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School’s nearly out for summer—and even if you haven’t set foot in a classroom since Alice Cooper was a credible sex symbol, the rising humidity and lingering daylight should still be enough to awaken the same restless anticipation that made the last few weeks of the school year all but insufferable as a kid. There may not be a three-month break to count down to anymore, but the season simmers with possibility. Hibernators who were booed up all winter, cuddling by the fireplace, are newly single and wearing tank tops again. Roof decks are opening; gardens are greening. If it’s not summer vacation, it’s still, at the very least, summer vacay—a state of mind that needs no paid time off.
The arbiters of our roadmap for the season have a plan for grown-up kids of all persuasions: Music is the overachiever here, because summer, but there’s also a soccer (I’m sorry, futbol) championship, more than a few notable art openings, a restaging of last year’s most buzzed-about play, and a science festival for futurists that will leave no mind unblown. Adulthood isn’t an immunization against the carefree joys of the warmer months—file this summer under self-care and treat yourself to more concerts, more trips to air-conditioned galleries, more hours spent laying on a picnic blanket with a crossword and an Arnold Palmer. So what if the show runs till 2 a.m. and you’ve got an early meeting? Who cares if your cross-quadrant bike ride ends in a sweat-stained sundress? The grown-up’s summer vacay may have its advantages (alcoholic ice pops, no curfew), but it still ends in September. Lap it up before it melts away.
This year’s is a slimline edition of the DC Jazz Festival: six days, June 24 to 29. But it’s packing as much in those six days as possible. The festival’s Riverfront showcase is expanding from one night to three, and from one act to five (capped off with Gregory Porter, the current it vocalist on the national jazz scene). Elsewhere, you’ll find goodies at the festival’s productions with fellow presenters CapitalBop, Atlas Performing Arts Center, East River Jazz—and Bohemian Caverns, featuring among others the forward-thinking, jazz- and hip-hop–fusing pianist Andy Milne and his Dapp Theory ensemble. And of course, there’s the flagship nightly performances at the Hamilton, featuring Snarky Puppy, Helen Sung, Etienne Charles, and others. For the DCJF, it’s less about how many days they have, and more about making each of those days count. The D.C. Jazz Festival runs June 24 to 29 at various venues. $20–$80. (202) 457-7628. dcjazzfest.org. —Michael J. West
For a jazz lover in D.C., the nights of June 24-29 might be the busiest of the year. When you’re not at one of the D.C. Jazz Festival’s events, you can scoot on over to U Street’s Twins Jazz (or, on the 25th, to the Swedish Embassy in Georgetown) for the Nordic Jazz Fest. It’s the eighth year that the District’s five Nordic embassies have teamed up to sponsor performances by some of their countries’ finest jazz musicians, and this year, there’s some new blood. Fest regular Sunna Gunlaugs (a pianist from Iceland) and her trio are joined by five other artists, notably Finnish pianist Kari Ikonen, the atmospheric Danish trio Spacelab, and the Deciders, a very weird, tongue-in-cheek Norwegian quintet. If there’s a throughline in Nordic jazz, it’s the combination of pristine, glacial ambiance and jagged avant-garde sensibility—making this festival a feast for the ears and brain alike. The Nordic Jazz Fest runs June 24 to 29 at various locations. $12–$16. usa.um.dk/nordicjazz2014. —Michael J. West
Though the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival dates back to 1967, it’s still celebrated the same way nearly 50 years later. The premise is simple: Gather musicians, artists, performers, cooks, and craftspeople at the National Mall for two weeks to demonstrate the creative vitality of their cultural traditions. Visitors can immerse themselves however they’d like, but I recommend singing, dancing, and, of course, eating your way through the different represented communities. This year’s cultural programs include operatic performers from China and meet-and-greets with Kenyan Olympians, and attendees should leave with enough cultural experience to equal a thousand half-assed embassy parties. The Smithsonian Folklife Festival runs June 25 to 29 and July 2 to 6 on the National Mall. Free. (202) 633-6440. festival.si.edu.—Tim Regan
For 10 years, the Ivy-educated, culture-critiquing dudes at n+1 have published their triannual literary journal, perhaps the most widely known new lit journal around. The most recent issue’s cover story, “MFA vs NYC,” implied that MFA creative writing programs and the New York publishing industry are the two hegemonic sculptors of fiction, that they are somehow at odds with each other, and that—for better or worse—they are forever changing the course of American literature. The essay prompted a public debate on the whiteness of MFA programs via a Junot Diaz New Yorker article titled “MFA vs. POC.” It’s a rare literary journal that can be this relevant and provocative, which is why this panel of editors and founders should be far more topical than the average lit mag discussion. The reading begins 7 p.m. May 22 at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. politics-prose.com.—Natalie Murchison
August 30 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center
As the National Book Festival shifts from two days to one, from the National Mall to the Washington Convention Center, from daytime-only to night owl–inclusive with a new slate of evening events, it would be easy to go overboard. I’m talking, of course, about the puns. The festival is turning a page, I could say, or embarking on a new chapter—but, then, I’d be missing the point. This year’s lineup is stacked with big names: Paul Auster, Alice McDermott, Billy Collins, and Kate DiCamillo are just a few of the literary stars scheduled to sign books, give readings, or host Q&As. But to focus on names alone would also miss the point. The joy of this year’s festival, as in years past, rests not in the headliners but in the simple fact of being surrounded by books, by those who wrote them and those who love them as much as you. Few events can match the excitement and serendipity of leaving a poetry reading and walking through a signing for a sci-fi classic in order to get to a one-on-one conversation with the novelist you actually came to see in the first place. And with about 10 stages to choose from, the festival’s new edition (sorry) should still brim with the same charms. The National Book Festival begins August 30 at 10 a.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW. Free. (888) 714-4696. loc.gov/bookfest.—Colin Dwyer
If you’ve never been to the Upright Citizens Brigade theaters in New York or L.A., this is your chance to see the country’s most notorious comedy troupe in action. You’ll laugh at a UCB show, of course, but you’re also practically guaranteed to see someone who will later write or act in a TV show you hold dear. Alumni from the greater UCB circle include Aziz Ansari, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, and writers from 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, New Girl, and The Daily Show. Tickets for the Sixth & I show are reasonably priced for the quality of UCB’s talent, so treat a first date, a friend date, or a family member visiting from out of town—this kind of improv is an equal-opportunity crowdpleaser. Upright Citizens Brigade performs June 1 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. at Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW. $20–$50. (202) 408-3100. sixthandi.org. —Natalie Murchison
The best outdoor movie series in D.C.
For those who’d like to feel outdoorsy without straying too far from carryouts and Capital Bikeshare stations, several venues in and around D.C. will double as open-air movie theaters this summer. Revisit films like Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Goldfinger, and The Devil Wears Prada for nothing or next to nothing—weather permitting, of course.
1200 Bladensburg Road NE
When customers enter Bardo Brewpub, they’re greeted by the most adorable host in the city, an easygoing Australian cattle dog named Bardawg. After a brief introduction, patrons find the holy trinity of summer recreation scattered about the grassy lot: beer taps, cornhole boards, and a 20-foot movie screen mounted to a pair of old boxcars, sparingly reserved for balmy nights.
Movies on the Potomac
The National Harbor, Prince George’s County’s snazzy multiuse waterfront development, will be showing free PG-rated films every Sunday shortly after sunset, from May 25 through September 28. Seating will not be provided by the facility, so moviegoers are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs.
Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
1300 Lee Highway
Arlington’s premier outdoor film festival is slated to return to Gateway Park on May 30 and continue every Friday through August 22. This year’s lineup—bookended by Office Space and Anchorman—features a dozen lighthearted pictures that capture the perils of employment. Films will begin at dusk circa 8 p.m.
Even Death of a Salesman had to start somewhere. These days, there’s no better starting point than a theater festival dedicated to supporting new shows—especially if you’re a broke playwright convinced you’ve struck literary gold (or, you know, a broke DMV resident who’d like to get her culture on every now and again). Luckily for both parties, 18 10-minute plays will make their debut alongside three full-length plays during Source Festival, the Source theater’s annual celebration of new work. Chosen from hundreds of submissions from across the country, this year’s performances are centered on the themes of revenge, quests, and mortality. The full-length shows portray a life without death in A Bid to Save the World, a young man setting sail in search of a lost ancestor in Dontrell, Who Kissed the Sea, and a mysterious visitor upending the life of an isolated mother and son in The Thrush & The Woodpecker. For the emerging playwrights, it’s a valuable career boost, and for the broke and culture-starved among us, it costs less than the price of a Sweetgreen dinner for two to get in. The festival runs June 6 to 29 at Source, 1835 14th St. NW. $10–$100. (202) 315-1305. sourcefestival.org.—Sarah Zlotnick
Washington Post humor blogger Alexandra Petri’s comedy about the sexual education of a college freshman by an older recent grad went over like gangbusters in its staged reading at last year’s Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center. In its first full production, courtesy of the Washington Rogues, the reliably hilarious actor and writer Rachel Manteuffel (a close pal of mine, full disclosure) plays the 20-something “older” woman who deflowers the eager young man but then remembers her responsibility to leave him better off than she found him (hence the Dan Savage-coined concept that titles the piece). The play runs July 23 to Aug. 16 at Anacostia Playhouse, 2020 Shannon Place SE. $20. (202) 290-2328. anacostiaplayhouse.com. —Chris Klimek
A Cup, B Cup
The world’s biggest sports matches should hit home.
When the United States beat Mexico in the knockout round of the World Cup in 2002, I was watching at The Diner in Adams Morgan, mostly because the game (broadcast live from South Korea) was on at 2:30 a.m. on a Monday morning here and I didn’t trust myself to stay awake without a boisterous crowd. There weren’t many other places that stayed open all night to show the games, and the celebration after the victory was confined to the restaurant, which was probably understandable given the hour. In the ensuing 12 years, the District’s outlets for those of us who are rightly obsessed with the planet’s biggest sporting event have exploded—and now that soccer is ever more popular, don’t expect people to mute their joy if the U.S. does well again this year. If backing Uncle Sam isn’t your speed, you can probably find a group to cheer on any of the 32 teams in the tournament with: In 2010, I watched the Netherlands beat Denmark at the Dutch embassy, a Spain-Switzerland draw at Jaleo, an Argentina win over South Korea at Rockville’s El Patio Café, a German victory over Australia at the Goethe-Institut, and a Brazil-North Korea match at a bar near the Capitol where the free caipirinhas came courtesy of the Brazilian sugar cane ethanol industry. (Conveniently, I managed to schedule some time off between jobs to coincide with the first two weeks of the World Cup.) You’ve got a month-long excuse to slough off work early every day during some of the best weather we’ll have all year, or at least take a long lunch during the 12 p.m. games and go watch soccer under the guise of cultural outreach. Even if you’re not that into the sport, you’ll be helping D.C. get in line with the rest of the world: Virtually every other city in the countries whose teams are playing (and many in countries whose aren’t) will come to a standstill during the matches. Why shouldn’t ours? —Mike Madden
World Cup at Ben’s Next Door
Enjoy a chili half smoke and a cold drink while watching some of the world’s best soccer players face off. Ben’s Next Door. 1211 U St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 667- 8880. bensnextdoor.com.
World Cup at Ceiba
Enjoy South American drink specials at while watching matches at this Peruvian-inspired restaurant. Ceiba. 701 14th St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 393-3983. ceibarestaurant.com.
World Cup at Del Campo
Support South American teams and enjoy traditional snacks while watching games at this downtown restaurant. Del Campo. 777 I St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 289-7377. delcampodc.com.
World Cup at Elephant & Castle
Support the U.S., England, Germany, Colombia, and Spain while watching all the matches at this soccer mad English pub. Elephant and Castle 19th Street. 900 19th St. NW. Elephant and Castle Pennsylvania Ave. 1201 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 296-2575. elephantcastle.com.
World Cup at Fado
Cheer on teams from around the globe at Fado, which will feature specials during the Cup’s opening weekend. Fado Irish Pub. 808 7th St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 789-0066. fadoirishpub.com.
World Cup at Irish Whisky Public house
Stop by this downtown bar to cheer for the USA and partake in a variety of World Cup-themed events. Irish Whiskey Public House. 1207 19th St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 463-3010. irishwhiskeydc.com.
World Cup at RiRa
RiRa partners with D.C. United to celebrate the World Cup. The bar will show all matches and welcome all supporters. RiRa Irish Pub. 2915 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Free. June 12–July 13. (703) 248-9888. rira.com.
World Cup at Drafting Table
Support the U.S. soccer team and enjoy happy hour specials, including $4 pints, during the Drafting Table’s World Cup view- ing party. Drafting Table. 1529 14th St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 621-7475. draftingtabledc.com.
World Cup at The Pug
Cheer on the U.S. and watch every match with the friendly crowds at this H Street NE bar. The Pug. 1234 H St. NE. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 555-1212. thepugdc.com.
World Cup at The Queen Vic
Enjoy food and drink specials while cheering on the U.S. and England at this British-style pub. The Queen Vic. 1206 H St. NE. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 396-2001. thequeenvicdc.com.
World Cup at Tonic
Celebrate the World Cup and enjoy Budweiser and food specials inside and on the patios of both locations. Tonic Foggy Bottom. 2036 G St. NW. Tonic Mount Pleasant. 3155 Mount Pleasant St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 296-0211. tonicrestaurant.com.
World Cup at Ventnor Sports Cafe
Support the USA at Ventnor, which will air all games and open early for lunch during the tournament. Ventnor Sports Cafe. 2411 18th St. NW. Free. June 12–July 13. (202) 234- 3070. ventnorsportscafe.com.