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14 Can't-Miss Summer Festivals & Events in Washington, DC
Summer in the nation’s capital is packed with free and family-friendly festivals featuring everything from jazz music to the wonders of barbecue.
Washington, DC never lacks for can’t-miss events and warm-weather festivals. In fact, there are so many amazing choices that it can be tough to figure out which to attend. No worries – we’ve got you covered with some of the season’s biggest festivals perfect for having the best summer ever. Off we go!
This annual salute to bluegrass music takes place on June 9, featuring local vendors and good vibes on the gorgeous Kingman Island in northeast DC. Leading contemporary artists within the bluegrass and folk genres will perform, including Gangstagrass, The American Songster Revue and Dori Freeman. The festival is all about community and sustainability (proceeds go towards the Living Classrooms Foundation), so grab a drink and some food, enjoy the weather and scenery and celebrate with friends.
Lovers of brews will not want to miss SAVOR, which features 90-plus craft breweries from all over the U.S. showing off two of their most acclaimed flavors at the National Building Museum. That adds up to more than 180 beers available for sampling, and of course, there will be plenty of tasty offerings that should pair up quite nicely. Grab tickets quickly, as this event – which takes place June 1 - 2 – sells out quickly.
The DC community comes together for the annual Capital Pride, a citywide celebration of LGBTQ rights and the continuing fight for them. This year’s theme is "Elements of Us," and signature events include a rooftop pool party, a block party, the popular Pride Parade and the Pride Festival and Concert. The 2018 Pride Concert is headlined by Alessia Cara, Troye Sivan and MAX. Check out our rundown of these can't-miss events and get down with diversity June 7-10.
An inaugural citywide arts festival with free and inclusive activations, By the People celebrates the creative culture of the arts, and the empathy and inclusivity they engender. During the four-day extravaganza taking place June 21-24, expect a full-on arts takeover of the District, with innovative music and dance performances, interactive and collaborative displays, art installations in every DC quadrant and late-night museum openings from the National Mall to the neighborhoods. Additional programming includes a civic dialogue series aimed at demonstrating progress between people on opposite sides of an issue, and an augmented reality city-wide art hunt.
The DC Jazz Festival brings national and local musicians to venues including The Wharf, Howard Theatre and the Kennedy Center, as well as intimate jazz clubs all over the city. Some concerts are free; most are ticketed. A lineup stacked with talent and free performances are just two of the many reasons why you should check out this summer festival taking place from June 8-17.
Calling all baseball fans, make your plans to visit DC for the first MLB All-Star Game in the nation’s capital since 1969. Experience the full week of festivities, including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game™ (July 15), the T-Mobile Home Run Derby® (July 16) and 89th MLB All-Star Game® presented by Mastercard (July 17). The 2018 All-Star FanFest® (July 13-17) will be hosted at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
The American Film Institute’s international film festival presents diverse documentaries ranging in topics from national politics, education and health to music, sports and culture. Considered one of the leading documentary festivals in the country, AFI Docs is an annual summer celebration of the power of storytelling in film. The festival takes place June 13-17, so be sure to check the festival’s website for programming updates.
Rib roasters and sauce bosses show off their delicious wares during the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle. Pit masters from all 50 states, local restaurants and live music shut down Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets NW for a lively street party June 23-24. Cooking demos and free tastings make for a delicious (and filling) experience.
The free Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international and American cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music, cooking demos and an expansive marketplace full of pottery, books, textiles, toys, sculptures, clothing and more. The 2018 edition, which focuses on the cultures of Armenia and Catalonia, takes place from June 27 – July 1 and July 4-8.
The District’s signature professional tennis tournament returns for the 50th year at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center from July 28 – Aug. 5. Top-tier talent from all over the world will compete for a prestigious trophy, leading to action that you do not want to miss. This year, Citi Open and the American Experience Foundation have teamed up to bring you a special discount on tickets to the beloved tennis tournament. Purchase tickets to individual sessions that will lead to a savings of up to $10 per ticket and 25% of the proceeds will go to the foundation, which enriches the lives of low-income students through inspirational travel experiences and educational opportunities.
During the edgy Capital Fringe Festival, you can catch out-there performances from local creatives, including improv dramas, punk rock shows and colorful dance shows. Events take place at libraries, museums, galleries and the Logan Fringe Arts Space from July 7-29.
It’s not quite summer unless you enjoy movies under the stars. Comcast Xfinity and Strathmore Campus present this three-day outdoor film festival (films begin at dusk each evening) that benefits the National Institutes of Health Children’s Charities. The entire family can settle down on the Strathmore lawn, enjoy on-site food from Ridgewell’s and take in a classic movie. Looking for more outdoor movie fun? Check out all the places to catch a flick outside this summer.
This annual festival honors the incredible diversity of restaurants and retailers on 17th Street NW in Dupont Circle, as well as its communal vibe. Taking place on August 25, more than 100 vendors will be on-hand showcasing their offerings and over 60 artists will display jewelry, crafts, fine art and more. There will also be live music, a kids’ zone featuring a moon bounce and a pet zone for those looking to shop or adopt a new pet!
One Friday each month from April through October, Truckeroo brings local food trucks to the Fairgrounds at Yards Park in the bustling Capitol Riverfront neighborhood 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.