31 Things to Do in the DC Area This Weekend

“Beyond Granite” exhibit. “Of Thee We Sing” by Vanessa German. Rendering courtesy of the Monument Lab.

Happy Thursday, everyone!

Explore the highly-anticipated pilot exhibition of the “Beyond Granite” art series on the National Mall. Also, you can continue the outdoor fun at a food truck block party, or at Fort Dupont Park for Chuck Brown Day.

Best Things to Do This Weekend

August 17-August 20

  1. “Beyond Granite: Pulling Together” exhibit. A unique art exhibition opens on the National Mall this weekend, which will reveal diverse untold histories across the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Washington Monument, and more outdoor spaces. The installation of six artists’ interactive works launches over a span of two days featuring music programs, a song re-writing workshop, and a play day for children organized by artist Derrick Adams (Fri through September 18).
  2. DC Black Film Festival. Here’s a chance to binge-watch films created by or about people of African descent: The DC Black Film Festival returns to town this weekend at Miracle Theatre. The opening schedule offers audiences the chance to view more than ten films in-person, and then participate in virtual screenings and workshops led by industry professionals throughout the remainder of the festival (Fri through August 30, $10+, Capitol Hill).
  3. Chuck Brown Day. The annual celebration of Chuck Brown—a.k.a. “the Godfather of Go-Go”—is moving to a bigger venue this year. On Chuck Brown Day, the community is invited to honor his legacy of music and culture in DC at Fort Dupont Park. You can bring a lawn chair or blanket to the jamming event, and groove to live performers including Chuck Brown Band, Backyard Band, The District Kings, DJ Quicksilva, and more (Sat, free, Southeast DC).
  4. Risers Fest at Hook Hall. Rise and shine to rock n’ roll, pop, and comedy sets at Risers Fest. Festivalgoers will experience a full day of entertainment at Hook Hall ranging from a 12 band lineup to live painting and craft-vendor shopping (Sun, $30, Park View).
  5. Food truck block party. Attend a block party with neighbors before the summer wraps up. It’s Food Truck Friday again at Sandlot Anacostia, and the monthly series is showcasing  cuisine from Black-owned eateries. The fun also includes music and games (Fri, free+, Anacostia).

DC Black Film Festival will screen Music Pictures: New Orleans. Still courtesy of Artmattan.

Want More Things to Do?

Budget-friendly: Shop for goodies at the Woodley Park Mini Market (Sat, free, Woodley Park). Party with friends to Latin house music at Whino (Fri, free entry, Ballston).

Arts and culture: Debate about your favorite music diva at City-State Brewing Co’s Bracket + Brews (Thurs, free, Edgewood). Bookworms can chat about a romance novel on Cantata’s rooftop (Thurs, free, Mount Vernon Triangle). Nerd out at Nerd Nite (Sat, $10, U Street Corridor). Tour the Heurich House Museum exhibition “Working Title” to discover the lives of people who resided and worked there (Thurs, $10, Dupont). Catch up on the latest beach fashion trends at Swim & Fashion Week Xperience DMV (Sun, $50+, Rockville).

Community and history: Join climate activists at the Fossil Fuel Fighter Festival at Malcolm X Park (Sat, free, Columbia Heights). Trace the history of women’s suffrage with A Tour Of Her Own guides (Fri, $25, virtual). Take a guided tour of Pennsylvania Avenue with Off the Mall Tours to discover the Madams of mid-19th century DC; a portion of the ticket proceeds will support the Maui Strong Fund (Thurs, $25, Downtown).

Theater and shows: There’s a cabaret and burlesque show at Crazy Aunt Helen’s (Sat, $30+, Capitol Hill). Heartfelt and humorous play Sweat opens at Keegan Theatre (Sat through September 16, $50, Dupont). Classic Pulitzer Prize-winning play Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird takes center stage at the Kennedy Center (through August 27, $49+, Foggy Bottom).

Music and concerts: Reminisce about the music of the early aughts at Songbyrd‘s Step Sisters DJ dance party (Fri, free, Union Market District). Rochelle Rice headlines Jazz at Met (Thurs, free, National Landing). Abby Holliday sings modern pop melodies at DC9 Nightclub (Thurs, $12+, U Street Corridor). Sing along to Disney tunes at Howard Theatre (Fri, $20+, Shaw). Listen to the Baseball Project at the Hamilton Live (Thurs, $20+, Downtown). DC neo-cumbia band Cumbia Heights plays at Comet Ping Pong (Thurs, $20+, Forest Hills). Baltimore-based jazz players Ebban and Ephraim Dorsey perform at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Thurs, free, Penn Quarter). Bring your own chair and good vibes to Hot Joe’s Summer Festival; there’s live music, art activities for kids, and food vendors (Sat, free, Mount Rainier).

Bites and beverages. Taste and compare “Old School v. New School” wines at the Hill Center (Fri, $48, Capitol Hill). Japanese and Palestinian cuisines come together in a five-course family-style meal at Wren hosted by chef Marcelle Afram (Sat, $95, Tysons).

Sports: Get tickets to the BIG3 Playoffs to watch a three-on-three basketball game (Sat, $22+, Capital One Arena).

Things to do with kids: Have a picnic and game day with your kids at Fort Slocum Mini Oasis (Thurs, free, Rock Creek Park).

Get involved: Take a spin ride and practice yoga with basketball stars Lisa Leslie and Joe Johnson for a good cause; proceeds from the event will benefit Girls Inc DC (Fri, $45, Penn Quarter).

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.

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