Things to Do

Pumpkin Beer, Pandemic Art, and a Shakespeare Party with Celebs: Things to Do in Washington, October 1-4

Plus: How are you getting into Halloween this year?

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hey friends,

It’s a busy weekend! We’ve got pumpkin beer, live music, and lots of art.

See (Queen) Angela Bassett at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s free virtual gala this weekend.

Here’s what you should check out this week:

Pandemic art: See the new exhibit “Art in Isolation: Creativity in the Time of Covid-19” from the Middle East Institute. Thirty-nine local and international artists contributed works illustrating their pandemic experiences, including face masks made of marble and portraits shot through glass partitions. The exhibit opens today online and in-person (by appointment) at the organization’s Dupont Circle location. Thursday 10/1 through January 2021; find out more here.

Outdoor art: Walk through an outdoor art installation in “Monuments: Creative Forces,” opening this weekend at Strathmore in Bethesda. Australian artist Craig Walsh projects the faces of “unsung community members” onto large trees as part of this dynamic traveling work. The idea is that these moving video portraits become a living public monument, in this case to honor “artists whose work and artistic endeavors are changing the shape of our community in profound ways.” Walk through Strathmore’s campus to see which local artists they highlighted this month. You can preview what this projection art will look like here. Friday 10/2 through Sunday 10/25 starting daily at sunset; Pay-What-You-Can, reserve a timed ticket here.

Add to the watch list: The 10th annual DC Palestinian Film & Arts Festival starts virtually today with screenings of films by Palestinian artists. Beyond the screenings, the festival will host online embroidery workshops, DJ sets, and panels, including a discussion on speculative fiction and Afro, Indigenous, and Palestinian futurisms (Saturday 10/3 at 3 PM). The full festival will run Thursday 10/1 through Sunday 10/11; screening/event prices range from free to $15, find out more here.

Hops and wood: Celebrate Oktoberfest outdoors with Rockville’s Woodworkers Club. There will be food trucks, draft beer—pumpkin spiced stout included—from True Respite Brewing and wood-working demos. If you’d rather stay home, you could also pick up a beer caddy kit and tune into a virtual beer tasting on Zoom. Saturday 10/3 from 10 AM to 6 PM; Free, find out more here.

Turn up the music: Catch an intimate live-music performance in “Live Latino Rhythms” on Immigrant Food’s patio. Hear Leo Rua, a Colombian reggae vocalist, and Lorenzo Wheatley, a flutist/saxophonist/clarinetist in this celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The first hour will be streamed on Instagram live, too. Saturday 10/3 at 6 PM; $10-$15, buy tickets here.

Dance night: The Jane Franklin Dance company will be livestreaming a performance from The Athenaeum based in Alexandria. Dancers will perform works responding to life in the pandemic. There’s also spoken word performance and a post-show Q&A. Saturday 10/3 at 7:30 PM; Free ($10 suggested donation), register for the Zoom event here.

Chicken sandwiches: Get Nashville hot chicken on U Street. Run, don’t walk!

Party drama: Watch musical numbers, Shakespeare scenes, and opera in Shakespeare Theatre Company’s free virtual gala this weekend. There will be performances and appearances by star actors onscreen and onstage including Angela Bassett and her husband Courtney B. Vance, Dame Judi Dench, Merle Dandridge, and Norm Lewis. Saturday 10/3 at 7 PM; Free, register here.

If you’re thirsty: Explore humanity’s relationship with water in a free screening of the nature documentary Watermark from photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmakers Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier. American University’s Katzen Arts Center is hosting a virtual screening of the work as part of its exhibit on Burtynsky, whose work includes striking shots of the Ganges River, the Gulf’s oil spill, and the massive dam on China’s Yangtze River. See his photographs online in the “Edward Burtynsky: Water” exhibit before tuning in. Sunday 10/4 at noon; Free, register here by October 3 at 5 PM to receive the screening link.

In remembrance: There will be 20,000 empty chairs on the White House’s Ellipse on Sunday to honor the more than 200,000 people who have died from Covid-19. Hosted by singer Dionne Warwick, the livestreamed event marks a National Day of Remembrance. Sunday 10/4 at noon; Free; watch it on Facebook live here.

Something fun: 

Bette Midler’s best role.

Phewww, it’s been a hell of a week. To recap what one Twitter user called a Washingtonian play in three acts: Our team 1) created a presidential debate drinking game, 2) realized quickly that the debate actually destroyed the drinking rules, so we apologized for getting everyone smashed, and 3) woke up the next morning with serious regrets.

But I’d like to look past the lingering dread and get psyched for the start of October. It’s time for cider doughnuts and pumpkin pie and maple cookies because—you guessed it—I’m a Halloween person. I promise I’m not annoying or in your face about it, but I will take this time to ask what if anything you might be doing to get into the spooky spirit this season. Are you a horror movie nerd? A Hocus Pocus traditionalist? I’m still planning to do something the day of, even if it’s my same crew of friends playing what will inevitably be some Halloween-themed games on Zoom. Maybe I should carve a pumpkin? Let me know what you’re up to, whether that’s reading ghost stories, stringing up skull lights, or rewatching The Shining.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at

Rosa is a senior editor at Bitch Magazine. She’s written for Washingtonian and Smithsonian magazine.