The 19 best things to do around NoVA in June

From the music of Diana Ross, to catching the colors of a rainbow art installation, here’s a list of events you won’t want to miss.

Mirror, Mirror (Photo by Alan Tansey)

1) Over the Rainbow

Old Town Alexandria is nothing if not true to its roots. The cobblestone streets, Colonial-era brick storefronts that line King Street and a waterfront that’s known to host historically accurate 18th century tall ships all come together to create an atmosphere that the neighborhood’s original resident—George Washington—would still want to visit today.

But if you’ve been down to Waterfront Park lately, you’ve likely seen (and snapped a selfie with) Mirror, Mirror, a large-scale public art installation that’s ushering in a new, slightly more modern era for Old Town.

The rainbow-hued, interactive art piece was unveiled back in March as part of a larger initiative to bring public art to the expanded park, and will anchor a host of programming throughout the summer.

Mirror, Mirror was conceptualized and designed by SOFTlab, a New York-based design studio with eye-popping interactive art installations dotting the globe to its credit. And, while this piece marks an aesthetic departure for Old Town, Mirror, Mirror is actually a reflection of Alexandria’s rich history, says Michael Szivos, the principal artist and architect who helms SOFTlab.

The inspiration, Szivos says, came from Alexandria’s historic Jones Point Lighthouse and its prismatic Fresnel lens, which, in the 1800s, was considered highly technologically advanced. “The lighthouse lens is lenticular, so it has that serrated edge to help bounce light around,” he explains. “[Mirror, Mirror] looks very different than a traditional lighthouse, but the main inspiration was the optics of this beacon that bounces light around the edge of the land that’s between the edge of the water and the city.”

The piece is 25 feet in diameter and 8 feet tall. Visitors are encouraged to not just look, but interact with the outsized art, which is responsive to sound and creates different prism effects based on the position of the sun (Szivos, for the record, recommends visiting at sunset for the best prismatic effects).

“We focus on our work being something that people can discover on their own. That’s why a lot of our work is responsive to sound because sound is something that exists on the site already,” says Szivos. “As people discover that, or they talk and see the piece is responding, hopefully they will make louder noises or laugh or clap their hands.”

Mirror, Mirror will remain on view through November—offering visitors many opportunities to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Says Szivos, “People produce their own memories of the piece, their own experience, so they almost act as authors within the piece given their own interpretation.” // 1A Prince St, Alexandria, VA 22314

2) It’s never too early to celebrate the Fourth of July! Head out to Mount Vernon for an evening full of patriotic events. Take a tour around the historic estate and mansion, play bocce ball with George and Martha Washington and finish the night with the estate’s annual Independence Fireworks display. // June 28-29; 6-9:45 p.m.; George Washington’s Mount Vernon: 3200 Mount Vernon Highway, Mount Vernon; $20-$36

Photo by Robert Powel

3) The 17th century French play, A Misanthrope, is getting a breath of modernity by the WSC Avant Bard theater. Writer Matt Minnicino turns Moliere’s satire into rhyming couplets as the comedic play follows a cynic who avoids society until he falls for a young woman. // Through June 30; Gunston Arts Center: 2700 S. Lang St., Arlington; $40

Photo courtesy of Gunston Arts Center

4) Learn firsthand about technological and design innovations as you get up close and personal with planes and cars created within the last 100 years at Udvar-Hazy’s special event, Innovations in Flight. Try your hand at flight simulation activities or climb up to the observation tower to watch the planes take off at Dulles International Airport. // June 15; 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly; free

Photo courtesy of Udvar-Hazy Center

5) Put on your walking shoes and join author David Goetz as you tour the building murals by Baltimore-native Stewart B. White in Fauquier County on the Mysteries of the Mural Walking Tour. Discover the meanings behind the murals and some of the secret details hidden to the naked eye. Visitors are encouraged to bring a pair of binoculars. // June 8; 12:30 p.m.; Fauquier History Museum at the Old Jail: 10 Ashby St., Warrenton; $5-$10

6) Come hungry because you won’t want to miss out on any of the delicious dishes at the Taste of Reston food festival. Whether you sample the local cuisine, enjoy the live entertainment or just hang out around the fun zone, this event is the best way to kick off summer. // June 14-15; Reston Town Center: 11900 Market St., Reston; free, $1 per meal ticket

7) Stop by to hear stripped-down renditions of original and cover work by some of the best local artists at Jammin Java’s Songwriters Circle. This month’s performance includes singer/songwriters Luke Brindley and Todd Wright and The Blackjacks frontman Anthony Fiacco. // June 30; 7 p.m.; Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E, Vienna; $16

Photo courtesy of Jammin Java

8) Ahoy, matey! Set sail on a journey with infamous pirate Blackbeard. Tag along as the captain and his crew travel the Seven Seas trying to escape the British Army by raising an undead army of pirates at this Signature Theatre production. // June 18-July 14; Signature Theatre: 4200 Campbell Ave., Arlington; $40-$74

Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre

9) Blue Period

LeAnn Rimes takes the stage at Birchmere this month for a stripped-down acoustic tour.

Why an acoustic tour?
I  love acoustic tours. You get to create a connection with the audience that can sometimes be hard to do  with a full band.  It allows me to get a bit more personal, and we like to create an atmosphere as if  I am singing in my living room. While we have a set list, it is always changing, which is fun to do on an acoustic tour.

Your voice is iconic. What’s your favorite song of all time to sing from your catalog?

Thank you so much. Gosh, it changes depending on my mood. Right now, I love “One Way Ticket.” The lyrics take on a whole new meaning now that I am older. I also love the “reimagined” version of “How Do I Live.” That was fun to re-arrange. I love them all!

Besides the tour, how are you planning to spend your summer?
Gosh, doing a lot of shows, road trips with the family. We have some exciting things we are working on that  I  can’t speak about yet. But needless to say, it will be a busy summer, but plenty of time for family and fun, as well. // June 30, 7:30 p.m.; The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; $69.50

Leanne Rimes (Photo by Sara Hertel)

I Want My MTV

LeAnn Rimes isn’t the only singer having a TBT moment this summer. Grab tickets for these popular performers who hit it big before iTunes.

Bobby Brown & Bell Biv Devoe
June 2, 8 p.m.
Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; $45-$95

Amy Grant
June 20, 7:30 p.m.
The Birchmere: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria; $65

New Kids on the Block – Mixtape Tour
June 25, 7:30 p.m.
Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, Washington DC; $39.95-$499

10) Enjoy a day full of dance and music as the talented students of the Virginia National Ballet perform their annual spring recital. From ballet and jazz to modern and hip-hop, the dancers no doubt will inspire you to move your body. // June 1; 3 p.m.; Hylton Performing Arts Center: 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas; $15-$25

Photo courtesy of Hylton Performing Arts Center

11) Welcome to Skid Row. In an effort to save the flower shop, Seymour Krelborn buys a mysterious Venus flytrap to help stir up business. Little did he know that this plant was looking for global domination. The cult favorite, Little Shop of Horrors, runs at Workhouse all month long. // June 1-30 (Fridays-Sundays); Workhouse Arts Center: 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton; $20-$35

Photo courtesy of Workhouse Arts Center

12) For one weekend, the Fairfax Government Center parking lot transforms into a wonderland for Celebrate Fairfax!. The county festival contains events for all ages and interests. Enjoy the rush of the carnival rides, participate in the doughnut eating contest or watch some pooches compete in the DockDogs contest. Make sure to stop by Saturday night as Smash Mouth headlines the main stage. // June 7-9; 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax; $4-$32

Photo courtesy of Celebrate Fairfax!

13) The leaded-glass designs by the famous Tiffany Studios showcase the intricate designs and rich color palette that were key in the window and lamp designs. Tiffany Glass: Painting with Color and Light emphasizes the labor-intensive work and collaboration of painter Louis C. Tiffany, chemist Arthur J. Nash and multiple designers to create these one-of-a-kind creations. // June 1-Sept. 1; Museum of the Shenandoah Valley: 901 Amherst St., Winchester; free 

Photo courtesy of The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, New York

14) Hari Kondabolu is a political comedian who rose to stardom during the 2016 presidential race with his podcast “Politically Reactive.” The Brooklyn-native has previously appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel Live, along with performing his own special on Comedy Central. // June 14-15; Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse: 2903 Columbia Pike, Arlington; $20-$25

15) The one and only Diana Ross is bringing her 75th birthday celebration to NoVA. From her rise to stardom with The Supremes during the ’60s to her successful solo career, Ross has always been putting out hits, including her new chart-topper “The Boss 2019.” Don’t miss out on this legendary night with the Queen of Motown. // June 27; 8 p.m.; Wolf Trap: 1551 Trap Road, Vienna; $40-$95

Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap

16) Get your superhero fix at Northern Virginia’s very own All Star Comic Con event. Snap a selfie with celebs like Jessica Parker Kennedy of The Flash, Smallville and Black Sails and Luke Tennie of SyFy Channel’s Deadly Class. Participate in panels with well-known comic book authors and talk shop with fellow fans. // June 7-9; Sheraton Tysons Corner: 8661 Leesburg Pike, Vienna; $35-$600

Photo courtesy of All Star Comic Con

17) Grab your cowboy hat and boots because country superstar Luke Bryan is coming to town. Coming off the success of his new single “Knockin’ Boots” and his 22nd career No. 1 single “What Makes You Country,” Bryan will rock the crowd with a performance they won’t forget. // June 1; 7 p.m.; Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Drive, Bristow; $40.25-$339

Luke Bryan (Photo by Jim Wright)

18) Winner of the 2019 solo exhibition competition, artist Julia Kwon is making her debut at Torpedo Factory Art Center with Julia Kwon: More Than A Body. The local artist uses Korean textile art to explore and challenge the meaning of both Korean and feminine identities. // June 14-Aug. 4; Torpedo Factory Art Center: 105 N. Union St., Alexandria; free

Photo courtesy of Torpedo Factory Art Center

19) Take your pup out for an adventure at the Furfax FidoFest. Staged at the new Westmore Dog Park, owners can explore local vendors and watch demonstrations, while the dogs cool off in the K-9 splash zone and participate in other paws-itively fun activities. // June 15; 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; Westmore Dog Park: 11000 Berry St., Fairfax; free

Christin Lola / stock.adobe.com

This post originally appeared in our June 2019 issue. Want to know about all the best things to do in NoVA this summer? Subscribe to our semiweekly Things to Do newsletter to stay up to date.

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