Best Music

1. National Symphony Orchestra and pianist Lang Lang: Christoph Eschenbach conducts the virtuoso in Beethoven's Piano Concertos 2, 3 and 5, and other works by Strauss and Dvorak as part of the Lang Lang residency.

Where: Kennedy Center Concert Hall, 2700 F St. NW

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: $10 to $85; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

2. Chick Corea: The NEA Jazz Master and winner of 18 Grammy Awards is joined by vibraphonist Gary Burton and the Harlem String Quartet to perform music from their new album, "Hot House," which explores their take on standards from Kurt Weill and Thelonious Monk to Lennon and McCartney.

Where: Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, 600 I St. NW

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $62.50; 202-408-3100;

3. National Philharmonic: Victoria Gau conducts an all-Prokofiev program featuring pianist Brian Ganz, mezzo-soprano Magdalena Wor and the National Philharmonic Chorale.

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

When: 8 p.m. Saturday; 6:45 p.m. preconcert lecture

Info: $28 to $84, children 7 to 17 free, preconcert lecture is free; 301-581-5100;

4. Pro Musica Hebraica: The Ariel Quartet and pianist Orion Weiss perform "Between Two Worlds: Jewish Voices in Modern European Music;" works by Erich Korngold, Arnold Schoenberg, Ernest Bloch and others whose music drew from their Jewish heritage.

Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater, 2700 F St. NW

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

Info: $38; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

5. Tim O'Brien: An evening with the master of the guitar, fiddle, mandolin and bouzouki who learned his flat-picking style by watching Doc Watson on TV.

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

When: 8 p.m. Thursday

Info: $24; 877-WOLFTRAP (965-3872);

Best Gatherings

1. Black Movements Dance: The fall performance by the contemporary dance-theater program includes signature company works and new works by student and professional guest choreographers and performers.

Where: Georgetown University, Walsh Black Box Theatre, 37th and O streets NW

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Info: $10, $8 students; 202-687-3838;

2. Pocket Opera x 2: Love and Witchcraft: Henry Purcell's "Dido and Aeneas," the story of African queen Dido's fated love for Aeneas, is paired with Manuel de Falla's "El Amor Brujo," well-known as a ballet, refashioned here.

Where: Source, 1835 14th St. NW

When: Saturday through Nov. 26

Info: $19 to $40; 202-315-1305;

3. Long Branch Nature Center's 40th Birthday Bash: Visitors will get to meet the animals on display as well as ones that are not. Partygoers are also welcome to participate in a scavenger hunt, make a craft and help blow out the candles on a tasty treat. The cake will be cut at 2 p.m. For families with children 3 and up. Children must be accompanied by an adult. For info, call 703-228-6535.

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

When: 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday

Info: $5 donation appreciated; registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 612952-H

4. Crawfish Boil: Louisiana native David Guas starts a new Friday night tradition with his $16 per pound crawfish boils, complete with Abita beers on tap and music on the patio.

Where: Bayou Bakery, 1515 N. Courthouse Road, Arlington

When: 5 p.m. Fridays

Info: 703-243-2410;

5. Art and Soul: Pooches on the Patio: Bring your dog to Art and Soul's patio for gourmet doggie treats and a pretty cool happy hour for humans, too.

Where: Art and Soul, 415 New Jersey Ave. NW

When: Daily

Info: 202-393-7777;

Best Family

1. Native Pride Dancers and Drummers: Native Americans share traditions from the Northern Plains. Best for ages 5 and older. At the Rasmuson Theater.

Where: National Museum of the American Indian, Fourth Street and Independence Avenue SW

When: 11:30 a.m.and 1:30 p.m. Friday

Info: Free; 202-633-6644;

2. "Oliver Twist": Creative Cauldron celebrates the bicentennial of Charles Dickens' birth with an adaptation of one of his most vivid and compelling novels, featuring original songs by critically acclaimed composer Matt Conner.

Where: ArtSpace Falls Church, 410 S. Maple Ave., Falls Church

When: Through Nov. 18

Info: $15, $12 students and seniors; 571-239-5288;

3. "Tale of a Tiger": The story of a little girl who lives in the woods with her father. After he locks her in the cupboard for three days, she starts to see tigers everywhere. Romantic, magical and gripping, "Tale of a Tiger" acknowledges the powerful force of imagination and anger and asks, "What animal do you keep inside?"

Where: The Corner Store, 900 S. Carolina Ave. SE

When: 2 and 8 p.m. Sunday

Info: $12; 202-544-5807;

4. "Mouse on the Move": Nellie and Amelia are two adventuresome mice ready to explore the world beyond their little mouse hole. They decide to go to the moon, since it's cat-free and made of delicious, mouth-watering cheese.

Where: Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda

When: Through Sunday

Info: $10 to $12; lap seats $5; 301-280-1660;

5. Kids Euro Festival: Plays, dance, music, cinema, workshops by outstanding European artists in theaters, schools and libraries throughout D.C., Virginia and Maryland.

Where: Various venues; see website

When: Through Nov. 14

Info: Free; 202-944-6558;

Best Brainfood

1. The Suzanne Farrell Ballet: The company returns for its 11th season with two mixed all-Balanchine programs.

Where: Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, 2700 F St. NW

When: Through Sunday

Info: $29 to $84; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

2. Shaolin Warriors: Voices of the Masters: Disciples of the Shaolin schools in China demonstrate the technique, imagery and movement of Kung Fu.

Where: Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Info: $32 to $48; 703-993-7759;

3. Pen/Faulkner Fiction: Robert Stone & Lauren Groff: National Book Award winner Stone and best-selling author Groff explore the idealism and aftermath of Utopian aspirations in readings from their recent works.

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

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday

Info: $15; 202-544-7077;

4. Shakespeare and the Law: Panel Discussion: The discussion, titled "Corruption wins not more than honesty: Shakespeare and Corrupt Practices" will be moderated by Abbe David Lowell. The panel includes District Judge Paul L. Friedman, Neil H. MacBride, Stephen M. Ryan, and Nina Totenberg. The panelists, who hail from different areas of law, media and government, will engage in a discussion that explores the prevalence of corruption today and during Shakespeare's time.

Where: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F St. NW

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday

Info: $35 to $40; reception following; reservations must be received by Thursday; 202-547-1122.

5. Mark Strand -- A Reading: Strand is the author of numerous books of poetry, criticism and several children's books. He has received many awards and served as Poet Laureate of the United States.

Where: George Washington University, Lannan Center, New North 306 and Copley Formal Lounge NW

When: Seminar: 5:30 p.m. (Lannan Center); Reading: 8 p.m. (Copley Formal Lounge) Tuesday

Info: Free; 202-687-6294;

Best Outdoors

1. Rockville Ice Rink Opening Celebration: Come celebrate the approach of winter with the opening of the ice rink and laser/fireworks show in Rockville town square. Free earwarmers to first 500 skaters.

Where: Maryland Avenue and E. Middle Lane, Rockville

When: Opening 6:30 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. laser show/fireworworks

Info: Free;

2. Twilight Horseback Ride: Trail ride meanders through the unspoiled rolling hills and streams of Patapsco Valley State Park in southwestern Carroll County. After the hour ride, there will be a bonfire, coffee and s'mores. Alcohol will not be served, but you may bring your own.

Where: Misty Manor Stables, 7621 Ridge Road, Marriottsville, Md. (see website)

When: 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $55;

3. Tarzan Training 101: After a 30-minute training session, you will be equipped with harnesses, pulleys and carabiners and turned loose into the forest canopy 40 feet above the ground. Spanning across 6 acres, the course features various obstacles including five zip lines, Tarzan swings, rope ladders, bridges and trapezes. The course takes 2-3 hours to complete and caters to all skill levels.

Where: 6129 Needwood Drive, Rockville

When: 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Info: $65;

4. The Fall Hunt: You'll learn about this Virginia tradition that runs from the Algonquins to the present day, and do some 'hunting' yourself, following tracks and signs of deer. Then you'll enjoy some delicious venison stew! For adults and kids ages 6 to 10. For more information: 703-228-3403.

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

When: 4 to 5 p.m. Friday

Info: $5; Registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 612822-L

5. Difficult Run to Great Falls 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. A 4.9 miles round trip. Moderately difficult; year-round, for hikers and dogs.

Where: McLean (see website)

When: Year-round

Info: National Park Service: 703-285-2965;

Best Theater

1. "Six Characters in Search of an Author": An absurdist play by Italian playwright Luigi Pirandello about the relationship between authors, their characters and theater practitioners.

Where: Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington

When: Sunday through Dec. 9

Info: $10 to $50; 703-875-1100

2. "All My Sons": Joe Keller and Herbert Deever were partners in a machine shop during World War II that turned out defective airplane parts, causing the deaths of many men. Deever was sent to prison, while Keller escaped punishment and went on to freedom and financial success. Years later, Joe's surviving son embarks on a love affair with Herbert's daughter, setting off a string of admissions that change all of their lives forever.

Where: Keegan Theatre, Church Street Theater, 1742 Church St. NW

When: Through Dec. 1

Info: $30 to $35; 703-892-0202;

3. 15th Annual International Festival of Hispanic Theater: "Killing Words" ("Palabras Encadenadas"): Teatro de la Luna presents a play from Venezuela. The play explores a couple's relationship from a point of view that exposes them as two human beings locked in a game without limits: life as a game to survive.

Where: Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington

When: Thursday through Saturday

Info: $30 to $35; 703-548-3092;

4. "Into the Dollhouse": An original hybrid performance that uses devised dance and text to tell a story about looking back in order to walk forward. The piece explores nostalgia as a means of time travel and navigating a society that dictates what constitutes femininity.

Where: Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW

When: Thursday through Sunday

Info: $10; 202-488-3300;,

Best Galleries

1. Roy Lichtenstein: A Retrospective: Pioneering pop artist Lichtenstein died in 1997. This first major U.S. retrospective features more than 100 paintings from throughout his decades-long career, as well as a number of drawings and sculptures.

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

When: Through Jan. 13

Info: Free; 202-737-4215;

2. Crime & Redemption Theatre: Photography by Clara Vannucci: For six years, Vannucci has documented the rehearsals of prisoners in Italy's Volterra Prison as they create theater as part of their rehabilitation. They routinely perform to sold-out audiences.

Where: The Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery at Smith Farm Center, 1632 U St. NW

When: Friday through Dec. 20

Info: Free; 202-483-8600;

3. Steppin' Out: Michael B. Platt: Inspired by a recent trip to Australia, Platt's show of cut-out digital prints on fabric explores the roles of ritual and repetition and perception.

Where: Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Road SE

When: Through Dec. 21

Info: Free; 202-580-5972;

4. 2D / 3D: Victoria Shaheen creates wall-mounted sculpture using porcelain, wood and polyurethane resin, while Maya Freelon works primarily in tissue paper to create her sculptures. This joint exhibition blurs the line dividing the second and third dimensions.

Where: Morton Fine Art, 1781 Florida Ave. NW

When: Through Dec. 4

Info: Free; 202-627-2787;

5. Beetle Magic: Inside the Underworld: This display of installation art by Joan Danziger interrogates the time-honored practice of humans using animal imagery to express their identities and emotions.

Where: The American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave.

When: Through Dec. 16

Info: Free; 202-885-1300;