If you’re a lover of the arts, First Friday may already be on your radar. But what is it? How do you get the best experience? How did it start, and where is it going? If you’ve never done a First Friday Arts Walk, this post will give you all the details on how to have a fantastic experience.
What is First Friday?
First Friday is a recurring, free art walk. Always held on the first Friday of the month from 6:00-8:00 pm, First Friday is a celebration of the arts in which galleries, embassies, and historic houses keep their doors open late. For those of us with a busy schedule, this is the perfect time to see what fabulous local artists and artisans have created, while sipping on complimentary wine and snacking on complimentary nibbles. This is a self-guided art walk: you pick up a map and walk from location to location, taking in what each local spot has to offer. First Friday art walks are a longstanding tradition from one coast to the next in the United States - there are First Friday events everywhere from D.C. to Honolulu. Think of a bar crawl, but with galleries and historic locations instead!
“With more than a dozen galleries and attractions within walking distance, First Friday Dupont covers DC’s burgeoning art scene, should your taste run to fine art or contemporary. “
What should I bring with me?
It’s a great idea to bring some cash - locations will not charge you to enter, but some of them have donation boxes where you can contribute if you enjoyed your experience. Bring your phone or camera, if you like to snap pictures. A great way to support local businesses without spending anything is to help get their name out there. So, if you’re taking pictures, tag the business, check in, and use the hashtag #FirstFridayDupont. Lastly, bring a friend! Bring a few!
You do not need a ticket to attend First Friday. Entrance is free: you can walk right into the participating locations.
Do I have to buy something to attend?
There is never pressure to purchase artwork (or anything!) from participating locations. Everyone is welcome, regardless of whether they are art buyers. The event was created to foster an appreciation of the arts, no matter whether you ultimately take a piece home with you. However, if you are a budding buyer, feel free to ask staff members whether works are available, and how to make them yours. Hint: if it has a price listed, it’s probably for sale, and there’s no harm in asking for more information! Why consider buying your own original artwork? Here’s a great article on the topic.
I don’t know a lot about the arts scene.
Even better! First Friday is a great way to dip your toes in. At First Friday, you can meet gallerists, artists, arts aficionados, and others who are just learning about the world of the arts. Chatting with these people is a great way to expand your knowledge. Besides, step one is just looking: come in and figure out which art attracts your attention, then think about why. From there, you can begin developing your understanding. No one expects you to be an art history expert!
What might I see if I participate?
Fine art, fine people. Delicious wine, delicious snacks. Great live music, great company.
What should I wear?
Whatever you feel like! There is no dress code, as the event is free and open to the public. Keep it casual or go all out. However, we recommend wearing comfy shoes, as you’ll be treading on foot from location to location.
It’s raining/snowing/windy/cold, but I want to come! Will everyone still be participating?
Aside from instances of extreme weather and dangerous conditions, First Friday tends to go ahead as planned. However, if you want to be sure that your favorite location is still participating, give them a call and double check.
How do I get there, and where do I start?
You can start at any participating location. All locations have maps of the full walk, so ask a staff member for your copy. In terms of getting to the event: Historic Dupont Circle Mainstreets, the wonderful people who help local businesses plan this event, have this helpful guide on their site:
The Dupont Circle metro station is located on the Red Line. Metrocars run from 5:00am - midnight on weekdays and 7:00am - midnight on weekends.
Metrobus and DC Circulator have several bus stops around Dupont Circle. Visit www.wmata.com/bus and www.dccirculator.com to plan your commute.
The closest bikeshare station is located on Massachusetts Ave right off of the Dupont Circle Fountain Park. For information and fees visit www.capitalbikeshare.com.
Free and metered street parking is available. Additionally, Colonial Parking Garage is located on 1333 New Hampshire NW. For times and fees call 202-298-0016.
Will we see you at this month’s First Friday?