DC hosts numerous outdoor festivals during the warm summer months, a perfect time to enjoy the city and all it has to offer. Throughout the summer, you’ll find free and budget-friendly performing arts festivals, which reflect DC’s rich arts and culture scene. Audiences are constantly marveling at the eclectic artists, unique events and acclaimed entertainers that regularly perform in and around DC.
DC Jazz Festival: Thousands of music lovers flock to the nation’s capital to attend the annual DC Jazz Festival (June 24-29), celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2014. The festival boasts more than 125 performances across dozens of venues throughout the city. There will be several “Main Stages” to explore. Jazz at The Hamilton Live will feature artists such as Paquito D’Rivera, the Roy Hargrove Quintet and Brass-A-Holics. Jazz at the Capitol Riverfront will be a three-day extravaganza at the Yards Park featuring beverage tastings, family-friendly activities and performances from Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Yasiin Bey (AKA Mos Def) and many more. Jazz in the ‘Hoods presented by Events DC spreads across over 40 venues, including The Howard Theatre and Bohemian Caverns. A special performance by Cyril Chestnut Quartet dedicated to music of Dave Brubeck will be held at Sixth and I Historic Synagogue (June 25). Finally, Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days returns to the Phillips Collection, where kids can enjoy storytelling and an instrument petting zoo.
The Source Festival: The Source Festival is a collection of performances unlike anything else happening in the U.S. The festival features innovative new works in theater that lay the groundwork for the next generation of performing artists. The festival’s three weeks will include numerous plays: three full-length, 18 ten-minute plays and three artistic “blind dates,” which bring artists from different disciplines together to create an original work. There’s also a Talent Show, showcasing wild and wonderful talents from theatre artists...as well as audience volunteers.
AFI Docs: Discover why DC is sometimes referred to as “Docu-Wood” during AFI Docs, a week of film screenings, lectures and post-film discussions by enterprising filmmakers and free thinkers at the AFI Silver Theatre in Silver Spring, Md.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival: The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall is one of the best ways to get a close-up look at different cultural heritages from around the world. Like all of the surrounding Smithsonian museums, it is open to the public and completely free.
Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle: Safeway sponsors the 22nd annual National Barbecue Battle, in which thousands of people gather to celebrate (and eat!) the American South’s favorite cuisine. Barbecue teams and restaurants from around the country will compete for more than $40,000 worth of cash and prizes, and for the coveted title of National Barbecue Pork Champion. The event will also feature two stages, the Pepsi-Lays Sound Stage and Famous Dave’s Music Stage, with an array of musical performances ranging from jazz to funk to rock.
Capital Fringe Festival: The rebellious Capital Fringe Festival, an open access, unjuried film festival with all self-produced works, captivates audiences with hundreds of inventive performances by new and established artists. Genres include drama, experimental, comedy and musical theater.