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Summer Fun in Alexandria

Bella Miner applauds as the Irish dancers conclude their performance at the 2012 Ballyshaners’ Irish Festival.

Bella Miner applauds as the Irish dancers conclude their performance at the 2012 Ballyshaners’ Irish Festival. Photo by Louise Krafft.

Summertime and the livin' is easy in Alexandria, where the calendar from Memorial Day to Labor Day is filled with holidays and events that celebrate our city and culture — both American and for the traditions of some of the many ethnic communities that make up the colorful and diverse fabric of the city.

The fun kicks off this weekend with the Alexandria Art Market. Sponsored by the Del Ray Artisans, the market features local artists and musical performances from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Colasanto Park on the first Saturday of each month through September. Visit www.TheDelRayArtisans.org.

Throughout the summer, enjoy free concerts in Market Square, street musicians at the City Dock and the First Thursday celebrations in Del Ray. The June 6 First Thursday theme is The Dog Days of Summer and July 11 (delayed one week) is Main Street Celebrates.

Alexandria celebrates its own birthday July 13 with a concert by the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra under the stars at Oronoco Bay Park and a fireworks display at the waterfront.

No need to wait for the Dog Days of August to enjoy the Alexandria tradition of Doggy Happy Hour at the Hotel Monaco, Yappy Hour at Artfully Chocolate Old Town or a Thursday night Canine Cruise with the Potomac Riverboat Company. A Pirates Cruise is a must for the Jack Sparrow crowd and the Skipjack Minnie V. offers a unique sailing experience along the historic Potomac riverfront.

Want to support fellow Old Town resident Davey Johnson's team by heading to a Washington Nationals game? There is no better way to get to Nationals Park than the Baseball Boat. Take it from the Alexandria City Dock right to the stadium. Available games and more information can be found at www.potomacriverboatco.com. Note that July 20 is Davey Johnson bobblehead night.

For the landlubber, Bike and Roll of Old Town offers historic tours of Alexandria and Mount Vernon in addition to bike rentals and specialized group tours.

It wouldn't be summer without a few blockbuster productions from The Little Theatre of Alexandria. Opening this weekend is the comedy Twentieth Century with the Tony award-winning Broadway musical “Avenue Q” making its debut on July 27. Visit www.thelittletheatre.com.

Festivals abound in Alexandria, beginning with the Armenian Festival June 1, the Taste of Del Ray June 9, Alexandria's Food and Wine Festival June 22, the Friendship Firehouse Festival Aug. 3, and the Irish Festival Aug. 10 at Waterfront Park.

On June 8, Fort Ward will hold a Civil War Fort Day where various aspects of military life in the Defenses of Washington will be portrayed by interpreters in period dress. Visit www.fortward.org.

And the award-winning barbershop Alexandria Harmonizers, who have been invited to participate in the D-Day 70th anniversary ceremonies in Normandy next summer, makes an appearance with a free performance at Market Square on Aug. 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Don't overlook the many offerings available through the Alexandria Library, which hosts classes like Tech Zoo Tuesdays, where you can learn about the latest e-reading devices or get help with your own device.

The Charles Beatley library will feature an Older Folks Film Festival throughout the month of June. Calendar Girls kicks off June 9 at 2 p.m. followed by The Bucket List on June 16 and Away From Her on June 23.

You can find your literary better half at the June 13 Library Speed Dating event or head over to the Kate Waller Barrett branch on June29 for a tutorial on how to check out e-books from the library. Visit www.alexandria.lib.va.us.

With so much to offer, you don't have to look very far to get your own summer of 2013 party started.