Things to Do

Things to Do in DC This Weekend (June 20-23): DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival, a Pop-Up Beer Garden, and the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

The Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle takes place June 22 and June 23 on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd and 7th Streets. Photograph by Helena Coutinho.


COMEDY Washington Improv Theater’s new show, Starship Odyssey, is a sci-fi adventure where the crew (living 500 years in the future) must travel back to 2019 to save mankind. Nerds encouraged: As the crew improvises the entire performance, the audience can also participate. The show runs through August 4 at Source. $15.

DANCE The Chamber Dance Project will present two world premieres at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harmon Hall. This group of seven dancers from various American companies will perform choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Rondo Ma Non Troppo and Prufrock, a piece for five dancers that follows T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” The company will also present a Washington premiere of Extremely Close, a duet set to a Philip Glass piano score, as well as two works by choreographer Diane Coburn Bruning. Through June 22 (Friday and Saturday performances feature pre-performance artist chats 45 minutes before show time). $38-$52.


MUSEUMS The Newseum’s exhibit “Seriously Funny: From the Desk of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart” will honor the 16 years that Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show. The exhibit will explore the show’s impact on politics, elections, and news, including an original Newseum-produced film that goes behind the scenes of the show. In addition, the exhibit will look at Stewart’s influence on political satire and how humor is a protected form of free speech. $24.95.

ARTS The DC Black Theatre & Arts Festival celebrates a wide array of local art, including theater, film, dance, music, and visual work. The theater schedule features full-length plays divided into three categories (traditional, urban, and gospel), readings of new works, a one-act play battle, and workshops. The film schedule features a competition in six categories (feature film, documentary, student film, web series, short film, and music video). The lyricist lounge highlights singers and musicians throughout the festival’s run, and there will be an arts component with live painting demonstrations and artist lectures. Through July 7. Events range from free to $15.


FESTIVAL Eat freshly-cooked barbecue while listening to live music at the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 3rd and 7th Streets. Enjoy food samples, watch demos and multiple barbecue competitions (chicken, pork, ribs, lamb, and more), check out DC’s annual Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, and listen to tunes from Everlast and the Spin Doctors. The festival will benefit the USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore and the Capital Area Food Bank. Through June 23. $12 (single day) or $20 (weekend pass).

MUSEUMS Three Smithsonian institutions—National Museum of American History, Smithsonian American Art Museum, and National Portrait Gallery—are celebrating art and history in DC with a one-day “America Now: Celebration of Music” festival. Daytime events at the National Museum of American History include hands-on hip-hop activities like beat making and mixtape workshops. The festival will then move to the National Portrait Gallery and American Art Museum for live music in the Kogod Courtyard. UPDATE*: There will be a performance by Thievery Corporation’s Eric Hilton. Free, 11 AM – 5:30 PM (NMAH) and 6 PM – midnight (SAAM, NPG).

MUSEUMS The National Gallery of Art is celebrating its new exhibit “The Life of Animals in Japanese Art” with a community weekend full of events for all ages. The museum is open late on Saturday night for an evening program with sake, kimono demonstrations, and Japanese short films with a live score. Sunday’s events are aimed at all ages, with origami lessons and taiko drumming. Free. June 22: 5 PM – 8 PM; June 23: 11 AM – 5 PM.

MUSEUMS The Phillips Collection’s new exhibit, “The Warmth of Other Suns: Stories of Global Displacement,” opens Saturday showing historical and contemporary artists’ experiences of migration. The exhibit will include paintings, videos, and installations from artists across a number of cultures (the United States, Ghana, Iraq, Mexico, Vietnam, the UK, and more) and will show the universality of migration. Throughout the show, Phillips educators will provide overviews of the exhibit (Tuesdays to Fridays at 11 AM) and spotlight 2-3 pieces of art (Thursdays at 6 and 7 PM, Sundays at 1 PM). Through September 22. $12.

HEALTH Celebrate health and fitness at the sixth annual Well Ray Festival in Del Ray. Visit health and lifestyle vendors (acupuncture, massages, nutrition counseling, meditation, etc.), or jump into free classes (barre, yoga, CrossFit, and dance) offered on the streets. Animal lovers can bring their pets for fitness activities as well. Free, 9 AM – 1 PM.


DISCUSSION Fantom Comics is hosting a panel discussion of French and European comic artists on tour. Much like American comic creators, these artists represent diverse genres; scheduled to speak are 2019 Eisner Award nominee Wilfrid Lupano (Sea of Love and Curtain Call), Typex (Andy: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol), Julia Billet (Catherine’s War), and Karim Friha (Rise of the Zelphire). The discussion will be moderated by comics journalist Brigid Alverson. Free, 5:30 PM.

BEER Drink beer outdoors at the Fairfax City Beer Garden at High Side on Sunday afternoon. In addition to local breweries (Solace, Ocelot, and more), you can try some excellent just-out-of-market breweries as well—Richmond’s The Veil and The Answer, plus New York’s Hudson Valley Brewery. Beyond the adult beverages, the event will raise money for Fairfax Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) with a dunk tank featuring Fairfax city officials. The festival takes place in the parking lot behind the High Side building. $10-$15 for admission (additional food/drink tickets are $5 each), noon – 7 PM.

LAST CALL: Here’s what’s closing this weekend

“Empresses of China’s Forbidden City, 1644–1912” closes 6/23 at the Freer/Sackler Galleries.

*An earlier version of this story reported that Wale would perform at “America Now: Celebration of Music.” The event’s lineup has since changed and this post has been updated.