Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 10/31-11/6: Día de los Muertos, DC Beer Fest, and Halloween Spook-Takular

Plus, a haunted tour of a historic building.

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery's 2021 Día de Los Muertos festival. Photograph by Matailong Du.

Boo! Happy Halloween, everyone.

Here’s your guide to making last-minute Halloween plans, preparing for the upcoming Día de los Muertos festivities, and many more fun things to do this week like the return of DC Beer Fest.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. Halloween Spook-Takular at the park. Trick-or-treat with the family at Lansburgh Park. Celebrate the holiday with DIY Halloween crafts, face painting, games, live music, and treats and snacks (Mon, free, Southwest DC).
  2. Día de los Muertos festival. Celebrate the kickoff of Día de los Muertos at the National Portrait Gallery’s annual festival. The music and dancing will begin indoors with the Sones de Mexico Ensemble and Maru Montero Dance Company and a community altar. Then, guests can venture outside to view a projection of live video artwork on the museum’s facade (Wed, free, Northwest DC).
  3. DC Beer Fest. The DC Beer Fest is returning to Nationals Park this weekend and hosting dozens of craft breweries. Guests can experience a day of unlimited tastings as they travel through the stadium’s concourse. There will also be lawn games, DJs, and several food trucks (Sat, $50+, Nationals Park).
  4. Spooky history tour. Take a guided tour of the National Building Museum and explore the haunting legends of the historic site. Hear spooky tales and discover some of the museum’s hidden features (Mon, $15+, Northwest DC).
  5. Phillips after 5. Wear your most vividly colored outfit and attend an evening celebration of art at the “Phillips after 5: Life in Color” event. Guests can explore the museum, enjoy drink tastings, listen to a live performance from local recording artist TOMMI, and hear about the latest acquisitions (Thurs, $20, Northwest DC).
A bottle of wine with the label "District Winery" sits on top of a pile of candy.
Pair wine and candy at District Winery. Photograph courtesy of District Winery.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. It’s the last chance to visit National Landing’s midweek fall market (Wed, free, Arlington) and the outdoor illusions activation at City Center (Mon, free, Downtown). Get fit at a late-night anniversary workout class with a live DJ or visit Solidcore earlier in the day for jewelry and other giveaways (Sat, free, Adams Morgan).

Halloween happenings. Have a spooktacular time at a Halloween tribute show to post-punk icons (Mon, $10, Northwest DC). Laugh at terrifying jokes at the Stage Fright comedy show (Mon, free, U Street). Have some Halloween-themed trivia fun (Mon, free, Northeast DC). Celebrate with a wine and candy pairing at District Winery (Mon, $50, Southeast DC). Harryween is really a thing! Dress up in costume for a Harry Styles-inspired party (Mon, $15+, Northwest DC). Have you ever seen a showcase of skull art? Don’t miss the pop-up Land of Skulls: Halloween Art Party (Mon, free, Northwest DC).

Arts and culture. Get an introduction to author Milagros Phillips’ book, Cracking the Healer’s Code (Wed, free, Northwest DC). Experience a fully immersive pop-up art exhibition (Fri-Sat, free, Columbia). Examine 18th-century cartography (Fri-Sat, $25, virtual). Wreath season is here; make your own fall floral hoop at a workshop (Tues, $55, Northwest DC).

Theater and shows. Get tickets to the reimagining of the classic Dracula tale at the Parks at Historic Walter Reed (Mon-Sun, $30+, Northwest DC) or at Synetic Theater (Mon, Thurs-Sun, $20+, Arlington). See a collection of Broadway acts and stars locally at the new production, NatPhil Presents Broadway’s Brightest Lights (Fri, Sun, $19+, Bethesda* and Tysons). Witness a powerful story of two young DREAMers in the new stage play, Sanctuary City (Tues-Sun, $56+, Southwest DC). Discover Earth’s future at the theatrical showing of The Time Machine (Thurs-Sun, $15+, Northeast DC). There are show dates remaining in the Till Trilogy. You can see The Ballad of Emmett Till this week (Wed-Thurs, Fri, $50, Northeast DC).

History and heritage. Visit the traditional Day of the Dead altar during open house in recognition of Día de los Muertos (Wed, free, Northwest DC). In honor of Indigenous People’s Month attend an open art studio session (Wed-Sun, free, Downtown).

Music and concerts. Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Richard Marx is taking a tour stop in DC (Fri, $55+, Navy Yard). Enjoy a live showcase of local musicians in the spirit of rocking the voting polls (*Sat, $15, Northeast DC). Go to a live performance of the Kalush Orchestra (Wed, $85, Northwest DC).

Get involved. Kick off America’s Trot For Hunger from the comfort of your own neighborhood. You can join in on the virtual race all month long while helping support those who are affected by poverty and homelessness (Tues through Nov. 30, donations welcome, virtual).

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.

An earlier version of this post did not include the Bethesda showing of this event. We regret the error. Also, an earlier version of this post said the voting polls event at Songbyrd was scheduled for Friday. 

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.