Art All Night is back and bigger than ever, with 22 main streets in D.C. taking part in the annual overnight arts festival.
Presented by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, the two-night event kicks off at 7 p.m. on September 23 and ends at 3 a.m. on September 25. The festival encourages residents to get outside and enjoy the D.C. they know and love, while allowing for new discoveries in every ward.
The genesis of Art All Night dates back to 2011, when the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) searched for a way to support and elevate local artists who fuel and drive entertainment, business and community throughout the District. The Department found its muse in Paris’ Nuit Blanche.
Kristi Whitfield, director of DSLBD, says while the event’s focus is art and entertainment, it still showcases neighborhood’s individuality and the small businesses within them. Art All Night creates new revenue and economic streams for small businesses around activation sites by pushing residents to explore and rediscover the city.
“This year, we are super excited because we have grown from seven main streets to 22, as well as numerous D.C. public libraries, at least two schools and other venues across the city,” Whitfield says. “This is a celebration of art and community and culture and commerce, and every ward is touched in some way.”
Attendees will be exposed to great music, art, spoken word, extemporaneous art and the chance to meet up with other D.C. residents and get back to a pre-pandemic mindset of community gatherings.
“The magic of Art All Night is that all these locations offer unique experiences, so what you see on 8th Street will be different than what you see at Eastern Market,” Whitfield says. “It gives every neighborhood an opportunity to shine in its own interesting way.”
For instance, in Mount Pleasant, a screening of “La Manplesa: An Uprising Remembered,” a film about the 1991 Mount Pleasant protests will take place at 7 p.m. The area will also offer live art demonstrations, corn grinding and crafts, and a view of the Harmonica Museum.
In Georgetown, a performance by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Radical Elite Show Band will take place at 6 p.m. in the front of the library, while Anna Banana Arts and Crafts will give children an opportunity to explore the art of Mira Hecht through a guided art project. The African Union will have art on display from artists such as Hamid Kashmar, Dawit Tesfamariam and Almigdad Aldikhaiiry at 1640 Wisconsin Avenue.
Fitness Factory at 5926 Georgia Avenue will host free spin classes with a live DJ in the Upper Georgia Avenue neighborhood, and the area will also have a live mural painting by local artist Leonina Arismendi.
On 8th Street, there will be a silent disco; at Dupont Circle, there will be fire dancers; in Congress Heights, there will be go-go bands and a midnight brunch. Other events include a wing eating contest, wine tasting, chalk drawings, open gallery walks and a parade.
“It’s a cacophony of noises that build into this glorious sympathy,” Whitfield says. “Art All Night is the coolest party that people don’t know the government is putting on for them. It’s a moment of artistic collaboration that blossoms into something unexpected.”
One noticeable change this year is DSLBD’s Art All Night website, which has been completely overhauled for a more interactive experience for visitors. The site will include up-to-date information during the event and offer an interactive map where visitors can find central locations for all 22 main streets.
“For the corridors where these events are happening, it’s usually the best sales night they will have for the year,” Whitfield says. “This is a chance for people to support local businesses, to support the creative community and to see friends in the neighborhood. It’s a chance to be surprised and inspired and maybe find something you didn’t realize was available in your city.”
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