Things to Do

10 Great Things to Do in DC This June

Celebrate Pride at the Out & About Festival or catch Paramore.


1. Beethoven & American Masters: George Walker & Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Photograph of National Symphony Orchestra by Yassine El Mansouri.

Kennedy Center | June 1–3

Since January 2022, Gianandrea Noseda has been leading the National Symphony Orchestra through performances of all nine Beethoven symphonies, often paired with the sinfonias of African American composer George Walker. Now the series comes to an end with Beethoven’s Ninth. Can’t make it? Recordings are being released by the NSO’s own label.



2. Paramore

Photograph courtesy of Atlantic Records.

Capital One Arena | June 2

“This is why I don’t leave the house,” sings Hayley Williams on her band’s latest album, This Is Why, referring to the various oppressive realities of modern existence. It’s a relatable sentiment—and also a seriously catchy song from a beloved band nearing its 20-year anniversary. Homebodies, take note: This rousing concert should be worth making an exception for.



3. Pageboy by Elliot Page

Photograph by Catherine Opie.

Sixth & I | June 14

The Oscar-nominated actor—known for Juno and The Umbrella Academy, among other projects—will discuss his revealing new memoir, which explores his experiences in Hollywood and coming out as trans.



4. Awesome Con

Photograph by Evy Mages .

Washington Convention Center | June 16–18

It’s been a decade since Maryland comics enthusiasts Ben Penrod and Steve Anderson launched this DC gathering for pop-culture fanatics, and it’s become something of a local institution. This year will offer such quirky fare as cos­play fashion shows, light-saber battles, and superhero yoga, whatever that is. There will also be appearances by actors including Power Ranger Amy Jo Johnson and Lando Calrissian himself, Billy Dee Williams.



5. Re:Set DMV Festival

Photograph of Boygenius courtesy of I.M.P.

Merriweather Post Pavilion | June 16–18

What looks at first like a music festival is actually an innovative tour, bringing a three-day lineup of major acts to various cities around the country. It’s an impressive collection: Boygenius (above), Steve Lacy, LCD Soundsystem, Bartees Strange, Clairo, and lots more.



6. “Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies”

Photograph of still image from Cauleen Smith’s Sojourner courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Smithsonian American Art Museum | June 16, 2023–January 29, 2024

Sound, moving images, and art collide in this exhibit, built around new acquisitions to the mu­seum. The artists—Cauleen Smith (whose Sojourner is shown below), ADÁL, and Raven Chacon, among others—blend video and music in different ways, making for a multisensory experience.



7.  “Cellphone: Unseen Connections”

Photograph courtesy of Brittany M. Hance and James Di Loreto, Smithsonian Institution.

National Museum of Natural History | Opening June 23

That 20-year-old flip phone in the back of your junk drawer? Now it’s a museum piece. This exhibit traces the history of the modern era’s signature device through more than 300 objects. You can see Motorola’s pioneering brick-like 1983 handheld, for example, as well as specimens of the 65 or so elements found in most mobile phones.



8. Out & About Festival

Photograph of Carlile by Mary Ellen Matthews.

Wolf Trap | June 24–25

Celebrate Pride Month at this eclectic festival. On the bill are the likes of Brandi Carlile (above), Yola, Brandy Clark, and Rufus Wainwright, whose stunning 1998 debut album just hit the quarter-century mark. The focus is on brand-name national acts, but don’t miss local favorites Bad Moves and Oh He Dead.



9. I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore

Politics and Prose | June 27

Best known for her short stories, the revered writer returns with her first novel since 2009. The plot is impossible to summarize—it involves a man traveling to see his dying brother in modern New York, as well as excerpts from a 19th-century journal—but the clever, moving prose is all Moore.



10. Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Dom Flemons is playing at this year’s fest. Photograph by Rory Doyle.

National Mall | June 29–July 4 and July 6–9

For more than five decades, this outdoor gathering has been spotlighting culture and traditions from around the US and the world. This year’s festival focuses on two separate topics: a region—the Ozarks—and an idea: the practice of religion in America.

 This article appears in the June 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.