Friday, July 20
Artscape in Baltimore: Many festivals promise “something for everyone.” Baltimore’s annual Artscape — the country’s largest free arts festival — comes closest to delivering. The three-day gathering in the city’s Station North and Bolton Hill neighborhoods is a riot of originality. Wander through the installations and interactive works created by Baltimore artists and a marketplace with almost 150 vendors, and you’ll find a “Dance Camp” with performances by local pros and talent shows for amateurs; performances by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, experimental opera groups, indie rock and hip-hop acts; pop-up comedy and improv groups; fancifully decorated “art cars”; and free movie screenings. The biggest draws are the evening concerts, with TLC (Friday) and Toots and the Maytals (Saturday). Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Janelle Monae at the Anthem: “Abandon your expectations about art, race, gender, culture and gravity,” reads the sixth of Janelle Monae’s Ten Droid Commandments, a pamphlet the singer has distributed at her shows for years. The triumph of Monae’s most recent album, “Dirty Computer,” hinges on that very notion. Monae, who spent years shrouded in a sanitized sci-fi aesthetic, now allows herself a transparency that once seemed to elude her. This new universe is free of constraint, filled with vibrant songwriting and splashy melodies as bold as the colors that replaced the black-and-white trappings of the past. 8 p.m. Sold out.
20th anniversary at African American Civil War Memorial & Museum: The African American Civil War Memorial celebrates two decades on U Street NW with two days of living history exhibits, reenactors and storytellers at the museum, including a Friday performance of the play “Harriet Tubman: The Chosen One.” Authors of books on African American and Civil War history will discuss and sign their works both days. On Saturday morning, a walking tour (10 a.m. to noon) follows the new George Washington Williams Memorial Trail from Howard University to the memorial. Williams, a Civil War veteran and minister, attended Howard University before writing the two-part “History of the Negro Race in America.” Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Two Inch Astronaut at Black Cat: Local post-punk fans were saddened when the Silver Spring-based band Two Inch Astronaut announced an “indefinite hiatus” earlier this year. The group, known for its catchy and quirky hooks, has embarked on a final tour that fittingly concludes in the Washington region. 9 p.m. $10.
Chris Gethard at Kennedy Center: The proud New Jersey-born alt-comic can spin out a killer joke setup and punchline, but he has amassed a cult following for his ability to be radically honest and vulnerable through his comedy. In addition to stand-up, Gethard hosts a self-titled late night show that transitioned from New York City public access to truTV, and hosts a podcast “Beautiful/Anonymous” that has strangers call in and tell their stories, which can range from the absurd to the harrowing. His HBO special, “Career Suicide,” was less of an hour-long stand-up set and more one-man show that chronicled the comedian’s life and struggles to overcome mental illness. 9:30 p.m. $29.
Saturday, July 21
Lotus and Water Lily Festival at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens: People come from all over the world to see this spectacular display of lotuses and lilies at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens, but it’s surprisingly less known among locals. Even if you don’t care about flowers, you’re sure to be wowed by these blooms. Sacred lotuses stand on three-foot-tall stems and sport blooms the size of dinner plates. You’ll also see lily pads big enough to surf on, not to mention wild birds, frogs and turtles — assuming you get there early enough, before the sun sends them into hiding. There will also be programs with animals, music and interactive projects for kids. Through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Free.
Belgian Independence Day at various locations: Washington doesn’t have many Belgian restaurants, but the ones that are here are bursting with pride for the country’s national day celebrations. The Sovereign has picked 21 Belgian and Belgian-style beers, including rarities from Cantillon, Jester King and Blackberry Farm, to sell at half-price all day. Deals at Brasserie Beck include all-you-can-eat oysters for $38 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and half-price beers between 11 a.m. and 1 a.m., with the selected ales changing every two hours. The Belgian Restaurant Week finale at Belga Cafe offers three courses from the Barracks Row restaurant’s summer menu for $36. Free admission; beer and food prices vary.
Deafheaven at 9:30 Club: The San Francisco-based band is a unique fixture in the metal scene because a sect of the genre’s fans disavow the band’s shoegaze-influenced sound. But that blend is why Deafheaven has earned a large following among those who don’t typically listen to metal. Fans should love the band’s newest release, “Ordinary Corrupt Human Love,” which features soaring riffs and beautiful melodies. 8 p.m. $20.
Laraaji at The Lincoln Theatre: Laraaji’s style of meditative music is filled with restorative chants and calming instrumentation that could make anyone forget the politics and perils of the day. He has recently reemerged (in tandem with a rising interest in the New Age genre at large), thanks to a string of new recordings and reissues, setting his healing music to new context. While everyone scrambles for attention on Twitter, Laraaji reminds us that hushed tones and somber states can sometimes be the very thing we need. 8 p.m. $35.
Patton Oswalt at Kennedy Center: The comedian, who grew up in Sterling, Va., has come to the District plenty of times, including last month for a surprise drop-in set at the Big Hunt. Now he’s back, three days after the 30th anniversary of his stand-up debut. Back then, he performed at the long-gone Garvin’s; now, as part of the District of Comedy Festival, Oswalt will be under the chandeliers of the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall. 7 and 9:30 p.m., $49-$69.
Sunday, July 22
SAAM Arcade at American Art Museum: The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Kogod Courtyard turns into the area’s largest arcade during this day-long festival. Get nostalgic playing vintage Donkey Kong or X-Men console games, or get a sneak peek at the next wave of games with previews from independent developers. More than 100 games will be available for free play throughout the afternoon. 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Free.
Garlic Festival at Takoma Park Farmers Market: Gilroy, Calif., lays its claim as the garlic capital of the world, but hardcore fans of the pungent bulb don’t have to travel across the country to get their fix. The Takoma Park Farmers Market will transform into a celebration of all things garlic on Sunday with talks from the Takoma Horticulture Club and a man simply billed as Tony “the Garlic Guy” about the various types of garlic and how-to’s on growing your own. Local eateries will have special dishes that highlight the plant, including Dolci Gelati, which will have a roasted garlic flavor available that day. 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Free.
— Hau Chu, Sadie Dingfelder, Fritz Hahn, Kristen Page-Kirby and Brianna Younger