The 24 best things to do in D.C. this weekend and next week

The annual Bloomaroo festival at the Wharf, which celebrates cherry blossom season with live music, games, family activities and a beer garden, capped by evening fireworks, has been moved to Sunday due to predictions of strong winds on Saturday. (Courtesy of the Wharf.)
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Baseball returns to Washington on Thursday as the Nationals begin their season against the Atlanta Braves. Look for Opening Day festivities around Navy Yard, including happy hours, DJs and other events. Cherry blossom celebrations continue this weekend, including a festival with fireworks at the Wharf; the Smithsonian’s day-long Cherry Blossom Festival with music and tours at the National Museum of Asian Art; and the National Gallery of Art’s First Saturdays program, with blossom-themed talks, films and hands-on crafts for all ages.

Thursday, March 30

Washington Nationals Opening Day happy hours and specials

The Washington Nationals aren’t going to be very good this season, but for baseball fans, Opening Day is still a time-honored tradition. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m., and pregame festivities include 2019 World Series champion Gerardo Parra leading Clydesdales through the streets around Nationals Park, beginning at First and N streets SE at 10:45 a.m. (Presumably, the baby shark will make an appearance.)

The Navy Yard neighborhood is full of specials: Ice Cream Jubilee offers a sundae in a Nats-cap-shaped cup. Mission opens its doors at 10 a.m. Next door, Walters is also opening at 10, and who could say no to a free $5 credit to spend on the pour-your-own-beer wall? Just register for its Opening Day party, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., to claim the gift.

Chicken and Whiskey debuts its “Pollo Pen” with DJs, specials and prizes before and after the game, beginning at 11 a.m. The Salt Line opens at 10:30 a.m., though the real action happens later, with DJ Harry Hotter and exclusive Other Half draft beers, starting at 3:30 p.m. The new Trouble Bird cocktail bar hosts an after-party with a DJ and drink specials beginning at 4:30.

The Bullpen is back for a 15th season, opening at 11 a.m. with live music from the Last Real Circus and the DCeivers, food trucks, cornhole, and multiple bars. If you’re not staying for the whole game, remember the bar does happy hour, including $5 beers, between the third and seventh innings.

Swizzler’s arrival inside Nationals Park is big news on the concession scene, but it’s the Swizzler on First Street SE that you need to visit this weekend, thanks to a selection of $3 beers, including offerings from Atlas, Hellbender and Right Proper, available Thursday through Sunday.

Looking for fresh beer? All-Purpose welcomes back Full Count, its annual lite lager collaboration with DC Brau, by offering $5 pints beginning at 10 a.m. On the other side of the park, Atlas Brew Works’ Half Street taphouse opens at 9 a.m. for the debut of its new Opening Day Pilsener. (The Spring Training Helles, launched a few weeks back, is also very good.) Bluejacket, which also opens at 10 a.m., is tapping Pattern Skies weissbier and Perfect Places IPA for the occasion.

Oh, and if you don’t care about the Nationals? Ivy and Coney marks another year of rooting for the Chicago Cubs and Detroit Tigers by opening at noon with Detroit pizza, Italian beef sandwiches and a hot-dog-eating contest during the seventh inning stretch of the Cubs game. (The game starts at 2:20 p.m., but who knows when the stretch will be, thanks to the new rules.)

‘Jennifer Who Is Leaving’ at Round House Theatre

The second installment of Round House Theatre’s annual National Capital New Play Festival features this world premiere, written and directed by Morgan Gould. The edgy comedy takes place in a roadside Dunkin’ and in the world of frustration experienced by a group of women who are called on to do, well, just too much. Gould, a graduate of Juilliard’s playwriting fellowship program, has worked extensively with dramatist Young Jean Lee and directed the world premiere of her own promising “I Want to F---ing Tear You Apart” at Studio Theatre in 2017. This Saturday’s matinee performance includes a pay-what-you-can option. Through May 7. $39-$81.

Friday, March 31

Maryland Day Weekend

Pedants will tell you that Maryland Day, commemorating the day English settlers landed in St. Mary’s County in 1634, was last Saturday. They’re correct. But the three-day celebration of this historic event is taking place this weekend in Annapolis and throughout Anne Arundel County. There are free tours of historic homes and gardens, including Historic London Town, the Hammond-Harwood House and the Chase Lloyd House; a parade and African Diaspora Festival at the City Dock; free admission to county parks, such as Fort Smallwood and the Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary; a family open house at the Naval Academy with rope tying and hands-on activities; and free admission to the Annapolis Maritime Museum and the Chesapeake Children’s Museum. (The latter has a $1 charge for indoor activities.) Events vary by day, so spend time browsing the calendars on the Maryland Day website before making plans. Through Sunday. Most events free; some have nominal ($1) admission.

Cherokee Days Festival at the National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian hosts three Cherokee tribes during a three-day festival happening throughout the museum. Learn about the cultural traditions and history of the Cherokee Nation, United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians through pottery and basket-weaving demonstrations, music and dance performances, storytelling sessions, traditional games, film screenings, and hands-on craft making for children. Through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Free.

Cherry Night

Think most National Cherry Blossom Festival events are for kids and families? Cherry Night features DJs, cocktails and sakura-inspired fun at an array of D.C. restaurants and bars — think a Nicki Minaj-themed “Pink Friday” dance party at Wunder Garten, Nick Gomez of Hot 99.5 broadcasting live from Focus on H Street NE with tequila tastings and a cherry blossom streetcar, or live music and pink cocktails at Metrobar. A full schedule is on the National Cherry Blossom Festival website.

Kelow LaTesha at Songbyrd

When Kelow LaTesha casually boasted, “I’m livin’ real healthy and thinkin’ bigger” on “Targets,” the lyric felt like a mission statement. The rapper, who was born and raised in Prince George’s County, seems to be constantly in pursuit of health, wealth and wisdom, a drive that defines last year’s “Turbo” EP. “Turbo” is a lean-and-mean showcase for the rapper, who has a gift for tweaking her elastic flow for whatever her percolating beats require, whether that’s a singsong melody, pinched syllables or breathy bars. It’s also the latest expression of a talent whose style — from her ever-changing hair color to her eye for fashion to lyrical references to kids’ favorites like “Pokémon” and “The Powerpuff Girls” — has always been unabashedly her own, long before off-kilter became de rigueur in rap. 11 p.m. $15-$20.

Paws and Petals Yappy Hour at the Embassy Suites Washington Convention Center

Is it ever too early in the year for dogs to jump into a pool? Probably not. (Ask your pup.) This National Cherry Blossom Festival happy hour features a doggy swim, complimentary treats and drinks for four-legged guests, and happy hour deals including hot dogs for humans, as well as dog swag, such as portable dog bowls. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Free.

Young Nudy at Fillmore Silver Spring

The cover of Young Nudy’s “Gumbo” looks like what might happen if an AI art generator were asked to illustrate an unsettling feast: The uncanny valley tableau includes pancakes and okra, a McChicken sandwich, an MRE military ration and a neon green snake. On “Gumbo,” these items are track titles, while the snake is Nudy himself, a menacing presence that slithers through the proceedings. With an effortless flow and singsong style reminiscent of Gucci Mane at his peak, the East Atlanta rapper croaks melodic bars about the peril and pleasure of the street life over hypnotic beats that smash video game synthesizers into 808 bass. Bon appétit. 8 p.m. $80.

Saturday, April 1

White House Spring Garden Tours

Washington’s public and private gardens are bursting with events at this time of year, but few attract as much buzz — or demand — as the spring edition of the White House Garden Tour. For two days, the public can access the famous Rose Garden outside the West Wing, the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden and Michelle Obama’s less formal White House Kitchen Garden, as well as ornamental and ceremonial trees planted by presidents. Admission is through timed tickets, which will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis beginning at 8:30 a.m. each day. (Get to the White House Visitor Center early for the best choice of entry times.) Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Free; timed entry pass required.

Cherry blossom celebrations continue

The cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin hit peak bloom last week — defined as the period when 70 percent of the trees are flowering — but celebrations centered on the beautiful pink and white blossoms continue.

This weekend brings free outdoor festivals: The Wharf’s Bloomaroo, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been moved to Sunday due to forecasts calling for strong winds. The two-day Art Blooms in Fairfax’s Mosaic District brings a marketplace of 90 makers and vintage vendors, music on multiple stages, a farmers market with food and drinks, and singing princesses for the kids. A free shuttle runs from Dunn Loring Metro. (Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.)

The Smithsonian’s own Cherry Blossom Festival takes place at the National Museum of Asian Art this weekend, with curator-led tours of exhibits, live performances and a kimono pop-up, as well as hands-on activities for kids. (2 to 5 p.m. Free.) The National Gallery of Art’s new monthly First Saturday program has something for all ages, including short films for children, silk-screening lessons and a Q&A with plant expert Hilton Carter. (10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.)

Y2K Pink Party hosted by members of NSYNC and 98 Degrees at Westfield Montgomery

Throw it back to the 2000s with this family-friendly dance party at Westfield Montgomery. Chris Kirkpatrick and Jeff Timmons host, and guests can expect visits from other pop stars of yore, including LFO and O-Town. It’s all part of the shopping center’s BlossomFest, which also includes a pop-up beer garden with Maryland’s Lone Oak Brewing Co. RSVP for a chance to win a meet-and-greet with performers. 1 to 8 p.m. Free.

‘Searching for Shakespeare’ festival

This year marks 400 years since the publication of Shakespeare’s First Folio. Released seven years after his death, it includes 18 plays that had never before appeared in print, including “Macbeth,” “As You Like It,” “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Julius Caesar.” The Folger Shakespeare Library owns 82 First Folios — more than a third of the known copies in the world — and while its Capitol Hill building is undergoing renovation, the Folger is teaming up with the D.C. Public Library for a celebration. See one of the Folger’s First Folios and learn how Shakespeare’s friends and fellow thespians helped preserve his memory at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library downtown. Watch a newly commissioned play, “Our Verse in Time to Come,” which blends the worlds of Shakespeare and hip-hop, and hear a griot explain the connection between rhymes of 400 years ago and today. “Searching for Shakespeare” continues all month, with workshops and hands-on events at libraries throughout the city. Through April 30. Free. Tickets are required for performances of “Our Verse in Time to Come.”

Weekend of Wordplay at Planet Word

If you’ve ever wanted to fulfill your fantasy of becoming a Scrabble star, this Planet Word event is a good place to start. The museum’s Lexicon Lane features Scrabble demonstrations throughout the day, and the author of “Word Freak” will lecture on “A Brief History of Scrabble” and give a book reading with a Q&A session. Or try hands-on wordplay games like Composition and Katootsie, whose designers will be present, at sessions hosted by Labyrinth Games and Puzzles. Passes are available beginning at 10 a.m. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.

Capitol Lounge: The Return at Union Pub

After years of fake product announcements, fake sports news and even fake D.C. bars, we’ve all learned to be extra cynical on April 1. (Well, some of us.) But here’s one that is not, in fact, too good to be true: For one day, Capitol Lounge owner Jimmy Silk and Union Pub owner Matt Weiss are bringing back the Lounge, a longtime staffer watering hole known for its dirt-cheap happy hours, walls decorated with political memorabilia, and allegiance to Michigan State and the New England Patriots, which closed for good during the pandemic. Dara Dike, a Union Pub employee who once served as general manager at the Lounge, has invited former regulars and staff back for the pop-up celebration on the other side of the Hill. In keeping with tradition, there will be “No politics. No Miller Lite,” and a wing special — just 40 cents each — from 3 to 5 p.m. before the Final Four begins. 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Free.

‘Jazzed About Art: Jazz Appreciation Month’ at the National Museum of Natural History

The National Museum of American History first designated April as Jazz Appreciation Month back in 2001, and the annual celebrations kick off with a concert by the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra. The program by the museum’s orchestra-in-residence, held at the National Museum of Natural History’s Baird Auditorium, brings in a visual component as well: Works by 20th-century artists, including William Sharp, John Fenton and Romare Bearden, will flash on a screen as the big band plays swingin’ tunes by Dizzy Gillespie, Sun Ra, McKinney’s Cotton Pickers and other artists. 7 to 9 p.m. $20- $25.

Dugri at City-State Brewing

In 2017, rapper Joyner Lucas scored a viral hit and stoked plenty of online conversations with “I’m Not Racist,” a two-verse track that imagined a stereotype-filled dialogue between a White man and a Black man as a precursor to clearing the table and finding political consensus. Those conversations extended all the way to the Middle East, where Uriya Rosenman and Sameh Zakout repurposed the concept as “Let’s Talk Straight.” Adopting the name Dugri, slang for “straight talk,” the Israeli-Palestinian pair use the same cathartic explosion of stereotypes and misconceptions to move toward understanding in their homeland. 8 p.m. $18.

R&B Experience at Capital One Arena

When Andre 3000 said that “the South got something to say” at the 1995 Source Awards, he was ostensibly talking about Southern rap, but in the ’90s, the region was already a hotbed for R&B. The R&B Experience attempts to recapture that pre-millennium magic by uniting half a dozen acts from that time and place, mostly Atlanta-born acts discovered and nurtured by the era’s hitmakers. On the bill: girl group Xscape, girl group survivor Tamar Braxton, bedroom-eyed guy groups 112 and Silk, alto-voiced “Angel of Mine” singer Monica, and soft-voiced Tevin Campbell, who at this point is perhaps best known for the better-than-it-needed-to-be “I 2 I” from “A Goofy Movie.” 7 p.m. $75-$95.50.

Virtual reality of Calais refugee camp at Woolly Mammoth Theatre

“The Jungle” is performed in Harman Hall, but this parallel experience co-hosted with Artechouse and Shakespeare Theatre Company brings audience members to a wholly different place and time. The play, which first sold out New York and London theaters and was hailed by theater critic Peter Marks as “essential viewing,” follows the lives of refugees and volunteers in a French camp filled with refugees. In this virtual reality experience, guests view “Home: Aamir” with Oculus headsets. The film is presented through the eyes of a 22-year-old Sudanese refugee who journeys across the Mediterranean. Time slots, which should be reserved, are available Saturday, Sunday, April 8 and April 15. 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Free.

Capital Art Book Fair at Eastern Market’s North Hall

East City Art’s first book fair includes over 30 exhibitors from across North America. Expect art, prints, DIY zines, graphic novels, art magazines and, of course, lots of books. Off-site programming during the fair at the nearby Hill Center and Capitol Hill Arts Workshop includes panel discussions on art publishing, artist talks, exhibitions and a free children’s art workshop. Saturday from noon to 8 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

Petals and Paws at South Germantown Recreational Park

Kids and canines are welcome at Montgomery Parks’ Petals and Paws cherry blossom festival. Walk the one-mile paved loop to discover crafting and photo stations, and purchase treats for dogs and humans. Pick up a free seedling to plant at home. 9 to 11 a.m. Free.

Sunday, April 2

Bloomeroo at the Wharf

Originally scheduled for Saturday, this cherry blossom-themed event features a giant beer garden on the District Pier, along with live music on multiple waterfront stages, karaoke, kite decorating, tea sampling and other activities. The day is capped with a fireworks show beginning at 8:30 p.m. (2 to 9 p.m. Free.)

Sakura Sunday festival at National Harbor

A range of cultural performances take center stage at National Harbor’s Sakura Sunday, from taiko drumming to J-pop groups to martial arts demonstrations, as well as a tea ceremony and meditation session. A marketplace features vendors selling anime items, toys, bubble tea and ramen, and there’s also a sake and beer garden. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free.

Oxon Run Pinknic and Kite Fly

If your kids didn’t get a chance to fly a kite on the Mall last week, bring them to Oxon Run Park in Southeast Washington for the Oxon Run Pinknic and Kite Fly, where children can decorate kites and send them soaring. The afternoon also includes music from Elyscia and the JoGo Project, as well as a local vendor market. Noon to 3 p.m. Free.

District Dogs Bark Park breed parties

Imagine a dog park filled entirely with frolicking pugs — that’s exactly what you’ll see at a “pawty in the park” called Pug Palooza. D.C. pet care company District Dogs operates a private dog park called the Bark Park in Park View, and the first Sunday in April features three 90-minute gatherings dedicated to different breeds: Pug Palooza (beginning at 11 a.m.), Hound Hootenanny (12:30 p.m.) and Bulldog Bash (2 p.m.). Admission to each event is $15 per dog, but you don’t have to own a pup to get in; human-only entry is $5. Tickets won’t be sold at the gate, so snag one in advance. 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. $5-$15.

Wednesday, April 5

Sleaford Mods at 9:30 Club

Since 2012, Sleaford Mods have been the duo of singer-lyricist Jason Williamson and synthesist-composer Andrew Fearn. But the Nottingham “punk-hop” group’s new album, “UK Grim,” includes several other voices. Featured are guest appearances by Florence Shaw, the vocalist for Dry Cleaning, and Perry Farrell, formerly of Jane’s Addiction and Porno for Pyros. Electronica is essential to the Mods’ sampler-and-drum-machine sound, which on “UK Grim” is only occasionally supplemented by piano or guitar. But when asked about his early influences, Williamson lists the Wu-Tang Clan and British alternative rap act the Streets, as well as the Sex Pistols and the Jam. The last were initially known as revivalists of Mod, the youth movement that gave Williamson’s duo half of its name. 7 p.m. $25.

Interview: Collaborations up the ante on Sleaford Mods’ haunting new album