The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 2

The Kennedy Center's Winter Lanterns festival celebrates the Lunar New Year with approximately 100 glowing pieces of art — including pandas, mushrooms and sea turtles — on the grounds of the Reach expansion. (Fritz Hahn/The Washington Post)
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Editor’s note: While mask requirements vary across the region, many nightclubs and performing arts venues require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry. Restaurants, bars and other indoor venues in D.C. now require proof of at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine for entry. Check websites or social media before making plans.

Thursday, Jan. 27

Winter Lanterns at the Kennedy Center: The Kennedy Center is bringing colorful, glowing pandas, sea turtles and flowers to celebrate Lunar New Year on the grounds of the Reach through Feb. 6. The approximately 100 Winter Lanterns, constructed with more than 10,000 LED lights by Chinese artists, made their Kennedy Center debut for Lunar New Year in 2020. Each weekend will have a special theme: Jan. 27 to 30 honors China with a concert by the Asian American Music Society (Jan. 29) and stations where children can send letters to giant pandas Bao Bao and Bei Bei, or write their wishes for 2022. The following weekend is dedicated to Korea, with a concert sponsored by the Korean Cultural Center (Feb. 3), costume displays and photos with Korean mascot characters. Open daily through Feb. 6. Free.

How to celebrate the Lunar New Year in the Washington D.C. area

Smithsonian Afrofuturism Series: Claiming Space: How will Black people harness technology to shape the future while reclaiming the past? How will culture combine with the increasingly digital world to affect cities, space or even the human body? This multiday festival, sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, African Art Museum and Air and Space Museum, examines Afrofuturism across a spectrum of disciplines, bringing together scientists, academics and authors for virtual symposia and keynote presentations. Topics include “Political Activism and Afrofuturism in the Digital Age” and “Afrofuturist Bodies and Beyond,” while guitarist Vernon Reid, acclaimed for his work with the rock band Living Colour and eclectic solo releases, discusses pop culture through the lens of Afrofuturism Friday at 8 p.m. Through Saturday. Free; Registration required.

Grand opening of Solace Outpost Navy Yard: Solace Brewing Company unveiled its taproom across from Nationals Park last weekend, joining its existing brewery in Sterling and brewpub in Falls Church. After a few days of a public soft opening, the “official” debut is Thursday. While there won’t be any brewing in D.C., the dozen taps will include some exclusive offerings, plus familiar labels like Suns Out, Hops Out session IPA and Lucy Juicy double IPA. The food is simple beer garden grub: totchos, brats, giant pretzels and spicy chicken thighs. As interesting as the beer is the space: Three sides of the building have windows that roll up like garage doors, bringing in the breeze and offering views of the Anacostia and the new Frederick Douglass Bridge. Happy hour, which runs from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays, includes $3 off all draft pints, $6 cocktails and $6 glasses of wine. Open at 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and at noon on Saturday and Sunday.

Silvana Estrada at City Winery: For Mexican singer Silvana Estrada, songwriting doesn’t come as easy as composing. Her second album, “Marchita,” captures her lyrical strengths along with her impeccable vocals. Estrada’s voice evokes the solemnity of Argentine folk singer Mercedes Sosa, the tenderness of Mexican soprano Natalia Lafourcade, and the assertive delivery of Venezuelan protest singer Soledad Bravo. On tracks such as “La Corriente” and “Sabré Olvidar,” delicate arrangements of plucky piano notes and minimal strings help elevate her performance front and center. In “Tristeza,” Estrada’s birdlike soprano speaks of a feeling of pervading sadness. “Marchita” is, unmistakably, an album about heartbreak and longing. “I’m aware that I’m not inventing anything new,” says Estrada. “I sing about love, and my circumstances, which are that of many other women.” 8 p.m. $20-$30.

Silvana Estrada is drawing from the traditional to develop a style of her own

Friday, Jan. 28

Tig Notaro at Warner Theatre: Comedian Tig Notaro’s compelling and sharp storytelling, told with her a signature deadpan delivery, has made her one of the most recognizable comedians working today. Notaro’s fourth stand-up special “Drawn,” released last year, incorporated animation into her recounting a dental procedure and high school talent show fail; She’s back on the road with a new tour entitled “Hello Again.” 7 p.m. $35-$200.

Washington Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center: In addition to hundreds of new cars from Ford, Toyota and other major manufacturers, the show includes outdoor test drives, indoor rides and an electric car pavilion with models from Bentley and McLaren. Enthusiasts will be drawn to the exotic car display, where Ferrari racecars, a Rolls-Royce Phantom and the Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD Spyder are among the luxury vehicles on view. “Under the hood” VIP tours with auto experts are available. Through Sunday. $12-$15 adults, $6 children ages 6 to 13.

Last Podcast on the Left: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Tour at the Anthem: The hosts of the Last Podcast on the Left deftly walk the fine line between some of humanity’s darkest moments, delving into serial killers, mass murder and other horrific crimes, while joking about cannibalism and aliens. They’ve managed to turn what could be uncomfortable subjects into a podcast that racks up millions of downloads and a best-selling “The Last Book on the Left,” a comedic and gruesome look at serial killers. Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski visit the Anthem for a live version of their popular show. 8 p.m. $35-$55.

Rebirth Brass and Dupont Brass at the Hamilton: This powerhouse pairing sets up a friendly musical battle between two cities. On one side is the Grammy-winning Rebirth Brass Band, a New Orleans institution founded by Kermit Ruffins (among others), keeping the flame of second-line and jazz alive. On the other is the Dupont Brass Band, a group of Howard students who built a sideline busking outside of Metro stations into performing original music at the Kennedy Center and the D.C. Jazz Festival. Don’t worry about crowing a winner at this funky battle of the brass bands — just come prepared to dance. 8 p.m. $35-$45.

Paul van Dyk at Soundcheck: It’s hard to overstate Paul van Dyk’s effect on electronic music over the last three decades. Throughout the pandemic, the Berlin-born trance DJ has been hosting weekly livestreams for “a big community that is together, connected through the music,” as he told Billboard. Van Dyk released two albums in 2020 — the stripped-back “Escape Reality” and the more predictably banging “Guiding Light” — and you can expect to hear more of that soaring, four-on-the-floor sound that has become his trademark when he visits the intimate Soundcheck club on K Street NW. 10 p.m. $26.95.

Joe Clair at Busboys and Poets Hyattsville: For more than six years, Joe Clair was the familiar voice joking on WPGC-FM’s morning show. While he left the station last summer, Clair hasn’t disappeared: The one-time host of BET’s “Rap City” hosts the Ruckus Podcast, focused on 1990s hip-hop, and continues to perform around the D.C. area. This weekend, he’s headlining the Laugh House comedy series’ monthly gig at Busboys and Poets in Hyattsville. 7:30 p.m. $30.

Saturday, Jan. 29

Monster Jam at Capital One Arena: Grave Digger, Stone Crusher and El Toro Loco are among the monster trucks rolling into Chinatown on 66-inch wheels this weekend. The touring Monster Jam takes over Capital One Arena for three shows featuring enormous trucks racing around, kicking up dirt and performing backflips and other stunts for screaming audiences. An optional pre-event Pit Party offers the chance to get up close to the 12,000-pound trucks and participate in Q&A sessions with drivers. Saturday at 1 and 7 p.m., Sunday at 1 p.m. $20-$75; Pit Party extra.

DCLX: Posey Royale at Glen Echo Spanish Ballroom: Dance into the still-faraway spring with Posey Royale, a piano-driven ensemble with a passion for swing orchestration. Posey Royale celebrates swing history by transcribing songs from across eras, including tunes by Lil Hardin Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller and Les Paul. Swing lovers can practice in a free beginner dance class from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. before dancing the night away with the band. 9 p.m. $15-$20.

Sunday, Jan. 30

Where to watch the NFL Playoffs: By Sunday night, we’ll know the two teams facing off in Super Bowl 56. Three of the four teams in the conference championship games have fan clubs in D.C.: The Kansas City Chiefs (a.k.a. D.C. Chiefs Kingdom) meet at BlackFinn by Farragut Square, where they’ll watch their team play the Cincinnati Bengals at 3 p.m. Bengals fans have long gathered at the Bottom Line downtown, but building repairs mean that the basement pub is currently closed. The Who Dey DC Bengals group relocated to the Ugly Mug last week — follow their Facebook page for updates. The late game features the San Francisco 49ers against the L.A. Rams. The DC Niners Empire has gathered at Town Tavern since 2010, and though we don’t know if MC Hammer will be in the crowd again, there are game day specials and halftime raffles. Which leaves the Rams, who don’t have a quasi-official bar in D.C., as far as we know. Ivy and Coney “adopted” the Rams as its playoff team after (shockingly) neither the Lions or Bears qualified for the postseason, so that might be one rallying spot, except with Chicago dogs and Detroit pizza instead of birria tacos.

If you’re looking for all-purpose bars where you can watch games while sitting outdoors in D.C., try Walters Sports Bar, Midlands Beer Garden, the Brig, Biergarten Haus, Union Pub and Cleveland Park Bar and Grill.

U Street Music and Murals and Brunch Tour: The buildings and allies along the U Street corridor are packed with murals that might be familiar from Instagram and TikTok feeds. But do you know the story of the art honoring Lee’s Flower Shop, where to find Miles Davis or why Marvin Gaye crossed the street? An hour-long audiovisual tour led by Historic America uses street art to show U Street’s history and culture, and ends with brunch and a beer at Right Proper, the strip’s excellent brewpub. 11 a.m. $65.

Get Flee Market at Sandlot Southeast: The flea market, located at the beer garden across from Nationals Park, holds unique art, records, clothes and home goods. Specifically designed to bring DMV community and culture together, the marketplace is hosted the last Sunday of each month. Noon to 6 p.m. Free.

Monday, Jan. 31

Lunar New Year’s Eve Reunion Dinner: An all-star lineup of chefs participates in a virtual discussion and cooking demonstration sponsored by the Smithsonian’s Asian Art and American Art museums. Chef Kevin Tien of Moon Rabbit and Hot Lola’s, Rosie Nguyen of Rose Ave Bakery and Yuan Tang of Rooster and Owl join culinary historian Hyunjung “Crystal” Rie to discuss food traditions around Lunar New Year, and invite viewers to cook along. Participants have the option of ordering a $45 Lunar New Year’s Celebration Box containing treats from all three chefs, which can be picked up at Moon Rabbit before the event. 6 p.m. Free.

Tuesday, Feb. 1

D.C. Chinese Lunar New Year Parade: While the annual parade through Chinatown, sponsored by the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association and the Mayor’s Office on Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs, has been canceled, it will be replaced with a three-day virtual program, beginning Feb. 1. Free; Registration required.

Lunar New Year menus: As the Lunar New Year begins, restaurants across the area are planning special takeout meals and in-person feasts. ChiKo, Maketto and Tiger Fork are among those unveiling extended specials, while Anju and Makan are hosting one-night-only celebrations. See our Lunar New Year story for more options and details.

Daniel Pink at Sixth & I: This event, held both in-person and virtually, is all about regret. Daniel Pink’s newest book “The Power of Regret” discusses all things related to the often taboo, always misunderstood feeling. Using research from psychology, economics and biology, Pink takes a look at the four core regrets people have, creating a sort of guide to help people understand their regrets and how that clarity enriches our lives. Pink is in conversation with Derek Thompson, a staff writer at The Atlantic. 7 p.m. $12-$38.

Wednesday, Feb. 2

‘Ulysses’: A conversation with Ambassador Dan Mulhall at the D.C. Public Library. Few books have such disparate reputations as James Joyce’s “Ulysses.” In an essay celebrating the 100th anniversary of “Bloomsday,” the day in 1904 on which the novel takes place, Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda described “Ulysses” as “an artistic achievement comparable to Dante’s, both in a tightly mortised structural integrity and a breathtaking verbal loveliness.” Ask students who’ve been forced to read the novel (or excerpts) in high school or college, and you’ll often hear that Ulysses is an inscrutable, dense, daunting text. But maybe they’re just looking at it wrong. Dan Mulhall, Ireland’s ambassador to the United States, is more than a politician: He’s the author of “Ulysses: A Reader’s Odyssey,” a guide to that its publisher says saves the novel “from its reputation of impenetrability,” using Homer’s “The Odyssey” as a reference point. Can Mulhall open the world of Leopold and Molly Bloom to a wider audience of readers? He and D.C. Public Library director Rich Reyes-Gavilan discuss Ulysses and how to enjoy it at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. (Note that the event will also be streamed on the library’s YouTube channel.) 6:30 p.m. Free; Registration required.

Shamir at the 9:30 Club: Just 27 years old, Shamir has experienced several pop-star lifestyles since breaking through in 2015. Back then, the singer-songwriter danced his pain away with bops like “On the Regular,” but soon stripped away the electro-sheen for lo-fi albums that embraced his alt-rock and country influences. Throughout it all, Shamir’s angelic countertenor has remained a guiding light through albums and songs that embraced vulnerability and truth-telling. And while his gender identity and sexuality have frequently been a topic of his songs and a prism through which his art is viewed, those issues appear to be at the forefront of his forthcoming album “Heterosexuality.” On noisy, operatic songs such as “Gay Agenda” and “Cisgender,” Shamir rejects binaries and orthodoxies, singing, “You’re just stuck in the box that was made for me / And you’re mad I got out and I’m living free.” 7 p.m. $41.