Press Club

Thousands of tattoo enthusiasts are expected to flock to Arlington this weekend for the DC Tattoo Expo.

This is the eleventh iteration of the region’s largest body and tattoo expo, which was canceled last year amid the pandemic. It was previously held in Crystal City, but is now moving to the Sheraton Pentagon City (900 S. Orme Street) — which is actually more a mile from Pentagon City, along Columbia Pike.

There will be plenty of tattoo artists, contests, live entertainment, and even a few “Ink Masters,” participants from the long-running reality show.

Organizers are optimistic that up to 15,000 are expected to attend the weekend-long expo, which begins this Friday at 1 p.m. and ends Sunday evening. Masks are encouraged, but not required.

Spokesperson Anna Carswell tells ARLnow that the expo is a safe space where veterans and beginners alike can see and learn about the process of getting a tattoo.

“It’s a place to come and be voyeuristic almost,” Carswell says. “[Tattoos] are not as taboo as they were, but can still be slightly intimidating. Here you can learn what goes into it, the design, and process.”

She says many people come to the expo to get their first tattoo.

There will also be some pretty eclectic live performances throughout the weekend. This includes Captain and Maybelle, world-renowned sword swallowers, burlesque dancer Cervena Fox, and the Miss DC Pin Up Contest on Saturday night.

That’s in addition to contests for best overall body art and best sleeve tattoos.

Carswell says tattoos have become mainstream and popular in recent years, particularly in the D.C. area, but there is still some hesitation among the uninitiated. She says the expo allows people who might be “curious” to learn about and get exposed to tattoo culture.

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