Things to Do

65 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: World Culture Festival, Art All Night, and Opera in the Outfield

Plus, pickleball on the National Mall

Christylez Bacon performing at Art All Night in Shaw in 2021. Photograph courtesy of DC Department of Small & Local Business Development.

Happy Monday, DC!

The much-anticipated World Culture Festival lands on the National Mall this week, and Art All Night boasts a citywide lineup of art activations and immersive activities.


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

September 25-October 1

  1. World Culture Festival. The first-ever US World Culture Festival arrives in DC for three days of artistry, entertainment, and food. The jam-packed schedule showcases acts such as the Howard University Showtime Marching Band, pop influencer Jini June, and Nadhaswaram Oboe Symphony, as well as go-go bands, a Caribbean Carnival showcase, and cultural dance companies (Fri-Sun, free, National Mall).
  2. Art All Night. Prepare to experience endless art activations ranging from painting and photography to fashion and music during DC’s overnight Art All Night. More than 100 artists are participating in this weekend’s citywide event, which will include yoga, body painting, belly dancing, caricature designs, and concert pop-ups (Fri-Sat, free, various participating locations).
  3. Opera in the Outfield. Here’s a sporty twist to the average opera show: Opera in the Outfield returns to Nationals Park for a mass broadcast of Puccini’s La bohème romance. Prior to the screening, guests can snap photos with Washington National Opera costume designs, get balloon animals from a balloon twister, play orchestral instruments, see a magic show, and watch a performance by Step Afrika (Sat, free, Nationals Park).
  4. Pickleball on the National Mall. Pickleball courts are open for community play and celebrity matches on the National Mall this week. The Trust for the National Mall and Humana are hosting three days of programming and activities in celebration of the sport for all ages to enjoy (Thurs-Sat, free, walk-ins are available, National Mall).
  5. Atlantic Festival. The two-day Atlantic Festival features book talks, breakout discussions, forums, film screenings, and storytelling by a star-studded lineup of speakers, politicians, and actors. Some of the special guests of note on this year’s ticket are Spike Lee, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Antony Blinken, Kerry Washington, Jake Tapper, and Nancy Pelosi (Thurs-Fri, free for virtual, $200+ for in-person pass, Wharf).
  6. March on Washington Film Festival. The March on Washington Film Festival returns to DC to spotlight untold stories and unsung heroes of the civil rights era. This year’s keynote speakers are community leaders such as Senator and Reverend Raphael Warnock and Reverend Al Sharpton. The festival lineup features film screenings, panel discussions, and a concert by gospel star Yolanda Adams (through Sun, $20 for virtual pass, $60+ for all access pass, pay-what-you-can passes available, various participating locations).
  7. All Things Go music festival. Maryland singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers splits the headliner lineup with otherworldly vocalist Lana Del Rey and indie supergroup Boygenius at the All Things Go Music Festival. The highly-anticipated two-day concert—backed by guest singers Ethel Cain, Carly Rae Jepsen, and a ton more—is already sold out, but you still have a chance to secure a reservation on the ticket waitlist (Sat-Sun, $95+, Columbia).
  8. DC Coffee Festival. Latte lovers are in for a caffeinated treat this weekend. The first DC Coffee Festival takes over Dock 5 at Union Market featuring pours and beans from tea, coffee roaster, and food exhibitors (Sat, $29+, Union Market).
  9. Maryland Renaissance Festival. Don your best 16th-century attire, and stroll Revel Grove’s 27-acre village at Maryland Renaissance Festival. Lords, ladies, knights, and jesters are welcome to shop goods from more than 140 artisans, watch live jousting, and see live performances. This weekend’s festivities include a Shakespeare celebration (select days through October 22, $30, Crownsville).
  10. Mayor’s Arts Awards. All eight wards will gather together at Lincoln Theatre to celebrate the city’s creative community, and local talent from the arts and humanities fields in recognition of the 38th Annual Mayor’s Arts Awards. The event includes an awards ceremony, performances by DC Black Broadway, and go-go group Backyard Band, and an appearance by Miss Senior DC (Thurs, free, Lincoln Theatre).

Want More Things to Do?

Inaugural DC Coffee Festival. Photograph by Sam Gelin/Craft Hospitality.

Arts and culture: It’s the 21st annual outdoor Old Town Art Festival (Sat-Sun, free, Alexandria). Join a Sixth & I discussion about banned books (Thurs, $10+, virtual, Mount Vernon Triangle) or a discussion with Chef José Andrés about The World Central Kitchen Cookbook (Sun, $12+, virtual, Mount Vernon Triangle). Sip hot apple cider and shop for craft goods at the Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Fall Fair (Sun, free, Silver Spring). Actress Kerry Washington will share her new memoir Thicker Than Water with fans at George Washington University Lisner Auditorium (Wed, free, but tickets are sold out and waitlist registration is available, Northwest DC). Novelist Ava Morgyn leads a Witchy Author Panel (Mon, free, virtual). Play literary trivia at Kramers (Mon, free, Dupont). Observe sketches, models, and, works-in-progress in the new Hamiltonian Artists exhibitions “Kinetic” and “WiP!(Sat through November 4, free, U Street Corridor). Browse visual art and listen to live music at Echo Arts Festival (Sun, free, Glen Echo).

Community and talks: Founders of hip-hop DJ Kool Herc and Cindy Campbell host a fireside chat (Fri, $20+, Kennedy Center). Sports broadcasters Bob Costas and Michael Wilbon talk over sports history at the National Archives (Tues, free, virtual, Northwest DC). Learn about Indigenous cultures at Native Voices of the Grand Canyon (Sun, free, virtual, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian). Talk and taste at National Union Building with local women food leaders (Sat, $195, Penn Quarter).

Theater and shows: It’s almost last call for Mosaic Theater Company’s Monumental Travesties (now closes Oct. 8, $53, H Street Corridor). Watch films from Spain and Portugal at the AFI Latin American Film Festival (through October 11, $15 for tickets, $200 for festival pass, Silver Spring). INSeries Opera presents tragicomedy Alceste (Sat-Sun, October 7-8, $35+, Baltimore, Columbia Heights). The Prince George’s Film Festival returns for a second year with screenings by rising independent filmmakers (Wed-Sun, free+, various participating locations). Lisa Stephen sings cover songs and a few tunes from her one-woman show TRANS AM at Keegan Theatre (Mon, $25, Dupont). The Brothers Paranormal promises to thrill audiences at Olney Theatre Center (Thurs through October 29, $70+, Olney). Interactive stage show The Price Is Right is live (Fri-Sat, $35+, National Harbor). Edgar Allan Poe’s spiraling The Tell-Tale Heart opens at Synetic Theater (Fri through November 5, $35+, Arlington).

Music and concerts: There are eats and Afrobeats at Grooves in the Garden (Sat, free, Southeast DC). Rap legends Wu-Tang Clan and Nas perform live (Tues, $30+, Capital One Arena). Punk pop group Neon Trees plays at 9:30 Club (Wed, $30, Shaw). Local hardcore punk band Full Circle plays their first Northern Virginia show (Fri, $8, McLean). Soul Glo brings their hardcore tunes to DC (Fri, $20+, Howard Theatre). Rap duo Shabazz Palaces rhyme to a blend of hip-hop and jazz at DC9 Nightclub (Sun, $25+, U Street Corridor). Attend night two of singer-songwriter Janelle Monáe’s nearly sold-out concert at The Anthem (Mon, $95+, Wharf). R&B singer SZA has a concert at CFG Bank Arena (Thurs, $100+, Baltimore). Musician Itzhak Perlman plays at Strathmore (Thurs, $28+, Bethesda). Enjoy salsa, bachata, and pop music at the Latin Rhythms Festival (Sun, $12+, Germantown).

Fall attractions: Laurel’s House of Horror is open for the season. Walk through the haunted house, and quest through an Escape Room (dates vary through November 4, $30+, Laurel). Hayrides, corn hole, and giant slides add to the family-friendly fun at Butler’s Orchard Pumpkin Festival (Wed-Sun through October 29, $10+, Germantown). This year’s Piketoberfest includes a beer garden, an open-air makers market, and kids activities (Sun, free, Bethesda). Tour the tractor museum, taste local treats, and learn how to milk cows during Cox Farms’ Fall Festival (Thurs-Mon through November 7, $10+, Centerville). There’s pumpkin picking and painting at Lawntoberfest (Fri-Sun, free, Union Market).

Bites and beverages: Shake, stir, and garnish at La Prensa Tacos & Tapas’ margarita mixology class (Sat, $70, Sterling). Eastern Market’s North Hall will transform into a Vietnamese Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (Sun, free, Capitol Hill). Music, stein holding, and a sausage fest are highlights of Alexandria Bier Garden’s Oktoberfest celebration (Sat, free, Alexandria). There are treats for your pups at Dacha Beer Garden (through Sun, free, Shaw). Bavarian games, German food, and DJs continue the Oktoberfest fun at Wunder Garten (through October 15, free, NoMa). Sip drinks and mingle with friends at Black Owned Wine and Spirits Festival (Sat, $75+, Southeast DC). Attend the Unwine Festival, and see R&B singer Lloyd perform (Sat, $50+, Upper Marlboro). The Margarita March is back for its tenth year (Sat, $39+, Northwest DC).

Things to do with kids: Children’s author and artist Jen Ramos reads her craft book Mini Artist (Sat, free, Alexandria). Kids can build a terrarium at this Plant House workshop (Sat, $25, Alexandria). Youngsters can investigate clouds, explore butterflies, and make spin art at Rockville Science Center (Sat, free, Rockville). Watch School of Rock outdoors at Alethia Tanner Park (Wed, free, NoMa). Try hat-making crafts and lawn games at National Landing’s Oktoberfest (Sat, free, Arlington). Take your kids to the family-fun live show Story Pirates (Tues, $35+, Lincoln Theatre). All ages can wear glitter tattoos, play arcade games, and dance to retro tunes at Back to the Yards (Fri, free, Navy Yard).

Get involved: Watch feline-themed shorts from the New York Cat Film Festival to help benefit Animal Welfare League of Arlington (Wed, $35, Arlington). Attend a benefit dinner to support Maui Food Bank at CUT by Wolfgang Puck (Thurs, $250, Northwest DC).

Plan ahead: Cheers with friends at a Halloween Cocktail Making Class (October 6, 11, 18, 25, $65+, Penn Quarter). Sit in on a conversation with award-winning comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Elle Key (October 4, $37+ for ticket and signed book, virtual, Mount Vernon Triangle).

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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.