Best Music

1. National Philharmonic: Piotr Gajewski conducts a program of many colors featuring Ravel's "Bolero," Poulenc's "Gloria" and Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade" with the National Philharmonic Chorale and soprano Danielle Talamantes.

Where: Music Center at Strathmore, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $28 to $84; 301-581-5100;

2. Mark Morris Dance Group: The world famous company performs an imaginative program set to music by Dvorak, Hummel and other great composers.

Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: $23 to $46; 703-993-2787; 888-945-2468;

3. Arlo Guthrie: "Here Comes the Kid," a tribute to father Woody Guthrie's 100th birthday.

Where: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: $45; 703-549-7500;

4. Solas: The Celtic folk quintet pairs traditional songs with the band's modern originals and politically inspired covers.

Where: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: $22; 877-965-3872;

Best Brainfood

1. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater: America's cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, returns to the Kennedy Center for its annual engagement with its winning combination of captivating new work and enduring classics.

Where: Kennedy Center Opera House, 2700 F St. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: $30 to $120; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

2. "Step it Up D.C.": Dance Place Step Team: Take workshops and learn about step dancing, then stay for a performance.

Where: Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE

When: Friday; workshops: 6 to 7:30 p.m.; performance: 8 p.m.

Info: $5 to $12; 202-269-1600;

3. "Glengarry Glenn Ross": David Mamet's searing Pulitzer Prize winner looks at a group of desperate Chicago real estate salesmen who grind out a living by pushing plots of land on reluctant buyers in a never-ending scramble for a share of the American Dream.

Where: Round House Theatre, 4545 East-West Highway, Bethesda

When: Through March 3

Info: $26 to $63; 240-644-1100;

4. Ariana Delawari: The Afghan-American musician and multimedia artist offers a concert of her original works, which feature a blend of Afghan and Western styles of music.

Where: Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, 2700 F St. NW

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Info: Free; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

5. "Spring Awakening": This musical, based on the Frank Wedekind work, features a Tony Award-winning score and celebrates the unforgettable journey from youth to adulthood.

Where: Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney Sandy Spring Road, Olney

When: Thursday through March 10

Info: $31 to $63.50; 301-924-3400;

Best Family

1. "Grimm's Fairy Tales" Storytime: Children 2 and up. Celebrate Wilhem Grimm's birthday with the classic "Grimm's Fairy Tales." You'll also learn about the history behind these classics. For more information, call 703-228-6535.

Where: Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington

When: 10:30 to 11:15 a.m. Friday

Info: Free; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program No. 622923-C

2. Survival Skills: Knot Know-How: Children 7 to 12. These hands-on classes teach traditional survival skills. You'll learn a few basics that will help you out of a tangle. Information: 703-228-6535.

Where: Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Friday

Info: $5; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program No. 622923-H

3. Long Branch Overnight: Ages 9 to 13. Spend the night at Long Branch Nature Center. You'll start with some fun by the campfire (roasting marshmallows, eating s'mores and telling stories). Stay up late and meet animals, play games and see what goes on after the building closes. Participants should bring a sleeping bag or bedroll, and don't forget a toothbrush! Information: 703-228-6535.

Where: Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday

Info: $25; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program No. 622923-I

4. My Home in the Snow: Families, ages 3 and up. Many of Arlington's creatures live in the snow during winter. Come learn about making a home in or from snow and other survival techniques used by local wildlife. For more information: 703-228-3403.

Where: Gulf Branch Nature Center, 3608 N. Military Road, Arlington

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday

Info: $5; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program No. 622853-I

5. Wild Ones: Fine Porcupine!: Children ages 6 to 10. These prickly beasts are found in the woods to the north. What do they eat in the deep snows of winter? Can they really throw their quills? For information: 703-228-6535.

Where: Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington

When: 4 to 5 p.m. February 13

Info: $5; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program No. 622923-E

Best Gatherings

1. Elliott Abrams: Tested by Zion: The Bush Administration and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: As deputy national security adviser for Middle Eastern affairs in the Bush administration, Abrams played a pivotal role in formulating Mid-East policy, particularly regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His memoir recalls White House debates as well as meetings with leaders from the Arab world.

Where: Politics & Prose Bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Info: Free; 202-364-1919;

2. Crystal Couture: The D.C. area's hottest fashion show and high-end bargain trunk sale returns to Crystal City this February.

Where: 251 18th St. office building

When: 6 to 10 p.m. through Saturday

Info: Free; 703-412-9430;

3. KC Jazz Club: Matt Wilson's Arts & Crafts: An Attitude for Gratitude: Drummer, comedian, and entertainer Matt Wilson's aptly named ensemble tries a little of everything.

Where: Kennedy Center, Terrace Gallery, 2700 K St. NW

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Info: $26 to $30; 202-467-4600;

4. Chinese New Year Banquet: The traditional feast includes lion dancers and remarks on the significance of holiday foods for the annual celebration.

Where: Hollywood East Cafe, 11160 Veirs Mill Road, Wheaton

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Info: $55; 202-973-2168;

Best Outdoors

1. Go Skating at Canal Park Ice Rink: Skate at Washington's newest ice rink. Two tickets for the price of one during Valentine's Day week!

Where: Canal Park Ice Rink, 2nd Place SE

When: Mondays through Sundays; see website for hours

Info: $7 to $8; 202-554-6051;

2. Airplane Flying Lesson for Beginners: After a mandatory safety lesson, each person will learn the procedures for checking in the plane, communication with the tower, reviewing all necessary instruments, take off procedures, and how to fly, steer and control your plane. Before you know it, you'll be taking control of the airplane and flying.

Where: Manassas Regional Airport, Manassas

When: 10 a.m. to noon Saturday

Info: $159; 301-519-8030;

3. Black Georgetown Walk: Walking tour of Herring Hill. Ages 13 to adult. Explore stories of sacrifice, adversity and success on this tour of Herring Hill, a vibrant 1800s African-American community in the heart of Georgetown.

Where: Old Stone House, Rock Creek Park Nature Center, 5200 Glover Road NW

When: 2 p.m. every Saturday until Feb. 23

Info: Free; 202-895-6070;

4. Bundle up the kids and go Geo-caching! Families with children ages 6 and older. Gear-up for spring with this exciting activity! Geo-caching combines old-fashioned treasure hunting with modern technology. You'll learn the basics of how to participate in this great activity for all ages as you search for some of the caches in the park. Bring your GPS device if you have one. For more information: 703-228-6535.

Where: Meet at Long Branch Nature Center, 625 S. Carlin Springs Road, Arlington

When: 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday

Info: $5; registration necessary: 703-228-4747; Program #622953-R

5. Difficult Run to Great Falls Loop: Beautiful views of stream, river and falls; 4.9 mile loop. This trail has outstanding views of the Potomac River and Great Falls. Difficult Run is also very scenic. There is abundant wildlife and lots of kayaks if the water is up fairly high. To continue the directions listed below under trailhead, see the following.

Where: McLean

When: Any day

Info: Free; 202-295-2965;

Best Theater

1. "Race": The latest work from Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Mamet, "Race" examines guilt, betrayal and racial posturing. Two male lawyers are called to defend a wealthy white client charged with the rape of a black woman, while their female associate has an agenda of her own.

Where: Theater J, 1529 16th ST. NW

When: Through March 17

Info: $35 to $60; 202-494-8497;

2. "Italian American Reconciliation": This romantic comedy by John Patrick Shanley takes place after Huey Bonfigliano's divorce from a shrewish wife, when he suddenly decides to win her back.

Where: 1st Stage, 1524 Spring Hill Road, McLean

When: Through Feb. 24

Info: $15 to $25; 703-854-1856;

3. "The Grand Parade (of the 20th Century)": Double Edge Theatre's world premiere takes audiences on an evocative journey through the 20th century by fusing music, dance and flying.

Where: Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW

When: Through Feb. 10

Info: Sold out; tickets may be available through resellers; 202-488-3300;

4. "Metamorphoses": Ten years after this exquisite production stormed Broadway and earned director Mary Zimmerman a Tony Award for Best Director, "Metamorphoses" returns. Zimmerman's magical interpretation of Ovid's work proves myths about romance, family, loss and redemption never go out of style.

Where: Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW

When: Friday through March 17

Info: $40 to $85; 202-488-3300;

5. "Black Comedy": A power outage causes endless hilarity in this classic farce from famed playwright Peter Shaffer, Young sculptor Brindsley Miller's scheme to impress his fiancee's father and a millionaire art collector is plunged into chaos when a fuse blows inside his London apartment.

Where: Signature Theatre, 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington

When: Through March 2

Info: $30; 336-462-9182;

Best Galleries

1. Michelangelo's "David-Apollo": More than six decades have passed since Michelangelo's marble masterwork "David-Apollo" was last seen at the National Gallery of Art. It's on loan from Italy's Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence, to open the NGA's Year of Italian Culture.

Where: National Gallery of Art, West Building, Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW

When: Through March 3

Info: Free; 202-737-4215;

2. Lincoln Schatz: "The Network": Video artist Schatz interviewed 89 policymakers and interpreters -- Paul Ryan, Nancy Pelosi and Sandra Day O'Connor among them -- to create this elliptical "digital conversation" on power in Washington that cycles seamlessly from interview subject to interview subject. Fascinating and hypnotic.

Where: Connersmith, 1358 Florida Ave. NE

When: Saturday through March 30

Info: Free; 202-588-8750;

3. Home: This collection of recent oil landscapes by Caroline Adams explores the provocative idea that there is a shared iconography of "home" that speaks to all peoples regardless of their origins.

Where: Susan Calloway Fine Arts, 1543 Wisconsin Ave. NW

Where: Friday through March 16

When: Free; 202-965-4601;

4. Angels, Demons and Savages: Pollock, Ossorio, Debuffet: These 53 paintings and works on paper made between 1945 and 1958 tell the story of the development of American Abstract Expressionism as seen through the work of Jackson Pollock, Alfonso Ossorio and Jean Dubuffet.

Where: The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St. NW

When: Saturday through May 12

Info: $10; seniors 62-plus and students $8; youth 18 and under free; 202-387-2151;

5. 24 + 24: This is sixth annual invitational exhibit of gallery artists features the most diverse talent Bethesda has to offer.

Where: Waverly Street Gallery, 4600 East-West Highway, Bethesda

When: Through March 2

Info: Free; 301-951-9441;