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Where to Enjoy an Outdoor Movie This Summer In & Around Washington, DC
Check out the best places to experience the cinema outdoors with these mostly free options in the nation’s capital.
Summertime and movies go hand-in-hand. Yes, the biggest blockbusters are in theaters, but step your movie-going experience up a notch and relax outdoors while taking in a classic flick or one you’ve never seen before. Many of these outdoor movie screenings in the District feature beautiful scenery and are free to attend. So head to the Georgetown waterfront, a drive-in screening at Union Market or plenty of other great places and turn summer nights into summer memories.
Georgetown's Waterfront Park is one of the city’s most resplendent settings, situated right on the Potomac River. The neighborhood invites you to enjoy this year’s movie theme of “Out of Office,” as each Tuesday sunset screening highlights a story about vacations. The lineup begins with Under the Tuscan Sun on July 9 and concludes with Eat Pray Love on Aug. 6.
NoMa Summer Screen is an outdoor movie series that you do not want to miss. Numerous local food trucks are on-hand for the festivities in this happening neighborhood, which take place on Wednesdays from June 5 through Aug. 21. This year, the series’ theme is Who's Got Game?, featuring a lineup of sports-related films (The Karate Kid, The Sandlot and, of course, Remember the Titans are among the screenings). Summer Screen is very popular, so get there at 7 p.m. when the doors open for the free screenings! The fun takes place at The Lot at First & Pierce, at approximately 1150 First Street NE.
The drive-in movie is not dead! Union Market, a DC hot spot that features artisanal wares and amazing food options, hosts this series of film screenings on the first Friday of each month from the spring through the fall. Drive-in parking costs $15 (reserve beforehand here), while ground seating is free for walk-ups. This year's films include A League of Their Own (July 5) and Coco (Sept. 6).
On Thursdays from June 13 through Aug. 22, the gorgeous Canal Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood invites families to take in a flick at sundown. You are invited to arrive as early as 7 p.m. so you can set up a picnic and prepare to be dazzled. The schedule is a mix of recent hits and classics, including Crazy Rich Asians (June 13), The Goonies (July 11) and Bohemian Rhapsody (Aug. 22).
Head to Freedom Plaza at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue for an awesome collaboration between the DowntownDC BID and SHAOLIN JAZZ. The Tuesday night screenings feature Marvel films scored with an original soundtrack mixed live by DJ 2-Tone Jones. The events will also have martial arts demos, outdoor games and complimentary popcorn. Screenings begin at 8:30 p.m. Some highlights of the schedule: Black Panther on June 11 and Avengers: Infinity War on July 2.
Every Friday evening from June 7 through Aug. 2, post up in Farragut Park for a movie screening in the middle of one of DC’s most vibrant locales. June features Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (June 21) and Ocean’s 8 (June 28). In July, watch the sun set as you embrace Incredibles 2 (July 19) and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (July 26).
Although you have to purchase tickets to this festival, your money will be very well-spent. Dumbarton House is a historic DC attraction in Georgetown, a great spot to bring the family to take in a movie under the stars (you can also become a member for free entry). Each film shown on Wednesday evenings in July is based on a Jane Austen novel, so if you’re into Victorian romance, this is a summer must-do for you.
An eclectic mix of space-themed films are showcased in this series that takes place at the Marie Reed Soccer Field on happening 18th Street in Adams Morgan. Guests are invited to bring chairs and blankets on select Tuesdays in May and June to catch films like Spaceballs (June 11) and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (June 18). On select evenings, experts and staff from the National Air and Space Museum will discuss the science behind the films and set up telescopes for on-site viewing (clouds permitting).
The expansive National Harbor is perfect for a family outing or a date night, especially when a film is being screened under a summer sky at its plaza. In fact, the Harbor hosts two nights of screenings each week of the season from May through September – one for couples (Thursdays, 7 p.m.), one for families (Sundays, 6 p.m.). Check out the packed schedule and pick out the free screening that works for you and yours.
Considered one of Arlington’s best summer events, Rosslyn Cinema even features a Pub in the Park during these free Friday night screenings in Virginia, as well as food trucks. The lineup for the summer is a healthy mix of family-friendly (Paddington, Incredibles 2) and action (Spider Man: into the Spider-Verse, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle). Just a short drive or Metro ride from DC, this series has all the makings for a perfect summer night.
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial is one of DC’s most recognizable landmarks, and The Memorial Foundation is proud to present family-friendly, free-to-attend movie screenings this summer. The series starts on June 20 with BlacKkKlansman and ends on Aug. 28 with The Hate U Give. Screenings begin at 7 p.m.