Things to Do

38 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: National Memorial Day Parade and Concert, Big Bounce House, and DelFest

Plus, Brew at the Zoo.

2023 National Memorial Day Parade. Photograph by The American Veterans Center.

Happy holiday week, DC!

Who’s excited about the long weekend? Show your enthusiasm with live music and camping at DelFest, a wildlife exploration during Brew at the Zoo, or a family-friendly giant bounce house.

Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

May 20-May 27

  1. National Memorial Day Parade.  Honor the sacrifice of America’s soldiers and service members at the National Memorial Day Parade. The parade will march down Constitution Avenue, with spectators being able to watch live on the street or on a television broadcast. The pre-parade show includes live music performances by the War and Treaty, Brian Kelley, and more special guests (May 27, free, virtual, Downtown).
  2. National Memorial Day Concert. Before you head to the parade on Memorial Day, experience an evening of grand live music at PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert. As a salute to service men and women, a collection of celebrity hosts and performers—Gary Sinise, actress and singer Cynthia Erivo, country singer Jamey Johnson, and the National Symphony Orchestra, to mention a few—will attend the proceeding on the West Lawn of the US Capitol (Sun, free, virtual, PBS TV broadcast, U.S. Capitol).
  3. Big Bounce House. Big Bounce America’s “world’s biggest bounce house” arrives in Maryland this weekend. Adults and kids can hop around the 24,000-square-foot, 32-foot-tall giant play house featuring slides, obstacle courses, games, and a DJ (Sat through June 9, $22+, Fort Washington).
  4. DelFest. Cumberland’s family-friendly DelFest music festival brings bluegrass singers and musicians together for a multi-day outdoor showcase. Fans can attend for a day or camp out on the grounds overnight. The Del McCoury Band and country singer/composer Lukas Nelson with the Travelin’ McCourys are headlining the event. There will also be a kid’s zone, late night concerts, food vendors, and a pop-up market (Thurs-Sun, $50 for kids, $175 for teens, $295 for general admission).
  5. Brew at the Zoo. Spend Memorial Day weekend at the Maryland Zoo for two days of unlimited drink tastings, round-the-clock live music, trivia, and animal activities. The Brew at the Zoo festival helps raise funds for the zoo’s operations, wildlife, and educational programs (Sat-Sun, $30+, Baltimore).
  6. Yaya Bey concert. Yaya Bey performs at Union Stage this weekend. Fans of the Brooklyn singer’s old-school R&B tunes and modern melodies can expect to hear music from her latest album Ten Fold (Sat, $25, Wharf).
  7. AAPI Cocktail Week. The area’s second Asian American and Pacific Islander Cocktail Week highlights AAPI bartenders and Asian spirits. More than 20 bars are participating in the celebration; there’s a cocktail class at Rice Market, a game night at Lost Generation Brewing, plus karaoke and more parties (through Sun, prices vary, various locations).

Want More Things to Do?

Movies on the Potomac. Photograph courtesy of the National Harbor.

Arts and culture:

  • It’s the last chance to see prints and drawings in “The Anxious Eye: German Expressionism and Its Legacy(closes May 27, free, National Gallery of Art).
  • The world of DC lobbying gets an unusually close look in The Wolves of K Street, by two journalist brothers Brody and Luke Mullins (Wed, free, Northwest DC).
  • Shop vendors, attend poetry forums, and join wellness services at DC Black Pride (Fri-Mon, free opening reception, prices vary for other activities, Downtown).
  • Celebrate AAPI Month with a SAPAN dance class at Eastern Market Metro Plaza Park (Fri, free, Eastern Market).
  • Browse exotic plants, and munch on gourmet treats at Maryland Plant Fest (Sat, free, Silver Spring).
  • We Remain Here” honors the displaced flourishing Black and migrant community of Foggy Bottom (May 27 through June 2, free, Kennedy Center).


Memorial Day weekend:


Theater and shows:

  • The Helen Hayes Awards returns at the Anthem with an evening of theater performances and dinner (Mon, $75+, Wharf).
  • Bring a blanket and a friend to Adams Morgan Movie Nights (opens Tues, free, Adams Morgan).
  • Director Mary Zimmerman has a new theatrical adaptation of Mozart’s opera The Matchbox Magic Flute (Tues through June 16, $65+, Penn Quarter).
  • Don’t miss the local premiere of Where the Mountain Meets the Sea— a musical written by Jeff Augustin (Tues through July 7, $40+, Arlington).
  • Internationally acclaimed choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa curates a showcase for the Washington Ballet (Wed-Sun, $25+, Kennedy Center).
  • Watch O Brother, Where Art Thou?and grab a bite from a food truck (Wed, free, NoMa).
  • Comedian Felipe Esparza is sure to bring a ton of laughter and quips to DC Improv (Fri-Sun, $40+, Downtown).
  • Catch an outdoors screening of the spelling bee movie Akeelah and the Bee (Sun, free, National Harbor).


Music and concerts:

  • Practice your two-step at Whitlow’s Country Night (Mon, $12+, U Street Corridor).
  • Rapper Killer Mike performs live alongside Mighty Midnight Revival and the National Symphony Orchestra (Tues, $49+, Kennedy Center).
  • NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest on the Road tour brings musical acts to Howard Theatre (Tues, $22, U Street Corridor).
  • Listen to—or play—your favorite video game tunes at the Pocket (Wed, $10+, Union Market).
  • Punk band Sexpill rocks out at Quarry House Tavern (Wed, $15+, Silver Spring).
  • Get ready to dance all day at the Caribbean Crawl (Sat, $10+, U Street).
  • Several DJs spin tunes at the Capital House Music Festival (Sat, free, donations welcome, Penn Quarter).
  • Go-go legends Rare Essence perform with women’s go-go band Be’la Dona at Howard Theatre (Sun, $40, U Street Corridor).


Things to do with kids:

  • Long Way Down, a new musical based on author Jayson Reynold’s young adult novel, premieres at Olney Theatre (Wed through June 23, $70+, Olney).
  • Children can play STEAM games and solve puzzles at the National Children’s Museum new “Mindbender Mansion” exhibit (opens Sat, $19, Downtown).
  • Play mini golf with your favorite Pixar movie characters at this new putt-putt pop-up (Sat through August 4, $32 for children, $34 for adults, Wharf).
  • Superhero characters host a kid-friendly Memorial Day Festival at Shipgarten; there will be two moon bounces and face-painting (May 27, free, McLean).

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.