Friday, Nov. 23
ZooLights at the National Zoo: In a season packed with bright and festive light displays, the National Zoo has made its 11-year-old ZooLights one of the area’s must-do attractions, especially for families. (Part of the appeal: Entry is free.) More than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights are used to create animated animals, including hummingbirds and red pandas, and to festoon trees along the Zoo’s main pathways, while holiday music plays in the background. Choral groups and bands perform every night, and there are special rides and attractions targeted at the youngest visitors. Through Jan. 1. 5 to 9 p.m. Free.
Downtown Holiday Market at Eighth and F streets NW: The annual holiday market that resides outside of the National Portrait Gallery returns for its 14th year. If you haven’t had the occasion to walk by, a block of F Street NW turns into a mini-holiday village of white tents filled with local makers hawking their wares alongside Washington-area food and drink vendors. The market runs for a month, so those looking to get a jump-start on holiday shopping are catered to — as well as last-minute scroungers. Through Dec. 23. Noon to 8 p.m.
Barrel-Aged Black Friday at Old Ox Brewery: Sure, you could spend the day after Thanksgiving bumping elbows at your local mall, or you could avoid the hordes of shoppers and kick back with some bourbon barrel-aged beer. Ashburn’s Old Ox Brewery is debuting four varieties of their imperial stout — original, mocha, cinnamon vanilla and chocolate orange — which will be available only to ticket holders. There will be live music throughout the day and food will be available for purchase, but you’re more than welcome to bring your own turkey day leftovers picnic. 11 a.m. $14.
Christmas pop-up bars at 1843 Seventh St. NW and Archipelago: The perennially packed Miracle on Seventh Street pop-up bar returns to Shaw this weekend, and this year’s yuletide celebration comes with a panda theme. Beyond holiday cocktails called Santa Bei Bei and the Hebrew Hammer, expect four whimsically decorated bars containing a mistletoe photo booth and a giant New Year’s Eve ball. There’s some competition this year, though, courtesy of U Street tiki bar Archipelago, which is transforming into Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack through Dec. 23. Look for tropical lights and decor in addition to themed cocktails in special mugs. Hours vary. Free; food and drinks priced individually.
Saturday, Nov. 24
DC Brau Holiday Marketplace: Holiday markets pop up all over the D.C. area at this time of year, but DC Brau’s indie-minded Holiday Marketplace is one of the few where you can browse for gifts with a cold brew in hand. (Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you.) More than 40 local businesses sell jewelry, stationery, pottery, T-shirts, onesies, and food and drinks, while bands play and food trucks offer refreshment. As a special bonus, DC Brau is releasing a new Russian imperial stout on the day of the festival, which might be perfect for the craft beer fan in your life. 2 to 6 p.m. Free. VIP admission at 1 p.m. includes a DC Brau tote bag. $10.
Mount Vernon by Candlelight: Want to know how one of the Founding Fathers might have celebrated the holidays? George Washington’s Mount Vernon will provide a glimpse into some 18th-century holiday traditions. Staff at the residential estate will lead an in-character candlelight tour of the property, which is followed by traditional dancing of the era, snacks, refreshments, caroling and a chance to see Aladdin the Christmas camel (Washington is said to have brought a camel to his home to entertain guests). Through Dec. 16 (dates vary). $25 for ages 12 and older, $17 for ages 6 to 11 and free for kids 5 and younger.
The 24-Hour Show at Rhizome: If you’ve heard of Rhizome, then you probably know some of D.C.’s most experimental happenings take place at this Takoma arts space. Rhizome will host a 24-hour show starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday when the Baltimore ensemble Myelin Nation will orchestrate a collective performance. That means that you can walk in with your own musical instrument or other artistic object and join in at any point during the 24 hours. Through Sunday at 1 p.m. $10 suggested donation.
RDGLDGRN at Union Stage: For its debut album, local band RDGLDGRN collaborated with two industry heavyweights from disparate corners of the musical spectrum — Virginia natives Pharrell Williams and Dave Grohl. The partnership seemed odd on the surface, but it’s a testament to the trio’s far-reaching sonic influences and deep adoration for the D.C. area that imbue its high-spirited music. On any given track, RDGLDGRN whiplashes between buoyant go-go percussion and snarling guitar solos that evoke local punk forebears Dag Nasty and Government Issue. 8 p.m. $20.
Holiday tree lighting at CityCenter: If you can’t make it to the National Christmas Tree Lighting on Wednesday, get ahead of the game this weekend at the illumination of the 75-foot tree that will sit in the middle of CityCenter. Saturday’s ceremony for the fifth iteration of the holiday tree in the downtown luxury development will feature a performance from the Washington Chorus along with other family activities such as balloon artists and face painters. 6 p.m. Free.
Sunday, Nov. 25
Cider Dinner at City Winery: Two new entrants in the D.C. drinking scene will join for a night to showcase what they have to offer. In addition to the obvious wine offerings, City Winery is a full-service restaurant — as well as a music venue — and it will showcase its food selection on Sunday, while one of Washington’s newest cideries, Supreme Core, will handle drinks for the night. Supreme Core, which recently opened a facility in Northeast, will feature three of its experimental ciders at the winery. 6:30 p.m. $45.
Rock and Roll Happy Hour at Dodge City: When you’re on the prowl for a drinking hole in the U Street Corridor it might be easy to overlook Dodge City, which lacks the glitz and glamour of its neighbors, but has a reliable draft beer list. Starting this weekend, the bar will hand over its last Sunday of the month to local drag queen, and lead singer of the excellent punk outfit Homosuperior, Donna Slash. There promises to be a lot of heavy music over the loudspeaker as well as $6 Miller High Life and rye shot combos, happy hour until 8 p.m. and sausages from Meats & Foods. 2 p.m. Free; food and drinks priced individually.
— Hau Chu, Fritz Hahn and Stephanie Williams