Things to Do

Light Shows, Pop-Up Markets, and Themed-Dance Parties: Last Minute DC Area Weekend Ideas 12/2-12/5

Plus upcoming events this month

Photographs by Jade Womack.

Happy December!

Here are some last-minute ‘I need plans quick’ ideas for this post-holiday weekendAlso below you’ll find a new rotating “what’s on our radar?” section where each week, we share where we want to be. This week, we are highlighting events for this upcoming month that have caught our attention. 

If you are looking for a round-up of the 80+ events this entire week, check out Monday’s newsletter. For a round-up of seasonal events, we are also regularly updating the holiday guide.

 so, what should you do Dec 2-5?

For your convenience, this newsletter includes emojis to help you during these unprecedented times: 

  • The 🛋 indicates an event is happening in-person inside.
  • The 🌲 indicates an event is happening in-person outside
  • The 💻 indicates an event is happening virtually. 
  • And lastly, the 🆓 indicates an event is free. 

your last minute weekend plans

  • Transforming Protective Blast Walls in Kabul into sites of Creative Expression.🇦🇫🎨 Join Omaid Sharifi, (Sat,🆓 , 🛋, Downtown) of ArtLords for a night celebrating Afghan street art at the Eaton Hotel. Sharifi recently arrived on one of the evacuation flights to the US, and will be sharing some of his salvaged artwork and live painting a mural. 
  • If you miss Zoolights, here are some light show alternatives. 🐼💡 This year Light Yards returns with 22 ft tall trees (every night, 🆓 , 🌲, Navy Yard). Or, if you want a thematic holiday light experience, watch a Disney-themed light show  (Friday, 🆓 , 🌲, Union Market). Or, grab a ticket to Enchant Christmas (ongoing, $29+, 🌲, Navy Yard). You can also visit the National Christmas Tree (opens Sat, 🆓 , 🌲,National Mall) when it opens to the public. Or consider taking a drive to a local holiday light show.
  • The three happiest days in a boat owner’s life: the day you buy the boat, sell the boat….🚢 and decorate it for the District Holiday Boat’s Parade (Sat, 🆓 , 🌲, The Wharf). There’s also a boat parade in Old Town Alexandria (Sat, 🆓 , 🌲, Alexandria). 
  • Tis the season for themed-drinks and finding cheer in a mug. 🍹 Get your pop-up bar fix while enjoying rooftop views at Colada Shop, sip boozy cider from Garden District, or fulfill your island holiday needs Archipelago. There are 13 holiday pop-up bars mentioned in the holiday guide.
  • A private collection of elaborate Chinese Opera costumes. 🇨🇳  Open late this Friday, feast your eyes on beautiful, painstakingly embroidered costumes and accessories as part of the “Golden Threads: Chinese Opera in America(Fri, 🆓 , 🛋, Dupont) exhibit at the Chinese American Museum.  The exhibit explores the presence and cultural importance of traditional opera on Chinese American communities.
  • An Art-Filled Friday. 🖼 Attend the opening reception of “The Edge of the End of Everything (Fri, 🆓 , 🛋, Petworth) featuring the work of Zsudayka Nzinga, “The Vanishing Half” (Fri, 🆓 , 🛋, Adams Morgan) curated by four Asian American artists, or “Modern Muses” by Redeat Wondemu.  There’s also the closing reception of  the HELLO! Pop-up exhibit (Sat, 🆓 , 🛋, Georgetown) which showcases ten DC-based artists. Or watch camera demonstration by Joanne McKone (Fri, 🆓 , 🛋, Rockville). 
  • Themed-Dance Parties are Very Trendy Right Now. 🕺 Enjoy the enticing fusion that is an 80s holiday dance party (Fri, $15 advance, 🛋, 14th St.). Or listen to some of the best music from the worst (pandemic) years at this Remedy dance party (Fri, 🆓 if RSVP online, 🛋, Union Market). There’s also a music video power hour dance party featuring only hits from the 2000s (Fri, 🆓 , 🛋, Union Market)
  • Free Art Supplies, Gallery Furniture, AV Equipment, & More! 🪑 The National Building Museum is cleaning out their storage space and inviting local museums, non-profits, arts organizations, and artists to take part in their free community flea market (Sat-Sun, 🆓 , 🛋, Penn Quarter)
  • Pop-Up Markets Popping-Up Everywhere. 🛍 Continue your seasonal shopping at these pop-up markets around the DMV: 


what is on our radar: ‘December’

Here are some December events we are keeping our eyes on this month, and where we want to be. 

  • 12/1-12/19 AFI European Union Film Showcase. 🇪🇺 In its 34th year, this year’s selection includes 53 films from all 27 EU Member countries.  There are a variety of US premieres, as well as 11 films that are official 2021 Oscar Selections for Best Foreign Language Film. (ongoing, $15/ticket, 🛋, Silver Spring) 
  • 12/8 “Go-Go City: Displacement & Protest in Washington, DC” Panel. 📢🥁  Join a documentary film screening and Q&A with the Director Samuel George and members of the Go-Go community at the Goethe-Institut.  The documentary reveals the rich and colorful history of Go-Go and the forces behind the gentrification that stand to ‘mute it.’ Featuring interviews with legends of Go-Go, local politicians, and protest organizers, this poignant documentary is an official selection for various film festivals. (Wed,🆓 ,🛋, 14th St) 
  • 12/10 Holiday Cookie Decorating. 🍪 I ate over 14 cinnamon rolls in the past year, and The Creamery at Union Market had the best one. So I imagine the holiday cookies they’re baking for this family-friendly event will be phenomenal. (Fri, $20 one hour table reservation,🛋, Union Market) 
  • 12/10 PaperJam Zine Release Party. 📒🎸 A DC-DIY-music-zine, PaperJam is releasing issue 03 as they continue to document and build the local music community. The event starts with a panel discussion between PaperJam Zine, Girls Rock! DC, and DC Zinefest to discuss DIY community building followed by performances from art punk band BRNDA and queer metal band Spring Silver. (Fri, $10, 🛋, Adams Morgan) 
  • 12/11 Abbondanza! A Natural Wine Party.🍷🍕 Sonny’s Pizza is gearing up for their annual natural wine + pizza holiday party. There are over seven natural wine vendors included such as Plant Wines, Terraneo Merchants, and MFW. (Sat, $65+, 🌲, Park View)
  • 12/ 11 Procrastinator’s Holiday Market at the National Arboretum. 🌲 The National Arboretum will be hosting its own holiday market featuring holiday train rides, family-friendly activities, and local vendors. You can pre-order Christmas trees to pick-up as well. (Sat,  🆓, 🌲, National Arboretum)
  • 12/14 Sake Tasting at Crane’s. 🍶 For sake lovers or those who want to try something new. (Tues, $65, 🛋, Downtown) 
  • 12/17 & 12/18 Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon. 🎆 Visit George Washington’s home aglow, an 18th century winter encampment, and an 18th century Winter Market. There will be fireworks as well. (Fri, Sat, $58 adult, 🌲, Alexandria) 
  • 12/18 & 12/19 Umoja Market at Anacostia Arts Center. 🎅 Named after the first principle of Kwanzaa, this Black-Owned Holiday Market will have a Black Santa Claus for their “Selfies with Santa” event, as well as a Kwanzaa Demonstration with Mahogany Books. (Sat-Sun, 🆓 entry, 🛋/🌲, Anacostia) 
  • 12/18 ‘Fashioning an Empire: Safavid Textiles from the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha.’ 🇮🇷 Opening on December 18th, this exhibit showcases the luxury textiles that became the most lucrative economic commodity, power symbol, and artistic expression in seventeenth century Safavid Iran (Sat, Sun, 🆓, 🛋, National Mall) 
  • 12/28 – 1/2 John Oliver 🎙With ten performances offered, this is sure to be popular. He appears to be ringing in the 2022 in D.C. (Tues-Sat, $79.50+, 🛋, Kennedy Center)


Your Neighbor,

Jade (@clockoudc)

Jade Womack is an energy economist by day, and an events blogger by night. She started her blog, Clockout DC, when she was moonlighting as a bartender in 2019. She grew up in Arlington, and currently lives in Adams Morgan with her dog.