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Crowd at Warner Theatre

Free Things to Do: Theater & Performing Arts in Washington, DC

Say “Bravo!” as Washington, DC’s theaters host free events, shows and performances throughout the year.

There is no shortage of free theater in Washington, DC, from shows with no admission charge to events and concerts. Some of the city’s most prestigious venues offer free opportunities, including the Kennedy Center (most notably, its Millennium Stage). DC’s neighborhoods also get in on the act. Read on for some of our favorites.


Score free tickets to a show with TodayTix's Rush and Lottery program

TodayTix's Rush and Lottery program is a boon to theater-goers. With the TodayTix app, you can enter for the chance to win Lottery tickets to sold-out shows, unlock access to specially priced day-of Rush tickets, and secure the best prices and availability for the buzziest performances, all in one place.


Enjoy free performances at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage

Millennium Stage

Take in a free performance at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage on Wednesday through Saturday evenings at 6 p.m. Acts include everything from performances by the National Symphony Orchestra to leading independent artists to poetry slams. 


Take in Luce Unplugged

The Luce Foundation Center for American Art (located inside the Smithsonian American Art Museum) hosts Luce Unplugged, a free concert series that showcases local talent. Shows can take the form of tributes to a Luce Center artwork and sometimes feature multiple acts.


Groove to free live jazz at the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Groove to free live jazz at the Smithsonian American Art Museum's "Take Five!" performance series. Performances take place on the third Thursday of each month, and the museum's Kogod Courtyard Café stays open so guests can enjoy beer, wine and light snacks during the performance.


Turn up the volume at Fort Reno

Fort Reno Concert

Free, live, local music at Fort Reno in Upper Northwest is one of DC's hippest summertime traditions. Organized by Amanda MacKaye (sister of Ian MacKaye, former frontman of influential DC bands Fugazi and Minor Threat), the series showcases bands from the area in a laid back, alcohol-free and very communal atmosphere on Monday and Thursday evenings.


Have fun with free events at the Folger

The recently renovated Folger Theatre and the Folger Shakespeare Library collaborate to bring free opportunities to the public. The Library often features special exhibitions that are free to enter, as well as free docent-led tours that include a visit into the theater (the entire building officially reopens on June 21, 2024).


Bring the whole family to Saturday Morning Live! at The National

Young minds will be engaged during The National Theatre’s free Saturday morning programs, affectionately known as Saturday Morning Live! The interactive performances often feature puppets, dance and music, letting kids use their imaginations. Performances occur at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.


Check out the signatures in front of Warner Theatre

Did you know that Washington, DC has its very own Walk of Fame? On the sidewalk in front of the legendary Warner Theatre, you will numerous signatures of stars embedded, including Frank Sinatra, Chris Rock, Bonnie Raitt and many more. And hey, if your vacation doesn’t have to be entirely free, check out the marquee and see if you want to purchase tickets for the Warner’s show that night.

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