Things to Do

43 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Mardi Gras at the Wharf, DC Chinese Lunar New Year Parade, and DC Black History Film Festival

Plus, "The Anxious Eye" exhibit opens at the National Gallery of Art.

Mardi Gras celebration at the Wharf. Photograph courtesy of the Wharf, Washington, DC.

Happy Monday, DC!

Mardi Gras week has arrived, and the Wharf is throwing a massive party to celebrate. Don your best New Orleans-inspired outfit and join the festivities. Or, watch a firecracker show at the Chinese Lunar New Year Parade.


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

February 5-February 11

  1. Mardi Gras at the Wharf. Step into the spirit of New Orleans at the Wharf’s Mardi Gras jamboree. The mile-long parade down Wharf Street features colorful stilt walkers, decorated floats, and greetings from the King and Queen of Mardi Gras. After the parade, Too Much Talent Band and Naptown Brass Band will play at District and Transit Piers, and there’s a finale fireworks show (Sat, free, Wharf).
  2. DC Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. The Lunar New Year festivities continue around town this weekend with DC’s biggest seasonal event. The Chinese Lunar New Year Parade returns to Chinatown to spotlight cultural and community performers, treats from local eateries, and a finale firecracker show in the heart of H Street (Sun, free, Downtown).
  3. DC Black History Film Festival. This annual festival celebrates Black culture through art and film at the Lincoln Theatre and Alamo Cinema Drafthouse. The 2024 lineup showcases documentary and short films created by local producers about neighborhood histories and longtime Black-owned businesses. Also, moviegoers can sit in on discussions with filmmakers, and watch live performances (Fri-Sat, free, U Street, Northeast DC).
  4. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. The legacy of legendary dancer Alvin Ailey lives on through his groundbreaking company that features a mix of new and veteran dancers and choreographers. Among other pieces, the dance company will perform the crowd-pleasing 1960 staple Revelations—a soul-stirring dance number featuring gospel and blues—at the Kennedy Center (Tues-Sun, $49+, Kennedy Center).
  5. “The Anxious Eye” exhibit. Early 20th-century German Expressionists Otto Dix, Egon Schiele, and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner are celebrated in the National Gallery of Art’s new exhibit–which compiles 70 prints, drawings, sculptures, and other dramatic works (Sun through May 27, free, National Gallery of Art).
  6. Matteo Lane comedy show. Comedian Matteo Lane performs two sold-out stand-up shows at the Kennedy Center this week, but there’s a chance to snag a seat through a third-party provider ( Sat, $39+, Kennedy Center).

Want More Things to Do?

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s “The Married Couple Müller (Ehepaar Müller)” is one of the artworks on display in the “The Anxious Eye” exhibit. Photograph courtesy of National Gallery of Art.

Arts and culture:

  • Observe fluid dynamics in the National Academy of Sciences exhibit “Chaosmosis(through February 23, free, Northwest DC).
  • Gear up for Valentine’s Day at a romantic throwback screening of Bonnie and Clyde (Tues, $5, Downtown).
  • View a movie screening of Selma at Miracle Theatre (Tues, $8, Capitol Hill).
  • DC native Tony Keith Jr. discusses his debut YA memoir How the Boogeyman Became a Poet (Tues, free, Anacostia).
  • Local artists discuss how art impacts the Civil Rights Movement (Thurs, free, Southeast DC).
  • Co-authors Tre’vell Anderson and Jarrett Hill of the book Historically Black Phrases are bringing their comedic game show to MLK Memorial Library (Thurs, free, MLK Library).
  • DC author George Pelecanos reads from his latest fiction novel Owning Up (Fri, free, Northwest DC).
  • Watch biopic movie The Banker at Ellen Coolidge Burke Branch Library (Thurs, free, Alexandria).
  • Attend the opening reception of art duo Zsudayka Nzinga Terrell and James Stephen Terrell’s “Gather/Together” at Gallery Y (Thurs, free, Northwest DC).
  • In and Out of the Garden” by artist Jennifer Bartlett presents a mix of watercolors, drawings, and pastels at the Phillips Collection (Sat through April 30, $20, Dupont).
  • Go to a DIY zine workshop at Eaton House (Sun, free, Downtown).



  • Walk through the “Ancestral Spaces” of historic site Tudor Place (Tues through April 21, $10, Georgetown).
  • Party at a Mardi Gras parade with neighbors along 8th Street on Barracks Row (Fri-Sat, free, Capitol Hill).
  • There’s new interpretative signage on Alexandria’s African American Heritage Trail. Take a self-guided walking tour to learn about Alexandria’s role in the domestic slave trade, ship-building, and more (Sat, free, Alexandria).


Theater and shows:

  • Signature Theatre presents the world premiere of Private Jones—an inspiring musical set in World War I (Tues through March 10, $40+, Arlington).
  • Local students recite historical speeches in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the 16th Annual Lincoln Oratory Festival (Tues-Wed, free, Penn Quarter).
  • Catch a matinee performance from New York City’s BlackBox Ensemble at the Smithsonian (Wed, free, Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art).
  • See a gender-swapped adaptation of Broadway comedy Lend Me a Soprano at Olney Theatre Center (Wed through March 10, $25+, Olney).
  • Experience the Shakespeare romance of Romeo & Juliet portrayed by Synetic Theater (Fri through March 24, $35, Arlington)
  • Acclaimed Broadway actress Stephanie J. Block performs at Wolf Trap (Fri, $67+, Vienna).
  • Local theater collective Story District wants to know if you’re a Sucker for Love (Sat, $39, U Street).


Music and concerts:

  • Violinist Hilary Hahn plays romantic melodies by Korngold alongside conductor Noseda and the National Symphony Orchestra (Wed-Fri, $19+, Kennedy Center).
  • Singer and dancer Tinashe is live in concert at the 9:30 Club (Wed, $35, Shaw).
  • A.J.—the son of ’70s rock singer Jim Croce—takes his father’s legendary music on tour (Thurs, $38+, Warner Theatre).
  • Major salsa artist Marc Anthony brings his Historia Tour to DC (Fri, $59+, Capital One Arena).
  • Greensky Bluegrass teams up with Molly Tuttle and Melt for a two-day show at The Anthem (Fri-Sat, $45+, Wharf).
  • Dance to Afrobeats at Reggae Fest (Sat, $20+, Howard Theatre).
  • DJ Shadow spins hip-hop tracks at the 9:30 Club (Sun, $35, Shaw).


Bites and beverages:

  • Cheese-lovers will love this blue cheese tasting at Paste & Rind (Wed, $40, H Street corridor).
  • Embark on a Black History Month-inspired culinary tasting at the Westin’s Juke Joint (opens Thurs, $135, Downtown).



  • Root on your favorite team at Shipgarten’s Super Bowl Watch Party (Sun, free, McLean).
  • There’s a bottomless buffet, cornhole, water pong, and more at Clarendon Ballroom’s Super Bowl party (Sun, free+, Arlington).


Exercise and wellness:

  • Break a sweat with a HIIT & Run workout (every Mon, free, Northwest DC).
  • Stretch out with your dog at Solace Brewing Company’s yoga class; there’s a screening of the Puppy Bowl, too (Sun, $15+, Sterling).


Things to do with kids:

  • Younger audiences can see folktale The Girl Who Became Legend come to life on the Kennedy Center stage (closes Sun, $20, Kennedy Center).
  • Enjoy crafts, book readings, and dance performances at the National Postal Museum’s Lunar New Year Family Festival (Sat, free, NoMa).
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum is joining in on the Lunar New Year family fun, too (Sat, free, Smithsonian American Art Museum).

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.