Best things to do in DC this week: festivals, art, theater

A musician performing at Art All Night at Shaw in 2021. Photo courtesy of DC Department of Small & Local Business Development.

Happy Monday everyone!

It’s the last days of summer and that means fall festivals and theater season are underway! From kicking off theater week to a go-go jazz and music festival at a historic DC park, there are a ton of fun things to do this week in the DC area.

Best things to do this week

  1. Art all night. All the city overnight arts festival is back this weekend to celebrate local art and support small businesses. A variety of outdoor and indoor experiences will take place, including painting and sculpture, music and performing arts (Sat-Sun, free, several participating districts).
  2. NEXTfest Music Festival. A two-day stay music and arts festival takes place this weekend in historic Malcolm X Park. The 2nd annual program features performances by local jazz singers and go-go bands such as UCB and TOB Band & Show. Day two explores local history and the humanities with film screenings and panel discussions at the Josephine Butler Parks Center (Sat-Sun, free, Meridian Hill).
  3. Theater week. Washington Theater kicks off a week-long celebration of theater and performance in the DC area on Saturday with improv workshops, games and prizes, food, drink and a free concert (Saturday, free, Arena Stage and District Wharf).
  4. Reston Farm Garden Market. Take a trip to Northern Virginia for a autumn festival that the whole family can enjoy. Kids can travel around the garden by train, play in a bouncy house, get face painting and take home a free pumpkin. Adults can indulge in apple cider drinks and donuts (Friday-Sunday through October, $28+, Reston, VA)
  5. Prince George Film Festival. Maryland’s celebration of cinema begins Thursday. The Program schedule includes an opening reception, virtual screenings, filmmaker panels and workshops, and a closing discussion with Tina Knowles Lawson (Thursday-Sunday, $50+, MGM National Harbor and Bowie State University).

Want more things to do?

Economic. Get ready for fall and party outside at the 8th Annual Oktoberfest with your four-legged friends at Dogtoberfest (Sun, free, Wunder Garten). Did someone say sewing? Grab a friend and a sewing kit and join the queer cross stitch circle. Beginners are welcome (Monday, $5+, The Outrage).

Arts and culture. Be inspired by European art and exhibitions at the Milano Design Film Festival (Monday and Wednesday, free, New York University Washington, DC and Italian Embassy). Attend a special preview of Mosaic Theater’s upcoming “The Till Trilogy” (game, free but registration required, Thomas Jefferson Building). Have you read any cool books lately? Check out Lost City Book’s monthly Meet Cute book club to read romantic comedy with neighbors (Thursday the book is $17, Lost City Books).

Theater and shows. This week is your last chance to see the regional premiere of The Outsider (last show Saturday, $45+, Keegan Theatre). A show ends and a new one opens: you can get tickets for the opening of the play Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Wed, $75, Studio Theater).

History and heritage. Put on your walking shoes because it’s WalkingTown DC week. Learn about the history and culture of your community by joining a public guided walking tour. There are over 50 guided tours throughout the week, from seaports to women’s history to Charles Dickens (Mon-Sun, free, various districts). Visit Alexandria and learn about the legacy of a Virginia cabinetmaker (Sat, $20, Alexandria) or take a self-guided tour of old homes at the 80th annual Alexandria Historic Homes Showcase (Sat, $40+, Alexandria). Chat with the local historian Judith Waxman on the early days of Woodley Park (Tuesday, free, virtual).

Music and concerts. You don’t want to miss the chance to jam with go-go bands at the National Symphony Orchestra neighborhood concert (game, free, Entertainment & Sports Arena). Additionally, the Washington National Opera celebrates its 17th season of Opera on the Field with a screening of Carmen (Sun, free, Audi Field). Plus, you can enjoy live performances in honor of DC Radio’s 5th anniversary (Monday, free, Union District Oyster Bar & Lounge) or see Maryland artist Father John Misty perform at a local theater (Tuesday, $55, Anthem). End the weekend with actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth in concert at ARTS by George! (Sat, $65+, Fairfax).

Fun and games. If you’re looking for game night activities to do this week, check out the first-ever SporcleCon, based on the popular quiz (Thursday-Sunday, $99+, various DC locations). Take the kids for a spin at the interactive Spanish art installation Los Trompos (Monday to October 2, free, Franklin Park and Indiana Plaza). watch the movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife at sunset at the open-air cinema of the Golden Triangle (Thursday, free, Farragut Square).

To be involved. It’s forbidden book week! Make portable buttons for banned books at the DC Public Library (Monday, free, Cleveland Park Library)or watch A Film Screening of The Hate U Give (Wednesdays, Free, MLK Library). Participate in a cleaning of the museum garden (Saturday, free, Tudor Place). Volunteer on National Public Lands Day with service activities across DC (Sat, free, various parks).

If you enjoyed these events, don’t forget to share this post with a friend on social media and sign up for our newsletter for more things to do.

Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide specializing in researching DC’s history and culture. She is the author of the Black History Book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C.a story that first appeared in the Washingtonian in 2016.

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