Thursday, July 28
Music on the Lawn at the National Building Museum: Shakespeare is front and center at the National Building Museum this summer, with performances of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” onstage in the Great Hall and Shakespeare-related tours and family activities throughout the museum. But not every event involves the Bard: This week marks the return of Music on the Lawn, an outdoor concert series held in the grassy area at Fifth and F streets NW. First up is Sol y Rumba, a D.C. fixture specializing in salsa, merengue and other Latin styles. Grab a takeout dinner from a Penn Quarter restaurant — say, Indian from Bindaas Bowls and Rolls or fried chicken from Bantam King — and enjoy a picnic along with the music. 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free.
Singalong ‘Mary Poppins’ at the Library of Congress: The next-to-last installment of the Library of Congress’s outdoor film series invites audience participation, as if librarians would be able to shush kids and kids at heart from singing along to “A Spoonful of Sugar” or “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.” Settle in at sunset for the 1964 version of “Mary Poppins,” starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke. The large screen is set up near the corner of Second Street and Independence Avenue SE, and viewers spread out on blankets and in low chairs on the lawn and the adjacent parking lot. No tickets are required, but show up early for the best seats. 8 p.m. Free.
Loudoun County Fair: Some people try to paint the D.C. area as out of touch with the rest of America, but we love a demolition derby, livestock show, pie-eating contest or carnival midway as much as anywhere else. Get an early start on county fair season at the Loudoun County Fair, a traditional 4-H fair in Leesburg. Entertainment includes livestock shows and tours, competitions including canning and needlepoint, live music, and carnival rides. Thursday’s headline attraction is the True Grit rodeo, with bull riding and barrel racing, while Saturday brings a demolition derby — and if you want to race, registration begins at 4 p.m. Through Saturday. $15 adults, $5 ages 6 to 12. Children 5 and under admitted free.
Kennedy Center Culture Caucus Summer Festival: This week’s installment of the Kennedy Center’s multidisciplinary summer events kicks off Thursday with an outdoor screening of “Elder’s Corner,” a documentary about pioneering Nigerian musicians, and a set by DJ Ausar. Friday brings an outdoor marketplace; a discussion about the economy of culture with local Black creatives; a performance by Siji, whose music fuses Afrobeat and R&B; and a set by DJ Stylus. Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m., Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Free.
Friday, July 29
Otakon at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center: For fans of anime, manga, cosplay and video games, there’s no bigger weekend than Otakon, an annual celebration of Asian art and pop culture at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The 28-year-old event, run as a nonprofit “for fans, by fans,” drew more than 28,000 attendees pre-pandemic. It’s known for elaborate and incredibly detailed costumes inspired by anime and manga characters — the schedule includes both costume contests and live-action role play, or LARPing — but the weekend is packed full of events. Attend a formal ball or masquerade, play free arcade or VR games, browse original artwork in the Artist Alley, watch dance groups perform, try hands-on crafting or participate in a Pokémon battle. Panels and workshops feature big names and die-hard fans. Special guests include voice actor Steve Blum, who has lent his talents to “Cowboy Bebop,” “Star Wars: Rebels” and more than 400 video games, and Friday night’s concert features K-pop band Pixy, making its North American debut. Friday through Sunday. $40-$65 per day; $95 weekend passes.
Anees at the Howard Theatre: You may recognize 29-year-old Anees from his TikTok or Instagram videos performing or freestyling from his car, particularly when Justin Bieber crashed one of his live streams. Or, more recently, you might have seen him performing his hit song “Sun and Moon” on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” The Arab American artist is known for his genre-defying, uplifting sound and mood-lifting, soulful lyrics about love and self-care — a breath of fresh air in a world that can be hard on us. The former lawyer turned singer-songwriter from Northern Virginia just embarked on his first tour, with a closing date at the Howard Theatre on July 29. 10:30 p.m. $27.
Interview: Anees wants to bring everyone back to summer camp for his debut tour
Final Friday at Wheatland Spring Farm and Brewery: Wheatland Spring is one of the best farm breweries in the area — a relaxing place to sip German-style lagers in a barn or around a firepit. On the last Friday of the month, it’s also a hub of activity, with family art projects, a paper-airplane-making workshop, live surf rock from the Flying Faders, a gourmet ice cream truck and plenty of fresh beer, including Köln Calling kolsch and Merville, an oak-aged farmhouse ale. 3 to 9 p.m., though family events are on the early side; see this Instagram post for a schedule. Free.
‘The Lego Movie’ at Virginia Highlands Park: The National Landing Business Improvement District’s Movies in the Park is one of several outdoor film series kicking off this week. Head to the softball fields at Virginia Highlands Park — just across 15th Street South from the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City — for a family screening of “The Lego Movie” with dinner or snacks available from food trucks. Coming attractions include the original versions of “Tron” (Aug. 5) and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (Aug. 12), and the series runs every Friday through Sept. 16. Gates open at 6 p.m.; films begin at 7. Free.
Saturday, July 30
Fort Dupont Summer Concert Series: Fort Dupont, known for its ice arena and bike trails, began offering Saturday night concerts in 1972, and over the years, crowds of thousands have welcomed Gil Scott-Heron, Roy Ayers and Jill Scott, among other jazz and R&B notables. More recently, classic hip-hop and go-go have joined the mix, as seen during last year’s virtual concerts. This year’s 50th anniversary series begins Saturday with a lineup packed with R&B-flavored go-go: Sirius Company, Be’la Dona and the Soul Searchers, plus DJ Rico. Picnics, lawn chairs and blankets are welcome. Note that there’s no concert Aug. 6, but the shows — featuring artists yet to be confirmed — run every Saturday from Aug. 13 through Labor Day weekend. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.; concerts begin at 7. Free.
SAAM Arcade at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s annual SAAM Arcade, which returns to an in-person format at the museum’s Kogod Courtyard this weekend, celebrates the art of the video game. This year’s theme is “Color, Line and Form,” and the museum describes the event as part of “the study and interpretation of video games as part of the national visual culture.” Really, though, it’s about turning the Kogod into a giant free arcade. Older gamers can wax nostalgic about vintage arcade cabinets — previous years have featured multiplayer X-Men and the original Mario Brothers — or explore the row of different console systems. The event also offers a spotlight to independent game developers, with eight new titles available to play at the museum Saturday, and the online Game Jam, which allows anyone to create a video or tabletop game and post it on the museum’s itch.io page for the public to play, beginning Monday. (Full details are on the event’s website.) 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Citi Open at Rock Creek Tennis Center: The Women’s Tennis Association returns to Citi Open this year, making the D.C. tournament one of only five combined tour events in the U.S. featuring both WTA and ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) matches. On the women’s side, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams makes her debut in the competition, alongside defending U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, who’s also appearing for the first time. Sloane Stephens, Victoria Azarenka and Simona Halep are also scheduled to appear. The men’s tour brings stars including former No. 1 Andy Murray, 2022 Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios, top-ranked American Taylor Fritz and Hyattsville native Frances Tiafoe. Through Aug. 7. $25-$350.
Nada Surf at Arrowbrook Centre Park: Casual music fans will remember Nada Surf for “Popular,” a maddeningly catchy, grunge-adjacent song that felt inescapable back in the summer of 1996, thanks to a combination of incessant radio play and its MTV Buzz Bin video. In the ensuing decades, however, the band has built a solid fan base on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to a catalogue of smart, tuneful power-pop in the vein of Teenage Fanclub or early Weezer — singalong indie rock songs in which introspective lyrics share space with jangling guitars and massive hooks. After spending the summer touring and performing at festivals in Europe in support of its ninth album, “Never Not Together,” the band visits Herndon to perform a free, outdoor concert as part of the Music at Arrowbrook Park series — the last of only four American shows the band will play in 2022. 7:30 p.m. Free.
Where to find free outdoor concerts in the D.C. area
The Weeknd at FedEx Field: Yes, “After Hours” was the Weeknd’s emblematic departure from his grittier pop plays to sleek stadium anthems intended for Grammy nods (which didn’t quite pan out as planned). But it wasn’t a sudden shift. Slowly but astutely, he has prodded his ascension into international fame with each record. “Starboy,” while still homing in on darker themes, produced lighter, more radio-friendly hits such as “I Feel It Coming,” which felt like a playful foreshadowing both in name and sonically of what was to come. “After Hours” took that small glimmer of ’80s synth-pop seen in 2016’s “Starboy” and ran the entire field with it. By the time “Dawn FM” was released earlier this year, the Weeknd had completed his pop metamorphosis. Did you ever think you’d see the day when Jim Carrey had a feature on a Weeknd album? I don’t think the “Starboy” Weeknd could have predicted that, either. 6:30 p.m. $196-$286.
Sunday, July 31
Plant swap at Hellbender Brewing: The monthly plant swap at 3 Stars Brewing drew hundreds of plant lovers, who spent Sunday afternoons ogling each other’s plants, talking trades, and giving away surplus cuttings and potted houseplants. It was a friendly, organically grown crowd, which faced an uncertain future when 3 Stars closed suddenly earlier this month. The swap is popping up at the nearby Hellbender Brewing this weekend, and inviting everyone — regulars and plant-curious alike — to bring something to trade or give away. Food comes from Cinder BBQ and the meat-free Nomad Dumplings. 1 p.m. Free.
Women’s European Championship Final: Old foes England and Germany go head to head at London’s Wembley Stadium in the last match of the successful Euro 2022 soccer tournament. The Lionesses find themselves the favorites, though soccer fans know never to count out the Germans, who have won eight of the last 10 women’s championships, including beating England in the 2009 final. NoMa’s Wunder Garten, the site of World Cup viewing parties hosted by both the German and U.K. embassies, has partnered with Atlas Brew Works for beer specials throughout the match. Other mainstays include the Queen Vic for England fans and Across the Pond for neutral viewers. UPDATE: Biergarten Haus, which usually opens at 2 p.m. on Sundays, will open at noon for Germany fans. Kickoff at noon. Free.
Monday, Aug. 1
Dark Star Park Day at Dark Star Park: Nancy Holt’s “Dark Star Park” is one of the more unusual public art displays in the D.C. area. Five giant gunite orbs, looking like the brutalist cores of extinguished stars, lie in a Rosslyn park — one divided by busy Fairfax Drive and surrounded by anonymous modern buildings. Part of the installation features tall metal poles and long metal grooves lying flat on the ground. At one moment each year — 9:32 a.m. on Aug. 1 — the shadows of poles and orbs align with tracks on the ground. Aug. 1 was chosen to commemorate the day in 1860 when William Henry Ross purchased the land that became Rosslyn; Holt selected the time. Whether you consider this to be “Rosslyn’s answer to Stonehenge” or just a cool curiosity, it might make you think about the nature of time and our ephemeral relationship to our environment. There’s a party beginning at 9:15 with free cake pops and sunglasses, perhaps to encourage sunny, shadow-generating light. If you can’t be in Rosslyn on Monday morning, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District live-streams the event on Facebook. 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. Free.
From 2020: Once a year, the shadows in Arlington’s Dark Star Park align. This year, it feels especially profound.
Tuesday, Aug. 2
Georgetown Sunset Cinema: Georgetown’s Sunset Cinema is the rare outdoor movie series that launches at the end of summer instead of in June or July. The setting in Waterfront Park, with views of the Key Bridge, Kennedy Center and, uh, Rosslyn high-rises, is one of the most atmospheric in town. “The Goonies” gets the six-film series underway, followed by “Encanto” and “Bridesmaids.” Nearby restaurants offer picnic deals, including 15 percent discounts at Pizzeria Paradiso and Chaia. Films begin at sunset, through Sept. 6. Free.
‘Put It This Way’ at the Hirshhorn: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden reaches into its permanent collection to showcase work from nearly 50 women and nonbinary artists this summer. “Put It This Way: (Re)Visions of the Hirshhorn Collection” fills an entire floor, celebrating the accomplishments of artists and investigating gender issues. Alongside masterworks and newly acquired pieces, see art that has never before been displayed at the Hirshhorn, such as Diana Thater’s installation “Oo Fifi, Five Days in Claude Monet’s Garden, Parts 1 and 2.” Through fall 2023. Free.
Wednesday, Aug. 3
Martin Courtney at Songbyrd: As the world wiped the sleep from its eyes and began easing back into normal life earlier this year, Real Estate frontman Martin Courtney released his breezy sophomore solo effort, “Magic Sign.” The record is imbued with sunny psychedelic tones as Courtney harks back to simpler times, pre-covid, as a teenager growing up in New Jersey. “In the basement of my mind / I’m on a bike in 1999 / In the basement of my mind / We’re on the phone for the very first time,” he reminisces on “Merlin.” But amid the moments of bliss, Courtney brings his trip down memory lane down to earth on songs such as “Time To Go”: “Every other house is empty / And the streets are full of sand / Why are we the last to know / When it’s time to go, time to go.” 7 p.m. $18-$20.
Scarface at the Howard Theatre: In a 2019 interview with The Washington Post, Scarface made a shocking announcement: “Scarface is dead,” the rapper (real name: Brad Jordan) proclaimed, vowing to become a politician instead. It was just a few months after that conversation that he almost died, contracting covid-19 at the start of the pandemic and suffering from kidney failure afterward. The life-altering series of events didn’t change Scarface’s mind about continuing his music career, though, and once shows ramped up again, the rapper set sail on his farewell tour in early July. The tour marks the end of a long, storied career in hip-hop that pioneered and paved the way for his Southern rap contemporaries. 8 p.m. $40.