Washington National Cathedral is letting loose this weekend by transforming the iconic space into a 17th-century English tavern for a night. For the first time, the Cathedral will host Navetoberfest! this Sunday, October 8 from 6-8 p.m. As the name suggests, the event will be fueled by food, beer and music.
“We’re letting our hair down a little bit, and opening it up so that it’s not just a pretty building on a hill, but is this really interesting venue for the arts,” says Kevin Eckstrom, a spokesperson for the National Cathedral. “We’re trying to do arts in a different, unexpected way for the Cathedral.”
The Cathedral is no stranger to hosting concerts. Music from Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and other classical pieces has echoed in the storied halls before. But as of yet, 17th-century English pub music hasn’t.
Norwegian virtuoso Bjarte Eike will perform the Alehouse Sessions, giving the audience a glimpse into the ever-changing music of the 17th-century English tavern. True to pub-style music sessions, the group won’t follow a script or set list. Instead, they’ll play a mix of English sea shanties, Henry Purcell overtures, and just for fun, Scandinavian folk songs.
Eckstrom says the concert isn’t going to be an affair where you arrive, sit down, listen quietly and applaud politely at the end. Instead, he expects an atmosphere more similar to an “open mic night from the Elizabethan Age.” For a more modern comparison, he says it’s kind of like if you imagined a Grateful Dead show 400 years ago.
“This is much more of a lets all kick back and have a good time sort of idea,” he continues.
Kegs of Radeberger Pilsner and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit will help to cultivate that mood. And to stay in tune with the night’s old European tavern theme, common European imports will also be available including Amstel, Beck’s and Duvel. An assortment of German-inspired food including sausages, veggie dogs and pretzels will accompany the brews and music.
Eckstrom recommends that anyone who appreciates live music with food and drink, as well as those wanting to experience a take on classical music in a completely different setting, should come to the event. And, of course, the beer is a plus too.
“There are not many times when you get to crack open a beer inside of the National Cathedral,” he says. “It will be one of the first times ever.”
Tickets cost $75 each, and the music, food and beer (at least enough before anyone is swinging from the arches, Eckstrom says) are all included in the admission price. Tickets are available for purchase here. For more information on concerts and other events at the National Cathedral, visit here.
Washington National Cathedral: 3101 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC: 202-537-6200; www.cathedral.org