Welcome to the Hotlist, a monthly preview of things to taste, see and do in the weeks ahead. Here's what's coming up in May.

Tap your toe to the sounds of summer

The scene at the first Hill Country Backyard Barbecue at the National Building Museum on Friday, May 3, 2013. (Photo by Fritz Hahn/The Post)

After a long, cold winter, it's time to head outside for free music, eating and drinking. Hill Country's Backyard BBQ returns to the National Building Museum's lawn through Labor Day weekend with country, blues and Americana bands performing every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5:30 p.m. There's never a cover charge, and beer, barbecue and lawn games are available. 401 F St. NW. Free.

The National Gallery of Art's revered Jazz in the Garden returns May 23 for al fresco music and wine in the Sculpture Garden. Despite the name, you'll hear tunes ranging from blues to salsa: Afrofunk band Elikeh kicks off the series, which continues every Friday from 5 to 8:30 p.m. through Aug. 29. Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue NW. Free.
-- Fritz Hahn

Go around the world in 30 days

May is International Cultural Awareness Month. In D.C., let us call it Embassy Month. Start your international excursion with Passport D.C.'s Around the World Embassy Tour on May 3, the first of two embassy open-house sessions; the Shortcut to Europe session on May 10 features only European countries. And for anyone with a spare $250, try foods from embassy chefs (with cocktails included) on May 15 at Cultural Tourism D.C.’s annual Embassy Chef Challenge fundraiser. Wrap up your cultural tour with the National Asian Heritage Festival and Fiesta Asia Street Fair on May 17, with food, performances, kid-friendly activities and crafts. Feeling cultured yet?
-- Margaret Ely

Pony up for big hats and horses

(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post

The Kentucky Derby on Saturday coincides with the Virginia Gold Cup, a day of steeplechase races and socializing for seersucker-and sundress-clad locals in The Plains, Va. Admission starts at $85 a car. Great Meadow, 5089 Old Tavern Rd., The Plains. 540-347-2612. vagoldcup.com.

The Preakness is May 17 in Baltimore, with an InfieldFest party headlined by New Zealand singer Lorde. (What she'll make of Natty Boh is anyone's guess.) Infield tickets ($70) include the option of unlimited beer (a.k.a. the Mug Club) for an extra $20. Who needs horse races when there's so much else going on? $70-$350. Pimlico Race Course, 5201 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore. 410-542-9400. preakness.com.

Where to watch the Kentucky Derby in D.C. 

-- Fritz Hahn

Celebrate 75 years of Blue Note

Blue Note Records has been synonymous with jazz since 1939, and District arts venues are paying tribute to the legendary label as it celebrates its 75th anniversary. The events begin Saturday with the opening of "Search for a New Sound: The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff," an exhibit at the Goethe-Institut featuring iconic photos of Blue Note musicians taken by Wolff, the label's co-founder. 812 Seventh St. NW. goethe.de/washington.

Meanwhile, the Kennedy Center's "Blue Note at 75" concert series includes performances by Terence Blanchard, Robert Glasper, Norah Jones, Wayne Shorter, Jason Moran and others Saturday through May 11. 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. kennedy-center.org. Prices vary.
-- Macy Freeman

Catch Wizards fever

Apr 29, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) celebrates with forward Trevor Ariza (1) and forward Nene Hilario (42) after defeating the Chicago Bulls 75-69 to win the series 4-1 in game five of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

They might not have the most talented roster in the NBA playoffs, but the Wizards are a team Washington can be proud of. You know such players as John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene, but when Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza and Trevor Booker are becoming household names, it's starting to get serious. The team has advanced to the second round of the playoffs, and if you can't get tickets to a game at Verizon Center, expect just about every sports bar in town to make a big deal out of the Wizards' next game. The team's second-round series begins May 5.
-- Alex Baldinger

Savor suds across the city

The Savor Craft Beer Festival is one of America's largest beer events, bringing 76 breweries to the sold-out National Building Museum on May 9 and 10. But here's a secret: The week leading up to the festival can be as fun as the event itself. So even if you didn't get tickets, you'll still have opportunities to try rare-in-Washington beers from such purveyors as Cigar City and Odell at brunches and tap-takeover parties at bars across town. The fun begins Monday and runs through May 11.

No Savor tickets? Drink beer at these events instead

-- Fritz Hahn

Learn some new moves

Still from Runaway performed by Keigwin + Company. They come to town for the New Moves festival at the Kennedy Center. By Matthew Murphy.

For its "New Moves" festival, the National Symphony Orchestra has paired contemporary choreography performed by U.S. dance troupes with music by American composers. The result is three very different shows: New York's Keigwin + Company (Wednesday and Thursday) will dance to the music of William Schuman and Leonard Bernstein; New Ballet Ensemble (May 10-13) comes to town with Memphis jookin' artists performing Duke Ellington and George Gershwin; and New York's Jessica Lang Dance (May 16-17) pairs new choreography with John Adams's "Violin Concerto." Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW. 202-467-4600. kennedy-center.org. $10-$85.
-- Stephanie Merry

Take mom to 'Degas/Cassatt'

Need plans for Mother's Day? That's when the National Gallery of Art's "Degas/Cassatt" exhibition opens, and it might be the most mom-friendly event in town. The exhibition examines the influence of French impressionist painter Edgar Degas, beloved for his paintings of ballerinas, on protege Mary Cassatt, beloved for her tranquil, domestic paintings of rosy-cheeked mothers and their angelic children. What a thoughtful child you are! May 11-Oct. 5 at the National Gallery of Art, West Building. 700 Constitution Ave. NW, 202-737-4215. nga.gov. Free.
-- Maura Judkis

Span the globe at Compass Rose

Khachapuri at Compass Rose (Maura Judkis/for The Post) Khachapuri at Compass Rose (Maura Judkis/for The Post)

Nearly every dish is from a different country at Compass Rose, the most recent addition to 14th Street's dining atlas. But your globetrotting meal from, say, India, Georgia and Peru comes together in a way that makes perfect sense, no matter which combination of nations ends up on your plate. Owned by Rose Previte and NPR's David Greene, the tiny townhouse restaurant is a tribute to the couple's travels when Greene was a foreign correspondent. Don't go for quiet conversation, but do go for the cocktails, the warm ambiance and especially for the decadent and buttery khachapuri, a Georgian cheese bread. 1346 T St. NW. 202-506-4765. compassrosedc.com.
-- Maura Judkis

Make your monumental return

Rejoice, tourists and residents alike! The Washington Monument reopens May 12, almost three years after an August 2011 earthquake forced the structure to close for repairs. You can reserve tickets online at www.recreation.gov; free tickets will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis every morning at 8:30 a.m. The monument will be open from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Labor Day. Free.
-- Margaret Ely

Bike to work

Whether you’re a weekend biker or road warrior, sign up to cycle May 16 for National Bike to Work Day. The Washington Area Bicyclist Association is setting up 79 pit stops around D.C., Maryland and Virginia, where riders can get food and win prizes. For a more leisurely ride, WABA is co-hosting the annual Tour de Fat with New Belgium Brewing -- the makers of Fat Tire beer -- on May 29 at Yards Park. Just make sure to wear a helmet.
-- Margaret Ely

Watch screenings under the stars

May marks the start of outdoor movie festival season, and many of your free favorites are back in action. Rosslyn's fest begins May 30 with crowd-pleaser “Office Space,” a couple days after NoMa Summer Screen debuts its friendship-themed slate with “Back to the Future.” For the family-minded, Cinema Del Ray should be a destination to keep in mind; the first in the series is “Frozen” on May 17. There are also some new additions. The Playbackthetape VHS Road Show (which is exactly what it sounds like) will take its series to BicycleSPACE for a special “ride-in” movie night with “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” on May 28.
-- Stephanie Merry

A previous version of this post listed an incorrect address for Compass Rose. This version has been updated.