Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 1/30-2/5: Ford’s Theatre Festival, Phillips After 5, United Ukrainian Ballet

Plus, a film festival at National Geographic.

The United Ukrainian Ballet performs Giselle. Photograph by Altin Kaftira.

Happy Monday, everyone!

January is wrapping up, and February is straight ahead. You can close out this month at an international film festival, or jumpstart your Valentine’s Day festivities at Phillips after 5.


Best Things to Do This Week

  1. Ford’s Theatre festival. You can see three-days full of readings and play previews at the Ford’s Theatre A First Look festival. The featured inaugural plays spotlight underrepresented historical figures and themes of social justice and racial equity. The lineup of productions include Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard, Blackbox, and Young and Just (Thurs-Sat, free, Ford’s Theatre).
  2. Phillips after 5. Get into the Valentine or Galentine’s Day spirit at I Heart Art. February’s Phillips After 5 features a speed-friending activity, live music from indie band Color Palette, sweet treats, and a viewing of “An Italian Impressionist in Paris: Giuseppe De Nittis” before it closes (Thurs, $20, Northwest DC).
  3. United Ukrainian Ballet. Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has created a special interpretation of the romance ballet Giselle for the United Ukrainian Ballet. The collection of 60 professional Ukrainian dancers—mostly made up of refugees from Ukraine—will take the stage to narrate a moving story about love, betrayal, death, and war (Wed-Sun, $29+, Kennedy Center).
  4. “Looking Up: Studies for Ceilings” exhibit. Over a span of nearly four centuries, painted ceilings were a major part of European art. This new exhibition journeys through the evolution of ceiling decoration through the presentation of about 30 intricate drawings and paintings from 1550 to 1800 (through July 9, free, National Gallery of Art).
  5. Mountain Film Festival at National Geographic. Immerse yourself in outdoor adventures through Mexican volcanoes, historic villages, and wintery ski slopes at the National Geographic’s screenings of nature-packed movies. The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour includes three films: Colors of Mexico, Flow, and Alta (Mon-Sat, $35, Northwest DC).
A Ceiling with Apollo Presiding over Military and Historical Learning by Anton Kern is part of “Looking Up: Studies for Ceilings.” Photograph courtesy of the National Gallery of Art.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Foxtrot is opening a new location in Farragut Square, and celebrating with food, drinks and live screen printing (Tues, free, Northwest DC). Saul Lilienstein will chat about music, dance, and movement in this online lecture (Wed, free, virtual).

Arts and culture. Join a book club at Lost City Books to discuss Praisesong for the Widow (Mon, free, $24 for the book, Northwest DC). Watch the DC movie premiere of After Migration: Calabria (Thurs, $15+, Northwest DC). Observe the artwork of 12 artists from the Middle East and South Asia in “Perceptible Rhythms/Alternative Temporalities(through April 28, free, Northwest DC). Art and a guided meditation sounds very relaxing (Wed, free, virtual). Paint with water colors while sipping wine (Fri, $25, Alexandria). Taste Black-owned and -produced wines at the Black Wines Matter class (Thurs, $49, Penn Quarter). Get an early start on Valentine’s Day and craft a floral heart wreath (Sat, $40, Alexandria). Professor Michael Kimmage leads a lecture on the Ukraine/Russia conflict as part of the Profs and Pints DC series (Mon, $14+, Penn Quarter). View the new exhibit “Beyond the Frame: A Contemporary Exploration of Mixed Media Photography” at the Torpedo Factory Art Center (through March 4, free, Alexandria). Attend an author talk and book signing with Goldie Taylor and host Glory Edim (Tues, free, Petworth). Take a guided tour exploring modern art (Sat, free, National Gallery of Art). Celebrate pandas with the Smithsonian and David M. Rubenstein (Mon, $25, Southwest DC).

History and heritage. Author John Muller is sharing the history of abolitionist Frederick Douglass (Mon, free, virtual). Sit in on the conversation Portraiture and Slavery: Reflections and Resistance (Tues, free, virtual). Scholars Kevin K. Gaines and Theophus Smith respond to artist Georges Adéagbo’s new art installation at President Lincoln’s Cottage (Thurs, $10, Northwest DC). Tour the Black Heritage Museum of Arlington and attend a panel discussion moderated by NBC4 Anchor Jummy Olabanji at this Black History Month program; the Sankofa Mobile Museum will bring guests a VR experience, too (Sat, free, Arlington). Caitlin Meehye Beach, winner of the Phillips Collection Book Prize, shares her book Sculpture at the Ends of Slavery (Wed, free, University of Maryland College Park). Help write and edit entries about Black women in food and drink history during the Wikipedia edit-a-thon (Wed, free, virtual). Learn something new about the Women of the Black Panther Party (Tues, free, in-person registration full, virtual).

Theater and shows. Attend the opening of Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner at Woolly Mammoth Theatre (February 4 through 26, pay-what-you-can, Northwest DC). Ride the Cyclone is showing at Arena Stage (through February 19, $66+, Southwest DC). Podcaster Patrick Hinds is throwing a party to celebrate his upcoming memoir, Failure Is Not NOT an Option (Sat, $30, Howard Theatre). You don’t want to miss this musical about Black baritone DC vocalist Todd Duncan (Sat-Mon, $15, Northwest DC). See the cabaret-style production First Lady of Song: Ella Fitzgerald at Signature Theatre (Mon-Sun, $38, Arlington). Stream stage play The Tempest for an extended time online (through February 8, $35, virtual).

Community. Black Lives Matter DC is hosting a seminar to educate attendees on how to write and file police complaints (Tues, free, virtual).

Music and concerts. Celebrate the DC debut of the 55-member Sphinx Orchestra in concert with EXIGENCE, an all Black and Latinx vocal ensemble (Tues, $20+, Kennedy Center). The Washington Performing Arts Gospel Choirs and the *Choral Arts symphonic choir performs a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. (Sun, $25+, Kennedy Center). Get tickets to see Dry Cleaning live in concert (Tues, $25+, Howard Theatre). Local singer Justin Suede performs at Hard Rock Cafe (Tues, free,  Northwest DC). Listen to a blend of classical and pop music performed by Ben Thornewill (Mon, $18+, Northwest DC). Learn new dance moves at the Tango and Champagne Soiree (Wed, $19+, Northwest DC). Or, party with friends at a Beyoncé-inspired dance event at Wunder Garten (Sat, free, NoMa). It’s hip-hop night at Pie Shop (Wed, $12, Northeast DC). It’s the Thad Wilson Jazz Orchestra’s 25th anniversary (Tues, $30, Georgetown).

Game night. Play trivia with a team at Red Bear Brewing (Mon, Wed, free, Northeast DC). Have more trivia fun at Wonderland (Mon, free, Northwest DC). Pub trivia is happening at Nanny O’Briens (Tues, free, Northwest DC) and at Biergarten Haus (Tues, free, Northeast DC).

Things to do with kids. Go indoor skydiving at IFly Montgomery (daily, $69+, Gaithersburg). Walk through decorative snowflakes and illuminations before the winter lights at Franklin Park close (through Fri, free, Downtown). Take your kids to experience Paw Patrol Live at EagleBank Arena (Fri-Sun, $34+, Fairfax). Watch The Princess Bride at Metrobar (Sun, free, Northeast DC). Children can participate in story time (Fri, free, National Gallery of Art). Watch kid-friendly short films highlighting Black stories (Sat, free, National Gallery of Art).

Get involved. Lunafest, featuring short films created by and for women, is in town. Proceeds will benefit the nonprofit Girls on the Run Montgomery County (Thurs, $10+, Bethesda). Take a dog on a first date at The Barklorette dog adoption (Sun, donations welcome, Northwest DC).

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.

An earlier version of this post did not list the Choral Arts symphonic choir as a co-presenter of this event. We regret the error.

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.