Known by locals and visitors for its vibrant art scene, Alexandria, Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C. is home to some extraordinary arts events and venues for everyone from music enthusiasts to theatre fans. With the warm spring weather upon us, we’ve rounded up our top 10 can’t-miss spring arts events throughout Alexandria. Looking for some creative inspiration, the perfect gift, a date idea or a good show? Check out our list for fun spring ideas.
1. Concerts at The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall
Image Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria
The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall, which celebrated 50 years in 2016, has some incredible performers on schedule this spring. The world-famous concert venue is known for its nightly lineup of classic and up-and-coming jazz, country, folk, bluegrass and R&B artists in an intimate setting, and has welcomed musicians like Johnny Cash, Ray Charles and Esperanza Spalding and still offers a mix of legends and rising stars in an intimate setting. If you’ve never been, catch a show at the venue The Washington Post describes as “the best listening club in America.” Check out their calendar for artists and bands coming to Alexandria this spring, including the Stanley Clarke Band (April 10), Melissa Etheridge (May 3), Gordon Lightfoot (May 15), the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (May 21) and Kiefer Sutherland (May 23).
2. Time & Place Performance
Image Credit: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
On April 23, 2017, Artist Sheldon Scott will perform an immersive art installation that uses the history of the harvesting of ice from the Potomac River and the storage and use of ice at Gadsby’s as a starting point. The performance examines the historic relationship of the Potomac River and the people of Alexandria, and the contemporary utility of the river as a resource. The performance will begin at the waterfront and culminate at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal Street. Visitors may view the performance anywhere along the route. Time & Place is an initiative of the Alexandria Office of the Arts’ public art program.
3. Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Performances
Image Credit: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Facebook Page
The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra‘s spring season includes Dvořák: Symphony No. 9 “The NewWorld” on May 20, 2017 at 8 p.m from NSO at Wolf Trap conductor Emil de Cou. Written as both a tribute to his immigrant roots and his adopted homeland, this American-inspired work borrows from Native American song, African-American spirituals, Scottish melodies and Dvořák’s own Czech folk traditions.
4. Events at the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Click and drag to look around. Image credit: M Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
Spring is the perfect time to explore the Torpedo Factory Art Center and Alexandria’s waterfront marina. Home to the nation’s largest number of publicly accessible artists’ studios under one roof with three floors, 82 studios, and seven galleries, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is hopping with special events and exhibits this spring. During Second Thursday, the Torpedo Factory hosts a special after-hours event every month with open studios and galleries and special programming. This spring, Second Thursday happens April 13 and May 11, 2017. There will also be a celebration for World Day of Puppetry including family-oriented puppet performances, hands-on workshops, exhibits and nine puppetry performances. For more events and exhibits at the Torpedo Factory this spring, check their calendar.
5. “Master Class” at MetroStage
Image Credit: MetroStage
Located in a converted lumber warehouse, MetroStage is known for its intimate theatre environment, with seats on risers wrapping around a “thrust” stage keeping the audience in close proximity to the actors. This spring, MetroStage will perform “Master Class” by Terrence McNally, directed by Nick Olcott. The winner of the 1996 Tony Award for Best Play, “Master Class” will be at MetroStage May 4-June 11, 2017 featuring soaring music, dramatic arias, emotional outbursts and fascinating insight into the world of the arts, the artist and the psyche of a renowned diva, Maria Callas.
6. “The Fabulous Lipitones” at The Little Theatre of Alexandria
Image Credit: The Little Theatre of Alexandria Facebook Page
The Little Theatre of Alexandria is the oldest award-winning theatre in the Washington metro area and one of the few community theaters in the country with its own building. This spring, The Little Theatre of Alexandria will perform “The Fabulous Lipitones,” a hilarious take on what happens when a barbershop quartet is forced to take on an unconventional replacement when one of their members suddenly dies. This comical and moving story about the power of song, prejudice and friendship is at The Little Theatre of Alexandria from April 22-May 13, 2017.
7. Sherry Z. Sanabria Exhibit at the Alexandria Black History Museum
Image Credit: M. Enriquez for Visit Alexandria
“I am drawn to the walls and spaces… [of buildings]… by the magic of light, the organization of architectural elements, and the perception that these spaces are filled with and colored by the spiritual remnants of the lives lived in them.”
– Sherry Z. Sanabria (1938-2014)
This exhibition features over 20 paintings, including large scale works, of former slave dwellings that dot the landscape across the region and state by artist Sherry Z. Sanabria (1937-2014) who worked in the D.C. metro area since 1975. The poignant yet beautiful works are accompanied by panels that highlight Alexandria’s local slavery to freedom story and are a must-see in the region. The Alexandria Black History Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
8. Photography Tours of Old Town
Image Credit: Fetching Photos/Kerinia Cusick
Photography enthusiasts can experience Alexandria from a new angle on a number of different photography tours with Fetching Photos. This spring, Fetching Photos is offering a Cherry Blossoms Photo Tour through mid-April. Visitors will be taken to the best flowers Old Town has to offer and learn photography tips and techniques with one-on-one coaching. They also offer a Walk & Snap tour of Old Town where you’ll visit historically significant and photogenic sites, such as the building where the seeds of the American Revolution were planted and picture-perfect, hidden cobblestone alleys. At each stop, you’ll learn photography tips and be given an opportunity to snap those perfect vacation mementos. The tours are good for smartphones and DSLRs/CSCs, are pet-friendly, and have a 10-person maximum.
9. Self-Guided Tour of Del Ray Murals
Image Credit: C. Davidson for Visit Alexandria
Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood is an eclectic and walkable neighborhood filled with an extraordinary art scene and some of the coolest murals in the city, each one telling a different story about Del Ray and its history. Spring is a fun time to explore them yourself on Visit Alexandria’s Self-Guided Walking Tour of Del Ray’s Murals. You can make a day of exploring Del Ray’s street art, with no shortage of awesome restaurants to fuel your adventure along the way.
10. La Bella Strada: An Italian Street Painting Festival
Image Credit: La Bella Strada Facebook Page
La Bella Strada is a modern street painting festival that originates from an ancient Italian art form. This unique and family-friendly event takes place along Mt. Vernon Avenue in Del Ray throughout the day on May 13, 2017 and brings artists, energetic volunteers and local businesses together with vibrant colors, crowd-drawing masterpieces, and a one-of-a-kind experience of witnessing the creation of large-scale chalk paintings directly on the sidewalks. La Bella Strada will also feature a Casa de Bambini (“Children’s House”) area to provide a space for young artists to create a collective chalk masterpiece of their own, as well as designated sidewalk squares where families and individuals can participate in making their own colorful work of art. The festival benefits the Del Ray Montessori School.
Check out our Arts & Culture page for even more arts events and things to do in Alexandria.
Header image credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria