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Summer Festivals in Washington, DC

Half Street Fairgrounds

DC’s warm weather festivals fete everything from jazz to the wonders of barbecue

In summertime, DC loosens up its tie and turns into one big festival. From June to August, there are public parties featuring kid’s fun, music and loads of culture. A few of the best:

For Culture Vultures

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international and American cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music and cooking demos. This year, the annual event focuses on California music and Basque culture from June 29-July 4 and July 7-10.

DC Jazz Festival

Live entertainment festivals also fill both outdoor and indoor venues around town. Now in its 11th year, the DC Jazz Festival brings national and local musicians to venues including Yards Park, Hamilton Live and intimate jazz clubs all over the city. This year’s edition runs from June 10-16; make sure to check its website for schedules and lineups. Some concerts are free; most are ticketed.

During the edgy Fringe Festival (July 7-31), you can catch out-there performances including improv dramas and punk bands. Events take place at libraries, museums, galleries and the Logan Fringe Art Space.

From June 8 to July 7, the 10th edition of the Source Festival will produce new theater works, many by local artists, at spaces around town. Other offerings include 10-minute play competitions that showcase super short, often super funny works in a single evening, and artistic blind dates, which see very different artists - say a cellist and an actor - collaborating on genre-bending works.

BBQ Battle

Food Festivals

Rib roasters and sauce bosses show off their delicious wares during the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle, June 25-26. Pit masters from all 50 states, local restaurants and live music shut down Pennsylvania Avenue between 9th and 14th streets NW for a lively street party. Cooking demos and free tastings make for a delicious (and filling) day.

One Friday each month from April through October, Truckeroo brings local food trucks to the Fairgrounds at Yards Park to dole out everything from cookies and milk to Vietnamese sandwiches. About two dozen wheeled food sellers show up, and there are picnic tables and shade to keep things cool.

Check out how you can have the best summer ever in Washington, DC and discover more summer activities.