Things to See and Do in the Bethesda Area in September and October

Our picks for fall festivals, music, shows and other entertainment




Photo by Michael Ventura

Sept. 4 | Labor of Love

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kensington Labor Day Parade and Festival. The annual spectacle kicks off at St. Paul Park and features high school marching bands, Scout troops, dance groups, vintage cars and community ensembles, including the Washington Revels and the Harmony Cornet Band. The procession will travel down Connecticut Avenue and end at Kensington Town Hall with a block party featuring vendors, music, kids activities and food from local restaurants. The grandstand will be next to Noyes Library for Young Children, with prime viewing nearby on Montgomery Avenue and on the green space in front of the BCTGM building facing Connecticut Avenue. 

10 a.m., St. Paul Park to Kensington Town Hall, free, tok.md.gov/events

Sept. 6-30 | Eyes on the Prize

For 15 years, The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards has been a win-win for regional artists and Bethesda art lovers. Since its start, the annual art contest has awarded more than $200,000 to up-and-coming artists from Maryland, Virginia and the District. It also has enabled their work—often edgy and thought-provoking—to be seen in exhibitions in the heart of Bethesda. Art by the 2017 winners and finalists will be on display in September at Bethesda’s Gallery B. A public opening reception will be held on Sept. 8, 6-8 p.m. 

Noon to 6 p.m., Wednesday-Saturday, Gallery B, free, bethesda.org


Photo courtesy of Strathmore

Sept. 22 | The Sound of Simon & Garfunkel

Given the notoriously fractious relationship between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, it’s unlikely that the two, who met in Queens, New York, as kids and went on to form one of the most successful musical duos of all time, will reunite soon. But fans can get the next best thing at The Simon & Garfunkel Story, a concert-style theater show. Actors who look and sound like the real thing perform the pair’s songs—including “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Sound of Silence” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water”—set against projected images of the 1960s, with the tale of their rise to fame and disbanding sprinkled in.

8 p.m., The Music Center at Strathmore, $38-$58, strathmore.org


Photo by Jenni Cloud

Oct. 1 | Park and Ride

From the early 1900s through the late 1960s, Glen Echo Park was one of the leading amusement parks in the region, with a roller coaster, bumper cars and the historic Dentzel Carousel. Today, the park’s vintage art deco structures serve as art studios and theaters, but visitors can get a glimpse of its lively past at the Then and Wow! festival, which features amusement rides, magic shows, vintage cars and arcade games. It’s held on the last day for rides on the original carousel before the end of its 97th season.

11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Glen Echo Park, free admission, ticket purchase required for rides and games, glenechopark.org

Oct. 7 | Beer and Cheer

A taste of Germany comes to Rockville for the city’s inaugural Oktoberfest-style festival. Rocktobierfest includes two stages of entertainment, polka music, dancing, food and craft vendors, kids activities and beer for sale by local breweries. The event coincides with the visit of a delegation from Pinneberg, Germany, to mark 60 years as Rockville’s sister city.

Noon to 6 p.m., Rockville Town Center, free, rockvillemd.gov


Courtesy photo

Oct. 28 | Speeding Pumpkins

Ever wonder how fast a pumpkin can go downhill? See for yourself at Kensington’s third annual Pumpkin Rock n’ Roll, where kids 13 and under are invited to race pumpkins down a sloping driveway in a derby-style competition. Racers can bring a decorated pumpkin or purchase one on-site, strap it to a set of wheels (which will be provided) and let it roll. The rock comes from live music provided by students and teachers of GIGS, a Kensington guitar studio, which produces the event along with other sponsors. The family-friendly festival also features a costume contest and parade, food trucks, crafts and activities for kids, including inflatables. Advance registration recommended for derby participants.

Noon to 4 p.m., Warner Circle Park, free, pumpkinrocknroll.com

Oct. 4-29 | All About That Bass

Bethesda’s Round House Theatre breaks new ground this fall with its world premiere production of I’ll Get You Back Again. The comedy with live music tells the story of Chloe, a struggling stand-up comedian who sits in for her dead father, playing bass in his 1960s psychedelic rock band. Silver Spring native Rachel Chavkin, who earned a 2017 Tony Award nomination for directing the acclaimed Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, makes her regional debut directing the show, which was written by Sarah Gancher. 

Round House Theatre, $36-$65, roundhousetheatre.org

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