Here are a couple of treats to pull out of the Easter basket:
Early risers can visit Arlington National Cemetery at 6:30 a.m. for the cemetery's 57th Annual Easter Sunrise Service at the Memorial Amphitheater. Chaplains from each branch of the military conduct the hour- long service (non-denominational); the USAF Band and Singing Sergeants provide the music. You can park in the visitors lot at the cemetery entrance and take a free shuttle to the amphitheater beginnning at 5:30 a.m. For more information, call 475-0843.
*Washington Cathedral bells begin ringing at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, when carillonneur James Saenger tugs 30 minutes of Easter tunes from the cathedral's 53 bells. Then at 4, Ohio's Mount Union Brass Choir performs its 17th consecutive Easter concert inside the cathedral. The program includes music by Paul Dukas, Giovanni Gabrieli and Henry Purcell. Both concerts are free; no tickets are needed. The cathedral is at Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW. 537-6200. Really Russian
The National Symphony Orchestra performs music from two Russian composers Friday and Saturday at 8:30 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The program includes Rachmaninoff's "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" and Shostakovich's "Symphony No. 8." Russian-born concert pianist Bella Davidovich, a teacher at the Juilliard School in New York, is the featured guest artist. NSO music director Mstislav Rostropovich conducts. Tickets range from $5 to $28 and are available by calling 857-0900. For more information, call 785-8100. Getting Your Kicks
Just 'cause professional soccer went belly up doesn't mean you can't catch top-quality soccer hereabouts. This Sunday at 1:30, the number one teams from the District (Espana) and Virginia (Spartans) square off in National Open Cup action at RFK Stadium. On the field will be some of the area's best former collegiate and professional players, including American University All-America Michael Brady (Espana) and former Diplomat and Team America star Sonny Askew (Spartans). The winning team advances to the regional playoffs against Maryland on April 13. And the price is right -- $3 for adults; $2 for children 12 and under. 362-4873. Roots, Rock, Reggae
The Washington Convention Center, 900 Ninth Street NW, plays host to top reggae rhythms and classic soul sounds in two separate concerts this weekend.
*You can catch such reggae artists as Black Uhuru, the Mighty Diamonds and Judy Mowatt at Reggae Sunsplash '86 Saturday beginning at 7:30. All the bands are Jamaican and represent some of the best reggae around. The concert is general admission; tickets are $16, available at the door or by calling 432-0200. For more information, call 347-0163.
*James Brown (a.k.a. Mr. Dynamite) comes to town for The Easter Sunday Godfather Soul Explosion at 8. Brown may be 53 but he's still shimmying and hollering up a storm with his 12-piece band. D.C. go- go guru Chuck Brown (no relation to James, in case you're wondering) opens the act with his eight-piece Soul Searchers band. This is the first time the two have performed on the same bill. Tickets are $15.50 and $17.50 and are available by calling 432-0200. For a review of Chuck Brown's latest record, see page 15. For more information on the concert, call 371-4200. Rest of the Best
IN TOWN The Pavilion at the Old Post Office, 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, helps celebrate Metro's 10th Birthday with a weekend of free entertainment, including clowns, jugglers, bands and dancers. Hours are Friday, noon and 6; Saturday, 10:30 to 7; Sunday, noon to 6. 289-4224 . . . Take a stroll along the C&O Canal during The Second Annual Hecht's Healthwalk Saturday beginning at 9 a.m. on he C&O Towpath behind Georgetown Park (Wisconsin Avenue and M Street NW). Walkers can try a five- Entry fee is $5 and includes a ribbon and T-shirt; proceeds benefit the American Red Cross. 558-1414 . . . Odadaa!, a group of African entertainers, performs traditional music and dance from Ghana Sunday at 8 in the third-floor ballroom of the Marvin Center, George Washington University, 21st and H streets NW. Tickets at the door are $7; $5 for GWU students. 676-7553.
The Fredericksburg Relic Hunters Association hosts its Fifth Annual Civil War Relic Show Saturday from 9 to 5. More than a hundred dealers from 18 states show off their collections of such period objects as buttons, belt buckles and bullets. The show is at the National Guard Armory on the U.S. 1 Bypass at Route 3 in Fredericksburg. Admission is $1. 703/786-4346 Under the Big Top Video visions pale next to the circus: three rings of brassily blaring, sequin-and-spandex- skinned, elephant-scented, sweet, salty and sticky sense-saturation.
At the Starplex-Armory, this year's model of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stars the beyond-blond Gunther Gebel-Williams family and their troupes of tigers, elephants, horses and Russian wolfhounds. Don't tell Sabu's ma that he stands up there on the single trapeze with no hands -- and no net. And the cordon of clowns can coax a chuckle from even the most cynical.
At the tail of a parade featuring iridescent floats, spangle-winged horses and elephants, 20-foot spiraling beanstalks and flying butterfly women, the appearance of the controversial Amazing Living Unicorn is a bit of an anticlimax. He's actually a sheepish- looking white goat, but he pleases the kids who have been anxiously anticipating him all day.
The unicorn appears as the first act finale, so exhausted kids -- and parents -- can exit. But don't leave, or you'll miss the tightrope walkers, aerialists, springboard stunts and the sight of three Urias motorcyclists, careening inside their metal Globe of Death like maddened tropical birds, leaving everyone satisfyingly slackjawed.
So the circus more than makes good on its Greatest Show boast. But the bargain admission price is just the beginning, and unless you put blinders on your kids, you won't escape without shelling out for popcorn, cotton candy in three Miami hues, red and blue circus flashlights, spiders on a stick and the "Ride the Tiger" and "Clown Alley" photo booths. For $5, makeup artist Kaylene Wensink will paint your face, zip you into a silly suit and wig, and snap a Polaroid.
You can run off and join the circus every day until April 7, and there are matinees most days. Tickets are $6, $8 and $9.50, and are available at the Starplex-Armory and at Ticketron or by calling 543-5646; that's also the number to call for performance times. The Orange and Blue Metro lines will get you there and back.