson's rendition of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Guests also enjoyed performances by Alicia Keys, Black Violin, Brad Paisley, Far East Movement, FUN., members of the Glee cast, John Legend, Katy Perry, Maná, Smokey Robinson, Soundgarden, Stevie Wonder and Usher.

 Leukemia Ball
Photo Courtesy of Leukemia Ball

The Leukemia Ball

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) fund over $71.4 million annually on blood cancer research, education, and patient services and is considered the world’s largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding the fight against leukemia. LLS has awarded more than $750 million in research grants since it began in 1954. Each year since 1988, LLS has hosted the Leukemia Ball and has brought in nearly $48 million for their causes.

Approximately 2,000 guests attend the ball, one of the largest non-political black-tie events in D.C. Throughout the evening, guests can mingle over a carefully chosen dinner menu and purchase raffle tickets for a chance to ultimately win a Mercedes-Benz at the end of the night. Sponsorships for the event, however, do not come cheap and begin at $10,000, while single ticket prices cost $1,000. Its 2015 affair raised $3.15 million.

Charityworks Dream Ball
Photo Credit: Rena Schild/Shutterstock

Charityworks Dream Ball

Charityworks' black-tie event in the fall, the Dream Ball, is held at The National Building Museum and helps to create changes in the community to break the cycle of poverty by uniting corporate leaders, donors and volunteers. CharityWorks is a major philanthropic organization in the Washington Metropolitan area, distributing millions in high-impact grants. Each year, the organization partners with two non-profits (one military and one non-military).

Last year, CharityWorks transformed the building into an "Absinthe Dream" with décor by Hargrove. Guests enjoyed a four-course dinner in the midst of green decorations and lighting. Free Spirit performed to over 700 guests during the evening. Sponsorships for begin at $1,500 for this year's Smoke & Mirrors: The Art of Illusion event on September 26, benefiting Best Buddies and Yellow Ribbon Fund.

  Fight For Children fight night
Photo Courtesy of Fight For Children

Fight for Children’s Fight Night

Held at the Washington Hilton, DC’s premiere fundraising event Fight Night, created by Fight for Children, brings together over 2,000 prominent business, sports and media figures together for food, drinks and professional boxing bouts. The night raises funds for the organization along with others that provide education and health care services to low-income children in Washington. Tickets for the evening begin at $1,000 or $8,500 for a table of 10. Over the past century, the night has raised $50 million and counting, helping over 160 organizations. Chaired by Under Armour, Fight Night 2015 will take place on November 5 and sponsorships begin at $35,000. Attendees will have the opportunity to partake in a seated dinner, live and silent auctions and watch boxing legends duke it out in the ring.

washington ballet spring gala
Photo Credit: Tony Brown/Imijphoto.com

The Washington Ballet’s Annual Spring Gala

The Washington Ballet’s (TWB) Annual Spring gala is a great event choice for those who enjoy the arts. Each year, the ballet raises funds through an extravagant production filled with whimsical themes and an impressive list of dancers. Single purchase tickets began at $1,200 and went up to $50,000 to be a Grand Benefactor. This year’s spring event was held on May 1 at the German Ambassador's Residence, and was named The Swan Ball. Proceeds benefited TWB’s Community Engagement programs: The Washington Ballet@THEARC, DanceDC, and Excel! Celebrating its world production of Swan Lake. TWB passed out Champagne flutes as guests arrived and wistful ballerinas danced among the crowds. Pink decorations colored the room which boasted a "feathered friend" theme from its floral arrangements to its cream puff swan dessert. 

 uso gala
Photo Courtesy of The USO

USO Gala

Recognizing honorees from each branch of the armed forces for their extraordinary bravery, loyalty and heroism, as well as a special volunteer, the annual USO Gala pays tribute to our men and women in uniform. In attendance each year are Washington dignitaries, Members of Congress, military leadership, members of the USO Board of Governors, USO corporate sponsors and the media. Individual tickets are $1,000 with sponsorship packages starting at $15,000. The 2015 gala will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Last year's black-tie or military equivalent affair boasted a performance by Kellie Pickler and actress/comedian Aisha Tyler was the night's MC. 

 Meridian International Center meridian ball
Photo Courtesy of Meridian International Center

The Annual Meridian Ball

Attended by diplomats, members of the Cabinet, Congress and the international business community, the Meridian Ball is considered one of Washington’s most distinguished events. Held at the Meridian House, the black-tie, or military attire, affair brings together guests for intimate dinners hosted by Ambassadors at their private residences and embassies. This year's event takes place on Friday, October 16. Tickets can also be purchased for a separate White-Meyer House dinner for $450 each, while the Pre-Ball Embassy Dinner and Ball costs $650. Sponsorships start at $5,000 and proceeds supportt Meridian’s global leadership exchanges, cultural activities, conferences, and seminars. Washington’s most elite and powerful are in attendance, each enjoying the evening’s festivities and mingling with VIPs. 

The list of prominent fundraising events is extensive in the District and attending one of these illustrious galas is held in high esteem. Those in the know realize that it’s not if you’ll attend, but rather, which you’ll attend.

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