The John F. Kennedy Center at 50: The Kennedy Center begins celebrations of its 50th anniversary this week, including a star-studded concert and gala in the Concert Hall on Tuesday. (See below for details.) For those who’d like to celebrate in a less-formal (and traditional) manner, the free “The John F. Kennedy Center at 50” festival takes over the outdoor portion of the Reach Thursday through Saturday, offering dance classes, DJ parties and performances by artists including the Washington National Opera’s Young Artists and the Ragamala Dance Company. Times vary. Free.
Jim Gaffigan at DAR Constitution Hall: The comedian, best known for his observational takes on fatherhood and life at large and his memoir “Dad Is Fat,” comes to the District for multiple shows over the weekend. For this “Fun Tour,” Gaffigan presents a new show with insights on family and relationships, with his signature “clean comedy” approach. Through Sunday. $47-$75.
Friday, Sept. 10
‘Come From Away’ at Lincoln Memorial: In September 2016, Ford’s Theatre was host to the East Coast premiere of an unlikely new musical — one dealing with the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001. But “Come From Away,” sidesteps the unfathomable terror of that day, telling the uplifting story of how the residents of Gander, Newfoundland, took nearly 7,000 people into their homes and hearts after 38 airliners were forced to land at the small town’s airport after the United States closed its airspace. To mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Ford’s Theatre presents a special, minimally staged production of “Come From Away” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Tickets are not required, and the musical takes place rain or shine. Masks and social distancing are required, regardless of vaccination status. 6 p.m. Free.
BRNDA record release at Comet Ping Pong: BRNDA is one of those bands with a sound so tight, it actually makes your brain go loose. But in addition to that paradoxical tight-loose, nervous-relaxed thing, this music also feels spiky-smooth. BRNDA absolutely won’t stop singing about foods, as if the butterflies in their stomachs are growling, and here’s what’s on the menu: avocados, eggs, tacos with onions, tofu, hot dogs, muffins and one lobster who is not actually depicted on the band’s lyric sheet as a foodstuff, which might also remind you that BRNDA sounds a little like the early B-52’s (“Rock Lobster”-era) as well as some other less-obvious bands from the late-‘70s (Come On) and today (Straw Man Army). BNRDA celebrates the release of its terrific new album “Do You Like Salt?” at Comet with May Rio and Tosser. 8 p.m. $12.
Art on the Rocks at Waterfront Park in Alexandria: Alexandria’s Art League celebrates the return of Old Town Cocktail Week with an evening favorite. Art on the Rocks challenges local mixologists and chefs to create a cocktail and appetizer pairing inspired by a work from one of the Art League artist. Expect lots of creative combinations with participants from Whiskey and Oyster, The People’s Drug and Chadwicks, among other local restaurants. Attendees get a chance to try all the pairings and cast votes for their favorites. 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. $55.
No Scrubs at the 9:30 Club: A DJ night dedicated to spinning the great hits of the ’90s has been selling out the 9:30 Club longer than the 1990s were actually around. No Scrubs, featuring DJs Will Eastman and Willy Joy, is named after TLC’s smash 1999 single — one of many tracks that finds the entire audience screaming the chorus at the top of its collective lungs. The hits keep coming: “Wannabe,” “Regulate,” “Poison,” an inevitable moshpit for “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” as visual artist Kylos spreads video clips and nostalgic images on a screen behind the stage. It’s a jukebox playlist at times, but the DJs find ways to surprise and delight everyone. 10 p.m. $16.
Sankofa Happy Hour at Metrobar: Sankofa stands out from other D.C. beer companies. Instead of just searching for the latest trendy IPA style, the three-year-old Sankofa draws on its co-founders’ backgrounds in West Africa to create flavorful brews like Hypebiscus, a hibiscus-forward pale ale, or Cocoa Coast, a creamy, chocolaty stout. Sankofa hosts an outdoor happy at Metrobar that includes a DJ spinning afrobeat tunes. 4 to 7 p.m. Free.
Saturday, Sept. 11
Black Cat 28th Anniversary Party: Last year, with live music on the back burner, the venerable Black Cat celebrated 27 years on 14th Street NW with two nights of live-streamed performances, including appearances by post-punk soul outfit Algiers and acclaimed indie rock singer, songwriter and longtime Friend of the Black Cat Ted Leo. Now that the city has reopened, Algiers and Leo are marking the Cat’s 28th anniversary with in-real-life performances on the club’s stage, joined by the Owners — a band featuring Black Cat owners Dante and Catherine Ferrando — and local lo-fi duo Teen Cobra. 8 p.m. $28.
Fiesta DC: What began as a street party in Mount Pleasant has grown into a two-day celebration of Latino culture. Saturday brings the Festival to Pennsylvania Ave. NW, with vendors, booths and live entertainment between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The Dominican Republic is the focus of this year’s festival, so there’s a full stage of bachata and merengue from 1 to 7 p.m., headlined by famous merengue singer Toño Rosario, whose classic “Kiliki Taka Ti” became a Tik Tok sensation. Musicians from Ecuador, Paraguay and Panama are featured on a different stage. On Sunday, the colorful Desfile de las Naciones, or Parade of Nations, features floats, costumed dance groups and musicians representing a rainbow of cultures, setting off from 700 Pennsylvania Ave. NW at 1 p.m. Away from downtown, a two-day “Taste of the Dominican Republic” brings food and music to the Wharf on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. each day. Saturday and Sunday. Free.
NSO in Your Neighborhood: The National Symphony Orchestra’s annual NSO in Your Neighborhood is underway, with small musical ensembles spreading out into the community to perform intimate concerts at parks and businesses. Saturday finds musicians in Brightwood, Takoma and the new Parks at Walter Reed, where a 6 p.m. concert precedes an outdoor screening of “Soul.” Sunday brings a chamber concert outside the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, beginning at noon, “accompanied by the quiet bustling sounds of nature.” Times and locations vary. See website for details. All events are free.
Lauren Groff at Politics & Prose Live: Lauren Groff, known for her 2015 novel “Fates and Furies” and short story collections, weaves the story of Marie de France, a teenager cast out of royal court and sent to England in her novel “Matrix.” Groff’s expert and descriptive prose is on full display as she explores how female creativity thrives in an unequal playing field. Groff is in discussion with Hernan Diaz, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, at this virtual event. 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. Free-$35.
Sunday, Sept. 12
Adams Morgan Day: Washington’s longest-running neighborhood festival is once again bringing the party to the 18th Street strip this year, though the streets will remain open to traffic. Instead, look for activities in parks and open spaces — live music sponsored by Songbyrd in Kalorama Park, soccer and flag football clinics for kids at the fields at Marie Reed Elementary, mural paintings, an artisan market, drag queen story time and a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood. There will be a virtual component, including live-streamed dance performances and an appearance by R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan, broadcast on the Adams Morgan Day Facebook page. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.
DC Walls’ Art in the Park: The annual Pow! Wow! mural festival has a new name this year, but that’s the only thing that changed: DC Walls is still a celebration of street art’s power to brighten and beautify the city while encouraging creativity. The festival is again centered around NoMa, with 18 artists adding new works to the neighborhood. (A downloadable map of sites is available on the DC Walls website.) While murals began going up on Sept. 8, the official kickoff is Sept. 12, with a party in Alethia Tanner Park fueled by DJs, food trucks, lawn games and live painting. Noon to 4 p.m. Free.
Tuesday, Sept. 14
The Kennedy Center’s 50th Anniversary Concert: The Kennedy Center’s golden anniversary officially gets underway with an evening hosted by six-time Tony Award winner Audra McDonald and directed and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse. The concert features the National Symphony Orchestra and wide-ranging slate of guests, including opera star Renée Fleming, musicians Keb’ Mo’ and Ben Folds; Broadway actor and dancer Tony Yazbeck; ballet dancers Herman Cornejo and Cassandra Trenary; and author and illustrator Mo Willems. Held in the Concert Hall, this performance marks the Kennedy Center’s return to full-stage productions. No reservations are required. Tuesday at 8 p.m. $69-$109.
Czech Ice Hockey Heritage Night at Embassy of Czechia: Ice hockey is a sport entwined with the Czech spirit and history, particularly the country’s win in the 1998 Winter Olympic Games. In a night dedicated to everything ice hockey and Czechia, there is a showing of the documentary “The Nagano Tapes” tells that story of the 1998 Olympic win, as well as a trivia portion testing your ice hockey knowledge. 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Free.
Wednesday, Sept. 15
‘Notre-Dame: Our Lady of Paris’ screening at French Embassy: This documentary isn’t just another history of one of the world’s most famous cathedrals: it focuses on April 15, 2019, when Notre Dame was devastated by fire. It includes the voices of those on the front line, including firefighters, clergy and local officials who watched the cathedral (and hundreds of years of history) burn for more than 15 hours as 500 firefighters risked their lives to save it. A Q&A with directors Gédéon and Jules Naudet follows the screening. Make sure to bring proof of vaccination, which is required to enter the embassy. 7 p.m. Free.
‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ at Alethia Tanner Park: The Ben Stiller movie fits right into CiNoMatic’s “reignite your wanderlust” theme. Ben Stiller is Walter Mitty, a man about to lose his job but ready to go on an adventure that reignites a sense of purpose. Bring your own chair and show up early to find a spot. 7:15 p.m. Free.