Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 11/28-12/4: DC Cocktail Week, National Christmas Tree Lighting, and NPR Music’s Birthday Party

Plus, a Latin American film festival.

The 2018 National Christmas Tree Lighting.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Welcome back from the long holiday weekend. Take a break from Thanksgiving leftovers and experience local cocktail culture and food specials during DC Cocktail Week; then keep the festivities going with NPR Music or at the 100th National Christmas Tree Lighting.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. DC Cocktail Week. All weeklong you’ll find specialty mixed drinks with food pairings in celebration of DC Cocktail Week. Some of the events include custom cocktail happy hours at restaurants such as Harvest Tide Steakhouse, Zoca Modern Mexican, and Bar Charley. In addition, foodies can enjoy mixology classes, tastings, and take-home cocktail kits (Mon-Sun, prices vary, various participating locations).
  2. National Christmas Tree 100th Lighting. President Calvin Coolidge started the American holiday tradition of lighting the national tree 100 years ago. Now, the seasonal ceremony is continuing on the Ellipse, with trees and ornaments representing 56 U.S. states and territories. There will be nightly musical performances and the tree will open to the public after this week’s kick-off event. You can catch the broadcast of the ceremony on CBS on December 11 (starting Fri, free, White House).
  3. NPR Music celebration. Cheers to 15 years of NPR Music at the 9:30 Club. Ticket-holders can experience two nights of musical performances from major artists including Bartees Strange, Amber Mark, Cory Henry, and more. Plus, the dynamic line-up will reveal a nightly surprise guest (Mon-Tues, $45, U Street).
  4. Norwegian Christmas Tree Lighting. Each year Norway gives a holiday tree to the people of DC in honor of America’s contribution to the country’s liberation during World War II. This year, a 32-foot Norwegian tree will be illuminated and celebrated by musical performances from local band East of the River Steelband and DC vocalist Rayshun LaMarr (Mon, free, Union Station).
  5. GALA Film Fest. Watch an array of standout films by emerging Central American and Mexican filmmakers during the GALA Film Fest: Latin American Innovation. Two of the featured films will be showing in the U.S. for the first time, and moviegoers can look forward to post-screening receptions and talks with directors. Also, don’t forget to stop by the lobby of Gala Hispanic Theatre to view the art exhibit “Counterpoints” (Wed-Sun, $10 per film, Northwest DC).


Catch the film “Roza” by Andrés Rodríguez at the GALA Film Fest.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will brighten up the “People’s Tree” at the Capitol Christmas Tree Lighting. The 78-foot-tall red spruce tree from North Carolina, called “Ruby,” will stay on display through January 1 (starting Tues, free, U.S. Capitol).

Arts and culture. Author Shahan Mufti discusses his most recent book, American Caliph (Mon, free, virtual, Northwest DC). View three attention-grabbing pieces of work as part of the “Prolepsis” art exhibit (Tues-Sat, free, Northwest DC). It’s the last chance to observe the “The Hero Art Project(Mon, free, National Mall). Sit in on a live podcast taping of City Cast DC at Union Market (Wed, free, Northeast DC). Meet up with fellow creatives at a translation art workshop for those working through linguistic boundaries (Mon, free, Northwest DC). Recognize the birthday of author Louisa May Alcott by watching the movie adaptation of her classic novel, Little Women (Mon, free, Southwest DC).

Theater and shows. Watch a special screening of the classic noir film Double Indemnity (Mon, $11, Northeast DC). Experience an enthusiastic choreographed dance by Ballet Hispánico: Doña Perón (Wed-Sat, $35+, Kennedy Center). Chase away the Monday blues at a high-energy drag show (Mon, free, Dupont Circle). Get tickets to Dirty Dancing in Concert (Tues, $50+, Tysons); this live-film-to-concert experience will give you all of the ’80s retro vibes. Spread holiday cheer with themed drinks, sing-alongs, and jingle bells at a movie party showing the comedy Elf (Tues, $16, Northeast DC, Arlington).

History and heritage. Take a historical look at the “The Rise of the GOP’s Extremists” at Profs and Pints DC (Mon, $15, Penn Quarter). Discover the history of Georgetown on a DC By Foot guided walking tour through the neighborhood’s light art exhibit, Georgetown GLOW (Mon-Sun, $3+, Georgetown).

Music and concerts. Japanese British singer-songwriter Rina Sawayama is performing at the Fillmore (Tues, $36+, Silver Spring). ‘Tis the season for Christmas music and Chris Isaak will be singing holiday tunes in concert (Mon, $120, Alexandria). Slow down the week at a R&B session with musician Musiq Soulchild (Tues, $89+, Alexandria).

Fun and games. Tour a Maryland history museum and check out a display of homemade gingerbread houses; you can vote on your favorite frosty creation (Fri-Sun, $2 for adults, free for children 4 and younger, Upper Marlboro). Kids can unwind and have a bit of self-care with music and coloring at the library (Mon, free, Southwest DC).

Get involved. Santa Claus is coming to brunch. You and your pets can snap photos with Santa and sip hot chocolate to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research through St. Baldrick’s Foundation (Sat, $10, Navy Yard). This Giving Tuesday you can support the revitalization of Anacostia Park (Tues, 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.

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.