The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

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

A family of robots enjoys Air & Scare at the National Air and Space Museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. (Dane Penland)
18 min

Thursday, Oct. 27

PumpkinPalooza at Alethia Tanner Park: Explore a pick-your-own pumpkin patch right in the city at the NoMa Business Improvement District’s annual PumpkinPalooza, taking place on the Thursday before Halloween at Alethia Tanner Park. Stick around for popular children’s entertainer the Great Zucchini, a themed scavenger hunt, music from the Too Much Talent Band and a screening of the Halloween classic “Hocus Pocus.” For adults, NoMa’s Red Bear Brewing Co. will be pouring glasses of All Hallows pumpkin lager and Gourd Riddance pumpkin ale in a beer garden. 4 to 9 p.m. Free.

Halloweekend at Yards Park: A two-part event begins Thursday night with an outdoor screening of the original “Ghostbusters.” Bring a picnic blanket to Yards Park, where the film begins at 7 p.m. Then, on Saturday, head to Canal Park for Pumpkins in the Park, with pumpkin decorating, a moon bounce, live music and a magic show. Pumpkins are free and available on a first-come, first-served basis while supplies last. Thursday at 7 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.

Pumpkin Carving Contest at Franklin Hall: Show off your spooky, scary or just plain artistic side at Franklin Hall’s annual pumpkin carving contest. The $10 entry fee includes everything you need: a pumpkin, carving tools, markers and a pint of Miller Lite. Teamwork is encouraged, though each team is limited to two pumpkins — make sure you agree on the details before you start cutting. The top three designs win gift certificates of $75, $50 and $25. 7 to 8:30 p.m. $10 per person.

Friday, Oct. 28

Chiiikeee at Songbyrd: An emerging talent from Hyattsville, rapper Chiiikeee serves up laid-back menace reminiscent of Gucci Mane and Young Dolph over trunk-rattling beats indebted to the Memphis-Atlanta tradition. Amid the usual street rap tropes, Chiiikeee is as likely to name-drop dance legend Gregory Hines as internet comedy oddity Andy Milonakis, and his moody track “Need It” is a well-timed anthem for everyone feeling the financial crunch of inflation as he raps, “How much is a dollar worth? I don’t care, I need it.” The rapper is featured at the annual Come Alive Halloween Party alongside Cameroonian American and fellow Marylander Go Ezko and Kerim the DJ. 11 p.m. $5-$15.

Hilloween at Eastern Market: Eastern Market will be Capitol Hill’s pre-Halloween headquarters thanks to Hilloween, a family-friendly party first held in 2000. Expect activities like face painting, pumpkin decorating, karaoke and, of course, trick-or-treating. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free.

Washington Chorus: After a long pandemic delay, the Washington Chorus presents “Tomorrow! A Reflection on Hope and Resilience,” described as a “visual and immersive experience” featuring a live performance of Damien Geter’s pandemic-spawned choral work “Cantata for a More Hopeful Tomorrow” as well as the short film of the same name from Emmy-winning director Bob Berg. Friday and Saturday at 7 and 8:30 p.m. $25-$49. An earlier version of this story listed incorrect dates for this performance. This version has been corrected.

Fall Festival on Woodrow Wilson Plaza: The weekly farmers market and outdoor food court at the Ronald Reagan Building becomes extra festive during this family-friendly event. The National Children’s Museum sponsors a pair of “Baby Jam” music classes, alongside a petting zoo, face painting, balloon twisting and a hay bale maze. In addition to all that, visitors can sample free hot apple cider while purchasing prepared food from dozens of vendors. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.

‘Drink Masters’ Happy Hours with Lauren Paylor: Netflix’s latest reality competition show is “Drink Masters,” which finds a dozen mixologists crafting creative cocktails to wow judges and win a $100,000 prize. If one of the contestants looks familiar, it’s because Lauren “LP” Paylor has been a familiar face behind some great D.C. bars, including Silver Lyan and Dos Mamis. To celebrate the debut of “Drink Masters,” Paylor is hosting happy hours at a trio of bars this week: Friday, the day the series debuts, she’ll be at Last Call for a kickoff party from 7 to 11 p.m. On Saturday, the fun moves to Cranes for “Industry Brunch” from noon to 3 p.m., then Paylor is hosting another event at Cotton and Reed from 7 to 11 p.m. Tuesday. Times vary. All events free.

Saturday, Oct. 29

Air & Scare at Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Dressed-up kids can collect candy while learning about telescopes and space exploration at Air & Scare, the Smithsonian’s annual Halloween event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly. The party will happen both outside and inside at the Udvar-Hazy Center, built around two large airplane hangars packed with thousands of artifacts (take a Halloween scavenger hunt challenge to see some spooky highlights from the collection). Outside, activity centers for kids will span everything from temporary tattoo stations to a chance to create their own James Webb Space Telescope space art. While all advance passes for outdoor activities have been claimed, the museum says it does “expect to allow for some walk-ups,” so early arrival is suggested. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are not necessary for indoor Air & Scare activities or the museum exhibits. Free.

Rubell Museum DC opening weekend: D.C. is already home to many world-class art museums, and soon there will be a new venue to see the best of contemporary art. Mera and Don Rubell, owners of a private museum in Miami, are set to debut the Rubell Museum DC on Saturday. Located in a former school in Southwest, the 32,000-square-foot museum is built out with 24 galleries, event space, a bookstore and a cafe. Pieces from Keith Haring and Kehinde Wiley are among almost 200 works in the inaugural group exhibition, “What’s Going On,” which takes its name from the album and song by D.C. native Marvin Gaye. (Gaye was a student when this building was Randall Junior High School.) There’s a nice perk, too, for D.C. residents, who receive free admission to the museum. Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Wednesday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free to $15.

Silver Spring Zombie Walk: After two years away, the long-running Silver Spring Zombie Walk is “back from the dead,” as organizers say. Join the hordes of the living dead, whose outfits range from scary gore to tributes to deceased celebrities, for a pre-walk party in the beer garden at Denizens Brewing Co., where a DJ, face painting, costume contest and other family-friendly fun start at 6 p.m. Around 9, the zombie pack begins shuffling slowly over the Georgia Avenue pedestrian bridge and toward downtown, ending at the pedestrian zone on Ellsworth Drive, where a “Zombie Dance Party” with DJ awaits. From there, participants have the option of stumbling to the nearby AFI Silver, where “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” screens at 10 p.m. (Separate advance ticket purchase is required for the film.) 6 to 10 p.m. Free.

Día de los Muertos Family Day: The Smithsonian American Art Museum celebrates Día de los Muertos with special crafts for all ages and face painting for little ones, too. The festivities include live performances from the local musicians and dancers of Ballet Folklorico Mi Herencia Mexicana, Mariachi Aguila DC and Sol y Rumba. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free; register online.

Adams Morgan Apple Festival and Pie Contest: If you’re searching for something unique to do with those exorbitantly priced apples you handpicked from a local farm, look no further than the Line Hotel DC, the location of this year’s Adams Morgan apple pie contest. Up to 16 contestants compete for the title of best pie in the neighborhood while visitors enjoy a family-friendly apple festival (which includes heirloom apple tasting) in Unity Park. 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.

Hip-Hop Halloween Bar Crawl on U Street: After years of DJ-fueled hip-hop bar crawls along the U Street corridor, RegMo Promo has the formula locked down. This edition finds DJs spinning at eight bars over the course of Saturday afternoon, each with a different theme. At Cloak & Dagger, for example, Bro DJ offers “A Tribe Called Hall-Wu-Ween,” while DJ Honcho hosts a “NY vs the CHI” battle at Pure Lounge. Each bar offers drink and food specials, and there’s a $100 prize for the best costume. (Old-school hip-hop outfits are strongly encouraged.) 1 to 9 p.m. $30.

Takoma Park Monster Bash: A DJ-led dance party and a magic show kick off Takoma Park’s annual Monster Bash, which begins in the parking lot of Takoma Park Middle School — and this year, there’s a new “trunk or treat” event where kids can scoop up candy from local businesses. Then costumed children parade through the streets before a winner is crowned at the award ceremony and celebration. 1 to 4 p.m. Free.

Halloween Movie Night at Guinness Open Gate Brewery: Why watch one movie about ghosts, demons and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man when you can watch two? The Guinness brewery and taproom in Halethorpe is showing “Ghostbusters” and “Ghostbusters II” on its large outdoor lawn, with guest appearances by Baltimore’s own Charm City Ghostbusters. No reservations are required. 6:15 p.m. Free.

Victura Park Fall Festival: The Kennedy Center’s vast beer and wine garden celebrates the changing season with hot cider and hot chocolate, a special menu with chili and s’mores, and outdoor games, such as corn hole. Bring the kids for a face painter and other family fun. Noon to 4 p.m. Free admission.

Glen Echo Park Fall Frolic: Children are invited to create and decorate a loot bag before trick-or-treating at Glen Echo’s galleries and artist studios. Participate in a costume parade, try crafting, and even take a 10-minute private piano or violin lesson with the Washington Conservatory of Music. 1 to 4 p.m. Free.

Abbondanza! A Halloween Natural Wine Party at Sonny’s Pizza: The seasonal Abbondanza! events on the spacious back patio at Sonny’s are some of the best low-key wine festivals in D.C. Wander among tables from six natural wine producers and importers, as well as cider and beer producers, tasting as much as you like as you learn about the offerings. (Feel free to go back for seconds if there’s one you fall in love with.) Meanwhile, there’s free pizza laid out on a long table, and at this event, all guests receive a free tostada from Gonzo. Because it’s Halloween, there’s a costume contest, and the grand prize is a choice between bottles of wine from Abbondanza or a three-month membership in Sonny’s Natural Wine and Pizza Club. VIP tickets allow admission at noon for an extra hour of sampling. 1 to 4 p.m. $75-$85.

Lil’ Pumpkins Festival: If your family doesn’t have a pumpkin yet — or you want to add to your collection — Germantown performance venue BlackRock Center for the Arts is giving free pumpkins to kids younger than 11 at its Lil’ Pumpkins Festival. This Halloween party includes activities like pumpkin painting, trick-or-treating and a costume parade, while adults can visit a beer garden or, after the family event wraps up, watch a screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with a live cast at 6 or 9 p.m. 2 to 6 p.m. Free.

Howl-O-Ween at the Hirshhorn: A dog-centric Halloween party in the Hirshhorn’s Sculpture Garden features art-making activities for both canines and children, music from Les the DJ, and dog portraits. The highlight, though, is a dog costume contest with prizes awarded in three categories, including “Art Unleashed” for costumes inspired by works of art. Proceeds benefit the Hirshhorn’s educational programs. 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. $35 per person or dog; free for children younger than 5.

HellBent at 9:30 Club: Since debuting at 9:30 Club in 2019, Bent has been a must-attend party for the city’s LGBTQ community and its allies on the dance floor. DJ Lemz’s homage to and expansion of the vision of dearly departed institution Town Danceboutique has regularly delivered a night of DJs, dancing and drag performances to sold-out audiences. For Halloween, Bent transforms into HellBent, a “creature feature” that promises performances from Pussy Noir, Baphomette, Sirene Noir Jackson, Mari Con Carne and Pissy, along with sets on the decks from the party’s founder, D.C. scene leader Tommy C, Electrox and KS. 10 p.m. $25.

Tarot readings at Red Derby: Looking to add a bit of witchcraft to your Halloween bar gathering? In addition to its annual Monster Bash Halloween party, Red Derby is hosting a self-proclaimed witch to provide guests free tarot readings. 7 to 9 p.m. Free.

Día de los Muertos Celebration and Concert: Through Wednesday, the National Museum of the American Indian commemorates Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, a holiday honoring and remembering departed family and friends. Visitors can view an ofrenda, or altar, in the museum’s atrium, covered with marigolds and sugar skulls, and make paper butterflies for display. Saturday features a concert by Quetzal, a bilingual East Los Angeles group that incorporates rock, R&B and traditional Mexican styles into its Grammy-winning sound. Through Wednesday; concert at 2 p.m. Saturday. Free.

Sunday, Oct. 30

Del Ray Halloween Parade: Del Ray’s 26th annual parade through the neighborhood takes over the busy Mount Vernon Avenue strip between East Bellefonte Avenue and the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, passing festively decorated businesses along the way. The festivities include stroller and pet costume contests; the latter has a category called “how could you do this to me?” while the stroller competition has divisions for “best group or family” and “less is more.” Classic rock band Mars Rodeo performs at the parade’s end. The parade is the culmination of events around the Alexandria community, including a Halloween scavenger hunt, which began last week, and the “Boos and Brews” bar crawl on Mount Vernon Avenue on Saturday, with participants including Evening Star Cafe and Barkhaus. 2 p.m. Free.

Halloween at the Harbor: Kids who wear a costume to National Harbor’s Halloween party can get a free ride on the Capital Wheel from noon until 2 p.m. with the purchase of an adult ticket. That’s in addition to trick-or-treating at nearly 30 businesses throughout the waterfront development and happenings like a pet costume parade, a pumpkin carving contest and an outdoor screening of “Hocus Pocus.” Noon to 3 p.m. Free.

Midori concert: Washington Performing Arts brings the 2021 Kennedy Center honoree back to D.C. for a unique program that shuffles Bach’s sonatas and partitas (a particular sweet spot for the acclaimed violinist) with contemporary works by Jessie Montgomery (her Rhapsody No. 1) and John Zorn (“Passagen”). 7:30 p.m. $90-$115.

Mosaic Halloween Spooktacular: Shops at Mosaic District will be handing out candy to trick-or-treaters all day, while the green space Strawberry Park plays host to a face painting station, courtesy of the royal characters at Vienna Singing Princesses, from 2 to 7 p.m. and an outdoor viewing of the animated film “The Addams Family” on a big screen beginning at 6 p.m. 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Free.

Kill Moe Kill: Last Funset of the Season at Dew Drop: The best way to wind up your weekend with drinks and tunes? That would be the Funset, the weekly Sunday DJ party at the Dew Drop Inn. It’s run by DJ Smudge, who used to program the rooftop parties at Marvin, and the lineup changes every week, so you never know what you’re going to get: golden-era hip-hop, roller skating funk jams, yacht rock, rare grooves — sometimes all of that. This time around, the theme is “Kill Moe Kill: A D.C. Halloween,” so let that inspire your costume. An all-star lineup of Jahsonic, Harry Hotter, Kenny M and Smudge provides the soundtrack, along with a “surprise guest.” 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Free.

Halloween Throwback Jam N’ Costume Party at Art Whino: The team behind the Daylight hip-hop and soul events at Bohemian Caverns hosts this retro dance party at the Ballston cultural space Art Whino. DJ Divine drops the ’80s, ’90s and early 2000s hits, and there’s an “’80s celebrity”-themed costume contest. 6 p.m. to midnight. $15.

‘Spooktacular Sips’ Wine and Candy Tasting: Halloween candy isn’t just for kids anymore. District Winery is hosting a two-day wine tasting featuring six pairings of wine and candy, like riesling with caramel popcorn and blanc de blancs with candy corn. Its annual fall harvest is in full swing, so guests (21-plus) can learn about the behind-the-scenes activity of a winery. Sunday at 2, 4 and 6 p.m.; Monday at 6 p.m. $50.

Monday, Oct. 31

Harry Styles Costume Party at DC9: Dance with fellow Styles fans at this party that proves Halloween isn’t over until the morning of Nov. 1. Guests are encouraged to come in costume to “Harryween,” but if “Harry’s House” isn’t your home, try DC9’s Halloween tribute show to post-punk icons at 7 p.m. 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. $15-25.

Halloween Art Party: Land of Skulls: The Midlands Beer Garden is celebrating skull-themed artwork by 24 artists with a silent auction. Buyers can bid on art (with all proceeds to the artists) and expect to take home their new works the same day. Guests (both human and animal — pets are welcome) are encouraged to come costumed for a chance to win prizes. The event also features old-fashioned tintype photography developed on-site, a fortune teller, tunes by DJ R. Knight and tacos from Burro Bravo. 6 p.m. to midnight. Free entry.

Tuesday, Nov. 1

Let’s Eat Grandma at Union Stage: Let’s Eat Grandma’s third album, “Two Ribbons,” was released earlier this year after a period of personal tribulation and tragedy. Not only did the duo — Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth — have to process fractures in their lifelong friendship, but they also had to grapple with grief after the deaths of Hollingworth’s boyfriend, singer Billy Clayton, and their collaborator, the groundbreaking electronic producer Sophie. The pair have emerged more self-assured in their idiosyncratic approach to synth-pop, and as stronger collaborators and friends: “Nothing that was broken can touch how much I care for you,” they sing on the album’s opener. “Because you know you’ll always be my best friend, and look at what I have with you.” 8 p.m. $20-$35.

Wednesday, Nov. 2

Kalush Orchestra: Ukrainian ensemble Kalush Orchestra came to worldwide attention at this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. “Stefania,” which fused traditional folk melodies and instruments with hip-hop beats, booming bass and verses rapped in Ukrainian, won the competition thanks to overwhelming numbers of audience votes. The group later sold the trophy to raise funds to buy drones for the Ukrainian military. With its new international profile, Kalush Orchestra is touring the U.S. for the first time, introducing audiences to the idea of dance-floor-ready tunes pairing beatboxing with trilling flutes, while raising money to benefit Ukrainian relief organizations. 8 p.m. $85.

Día de los Muertos at the National Portrait Gallery: This Día de los Muertos celebration features dancing, art, music, a community altar, and, between 6:30 and 8:30 p.m., projections of live video artwork by MasPaz and Guache on the museum’s facade at G and 9th streets NW. 5 to 8 p.m. Free.