One of my favorite parts about summer in Washington, DC are the free outdoor concerts and movies. What seems like an eternity ago (please time slow down) we took a sporadic drive to the Mall with our then three year old where we walked around, played some ball by the reflecting pool and headed towards the Capitol where the U.S. Air Force Band was performing a free concert. A huge crowd was gathered on the steps and in chairs taking in the gorgeous evening and patriotic tunes. This post will help you take advantage of some great music that will allow you to relax after a long day (and year) and see a bit of our city while doing so. Get out and enjoy the lighter evenings, let your kids stay up a little longer and enjoy the music our city offers.
The Yards Park Friday Night Concert Series
The free Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series is back for its 11th Season! Every Friday night this summer, head to Yards Park around 7pm to relax and enjoy the river view, fantastic bands, food and beverage, and a large variety of great restaurants within a few minutes walk from the park. Family-friendly lyrics and grassy open space make this an enjoyable event for adults and kids alike.
Glen Echo Summer Concert Series
Concerts are free and open to the public and feature a variety of local bands and musical genres. Music in the series typically ranges widely – from Country to Reggae, Swing to Latin Jazz, African to Cajun and Blues. Bench seating is provided in the pavilion, and folding chairs are also allowed. A coloring table to help keep small children busy during the concerts is also provided. Visitors may also enjoy the music from the picnic tables just outside the pavilion; many families enjoy bringing a picnic dinner to eat while listening. Dancers are welcome as well. For those who are still not comfortable with in-person events, the concerts will also be live streamed on YouTube and also available to watch later. Concerts are on Thursday’s starting July 1 – Sept. 9.
The Patio Stage at Strathmore
Designed to provide a spacious yet intimate experience, The Patio Stage features socially distanced tables that seat up to 4 people. This allows plenty of space for you and your pod in a venue that seats just 124. The Patio Stage’s lineup highlights what Strathmore does best—you’ll find music’s brightest names, like Wynton Marsalis, The Lone Bellow, Sophia Rei, and Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers; revel in contemporary and chamber music; soak in international sounds; and be introduced to your new favorite musician from our Artists in Residence program.
Wolf Trap Children’s Shows
Performances range from music and dance—interactive, educational, and fun. All shows are about an hour long and are perfect for children ages 4 and up. A list of rescheduled and postponed events impacted by the pandemic can be viewed here. August and September 2021 performances are subject to change depending on COVID-related conditions and artist availability. View Summer 2021 policies and guidelines.
Wolf Trap National Park
Offering a variety of shows outdoor. A perfect way to spend a summer evening, if you get lawn tickets don’t forget a picnic.
Jammin Java Outdoor Concert Series
Returning for our second year of outdoor concerts. This year they celebrate Jammin Java’s 20th anniversary with a jam-packed calendar. All outdoor shows are free, and donations-only shows. You can enjoy food and drinks in the outdoor seating and limited-capacity indoor seating. Limited capacity, first come first served, weather permitting.
A Capitol Fourth at the U.S. Capitol
In 2021, America’s Independence Day celebration, A Capitol Fourth, will mark 41 years on the air. The show is broadcast to millions of viewers on PBS and streaming platforms as well as to our troops watching around the world on the American Forces Network. Details on the website as to how and where to attend in person.
The Root Family Stage is an open-air home for the summer with physically-distanced seating on blankets or in chairs. Or if you’re ready for it, the raised bleacher seats are available at full capacity. You can reserve a “pod” of seats for parties of 4, 3, 2 or even a solo. Masks are encouraged, but not required for vaccinated patrons, except indoors for use of the restrooms or in case of rain. Expect a variety of shows through September.
Live military band concerts are free and no tickets are required unless noted:
U.S. Navy Band
U.S. Air Force Band– Fridays at the Air Force Memorial at 7:30 p.m., and Saturdays at National Harbor at 7 p.m.
U.S. Marine Band– Every third Wednesday of the month from June to August at Yard’s Park
U.S. Army Band
Looking for a music festival?
M3 Music Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion will take you back to the 80’s
Distrito Music Fest is a one-day Latin American music festival at Union Stage in Washington, D.C.
Darn Good Music Festival in Centreville, Virginia feature 14 live bands in 2 days
The Anthem, Comet Ping Pong, Nationals Park, The Hamilton, Howard Theatre The Birchmere, Jammin Java, The Kennedy Center, Pearl Street Warehouse, The Pocket DC and the big outdoor venues.
No details for this season yet:
Jazz in the Sculpture Garden
Kids in Canal
Strathmore’s Backyard Theatre for Children
Friday Night Live Concert Series at Rockville Town Square
Rock at the Row