Things to Do

36 Things to Do in the DC Area This Week: Gordon Parks exhibit at National Gallery of Art, Capital Fringe Festival, and Totally Tubular Festival

Plus, Fort Reno summer concert series.

Photograph of Wang Chung by Fin Costello/Getty Images.

Happy Monday, DC!

Explore vintage images from the Corcoran Collection at a new exhibit dedicated to Gordon Parks, or watch a variety of original plays and productions created by local performers at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.

Best Things to Do This Week and Weekend

July 8-July 14

    1. Gordon Parks exhibit at National Gallery of Art. New York photographer Gordon Parks is famous for capturing images of everyday Black Americans during the early-to-mid 20th century. In addition to his portraits of ordinary folk, Parks took one-of-a-kind images of some of the era’s most prominent figures, including boxer Muhammad Ali and conductor Leonard Bernstein. You can view about 25 of his special works in “Gordon Parks: Camera Portraits from the Corcoran Collection” exhibition at the National Gallery of Art (Sun through January 12, 2025, free, National Gallery of Art).
    2. Capital Fringe Festival. Capital Fringe Festival returns this summer with a slew of diverse local performances and productions. Catch a variety of original works exploring quirky, cultural, and political topics at shows like Art is Dead and Black Smoke Showing (July 11-21, $15, various locations).
    3. Totally Tubular Festival. Don’t miss this Gen-X extravaganza featuring a parade of ’80s staples: Thomas Dolby, Thompson Twins’ Tom Bailey, Men Without Hats, the Romantics, Bow Wow Wow, the Plimsouls, and Wang Chung. Expect these retro bands to rock The Anthem (Sun, $55, Wharf).
    4. “Ruffled Feathers” exhibit. James McNeill Whistler designed the dazzling Peacock Room for a wealthy London businessman in 1876. The Art Nouveau masterpiece is now on permanent display at the Freer, and a new exhibit, “Ruffled Feathers: Creating Whistler’s Peacock Room,” neighboring the famed room uncovers the room’s history from inception to its permanent home at the Smithsonian (opens Sat, free, Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art).
    5. Live from the Lawn at Strathmore. Summer is in full swing, bringing outdoor concerts to parks and yards across town. The area’s latest live music series kicks off at Strathmore this week with a blues concert on Wednesday, and a kids concert on Thursday headlining bilingual duo 123 Andrés. You can enjoy 11 family-friendly performances through August as part of the series (Weds, Thurs through August 21, free, Bethesda).
    6. Fort Reno summer concerts. Fort Reno Park has hosted free summer concerts since 1968. The longtime showcase returns this month with an opening performance by DC’s Flash Hits. The following weeks bring live acts like Carillon, Fantazma, and quintet Roscoe Tripp to Tenleytown’s historic venue (Mons, Thurs, through July, free, but donations welcome, Tenleytown).

Want More Things to Do?

Arts and culture:

  • The Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker critic Emily Nussbaum discusses her new book, Cue the Sun!: The Invention of Reality TV (Tues, free, Northwest DC).
  • At Sixth&I, Gabrielle Zevin talks about her bestselling recent novel, Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, all about friendship and video games (Wed, $12 for virtual, $18+ for in-person, Downtown).
  • Sundeck Summer Reads gathers book-lovers to the Yards’ sundeck to browse 100 books from a free library; there’s also a DJ and a bookmark craft station (Weds through July, free, Navy Yard).
  • Synchronized swimmer Vicki Valosik discusses her book about women in swimming (Wed, free, Wharf).
  • Dwayne-Lawson Brown—dubbed the Crochet Kingpin—leads a yarn spinning workshop at The Phillips Collection (Wed, free, but registration required, Dupont).
  • Build domino creations with YouTuber and domino artist Lily Hevesh at the National Building Museum (Thurs, $25, Penn Quarter).
  • Movies on the Memorial is screening adventure-flick National Treasure this week (Thurs, free, Downtown).
  •  GottaSwing instructors can teach you how to swing dance with neighbors (Fri, free, Wharf).

Community and heritage:

  • Learn about the lives of coyotes from an expert at this Penn Social lecture (Mon, $13+, Penn Quarter).
  • Author Bill Clevlen explains some of America’s quirkiest roadside attractions (Wed, $30, virtual).
  • Romanian Weekend is back at the Wharf featuring craft shows, food, dance, literature, and music (Fri-Sun, free, Wharf).

Theater and shows:

  • Dance troupe Pilobolus perform athletic choreography at Wolf Trap (Wed, $25+, Vienna).
  • Watch Star Wars: A New Hope while the National Symphony Orchestra plays the full score live at Wolf Trap (Sat, $46+ Vienna).
  • Comedian Nimesh Patel tells jokes at DC Improv (Sat-Sun, $20+, Downtown).

Music and concerts:

  • Virginia-born rapper Bucky Malone performs live at Songbyrd (Mon, $15+, Northeast DC).
  • Rock music legends Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo take the stage at Warner Theatre (Tues, $33+, Downtown).
  • Alternative rock group The Used have a show indoors at Rams Head Live (Tues, $45, Baltimore).
  • Local artist Daphne Eckman sings indie-folk melodies at Alethia Tanner Park (Tues, free, NoMa).
  • Rock and roll veterans Justin Hayward and Christopher Cross arrive at Warner Theatre (Thurs, $39+, Downtown).
  • Dom Kennedy raps his West Coast lyrics at Howard Theatre (Thurs, $50, U Street Corridor).
  • Amy Helm sings at the Kennedy Center (Thurs, free, but reservation encouraged, Kennedy Center).
  • Experience a musical tribute to soul artist Nina Simone at Blues Alley (Thurs-Fri, $35, Georgetown).
  • TikTok viral artist Bktherula brings auto-tuned songs to Howard Theatre (Fri, $25+, U Street Corridor).
  • Janet Jackson and Nelly team up for a concert at Capital One Arena (Fri, $24+, Capital One Arena).
  • Go-go hitmakers E.U. featuring Sugar Bear play at Capital One Hall (Fri, $35+, Tysons).
  • Jazz in the Parks is back at The Parks at Historic Walter Reed, featuring live jazz performances on the lawn (Sat, free, Takoma Park).

Bites and beverages:

  • Discover the fundamentals of six different wines paired with artisanal cheeses at DCanter’s introductory wine class (Wed, $45, Capitol Hill).
  • Celebrate Bastille Day at Le Diplomate with a live accordion player, face painter, balloon twisters, a mime, cuisine, and more French fun (Sat-Sun, free entry, 14th Street Corridor).

Things to do with kids:

  • Attend a family-friendly baseball event to help raise funds for Horton’s Kids (Wed, free for ages 5 and under, $60 for ages 6 to 17, $150 for adults, Nationals Park).
  • Watch a variety of movies from the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry this summer. The series starts this week with a screening of The Wizard of Oz (every Thurs through August 8, free, Library of Congress). 

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.