Things to Do

10 Great Things to Do Around DC This January

Gaze up at European ceiling art, groove to go-go after the game, and attend a video game festival


1. MorMor

Union Stage | January 20

The somewhat mysterious Toronto singer and multi-instrumentalist released his debut album, Semblance, in November. Now we get to see how he’ll translate this batch of moody pop tunes to a live setting.



2. “Looking Up: Studies for Ceilings, 1550–1800”

“The Ascension of Christ” by Cosmas Damian Asam. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Art, Wolfgang Ratjen Collection, Patrons’ Permanent Fund.

National Gallery of Art | January 29–July 9

Attention, daydreamers: Here’s your chance to spend some quality time staring at the ceiling. This exhibit shows off nearly three centuries’ worth of room-topping European architecture and interior design, from vibrant Baroque-era paintings to the geometrically complex models of Neoclassicism.



3. NSO Pops: an Evening With Ne-Yo

Photograph by Chris Stanford.

Kennedy Center | January 27–28

In the early 2000s, the R&B singer Ne-Yo’s hits boomed on the radio nonstop, until you really did become “so sick of love songs.” Fortunately, this team-up with the National Symphony Orchestra will present those songs in a whole new way. That gorgeous croon backed by a stage full of classical pros? We can’t wait.



4. English

Studio Theatre | January 11–February 12

Set in Iran, Sanaz Toossi’s play traces the awkward and comedic study sessions of four adults gearing up to take an English-language proficiency test that holds the key to their futures. Full of word games and funny mistranslations, it also has a serious message about how a new tongue can expand the world around you.



5. Sphinx Symphony Orchestra

Kennedy Center | January 31

Diversity remains a big issue in the classical-­music world, but not here: The musicians who perform in Detroit’s Sphinx Symphony Orchestra are Black and Latinx. One of the evening’s most moving works will likely be a vocal piece by Joel Thompson that contains the last words of Black men killed by the police.



6. Dry Cleaning

Photograph by Guy Bolongaro.

Howard Theatre | January 31

Florence Shaw—the British post-punk band’s vocalist (“singer” isn’t quite right)—will do her speak-sing thing when the lauded quartet arrives to promote its latest album, Stumpwork.



7. Not Another D&D Podcast

Lincoln Theatre | January 19

Admirers of the classic nerd-chic role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons will flock to this in-person version of the popular podcast, which mixes comedy and storytelling. Twenty-sided dice not required.



8. Super Magfest

National Harbor | January 5–8

If you’ve ever settled in for a quiet evening playing a new video game, only to look up and realize it’s 7 AM and you haven’t gone to the bathroom in nine hours, this festival is for you: The four-day celebration of gaming—which includes things like an arcade, a mini-­museum, and panel discussions—runs 24 hours a day. Just don’t forget to eat.



9. Wizards vs. Knicks Go-Go Night

Photograph by Julia Nikhinson/AP Images.

Capital One Arena | January 13

Basketball and a concert? Count us in. After the Wizards (fingers crossed) trounce the New York Knicks, go-go favorites DC Vybe will take to the court, with appearances by Northeast Groovers, Kim, Scooby, and Sugar Bear.



10. Listen, World! by Allison Gilbert and Julia Scheeres

Politics and Prose | January 21

Journalist Allison Gilbert (right)—who coauthored this recent book—will discuss the intriguing story of Elsie Robinson, a hugely popular newspaper columnist in the mid–20th century who is mostly unknown today. Prominent biographer Kitty Kelley will be asking the questions, so expect a lively discussion.

This article appears in the January 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

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.