No stroll in the park
With its unique course through county parkland along the Rock Creek stream valley, the Parks Half Marathon is a favorite among casual and competitive runners. The 13.1-mile course starts near the Shady Grove Metro station, winds through Aspen Hill, Dewey, Ken-Gar Palisades and Rock Creek parks, and ends at Beach Drive near the Grosvenor Metro station. The run is known for its relaxed and friendly vibes. The race is followed by a finisher’s festival with food and activities for participants. It is open to runners ages 13 and older.
Start time 6:45 a.m., $100, starting line at Metro overpass, corner of Redland Road and Sommerville Drive, Rockville, parkshalfmarathon.com
Up, up and away
You can float nearly 100 feet above the ground in a hot air balloon at the
DC Hot Air Balloon Festival. About a dozen balloons—both traditional and special shapes, such as cartoon characters—will be on display at the event. Rides ($25 per person) are in balloons tethered to vehicles on the ground. Other festival highlights include live music and DJs, craft and retail vendors, festival-style food vendors and children’s activities ($1-$10), such as rides, games, bounce houses, rock-climbing walls and a zip line. Each night of the festival features a balloon glow and laser light show set to music (8 p.m.).
3-10 p.m.; admission is $20 for adults, $8 for ages 6-17 in advance, or $30 for adults, $15 for ages 6-17 at the gate, free for ages 5 and younger; Montgomery County Agricultural Fairgrounds, Gaithersburg, balloonshows.com
Arts on parade
Artists, dance troupes, bands, local businesses and community leaders come together to strut down Georgia Avenue for the Wheaton Arts Parade, which also includes nearly a dozen large-scale creative floats, such as a tree made of plastic and a re-creation of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,” this one depicting Adam posing for a smartphone selfie. The parade culminates in a festival featuring art for sale, food and beverages from local restaurants and breweries, and three stages of entertainment, including live music, dance and theatrical performances.
Parade starts at 10 a.m., festival is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., free, parade viewing areas are Grandview Avenue, Triangle Lane and Georgia Avenue, festival at Marian Fryer Town Plaza and portions of Reedie Drive and Grandview Avenue, Wheaton, wheatonartsparade.org
Dance dance revolution
Sept. 28 through Oct. 30
In the play Dance Nation, the stakes are high for the middle school dance team at the center of the story. As the squad prepares for a national competition, its members deal with their hopes, fears, talents and inadequacies. But the play, which was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, travels to some poignant and surreal territory as adult actors of various ages portray the 13-year-olds who make up the team, offering a glimpse of the people the adolescents will grow up to be. The show is best for adults; it would be rated R if it were a movie, according to the theater’s website.
$42-$78, Olney Theatre Center, olneytheatre.org
Haven’t had a chance to check out some of the exciting restaurants that have opened in Bethesda in recent months? You can sample bites from new spots, as well as revisit old favorites, at the Taste of Bethesda. The food festival was canceled the last two years due to the pandemic, but it returns this fall with a roster of nearly 50 restaurants. The event also features five stages of live music and entertainment, as well as an activity area for kids and families. Admission is free; food tickets are available for purchase.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free, Norfolk, Cordell, Del Ray, St. Elmo and Auburn avenues, Bethesda, bethesda.org
Raise a glass
Montgomery County is home to a growing number of breweries, a few located in Rockville. The city celebrates local beer-makers with its German-accented fall festival Rocktobierfest. Like the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, Rocktobierfest will feature a beer garden with drinks for sale from local breweries. Stick around for live entertainment—including traditional German music and rock bands—food vendors, an artisans market and activities for kids.
11 a.m. to 5 p.m., free, Rockville Town Center, Rockville, rockvillemd.gov/1952/rocktobierfest
Down the rabbit hole
Part escape room, part cosplay event, the CluedUpp Games Alice in Wonderland experience is an interactive event set to take place on the streets of Gaithersburg. To play, teams use a smartphone app that directs them to different locations to solve riddles, find clues and rescue Alice. The exact location is revealed to ticket holders two weeks before the event. Teams—which are encouraged to dress in costumes—can include up to six adults; a minimum of two adults are required to play. Children play for free and aren’t counted among team members. The event lasts two to three hours; you go at your own pace. Teams can win prizes for best dressed and other categories.
Start time between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., $80 per team, cluedupp.com/products/alice-gaithersburg
This story appears in the September/October 2022 issue of Bethesda Magazine.