Okay, it may not exactly be frigid outside, but you should still check out the “Warm Up to a Museum” program. Designed to draw in people who don’t take advantage of the great museums we have in Washington, it offers more than 25 free programs including gallery talks, film, lectures, and tours—all at a time when there are relatively few tourists in town. For a schedule of events, click here.
Friday, February 8: The Kennedy Center showcases all things Japanese with its extensive and wonderful “Japan! Culture + Hyper Culture” festival, which kicked off earlier this week and runs through February 17. The showcase runs the gamut of Japanese culture from music to theater to art, but it isn’t confined to performing arts. The Kennedy Center’s atrium will be turned into a gallery for architecture, sculpture, screens, lacquerware, photography, textiles, fashion, even pearls. And don’t be surprised if you run into a few robots—they’ll be on display in the Nations Gallery throughout the festival and will put on six free shows daily. Also included are a number of free performances and lectures. For the full schedule and price details, click here.
Did you miss the DC Shorts Film Festival back in September? Don’t worry—tonight and Saturday, you can catch the Best of the Fest: DC Shorts Film Festival at the Goethe-Institut. There will be screenings of some of the most popular shorts from the festival. The schedule and price details are here.
The AFI Silver Theatre is celebrating the Coen brothers’ contributions to cinema over 20-plus years with a monthlong retrospective. The event kicks off tonight with Raising Arizona and ends with The Big Lebowski on March 6. All of the brothers’ hits—and few misses—will be shown, including their noir debut, Blood Simple, the Odyssey-inspired O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and duds The Ladykillers and Intolerable Cruelty. Tickets ($8.50) can be purchased online or at the theater. For more information, click here or call 301-495-6720.
Saturday, February 9: The National Portrait Gallery gets hip with “Recognize! Hip Hop and Contemporary Portraiture,” which focuses on paintings and photos of hip-hop artists. Photographer David Scheinbaum tailed Public Enemy, Blackalicious, Phar Cyde, and Jurassic-5 to get his shots. Kehinde Wiley painted portraits of LL Cool J and Ice T in a style that’s less 21st century than 18th. There will even be writing on the walls: Two Washington graffiti artists, Tim Conlon and Dave Hupp, have been called in to create murals, and an ode to hip-hop by poet Nikki Giovanni will be visually interpreted.
Flamenco—the castanet-clicking folk dance that began in 18th-century Spain’s Andalusia before catching on in Latin America and Cuba—seems more popular than ever. The annual Flamenco Festival, always a crowd pleaser, brings some of the dance’s finest practitioners to the Lisner Auditorium. Tonight at 7, the festival showcases the Tomatito Quintet and dancer Jose Maya. Purchase tickets ($35 to $55) here.
Sunday, February 10: We know—DC’s Chinatown isn’t really, well, that Chinese anymore. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out the neighborhood’s annual Chinese New Year Parade, which takes place today at 2 PM at Seventh and H streets, Northwest. There will be the traditional lion and dragon dancers—a five-story firecracker will be lit.
Many free performances will be part of the “Japan! Culture + Hyper Culture” series at the Kennedy Center, but don’t miss YMCK playing on the Millennium Stage tonight at 6. The three-piece band plays “chiptune” music—which essentially sounds like the soundtrack to a Nintendo video game from the ’80s. YMCK’s 8-bit sound is fun and silly, and its shows are accompanied by live pixel animation projected on a screen behind the band.