Things to Do

44 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: 17th Street High Heel Race, Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon, and “The Wiz” Musical

Plus, Día de los Muertos Family Day.

Dupont Circle’s High Heel Race. Photograph by Evy Mages .

Happy Monday, DC!

If you are looking to kick-start the Halloween fun, there’s a masquerade happening at a historic hotel. Or, you can get tickets to one of the theater shows coming to town this week such as The Wiz and Fat Ham. 


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

October 23-October 29

  1. 17th Street High Heel Race. Crowds of costumed spectators and neighbors will gather near Dupont Circle for the 17th Street High Heel Race. The colorful annual tradition—where drag queens, drag kings, and community members race full speed down the street in a celebration of diversity— is now in its 36th year (Tues, free, Dupont Circle).
  2. Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon. Visit the historic Mount Vernon grounds to collect sugary 18th-century-style treats for the whole family. Youngsters can participate in a costume parade, and gather goodies with their adult companions in a special Mount Vernon treat bag. All ages will have a chance to meet General and Lady Washington, learn about 1700s magic, and watch a puppet show (Sat, $15 for youth, $25 for adults, Mount Vernon). 
  3. ‘The Wiz’ musical. Ease on down the road to the brand new revival of pop musical The Wiz before it leaves town. Adapted from the classic story The Wizard of Oz, this highly-anticipated score combines soul, gospel, and rock music with jazz and ballet choreography to aid Dorothy along her contemporary adventure to the magical world of Oz (Tues-Sun, $59+, National Theatre).
  4. ‘Fat Ham’ play. Last year, James Ijames won a Pulitzer Prize for the debut drama and comedy Fat HamThe DC premiere, directed by Taylor Reynolds, is a modern-day southern twist on Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. The main character in this Tony-nominated play—a suburban Black queer kid named Juicy—finds himself in the middle of a family drama after his father’s ghost appears during a backyard barbecue (Wed through December 4, $45+, Logan Circle).
  5. Día de los Muertos Family Day. Get into the spooky spirit ahead of Halloween at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Día de los Muertos Family Day. All ages can celebrate the Mexican tradition with a folk dance performance by Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, and a mariachi show by Mariachi Aguila DC; there’s face painting for children, too (Sat, free, Smithsonian American Art Museum).
  6. ‘Grounded,’ the opera. Composer Jeanine Tesori’s new opera Grounded opens at the Kennedy Center this weekend. The compelling musical adaptation of George Brant’s award-winning play—co-produced with the Metropolitan Opera—narrates the story of a pregnant fighter-pilot experiencing virtual warfare (Sat through November 13, $45+, Kennedy Center).
  7. ‘Such Sweet Thunder’ ballet. The Washington Ballet performs the world premier of Such Sweet Thunder this weekend in recognition of Shakespeare and the 125th anniversary of DC’s own jazz composer Duke Ellington. The special performance is a feature of the ongoing Shakespeare Everywhere Festival (Thurs-Sun, $47+, Warner Theatre).
  8. Halloween Masquerade. You can party at a haunted hotel this weekend for Halloween. Dress to impress at the Watergate Hotel’s inaugural Halloween Masquerade, where partygoers can sip cocktails, take in great views of the city, dance to DJ-spinning tunes, and participate in a costume contest for a chance to snag a free stay in the hotel’s presidential suite (Sat, $30+, Downtown).

Want More Things to Do?

Trick-or-Treating at Mount Vernon. Photograph courtesy of Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association.

Arts and culture:

  • See more than 25 portraits of people who have impacted environmentalism in “Forces of Nature: Voices that Shaped Environmentalism(through September 2, 2024, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery).
  • Little District Books is hosting a Horror Queers panel discussion with authors Andrew Joseph White, Hailey Piper, and Jessica McHugh at As You Are (Mon, free, Capitol Hill).
  • Watch a screening of Halloween: Resurrection at Songbyrd DC with a live soundtrack (Tues, free, Northeast DC).
  • Compete in a spooky-themed trivia game at an art gallery (Tues, free, Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery).
  • Adventure through the cosmos at Artechouse’s “Beyond the Light” exhibit, and hear from composer Henry Dehlinger about his space symphony work with NASA (Wed, free, Southwest DC).
  • Decorate a pumpkin in drag at Midlands Beer Garden (Thurs, $15, Park View).
  • Black Cat throws an Artloween Bash (Fri, $10+, Shaw).
  • Coco B’s tropical oasis-themed bar is transforming into Barbie Land for the Halloween weekend (Fri, free, Arlington).
  • Don your best spooky costume, and watch the movie Rocky Horror Picture Show at Metrobar (Fri, free, Brentwood).


Community and heritage:

  • Browse records and information at DC Archives Fair (Mon, free National Mall).
  • Learn about the evolution of Dracula and more vampire folklore at this Profs & Pints DC talk (Tues, $15, Penn Quarter).
  • An expert at the US Botanic Garden talks about Carnivorous Plants (Tues, free, Southwest DC).
  • Social justice leaders Ashley Judd, Diane Rosenfeld, Fatima Goss Graves, and Amanda Nguyen discuss the #MeToo movement at Sixth & I (Tues, $35+, Northwest DC).
  • Attend JFK: The Last Speech with Phylicia Rashad and the National Symphony Orchestra (Thurs, Sat, $15+, Kennedy Center).


Theater and shows:

  • Comedians Pete Bergen, Jenny Cavallero, Von Mychael, and Caitlin McDevitt headline Two Faces Comedy Series at President Lincoln’s Cottage (Tues, November 14, $10, but waitlist tickets available only).
  • Ragtime the musical takes the stage at Signature Theatre (Tues through January 7, 2024, $40+, Arlington).
  • Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at the cabaret-style Café Flamenco dance event (Tues, $25+, H Street Corridor).
  • Celebrate 30 years of Disney’s creepy film phenomenon Hocus Pocus at Arlington Drafthouse (Wed, $10, Arlington).
  • Get into the Halloween spirit with drag queen Shi-Queeta Lee at the Spooky Queens Drag Show (Thurs, $10, Rosslyn).
  • History, race, and women are the leading themes of lauded playwright Dominique Morisseau’s new theatrical production Confederates (Thurs through November 19, $42+, H Street Corridor).


Music and concerts:

  • Rapper Noname is rhyming tunes from her latest album, Sundial, at the Fillmore Silver Spring (Mon, $35+, Silver Spring).
  • See iconic electronic music group Depeche Mode live in concert (Mon, $49+, Capital One Arena).
  • Grammy-winning musician and artist Laurie Anderson’s rescheduled performance is this week (Tues, free, Smithsonian Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden).
  • Award-winning electro-rap artist Genesis Owusu arrives in DC for a live show at Union Stage (Wed, $22+, Wharf).
  • R&B vocalist and actress Coco Jones sings at the Fillmore Silver Spring (Thurs, $35+, Silver Spring).
  • Pop musician Slayyyter performs at 9:30 Club (Fri, $28, U Street).
  • Pop star Kesha has a sold-out concert at The Anthem, but resale tickets are available (Sun, $100+, Wharf).


Bites and beverages:

  • Expect a nightmare on Wilson Boulevard this weekend at this Halloween bar crawl through Clarendon (Sat, $15+, Arlington).
  • There’s a costume contest and open bar at Grand Central Restaurant Bar and Sportsbook’s Halloween Bash (Fri, $30, Adams Morgan).


Things to do with kids:

  • Hill-O-Ween family fright night returns to Eastern Market (Fri, free, Capitol Hill).
  • Bring a pair of roller skates to Frankenskate family day at Ridge Road Recreational Park (Sat, free, Wheaton).
  • Enjoy Star Wars-themed story time and kid-friendly attractions at Air & Scare at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center (Sat, free, Chantilly).
  • Live music, workshops, and free food are the highlights of the Wangari Gardens fall festival (Sat, free, Park View).


Get Involved:

  • Attend a Halloween Showcase at Slash Run to help raise funds for the Humane Rescue Alliance (Fri, $15, Petworth).
  • Shop local goods and tasty treats at Compass Rose Fall Market in support of N Street Village (Sat, $10, Shaw).


Plan ahead:

  • Tickets for DC Central Kitchen’s Capital Food Fight are on sale. The event returns to The Anthem for a top chef cook-off (November 9, $325+, Wharf).


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.