Best Music

1. National Philharmonic; Piotr Gajewski conducts the orchestra, guest violist Victoria Chiang and guest violinist Nurit Bar-Josef in "Mozart and the Voice of the Viola," featuring Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante, Telemann;s Concerto for Viola and Mendelssohn's String Symphony No. 9.

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

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday; free lectures at 6:45 and 1:45 respectively

Info: $28 to $84, kids 7-17 free; 301-581-5200;

2. Schoolhouse Rock!: The 40th anniversary celebration sing-along of the iconic educational show with Rocknoceros, Washington's favorite child-oriented ensemble.

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

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Info: Free

3. Alexander Paley: The Washington Conservatory presents the acclaimed pianist and "French Grammy" winner returning for the 12th year to performs works by Liszt; Weber and a Liszt/Paley concert paraphrase of Verdi's "Rigoletto."

Where: Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ, 1 West Moreland Circle Northwest, Bethesda,

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: Free, donations accepted

4. Pat McGee Band Reunion Show: Performing numbers from "No Wrong Way to Make it Right" and fan favorites, this ensemble that started in Richmond always promises great fun for all the avid fans.

Where: The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria

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

Info: $35; 703-549-7500;

5. Ari Hest: The singer/songwriter opens the Barns spring season with his original songs and interpretative covers.

When: The Barns at Wolf Trap, 1635 Trap Road, Vienna

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Info: $20; 877-965-3872;

Best Brainfood

1. Crafting a Play: Join Studio Theatre for a conversation between Studio's Artistic Director David Muse and "An Iliad" co-adaptor Denis O'Hare as they discuss crafting a play from an ancient poem and the dynamics of solo performance.

Where: Studio Theatre, 1501 16th St. NW

When: After the 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday

Info: 202-332-3300;

2. Panel on Women and Israel moderated by Forward Editor Jane Eisner.

Where: Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW

When: 5 p.m. Sunday

Info: Free;

3. "Very Like A Whale": Photographer Rosamond Purcell pioneered a new technique using mercury glass bottles to capture the otherworldly images seen in this Folger exhibition.

Where: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St. SE

When: Through Sunday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, non to 5 p.m. Sunday

Info: Free; 202-544-4600;

4. "National Theatre Live": "Timon of Athens": Wealthy friend to the rich and powerful, patron of the arts, ostentatious host, Timon of Athens showers gifts and hospitality on the city's elite. He vastly outspends his resources but, finding his coffers empty, reassures his loyal steward that all will be well. When he calls upon his former associates, instead of offering help, they hang him out to dry.

Where: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Info: $20; 202-547-1122;

5. "Water Root": William Villalongo's first video film project. In collaboration with the poet Nicole Sealey, the artist's recent paintings come to life. Real actors are transformed into the graphic characters from his paintings while the poem that narrates the video muses on the distances between mortality and immortality, heroic efforts and futility.

Where: Artisphere, Bijou Theatre, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

When: Through Jan. 20

Info: Free; 703-875-1100;

Best Family

1. "Fiesta do los Reyes Magos/Three Kings Day Celebration": A traditional event for the community. GALA will again tell the timeless story of the Magi with song, dance and storytelling at two performances. These bilingual presentations for the entire family preserve one of the most popular celebrations of Latino cultures.

Where: GALA Hispanic Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW

When: 11:30 a.m. And 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Procession with animals starts at 1 p.m. at Park and 14th streets NW

Info: 202-234-7174;

2. Circle of the Sun: Our sun is an amazing ball of fire. Learn how it works and how it affects us and all the other creatures we share the earth with! For kids, ages 5 to 7. For info, call 703-228-3403.

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

When: 1 to 2 p.m. Sunday

Info: $5; Registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 622823-M

3. Tracks and Traces: Learn what techniques scientists use for finding animals they are studying. Then you'll go out and use some of these skills yourself on a walk through the winter woods. For kids, ages 7 to 11. For info, call 703-228-3403.

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

When: 3 to 4 p.m. Sunday

Info: $5; Registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 622823-N

4. Dizzy Miss Lizzie's Roadside Revue: The D.C.-based troupe brings its mix of theater, vaudeville, rock 'n' roll, and Gypsy punk with its latest rock 'n' roll show "The Brontes." (Note: Program contains mature themes and strong language. For age 13 and up.)

Where: Theatre Lab, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Info: Free; 202-467-4600;

Best Gatherings

1. Handmade Holidays: The Clay Sleigh: Original ceramic ornaments are displayed in this holiday-themed show.

Where: Scope Gallery, Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N. Union St., Alexandria

When: Through Sunday

Info: Free; 703-548-6288;

2. David Roll: Roll will discuss his book The Hopkins Touch: Harry Hopkins and the Forging of the Alliance to Defeat Hitler. Hopkins was a top adviser to Franklin Roosevelt and an architect of the New Deal.

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

When: 12:30 p.m. Thursday through Friday

Info: Free; 202-364-1919;

3. Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective: In the first major exhibition since Roy Lichtenstein's death in 1997, more than 100 of the artist's greatest paintings from all periods of his career are presented along with a selection of related drawings and sculptures. Where: National Gallery of Art, Fourth Street and Constitution Avenue NW

When: Through Jan. 13

Info: Free; 202-737-4215;

4. Christmas on the Potomac: A 60-foot glass tree of light, nightly indoor snow falls, brunch with Santa, gingerbread house decorating, indoor train rides and musical entertainment.

Where: National Harbor, 150 National Plaza, Fort Washington

When: Through Sunday

Info: 877-628-5427;

5. Dragons, Nagas and Creatures of the Deep: Textiles from the 12th through 20th centuries commemorating the lunisolar calendar's year of the dragon.

Where: Textile Museum, 2320 S St. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: 202-667-0441;

Best Outdoors

1. Visit Mount Vernon: Guests to Mount Vernon can visit a dozen original structures, Washington's Tomb, and nearly 50 acres of his extensive plantation, which include beautiful gardens and restored landscapes. The estate also includes a working blacksmith shop and the George Washington Pioneer Farmer site, a 4-acre demonstration farm with reconstructed buildings and 16-sided treading barn.

Where: Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. most days; see website for details

Info: Free; 703-780-2000;

2. Scavenger Hunt of the Smithsonians: Time to hunt for the Moon Rock, the Ruby Slippers, Dinosaurs and the Hope Diamond all in one day! This scavenger hunt takes place throughout several Smithsonian museums on the National Mall. Look for items, answer trivia, get exciting pictures and win big prizes!

Where: Meet at Ben and Jerry's in Old Post Office Building, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

When: 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday

Info: $24;

3. C & O Canal: Hancock to Licking Creek: Historic towpath; Little Pool was a natural water basin used by the canal to turn and park barges. Well-maintained trail. A 7.8 mile round trip. Snapping turtles will haul themselves out of the pool to cross the trail, so keep an eye out.

Where: Hancock

When: Any season

Info: C & O Canal: 301-739-4200;

4. Birding Trip to Cape Henlopen State Park: Adults. Travel to the beaches along the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean and search for diving ducks and loons. Participants should dress for the weather and bring binoculars, a bag lunch and a drink and snacks for the day. For adults. For info, call 703-228-3403.

Where: Meet at Lubber Run Rec Center, 300 N. Park Drive, Arlington

When: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday

Info: $40; registration necessary: 703-228-4747; program No. 622843-B

5. Civil War tour: Celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War by walking various neighborhoods which contributed to the war, like the Brightwood Heritage Trail, where you can indulge your innerCivil Warbuff in one of D.C.'s early communities. You'll see Fort Stevens, the Battleground National Cemetery and much more. 18 posters guide you on a 90-minute walk.

Where: First poster at 5427 14th St. NW

When: Any day

Info: Free;

Best Theater

1. "Contractions": Inspired by real-life "love clauses" that dictate the nature and extent of office relationships, "Contractions" is a satire by award-winning British playwright Mike Bartlett. The show, finds Emma and her manager in a series of cordial but increasingly tense conversations about the differences between "sexual" and "romantic" in a world ruled by binding contracts and shrinking privacy.

Where: Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW

When: Through Jan. 27

Info: 202-332-3300;

2. "Tryst": When pursuing love, is loneliness or lucre a stronger force? "Tryst" is a battle of wits between a homely spinster and the man who hopes to parlay his good looks into financial gain.

Where: Washington Stage Guild at Undercroft Theatre, 900 Massachusetts Ave. NW

When: Thursday through Jan. 27

Info: $40 to $50; 202-347-9620;

3. "Apples from the Desert": A story of love and reconciliation adapted by one of Israel's most beloved authors. This hit Israeli play follows a young religious woman who falls for a secular kibbutznik.

Where: Theater J, 1529 16th St. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: $30 to $60; 800-494-TIXS;

4. "A Trip to the Moon": From one of D.C.'s most inventive theater artists, Natsu Onoda Power, this original piece, based on the 1902 silent film by Georges Melies, is whimsical and inspiring.

Where: Synetic Theater, 1800 S. Bell St., Arlington

When: Through Sunday

Info: $20 to $55; 703-494-8497;

5. "Irving Berlin's Christmas": The classic holiday movie White Christmas comes to the stage at last. This brand new musical shines with classic Irving Berlin hits like "Blue Skies," "How Deep is the Ocean?," and the unforgettable title song.

Where: Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: $25 to $150; 202-467-4600;

Best Galleries

1. High Fiber: Women to Watch: Nature, history, and the power to reshape natural materials to human will are the themes of this third exhibition in National Museum of Women in the Arts' "Women to Watch" series, which focus on stitched, woven, crocheted and knitted works of art.

Where: National Museum of Women in the Arts, 1250 New York Ave. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: $10 adults, $8 students and seniors (60+), free for age 18 and under; 202-783-799;

2. Portraiture Now: Drawing on the Edge: This survey of the works of six artists from the last 20 years who're pushing the boundaries of representational portraiture -- Mequitta Ahuja, Adam Chapman, Mary Borgman and others -- invite a fascinating debate on what "drawing" means in the 21st century, when our tools of image capture are advancing more rapidly than at any point in history.

Where: National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F St. NW

When: Through Aug. 13

Info: Free; 202-633-1000;

3. Black Box: Democracia: The Madrid-based artist collective Democracia, founded by Pablo Espana and Ivan Lopez, presents Ser y Druar ("To Be and to Last"), a bold work of multimedia provocation.

Where: Hirshorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Seventh Street and Independence Avenue SW

When: Through Jan. 21

Info: Free; 202-633-4674;

4. Joelle Dietrick & Owen Mundy: Grid, Sequence Me: This series of site-specific projected animations and texts spliced together from websites and publications related to D.C. architecture and real estate renders the Flashpoint Gallery space unrecognizeable, making a sly point about the inherent value of space.

Where: Flashpoint, 916 G St. NW

When: Through Feb. 2

Info: Free; 202-315-1305;

5. Selected Works: Jae Ko, Sam Gilliam, Gene Davis: Sculptor Jae Ko twists rolls of colored adding-machine paper, making it yield to her will it like clay. The curved, delicate creations that result are like nothing you've ever seen.

Where: Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW

When: Through Jan. 31

Info: Free; 202-328-0088;