The 18 best things to do in D.C. this weekend and next week

Virginia’s Darling, an Old Town restaurant that critic Tom Sietsema called "my kind of dinner party" in a 2023 review, is participating in Alexandria Restaurant Week for the first time. (Scott Suchman for The Washington Post)
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This week brings not one but three restaurant weeks across the D.C. region, offering diners special menus and mouthwatering discounts. Elsewhere, there’s a four-day celebration of video games and culture at National Harbor; an encore for one of D.C.’s funkiest bands of the 1970s; the return of the Washington Auto Show; and the debut of a family-friendly exhibition at the National Building Museum, complete with story times and puppet shows.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Super MAGFest at the Gaylord National Resort

From 10 a.m. Thursday to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, there’s nonstop action at the Music and Gaming Festival — a.k.a. MAGFest — at National Harbor. Arcades with new and classic games are open 24 hours, and who has time to sleep when there’s so much going on: panels on topics from LGBTQ inclusivity in gaming to how to record professional-sounding podcasts, video game tournaments on vintage cabinets and modern consoles, showcases for indie tabletop games and video games, jam sessions for chipset musicians and performances by bands that play songs from video games and anime, Dungeons and Dragons sessions, LARP murder mysteries, meet-and-greets with video game voice actors and music producers, a marketplace full of art and clothing vendors, a maker space with lessons and hands-on activities, and much more. (Seriously, your eyes may glaze over just scanning the schedule.) Through Sunday. $155 all-access badge.

Historic beers of Mount Vernon at ChurchKey

Ever wonder what kind of beer George Washington would drink? Since late 2021, Ashburn’s Dynasty Brewing, with the help of beer researchers Lost Lagers, has brewed historical and history-inspired beer for sale at Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, ranging from a rye porter — a style of beer Washington is known to have enjoyed — to ales aged in whiskey barrels originally used at Mount Vernon’s distillery. Join representatives from Mount Vernon, Dynasty and Lost Lagers at ChurchKey for a panel discussion about these beers, brewing methods and the primary sources that influenced the recipes. While advance seats are sold out, space is available at the bar on a first-come, first-served basis. Six of Dynasty’s Mount Vernon beers are going on tap, sold individually. 6 to 8 p.m. Free.

Friday, Jan. 19

Regional Restaurant Weeks

Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week rumbles on through Sunday, with discounted lunch, brunch and dinner, while some restaurants, such as Maketto and Immigrant Food, have already announced they’re extending their specials. But there are even more reasons to dine out, as three area jurisdictions launch their own foodie celebrations in coming days.

For the first time, Falls Church is joining the restaurant week party, organizing a 10-day event highlighting 40 restaurants in Northern Virginia’s Little City. It’s a great time to check out Falls Church’s culinary scene, which has been picking up steam with the opening of critically acclaimed spots like Ellie Bird, a more relaxed option from the couple behind 14th Street’s fine dining outpost Rooster & Owl, and La Tingeria, chef David Peña’s bricks-and-mortar destination for tortas with chicken tinga. Specials vary at each restaurant, ranging from discounted multicourse menus to a flat percentage off your check. Through Jan. 28. Menus and schedules on

Alexandria Restaurant Week has more than 80 participants, with multicourse dinners for $30, $40 or $50. Highlights include Virginia’s Darling, a first-time participant that Tom Sietsema described as “nothing too complicated, easy to like, quick to please” last year, where the $40 three-course dinner comes with the option of $40 bottles of wine or $10 cocktails; Spice Kraft Indian Bistro, which offers a $30 three-course menu for dine-in, takeout or delivery; and Ada’s on the River, where the $50 menu includes a choice of hanger steak, blackened rockfish and smoked duck breast. Having trouble deciding? A flipbook showing menus from all participants is available on the Restaurant Week website. Through Jan. 28. $30-$50.

Washington, D.C., Auto Show at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center

Spend a day (or two) eyeballing all sorts of vehicles, from exotic and classic cars to commercial trucks and the newest SUVs, at the Washington Auto Show, which features hundreds of cars from dozens of manufacturers. (Organizers boast it’s the city’s “largest annual indoor event.”) Little ones can head to the Kid Zone to jump in a bounce house, try out driving simulators or hit the WowWheelz track for an interactive driving experience. Adult drivers can go for a ride, too, thanks to Nissan’s new indoor ride-and-drive track and an indoor test track from Hyundai, while Pepco EVsmart is coordinating an outdoor experience allowing ticket holders to test-drive an all-electric vehicle on the streets of D.C. Through Jan. 28. $15 on weekdays and $20 on Saturday or Sunday for everyone age 13 and over; $7 for ages 6 to 12; free for children 5 and younger.

Indie Disco at As You Are

Did your Spotify Wrapped tell you to move to Burlington, Vt.? If that sounds tempting, but also a little far, queer bar As You Are is hosting a dance party featuring music from artists like Boygenius, Maggie Rogers, Mitski and Muna. It coincides with power hour, from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m., when $20 gets you unlimited drinks. A specialty cocktail menu includes (Lucy Dacus’s) “Night Shift” and (Phoebe Bridgers’s) “Motion Sickness.” 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. Free.

‘Batman’ (1989) in Concert at the Warner Theatre

In honor of the 35th anniversary of 1989’s “Batman,” which changed the landscape of the superhero movie with its dark, adult tone and featured Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader and Jack Nicholson as the Joker, DC Comics is hitting the road for film screenings across the country. This is much more epic than hitting play on the movie in your living room: While the brooding “Batman” plays on the big screen at the Warner Theatre, an orchestra performs the score live onstage. 8 to 10 p.m. $45-$115.

Nicki Night at Public Bar

It’s been over a month since Nicki Minaj released her fifth album, “Pink Friday 2,” and her Barbz still haven’t let the party die. Public Bar Live is hosting a dance party to celebrate, featuring pink drink specials, pink decorations, a drag show and a Nicki Minaj-themed throne for photos. $25. 10 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 20

Mousetrap vs. Underground at 9:30 Club

In the early 2000s, Britpop and indie rock dance parties took over live music venues in major American cities, providing a place for 20-somethings to dance to Blur, Pulp, the Smiths, New Order, Belle and Sebastian, the Strokes and other imported and domestic bands — and, at the time, offering a rare chance to dance to rock music instead of the ubiquitous DJ nights focused on house, Top 40 or retro tunes. In the Mid-Atlantic, two of the biggest were the Mousetrap, based at the Black Cat, and Underground, held at Baltimore’s Ottobar. The founders of those two important dance parties are joining forces, almost two decades after their heyday, to give everyone a chance to dance to “Common People” and “Girls and Boys” one more time. 8 p.m. $20.

The Blackbyrds at the Howard Theatre

Half a century on from their self-titled debut, which featured the singles “Gut Level” and “Do It, Fluid,” is it time for the Blackbyrds’ renaissance? Formed at Howard University, and best known for their anthem “Rock Creek Park,” the group is the bedrock of the sound of D.C. Though they ostensibly broke up in the early 1980s, they never really went away, with artists like Tupac, De La Soul, Massive Attack and MF Doom sampling their songs. Original members Keith Killgo (vocals and drums) and Joe Hall (bass) are performing with a new version of the group, including D.C.’s Thad Wilson on trumpet and Marshall Keys on saxophone, and this show at the Howard Theatre is billed as a “50th anniversary world tour launch and homecoming.” 8 p.m. $35-$45.

Pinkhouse at Songbyrd Music House

There’s a moment in “13th Street,” a sugary, nostalgic track off Pinkhouse’s upcoming EP, that feels less nihilistic but more sincere than those that surround it. In most of its four minutes, the song deals in lyrics like “Does it matter at all?” until both the groove and the voice of frontman Max Fillion drop to reveal what might be the crux of the whole project: “I am everyone when I come undone,” he sings through the bridge. Like the rest of the EP, it’s a song firmly set in that murky, universal period of your early 20s, when everything feels a little fake and a little too real all at once. Pinkhouse is joined by Outerloop and Orbweaver at its EP release show. 8 p.m. $15-$18.

‘The Rise of Amapiano’ at Wild Days

As amapiano continues to take over dance floors from South Africa to Southeast Washington, join a discussion at the Eaton’s Wild Days rooftop bar and event space for a conversation about the evolution of electronic African dance music, from its originators to its future, and a dance party celebrating the sound. 4 to 9 p.m. Free.

Sunday, Jan. 21

‘Building Stories’ Community Day at the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum’s upcoming exhibit is targeted at kindergartners through third-graders, but visitors of all ages will be intrigued by this exploration of the architecture and design found in classic children’s literature. “Building Stories” outlines the worlds created within the page, bringing storybook engineering and construction to life through hands-on activities, theater experiences and media installations. Cozy nooks with little libraries throughout the exhibit encourage visitors to drop everything and read. Get a first look during the museum’s Community Celebration, which features puppet shows, celebrity story times, live music and giveaways. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free.

Fairfax Record Riot at Arlington-Fairfax Elks Lodge

Record Riots, a group that hosts record sales up and down the East Coast, comes to Fairfax this weekend. The event has more than 40 tables of LPs, CDs, 45s and more, in a variety of genres. The pricing is flexible; pay more to get in earlier and beat the rush. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $5-$25.

Sedona at Songbyrd Music House

Sedona, who goes by only that name (“like Madonna,” she says), started her solo project in the bars and nightclubs of New York City, playing her mother’s original songs. That retro style made its way onto Sedona’s EP, “Rearview Angel,” which was released in October 2020. By then, she had rounded out an all-femme five-piece of the same name to bring to life her lush, synthy collection of lovelorn ballads and glitzy, up-tempo tracks about Hollywood’s gilded nature. Her hometown of Los Angeles serves as something of a subliminal backdrop to the songs’ narrative. “That EP is about your shadow self and how it follows you everywhere,” she says. 8 p.m. $18-$20.

Monday, Jan. 22

Howard County Restaurant Weeks and Craft Beverages

Howard County bills its two-week celebration of local restaurants as Howard County Restaurant Weeks and Craft Beverages, so you’ll find multicourse menus from Manor Hill Tavern — the Ellicott City farm-to-table restaurant with beers from the nearby Manor Hill Brewing — and the Ale House Columbia, which is owned by Baltimore’s Oliver Brewing, featured alongside seafood from the Walrus Oyster and Ale House in Columbia, and Elkridge’s schnitzel-and-weisswurst destination the Rathskeller, which is participating for the first time. Unlike at some restaurant weeks, Howard County doesn’t offer a set range of prices, so menus can vary widely. Through Feb. 4.

Tuesday, Jan. 23

‘Annie’ at the National Theatre

The little girl belting out “Tomorrow” as little orphan Annie in the touring production of the Broadway classic is a Virginia native: 11-year-old Rainier “Rainey” Treviño is from Chesapeake, and she stars at the “Annie” landing at the National Theatre this month. Here’s a chance to catch up with this eternal optimist and introduce a new generation to beloved songs like “It’s the Hard Knock Life.” Through Jan. 28. $59-$184.