Your Guide To 100% Free Fun In The DMV

Around this time of year, we get jazzed about rediscovering our city again — the heat wave has passed, it's pleasant to be outside, and there's something cool, fun, exciting, or all of the above happening every minute of pretty much every day. Even better? So many of those events and activities are free, that it makes this the one time of the year when being broke doesn't feel like such a buzzkill.
Case in point: We've cooked up an agenda for the month that comprises art, music, street fests, fitness, and more — and everything on it is 100% free of charge. Now, who's feeling jazzed? Click through to get the scoop, and start planning how you're going to spend all that leftover cash.
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The National Gallery of Art is opening a host of can't-miss exhibitions in the next couple months, and the first one on our calendar is The Serial Portrait: Photography and Identity in the Last One Hundred Years, which just opened yesterday. The exhibition features 153 portraits from 20 artists who spent days, months, and even years creating intimate representations of friends, family members, and themselves.

Then, on October 14, the gallery launches the first major showing of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein's work since the artist's death in 1997. More than 100 paintings will be on display, so if you're in the mood for art with a heavy sprinkling of pop culture, you won't want to miss it.

Where: National Gallery of Art, 4th Street and Constitution Avenue NW; 202-737-4215.


Photo: Courtesy of National Gallery of Art
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We love a good neighborhood festival, and the sixth annual Columbia Heights Day promises to be a really good time. Expect yoga workshops, live music, a cupcake-eating contest, a petting zoo (sure, it's for kids, but who can resist adorable baby animals?), an Oktoberfest section, and a bounty of food trucks.

Where: Harriet Tubman Elementary Field, entrance on Kenyon Street NW between 11th and 13th streets; no phone.


Photo: Courtesy of Columbia Heights Day
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If electronic DJ tunes are your bread-and-butter, you'll want to clear your schedule for Friday night, when Black Cat hosts Live 'n' Tronic, a free celebration of the electro genre featuring NexGen Music artists such as D.A, Kramer, and DJ Nav. Translation: awesome Friday-night plans that don't cost a dime.

Where: Black Cat, 1811 14th Street NW; 202-667-4490.


Photo: Courtesy of Monotone Inc.
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Like the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage, the Shakespeare Theatre's Sidney Harman Hall also uses its lobby to offer up free performances. The Happenings at the Harman program has been expanded to include a new monthly happy hour series featuring homegrown talent — performances start at 5:30, so you can stop by right after work, grab a drink, and take in anything from live music to theater to dance. This month, catch local star Christylez Bacon doing his multi-instrumentalist thing on October 10.

Where: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW; 202-547-1122.


Photo: Courtesy of Christylez Bacon/YTanou Photo
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Want to get out of town for a minute? Head to Doukénie Winery, just outside Leesburg, for the annual Harvest Festival on October 20, which involves BBQ, live music, and performers doing tricks on horseback. You'll get to celebrate the winery's new crop of grapes by spending a perfect day outside, taking in the crisp fall air and a few glasses of vino. Who can resist?

Where: Doukénie Winery, 14727 Mountain Road, Hillsboro; 540-668-6464.


Photo: Courtesy of Doukénie Winery
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The Corcoran Gallery of Art is hosting its first-ever Community Day on the 20th, and festivities include a juried exhibition and sale of fine arts and crafts made by local artists, a short-film festival, workshops on everything from ceramics to bookmaking, artist talks, and live music. All we can say is: Prepare to be really inspired, and don't blame us if you leave this fest wanting to take an art class or five.

Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th Street NW; 202-639-1700.


Photo: Courtesy of Corcoran Gallery of Art/Denny Henry
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If you find yourself cruising along 15th Street NW before November 9, make a pit stop outside The Washington Post building and catch artist Nina Katchadourian’s street-front installation, Monument to the Unelected. Katchadourian created election signs for presidential runners-up from campaigns as long ago as 1812, and papered the Post's lobby windows with them. Whether you think of it as a memory-jogging history lesson or a treatise on the ephemeral nature of political campaigns, it's definitely worth a look.

Where: The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW; no phone.


Photo: Courtesy of Nina Katchadourian
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If you're in the mood to get fit but can't spring for a gym membership, you can take a free Pilates class in Farragut Square Park every Tuesday through the end of the month. From 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., you'll get top-notch instruction by trainers from Results Gym, Epic Yoga, and Yoga District — all you have to do is bring a mat.

Where: Farragut Square Park, 17th and K Streets NW; no phone.


Photo: Courtesy of Pilates in the Park
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Have we mentioned we love street festivals? During Saturday's Art on the Avenue, the lovely suburb of Del Ray gets even more visit-worthy, thanks to the 300-plus artists, musicians, and food vendors who set up shop for the day. Expect silversmiths and soap makers, country singers and rock groups, and all the festival-style food you can handle. (Good luck choosing between the chocolate-dipped bananas and the homemade cider doughnuts.)

Where: Mount Vernon Avenue in Del Ray, Alexandria, between Bellefonte and Hume avenues; no phone.


Photo: Courtesy of Art on the Avenue
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The Fridge, Capitol Hill's coolest underground art space, is hosting not one, but two stellar shows this month. Catch the opening party for ULTRA's quiet walks in dangerous places and Laura Elkins' Packin' Heat Talkin' Dirty on Saturday from 7-11 p.m. You can explore the gallery's new exhibit space, dubbed The Mini-Fridge, while DJ Oso Fresh spins an all-vinyl set.

Where: The Fridge, 516 1/2 8th Street SE; 202-664-4151.


Photo: Courtesy of The Fridge
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