Things to Do

35 Best Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Sam Smith, Heist Summer Series, and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical”

Plus, the Water Lantern Festival.

The cast of the North American Tour of Moulin Rouge! The Musical. Photograph by Matthew Murphy/MurphyMade.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Sam Smith is in town for a concert at Capital One Arena, and you can keep the dance party going at the opening of Moulin Rouge! The Musical at the Kennedy Center.


Best Things to Do This Week

July 31-August 6

  1. Sam Smith. Sam Smith arrives at Capital One Arena to promote their latest album Gloria. Prepare to take a three-part melodic journey exploring the themes of love, beauty, and sex as Smith entertains audiences with dazzling choreography and a giant figure of Greek goddess Aphrodite (Fri, $35+, Capital One Arena).
  2. Heist Summer Series. This lively three-part party series comes to a close this week at the Wharf’s District Pier and Dockmaster Building. Partygoers at Heist Summer Series can experience nightlife-like entertainment in the sunshine, including DJs playing house music and top 40 hits, theatrical performances, tacos, drinks, and more (Sun, $30+, Wharf).
  3. “Moulin Rouge! The Musical.” Glitz, glam, and romance are all a part of the new Moulin Rouge! The Musical adapted from Baz Luhrmann’s film. The energetic production showcases the themes of freedom and beauty as Bohemians and aristocrats come together on stage (Wed through September 24, $45+, Kennedy Center).
  4. Mubadala Citi DC Open. The Mubadala Citi DC Open returns for its 54th year bringing some of the biggest tennis players to the Fitzgerald Tennis Center this week. Over a span of 11 sessions, sports fans can watch top-notch competition, eat culinary treats like truffled popcorn and sweets from Georgetown Cupcake, participate in drink tastings, and attend player meet-and-greets (Mon-Sun, $15+, Rock Creek Park). 
  5. Water Lantern Festival. Make peaceful new memories with the entire family at the Water Lantern Festival. The two-day community event invites guests to design floating lanterns with loved ones, and release the love messages onto the water; there’s also music, food trucks, and playing cards to enjoy (Sat-Sun, $26+, National Harbor).

Want More Things to Do?

Heist Summer Series. Photograph by John Robinson.

Plan ahead: Grab your pass to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Hip-Hop Block Party happening on August 12 (registration opens Mon, free, Smithsonian NMAAHC).

Arts and culture: Browse a collection of prints by artist Rupert Garcia at American University Museum that were once housed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (closes August 13, free, Northwest DC). If you are a fan of The Bachelorette’s love and drama you can watch it with neighbors at Baja Tap (Mon, free, Adams Morgan). Help Pulitzer Prize finalist Kristina Wong create a food bank (Thurs-Sat, free, Kennedy Center). Explore wall drawings by American conceptual artist Jessica Diamond in her new exhibition “Wheel Of Life(through June 2, 2024, free, Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden). The new “As We Are” exhibit at the Art Museum of the Americas features works by contemporary trans, non-binary, and gender-diverse artists (through October 8, free, Northwest DC). Learn to write a new font style at this Planet Word workshop (Wed, $75, Downtown).

Community and history: Bridgerton viewers can learn the history behind the Netflix show (Mon, $14, Penn Quarter). Hammered Hulls, Jenny Hates Techno, and Emotional World perform at the DC Punk Archive Library Rooftop Show (Wed, free, MLK Library). View portraits that predate the Civil War in “Duty, Honor, Country: Antebellum Portraits of West Pointers” exhibition (through June 9, 2024, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery).

Theater and shows: It’s the last call for the enthusiastic comedy The Play That Goes Wrong (through August 13, $39+, Kennedy Center). Performing Arts Preparatory School puts on a musical production of Disney’s Newsies Jr. (Sat, $20+, Falls Church). Coming-of-age stage play Fun Home is showing at Studio Theatre (through August 27, $55+, Logan Circle). Comedian Badar Tareen and a lineup of comics host a night of laughs at the Brown Town show (Sat, $20, Wharf). Share—or hear—back to school stories at Miracle Theatre (Thurs, $15, Capitol Hill). Theatrical production It Is What It Is…Until It’s Not addresses everyday social issues at Atlas Performing Arts Center (Wed-Thurs, $10, H Street Corridor).

Music and concerts: Enjoy live music at local jazz gem Mr. Henry’s during Capitol Hill Jazz Jam (every Wed, $5+, Capitol Hill). Or, listen to jazz at Met Park (Thurs, free, Arlington). Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell performs with his 400 Unit band at Wolf Trap (Wed, $52+, Vienna).

Exercise and wellness: Seniors can join a relaxing yoga class (Tues, free, Palisades). Go for a run, and then cool down at a popsicle food truck (Mon, free, Northwest DC).

Game night: Check out the new Black-owned space Sycamore & Oak for community karaoke (every Wed, free, Congress Heights). You can compete in a game of trivia with a group, or by yourself at Big Bear Cafe (every Wed, free,  Northwest DC). Test your trivia knowledge for prizes at Olive on Main (Thurs, free, Laurel). Brainiacs and pups are welcome to join in on the trivia excitement at 7 Locks Brewing (every Thurs, free, Bethesda). Answer literature quizzes at Kramers bookstore (Mon, free, Northwest DC).

Things to do with kids: There’s a toddler dance party at the library (Tues, free, Mount Pleasant). Youngsters can conduct science experiments with a group (Tues, free, Alexandria). Portrait Gallery kids are welcome to play and make art with Smithsonian gallery educators (Mon, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery). There’s loads of diverse entertainment, and fun for all ages at Universoul Circus (through August 20, $27+, National Harbor).

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.