Free for All: Goodbye Panda, hello Christmas

Giant Panda


Here in North America, most of the panda bears we get to see are in ads for fast-food Chinese restaurants. Maybe that’s why for the past four years, the main attraction at the National Zoo has been Tai Shan, the zoo’s only surviving Giant Panda cub. But unfortunately for us in the western hemisphere, Tai, affectionately known as “Butterstick”, won’t be around for much longer. Per the zoo’s lease from the Chinese government, Butterstick is being returned to his native habitat in China in early 2010. So if you haven’t gotten a chance to see him yet (or even if you have), hop on the Red Line to the Cleveland Park station, and get to the National Zoo before America’s favorite panda goes back to China.

Short Films

I’ll be the first to admit that the only short films I’ve ever seen are the ones that come before Pixar movies. But this Thursday at 12:00 p.m., the National Archives finishes up its Noontime Film Series with a selection of short films which probably won’t feature the animated clouds and bunnies that I’ve grown so accustomed to. Rather, it includes historic, artistic works, such as the Depression-era U.S.A. and a World War II newsreel set to music. That makes it educational, which will allow you to rationalize skipping out on the first of your study days to watch movies. To get there, take the Yellow or Green Line to Archives/Navy Memorial station.

Christmas Music Galore

This time of year, Christmas music is an inescapable reality. But in lieu of a hundred versions of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas” by all of your favorite pop stars (or this year, your favorite ’60s protest singer), this Sunday at 1:00 p.m. you can hear the Smithsonian Encore Chorale perform its annual holiday concert. The Chorale mixes contemporary songs with classics like Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus,” and ends with a sing-a-long that’s sure to sound better than all those bad karaoke versions of “All I Want for Christmas is You.” The performance is in the Kogod Courtyard at the Smithsonian American Museum of Art, which you can easily get to by taking either the Blue or Orange Line to the Smithsonian station.

Photo from Smithsonian’s National Zoo‘s Flickr photostream

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