Thursday, December 3: Art is . . . . That’s the question and theme of tonight’s Phillips After 5 event. In homage to Duncan Phillips—the museum’s founder and a devoted lover of and writer about art—attendees are encouraged to text their definitions of what art is to a host of DJs, who will then project responses on the museum’s walls. Jazz pianist Janelle Gill will perform. Attendance is by donation. 5 PM.
El Vez? Who? He’s Mexico’s foremost Elvis impersonator—and the stage name for Robert Lopez, who covers classic-rock songs and performs his own material while dressed in outrageous outfits. Tonight is his “Viva Christmas” performance at the 9:30 Club. Los Straitjackets will also play. 7 PM; $20. Get tickets here.
Now in its 20th year, the Washington Jewish Film Festival, which kicks off today, screens more than 40 films focusing on Jewish culture and experience. Thousands of viewers attend the annual festival, and awards are handed out to audience favorites. Tickets and schedules are here. Films are shown at theaters throughout Washington.
If you didn’t snag tickets to the coveted National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony tonight, head to Union Station, where you can see a 32-foot tree being lit. 6 PM; free. For more holiday lights, check out our guide to area tree lightings.
Friday, December 4: The Park at 14th turns two! And this weekend, it’s celebrating with two nights of fun. The Washington-born R&B singer Ryan Leslie will play tonight’s party, and there’s an open bar from 5 to 8. On Saturday, there’s also an open bar and free food from 7 to 9. The cover charge is $20, but if you e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put on the guest list, you can score free admission.
You may still be sated from Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s never too early to prepare a New Year’s Eve feast. Sign up for the “Champagne Cooking for New Year’s” class at L’Academie de Cuisine (5021 Wilson La., Bethesda), led by instructor Paul Schneider. The demonstration class takes students through a bubbly-oriented menu of shiitake-and-leek/Champagne-cream soup and seared greens with Champagne sauce, among other offerings. For a full menu and reservations, click here. The class, $65 per person, runs from 7 to 10.
Under the baton of music director Michael McCarthy, the Cathedral Choir performs The Messiah at 7:30 today and at 4 Saturday and Sunday. Tickets ($20 to $80) can be purchased here.
Saturday, December 5: Who doesn’t want to celebrate the day Prohibition was repealed? There are two events to celebrate the day that’s special to all lovers of booze. First up, Urbana is throwing a party with a bathtub bar, gin fizzes, and classic cocktails for $8 as well a 25-cent cocktail for all those who come dressed in 1920s attire. Then the DC Craft Bartenders Guild will party all night at PS 7’s. A familiar group of bartenders will mix drinks—Gina Chersevani, Derek Brown, and Todd Thrasher—and there’ll be plenty of finger food and dancing. Tickets are $100 and can be purchased here.
How can we resist an event whose tagline is “Like the Discovery Channel, with beer”? That’s why we’re headed to Nerd Nite at DC9. The event, which mixes presentations about, well, nerdy stuff with beer, is at 6. Expect to hear about the sex life of insects, competitive Scrabble, and killer shrimp. For real. $10.
Whether you’d want to go sincerely or ironically, we couldn’t pass up listing the fact that Sarah Palin will be in the area today as part of her national book tour. Head to the BJ’s Wholesale Club in Fairfax from 11 to 2 to purchase Going Rogue and get it signed.
For two days, celebrate Scottish holiday traditions with music, food, shopping, and more at Alexandria’s Scottish Christmas Walk Weekend. The main event is the annual parade today, in which more than 100 Scottish clans, pipe-and-drum bands, dancers, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, and Santa Claus march through Old Town. The parade begins at Wilkes and South Pitt streets in Alexandria and ends at Wolfe and South Saint Asaph streets. Most other events, including a marketplace on Friday, take place at the George Washington Masonic Memorial.
Sunday, December 6: Need to pick up a few fun holiday gifts? Head to Merriment in Georgetown, the annual neighborhood festival taking place from 3 to 5:30 all over Georgetown. Stores and restaurants will offer specials, and there’ll be live music and entertainment—not to mention caroling and a tree lighting. Click here for details.
Feel like indulging in that great Washington tradition—the Sunday brunch? Check out our guide to 21 of our favorites.
Catch some talented young Washington musicians at the DC Youth Orchestra Program’s Intermediate Concert. The performers will showcase their abilities in their first concert of the season and will be joined by the Young Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra—a collection of students selected to participate by invitation. The event starts at 4 at the DC Youth Orchestra Program (6315 Fifth St., NW). For more information, click here.