Things to Do

Last-Minute Things to Do in the DC Area 9/1-9/4: Labor Day Festivities, Dance Performances, and Lots of Music Festivals

Plus, the National Book Festival is back.

Photograph by Nikolay Tsuguliev/ iStock/Getty Images Plus.

National Book Festival. The National Book Festival (Sat, free, Mt. Vernon Square) is back and will be featuring more than 120 writers as well as book signings, talks, readings, live performances, and audiobook events. Take a look at our guide to see who is coming to the festival this year. 

Happy Labor Day. Enjoy your Monday off this week by attending the Labor Day Parade (Mon, free, Gaithersburg) or the Labor Day Festival (Mon, free, Greenbelt). If you’re looking to celebrate in a less traditional way, head to this Labor Day Car Show (Mon, free, Fairfax), the Paint the Town Labor Day Art Show (Sat-Mon, free, Kensington), or run in the Labor Day 5k and 10k (Mon, $30-$45, Alexandria). You can also listen to patriotic music at the National Symphony Orchestra Labor Day concert (Sun, free, Capitol Hill).

Live music. The DC JazzFest at The Wharf (Sat, free but registration required, The Wharf) is back! Don’t miss your chance to listen to big-name jazz musicians. You can jam out to more live music at the Capital House Music Festival (Sat, free, National Mall), the Summer Music Festival in the Park (Sat, free, Fort Dupont Park), the Bear Square Summer Concert Series finale (Fri, free, Riverdale Park), or Dock Days of Summer (Sun, free, Woodridge). You can also perform on the DC Brau stage at their open mic night (Fri, free, Woodbridge). 

Special shows. If you’re an outer-space enthusiast, don’t miss your chance to meet astronaut Eileen Collins (Fri, free, Chantilly). There’s also plenty of dance performances around DC this week: the Soka Tribe performance (Fri, free but registration required, Foggy Bottom) and The Red Crook-ed Sky American Indian Dance Troupe and the Stoney Creek Singers performance (Sat, free, Foggy Bottom).

Shopping and dining. Support local vendors by shopping at the Neighbors DC pop-up (Fri-Sun, various prices, Georgetown) at Georgetown Park or Bite of Brown Festival (Sat, $10-$50, Barry Farm). You can also enjoy street performances, outdoor workshops, and delicious food at the Adams Morgan Pedestrian Zone (Sun, free, Adams Morgan). 

Openings. The pandemic-era ghost kitchen Ghostburger is officially opening the doors of its new home this Friday (Fri, Mt. Vernon Square), where you can enjoy some of their popular burgers. You can also head to the Kick-off celebration of 202Creates (Thurs, free but registration required, The Wharf) to celebrate DC’s creative community. 

  • Last chance. Summer is coming to an end, and so are some of our favorite shows and activities. It is your last weekend to catch the Wild Suburbia exhibit (closes Sun, free, Alexandria) and to see Birds in Flight (Thurs-Mon, free) at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Festivals and celebrations. There’s lots of festivals around DC this weekend: the Maryland Renaissance Festival (Sat-Mon, $12-$24, Annapolis), the Festival of India (Sat, free, West Friendship), the Explore! Children’s Festival (Sat, free, Federal Triangle), and the Festival of Magic (Fri-Sun, various prices, Downtown).

Free movies. Check out one of these free outdoor films this weekend: An American Trail (Sun, free, National Harbor), Argo (Thurs, free, National Harbor), Operation Pacific (Thurs, free, The Navy Yard), In the Heights (Fri, free, Arlington), Ghostbusters: Afterlife (Sat, free, Arlington), sPACYcLOUD short films (Thurs, free, Foggy Bottom), or Ready Player One (Fri, free, National Landing).

Sophia Young
Editorial Fellow
Maggie Hicks
Editorial Fellow