Things to Do

FilmFest DC, Free Outdoor Concerts, and LOTS of Pride Events: Things to Do in DC, June 3-6

Plus: A look back at NPR's best Tiny Desk shows.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hello hello!

We’ve got FilmFest DC, walking tours, and LOTS of Pride events.

Hear about the new Miles Morales comic.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

A publisher’s nightmare: In her debut novel, The Other Black Girl, Zakiya Dalila Harris penned a workplace thriller that deftly critiques the culture of the book publishing industry. Harris, who previously worked at Knopf/Doubleday, has gotten a lot of positive traction for the work, which will be turned into a TV series on Hulu that she’s writing with Rashida Jones. The author will chat with novelist Riley Sager in a virtual book talk from Politics and Prose. Thursday 6/3 at 8 PM; Free to $35 (book included), buy tickets here.

Happy birthday: The DC Public Library is toasting to its 125th birthday this weekend. Each branch is giving away library swag—tote bags, obviously—and some are offering family-friendly fun, like crafts and book fairs. At the MLK Memorial Library downtown, DCPL executive director Richard Reyes-Gavilan will lead a virtual birthday celebration, featuring a live show from go-go legends E.U. (Experience Unlimited). Thursday 6/3 at 5 PM; Free, watch it on YouTube here.

String queens: Hear a variety of classical music from women composers in the three-day WoCo Fest 2021: Revelry. From the local nonprofit Boulanger Initiative, which promotes classical work written by women, and Strathmore, the festival is a mix of in-person performances, composition workshops, and panel discussions with options for virtual-only attendance. On Thursday, watch a virtual show of “Fresh Voices” from Fifth House Ensemble (6/3 at 6 PM). Throughout Friday and Saturday, there will be multiple groups performing at Strathmore’s outdoor Terrace Patio Stage, such as the Overlook Quartet, ChamberQUEER, Brittany J. Green, and big dog little dog. On Sunday, composer and carillonneur Julie Zhu will perform a free carillon concert at Washington National Cathedral in a free show (note: it will not be livestreamed). Thursday 6/3 through Sunday 6/6; Ticket prices vary for virtual and in-person attendance, with day passes available, learn more here.

View something new: FilmFest DC begins its (mostly) virtual festival this weekend, celebrating its 35th anniversary. Online, audiences can choose from more than 60 films and documentaries spanning 35 countries as well as works by DC-area filmmakers about the region, including Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, DC, A Tale of Three Chinatowns, MetroShorts, and Liam White. Catch an in-person screening of the quirky British comedy Love Type D outdoors at the Wharf (June 12). Other highlights of the 10-day fest: Rosa’s Wedding (in which the protagonist decides, Sue Sylvester-style, to marry herself), Executive Order (about a dystopian future where Black Brazilians are banned from the country, featuring How to Get Away With Murder star Alfred Enoch), and Writing With Fire (a documentary that looks at the dangers that women journalists face in India). See the full film schedule here. Friday 6/4 through Sunday 6/13 (films will be available to stream throughout this period, unless otherwise specified); $9 per screening, buy tickets here.

Marvel mavens only: If you loved Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, follow the crime fighting kid hero Miles Morales in a newly released comic book, Miles Morales: Shock Waves by Justin A. Reynolds. In a virtual panel event on superhero writing from Politics and Prose, hear from the YA author and other graphic novel pros including Nic Stone, Jason Reynolds, John Jennings, and Angélique Roché. Friday 6/4 at 6 PM; $13 (book included), buy tickets here.

Move over, Megh: We have our own royalty here. This weekend, the new photography exhibit “DC’s Royals: A Celebration of Drag” opens at Dupont Underground. Walk through historic images from the Washington Blade’s stellar archive—including footage from interviews with Drag Queen Shi-Queeta-Lee and Drag King Pretty RikE—and stick around for drag shows that will happen throughout the month. The lineup will include Bombalicious Eklaver, Pretty Boi Drag, Farrah Synclair, and more fabulous drag performers (see the full schedule here). Friday 6/4 through Sunday 6/27 (weekend hours only); $8-$20, learn more here.

Nom nom nom: Sample a bevy of dishes at the 12th Annual Taste of Del Ray in Alexandria. Throughout the weekend, participating restaurants are offering discounted tastes of their menus—like mini Cuban sandwiches, pulled pork sliders, raj kachori chaat, and more—with some cocktail pairings included. Friday 6/4 through Sunday 6/6; Find out more here.

Outside voices: Free concerts are kicking off at Dupont Circle with the new Summer Jazz Music Series. On June 4, see sax player Brent Birckhead; the upcoming lineup also includes Three Man Soul Machine, Imani Grace, Elijah Jamal Balbed’s JazzMob, and more artists who will perform each Friday at the Triangle Park (across the street from the north entrance of the Metro). Friday 6/4 at 6:30 PM (the concert series will run through August 27); Free, learn more here.

Another anniversaire: The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. is hitting its 40th birthday this weekend; to celebrate, they’re hosting a major virtual concert, “GMCW Turns 40.” In the filmed performance, see parts of the choral group singing at various spots around DC, including Black Lives Matter Plaza, the Supreme Court, and in front of the 17th Street Amanda Gorman mural. Audiences will hear showtune classics from musicals like The Greatest Showman and Ragtime as well as mashups, like “Truly Brave,” which crosses Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” and Sara Bareilles’s “Brave.” The show will also feature archival footage from the chorus group’s decades of singing across Washington. Saturday 6/5 at 7 PM (the show will be available to stream through Sunday 6/20 at midnight); $25, buy tickets here.

Fun for kids: For Pride month, the Smithsonian American Art Museum has organized a kid-friendly Pride Family Zone of events, crafts, videos, and other activities to celebrate queer experiences. On Saturday morning, sit down with DC drag queen Ruth Allen Ginsburg for a virtual story time event, where she’ll read children’s books and nursery rhymes. Saturday 6/5 at 10 AM; Free, register here.

Take a walk: Try a neighborhood walking tour from Free Tours by Foot in upcoming weeks to visit important sites and learn about local history in and around DC. The tour organization is offering a series of Saturday tours that will cover a different neighborhood each week, starting this weekend with the H Street corridor. In June and July, they’ll cover Anacostia, Le Droit Park, Alexandria, Adams Morgan, and more. Saturday 6/5 (and subsequent Saturdays through July 31); $3, buy tickets here.

More Pride fun: We’ve put together a collection of awesome events around town celebrating Pride this month, including the official Capital Pride parade, a pup costume contest, drag bingo, and more. Explore the full list here.

Something new:

Me, every time I watch a Tiny Desk.
NPR’s famed Tiny Desk has been one of DC’s hottest and most enviable invites for more than a decade. Out of over 900 mini concerts that have played at Bob Boilen’s decorated desk, we asked NPR staffers to choose 50 of their all-time favorites. Scroll through the list to watch these fantastic and intimate performances—though, fair warning, you might be tempted to spend multiple hours listening to all the good stuff. (We don’t judge here.) One highlight included here is the Alicia Keys set that I had the immense privilege to attend with my coworker Daniella Byck last year before lockdown—it was one of the final few shows they did before transitioning into Tiny Desk at Home. Truthfully it was one of the most impactful concert experiences I’ve ever attended; Keys was predictably a powerhouse to hear in-person and she was extremely kind and gracious to the many, many people swarmed around her. (She said hello to the two of us and somehow we didn’t faint.)

What have been some of the most memorable Tiny Desk shows that you’ve seen so far? Did you have a chance to attend the Tiny Desk Fest back in 2019? Are there any artists that you’re dying to see perform in this spot? (You know my answer: I’m still waiting for Bad Bunny.) Let me know which ones you’ve loved rewatching.

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

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.