One of my favorite parts about summer in Washington, DC are the (mostly) free, outdoor concerts you can find. What seems like an eternity ago (please time slow down) we took a sporadic drive to the Mall, walked around, played some ball by the reflecting pool with our then three year old and walked 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. I had no idea they performed for free and for the public on random summer evenings. This post will help you take advantage of some great music that will allow you relax after a long day and see a bit of our city while doing so. Also, included are family focused shows at some favorite venues. 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 9th Season. Every Friday night this summer, head to Yards Park 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.
Kids in Canal
A free 12-week children’s series that brings in popular kid’s entertainers from magicians to musicians that keep the little ones engaged all summer. After spending a fun hour in the Middle Block of Canal Park, head over to the dancing water fountains for a refreshing splash!
Strathmore’s Backyard Theatre for Children
Enrich your little ones’ summer mornings with sunshine, music, and laughter at Strathmore’s Backyard Theater for Kids, Thursdays in July. This eclectic program is the perfect summer escape for busy families. Pack a picnic and enjoy live performances by highly esteemed and innovative family-friendly entertainers. From folk and jazz to the amazing sounds of the steelpan, Backyard Theater makes it easy to engage kids at every stage. We promise to keep both kids and parents entertained, so bring your family for a morning of inspiration and celebration!
Strathmore provides vibrant performances for families throughout the year. Offering experiences that inspire the littlest audience members to learn, explore, and connect to their world and each other in new ways. Learn more about each performance, including age recommendations, content, and accessibility on each event page.
Live from the Lawn
Strathmore’s free outdoor concert series, is where summertime stands still as music and memories take center stage. Pack a picnic and settle onto a blanket with your squad at the ready. As long summer days ease into evening, the crowd becomes community and the music begins. Let Live from the Lawn bring the funk and the soul, the rhythm, and the harmony. Let your summer sing.
Friday Night Live Concert Series at Rockville Town Square
Kick off your weekend with live entertainment, great company, and fantastic food, wine and beer from the restaurants at Rockville Town Square from 6:00pm-9:00pm on The Square in Rockville Town Square. Music ranges from 80’s and 90’s cover bands, funk and soul, roots rock blues and southern rock.
Jazz in the Sculpture Garden
The Jazz in the Garden Series begins its 19th season in May. The free concert series features jazz artists performing a wide variety of styles—Brazilian Folk Jazz, Alternative Modern, Blues, Reggae, World Steam Punk, Afro Funk, African Fusion Jazz, Cuban Charanga, Django Guitar, New Orleans Jazz, and more—every Friday evening from 5:00 to 8:30 in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. You can purchase food and adult beverages or bring your own picnic (but no adult bevs are allowed in, purchase them there).
National Memorial Day Concert at the US Capitol
Sunday, May 26, 2019 at 8:00pm, gates open at 5:00pm. PBS sponsors a free concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on the eve of Memorial Day, a star-studded lineup will grace the stage for one of PBS’ highest-rated programs. This multi-award-winning television event has become an American tradition, honoring the military service and sacrifice of all our men and women in uniform, their families at home and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
Wolf Trap Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Performances range from music and dance to puppetry and storytelling—interactive, educational, and fun. All shows are about an hour long and are perfect for children ages 4 and up.
Carter Barron AmpitheatreClosed for repairs.
Poetry, music and movies will be featured all summer long. All shows are free and based by first come first served.
Wolf Trap National Park
“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band will launch Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts’ summer season with a program of concert band favorites. A fireworks display will follow the concert. Gates open at 6:30 pm for Lawn and In-House (90 minutes prior to curtain). Fireworks viewing area opens following the performance, at approximately 9:30 pm. Fireworks begin at approximately 9:45 pm.
Rock at the Row
Join Rock the Row all summer long! Each Thursday enjoy live music, food, and drink to ring in the weekend!
A Capitol Fourth at the U.S. Capitol
America’s Independence Day celebration, A Capitol Fourth is broadcast live from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, before a concert audience of hundreds of thousands, millions more at home, and our troops watching around the world on the American Forces Network.
Live military band concerts are free and no tickets are required unless noted.
U.S. Navy Band: Concerts at the Capital
Monday evenings on the West Front of the U. S. Capitol Building
U.S. Navy Band: Concerts on the Avenue
The Concerts on the Avenue series, featuring the United States Navy Band and Navy Ceremonial Guard, is presented on select Tuesday evenings at 7:30pm during the summer at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington. The concert series began in 1997 and combines a wide variety of music in addition to precision drill by the Ceremonial Guard. On other Tuesday evenings at the same time, various ensembles of the band will perform at the memorial. Of course, no summer in Washington would be complete without attending our other regular concert series, Concerts on the Capitol, Mondays at 8 p.m. on the west steps of the Capitol building.
U.S. Marine Band
Wednesdays & Thursdays, 8:00pm on the West Terrace of the U. S. Capitol Building
U.S. Marine Band
Friday evening Parade, 8:30pm at the Marine Barracks Washington. The ceremony starts at 8:45 p.m., beginning with a concert by the United States Marine Band. The Evening Parade, held every Friday evening during the summer, has become a universal symbol of the professionalism, discipline, and Esprit de Corps of the United States Marines. Reservations needed.