Things to Do

33 Best Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Smithsonian Folklife Festival, NASA’s Earth Information Center Opening, and the Musical “Fun Home”

Plus, a Frank Stewart photography exhibit.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival 2019. Photograph by Jennifer Berry/Smithsonian.

Happy Monday, everyone!

June wraps up this week with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and a new space-exploration exhibit at NASA’s headquarters.


Best Things to Do This Week

June 26-July 2

  1. Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall this week with a diverse lineup of cultural demonstrations, dance performances, family fun, food, and crafts to explore two themes: the Ozarks and the practice of religion in America. Over a span of two weeks, visitors can participate in activities like guitar making, quilt storytelling, gardening workshops, and an opening night featuring Creek Rocks banjo player Cindy Woolf (Thurs through July 9, free, National Mall).
  2. NASA’s Earth Information Center exhibit. You can catch an inside look at NASA’s expert view of Earth from space at the agency’s new in-person and virtual exhibition. The Earth Information Center invites visitors—for the first time—to NASA headquarters for a cutting edge observation of live data sets that displays the ways climate change and environmental ecosystems are monitored. One of the main attractions is a tour through an immersive dark room where guests can view the planet and hear from an astronaut (every Mon-Fri, free, Downtown).
  3. “Fun Home” musical. This week, Studio Theatre presents Tony-winning musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel. The coming-of-age dark comedy about childhood and family secrets—paired with music by Jeanine Tesori—narrates the life of Alison as she marks three pivotal ages: 9, 19, and 43 (Wed through August 20, $55+, Logan Circle).
  4. Frank Stewart’s Nexus exhibit. View a dynamic retrospective of Black photographer Frank Stewart at the Phillips Collection. “Frank Stewart’s Nexus: An American Photographer’s Journey, 1960s to the Present” displays a visual account of the artist’s 60-year career featuring more than 100 photographs capturing moments of Black culture, jazz, art, food, and dance (through September 3, $16, Dupont).

Frank Stewart. Clock of the Earth, Mamfe, Ghana, 1998. Photograph courtesy of The Phillips Collection.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget friendly: Sit on a blanket or bring a lawn chair to watch Super Mario Bros at Met Park (Fri, free, Arlington).

Arts and culture: The National Portrait Gallery is hosting Pride-themed trivia (Tues, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery). Author Lorrie Moore discusses her latest novel, I Am Homeless If This Is Not My Home, at Politics and Prose (Tues, free, Northwest DC). Learn about pop-music creation through video art in “Musical Thinking: New Video Art and Sonic Strategies(closes January, 29, 2024, free, Smithsonian American Art Museum). Local writer Sunu Chandy reads poems on social justice at As You Are Bar (Wed, free, Capitol Hill). Northern Virginia artist Anne Rowland displays her satellite and aerial images and prints at Hemphill Artworks (closes Sat, free, Northwest DC). Join the Well-Read Black Girl book club kick-off at MLK Library (Wed, free, MLK Library). Food writer Sheela Prakash shares salad recipes at Bold Fork Books (Wed. $5+, Mount Pleasant).

Community and history: Browse the Smithsonian’s recently acquired blues archive, compiled by folklorist Robert “Mack” McCormick (daily, free, Smithsonian National Museum of American History). Hear from scientists, play trivia, and celebrate #BlackSpaceWeek at DC9 Nightclub (Mon, free, U Street Corridor).

Theater and shows: Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower has an encore performance at Strathmore (Wed-Sat, $38+, Bethesda). See the opening of 1776 the musical ahead of the fourth of July holiday (Tues, $45+, Kennedy Center). The Enigmatist takes on magic and cryptology for the whole family to enjoy (Tues-Sun, $35+, Kennedy Center). Soul Divas Reprise makes a cabaret tribute to Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, and more stars at Signature Theatre (Tues through July 9, $38+, Arlington).

Music and concerts: Guitarist Pat Metheny plays reinterpretations of his classic work in concert at the Kennedy Center (Mon, $59+, Kennedy Center). Jazz great Herbie Hancock performs at the Kennedy Center (Tues, $89+, Kennedy Center). Rami Seo’s World Music Ensemble teams up with go-go band Sirius Company for a celebration concert of 70 Years of the U.S.-Korea Alliance (Wed, free, MLK Library). Fiddler Brendan Mulvihill performs at the Lycuem (Tues, $22, Alexandria). Sky Ferreira sings synth-pop tunes at the Fillmore Silver Spring (Thurs, $29+, Silver Spring).

Bites and beverages: Chef José Andrés celebrates 30 years of Jaleo with a tapas crawl across his Penn Quarter restaurants Jaleo, China Chilcano, Oyamel, and Zaytinya (Tues, $325, Penn Quarter). Toast with friends at Doyle Bar’s A Taste of Teeling guided whiskey tasting experience (Thurs, $55, Dupont). RAMMY wine, beer, and cocktail finalists invite guests to enjoy beverage specials and discounts during RAMMYS Beverage Week (Mon-Fri, prices vary, various participating locations).

Exercise and wellness: A Janelle Monáe playlist will jumpstart Eaton DC’s yoga workshop (Mon, $10+, Downtown). Rest in stillness and meditation with instructor Toni Roberts (Mon, $30, Georgetown). Break a sweat with One Life Fitness (Mon, free, Arlington).

Things to do with kids: Seussical: The Musical brings your childhood favorite storybooks to life at Keegan Theatre (closes July 22, $60 for adults, $25 for youth, Dupont). Watch a screening of Shrek on the soccer field at Marie Reed School (Tues, free, Adams Morgan). Celebrate Independence Day with traditional outdoor games and a picnic at Tudor Place (Sat, $5 for accompanying adult, $15 for children, Georgetown).

Get involved: Volunteer at Anacostia Skate Park Pavilion to help with weeding and mulching the community’s trees (Tues, free, Anacostia).

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.

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.