Free and Inexpensive Things to Do Over Inauguration Weekend

Failed to score tickets to any official events? None of these happenings will set you back more than $20.

By: Sophie Gilbert

We know, we know (we really know). As much as everyone loves getting all gussied up and going to a ball, sometimes a $100-plus ticket is out of the question, particularly during the long stretch of January that happens to come right after the holidays. But never fear: There are plenty of free and inexpensive ways to celebrate inauguration 2013 this weekend. Know of any we missed? Leave details in the comments.

At the National Gallery, Roy Lichtenstein’s “The Oval Office” will be on display in the East Building’s lobby. Portraits of the first five American presidents by Gilbert Stuart are also on display in the West Building. Free.

Over inauguration weekend you can also see iconic images of President Barack Obama by two stellar contemporary artists at the National Portrait Gallery. Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” portrait of the President, donated to the museum by Heather and Tony Podesta, will be on display all weekend alongside two large-scale tapestry portraits by Chuck Close. Free.

Friday, January 18, Hot97 has a DMV Ball at the Howard Theatre, featuring Oddisee, Diamond District, Sean Born, Quartermaine, and more. Tickets are $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Inaugural improv? Why not? January 18 and 19 at DC Arts Center, Aboulia hosts an improv-themed inaugural event featuring lots and lots of local comedians. $11.

January 19, Art Soiree presents a political cartoon event at Malmaison featuring a performance by journo-band Suspicious Package and an exhibition of work by  Tom Toles, Jimmy Margulies, Ann Telnaes, and more. Tickets are $10 in advance; $20 at the door.

January 19, Tilted Torch hosts a Vaudeball at 9th and Beats. The burlesque-themed event claims to offer hula hooping (perhaps in honor of our first Hawaiian President?), belly dancing, contortionists, and music, of course. $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

Also on the 19th, get into the festive spirit with an inauguration celebration at Chief Ike’s Mambo Room, hosted by GreenLine Initiatives and AmericanPupusa. For $7 you get all-night drinks specials ($3 PBRs anyone?), and admission is only $5 if you’re wearing patriotic colors.

Saturday, January 19, and Sunday, January 20, President Lincoln's Own Band (as seen in the movie Lincoln) performs music from the 1860s at the American History Museum at 10 AM, 1 PM, and 4 PM. Free.

January 20, Smokey Robinson headlines the Kennedy Center’s “Let Freedom Ring” concert. Tickets are free, but you’ll have to stand in line for them outside the Hall of Nations. 6 PM.

The Funk 4 Peace Ball, featuring DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5 (hey, remember them?) is Sunday, January 20, at U Street Music Hall. The event, hosted with DC Brau, also features the Fort Knox Five, Empresarios, All Good Funk Alliance, and more. $10.

Also on Sunday, January 20, Listen Local First hosts an Inauguration Eve event at M Central featuring performances by US Royalty, Low Cut Connie, Shark Week, and more. $20.

Monday, January 21, watch a screening of the inauguration on the mall (but in warmth) in the American History Museum's Flag Hall. The live broadcast starts at 11.30 AM. Free.

It wouldn’t be a holiday without a “spectacular” hosted by BYT. This year’s event, held Monday, January 21, at Bohemian Caverns, features performances by Computer Magic, Prince Rama, and Rewards, as well as guest deejay spots by NPR’s Bob Boilen and City Paper’s Jon Fischer. $15 for early-bird tickets; $25 day of.

Feeling the need to digest things after the event? Wednesday, January 23, the Slate Gabfest podcast hosts a live taping at Sixth & I featuring political correspondent John Dickerson and editor-in-chief David Plotz. $15.