Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 11/17-11/20: Downtown Holiday Market, Go-Go Preservation Week, and Alexandria Cider Festival

Plus, a free film festival.

Photograph courtesy of the Downtown Holiday Market.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Holiday markets are opening up across town this weekend, and I’m looking forward to indulging in hot chocolate and shopping for ugly holiday sweaters. If you are ready to join the seasonal fun too, then check out one of the nearby pop-ups. Otherwise, there’s go-go music, and a cider festival to enjoy.


Best Things to Do This Weekend

  1. Downtown Holiday Market. Make your way to downtown DC for a winter wonderland market. The 18th Annual Downtown Holiday Market kicks off this weekend, taking over two blocks of F Street, NW, from 7th to 9th streets. Shop local from more than 70 exhibitors, and savor treats and warm drinks. This year’s additions include a stage for live entertainment (Fri, free, Downtown).
  2. Go-Go Preservation Week. Close out awareness week for the city’s official homegrown music with two live performances featuring local bands. Watch a premiere band showcase that includes an interview with go-go activist and historian Ron Moten (Thurs, free, virtual), and party with longtime go-go group and funk band E.U. in concert (Fri, free, Downtown).
  3. Alexandria Cider Festival. Taste a selection of ciders from 10 Virginia cideries while listening to live music outdoors and learning a bit of local history. Proceeds from the festival will help support the Historic Alexandria Museums (Sat, $20+, Alexandria).
  4. Rock Creek Beach Party. Upper Beach Drive is officially open for recreation and closed to cars year-round. To mark the historic change, Rock Creek Conservancy is throwing a “Beach Party.” All are welcome to take in the scenic views of the park, participate in bird walks, join readings with librarians, and snack on s’mores and hot chocolate (Sun, free, Rock Creek Park).
  5. Native Cinema Showcase. The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s annual Native Cinema Showcase began highlighting 36 films that represent 30 Native nations, across eight different countries, this week. Viewers can binge movies and documentaries on demand throughout the festival online (through Nov. 25, free, virtual). Festival-goers can also attend the in-person showing of Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting, followed by a conversation with activists and advocates (Sat, free, National Museum of the American Indian).
A still image from “Bootlegger,” a feature film at the Native Cinema Showcase. Photograph courtesy of Best Friend Forever.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Listen to live music at Metrobar during their Fall Concert Series (Fri, free, Northeast DC). Shop home decor and plants at a local pop-up (Sat, free, Dupont Circle).

Arts and culture. Patti Smith is bringing a combo event to Sixth & I. Attendees can learn about her new book, A Book of Days, and hear her perform a few songs (Thurs, book and ticket $36+, virtual, Northwest DC). Watch nine short fashion films at a cinema pop-up; drinks and snacks will be served (Sun, donations welcome, Northwest DC). Be a part of a cookbook discussion with culinary mainstay Ghetto Gastro. Plus, guests will get a free book (Sun, free, MLK Library). Gather with the community at a poetry reading (Thurs, free, Takoma Park).

Bites and beverages. Play in a beer pong tournament at Atlas Brew Works (Sat, free to attend, beer purchase necessary to play, Ivy City). Watch a documentary screening and network with neighbors at Cocktails & Cinema (Fri, free, Foggy Bottom). Unwind at a casual wine apéro class (Fri, $20, Northwest DC). Partake in a mixology experience with Chef Ringel of DC Harvest; food pairings are included (Fri-Sun, $75, Northeast DC). Celebrate friendsgiving at Crispus Attucks Park. There will be live jazz, food, and seasonal drinks (Sat, donations welcome, Bloomingdale). Discover fall wines with guidance from a sommelier; wine-tasting kits will be available for pick-up (Fri, $75, virtual).

Holiday pop-ups. Bring the entire family to holiday tree lighting ceremonies. Santa will turn on the tree lights, followed by local performances and a complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate bar in Tysons Corner. Look out for a giant snow globe and market shops (Fri, free, Tysons). You can also experience holiday music and watch Old Saint Nick ride into town on the King Street trolley (Sat, free Alexandria). Indulge in Christmas shopping and a ton of frosty-themed fun at Lucketts Holiday Open House (Thurs-Sun, $25, Leesburg). Or, travel to Maryland for the ultimate festive fair, where you can browse through seven buildings stocked with crafts, furniture, jewelry, clothing, toys, pottery, and more (starting Fri, adults $10, children $4, Frederick).

Theater and shows. Experience a dance show from the comfort of your home (Fri-Sun, $10+, virtual). Awaken your inner kid and have some cotton candy and a load of laughs at the County Fair Comedy Show (Fri, $10, Northwest DC). Author and comedian Natasha Leggero is sharing funny stories about motherhood from her new book, The World Deserves My Children (Sun, book and ticket $50, Northwest DC). It’s the last call for The Playboy of the Western World (Fri-Sun, $45, Northeast DC) and The Till Trilogy: The Ballad of Emmett Till (Thurs, Sat, $29+, Northeast DC).

History and heritage. Learn about the herbal medicines featured in the popular TV show Outlander on a guided tour of the Apothecary Museum (Sun, $15, Alexandria). Or, log on to an educational talk about a trailblazing Black ballerina (Fri, $25, virtual).

Music and concerts. Enjoy the rhythms of Vikingur Ólafsson’s classical piano in concert (Sat, $115, Kennedy Center). Clap your hands and sing along with the Washington Performing Arts Men and Women of the Gospel Choir (Sun, $40, Silver Spring). Get tickets to see Omar Apollo at the Anthem (Thurs, $36+, The Wharf). Go to a post-punk rock concert (Fri, $12, Northwest DC). Country artist Kameron Marlowe is in town for a show at The Hamilton Live (Fri, $20, Northwest DC). The Washington National Cathedral is giving a tribute to DC in their musical performance of O! What a Beautiful City (Sat, $15+, virtual, Northwest DC). Don’t miss the opening week of the high-energy musical Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (Thurs-Sun, $22+, Bethesda).

Fun and games. Adventure through the immersive Dinos Alive Exhibit (Thurs-Sun, $20+, Northeast DC).

Get involved. Explore the roots and development of jazz music for a cause at Jazz4Justice. Proceeds from the evening help benefit the Legal Services of Northern Virginia and the Mason Jazz Studies (Fri, $20, Fairfax). Help save DC trees and plant your own at Anacostia Park Skate Pavilion (Sat, free, Anacostia).

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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.