Things to Do

45 Best Things to Do in the DC Area This Weekend: Portside in Old Town Summer Festival, Juneteenth Freedom Celebration, and Frederick Douglass Exhibit

Plus, a Kennedy Center tribute to Marvin Gaye.

Portside in Old Town Summer Festival. Photograph by Chris Cruz.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Enjoy the long Juneteenth weekend with a number of celebrations around town including block parties, a Frederick Douglass exhibit, and a tribute to Marvin Gaye. You can also experience two festivals in one event at Portside in Old Town.


Best Things to Do This Weekend

June 15-19

  1. Portside in Old Town Summer Festival. Waterfront festivities are afoot at this weekend’s Portside in Old Town Summer Festival. The two-day event begins with the 45th Annual Alexandria Jazz Festival featuring musical acts like the Joe Baione Quintet, a live mural painting by local artist Aniekan Udofia, and poetry readings. The next day continues with pours from Port City Brewing Company, a flamenco performance, indie soul music by Oh He Dead, a chocolate making demo, and lawn games (Fri-Sat, free, Alexandria).
  2. Juneteenth Freedom Celebration. Juneteenth Main Stage and Porchfest DC are teaming up to curate this all-day cultural jamboree. Neighbors and youth are invited to honor the Juneteenth history and tradition with music by Too Much Talent Band and the Experience Band, a Zumba class, an Urban Gardening Workshop, and games with District Trivia at the Anacostia Community Museum (Mon, free, but registration recommended, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum).
  3. “One Life: Frederick Douglass” exhibit. The legacy of abolition champion Frederick Douglass is portrayed in the National Portrait Gallery’s new “One Life: Frederick Douglass” exhibition. Visitors can explore more than 35 objects including a ledger of Douglass’ birth in 1818, a letter to President Abraham Lincoln, and two of his autobiographies (Fri through April 21, 2024, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery).
  4. “What’s Going On Now” Marvin Gaye tribute. The National Symphony Orchestra is marking the 50th anniversary of soul legend Marvin Gaye’s iconic album What’s Going On. Songwriter (and former Destiny’s Child member) Michelle Williams, pop artist Emily King, and singer Luke James will perform songs from the popular record. The event also includes poetry readings from DC organizations 826DC, Shout Mouse Press, and Words, Beats and Life (Fri-Sat, $49+, Kennedy Center).

Want More Things to Do?

“One Life: Frederick Douglass” exhibit. Photograph by Gabrielle Obusek/Smithsonian.

Budget-friendly. Go on a 5K fun run along the Riverwalk Trail (Thurs, free, Capitol Riverfront). Practice sewing at Yours Truly Hotel (Sun, $45, Dupont). The first Eat Loco Farmers Market at Met Park is this weekend; there will be a DJ and a kid’s zone (Sat, free, Arlington).

Arts and culture. Watch classic ’80s movie The Goonies at Franklin Park (Thurs, free, Downtown). Award-winning journalist Charity Elder discusses her new book Power: The Rise of Black Women in America at the Outrage (Thurs, free, 14th Street corridor). Then, shop LBTQIA+ owned businesses at a Pride Pop-Up Market, also held at the Outrage (Sat, free). Browse last minute Father’s Day gifts at a pottery and handcrafts pop-up market (Sat, free, Woodley Park). Wear DC apparel and take a walk down a go-go inspired memory lane at Sycamore & Oak’s grand opening (Mon, free, Congress Heights). Shop gently used books, CDs, DVDs, and more at Capital Book Fest (Fri-Sat, free, Downtown). Don’t miss the Black Authors Book Festival at Planet Word (Mon, free, Downtown).

Community and history. Learn about the January 6 riot on a guided Spy Tour (Fri, $35, Downtown). Take a guided tour of Downtown DC with A Tour of Her Own to explore the city’s Queer history (Sat, $45, Downtown). Celebrate Juneteenth at Brookland Arts Walk with music, shopping, and crafts (Sun, free, Brookland). There’s live art and local vending at ONE DC’s Juneteenth celebration (Mon, free, Anacostia). Work out at an outdoor yoga class, and learn about nutrition at Fit DC’s Juneteenth commemoration (Mon, free, Downtown). Lincoln’s Cottage is taking a deep dive into the Complexities of Emancipation (Mon, $15, Northwest DC). View the “Emancipation Proclamation” and “General Order No. 3” at the National Archives (Sat-Mon, free, Penn Quarter). Bring the whole family to Mayor Bowser’s Juneteenth party at Black Lives Matter Plaza; there will be dancing, a 360 photo booth, and a gospel performance (Mon, free, Downtown).

Theater and shows. Hadestown, the mythical musical, closes this weekend (closes Sun, $39+, National Theatre). You are going to hear a lot of dad jokes at the Busboys and Poets comedy show (Thurs, $25, Takoma Park). Or, you can laugh with a local lineup of Arab-American comedians at another Busboys and Poets (Fri, $19+, U Street). It’s the last call for Good Bones at Studio Theatre (closes Sun, $60+, Logan Circle). High-energy performance group Step Afrika is having a Step Xplosion at the Strathmore (Mon, $35+, Bethesda).

Music and concerts. Dance at the kid-friendly Columbia Pike Blues Festival (Sat, free, Arlington), or at the Silver Spring Blues Fest featuring Ron Holloway and many more performers (Sat, free, Silver Spring). Revenge Wife, Chris Willis, and DC artist Synae perform at the Pocket (Thurs, $15+, Northeast DC). The EJB Quartet play at Metropolitan Park (Thurs, free, Arlington). Singles can meet and couples can deepen their connection at a slow dating dance party (Sat, $49+, 16th Street Heights). Singers Kehlani, Syd, and UMI are in concert at Jiffy Lube Live (Sat, $35+, Bristow). Local go-go band Black Alley is headlining the Juneteenth Block Party (Sat, $50+, Union Market).

Bites and beverages. Sip bubbly, play lawn games, and dine at restaurant pop-ups during Rosé All Day (Sat, $35, Navy Yard). Wilson Hardware is hosting a wear-all-white summer night jam complete with a DJ and cocktails (Fri, free, Arlington). There’s a Starbucks pup cup bar at the Station’s Pride Pawty (Thurs, free, Riverdale). Decide which East or West wine is your favorite at this tasting showdown (Fri, $48, H Street corridor). Catch DJ Analyze spinning hip-hop tunes at Churchkey’s Hip-Hop and Craft Beer Bottle Share (Sat, free, Logan Circle). Taste Caribbean cuisine from local eateries before Caribbean Restaurant Week ends (through Sat, prices vary, various locations).

Game night. Play South Park-themed trivia at Atlas Brew Works (Thurs, free, Ivy City). Win money towards your Lost Generation Brewing Company tab at trivia night (Sun, free, Eckington). Get into the trivia action at Breadsoda (Mon, free, Glover Park).

Things to do with kids. Children can enjoy a carnival at the family-friendly Scotland Juneteenth Heritage Festival (Mon, free, Potomac). Seussical the Musical opens this weekend (Sat through July 22, $60 for adults, $25 for children, Dupont).

Get involved. Houseparty is throwing a benefit concert at Songbyrd to support the homeless community (Sun, $23, Union Market).

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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.