Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 12/5-12/11: Entertainment Nation, 12 Days of CapRiv, and Rosslyn Tree Lighting

Plus, the DC Santa Crawl is back.

Rosslyn tree lighting. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

Happy Monday, everyone!

The holiday fun is just getting started and not slowing down anytime soon. Be a part of the season’s festivities this week at a neighborhood tree lighting, or be one of the first to see the Smithsonian’s latest exhibition.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. “Entertainment Nation” exhibit. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has gathered an extraordinary collection of objects and artifacts in sports, theater, music, movie, and television for the new exhibit, “Entertainment Nation.” The collection of 1.8 million objects shines a spotlight on the careers of entertainers such as Prince, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and Muhammad Ali, along with various theatrical and film productions (opens Fri, free, National Museum of American History).
  2. 12 Days of CapRiv. The Capitol Riverfront is kicking off its holiday fun with a tree lighting celebration. The first 100 people to arrive will receive free ice skate rentals and the first 150 will get a holiday beanie. Participants can take photos with Washington Capitals mascot Slapshot or in a snow globe photo booth, as well as jam to live music from Crush Funk brass band and DJ Ci Ci. There will be a hot chocolate bar, too (Thurs, free, Capitol Riverfront).
  3. Rosslyn tree lighting. Or, check out Rosslyn’s annual tree lighting. Good Morning Washington’s Kidd O’Shea will be there to count down the tree illumination live. Musical guests include the H-B Woodlawn choir. Guests can participate in a raffle to win prizes, and enjoy adult ciders, popcorn, and more (Thurs, free, Rosslyn).
  4. DC Santa Crawl. Cheers to the holidays at a neighborhood bar crawl featuring food and drink specials, a souvenir mug, photos, and a prize raffle (Sat, $20+, Dupont).
  5. AFI European Union Film Showcase. Enjoy showings of 56 films representing all 27 European Union member states at this year’s AFI European Union Film Showcase. The film festival will run through December 20 (continuing Mon, $15+, Silver Spring).
Entrance to the Entertainment Nation exhibit at the National Museum of American History. Rendering courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Herald in the holidays with the U.S. Air Force Band live in concert featuring the Washington Performing Arts Children of the Gospel Choir, Virginia Ballet Company, and more (Sat-Sun, free, Northwest DC).

Arts and culture. Add new recipes to your cooking list at a book signing with author Deb Perelman (Tues, free, Northwest DC). Create-your-own journals at an introductory book-binding workshop (Sat, $70, Arlington) or take a watercolor calligraphy class (Sun, $70, Arlington). Read poetry and short stories authored by local writers while enjoying live music (Fri, $25, Northwest DC).

Bites and beverages. Travel to Argentina at Union Market for a tasty empanada cooking class (Wed, $59, Northeast DC). Find the perfect wine to gift at a holiday tasting with sommelier David Hale (Tues, $85, Northwest DC). Cozy up with hot chocolate and s’mores (Tues, free, Arlington). Have dinner and a show at the Classic Theatre of Maryland during their cabaret series, with delicious bites from Smashing Grapes (Mon, $55+, Annapolis).

Theater and shows. See a spontaneous William Shakespeare-themed improvised play (Tues-Sun, $35+, Kennedy Center). Watch a screening of the throwback movie Gremlins (Wed, $11, Northeast DC). Dance along with Furia Flamenca Dance Company and a cast of musicians at Navidad Flamenca (Sat, $30+, Northeast DC). Laugh out loud with comedian John Mulaney (Thur-Fri, $153+, MGM National Harbor).

History and heritage. Learn from naturalist Matt Felperin about the types of birds that won’t be flying south for winter (Wed, $30, virtual). Get an inside look at the history of White House Christmas celebrations (Sun, $35, virtual).

Music and concerts. Snap your fingers along to cool rhythms played by the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra (Mon, $15+, Northeast DC). Experience the Joy of Christmas at the Washington National Cathedral (Sat-Sun, $25+, free virtual tickets, Northwest DC). Three-time Grammy Award-winning Soweto Gospel Choir will perform a blend of African gospel, freedom songs, and holiday classics at the Strathmore Music Center (Tues, $34+, Bethesda). Rock out with drummer Jody Stephens at Union Stage for a celebration of ’70s pop band Big Star (Wed, $22, Southwest DC). Hear seasonal classics like “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” at a holiday concert with singer Laura Benanti (Fri-Sat, $29+, Kennedy Center). Violinist Sarah Chang performs songs from timeless romances like Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story (Fri, $19+, free for children, Bethesda).

Holiday festivities. Have dinner with your kids and Santa at Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap; a movie screening of Polar Express is included (Mon-Tues, free admission, Alexandria). Shop from local craftspeople and enjoy musical entertainment, snow displays, and lights at the Four Seasons Holiday Market (Fri-Sun, free, Georgetown). Walk through the Merriweather Symphony of Lights (Tues, Thurs, $10+, Columbia). Dress your furry friend in a holiday-themed outfit to take a photo with Santa; there’s a chance your pet could win the photo contest (Mon, free, Tysons). Get a head start on winter decorations and design a custom wreath (Wed, free, Arlington).

Get involved. Bring an unwrapped toy to Boundary Stone to donate and receive a free Atlas Brew Works beer or take a photo with Mr. Claus; all proceeds benefit St. Baldrick’s Foundation (Thurs, $10 for photos with Santa, Bloomingdale).

If you enjoyed these events, please 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.