More than a million people, from average Joes to Jay-Z, poured into Washington four years ago to witness the historic inauguration of Barack Obama. They occupied nearly every hotel room, snapped up every ball ticket and filled the Mall. The weekend provided some unforgettable milestones and a few regrettable logjams.

President Obama’s second inauguration on Monday will be a markedly scaled-down affair, which means it’s shaping up to be a great weekend for the inauguration-goer.

Whether you’re riding in from Shady Grove or you’ve flown in from a far-off city to see Obama take the oath of office and Beyonce hit the high notes of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” there are plenty of ways to soak up the pomp and circumstance — and this time, there will be a lot more room in which to do so. If you don’t have a gown or a plan, don’t worry.

Let this be your low-stress guide; list of 10 events you can hit for $20 or less.

Throughout the weekend

Chuck Close’s tapestries
of President Obama

The National Portrait Gallery has unveiled two new jacquard tapestry portraits of the president created by renowned artist Chuck Close. After a more than hour-long photo shoot with the president last summer, Close used the resulting Polaroids as the basis for his weavings, each nearly eight feet tall and more than six feet across. In one, Obama has a serious look; in the other, he wears a warm smile. In all, 10 tapestries Close made were snapped up for $100,000 apiece by private collectors (the cash went to the reelection campaign); the ones at the Portrait Gallery are on loan through March 3, so this might be your best chance to see them in a museum setting.

Eighth and F streets NW. 202-633-1000. 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Free.

‘Out of Many: A Multicultural
Festival of Music, Dance and Story’

The National Museum of the American Indian has joined with the Smithsonian’s Latino Center, Asian Pacific American Program and forthcoming Museum of African American History and Culture for a three-day festival highlighting America’s role as a melting pot of culture. Family-friendly activities take place throughout the museum and include performances of Bolivian folkloric dance, hula from Halau Ho’Omau, jazz music and taiko drumming, all by groups that are keeping those traditions alive stateside.

Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW. 202-633-1000. Through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The museum is closed Monday. Free.


Day of Service

The official ball is sold out. Tickets to the swearing-in have been snapped up. If you’re hoping to be part of an official event, you can take part in the day of service that will kick off inauguration weekend. Among the major White House-endorsed volunteer events is the Points of Light project that will enlist 10,000 volunteers to pack 100,000 “care kits” with bandages, hand sanitizer and more for deployed military, wounded service members and veterans. Volunteers commit for one 2 1 / 2-hour shift at the D.C. Armory, but registration is required. For more community-based work, sign up for one of the 45 projects HandsOn Greater D.C. Cares is organizing across the region at

D.C. Armory, 2001 E. Capitol St. SE. Free.


If you found the milestones of President Obama’s first term alternately confounding, funny, brilliant and touching, you’re not alone. Look back on those moments with the nationally recognized artists who dissected them in pen and ink at Art Soiree’s one-night exhibition, featuring pointed political cartoons from major publications. Work from artists including KAL, Mike Keefe, Signe Wilkinson and The Post’s Tom Toles will be on display at the party, held at Malmaison, a new Georgetown venue. The event will feature food, a cash bar and a performance by Suspicious Package, which just might be D.C.’s only band fronted by journalists and wonks.

3401 Water St. NW. 202-841-6441. 8 p.m. to midnight. $15 in advance; $20 at the door.

I Don’t Have a Super-Pac to Buy Me a Ticket to the Inaugural Ball ball

There’s no swing-state politicking in Glen Echo’s grand Spanish Ballroom, only swing dancing, and that’s what makes this party perfect for families that want to celebrate but stay far from the havoc in the city. American Swing asks guests to dress as if they’re headed to a real ball. Bring the kids along for the performance by Eight to the Bar, a roots-music inspired act that should get the crowd jumping. Come early to pick up a few moves: An hour-long dance lesson begins at 8 p.m.

7300 MacArthur Blvd., Glen Echo. 703-359-9882. 301-634-2222. 9 p.m. to midnight. $18; $12 ages 11-17; $10 age 10 and younger.


Smokey Robinson and
the ‘Let Freedom Ring’ concert

The Kennedy Center’s free celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, held since 2003 in collaboration with Georgetown University, has long been a star attraction. But every four years, the event coincides with inauguration festivities, making it a major attraction for visitors as well as locals. In 2009, Aretha Franklin performed, one day before she sang “My Country Tis of Thee” on the Capitol steps for the newly minted president and an audience of millions. This time around, it’s the honey-voiced Motown legend Robinson who will join the Let Freedom Ring Choir the night before he takes the mike at the official inaugural balls. Free tickets (two per person) will be distributed first-come, first-served at 4 p.m. Sunday to those in line in the venue’s Hall of Nations.

2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. 6 p.m. Free.

Nevermind the Inauguration:
A punk-rock counter-inaugural ball

At the Warehouse Theater, just across the street from where the Obamas will mingle at inaugural balls Monday night, punks, progressives and the politically disinclined will gather for this festival that celebrates resistance to the status quo. By day, expect free panels and film screenings. By night, however, it will get considerably louder when the space becomes a music venue, featuring punk band Catharsis, Philadelphia’s Trophy Wife, Atlanta hardcore band Dead in the Dirt and Los Gatos Negros.

645 New York Ave. NW. Workshops, noon to 4 p.m.; concert, 6 p.m. Workshops, free; concert, $16.


Inauguration Day
on the Mall

Even without tickets to Monday’s ceremonies, it’s possible to take part in this historic day. Much of the Mall, stretching from Fourth to 12th Street, is open to the public and will be dotted with Jumbotron screens for visitors to watch the action as it takes place on the U.S. Capitol steps. The Smithsonian, Archives and Mount Vernon Square Metro stations will be closed on Inauguration Day, but it’s a brisk walk to the Mall from the Federal Triangle, Union Station, Gallery Place, Metro Center and Foggy Bottom stations. The tentative schedule: The Mall opens at 4 a.m., the program begins at 11:30 a.m. and the parade starts at 2:30 p.m. Entry points to the Mall are: Constitution Avenue NW at Seventh Street, Ninth Street and 12th Street; and on Independence SW at Seventh and 12th streets.

at Hill Country

The popular Texas-themed Hill Country Barbecue, within walking distance of the Mall, will host low-key options for inaugural revelers and passersby. From 8 to 11 a.m., a pop-up window on Seventh Street will serve breakfast tacos, hot chocolate and coffee to go. For those without plans Monday night, the bar will serve as a low-budget hangout, serving themed cocktails — including $1 “Potus-pop” Jell-O shots — and hosting a free Rock ’n Twang Live Band Karaoke night, beginning at 8:30 p.m. and going till the last singer is hoarse. Those whose dinner consisted of the “heavy hors d’oeuvres” typical of big-ticket balls should also make a beeline for Hill Country, which will offer its bar menu until 4 a.m. Sunday and Monday.

410 Seventh St. NW. 202-556-2050. 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Breakfast tacos will be $5 for two; coffee and cocoa, $2. Karaoke, free.

The Brightest Young Things Inauguration Spectacular

After a memorably lowbrow party in 2009 that featured a raucous performance by Wale, canned beer and plenty of the frenetic photo-snapping the local Web site Brighest Young Things is known for, the hipster ball returns to Bohemian Caverns. This time, the morning-till-night blowout features performances by Rewards (featuring a member of Chairlift) and Brooklyn’s Computer Magic, as well as a variety show and music from DJ Stereo Faith. Also on tap at the 21-and-older party: food and drink specials, eating contests and, of course, many chances to get your picture taken.

2003 11th St. NW. 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

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