Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 9/19-9/25: NEXTfest Music Festival, Art All Night, and Theatre Week

Plus, a petting zoo and pumpkin garden.

Christylez Bacon performing at Art All Night in Shaw in 2021. Photograph courtesy of DC Department of Small & Local Business Development.

Happy Monday, everyone!

It’s the final days of summer and that means fall festivals and theater season are afoot! From the kickoff of Theatre Week to a jazz and go-go music festival at a historic DC park, there are a ton of fun things to do this week in the DC area.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. Art All Night. The citywide overnight arts festival is back this weekend to celebrate local art and support small businesses. A variety of outdoor and indoor experiences will take place, including painting and sculpture and music and performing arts (Sat-Sun, free, multiple neighborhoods participating). 
  2. NEXTfest Music Festival. A two-day music and arts festival takes place this weekend at historic Malcolm X Park. The 2nd annual program includes performances by local jazz vocalists and go-go bands such as UCB and TOB Band & Show. Day two explores local history and humanities with film screenings and panel discussions at Josephine Butler Parks Center (Sat-Sun, free, Meridian Hill).
  3. Theatre Week. Theatre Washington kicks off a weeks-long celebration of theater and shows in the DC area on Saturday with improv workshops, games and prizes, food, drinks, and a free concert (Sat, free, Arena Stage and District Wharf).
  4. Reston Farm Garden Market. Take a trip to northern Virginia for a fall festival that the entire family can enjoy. Kids can travel around the garden on a train, play in a bounce house, get their face painted, and take home a free pumpkin. Adults can indulge in the apple cider drinks and donuts (Fri-Sun through Oct., $28+, Reston, Virginia)
  5. Prince George’s Film Festival. The Maryland motion picture celebration starts on Thursday. The program schedule includes an opening reception, virtual screenings, filmmaker panels and workshops, and a closing keynote discussion featuring Tina Knowles Lawson (Thurs-Sun, $50+, MGM National Harbor and Bowie State University).


Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Gear up for fall and party outside during the 8th annual Oktoberfest with your furry friends at Dogtoberfest (Sun, free, Wunder Garten). Did someone say stitching? Grab a friend and stitch kit and join the queer cross stitching circle. Beginners are welcome (Mon, $5+, The Outrage).

Arts and culture. Be inspired by European art and exhibitions at the Milano Design Film Festival (Mon and Wed, free, New York University Washington, DC and Embassy of Italy). Take part in a special preview of the upcoming Mosaic Theatre’s “The Till Trilogy” (Thurs, free but registration required, Thomas Jefferson Building). Read any cool books lately? Check out Lost City Book’s monthly Meet Cute book club to read a romantic comedy with neighbors (Thurs, book is $17, Lost City Books).

Theater and shows. This week is your last chance to see the regional premiere of The Outsider (last Show Sat, $45+, Keegan Theatre). One show closes and a new one opens: you can get tickets to the opening of the stage play Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Wed, $75, Studio Theatre).

History and heritage. Lace up your walking shoes because its WalkingTown DC week. Learn more about the history and culture of your community by taking a public guided walking tour. There are more than 50 tours happening all weeklong—from maritime seaports, to women’s history, to Charles Dickens (Mon-Sun, free, various neighborhoods). Visit Alexandria and learn the legacy of a Virginia cabinetmaker   (Sat, $20, Alexandria) or take a self-guided tour of old homes at the 80th Annual Historic Alexandria Homes showcase (Sat, $40+, Alexandria). Chat with local historian Judith Waxman about the beginnings of Woodley Park (Tues, free, virtual).

Music and concerts. You don’t want to miss the chance to jam out with go-go bands at the National Symphony Orchestra’s neighborhood concert (Thurs, free, Entertainment & Sports Arena). Plus, the Washington National Opera is celebrating its 17th season of Opera on the Field with a showing of Carmen (Sun, free, Audi Field). Also, you can enjoy live performances in honor of DC Radio turning 5 years old (Monday, free, Union District Oyster Bar & Lounge) or see Maryland artist Father John Misty perform at a local theater (Tues, $55, Anthem). Close out the weekend with actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth in concert at ARTS by George! (Sat, $65+, Fairfax).

Fun and games. If you’re looking for some game-night activities to do this week, check out the first-ever SporcleCon, based on the popular trivia game (Thurs-Sun, $99+, various DC locations). Take a spin with the kids at Los Trompos interactive Spanish art installation (Monday – Oct. 2, free, Franklin Park and Indiana Plaza). Watch the movie Ghostbusters: Afterlife at sundown at the Golden Triangle outdoor cinema (Thurs, free, Farragut Square)

Get involved. It’s Banned Books Week! Make banned books wearable buttons at DC Public Library (Mon, free, Cleveland Park Library), or watch A film screening of The Hate U Give (Wed, free, MLK Library). Participate in a museum garden clean-up (Sat, free, Tudor Place). Volunteer on National Public Lands Day with service activities across DC (Sat, free, various parks).

If you enjoyed these events, don’t forget to share this post with a friend on social media, and sign-up for our newsletter for more things to do.

Briana A. Thomas is a local journalist, historian, and tour guide who specializes in the research of D.C. history and culture. She is the author of the Black history book, Black Broadway in Washington, D.C., a story that was first published in Washingtonian in 2016.