The DCist Guide To Art All Night 2017

By DCist Contributor Allie Goldstein

Saturday night and into the wee hours of Sunday, six D.C. neighborhoods will come alive with Art All Night, a free overnight arts festival that draws inspiration from Paris’s famous Nuit Blanche. Now in its sixth year, the festival is known for bringing art to places where you wouldn’t expect it, from the H Street streetcar to an orthodontics office.

Presented by D.C.’s Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) as well as main street organizations in Congress Heights, Dupont Circle, H Street, North Capitol, Shaw, and Tenleytown, Art All Night highlights local businesses, some of which saw record sales in past years.

“Our businesses really have a voice [in the festival],” said Tene Dolphin, Director of the DSLBD. “We’re super excited because it gives us a chance to reimagine our neighborhoods.”

Last year about 50,000 people attended the festival, and DSLBD expects even higher attendance this year. With 396 artists and performers participating and over 300 events planned between 4 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday, visitors won’t have time to catch them all.

Dolphin’s suggestion? “Make a plan of action.”

Or just read our neighborhood-by-neighborhood guide:


Go here for: An ode to the music and culture of the African American diaspora in D.C.
When to go: Anytime, but it might be nice to end the night at the Midnight Brunch & Jam Session
Don’t miss: The hip-hop block party in Congress Heights Plaza featuring a glow-in-the-dark breakdance class; a “Gospel Explosion” at Brighter Day Ministries (421 Alabama Avenue SE, starts at 4 p.m.); and spoken word plus jazz at the Blue Note Speakeasy, which will also be serving up Cajun cuisine.


Go here for: An international flair
When to go: Mid-festival, or early to catch beer and rum at the Embassy of Guatemala while supplies last
Don’t miss: Decorating a “roving human canvas” at Art Jamz; watching fire dancing and juggling courtesy of Peculiarity Productions (on the median of Connecticut Avenue, 1500 block); and viewing photographs of the Ese’Eja people—one of the last foraging peoples of the Amazon—at the Embassy of Peru. For a little mid-festival relaxation, take a 20-minute gong bath at Take Five Meditation (think: massage with sound) or draw a still-life at the Washington Studio School—materials and soundtrack included.


Go here for: A “Feast for the Senses”
When to go: Last call, for some late-night streetcar jams
Don’t miss: Live music on the streetcar; the silent disco with battling DJs; and hourly dance performances at Joy of Motion


Go here for: The “market,” where art will be available for purchase at affordable prices, as well as open-air performances
When to go: Sunset
Don’t miss: The adult playground installation at the Florida Ave. Lot where you can contribute to the “my wish for DC” wall or trace a friend with glow-in-the-dark chalk; runway shows, cocktails and food trucks at Douglas Lot (corner of New York Ave and North Capitol); and henna body art at Creative Grounds.


Go here for: Avant-garde art, including body painting and other do-it-yourself pieces
When to go: 8:45 p.m. to join the second line starting at Kennedy Recreation Center (1401 7th Street NW, Mardi Gras beads included)
Don’t miss: Seeing the new Blagden Alley murals illuminated at night for the first time; taking a Zouk dance lesson at the Wonder Bread Factory (641 S Street NW, 7 p.m.); and viewing Imar Hutchin’s six-foot-tall collage installation of Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who took a knee during the national anthem in protest (899 O Street NW).


Go here for: A family-friendly environment
When to go: 7 p.m. for the Afro-Brazilian drum corps Batala starting at Wisconsin Ave and Albemarle Street
Don’t miss: Work by Lateef Mangum, who served as the official photographer for five D.C. mayors, at Middle C Music; making a Japanese bonbori lantern at the Tile Shop; and schooling your kids on pollinators with some “honey-themed games” at Janney Elementary, where Matthew Willey will paint a bee mural.

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