Washington, DC shines with can’t-miss events, new exhibits and performances and milestone anniversaries throughout the upcoming year.
Every year, Washington, DC is among a short list of can’t-fail travel destinations. Just ask AFAR, a major travel publication that listed DC in its top places to travel in 2022. Business Insider also included the District in its list of 22 of the best places to travel to in the U.S. in 2022. In turn, we’ve laid out this incredible list of big things in the year ahead below, and whenever you’re ready, book your stay with these great deals at DC hotels.
Restaurant Week – Jan. 17-23 & August TBD
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington hosts two annual celebrations of DC’s eclectic dining scene: one in January and a summer edition in August. For both seasonal editions, Restaurant Week offers diners pre-fixe menus for lunch/brunch ($25) and dinner ($40 and $55).
Preston Singletary: Raven and the Box of Daylight – Jan. 28, 2022 – Jan. 29, 2023
The National Museum of the American Indian will host this new exhibit that features works from internationally acclaimed artist Preston Singletary and tells the story of Raven, the creator of the world and giver of the stars, moon and sun. The exhibit promises a multisensory experience with storytelling, music, soundscapes and projected images.
Picasso: Painting the Blue Period at The Phillips Collection – Feb. 26 – June 12
Picasso: Painting the Blue Period is a groundbreaking exhibition that will provide new insight into the creative process of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) at the outset of his career. It is the first exhibition in Washington, DC, in 25 years to focus on the early works of this 20th century icon, just as he was beginning to define himself on the international stage.
Harriet Tubman Bicentennial – March
Numerous DC museums and attractions will celebrate American icon Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday with artifacts, displays and events. More details will be revealed in the coming months. Many DC museums already feature Tubman prominently, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery and even the International Spy Museum.
Catch Me If You Can at Arena Stage – March 4 – April 17
Catch the Tony-nominated musical comedy based on the popular Steven Spielberg film that was inspired by a true story. Corbin Bleu plays Frank Abagnale Jr. in this rousing production that follows the deceptions, successes, trials and tribulations of the con man who posed as an airline pilot and lawyer and escaped police captivity, all before the age of 22.
Riverdance 25th Anniversary Show at The Kennedy Center – March 15-27
The ground-breaking stage show that brought Irish and international dance to the mainstream celebrates its 25th anniversary with this set of performances at the Kennedy Center. Expect to see the spectacle as you never have before, as a reimagined rendition of the riveting dance routine will captivate audiences throughout the spring.
National Cherry Blossom Festival – March 20 – April 17
Set to be held in-person in 2022, the city celebrates the blooming of cherry trees with a month-long festival commemorating the 1912 gift from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. Peak bloom usually takes place in early April. Make sure to check out the festival’s website for event updates in the lead-up to the celebration.
One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection – April 1 – Nov. 27
The Hirshhorn has been collecting the prolific work of Yayoi Kusama since 1996. The museum’s 2017 survey of her work traveled to five North American art museums, introducing Kusama’s spellbinding visions to record audiences. Now, the Hirshhorn will display five of Kusama’s works from the museum’s permanent collection, including two of the artist’s transcendent Infinity Mirror Rooms. One with Eternity: Yayoi Kusama in the Hirshhorn Collection is a tribute to the life and practice of the visionary artist. Free timed passes will be required.
Mean Girls at The Kennedy Center – April 5-24
The Broadway sensation based on the Lindsay Lohan hit movie returns to Washington, DC. Crafted by Tina Fey, with music written by her husband, Jeff Richmond, this production is sure to take the tale of Cady Heron and The Plastics to all-new heights. Tickets will be in very high demand, so purchase yours as soon as possible.
Come From Away at The National Theatre – April 12-17
The power of the human heart shines through in this play from Tony Award-nominated director Christopher Ashley. The tale concerns the Canadian small town of Gander, which welcomes 7,000 airline passengers after dozens of planes were diverted there on September 11, 2001. The town offered food, shelter and friendship, and this musical packages all of those good vibes into moving songs that will invigorate your faith in humanity.
Filmfest DC – April 22 – May 1
The largest and longest-running annual international film festival in Washington, DC, Filmfest DC returns to the traditional late April dates with a hybrid combination of in-person and virtual screenings. The varied lineup will feature quite the genre exercise: comedies, dramas, thrillers, shorts and documentaries will all be on display.
Project GLOW – April 30 – May 1
A new edition to DC's springtime lineup, Project GLOW will offer festival goers a transformation of one of the city’s most prominent recreational hubs, bringing two thoughtfully curated stages of music, exquisite food and beverage offerings and a collection of globally-recognized artists to the RFK Festival Grounds. True to the historic nature of the city, Project GLOW is the culmination of the past 20 years of Club Glow, representing its impact on the DC music scene while championing the superstar acts that will take to the new festival stages. Tickets are on sale now.
Passport DC – May 1-31
Returning in-person in 2022, a month of programming across the city focuses on highlighting DC’s international culture. The Around the World Embassy Tour and European Union Open House are annual highlights. Most events and tours can be enjoyed entirely free of charge.
Broccoli City Festival – May 7-8
For its 10th anniversary, Broccoli City is hosting its biggest festival yet. Kicking off with Broccoli Con on May 6, Broccoli City Festival will feature a theme of "BLK Change" throughout its proceedings, with a focus on mobilizing young people, local companies and community organization towards a more racially equitable society. Musical performers will include 21 Savage, Ari Lennox, Summer Walker, Wizkid, Don Toliver and many more. VIP packages and general admission tickets are available.
Hairspray at The National Theatre | May 10-15, 2022
A smash hit on Broadway and winner of multiple Tony Awards, this blockbuster musical is a loving ode to 1960s Baltimore and the styles and sounds of the times. The National Theatre will host the touring production for a limited run. The award-winning duo of Director Jack O’Brien and Choreographer Jerry Mitchell will reunite.
Capital Pride – Throughout June
Each year, local nonprofit Capital Pride hosts an array of exciting events and 2022 will be no different. There will be plenty of ways to show the community love in June. Last year’s attractions included a Pridemobile Parade and a Taste of Pride brunch, in addition to the yearly concert and festival. Event dates and details will be announced in the coming months.
Justin Bieber at Capital One Arena – June 10
The pop music superstar will bring his epic stage show to the nation’s capital. The Biebs has been lighting up the pop charts since his teenage years, with each successive hit sure to blast out of Spotify apps and car stereos all over the country. With that in mind, you may want to hop on grabbing tickets to the international sensation’s Capital One Arena Show ASAP.
Red Velvet at the Michael R. Klein Theatre at the Lansburgh – June 16 – July 27
Shakespeare Theatre Company stages a riveting tale of a Black actor who finds himself playing Othello on London’s grandest stage. Set in 1833, Ira Aldridge takes to London’s Theatre Royal as one of the Bard’s most famous characters as a bill promoting the abolition of slavery sends shockwaves through Parliament. Experience Aldridge’s triumph in the face of social injustice and racism.
To Kill a Mockingbird at The Kennedy Center – June 21 – July 10
Jeff Daniels stars as Atticus Finch and Gbenga Akinnagbe shines as Tom Robinson in this captivating stage telling of Harper Lee’s classic novel. Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation was named a Critic’s Pick by The New York Times and has one of the most successful Broadway runs in history. Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher directs.
Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle (30th Anniversary Edition) – June 25-26
Everyone’s favorite barbecue-flavored event celebrates 30 years in the District in 2022. Pit masters from all 50 states, local restaurants and live music shut down Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets NW for a lively, two-day street party. Cooking demos and free tastings make for a savory (and filling) experience.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival – June 22-26 & June 30 – July 4
A summer tradition like none other, this event plans to return to the Mall with a focus on the United Arab Emirates and earth optimism for its 2022 edition. The free international cultural festival spotlights various nations and communities every year. Held on the National Mall, the event features immersive exhibits, live music, cooking demos, a lively marketplace and much more.
Citi Open – Late July/Early August
The District’s signature professional tennis tournament will return to Rock Creek Park Tennis Center for its 53rd edition in 2022. Top-tier talent from all over the world will compete for a prestigious trophy, leading to action that you do not want to miss.
Hamilton at The Kennedy Center – Aug. 2 – Oct. 9
One of the most acclaimed productions in American history comes back to DC’s pre-eminent stage. The Tony Award-winning sensation about the Founding Father who came to the U.S. as an immigrant from the British-colonized West Indies to become George Washington’s trusted advisor takes the spotlight inside the Kennedy Center’s 2,362-seat Opera House. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical blends jazz, rap and hip-hop, and transforms the tale of America’s first Treasury Secretary with a diverse cast.
The Color Purple at Signature Theatre – Aug. 16 – Oct. 9
The 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Musical Revival will wow audiences at Virginia’s Signature Theatre in the late summer and early fall of 2022. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Alice Walker that was later turned into an Academy Award-winning film by Steven Spielberg, this musical uses jazz, blues, ragtime and gospel to tell the story of a young woman’s struggle towards love and triumph in the American South.
DCJazzFest – Aug. 31 - Sept. 4
The ultimate American art form comes to DC stages with leading artists from all over the world during this annual festival. Performances, which take place across the city, are both free and ticketed. Check out a 2021 recap and psych yourself up for what promises to be an even bigger celebration in 2022.
National Christmas Tree Centennial – Early December
The National Christmas Tree is DC’s claim to fame during the holidays, and for good reason. The gorgeous conifer lives in President’s Park on the White House Ellipse, where it's surrounded by trees decorated with handmade ornaments from 56 U.S. states and territories and is accompanied by nightly musical performances throughout the holiday season. The display is free to visit, and you can expect a whirlwind of special celebrations in honor of its 100th birthday in 2022. More details will be available later in the year.