Things to Do

39 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: EU Open House, JxJ Festival, and IlluminAsia Festival at Smithsonian

Plus, Art Prom at National Gallery Nights.

Celebrate AAPI Heritage Month at the IlluminAsia Festival. Photograph by National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Happy Monday, DC!

You can explore more embassies this week at the EU Open House, and kick off AAPI Heritage Month at the Smithsonian’s family-friendly IlluminAsia Festival.


Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

May 6-May 12

  1. EU Open House. Take a day trip to Europe. The European Union and its embassies are opening their doors for guests to enjoy music and food from Italy, Portugal, France, Germany, and many more places. You can check out a Czech dog show, taste Danish beer and food, and participate in Greek dance and language workshops (Sat, free, various participating embassies).
  2.  JxJ Festival. Edlavitch DCJCC brings together music and film in its regional showcase this month. Opening night of the JxJ Festival launches with a screening of Israeli narrative Seven Blessings followed by more than 30 screenings of shorts and feature films. In concert with the movie showings, there will be cultural performances at Edlavitch DCJCC  by international groups such as The Maccabeats, Polyphony Quartet, Mister G, and more (Thurs through May 19, prices vary, various locations).
  3. IlluminAsia Festival at the Smithsonian. To commemorate Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the National Museum of Asian Art is hosting a family-friendly arts and culture festival. Over a span of three days, the IlluminAsia Festival will include an evening of wellness and meditation where guests can journal and make origami, a vendor market, an electronic music performance by artist and activist Madame Gandhi, and Mother’s Day-themed activities for kids (Fri-Sun, free, Smithsonian National Museum of Asian Art).
  4. National Gallery Nights: Art Prom. Go to an artsy adult prom with neighbors this weekend at the National Gallery of Art. The theme of this month’s popular National Gallery Nights is “Art Prom.” Guests are encouraged to dress up in formal—or wacky—attire to explore the gallery’s exhibitions, create a DIY crown, and dance to the spins of DJ Heat (Thurs, free, but limited tickets available at the door, National Gallery of Art).
  5. “Problems Between Sisters” play. Julia May Jonas’s world premiere of Problems Between Sisters is part of a five-play cycle that recasts landmark male-centered plays with female characters. This production at Studio Theatre reimagines the fraught sibling dynamic seen in Sam Shepard’s True West (Wed through June 16, $50+, Logan Circle).
  6. “Turandot” opera. In Puccini’s unfinished 1924 opera, a powerful princess asks potential suitors to answer three questions to win her hand; a wrong answer means death. Video-game composer Christopher Tin presents a modern take on the Turandot narrative with playwright and screenwriter Susan Soon He Stanton (Sat through May 25, $45+, Kennedy Center).

Want More Things to Do?

Photograph by Italy in US/Flickr.

Arts and culture:

  • The National Gallery of Art Library is displaying 12 titles from the 21st Editions book imprint (Mon through August 29, free, National Gallery of Art).
  • Songwriter and activist Willow Smith visits the DC library to chat about her new young adult novel Black Shield Maiden (Thurs, free, $32 for book and admission, MLK Library).
  • Actor and producer Whoopi Goldberg discusses her forthcoming book Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me at the Library of Congress (Fri, free, sold out, but can join waitlist, Library of Congress).
  • You can shop local makers, artists, and vintage vendors at Throw Social’s one-day pop-up market (Sat, free, Ivy City).
  • Takoma Flea Market is an outdoor fair where repurposed goods, collectibles, antiques, clothing, and housewares are the main attractions (Sat, free, Takoma Park).
  • Browse 114 booths of fine arts from local and national creators at the Bethesda Fine Arts Festival (Sat-Sun, free, Bethesda).


Community and heritage:

  • Learn about libation trademarks at this Profs and Pints discussion (Tues, $14, Penn Social).
  • Martial arts, music, dance, and food trucks are highlights of the AAPI Festival at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods (Sat, free, Columbia).
  • Laurel Main Street Festival welcomes all ages to an outdoor parade and vendor fair (Sat, free, Laurel).
  • May Family Day at the Library of Congress commemorates AAPI month with a mask-making workshop and author talk with George Takei (Sat, free, but timed-entry pass required, Library of Congress).


Exercise and wellness:

  • Get fit at Met Park. You can break a sweat at this week’s sunrise workout (Weds in May, free, Arlington).


Theater and shows:

  • Enjoy funny tales and heartfelt stories at Dixie’s Tupperware Party (Tues through June 2, $35+, Kennedy Center).
  • Watch Mary Zimmerman’s adaptation of the stories of Aphrodite, Midas, Cupid, and others in  Metamorphoses at Folger Theatre (Tues through June 16, $20+, Capitol Hill).
  • Mummy in the Closet: Evita’s Return musical opens at Gala Hispanic Theatre (Thurs through June 9, $25+, Columbia Heights).
  • All-star comedian George Lopez takes the Kennedy Center stage (Fri-Sat, $39+, Kennedy Center).
  • Watch short international films and movies at the Washington DC Polish Film Festival (Fri-Sun, $20+, Penn Quarter).
  • Chocolate City Records the Musical is a new drama-filled, go-go-infused production (Fri-Sat, $60+, U Street Corridor).
  • Actor, producer, and comedian Marlon Wayans arrives at MGM National Harbor to perform a live standup show (Sat, $39+, National Harbor).
  • See a revival of The Wizard of Oz at Hylton Performing Arts Center (Sat-Sun, $30, Manassas).
  • Watch a free movie screening of The Color Purple (Sun, free, Kennedy Center).


Music and concerts:

  • The Chisel plays punk rock songs at Union Stage (Tues, $20+, Wharf).
  • Attend Washington Bach Consort’s Noontime Cantata concert at Church of the Epiphany (Tues, free, Downtown).
  • Sunny Day Real Estate brings their 30th anniversary tour to DC (Tues, $39, Howard Theatre).
  • HR Records launches a new music series, The Live Jazz on Kennedy Street. This week’s headliner is saxophonist Sara Marie Hughes (Wed, free, Northwest DC).
  • Jazz at the Met is back to present outdoor toe-tapping concerts every Thursday at Metropolitan Park. The series kicks off this week with Jo Go Project (Thurs, free, Arlington).
  • “The Spinnin Tour”—Madison Beer’s third concert tour—showcases tracks from her album Silence Between Songs (Fri, $55+, Langdon).
  • Women jazz musicians collaborate in concert to commemorate the legacy of Mary Lou Williams (Fri-Sat, $46+, Kennedy Center).
  • Soul vocalist and poet Kara Jackson sings at Songbyrd (Sun, $15+, Northeast DC).


Get involved:

  • Taste the new Asian Glow beer at Lost Generation Brewing Company’s AAPI beer collab party; a portion of the proceeds will support Act to Change (Thurs, free, Northeast DC).


Bites and beverages:


Things to do with kids:

  • NoMa’s outdoor movie series at Alethia Tanner Park returns this month with a showing of National Treasure (Wed, free, NoMa).
  • Kids can craft a fairy garden, watch a community parade, and learn about the environment at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival (Sat-Sun, free, Greenbelt).


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.