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jun 29

The new King Memorial is ready for its close-up

Aerial view of the Memorial (Courtesy BuildTheDream.org)

More than 400,000 visitors may descend on Washington, D.C.'s National Mall in late August to witness the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. What do travelers need to know to plan a visit?

The four-acre site is set between the Lincoln Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. It is the first piece of construction to be placed on the central axis of the Mall that doesn't commemorate a war or a president. It will feature a 28-foot-high granite statue by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixin, along with a crescent wall engraved with King quotations chosen by historians and writers. The social realist sculpture has been completed, but the site as a whole, funded by private donations, still needs $8 million for finishing touches. We hope it rises to the occasion.

The dedication ceremony takes place on August 28 at 11 a.m., preceded by a planned concert at 10 and followed by another concert around 2 p.m. Free standing room areas will be open nearby, but tickets have already been given away for the seats in the stands. Expect long lines to form early in the morning. Giant television screens may be set up for guests who can't see the ceremony up-close, but details are still being worked out.

Assuming all things go as planned, visitors will want to book now for lodging in the city during the weekend before the Labor Day holiday. The popularity of the upcoming event, along with customary family trips during summer peak season, is jacking up prices temporarily. Consider Budget Travel's picks for affordable hotels in the city and its environs.

Be sure to also catch up on "The 20 Best-Kept Secrets of Washington, D.C." from our April issue.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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