We asked Express readers what they wanted to see more of in our paper. The answer: free events. And who are we to argue? That’s why, in lieu of our usual round-up of events, we’re using this week’s Weekend Pass to highlight the best free stuff you can do in D.C. in August. Keep reading for concerts, classes, exhibits, movies and more fun stuff that won’t cost you a cent.
Aug. 1: David Hildebrand, Ginger Hildebrand and Carolyn Surrick
National Gallery of Art, West Garden Court, Sixth Street and Constitution Avenue NW; Sat., 2 p.m., free.
The development of printing techniques sparked a creative explosion in 16th-century Italy. Printmaking allowed artists to disseminate ideas widely, and their mastery of perspective, composition and lighting improved. Printed music helped composers write increasingly complex music. Witness this 500-year-old revolution at the National Gallery of Art’s ongoing exhibit, “Recent Acquisitions of Italian Renaissance Prints: Ideas Made Flesh,” then listen to period music performed on viola da gamba, lute, recorder, hammered dulcimer, harpsichord and violin.
Aug. 2: Signature Theatre Open House
Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; Sun., noon-8:30 p.m., free.
The jazz hands will reach critical mass as Signature kicks off a new season with its annual open house. There are classes, family activities, the finals of the Signature Voice competition and performances every 15 minutes — culminating in the “Broadway on the Plaza” concert.
Aug. 3: Muggle Mondays
Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW; Mon., 7 p.m., free.
It’s BYOWand at the Black Cat’s screening of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.” In addition to the movie, there are Butterbeer drink specials; presumably there will be specials on nonfictional drinks as well. Seating is limited, so take the Knight Bus there. Go back for more on Aug. 10 and 17.
Aug. 4: Dupont Brass
Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Tue., 6 p.m., free.
Originally made up of five music majors from Howard University, Dupont Brass, above, now has nine members, all from the local area. Their repertoire includes classical, jazz and modern tunes — and everyone knows that a tuba really makes everything better.
Aug. 5: Michael Dirda
Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW; Wed., 7 p.m., free.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post book columnist Michael Dirda discusses his new book, “Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living With Books.” It’s a collection of 50 of his best writings, and topics include writer’s block, sci-fi conventions and the loss of cursive writing. See what happens if you ask him to sign your Kindle.
Aug. 6: Goat mowers
Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E St. SE; starts Aug. 6, free.
The world’s most adorable lawn mowers are coming back to Southeast Washington. Congressional Cemetery, which employed a herd of goats to remove poison ivy, honeysuckle and other vines in 2013, above, will welcome 30 goats on Aug. 6 to eat their way through another acre. The goats “might be here for up to a couple of weeks,” says cemetery program director Lauren Maloy, depending on how quickly they devour the plants. Goats proved to be a popular attraction last time, with parents bringing their children to watch the animals work. (They even had a hashtag: #goatmower.) Admission is free, and the cemetery is open daily from dawn to dusk.
Aug. 7: Justin Trawick and The Common Good
Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW; Aug. 7, 10:30 p.m., free.
For nearly a decade, singer-songwriter Justin Trawick has built a reputation as one of D.C.’s most reliable roots artists. He’s also the co-host of the music and lifestyle podcast “The Circus Life” and the mastermind behind the local music showcase The 9 Songwriter Series. Trawick (backed this time by his band The Common Good) is a regular at the Hamilton’s Free Late Night Music in The Loft series, which occurs most Fridays and Saturdays in the restaurant’s loft bar.
Aug. 8: Nike Pro-City Jabbo Kenner League Championship
McDonough Arena, 37th St. NW, Aug. 8, 3:30 p.m., free.
Georgetown University hosts this annual summer basketball league, which features young players from the Hoyas and other area teams, along with alumni from various programs. The athletes are spread out over 11 teams, and play began earlier this month at McDonough Arena. The league’s playoffs — completely free for spectators — begin with the quarterfinals on Saturday. On Aug. 8, a champion is crowned.
Aug. 9: DC Jazz Jam
Brixton, 901 U St. NW; Aug. 9, 6:30-9:30 p.m., free.
Though it’s shuffled around venues of late, the DC Jazz Jam seems to have found a new home at the Brixton — just in time
to celebrate the jam’s sixth anniversary on Aug. 9. Every Sunday, a rotating group of musicians (the house band changes depending on the week) set up shop for two sets of improvised jazz. Anyone is welcome to bring an instrument and join in (there’s a sign-up sheet near the stage), but you’re also welcome to just sit back and enjoy the music.
Aug. 10: Screen on the Green, ‘Back to the Future’
National Mall, between Fourth and Seventh streets; Aug. 10, 8 p.m., free.
Now in its 17th year (movie festivals grow up so fast!), Screen on the Green brought its A-game this summer with a roster of classics and cult favorites. The season ends on Aug. 10 with a bang, or rather a Biff: the 1985 hit “Back to the Future.” Grab a blanket, your bae and your hoverboard and get ready to be transported.
Aug. 11: Sketching: Draw and Discover workshop
Luce Foundation Center for American Art at The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets NW; Aug. 11, 2:30-4:30 p.m., free.
This weekly, midday sketch class helps you unleash your inner Picasso. Art supplies and light guidance are provided as you re-create a piece of art in a gallery on the third floor of the American Art Museum containing 3,000-plus works of art. Themes change every week (one session it may be shading; the next, faces) and inform the work you choose. Consider yourself more of a modern artist? Bring your iPad to doodle on. At the end of the two-hour session, a staff member will offer a short critique.
Aug. 12: Liz Carter,‘Let 100 Voices Speak’
Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St. NW; Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m., free.
These days it seems like Twitter is good for nothing but creative uses of emojis, but in China, social media users are actually putting their own version of the site, Weibo, to good use. In her new book, writer Liz Carter, who has written for The Atlantic and Foreign Policy, takes readers to the highly censored country, where activists, trendsetters and ordinary citizens are using social media to organize, and maybe even incite some change.
Aug. 13: Owen Benjamin
Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW; Aug. 13, 6 p.m., free.
Over the past couple of years, the Kennedy Center has become one of the best (and grandest) places to see up-and-coming stand-up comics in D.C. At least once a month, the Terrace Theater hosts a free comedy show as part of the Millennium Stage series. On Aug. 13, former “Sullivan & Son” co-star Owen Benjamin, below, who recently appeared at the DC Improv, gets his turn to grace a Kennedy Center stage. Tickets are distributed in the States Gallery at 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 14: Yoga at the Hirshhorn
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 700 Independence Ave. SW; Aug. 14, 9 a.m., free.
Stretch your spine and strengthen your core underneath the modernist doughnut of the Hirshhorn building, above. Instructor Erin Mooney invites yogis of all levels to explore the connection between breath and movement, not to mention yoga and modern art, in this all-levels Vinyasa class. Be sure to bring your own mat — Brutalist concrete can be brutal on the knees.
Aug. 15: Fan Appreciation Day at Redskins training camp
Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center, 2401 W. Leigh St., Richmond; July 30-Aug. 16, free with online registration.
Enjoy this time of year, Redskins fans. Every NFL team is tied for first in the standings, nearly every football player is healthy and in great shape, and unbridled optimism is the dominant emotion. Yes, even the Washington Redskins can stand tall at the start of training camp, which returns to Richmond on July 30. A number of practice sessions will be free and open to the public, including fan appreciation day on Aug. 15.
Aug. 16: Hong Kong Film Festival: ‘Diva’
Freer Gallery of Art, Jefferson Drive at 12th St. SW, Aug. 16, 3 p.m., free.
Organizers at this year’s Hong Kong Film Festival saved the darkest and most opulent movie for last. Director Heiward Mak’s drama “Diva” is sort of like “Sunset Boulevard” set in the world of Hong Kong pop music. Real-life pop artist Joey Yung stars as a singer who suffers a nervous breakdown and finds that another young starlet is rising to replace her. What follows is a peek beneath the shiny exterior of pop music, stardom and power. Mak himself will appear at this screening.
Aug. 17: Bachelor Boys Band
Iota Club & Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington; Aug. 17, 8 p.m., free.
Versatile Mid-Atlantic music collective the Bachelor Boys Band mostly plays weddings and corporate events, but the band also holds plenty of free, public showcases that double as band practice. So, if you’re looking to hire the band for a gig, or you just want to spend an evening watching the group do a wide range of pop and rock covers, save the date.
Aug. 18: Derek Evry
Lost & Found, 1240 Ninth St. NW; Aug. 18, 7-10 p.m., free.
Arlington-based pop-rock singer Derek Evry’s free gig at Lost & Found — a regular occurrence at the craft beer-focused bar — comes just days after a (ticketed) show at the 9:30 Club. You can sample Evry and his band’s classic rock sound by streaming his latest EP, last year’s “Down to the Wire,” on Bandcamp or by binge-watching a certain TV show: Evry has had several songs featured on ABC’s “Castle.”
Aug. 19: Uke Fest
Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md.; Aug. 19, 7 p.m., free.
Twee? Maybe. More fun than you can imagine? Absolutely. The seventh annual Uke Fest is the final installment of Strathmore’s 2015 outdoor summer concert series, making it a bittersweet occasion. This year’s event promises the same foot-tapping performances and sing-alongs from years past, and then some. MCed by folk duo Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, the ukulele festival draws all ages and shows just how powerful four little strings can be.
Aug. 20: Paddle Night on the Anacostia river
Anacostia Community Boathouse, 1900 M St. SE; Aug. 20, 5-7:30 p.m., free.
Though we’ve long treated the Anacostia as a dumpster, the river still abounds with natural beauty. Sitting low in the water, you can admire turquoise-eyed cormorants as they dry their wings on pilings and see red-winged blackbirds hopping among the wildflowers on the shore. As the sun sets, you may even spot otters and ospreys taking home fish dinners. Prepare to get a little wet and take a long shower afterward — the river isn’t swimmable for humans quite yet.
Aug. 21: Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
Montgomery County Board of Education, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville; Aug. 21-23, 5 p.m., free.
The drive-in theater is not dead — at least for three days in Rockville at the Comcast Outdoor Film Festival, which kicks off on Aug. 21 with “How To Train Your Dragon 2.” On Aug. 22, find out if Matthew McConaughey can find a new planet for the human race in “Interstellar.” The 23rd brings “Guardians of the Galaxy.” Arrive early for a good parking spot, or set up a lawn chair near the 65-foot-wide inflatable screen. Movies start at dusk, and some proceeds will go to the National Institutes of Health Charities.
Aug. 22: Clockwork
Gypsy Sally’s, 3401 K St. NW; Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m., free.
Georgetown venue Gypsy Sally’s regularly hosts ticketed jam band and Americana shows in its main music room, but you don’t have to pay to see shows inside the club’s intimate Vinyl Lounge. On Aug. 22, energetic garage-rock band Clockwork will perform songs from its latest album, “Not Meant for the Dark.” (Note: You must be 21 or older to attend.) On most Wednesdays, the Vinyl Lounge also hosts a Grateful Jam, where anyone can join in on some Dead tunes.
Aug. 23: ‘Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude’
Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE; Aug. 23, noon-5 p.m., free.
Still can’t figure out which Chinatown Metro station exit makes the most sense? We’d never promise to give you clarity there, but at least this exhibit — which ends after today — can give you a little perspective. The display celebrates the British Longitude Act of 1714, which offered a hefty prize to whoever devised a way to determine longitude at sea. You’ll spy old clocks, navigational paintings by boat captains and other tools ancient mariners used to plot their courses.
Aug. 24: ‘Little Black Books: Address Books from the Archives of American Art’
Lawrence A. Fleischman Gallery, Donald W. Reynolds Center, Eighth and F streets NW; open daily 11:30 a.m.-7 p.m., through Nov. 1, free.
Visit this often-overlooked gallery and peek into the address books of influential American artists. The little black books of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Joseph Cornell and Ad Reinhardt provide an intriguing glimpse into the artists’ everyday lives and social milieu.
Aug. 25: National Park Service Birthday
See a full list of participating parks here.
In honor of its 99th birthday, the National Park Service is granting free access to all 408 of its parks on Aug. 25. That means entrance fees will be waived at all 127 of the pay-to-enter parks, including nearby Assateague Island, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and Shenandoah National Park. (Now’s your chance to hike the waterfall-packed White Hall Oak Canyon trail without coughing up $20.)
Aug. 26: Black-crowned night heron feeding
National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW; daily, 2 p.m., free.
In the summer, visitors to the National Zoo’s bird house often alert zookeepers to apparent escapees. The birds in question, however, are actually fellow tourists — wild Black Crowned Night Herons, which have been nesting in the area since before the zoo was built. The stocky, loud critters now get regular handouts from zoo employees, who have also begun tracking their migration in the fall. You can keep tabs on them, too, through the Zoo’s mobile app.
Aug. 27: ‘Selma’
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1850 West Basin Drive SW; Aug. 27, 8:15 p.m., free.
As part of its annual Films at the Stone series, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial is screening “Selma.” The Academy Award-nominated film centers on the turbulent 1965 march King led from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., in pursuit of equal voting rights. What better place to watch stirring drama than in the shadow of King’s monument, just steps from the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his “I have a dream” speech?
Aug. 28: Jazz in the Garden: Afro Bop Alliance
National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW; Aug. 28, 5-8 p.m., free.
A staple of summer in D.C., Jazz in the Garden — held among the works of art in the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden — comes to a close with Afro-Cuban jazz group Afro Bop Alliance, led by percussionist Joe McCarthy. If you can’t make it, don’t fret: There’s a free show every Friday between now and then. Whenever you go, arrive early (it gets crowded quick) and don’t forget to buy drinks and snacks at the Pavilion Cafe.
Aug. 29: Silent Disco Dance Party in Dupont Circle: Part Two
Dupont Circle Fountain, 1900 P St. NW; Aug. 29, 8-9:30 p.m., free.
If you wandered past With Love DC’s first Silent Disco Dance Party in June, you saw hundreds of people dancing but didn’t hear any music. Now, it’s time for round two. Here’s how the event — adapted from music festivals like Bonnaroo — works: A week before the dance party, organizers post a playlist on Facebook for would-be attendees to download to their phone. On the day of, you show up at Dupont Circle with headphones and the playlist cued up. Everyone hits play at the same time and the dancing begins. Whether you’re participating or just people-watching, there’s nothing quite like it.
Aug. 30: Six String Soldiers
National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center, 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Va.; Aug. 30, 5 p.m., free.
Some heroes carry guitars. Six String Soldiers, a four-member acoustic group made up of Army sergeants, can probably kick your butt and then serenade you with a lovely version of “Here Comes the Sun.” They’ll be playing an assortment of folk, Irish and bluegrass in one of the last free concerts of the summer.
Aug. 31: Zumba class
Southwest Neighborhood Library, 900 Wesley Place SW; 7:30 p.m., free.
D.C.’s smallest quadrant is ready for your jelly. Shake your booty with instructor Roshaunda Jenkins at the one-hour fitness and dance class, which features moves borrowed from Latin dance and hip-hop. People of all fitness levels and body types are welcome, and even the uncoordinated will find the instructions easy to follow.
Written and compiled by Sadie Dingfelder, Rudi Greenberg, Lori McCue, Kristen Page-Kirby, Holley Simmons and The Washington Post.
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