Thursday, Feb. 16
Savor Bethesda Restaurant Week: More than 30 restaurants have signed up for the Bethesda Urban Partnership’s 11-day event, which offers dine-in and carryout meals for $10, $20 or $35 each. Lunch at the plant-based Planta, which earned a place in Tom Sietsema’s 2022 Spring Dining Guide, includes two appetizers, two main courses and two desserts for $20; José Andrés’s Spanish Diner offers a three-course lunch for $20 or dinner (with extra tapas) for $35. Through Feb. 26.
Friday, Feb. 17
‘Discover the World of Orchids’ at the U.S. Botanic Garden: Does any museum or cultural institution host a more beautiful exhibit than the annual orchid-focused collaboration between the U.S. Botanic Garden and Smithsonian Gardens? There are certainly few more colorful. This year’s exhibition, held at the Botanic Garden after several years at the Kogod Courtyard, examines how technology is shaping the ways orchids are grown and conserved. Of course, for orchidists and anthophiles, the real attraction is getting up close to thousands of orchids in the conservatory and tropics house, including sculptures covered in flowers. Watch the Botanic Garden website for details on talks and events over the course of the exhibition. Through April 30. Free.
Artomatic Arty-Gras at Whino: It’s been almost six years since we last experienced an in-person Artomatic, the notoriously unjuried artistic free-for-all that welcomes everyone from painters to performance artists to a festival in otherwise empty buildings. (There was a virtual iteration in 2020, but as with so many events that moved online during that first summer of covid-19, it bore little resemblance to the real thing.) While we wait for the next Artomatic, the organization is hosting an Arty-Gras at the Ballston arts space Whino, with a DJ and dancing, a display of Mardi Gras-themed art, and a “masquerade parade” with cash prizes for the best costumes. 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Free.
Naptown Brass Band Mardi Gras dance party at Rams Head On Stage: Naptown Brass Band’s second-line sound is funky enough that it’s headlining the Wharf’s Mardi Gras parade, but the night before, the group takes over its hometown Rams Head On Stage, where the venue is clearing out tables to make even more room for dancing. It’s that kind of party. 8 p.m. $25.
Mardi Gras at True Respite: Oktoberfest and Christmas get their own beers. Mardi Gras, not so much. But a new beer from True Respite, a fruited sour ale dubbed Party Gras, makes its debut at the Rockville brewery’s Mardi Gras party, alongside a performance by local zydeco favorites Little Red and the Renegades, Cajun food from the Calypso N’ Roux pop-up, and even tarot readings. 4 to 10 p.m. Free.
Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival at the Hilton Hotel Rockville: The long weekend is packed with jazz — at least at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival, which takes over the Hilton Hotel in Rockville from Friday afternoon through Sunday night. Dozens of artists perform across multiple venues: The main stage includes an all-star tribute to the late trumpet player Roy Hargrove; a “Scat Summit” with Sharon Clark, Christie Dashiell and Ashley Pezzotti; and Grammy-winning trumpet player Randy Brecker. But there are also stages for up-and-coming local talent, a showcase with high school and college jazz bands, swing dancing to small ensembles, and late-night jam sessions that don’t even get going until after midnight. Ticket prices vary widely: A “grounds pass” that allows access to the band competition, smaller stages, dancing and master classes is $5 per day, while “passports” to see all the headliners start at $155 per day or $220 for the weekend. Through Sunday. Prices vary.
Cardiel at the Runaway: Mexico City power duo Cardiel live up to the title of their most recent album, last year’s “El Armagedón Afterparty.” Across nine blistering tracks, the sludge rockers unleash the fury of shredded vocal cord incantations, maniacal palm-muted riffs and concussive percussion, all with a gut-rumbling low end. This is the soundtrack of two post-apocalyptic dead-enders who don’t believe in anything or anyone, obliterating a world racked by pandemic concerns, abuse of culture and broken institutions. There’s no rest for the wicked, except during a pair of songs that toy with psychedelia and dub, as if the ozone-free sky is finally too much to take. 8:30 p.m. $12-$15.
The Judds at Eagle Bank Arena: At the 2022 CMT Music Awards last April, mother-daughter duo the Judds reunited onstage for the first time in years to perform the stirring ballad “Love Can Build a Bridge.” During a break in singing, Wynonna told her mother, “This is really happening.” On the same day, the group’s final tour was announced, but, tragically, Naomi died just weeks later. “This cannot be how The Judds story ends,” Wynonna wrote on Instagram of her decision to soldier on and end the journey that began four decades ago in Nashville. “I will continue to fight for my faith, for my SELF, for my family, and I WILL continue to show up & sing.” 7:30 p.m. $29.50-$159.50.
Saturday, Feb. 18
Mardi Gras at the Wharf: The waterfront festivities drew a huge crowd in 2022, and this year could build on that success. The parade, which begins at 3:30 p.m. at the northern end of Wharf Street SW, includes floats from local businesses tossing beads and throws, marching bands, stilt walkers and Racing Presidents. The parade ends at District Pier, where Naptown Brass Band performs horn-driven New Orleans-style music beginning at 4:30 p.m. Fireworks launch at 6:30. Pro tip: A bar on District Pier sells hurricanes and other cocktails made with Thrasher’s Rum, but last year, the lines were shorter at the distillery’s bar. 3 to 7 p.m. Free.
Atlas Intersections Festival at the Atlas Performing Arts Center: Check out more than 30 shows on H Street during Atlas Performing Arts Center’s popular multiweek Intersections Festival. A smorgasbord of performances are organized into categories called “Story,” “Movement,” “Sound” and “Family.” Within those four areas, you’ll find an interactive performance with puppets for toddlers called “Aquarium,” a fully improvised comedy show based on real stories from D.C.-based artists of color and a concert from vocalist Akua Allrich inspired in part by Nina Simone. The “Movement” genre is particularly well-represented, showcasing dance styles from tap to flamenco. Through March 26. $22-$35.
Presidential Family Fun Day at the National Portrait Gallery: Kids can get an honest-to-goodness look at our tallest president during the National Portrait Gallery’s family event, which celebrates the display of one of only three life-size portraits of Abraham Lincoln. The afternoon includes games and crafts — including the chance to make a stovepipe hat with folks from President Lincoln’s Cottage — and an appearance by the Nationals’ Racing Presidents. 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.
Black History Month Family Day at Woodlawn Manor: Sandy Spring’s Woodlawn Manor, home to Montgomery County’s Underground Railroad Experience Trail and a museum with exhibits about free and enslaved Black communities, is open for self-guided tours and take-home activities. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free.
Mamie Smith, Bessie Smith and the Centennial Year of Race Records with Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra at the National Museum of Natural History: 1923 was a momentous year for music, featuring the first recordings from Bessie Smith, later dubbed the “Empress of the Blues.” The Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra explores the trailblazing output of Bessie Smith and “Queen of the Blues” Mamie Smith (no relation) during this concert. 7 p.m. $25.
The Ex-Presidents Masquerade at Vagabond: On Presidents’ Day weekend, it makes sense that Vagabond would honor a quartet of ex-presidents — after all, the “secret” bar in the Dupont restaurant’s basement has a giant “Point Break” mural. Practice your favorite lines — “Utah, get me two!” — from the surf-themed cult favorite and dress as a “Point Break” character to win prizes. Of note: Organizers say they’ll be giving out masks similar to those worn by Patrick Swayze and other bank robbers in the film. Arrive early or risk getting stuck with LBJ. 9 p.m. Free.
Mardi Gras at Metrobar: The Metro-themed beer garden offers spirit tastings with Ivy City’s Bo and Ivy Distillers, Virginia’s Catoctin Creek whiskey and the Dominican Republic’s Chinola passion fruit liqueur; jazz from the Julian Berkowitz Quartet; party tunes by DJ Chubb E. Swagg; food from Très Creole and Petit Afrik; and a menu of hurricanes, Sazeracs and other famous New Orleans cocktails. A $20 ticket includes food, a cocktail, spirits tastings and giveaways, but isn’t required. 3 to 11:30 p.m. Free-$20.
Lil Texas at Soundcheck: The SoundCloud bio for DJ-producer Lil Texas puts his listeners on notice: “AMERICAN HARDCORE. TURN YOUR BPM PAST 200. UPTEMPO FREAKS. SPEED IS THE ONLY OPTION.” True to his all-caps words, the Dallas-born, LA-based talent is all about the extreme end of EDM, drawing from sounds and scenes that seek to push BPMs and blood pressures to their limits. But amid buzz-saw synths and industrial-grade beats, familiar vocal samples ring out and give the listener something to latch on to. On a recent drop, a classic Rakim line — “I kick a hole in the speaker, pull the plug, then I jet” — fits Lil Texas’s MO perfectly. 10 p.m. $15-$20.
Nerd Nite at DC9: If your idea of a party is listening to an academic talk, don’t miss Nerd Nite, which returns to the Cardozo nightclub for its first lecture series since November. This time, the themes from three presenters include “the dark depths” of “larping,” or live-action role playing; whether fish can find love; and a talk hypothesizing that an 1815 volcanic eruption in the south Pacific led, eventually, to the 2004 horror/fantasy film “Van Helsing.” 6:30 p.m. $10-$15.
High Side Fifth Anniversary: One of the better beer bars in Northern Virginia, Fairfax’s High Side stands out with its draft list, which, at the moment, includes taps from Atlanta’s Halfway Crooks, Norfolk’s Benchtop and Miami’s J. Wakefield, as well as its own Berliner weisse, created in collaboration with Sterling’s Crooked Run. This weekend marks High Side’s fifth anniversary, and the bar is tapping new collaborations as well as beers from around the United States. While the general party is open to all with no cover charge, a VIP period from noon to 2 p.m. includes first shot at the beers, to-go four-packs of High Side’s collaborations with Crooked Run and Benchtop, a bottle of mead made in collaboration with Black Heath, special merch, beer discounts, and a “surprise.” Noon to 2 p.m., $65; 2 to 10 p.m., free.
Kotic Couture at the Pocket: Self-described “Queen of the Underground” Kotic Couture explored her winding path to selfhood and artistry on last year’s “Late to the Party,” an album where the Baltimore MC dished out cataracts of consonants over beats that owe to eras when hip-hop made folks dance. “Tell me all you want me to know / Cry me a river, go ahead and let it flow,” she rapped on an earlier single, “Pink Durag.” “I know some days the warmth you feel is minimal / But when the curtain raised, you still gotta bring the show.” 8 p.m. $12-$15.
Imperfect pottery ‘seconds sale’ at Counter Culture Coffee Training Center: The Asheville, N.C.-based dinnerware company East Fork Pottery (with a somewhat cult following) is hosting a two-day sale for imperfect ceramics. A ticket gets you early access on Saturday to shop plates, bowls, mugs and more at the Adams Morgan coffee training center before it opens to the public on Sunday. Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. $5 on Saturday; free on Sunday.
Sunday, Feb. 19
20th annual Buddy Holly Tribute/Winter Dance Party at Rosensteel Hall: For two decades, the cream of Washington’s rockabilly and Americana scenes have joined forces to pay tribute to Buddy Holly and “The Day the Music Died” — the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper. The latest edition, held at the Knights of Columbus’s Rosensteel Hall in Silver Spring, features the Rock-a-Sonics, Ruthie and the Wranglers, Goin’ Goin’ Gone, and singer J.P. McDermott, who created the party all those years ago. Note that guaranteed seats are already sold out; other seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis. 7 p.m. $30.
Mardi Gras at Dauphine’s: D.C.’s top-rated New Orleans restaurant pulls out all the stops for Mardi Gras: food stations and passed hors d’oeuvres ranging from suckling pig to boudin; Harris Creek oysters in shooters or on the half shell; an open bar on hurricanes and other New Orleans cocktails, plus an outdoor absinthe garden with guest bartenders from the Green Zone; tables of king cakes; and entertainment from fire dancers, the Crush Funk Brass Band and DJ Harry Hotter. Costumes and masks are encouraged. 6 to 10 p.m. $165-$200.
Jason Kao Hwang’s Human Rites Ensemble at Rhizome: It’s rough out here. Endless gentrification and an unrelenting pandemic have left the D.C. jazz ecosystem in bad shape. Bohemian Caverns, Twins Jazz and the relatively short-lived Sotto are all gone for good. But there are still bright spots worth protecting, including Bobby Hill’s Transparent Productions, which just celebrated 25 years of hosting pathfinding, life-improving jazz performances in the greater Washington area. Season 26 is underway, and it will feature an appearance from Transparent mainstay Jason Kao Hwang, a violinist who seems to expand his inventiveness with each visit. 7 p.m. $20.
Monday, Feb. 20
Presidents’ Day at Mount Vernon: America’s first president made his home just outside D.C., and Mount Vernon welcomes the public free on both Presidents’ Day and George Washington’s actual birthday. A limited number of tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis, as are tickets for timed tours of the mansion. Activities include a ceremonial wreath laying at the Washington family tomb and performances by the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps. Monday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
Washington’s Birthday Parade: Just up the road from Mount Vernon, the city of Alexandria marks Washington’s Birthday on Monday with a parade through Old Town that also honors the centenary of the landmark George Washington Masonic National Memorial. In addition to the country’s largest Washington-themed parade, which begins at 1 p.m. at Fayette and Pendleton streets, the day includes tours of historic sites, such as Gadsby’s Tavern and Christ Church, and a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution at the Old Presbyterian Meeting House. Times vary. A full schedule is available on washingtonbirthday.com.
Woodrow Wilson House Tour: After leaving public life, Woodrow Wilson lived in Kalorama, where his house is kept much as he left it. Take a free tour of the Woodrow Wilson House at 10 or 11 a.m. Monday — though both were nearly full as of publishing time — and don’t miss the “Suffrage Outside, Inside” exhibit honoring the centennial of women’s suffrage, which originally opened as an outdoor display at the height of the pandemic. 10 and 11 a.m. Free.
Library of Congress open house: The Library of Congress’s Reading Room is one of the most beautiful indoor spaces in Washington, but most visitors are only allowed to peer into it from a small balcony because the library doesn’t want to disturb the researchers working at the sturdy mahogany desks. During the library’s annual Presidents’ Day open house, however, the Reading Room welcomes all comers, with docents on hand to show off its statues and secrets during a rare Monday opening. Tour other library exhibits, including the photography-focused “Not an Ostrich,” before or afterward. A free timed entry pass is required, and more passes will be released online at 9 a.m. Monday. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free; timed entry ticket required.
Presidents’ Day Gun Salute at the Navy Yard: The U.S. Navy Ceremonial Guard is responsible for firing cannons as part of a 21-gun salute. On Presidents’ Day, a salute outside the Navy Yard honors presidents past and present. Beginning at noon, the Guard’s Firing Party will fire a cannon every minute for 21 minutes to mark the holiday. While you might be able to hear the boom of the cannon from some distance, those who want to see the ceremony for themselves can head for the Anacostia Riverwalk behind the Navy Yard, while they’ll be directed to a safe viewing location. However, the Guard’s Facebook page warns, “The cannons are loud — we recommend bring your own hearing protection!” Noon to 12:21 p.m. Free.
Capital Orchestra Festival at the Kennedy Center: This annual free event in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall features five young ensembles from across America, including the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Iowa City West High School Symphony Strings and the College of Charleston Orchestra, performing works by Tchaikovsky, Brahms and other well-known composers. 2 p.m. Free.
Black Chef Series at Cambria Hotel: In honor of Black History Month, the Capitol Riverfront location of the Cambria Hotel features a dinner designed to explore cuisines of the African diaspora, with Black chefs each producing one dish as part of a five-course meal. The lineup includes executive chef Angela Bethea of rooftop bar Smoke & Mirrors and Peter Prime, executive chef of the Caribbean-inspired Bammy’s. Each course — including jerk-spiced venison saddle, blackened seared snapper and deep-fried sweet yam fritters — has an accompanying wine or cocktail. 6:30 p.m. $125.
Tuesday, Feb. 21
Mardi Gras Fiesta at Republic Cantina: Tex-Mex favorite Republic Cantina swaps tacos and margaritas for po’ boys and hurricanes, complete with live Cajun tunes from the Capitol Hillbillies from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. No reservations are taken, and costumes are encouraged. 4 to 11 p.m. Free.
Mardi Gras at Bayou Bakery: New Orleans chef David Guas is the genial host of this long-running party at his Court House restaurant. The cafe is open as usual with traditional food and drinks from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the fun really gets going after 6 p.m., thanks to live music; potent daiquiris; and a menu with Guas’s muffuletta, jambalaya and gumbo, as well as Bayou’s famous king cake. 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed between 5 and 6 p.m. Free; tickets for three food items or drinks $16-$22.
Mardi Gras at Due South: Dance to the Dream City Brass Band while snacking on a buffet of jambalaya and shrimp gumbo and sipping French 75s or hurricanes. (Tickets include unlimited food and one cocktail or two beers.) Mardi Gras colors and costumes encouraged. 4 to 10 p.m. $50 in advance, $60 at the door.
Wednesday, Feb. 22
Line dancing at Lost Boy Cider: There are no cowboy boots required at this line dancing class. Learn how to two-step to country and modern songs and snack on charcuterie from pop-up Casa Onofre. Walk-ins are welcome, though only those who RSVP are guaranteed a spot in the line. 6:30 to 9 p.m. Free.