Festivals, concerts and fun things to do in the Washington, D.C., area
Kaleta and Super Yamba Band at the Millennium Stage: From the 1970s to the 1990s, Beninese guitarist Leon Ligan-Majek, known as Kaleta, performed with two of the greatest African pop musicians of all time — first alongside King Sunny Ade, then as a member of Fela Kuti’s legendary band. Now residing in Brooklyn, Kaleta keeps the hypnotic Afrobeat funk flowing as the frontman of the Kaleta and Super Yamba Band. 6 p.m. Free.
‘You Are Ketchup’: A celebration for the forthcoming book by Kokayi at Byrdland Records: The central ingredient in “You Are Ketchup,” the terrific new memoir-slash-career-guide by D.C. rap mainstay Kokayi, is tough love, which he’s more than happy to dish up in person, too. “One hundred thousand new songs go up on Spotify every day,” he says. “You’re not special!” At least not to the grinding gears of a capricious music industry that treats musicians, in Kokayi’s words, like ketchup, an interchangeable sauce. So he’s written a book about accepting one’s fate as a condiment while ultimately nurturing all of the artistic ineffables that exist beyond the edicts of the marketplace. Written in a tone so conversational you can practically hear it in your ear, “You Are Ketchup” feels like a megadose of straight advice from a muso-mentor who’s been there. 7 to 9:30 p.m. Free.
Salt & Sundry’s 10-year anniversary: November will be even more festive than usual at Salt & Sundry: This destination for colorful, boho home goods is celebrating a decade in business with a cocktail party Thursday from 6 to 8 p.m. at its Union Market location, passing out snacks and a cocktail from neighboring bar Buffalo & Bergen and offering 10 percent off all purchases. Pop-ups are happening throughout the month at both D.C. locations every Saturday. Stop by for a book signing with the “Afrominimalist” Christine Platt at Union Market on Nov. 5 from 1 to 3 p.m., a nonalcoholic drink tasting with local brand Mocktail Club at Logan Circle on Nov. 19 from 1 to 3 p.m., and a discount on Virginia-based Sydney Hale candles at both stores on Nov. 19, among other events. Through Nov. 26. Free.
Women in Spanish cinema screenings: The Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain organized the film series Mujeres de Cine, which showcases female directors of Spanish films in four showings this month. “¿Qué hicimos mal? (What did we do wrong?),” a feature from Liliana Torres about a woman questioning her past to improve her romantic life, screens at AFI Silver Theatre on Thursday. On Saturday, the East Building Auditorium of the National Gallery of Art hosts “Destello Bravío (Mighty Flash),” directed by Ainhoa Rodríguez. The surrealist film, which centers on a small rural town, explores its female characters’ desires to rebel against societally mandated norms. Both films are shown in Spanish with English subtitles. Thursday at 7:15 p.m.; Saturday at 2 p.m. Free with advance registration.
National Gallery Nights tickets become available: The National Gallery of Art’s late-night events are going on hiatus after one more after-hours party. The theme for Nov. 10 is “Americana,” which covers multiple aspects of American life and culture. Among the highlights: American University professor Elizabeth Rule discusses her Guide to Indigenous D.C. app; Country Current, the Navy’s country and bluegrass band, performs; museum curators offer pop-up talks about American art; and Chalk R!ot creates a graffiti piece inspired by ’80s hip-hop. The two previous events “sold out” in the blink of an eye, so be logged on to nga.gov before noon and ready to click. If you miss out, there are two more chances to grab them: Once on the morning of the party, when extra tickets become available at 10 a.m., and at the door of the event, when a limited number of spaces can be claimed beginning at 5:30 p.m. Tickets available at noon. Free.
100th anniversary of the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb at National Geographic Museum: On Nov. 4, 1922, workers excavating an area in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings for the English archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered a set of stone stairs buried under rock debris. They led to the largely intact tomb of the Pharaoh Tutankhamen, who died circa 1323 B.C. The National Geographic Museum, currently hosting the immersive exhibit “Beyond King Tut,” marks the centennial of this important discovery with a weekend of events, including hourly tours; crafts and activities for families; documentary screenings; and a falafel workshop with Dina Daniel, the founder and chef at Egyptian restaurant Fava Pot. Through Sunday. $12-$20. Children younger than 5 admitted free.
Superorganism at 9:30 Club: The eight-member group Superorganism is on its second album of fun and sometimes frenetic pop music. The London-based band’s self-titled debut in 2018 featured eclectic production choices and jubilant melodies. Lead singer Orono Noguchi’s voice doesn’t compete with the group’s maximalist sound; instead, her dreamlike delivery grounds the music and makes the band’s insightful lyrics more meaningful. Mystical-sounding guitar riffs fading in and out and cartoony birds chirping in the distance make Noguchi sound like she’s singing in the middle of a lush garden. On the 2022 album “World Wide Pop,” Superorganism doubles down on its delightful chaos. The first song, “Black Hole Baby,” is a good encapsulation of what the band is doing: “Welcome back to the black hole, honey / Hold my hand ’cause the end is coming,” Noguchi sings as alien-sounding bells ring, explosions sound and clips from radio personalities play. The band is doing that quintessential pop thing — providing a soundtrack for the end of the world. 10 p.m. $25.
‘Broadway’s Brightest Lights’ at Strathmore: The National Philharmonic kicks off its 2022-23 season with a tribute to some of Broadway’s biggest stars. Singers Megan Hilty (“Wicked”), Michael Maliakel (“Disney’s Aladdin”) and Luke Hawkins (“Annie Live!”) perform greatest hits from Gershwin to Sondheim, and guests can expect new orchestrations of beloved tunes — and plenty of tap dancing. If you miss Friday’s performance at Strathmore, check out the same program at Sunday’s show at Capital One Hall. Friday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 7 p.m. $19-$102; free for children.
Día de los Muertos at the Kennedy Center: In honor of the Mexican Day of the Dead, the New Orchestra of Washington — conducted by Guadalajara native Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez — presents a program of pieces by Mexican composers, including Silvestre Revueltas and José Pablo Moncayo, and the world premiere of “Cantos de Requiem” by Jorge Vidales, which was commissioned by the New Orchestra of Washington and Choral Arts. 7:30 p.m. $45-$59.
The Big Build at the National Building Museum: The National Building Museum puts a new spin on a petting zoo during its family-friendly festival, returning for the first time since 2019: Instead of animals, construction equipment will be parked outside the museum, and kids can get up close to and even climb inside the heavy machinery. The Big Build’s booths inside the museum’s Great Hall will introduce children and teens to building pros like roofers, structural engineers, plumbers and carpenters. Fun interactive activities include a nail driving contest and an earthquake simulation, as well as story time and free admission to museum exhibits. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. No tickets or reservations required.
Side Yards at Yards Park: Sword swallowers! Escape artists! Contortionists! Stilt walkers! What sounds like a roster of attractions hawked by a traveling carnival barker are the star performers at Side Yards, an annual tribute to sideshows along the Capitol Riverfront. Viewers of all ages can marvel at magicians, acrobats and other entertainers, sit for tarot and palm readings, and purchase food and drinks from local restaurants. While the Side Yards Eventbrite page says the event is sold out, organizers say that walk-ups are welcome. 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Free.
Hammered Hulls Record Release at the Black Cat: For D.C. music fans of a certain age, few bands in recent memory have generated as much excitement as Hammered Hulls — a punk supergroup featuring vocalist Alec MacKaye of Ignition and the Warmers, bassist Mary Timony of Ex Hex and Helium, guitarist Mark Cisneros of Des Demonas and Medications, and drummer Chris Wilson of Titus Andronicus and the Pharmacists. After dropping a seven-inch single in the summer of 2019, the quartet has finally released its debut LP, “Careening,” a collection of 12 songs that snarl and groove, with jagged edges of guitar lines tempered by deep, steady bass lines and whip-crack drums. It calls back to classic D.C. hardcore sounds while also looking forward. Hammered Hulls marks the record’s official release with a show at the Black Cat. Divorce Horse and Saffron open. 8 p.m. (doors open). $20.
Children’s Africana Book Awards Festival: The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art hosts a festival celebrating books that encourage accurate representation about the continent. Award categories include books suitable for young children, older readers and new adults, and winners include writers such as Safia Elhillo and Johnnetta Betsch Cole. The day also features an author Q&A, book signings, art activities and a master class writing workshop led by Lesina Martin, which requires advance registration. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.
16th annual Parade of Trabants at the Spy Museum: The Spy Museum has a significant section on Cold War espionage in Berlin, so it’s only appropriate that the museum has long hosted a commemoration of the fall of the Berlin Wall. But this quirky party celebrates the occasion through the lens of the Trabant, the clunky, smoky, nostalgia-inducing East German car that’s now sought after by collectors. View a collection of Trabis — cars made of resin plastic and cotton fibers — and chat with owners while listening to German tunes from the Alte Kameraden band and creating “Berlin-style” graffiti. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.
‘Noche de Baile’ at La Cosecha: Union Market’s La Cosecha, dedicated to the flavors and styles of Latin America, combines shopping and dining like few other places in the area. (It helps that the merchants are never far away from the large, central bar.) Each Saturday in November, the space hosts a different DJ for three hours of dancing, food and drink specials, staying open past its usual closing time. 8 to 11 p.m. Free.
Día de los Muertos Masquerade Gala at the Mexican Cultural Institute: Check out the Mexican Cultural Institute’s ofrenda, or Day of the Dead altar, at this after-hours party, which includes live mariachi music, dance performances and lessons, a Mexican buffet, open bar, and tours exploring the building’s historic murals. The dress code is black tie optional or masquerade-style. 8:15 to 11:45 p.m. $135.
Fall Festival at River Farm: The American Horticultural Society opens the gates of its 27-acre estate to visitors for a fall festival featuring a beer garden and holiday shopping from local vendors. Kids might enjoy a show by children’s band Rocknoceros (performing hits like “Washing My Hands”), a petting zoo with pony rides or the crafting station. Visitors can grab a bite from food trucks including Rocklands Barbeque and Lost Boy Cider. A portion of ticket proceeds benefits the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, based in Alexandria, and the American Horticultural Society. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. $9-$20.
13th annual D.C. Tweed Ride: D.C.’s Tweed Ride began in 2009 as a way for the city’s snappiest dressers to show off their stylish houndstooth jackets, vintage dresses, boater hats and newsboy caps along with their new and antique bikes while parading around the city. This year’s ride covers just over eight miles, beginning and ending at Logan Circle, followed by a picnic in the grass. There’s no need to RSVP — just show up in your coolest outfit. 10 a.m. Ride begins at 11. Free.
John Philip Sousa Birthday Concert at Congressional Cemetery: Among the many famous residents of Congressional Cemetery is John Philip Sousa, the “March King” who composed “The Stars and Stripes Forever,” “The Washington Post March” and “Semper Fidelis,” the official march of the U.S. Marine Corps. Sousa was a member of the Marine Corps Band before returning as its director. Each year on his birthday, the band honors Sousa with a performance at his grave. The tribute begins with a ceremony and a talk by a Sousa impersonator before the band marches in at 11 a.m. for a 25-minute concert. 10:30 a.m. Free; RSVP requested.
Sherry Week: This is a great week for fans of fortified wine, as restaurants across the city celebrate sherry with tastings and events. Among the highlights: try special flights and cocktails at Jaleo, Cranes and McClellan’s Retreat; watch a sherry cobbler cocktail competition at Service Bar (Tuesday); taste a one-night-only menu of sherry cocktails at the Green Zone (Tuesday); taste rare bottles at Maxwell Park (Wednesday); or visit the theater with a performance of “La Llorona” at Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, with pre- and post-show drinks and a discussion about Spanish influence on Mexican food and drink (Friday). Through Nov. 13. Prices vary.
Election night events: Midterm elections don’t usually inspire the same fervor as presidential elections — in the bar world, that is. Viewing parties with special cocktail menus, bingo games and coloring sheets? So 2020. But there are still opportunities to go out and watch the results roll in. Boundary Stone hosts an election-night pub quiz, with all the big screens tuned to political coverage, beginning at 7 p.m. (Arrive early or make a reservation if you want to join in.) Busboys and Poets, probably the city’s most politically conscious bar, hosts watch parties with all-night happy hour at all nine of its locations beginning at 6 p.m. Fight Club, which installed a projection screen and TVs just before football season, offers $7 beer-and-a-shot combos, $10 wine and $2 off punches, and a 15 percent “Eat Your Feelings” discount on all appetizers from 4 p.m. on.
The Red Derby shows the results on big screens on both floors, but let’s face it: You’re going for the specials, which include half-price chicken tenders (it’s “Tendie Tuesday”), $3.50 whiskey and tequila shots, and $3.50 “mystery beers” selected by bartenders. Doors open at 5 p.m. Election night conveniently aligns with Taco Tuesday at Shaw’s Tavern, so you’re getting $10 taco trios and discounted margaritas — $8 each, $28 pitchers — beginning at 5 p.m. and a party with TVs and full sound at 7 p.m. Union Pub, located steps from Senate office buildings, has its own take on democracy: The Capitol Hill bar is running Twitter and in-person polls about which beer it should give away on election night. (The choices are Bell’s Two Hearted, Bud Light, Guinness Blonde and Pacifico.) Voting ends Sunday; the results will be announced Monday. The first 200 people in on election night will be able to claim the winner for free; other specials include $5 margaritas and $1 off tequila shots from 4 p.m. to close.