September 8 through 11: Arts on Foot
Kicking off the fall performance and visual arts season is the Washington Examiner's Arts on Foot, a festival featuring live performances, cooking demonstrations, wine tastings, crafts, and many other hands-on activities. Don't miss the Art Market, a juried bazaar with over 100 exhibitors including collage makers, glass blowers, and furniture designers. The Market runs from Wednesday through Friday from 11 to 7 each day. The festival, which adds two city blocks and a Penn Quarter restaurant sampling court to the celebration, takes place on Saturday from 11 to 6. Free.
September 9 through 16: DC Shorts Film Festival
With its swanky parties, filmmaking seminars, and more than 95 short films, this festival is a film buff’s dream come true. The shorts are divided into eight rotating showcases, playing at the Landmark E Street Cinema and the US Navy Memorial Theater. For those on a time crunch, the last night of the festival features two “Best Of” showcases, highlighting judge and audience favorites. Access to one showcase is $12; multiple showcase and party passes are also available.
September 10 to 12: Maryland Seafood Festival
Just an hour's drive from DC, the annual Maryland Seafood Festival—held in Sandy Point State Park— is the perfect weekend escape. Enjoy fresh seafood from top local vendors, sand castle building demonstrations, a "Dessert Island" featuring treats from area restaurants, a fishing challenge, and the legendary crab soup cook-off. Friday and Saturday 11 to 9, Sunday 11 to 7. Tickets are $12 at the gate, $10 in advance.
September 11: 7th Annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival
Located at Veterans Plaza in downtown Silver Spring, this year's festival is headlined by New Orleans R&B icon Aaron Neville. Rumba Club, Janine Carter, Chopteeth Afrofunk Band, and local pianist Marcus Johnson are also slated to perform. Local restaurants will also offer food for purchase. The performances are outside, so bring a blanket or lawn chair. 3:30 to 10:30 PM. Free.
September 11 through October 3: Celebrate Mexico 2010
In commemoration of Mexico’s bicentennial, the Kennedy Center is hosting a series of events and performances exhibiting the country’s arts and culture. The celebration kicks off September 11 with the free Open House Arts Festival (12 to 7), an annual showcase of the Kennedy Center’s upcoming season. This year’s festival includes a children’s book fair, dance demonstrations, interactive chalk art, and more than 20 performances. Celebrate Mexico continues with performances by the contemporary circus Cirko de Mente, vocalist Magos Herrera, and many more. Venues and ticket prices vary; click here for more details.
September 12: Adams Morgan Day Festival
This annual festival celebrates the vibrant culture of one of DC’s most diverse neighborhoods. Take in some jazz in Kalorama Park, stroll by art exhibits on Belmont Street, or grab a bite from one of the many food stands along 18th Street, Northwest. The day will also feature dance, two stages of live music, and a variety of vendors. Noon to 7. Free.
September 18: H Street Festival
As part of the H Street, Northeast, corridor revitalization, this year’s festival showcases the best of what this up-and-coming neighborhood has to offer. Highlights include a preview of DC Fashion Week, carnival games, rock climbing, parades, a pi- eating contest, international food vendors, dog-tag making, a speed chess challenge, and more than 30 musical and dance performances. Free shuttle service is available from Gallery Place and Eastern Market Metros. H Street between 12th and 14th streets. Noon to 6. Free.
September 18 and 19: Virginia Wine Festival
Whether you’re a master sommelier or a Two Buck Chuck guzzler, you’ll find something to please your palate at this year’s celebration of local wine. With Virginia vintages growing in both production size and quality, there’s no better time to taste the fruits of local labor. The festival features more than 400 varieties of wine, food tastings, live music, and an arts show. Tickets are $25 to $125; 11 to 6 at Bull Run Regional Park (7700 Bull Run Dr., Centreville).
September 18 to 25: Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music
With an ear for cutting edge, genre-bending sounds, Sonic Circuits' annual festival is an aural experience unlike any other in the District. Over 40 musicians are on the bill. See homegrown acts like DC-based jazz/post-punk combo Gestures, as well as performers from as far away as Austria, like electronica pioneer Fennesz. If you're on a tight budget, be sure to check out the free performance by famed Italian percussionist Andrea Centazzo at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage on Wednesday, September 22 at 6 PM. For all other performances, tickets range from $8 to $45; click here for venues, times, and advance ticket purchase.
September 19: Vintage Crystal
The fourth annual Vintage Crystal, a wine-and-food event in Crystal City, has a Latin theme this year. A $20 ticket gives you access to unlimited tastings of 30 wines and food from 25 local restaurants. Also included are wine-tasting classes, tequila drinks, Latin jazz performances, and salsa dancing. The event is in the courtyard of 220 20th Street. 2 to 6.
September 19 through 24: Fall for the Book
Each year, George Mason University and the City of Fairfax sponsor this festival that brings readers and authors together. The weeklong event includes readings by acclaimed authors such as Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain) and Kathryn Stockett (The Help), lectures by publishing-industry professionals, and writing workshops for children and adults. All events are free. For location information, click here.
September 23: Grapes With the Apes at the National Zoo
Animal lovers will go bananas for this annual fundraiser, where guests can sip wine by the National Zoo’s great-ape habitat. Tickets include a commemorative glass and tastings from 20 wineries. If you really want to go wild, spring for the VIP pass, which includes animal demonstrations, interaction with the great apes’ keepers, and more extensive tasting options. Proceeds benefit the zoo’s animal-care and conservation efforts. General admission is $35 for FONZ members or $50 for others; VIP is $70 for FONZ and $85 for others. 6 to 9.
September 24 through 26: Chesapeake Film Festival
Held in Easton, Maryland, this film festival is known for its broad focus and diverse range of offerings. Organized by Doug Sadler, whose acclaimed film Swimmers was set in the area, the weekend showcases both international and domestic movies. There are also Q&A sessions throughout the festival. This year’s opening film is the Jean-Michel Basquiat biopic The Radiant Child, a Sundance favorite. Tickets for most screenings are $10 at the door.
September 25: Barracks Row Fall Festival on Capitol Hill
With the feel of an old time street fair, this festival is a throwback to the days of Main Streets and midways. The kitschy fun includes cotton candy, a petting zoo, magic shows, antique car displays, live bands, and an appearance by Chesty, the bulldog mascot of the Marines. Celeb New Orleans chef Paul Prudhomme will be on hand to sign cookbooks, and there's also guided tours of the historic Marine Barracks, a military chef's cook-off, and a cameo by the Redskinettes. A bonus for military history buffs: try to spot the ten different historic uniforms sported by Marines at the festival. 8th Street SE between E and I Streets; 11 to 5. Free.
September 25: Clarendon Day
Head to this booming Arlington neighborhood for live music, art, food, activities for children, and more. Take advantage of this year’s focus on health and fitness by attending a free martial-arts or yoga lesson or checking out one of the health-screening booths sponsored by the Virginia Hospital Center Foundation. Events run from 11 to 5. Free.
September 25: National Book Festival
The National Book Festival is a bibliophile’s dream. Each pavilion hosts a different genre, such as Poetry and Prose or Contemporary Life, where authors will give presentations. Pavilions are known to fill up quickly, so plan ahead. Expect Jonathan Franzen, whose highly anticipated novel Freedom was released last month, and local celeb chef Spike Mendelsohn to be among the day’s most sought-after scribes. The festival is held on the National Mall from 10 to 5:30. Free.
September 25 to 26: What's Out There Weekend
If you feel like you never take advantage of living in Washington, now's the time to see "what's out there." The Cultural Landscape Foundation is hosting free tours of 25 designed landscapes around DC, including the National Mall, Rock Creek Park, and Tudor Place. These expert-led treks are sure to illuminate details of the city's history that you never knew, and perhaps even introduce you to brand new sights. For a sneak peak, swing by the weekend's launch party on September 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 PM., hosted at Room & Board (1840 14th St. NW). Tour times vary, click here for more details. Free.
September 26: Then and Wow at Glen Echo Park
After over a century, Maryland's Glen Echo Park is still going strong. To celebrate its longevity and transformation over the years, the park is hosting a day-long festival that harkens back to its time as an amusement park. Take a ride on the Dentzel Carousel—which celebrated its 90th anniversary this summer— or play old-school arcade games like skee-ball and target shoots. You can also learn to juggle or do magic tricks, and hear about the park's history through a series of tours and documentary screenings. 11 to 5 PM. Free.
September 28 through October 3: All Roads Film Festival
Showcasing film and photography from cultures often underrepresented in the arts, National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival is a global celebration of inspiring works and heartfelt storytelling. Among this year’s most promising picks are the New Zealand flick Boy, a coming-of-age story about a child meeting his estranged father for the first time, as well as Reel Injun, a Canadian documentary that takes a comical look at the portrayal of Native Americans in mainstream film. Individual screenings for most films are $10; all-access festival passes are also available for $114.