You are here

10 Reasons to Attend the DC Jazz Festival

Performance at DC Jazz Festival - Summer Music Festival in Washington, DC

From June 9-18, enjoy the smooth sounds of jazz all over the nation’s capital

One of America’s greatest art forms receives an annual summer showcase in DC. Many of the concerts are free, so no need to worry about costs piling up! For 10 more reasons why you should attend this wonderful celebration, read on. Also, make sure to visit dcjazzfest.org for full lineups, a schedule and tickets (for the shows that require them).

1 DC has a deep jazz heritage
DC has a deep jazz heritage LaVan Anderson / Howard Theatre

The nation’s capital hosts the DC Jazz Festival for good reason. Legendary jazz musician Duke Ellington was born here, and during his time, the U Street corridor was known as “Black Broadway” for its constant stream of jazz performances by African American artists. DC was the epicenter of the movement for decades, so it’s only fitting that it hosts this summer gathering. You will be immersed in this established culture throughout the festival.

2 You can experience dozens of performances

Band Performing at the DC Jazz Festival - Summer Events and Festivals in Washington, DC

The DC Jazz Festival schedule includes more than 125 performances across 40 venues in the District. This includes artists both emerging and renowned. A total of 90 bands and 300 artists will strut their stuff on stage.

3 The lineup is stacked with talent

Gregory Porter performing at the DC Jazz Festival - Summer music festivals in Washington, DC

Leading jazz artists and groups such as Pat Metheny, Gregory Porter, Robert Glasper Experiment, Lalah Hathaway, The Kenny Garrett Quintet, Roy Haynes, Ron Carter and Jacob Collier will perform during the 10-day festival. Of course, there will be plenty of up-and-coming artists from around the world also participating.

4 Check out awesome local spots with Jazz in the ‘Hoods
Check out awesome local spots with Jazz in the ‘Hoods DC Jazz Festival

The festival spreads its sounds throughout DC’s distinctive neighborhoods with the Jazz in the ‘Hoods series, presented by Events DC. A healthy mix of both local and national artists will take the stage at numerous buzzworthy venues, including Twins Jazz, the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden and the Atlas Performing Arts Center.

5 Savor performances at the legendary Howard Theatre

Historic Howard Theatre - Arts & Culture in Washington, DC

Before you even step inside Howard Theatre, you’ll notice a statue of Duke Ellington out front. The historic venue was a jazz hub during Duke’s heyday, and the recently renovated spot is once again a fantastic place to see a show. The Howard will host concerts from June 9-13, including performances by five-time Grammy winner Lalah Hathaway and Roy Haynes.

6 Check out a Grammy-nominated artist inside the majestic Sixth & I Synagogue

Jane Bunnett and Maqueque - Performing during the DC Jazz Festival

Jane Bunnett, a Canadian jazz artist, has received accolades throughout her career (including multiple Juno Awards), and she’ll bring the band Maqueque with her to perform at the Sixth & I Synagogue in Penn Quarter on June 10. Expect plenty of improvisation, a daring mix of jazz melodies and a whole lot of soul inside a venue acclaimed for its great acoustics.

7 Jazz takes over the Kennedy Center

@endave - John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Foggy Bottom - Theater in Washington, DC

Headliner Pat Metheny will take to the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall on June 12 at 7:30 p.m. for a night of jazz wizardry. Metheny will be joined by an all-star group of musicians, including drummer Antonio Sanchez, who composed the unforgettable score of the Oscar-winning film, Birdman.

8 Hear jazz within the soothing environs of Yards Park

Band playing at Yards Park during the DC Jazz Festival - Summer music festival in Washington, DC

Yards Park, a beautiful, multi-faceted locale in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, will host DC JazzFest at the Yards (presented by Events DC) from June 16-18. Take in the outdoors while enjoying music from a slew of artists, with Saturday featuring the most extensive lineup.

9 Have some pre-festival fun with Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days

Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days at the Phillips Collection - DC Jazz Festival

Ahead of the festival’s official start on June 9, The Phillips Collection (the country’s first museum of modern art) will host Jazz ‘n Families Fun Days on June 3-4. This free, family-oriented event will include performances from rising star ensembles, storytelling, an instrument petting zoo, art workshops and chances to meet artists!

10 Save money with a special Amtrak offer

Woman dancing at DC Jazz Festival - Summer music festival in Washington, DC

Although many of the DC Jazz Festival’s events are free, who doesn’t like saving money on travel? Amtrak is offering guests a “buy one, get 30% off” deal. It’s simple: visit this page, use the “Book It Now” button, buy one ticket, get 30% off the second. Then, it’s time to enjoy a jazz-filled DC excursion with a fellow jazz lover.

Interested in other summer festivals in DC? Check othem out now and start planning.