Best Music

1. National Symphony Orchestra: Christoph Eschenbach conducts works by Sibelius, Saariaho and Lindberg's Violin Concerto featuring Pekka Kuusisto, part of Nordic Cool 2013

Where: Kennedy Center Concert Hall

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

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

2. Washington National Opera: Patricia Racette makes her role debut as Puccini's "Manon Lescaut"

Where: Kennedy Center Opera House

When: Saturday through March 20

Info: $25 to $300; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

3. Turtle Island Quartet with Michael Doucet: "The Louisiana Story" revisited

Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $23 to $46; 888-945-2468;

4. Tord Gustavsen Ensemble: The Norwegian pianist leads his popular jazz group, part of Nordic Cool 2013

Where: Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday

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

5. Yggdrasil: The band based in the Faroe Islands and founded by Danish composer/pianist Kristian Blak plays jazz, ethnic, folk, rock and classical music, part of Nordic Cool 2013

Where: Kennedy Center Cool Club (Terrace Gallery)

When: 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. Friday

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

Best Family

1. "Earliest Signs of Spring Hike": Gear up for spring. Is the skunk cabbage out? Are the wood frogs and salamanders in the pond? Come find out. Dress for mud and changeable spring weather. For families with children 6 and older. For more information, call 703-228-6535.

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

When: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Info: $5; registration necessary: 703-228-4747; program No.632853-G

2. "Anime Momotaro": An old couple in ancient Japan long for a child. They have their wish granted when a huge peach floats down the river and breaks open to reveal a baby boy. They name him Momotaro and he grows up to be the strongest young man in all of Japan. When Momotaro's village is bullied by giant ogres, Momotaro decides to make a stand against them.

Where: Imagination Stage, 4908 Auburn Ave., Bethesda

When: Through March 10

Info: $12; 301-280-1660;

3. Family Day 2013: Families Rock!: The "Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s" exhibition, which highlights music and graffiti, provides the inspiration for art activities, performances and instrument-making.

Where: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St. NW

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday

Info: Free; no registration required; 202-639-1700;

4. Visit the New American Trail at the Zoo: The New American Trail showcases species that are gems of North American wildlife, like California sea lions, beavers, otters, eagles and wolves.

Where: The National Zoo, 3000 Connecticut Ave. NW

When: 10 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. through March

Info: Free;

5. Plan ahead for "Nature Detectives: Animal Investigators": Come learn about the individuals who work as animal investigators. Whether they are trying to learn more about an elusive animal or trying to solve a mystery or crime, find out who these folks are and how they do their jobs. You'll even get a chance to learn a little about the mystery of DNA and how it can help figure out the who and what of a case. For kids ages 7 to 10. For more information, call 703-228-6535.

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

When: 4 to 5 p.m. March 7

Info: $7; Registration necessary: 703-228-4747; program No. 632923-D

Best Brainfood

1. "Intersections Festival": Atlas Performing Arts Center's Fourth Annual Intersections Festival features hundreds of D.C.-area artists performing theater, the spoken word, dance and music. All five Atlas performance spaces will be alive withworld premieres and innovative collaborations. Many free events.

Where: Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NW

When: Through March 10

Info: See website for tickets; 202-399-7993;

2. Francophonie Cultural Festival 2013: The 13th Annual festival, featuring performing, literary and culinary arts, children's workshops and more, will fill D.C. with the vibrant sounds, sights and tastes of the French-speaking world

Where: Throughout D.C. (see website for places)

When: Friday through April 13

Info: For full schedule, tickets and information, visit

3. "Wecycle": Caleen Jennings and an ensemble will create an original piece, which examines life's cycles. They will use found objects, music, movement, memory and myth. The piece features scenes, monologues, stories, poetry, movement and visual media.

Where: Katzen Arts Center, 4400 Massachusetts Ave. NW

When: Friday and Saturday

Info: $10 to $15; 202-885-3420;

4. Nordic Cool 2013: Exhibition: SUP-PLYWOOD or How to Be Singular in the Plural (Norway): Invented in Sweden, plywood is one of the oldest mass-produced products in the world. This installation, created by famed Norwegian architecture firm Snohetta, features large-scale plywood sculptures.

Where: Hall of Nations, Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW

When: Through March 17, all day

Info: Free; 202-467-4600;

5. "John Killen: An Ulster Clan in Medieval Ireland": Killen, librarian at Belfast's Linen Hall Library, speaks on "The Breifne O'Reillys: An Ulster clan in Medieval Ireland."

Where: Folger Shakespeare Theater, 201 E. Capitol St. SW

When: 6 p.m. Monday

Info: Free; 202-544-4800; advance reservations suggested;

Best Outdoors

1. Lake Accotink: For hikers, dogs and bikes, this gentle hike around a 77-acre lake has an excellent jogging trail. There are rest benches along the way, and plenty of opportunity to just sit and watch the wildlife.

Where: 7500 Accotink Park Road, Sprngfield

When: Any season

Info: Fairfax County Park Authority: 703-569-0285;

2. Blackwater Birding Trip to National Wildlife Refuge: This 27,000-acre refuge of tidal marsh and woodland is home to bald eagles, migrating waterfowl and the endangered Delmarva fox squirrel. A 1-to-3-mile loop walk is possible. Participants should dress for the weather and bring binoculars, a bag lunch, drinks and snacks for the day. For more information on this adults-only excursion, call 703-228-3403.

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

When: 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday

Info: $40; registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 632843-A

3. Visit Fort Hunt Park: Located only 2 miles from Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, Fort Hunt Park is a local favorite for picnicking and recreation. This picnic area has transformed tremendously over time, from Washington's farmland to a Spanish-American War fort to a top-secret intelligence camp during World War II.

Where: 999 Fort Hunt Road, Alexandria

When: Any day

Info: 202-439-7325;

4. Bird Walk: Join members of the Northern Virginia Bird Club for an informal walk through Long Branch and Glencarlyn parks in search of resident and migratory birds. Experienced and beginning birders welcome. Bring binoculars and field guides. For more information on this adults-only excursion, call 703-228-6535.

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

When: 9 to 11:30 a.m. Wednesday

Info: Free; registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 632943-A

5. Woodcock Watch: This secretive and well-camouflaged bird performs a spiraling flight, accompanied by distinctive wing twittering and "peenting" calls. Join others in search of the elusive male woodcock's mating display and other sights and sounds of nature at night. For adults. For more information required on this adults-only excursion, call 703-228-6535.

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

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday

Info: $25; registration required: 703-228-4747; program No. 632943-G

Best Theater

1. "The Warmblooded": Tampere Workers' Theatre (Finland): Once the proud owners of a small farm, the Kotalas are now destitute and living beneath the overpass of a forgotten highway alongside a motley crew of assorted drunks, Iraqi refugees and Romanian Gypsies. When the camp dwellers begin rehearsing a Christmas pageant for their charitable neighbors, they discover that their dismal lives are also filled with many small miracles.

Where: Kennedy Center, 2700 F St. NW

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday

Info: $23 to $39; 202-467-4600;

2. "Nine Circles": Bill Cain's modern reimagining of Dante's "Inferno" offers a disturbing journey through a soldier's transgression and penance amid the fallout of the Iraq War.

Where: Round House Theatre, 8641 Colesville Road, Silver Spring

When: Through Saturday

Info: $15 to $25; 240-644-1100;

3. "Berlin to Broadway": A musical voyage through Kurt Weill's life, with text by Gene Lerner. From the iconic German works written with Brecht ("The Three Penny Opera," "Happy End") to his prophetic Broadway musicals of the 1940s ("Lady In The Dark," "Lost In The Stars"), Weill's haunting songs resonate powerfully today.

Where: Source, 1835 14th St. NW

When: Through March 10

Info: $19 to $38; 202-315-1305;

4. "Home": This brilliantly inventive, lyrically expressive play deals joyfully with the coming of age of a young black man, Cephus Miles, from rural North Carolina. From beginning to end, Cephus never loses his joyous good will, his indomitable spirit and the conviction that one day his quest for fulfillment will be rewarded.

Where: Rep Stage, Horowitz Center, 10901 Little Pauxent Parkway, Columbia

When: Through March 17

Info: $15 to $35; 443-518-1500;

5. "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: Through March 17

Info: $40 to $70; 202-488-3300;

Best Gatherings

1. "Looking for Good People": Arena Stage will sponsor a Job Fair featuring local businesses, nonprofits and government employment agencies to connect people offering jobs with people looking for work.

Where: Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday

Info: Free; 202-554-9066;

2. "Assent": Musicians and dancers from Nancy Havlik Dance Performance Group will perform with children in the Mt. Rainier Students Group. This performance features Dance Performance Group's "What Next" and "Tracking Tornados."

Where: Joe's Movement Emporium, 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $10 to $12; 301-699-1819;

3. Nordic Cool 2013: "Knitting Rhythm Workshop": Icelandic designer Steinunn Sigurd leads a hands-on workshop celebrating the cultural and artistic value of knitting. Participants of all skill levels are invited.

Where: Kennedy Center Grand Foyer, 2700 F St. NW

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

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

4. Sandra Bernhard: The renowned actress and comedienne performs for one night only.

Where: The Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Info: $35 to $40; 202-803-2899;

5. Literature Panel: "Nordic Crime: Ice, Volvos, and Murder": Andrew Nestingen, an associate professor of Scandinavian studies at the University of Washington moderates this panel on Nordic crime novels. Part of Nordic Cool 2013.

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

When: noon and 3 p.m. Sunday

Info: Free, but tickets required; 202-467-4600; 800-444-1324;

Best Galleries

1. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary: This survey of the Korean-born "father of video art" is culled from Nam June Paik's archive, which the Smithsonian American Art Museum acquired in 2009, as well as from various other public and private collections. Its 67 pieces of art serve to communicate the complexity and enduring power of Paik's reach and vision.

Where: The Smithsonian American Art Museum, Eighth and F streets NW

When: Through Aug. 11

Info: Free; 202-633-1000;

2. Sculpture Now 2013: Philadelphia-based sculptor Florcy Morisset chooses work from 28 members of the Washington Sculptors Group.

Where: Honfleur Gallery, 1241 Good Hope Road, SE

When: Through April 12

Info: Free; 202-365-8392;

3. Gute Aussichten: New German Photography 2012/2013: A provocative survey of new work from six emerging German photographers.

Where: Goethe-Institut, 812 Seventh St. NW

When: Through April 12

Info: Free; 202-289-1200;

4. Currents: Bold new work from Erika Diehl, Alex Ebstein, Katherine Sable and Rene Trevino.

Where: Carroll Square Gallery, 975 F St. NW

When: Through April 26

Info: Free; 202-347-7978;

5. Steven Cushner: The Shaped Paintings, 1991-1993: This revisitation of a prolific period in the life of painter Steven Cushner considers his series of paintings wherein the contours of the canvases conformed to the demands of imagery.

Where: Hemphill Gallery, Suite 300, 1515 14th St. NW

When: Through March 9

Info: Free; 202-234-5601;