Things to Do

Best Things to Do in the DC Area 2/16-2/20: George Washington Birthday Parade, an Orchid Exhibit, and Intersections Festival

Plus, Mardi Gras fun on Barracks Row.

New Jack City returns to the National Theatre this weekend. Photograph by Martin Almgren.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Who’s ready for a long holiday weekend? Spend your extra day off at the George Washington Birthday Parade, or catch the opening of the Botanic Garden’s latest floral showcase.


Best Things to Do This Weekend

  1. George Washington Birthday Parade. Our first president was born 291 years ago next week and Old Town is celebrating the occasion with an annual Presidents Day parade. This year, the community stroll has a new route beginning at Commonwealth Avenue between Sunset Drive and Cameron Street. Spectators can enjoy presentations by live bands, drum corps, color guards, youth groups, and more (Mon, free, Alexandria). (See below for other Presidents Day festivities—including free admission Monday to George Washington’s Mount Vernon.)
  2. “Discover the World of Orchids” at the Botanic Garden. Stop and smell the orchids: the U.S. Botanic Garden and Smithsonian Gardens are teaming up to present the colorful exhibition “Discover the World of Orchids.” Visitors can expect to see hundreds of diverse orchids, some suspended in the air inside the Tropics house, and nine-foot-tall tree sculptures covered with hundreds of epiphytic orchids. There will be educational programs and lectures, too (Fri through April 30, free, U.S. Botanic Garden).
  3. Intersections Festival. The Atlas Performing Arts Center’s annual Intersections Festival is back with more than 35 performances of dance, music, art, and theater by local artists (through March 26, prices vary, Northeast DC).
  4. “New Jack City.” The theatrical narration of the Harlem crime story New Jack City returns to the National Theatre this weekend. The live Broadway production features music from the blockbuster movie and storytelling created by playwright Je’Caryous Johnson (Thurs-Sat, $79+, National Theatre).
  5. Mardi Gras on Barracks Row. Everyone is invited to spend the weekend on 8th Street Barracks Row in recognition of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras. You can get into the NOLA spirit with live music, sidewalk parades, beads, food specials from area restaurants, and more entertainment (Fri-Sat, free, Southeast DC).
Discover the World of Orchids exhibit at U.S. Botanic Garden. Photograph by Devin Dotson.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly. Visit the Friendship Firehouse Museum with your family; children will receive a free fire hat and a goodie bag (Sat, $2, Alexandria).

Arts and culture. DC artist Yetunde Sapp invites the community to view “Justice for Breonna(Sun, free, Anacostia). Photographer Dee Dwyer journeys through Southeast DC in her exhibition “Wild Seeds of the Soufside.” Check out the arts and culture happenings at the Anacostia Arts Center’s open house; refreshments will be served (Thurs, free, Anacostia). Celebrate local creatives at Afro House: Spirit Fest with live music, an African fashion demonstration, a sound bath, and a roundtable to discuss mental health (Sat, free, Anacostia). Have a botanical evening and learn how to mount staghorn ferns (Thurs, $65, Northwest DC). Watch the film The Tallest Tree in Our Forest (Thurs, donations welcome, Cardozo). Browse art and meet artists at the Dupont Art Walk (Thurs, free, Dupont). Sit in on a conversation with Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and watch the documentary Shut Up and Paint (Sat, $45, Kennedy Center). Have a night out at the Embassy of Ethiopia; guests can enjoy a buffet, view art, and see a dance presentation (Fri, $79, Northwest DC).

Bites and beverages. Taste the cuisine of the African diaspora at the Black Chef Series (Mon, $125, Southwest DC). Sip on hot tea while listening to Gospel Music at The Salamander DC (Sun and February 26, $95, Southwest DC).

History and heritage. Join the DC History Center in conversations about Latinx experiences at Movements and Moments (Thurs, free, Northwest DC). Isabel Frey will  a sing a collection of Yiddish revolutionary songs at her solo performance (Thurs, free, Northwest DC). Celebrate Black deaf arts and history at Busboys and Poets; there’s trivia, too (Thurs, free, Anacostia).

Presidents Day. Celebrate Presidents Day with a libation ceremony and a walking tour of the Underground Railroad (Mon, free, Georgetown). Learn about George Washington while enjoying a four-course dinner (Sat, $125, Alexandria). Explore historic Old Town on a guided walking tour (Sun, free, Alexandria). Discover George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate (Mon, free, Mount Vernon). Celebrate all things presidential at the National Portrait Gallery’s Presidential Family Fun Day (Sat, free, National Portrait Gallery).

Theater and shows. Natalie Wall and other comedians are discussing Awkward Sex at Black Cat (Fri, $20, Northwest DC). Attend a dance showcase (Sat-Sun, $32, Northeast DC). Seven Methods of Killing Kylie Jenner just added more shows (through March 5, $20+, Northwest DC). Laugh with Shapel Lacey at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (Thurs-Sat, $20, Arlington).

Music and concerts. The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Ensemble will sing legendary blues songs (Sat, $25, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History). Singer and activist Nobuko Miyamoto will be accompanied by her ensemble for a concert and talk (Sun, free, Smithsonian National Museum of American History). The Judds are on tour (Fri, $29+, EagleBank Arena). Adam Forbes performs live at Hard Rock Cafe (Fri, free, Northwest DC). Groove to Boyz II Men’s throwback jams (Sun, $88+, MGM National Harbor). The Accord Symphony Orchestra will perform Living The Dream: A Celebration of the March on Washington (Sat, $10+, Northwest DC). Clarinetist Julian Bliss performs live with the U.S. Air Force Band (Thurs, free, Alexandria). Get tickets to see Tedeschi Trucks Band live in concert (Thurs, $60+, Warner Theatre). Experience Grammy-nominated blues artist Jontavious Willis in concert (Thurs, $22, Capitol Hill). Spend your weekend at a disco (Fri, $30, Northwest DC). Listen to classical rhythms live with the National Symphony Orchestra and conductor Sir Mark Elder (Thurs-Sun, $15+, Kennedy Center).

Game night. Enjoy three days’ worth of Katsucon fun (Fri-Sun, $55+, free for children, National Harbor). Play transportation-themed bingo (through February 23, free, Northeast DC).

Things to do with kids. Batman, Spiderman, and Cinderella are coming to the Shipgarten Family Festival; pups are invited, too (Sat, free, McLean). Go ice-skating to support DC students (Thurs, $17, Southeast DC). Party in Mardi Gras style at Oye Palaver Hut’s parade (Thurs, free, Southeast DC).

Get involved. Enjoy live music, dinner, and an adult beverage for a good cause. The Commentary Social House is hosting a five-course dining experience, and a portion of the proceeds will support Save the Children (Thurs, $75, Arlington).

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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.