This month, our neighborhood welcomes music lovers, art lovers and bargain hunters to Southwest and near Southeast. On Thursday, Sept. 22, at Nationals Park, Washington Opera will offer Opera in the Outfield, a free simulcast of Tosca. Then, from Friday, Sept. 23 through Sunday, Sept. 25, the Southwest neighborhood will hold its first annual SW ArtsFest.

Bracketed by the (e)merge art fair and the Marcatus Creative Art Market, SW ArtsFest 2011 will extend from South Capitol Street to the Southwest waterfront. The festival will include family activities, flea markets, yard sales, dramatic readings, dance, music, movies, walking tours and food.

Many SW ArtsFest 2011 venues will have food for sale, and nearly every event will offer free admission.

One rare exception represents SW ArtsFest’s global reach. The (e)merge art fair will feature exhibitions of art by emerging local and international galleries and artists, all for $15 ($10 for students and seniors). At the Capitol Skyline Hotel, (e)merge will represent D.C.’s answer to Art Basel, the world’s premier international show for modern and contemporary art.

Across Southwest at the waterfront, Art Whino will bring back its free Marcatus Creative Art Market, with artist’ tents and arts and crafts tables.

Smack in the middle, Westminster Presbyterian Church will host its weekly Friday Jazz Night in Southwest (admission $5), its 10th annual free DC Jazz Preservation Festival and the Human Rights Film Festival (also free). Across Fourth Street, Christ United Methodist Church will host a yard sale, a folk concert, dramatic readings, art exhibits and dance classes ($15 per class).

There’s even more. Arena Stage will host hand dancing and building tours; St. Augustine’s will hold its annual End-of-Summer Fair; and Hoffman-Madison Waterfront will offer food, music, and a free Sock Monkey Art Studio at the Seventh Street Landing. Bring your kids, and extra socks! Second Union Baptist Church will hold a flea market featuring neighborhood artists and Second Baptist Church Southwest will host a Southwest church musical showcase. To show off our neighborhood, Washington Walks will offer free 90-minute walking tours.

For times, dates, a map and other details, see Page 7. You can also visit www.swdcartsfest.org, email swartsfest@gmail.com or info@swdcartsfest.org, or call (202) 320-3123. To volunteer, contact Carolyn Mitchell at volunteerswartsfest@yahoo.com or (202) 320-3123.

On the last weekend in September, Southwest is the place to be!

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