Alexandria, Virginia, located on the Potomac River waterfront within eyesight of Washington, D.C., comes to life each spring with an arts scene as vibrant as the cherry blossoms. From gallery parties inside the world-famous Torpedo Factory Art Center with drinks inspired by the artwork to concerts at The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall, there’s something for every type of art enthusiast in the Port City this spring. Looking for some creative inspiration, the perfect gift, a date idea or a good show? We’ve got you covered with our top 11 can’t-miss spring art events happening in Alexandria in 2018.
Visual Art Events
1. Art on the Rocks and the 17th Biennial Ikebana Exhibit
Image Credit: The Art League
Art enthusiasts will love the botanical inspiration for this year’s Art on the Rocks on May 4, 2018, by The Art League at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Art on the Rocks is an annual event that challenges local mixologists to select work from The Art League Gallery as inspiration and create the most artistic cocktail and appetizer pairing. This spring, Art on the Rocks attendees will judge how well the pairings reflect the installations of The Art League Gallery’s Biennial Ikebana Show, which showcases the exquisite craft of Japanese flower arranging as a sculptural art form. Each Ikebana piece is presented with a harmonious work of visual art created by an Art League artist to form a contemporary installation. It’s bound to be a beautiful evening with creatively inspired cocktails and art.
2. 8th Annual March150 Art Party
Image Credit: Robert Mang
The Torpedo Factory Art Center is host to another can’t-miss event happening this spring with the 8th Annual March150 Art Party at the art center’s Target Gallery on March 23, 2018. Sonoma Cellar will be sponsoring a wine bar at this popular spring event, which will also have hors d’oeuvres, hands-on activities, a green-screen photo station and a live music set. The event is a closing reception for the exhibition of $150 original artwork on 10” square panels, and the artwork is discounted to $100 for this closing event. All proceeds from artwork sales support artist stipends for future special exhibitions and programs at the Target Gallery and the Torpedo Factory Art Center.
3. Late Shift at the Torpedo Factory: What is Art?
The Torpedo Factory hosts a series of late-night festivals called “The Late Shift” with varying themes featuring live performances, hands-on activities and more. On April 13, 2018, The Late Shift at the Torpedo Factory: What is Art? will celebrate the work of some of the region’s best up-and-coming talent during the opening reception for Target Gallery’s Emerging Artists exhibition. Meet the artists and enjoy live music, performances, refreshments and more.
4. BunnyFest 2018
Image Credit: Torpedo Factory Art Center
Cuddle up with a cottontail and some art at BunnyFest 2018 on March 31, 2018 at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. This family-friendly event has hands-on activities including bunny crafts, make-your-own BunnyFest buttons, bunny ears and more. Plus, explore artisan hip-hop and rabbit-riffic artwork from several Torpedo Factory artists.
5. Del Ray Artisans Spring Market
Image Credit: E. Michio for the City of Alexandria
The Del Ray Artisans gallery hosts one of the best arts events in the neighborhood each spring with the Spring Art Market, happening May 12, 2018. The outdoor market is perfect for browsing original handmade artwork from local artists, including ceramics, photography, jewelry, fiber, paper, glass and more. Stroll along Mount Vernon Avenue to discover vibrant chalk art up and down the sidewalk as part of La Bella Strada, an Italian street painting festival happening on the same day.
Music and Theater Performances
6. Concerts at The Birchmere
Image Credit: R. Kennedy for Visit Alexandria
The Birchmere: America’s Legendary Music Hall 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 Lee Ann Womack (3/23), Ronnie Milsap (4/5), Don McLean (4/14) and the Taj Mahal Trio (5/30).
7. Alexandria Symphony Orchestra
Image Credit: Alexandria Symphony Orchestra Facebook Page
The Alexandria Symphony Orchestra’s spring season includes a journey through time as three centuries collide for two concerts on April 7 and April 8, 2018. The program begins with C.P.E. Bach’s Baroque Symphony in E-Flat Major followed by Piazzolla’s modern tango-inspired Tangazo: Variations on Buenos Aires. Rounding out the program is Brahms’ Romantic, melancholy and pastoral Symphony No. 2.
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 feature two performances celebrating work by women, about women, and starring women. From March 8 to March 25, 2018, George…Don’t Do That! is a musical entertainment celebrating the wit and wisdom of one of Britain’s most beloved comediennes, as performed by Catherine Flye, one of Washington’s favorite actors, and From April 13 to April 29, 2018, I Did It My Way in Yiddish (in English) features the internationally acclaimed Jewish Canadian, comic performer, musician and writer Deb Filler, a one-woman tour de force in a jam-packed, music-filled show.
9. 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 Harvey, a comedic drama that’s also a classic movie starring Jimmy Stewart, about a man with an imaginary friend who happens to be a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey. When he starts introducing his imaginary rabbit friend to guests at a party, his sister can no longer tolerate his inebriated antics and worries about her family being exposed to this imaginary rabbit. However, after years of living with her brother, she begins to start seeing Harvey herself. It’s a classic “tail” and a must-see this spring.
10. Spoken Word Performance at The Athenaeum
Image Credit: 13 of Nazareth Facebook Page
On April 5, 2018, local spoken word artist 13 of Nazareth will perform “Ain’t Nobody More Surprised” at The Athenaeum in Old Town. 13 of Nazareth describes himself as “a poet from Virginia, living with epilepsy, a dry sense of humor and peace of mind over everything,” and will be sharing his poignant words inside The Athenaeum, an art space in a gorgeous Greek Revival building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a one-of-a-kind art event that’s part of The Athenaeum’s series of spring happenings.
11. Self-Guided Walking 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 a vibrant 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 morning or afternoon of exploring Del Ray’s street art, with no shortage of awesome restaurants to fuel your adventure along the way.
Check out our Arts & Culture page for even more arts events and things to do in Alexandria.
Header Image Credit: Jingwei Li