1. Singer/songwriter Vandaveer, also known as Mark Charles Heidinger, is bringing his brand of Dylanesque acoustic alt-folk to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage on Thursday for a free performance. The DC-based musician starts strumming at 6, but tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, so try to clock out of work early.
2. Champagne, live music, and the chance to beef up your French culture for just $10? Pas de problème! Whip out your French dictionary and sashay over to the Alliance Française’s Back to France happy-hour soiree on Thursday at 6:30 to hear about the group’s upcoming art and cultural events. Tickets are free for Alliance Française members and $10 for the general public. Call 202-234-7911 to RSVP.
3. Blame it on the recession, a quarter-life crisis, or that you’ve been busy “finding yourself,” but that liberal-arts degree didn’t really pan out as you had hoped, eh? If so, come mingle with kindred spirits on Thursday at McFadden’s Intern Night Out and enjoy $2 rail drinks and a free appetizer buffet starting at 7. Flash an intern badge or out-of-state ID to cash in. Just don’t forget to bring your Starbucks card, because the bartenders might need you to get them some coffee.
4. Amp up your political consciousness by attending the album-release party of the Cornel West Theory at Bohemian Caverns on Friday at 7. Fueled by the need to “bring culture, or else hip-hop is over,” the DC-based experimental lyricists showcase Professor Cornel West on most of the album’s tracks and will feature him as their guest of honor at the release party. Tickets cost $10.
5. Washington’s back-yard playground sure wears its age well. Come celebrate Rock Creek Park’s 119th birthday at the annual Rock Creek Park Day Saturday from 10 to 9. Park rangers and scientists will offer a variety of family-friendly nature hikes, planetarium shows, and a Cast-Iron Chef Competition to help blow out all 119 candles at this free all-day event. Honestly, the park doesn’t look a day over 118 if you ask us.
6. More than 70 award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators will read and sign their work at the Mall for the free National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress. This year’s edition takes place Saturday between 10 and 5:30 and will be presided over—at least in name—by the Obamas. Among the boldface names on hand will be John Irving, Judy Blume, and John Grisham, so be sure to bring a pen. Get more info here.
7. The Hillwood Mansion is rolling out the rainbow carpet for a day of art workshops, decorating, and dancing at its first annual Gay Day Saturday from 10 to 5. Aimed at celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender culture, the family-oriented event will also feature tours of the estate, a putting green on its pristine lawn, and a book signing by Patrick O’Connell of the Inn at Little Washington. Gay Day is free for those under 18, all students with a valid ID, and seniors. There is a suggested $12 donation for Hillwood members and $18 for the public.
8. First it was Adams Morgan, then came the Atlas District, and now it’s Northern Virginia’s turn to partake in the fall-neighborhood-festival trend with Clarendon Day Saturday from 11 to 7. The free party will feature food from more than a dozen restaurants, music on two stages, a kid’s carnival, and a ten- and five-kilometer run.
9. Limber up your wrist, sport a headband, and hike up a pair of tube socks, because things can get serious when the Front Page bar in Ballston opens up its Nintendo Wii system to patrons from 5 until closing on Sunday nights. Bowling, golfing, tennis, and baseball are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis—just don’t be that (virtual reality) all-star who hogs the system all night.
10. Down a White Russian, lace up your bowling shoes, and head to the Arlington Cinema ’N’ Drafthouse Sunday at 7:15 to catch The Achievers—The Big Lebowski Festival Documentary, which chronicles the annual gathering of Lebowski die-hards who have been congregating for more than five years. Tickets cost $5.50. Bring your best bathrobe and pair of sandals, because there’ll be a best-dressed contest.