Things to Do

37 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Madonna Concert, “The Hip-Hop Nutcracker,” and “Spectacular Factory” Exhibit at Artechouse

Plus, new gaming experience Sandbox VR opens this week.

Madonna in concert. Photograph by Kevin Winter/Getty Images.

Merry Holidays, DC!

The ho, ho, holidays are finally here, and we can’t wait to celebrate at an area event with friends and relatives. See the legendary Madonna at Capital One Arena, or beatbox with Kurtis Blow at The Hip-Hop Nutcracker. 


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

December 18-December 25

  1. Madonna in concert. Queen of pop Madonna’s much-anticipated Celebration Tour finally arrives at Capital One Arena this week after rescheduled dates due to a health complication earlier in the year. The fresh set of dates for the icon’s worldwide trek includes two end-of-the-year shows in DC. Old and new fans can dance all night to the entertainer’s era-defining records (Mon-Tues, $70+, Capital One Arena).
  2. ‘The Hip-Hop Nutcracker.’ Tchaikovsky’s timeless score is remixed in modern-day New York City where the storytellers are contemporary dancers, a DJ, a violinist, and hip-hop legend Kurtis Blow. The high-energy Nutcracker show is back by popular demand at Strathmore (Tues-Fri, $28+, Bethesda).
  3. “Spectacular Factory” at Artechouse. The interactive museum Artechouse is bringing back their gift factory panorama with kaleidoscopic nutcrackers, giant swinging Christmas bells, and a candy-cane carousel. You can sip an exhibit-inspired mocktail or cocktail at the bar, and then venture through the indoor imaginative world (Wed through January 3, $25+ for adults, $17+ for ages 4-15, free for ages 4 and under, Southwest DC).
  4. Samara Joy in concert. Two-time Grammy-winning jazz singer Samara Joy wraps up her month-long holiday tour at Strathmore in promotion of her new album, A Joyful Holiday. Fans of the 23-year-old vocalist can expect to hear tunes from her latest project, and classic carols performed by special guests, including musicians from her own family (Sat, $38+, Bethesda).
  5. Go-Go Symphony’s “Twas the Night.” Twas the Night is a rocking jazz and go-go show featuring tunes and beats by the Go-Go Symphony and guest drummer “JuJu” Julius House. Guests can groove to Christmas carols and jazz melodies accompanied by DC-area live vocalists and dancers (Fri, $25+, Wharf).
  6. Sandbox VR. Sandbox VR is a great activity to try out with a group of friends or coworkers. The newest addition to the area’s virtual reality scene opens this week with haptic suits, VR goggles, and motion-tracking antennae for full-body player experience. You can venture through virtual worlds and compete with each other in games such as Deadwood Valley, Squid Game, Curse of Davy Jones, and more (opens Fri, $50+, Tysons).

Want More Things to Do?

Photograph courtesy of Artechouse.

Arts and culture:

  • Shop contemporary fine art at Amy Kaslow Gallery’s Holiday Fine Art Market (through Sat, free, Bethesda).
  • Snack on popcorn while watching ’60s rom-com The Apartment at Angelika Pop-Up (Mon, $13, Union Market).
  • Watch Christmas horror flick Black Christmas at Comet Ping Pong (Mon, free, Northwest DC).
  • Are you a fan of Les Misérables? Join fellow readers at The Intimidating Book Club to chat about the classic novel (Mon, free, Northwest DC).
  • Take a garden tour with an expert to get an inside-look at Hillwood’s evergreen horticulture (Tues, Fri, $18, Northwest DC).
  • Network with environmental enthusiasts at Public Bar Live (Wed, donations welcome, Northwest DC).


Community and heritage:

  • Learn how Charles Dickens dreamed up Christmas from a local professor (Mon, $15, Penn Quarter).
  • Go on a Christmas day walking tour with Off the Mall Tours to explore the History of Jewish Washington (December 25, $25, Northwest DC).


Theater and shows:


Music and concerts:

  • Listen to youth orchestra Hixter String Ensemble sing classical melodies at Westfield Wheaton Mall (Mon, free, Wheaton).
  • Choral Arts vocalists perform nostalgic holiday favorites at O Night Divine! (Mon, Sun, $15+, Kennedy Center).
  • Madonna Rama at Heist is for fans hoping to keep the post-concert vibes going with music and dancing (Tues, $15, Northwest DC).
  • National Philharmonic portrays a semi-staged dramatic revival of Handel’s Messiah (Wed, $19+, Tysons). 
  • Sing away the holiday stress at The Runaway karaoke (Wed, free, Northeast DC).
  • Composer Oscar Rodriguez plays the guitar at Rhizome DC (Wed, $10+, Northwest DC).
  • A festive Washington Chorus brings back their Candlelight Christmas concert (Wed-Fri, $15+, Kennedy Center).
  • Have a groovy Motown Christmas with Tarsha Fitzgerald at The Birchmere (Fri, $35, Alexandria).


Holiday experiences:

  • Take in the sight of lights and local art installations at Illuminate Fairfax (through February 10, free, Fairfax).
  • Watch the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington perform holiday songs, sip hot chocolate, and meet Santa at the Jingle Jam Holiday Concert (Mon, free, Capitol Riverfront).
  • Concert pianist Rachel Franklin discusses Classical Sounds of Christmas (Tues, $55, virtual).
  • DC’s drag celeb Tara Hoot hosts Holiday Drag Trivia at Slash Run (Tues, free, Northwest DC).
  • A holiday market, ugly sweaters, and a performance from Nasty Woman Band are on the Dyke the Halls lineup (Tues, free, Northeast DC).
  • Sing karaoke in your ugliest holiday sweater at Caddies on Cordell (Thurs-Sat, free, Bethesda).


Winter Solstice:

  • Folklorist Philippa Rappoport tells us all about the traditions of Slavic Solstice Magic (Wed, $15, Capitol Hill).
  • Celebrate Yuletide with Halloween-themed coloring, and plant-based spooky treats at Dew Drop Inn (Wed, free, Edgewood).
  • Rejuvenate in a nature forest bath on the first day of winter (Thurs, $40, Northeast DC).
  • Take a Winter Solstice hike with neighbors through Fort Stanton Park (Thurs, free, Southeast DC).


Things to do with kids:

  • Sing along with Elsa and Olaf at the Broadway musical rendition of Disney’s Frozen (Wed through January 21, $35+, Kennedy Center).
  • Kiddos can clap their hands to the rhythms of Choral Arts Chorus holiday tunes. Also, there will be Rudolph and Santa character appearances (through Sun, $20+, Kennedy Center).


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.