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100 Free & Almost Free Things to Do: Outdoor Concerts
An unforgettable evening awaits at one of the many festive outdoor concerts happening in and around Washington, DC.
During the spring and summer these outdoor concerts in the nation's capital provide great atmosphere for enjoying a night out, and are often free to attend. Make sure to check official websites for dates, times and specific locations.
The different branches of the military have performed free concerts on the grounds of the U.S. Capitol for over 130 years. Summer time means “Sunsets with a Soundtrack,” a concert series from the U.S. Army Band featuring performances nearly every Friday night (June - Aug.) on the West Lawn. The U.S. Marine Band, Navy Band and Air Force Band also perform on the Capitol's West Lawn throughout the week. Check out the full schedule for the 2017 Military Bands Summer Concert Series.
Enjoy Twilight Tattoo, an hour-long sunset military pageant at Summerall Field on the grounds of Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia. Different ceremonial units of the military, including the Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps and the U.S. Army Voices, perform a free concert beginning at 7 p.m. The 2017 concert season runs from May 3 – Aug. 9, with exception to July 5 and 12.
Catch the annual National Memorial Day Concert at the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol on Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m. The concert is a tribute to fallen heroes and their families that showcases patriotic songs performed by Pershing’s Own, the U.S. Army’s premier band. The event is aired live on PBS and hosted by Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise. For more ways to pay tribute during this start-of-summer holiday, check out these things to do on Memorial Day Weekend in DC.
Pay your respects to those who fought in the Great War at a concert at the World War II Memorial. Free performance are typically held during the warmer months. Make sure to check out the schedule of events taking place at the memorial.
Take in one of the free and festive 6 p.m. concerts during the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. This year’s event runs from June 29 through July 4 and July 6 through July 9. Located adjacent to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, this year’s edition of the festival celebrates the Circus Arts.
The U.S. Navy Band’s Concerts at the Capitol series consists of performances on the steps of the U.S. Capitol on Monday evenings during the summer. The Concerts on the Avenue series offers exciting performances by the precision drill team and U.S. Navy Band and Ceremonial Guard at the U.S. Navy Memorial on select Tuesday evenings in the summer at 7:30 p.m.
Experience jazz in outdoor glory during Jazz in the Garden, held annually at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The series attracts crowds every Friday night during the summer, and you can enjoy food and drinks while you snap your fingers to smooth sounds. Jazz in the Garden typically runs from May through August.
This Independence Day, enjoy A Capitol Fourth on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The concert commonly features a star-studded lineup of musicians and a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra. The event is capped off by an epic display of fireworks over the National Mall.
Enjoy free musical performances at The Yards Park, which overlooks the scenic Capitol Riverfront neighborhood. The family friendly Friday Night Concert Series usually runs from May to September, with shows starting at 6:30 p.m.
The DC Jazz Festival is held at venues across the city, including The Yards Park at Capitol Riverfront and the Howard Theatre, from June 9-18. The festival features numerous programs, including free performances, as well as three days of outdoor performances at the aforementioned Yards Park, the Jazz in the ‘Hoods series and Jazz ‘N Families Fun Days, a weekend of free fun for the entire crew. Make sure to check the DC Jazz Festival website for schedules and lineups.
Free, live, local music at Fort Reno in Upper Northwest is one of DC's hippest summertime traditions. Founded by Amanda MacKaye (wife of Ian MacKaye, former frontman of influential DC bands Fugazi and Minor Threat), the series showcases bands from the area in a laidback, alcohol-free and very communal atmosphere.
Gather in Barracks Row on Friday nights for the Evening Parade, a free event hosted by “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, “The Commandant’s Own” U.S. Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and Chesty, the official mascot of the Washington D.C. Marine Barracks. The shows usually occur from 8:45-10 p.m., with performances running from early May to late August.
If you’re looking for more fun and free things to do, there are plenty of other options. Check out the full list of 100 Free & Almost Free Things to Do.