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10 Can't-Miss Summer Festivals & Events in Washington, DC

Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall - Family Friendly Summer Festival 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!

1 Capital Pride

Capital Pride Parade - Summer Parades and Festivals in Washington, DC
The DC community comes together for the annual Capital Pride, a citywide celebration of LGBTQ rights and the continuing fight for them. This year, Capital Pride celebrates its 45th anniversary with its signature event, which include a rooftop pool party, a block party, the popular Pride Parade and the Pride Festival and Concert. Check out our rundown of these can't-miss events and get down with diversity May 31– June 9.

2 By the People

By The People Festival in Washington, DC - Free summer festival in DC
A 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 two-week extravaganza taking place June 13-28, expect a full-on arts takeover of the District, with innovative music and dance performances, interactive and collaborative displays, art installations and dialogue events.

Your ultimate guide to summer in Washington, DC

3 DC JazzFest presented by Events DC

Concert on The Wharf during DC JazzFest - Can't-miss summer festival in Washington, DC
DC JazzFest presented by Events DC brings national and local musicians to a range of venues all over the city, including The Wharf. 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 the 16th year of this summer festival taking place from June 12-21.

4 AFI Docs

Attendees at AFI Docs film festival - Summer festival in Washington, DC
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 17-21, so be sure to check the festival’s website for programming updates.

5 Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle

Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle on Pennsylvania Avenue - Summer festival in Washington, DC
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 27-28. Cooking demos and free tastings make for a delicious (and filling) experience.

6 Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Brazil at Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The free Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international 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 2020 edition, which focuses on Brazil and the United Arab Emirates, takes place from June 24-28 and July 1-5.

7 Citi Open

Fans in stands at Citi Open tennis tournament - Summer sporting events in Washington, DC
The District’s signature professional tennis tournament returns to Rock Creek Park Tennis Center from Aug. 1-9. Top-tier talent from all over the world will compete for a prestigious trophy, leading to action that you do not want to miss.

8 Capital Fringe Festival

Band Performing at the Capital Fringe Festival at the Logan Fringe Art Space - Summer Festivals in Washington, DC
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 throughout the month of July. Make sure to check out the festival's website as it gets closer for programming information.

9 17th Street Festival

17th Street Festival in Dupont Circle - Summer Neighborhood Festival in Washington, DC
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 Aug. 29, more than 100 vendors will be on-hand showcasing their offerings and over 50 artists will display jewelry, crafts, fine art and more. There will also be live music and a kids' zone featuring an array of fun activities.

10 Truckeroo

People at Truckeroo in The Bullpen - Things to do this September in Washington, DC
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.

If you plan to drive to any of these awesome summer festivals, you can conveniently book your parking through SpotHero to save up to 50% throughout the city.

The Best Events and Festivals Happening in Washington, DC