Washington, DC, Performing ArtsThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a major destination on Washington's performing arts scene, but there are many other fine facilities. University groups, dinner theaters, and open-air venues like Virginia's Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts provide year-round incentive to travel and experience Washington's live entertainment.
Better yet, a number of performances are free, which can help stretch your vacation budget. National Park Service military band concerts are held during the summer months at the United States Capitol, the United States Navy Memorial, and the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument. The Library of Congress offers free chamber music concerts.
The Washington Post magazine, published in the Sunday edition of the Washington Post, provides complete listings for current and upcoming cultural events in the D.C. area. The Washington City Paper, a free weekly newspaper available at local bookstores, newsstands, and curbside vending machines, also includes detailed listings for theater, music, film, dance, gallery, and performance arts events.
DanceClassical and contemporary works are presented by the Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center Opera House, the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater and elsewhere. Every year in December, the company stages the Christmas classic "The Nutcracker". Renowned companies such as the Bolshoi Ballet and the American Ballet Theater frequently perform in Washington. The Howard University Dance Ensemble focuses on modern dance. National and international dance companies perform regularly at Smithsonian venues; for information phone (202) 633-1000.
FilmThere are many early cinemas in the district, but no parking spaces. The most readily available parking spots are at the theaters on Upper Wisconsin and Connecticut Avenues; Otherwise, if you're in the mood for a movie, take a ride on the metro. The AMC Loews Uptown 1, 3426 Connecticut Ave. N.W. (M: Cleveland Park) and the AMC Mazza Gallery, 5300 Wisconsin Ave. N.W. (M: Friendship Heights), are good places to see recent releases; Phone (888) 262-4386.
The AFI Silver Theater and Cultural Center, 8633 Colesville Rd. in Silver Spring, Md. (M: Silver Spring) includes a restored 1938 movie house and two modern stadium theaters that offer state-of-the-art presentation facilities for classic and cult film screenings, retrospectives and new releases; For information on recorded programs, call (301) 495-6700. The Avalon Theater, 5612 Connecticut Ave. N.W. (M: Friendship Heights), which showcases art-house cuisine and the occasional Hollywood blockbuster, is one of the city's few remaining old-school movie palaces. Phone (202) 966-3464.
Documentaries and experimental films are often shown at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the East Building of the National Gallery of Art (M:Smithsonian); Information on programs can be obtained from the individual museums.
The Kennedy Center presents a variety of nationally and internationally recognized artists. Conducted by Gianandrea Noseda, the National Symphony Orchestra performs in the center's spacious concert hall. The season lasts from early September to early June. Chamber music associations, choirs and symphony orchestras from all over the world also perform here; for information phone (202) 467-4600. During the summer months, the orchestra performs outdoors at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.
The George Washington University Lisner Auditorium, 21st and H Street N.W. (M: Foggy Bottom-GWU), has a varied program of popular music concerts, classical recitals and sometimes opera and ballet. Phone (202) 994-6800.
One of Washington's best offerings is the series of free chamber music concerts performed at the Library of Congress (M: Capitol South or Union Station) in various theaters and auditoriums. For schedule and ticket information, call (202) 707-5502.
The airy West Garden Court in the West Building of the National Gallery of Art (M:Smithsonian) hosts free concerts from early September to early November; for program information call (202) 842-6941. The Jazz in the Garden concert series is held on Fridays from 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. from late May to early September at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, 7th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W. instead of. Visitors can purchase food and beverages from the Pavilion Cafe or bring their own food from local restaurants. For schedule and artist information, call (202) 842-6941.
From October through May, Sunday afternoon chamber concerts are held in the paneled music room of The Phillips Collection Museum, 1600 21st St. N.W. instead of. on Q Street (M: Dupont Circle). They start promptly at 4 (early arrival is strongly recommended). Concert admission is $45 ($20 for members and students with ID); Phone (202) 387-2151. From October through April, the Folger Consort, the Folger Shakespeare Library-based Renaissance musical ensemble, presents a series of instrumental and vocal performances at the library's Folger Theater, 201 E. Capitol St. S.E. (M: Capitol South or Union Station); Phone (202) 544-7077.
Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is the summer home of the National Symphony Orchestra. About half of the seating at Filene Center is covered; The stage and open-sided canopy are built to take advantage of a natural slope. There is cheaper and unprotected seating on the lawn. Children's Theater-in-the-Woods runs from late June to early August. These 45-minute family-friendly shows feature dance, music, puppetry, storytelling and theater and are presented Tuesdays through Saturdays at 10:30am; Phone (703) 255-1868 or (877) 965-3872.
From early October to mid-May, performances relocate to the smaller The Barns at Wolf Trap, 45 miles south of the park at 1635 Trap Rd. The 382-seat theater offers everything from chamber music and opera to folk, jazz, country and bluegrass. For ticket information, call the box office at (703) 255-1868. Wolf Trap tickets can be purchased by calling (877) 965-3872.
If you're looking for one of the truly unique things to do in Washington, D.C. U.S. Marines present a parade with band, drum and bugle corps and a silent drill team at Marine Barracks, 8th and I Streets H.E. (M: Eastern Market), Fridays at 8:45 p.m. from May to August. Parking is available at Maritime Plaza, 12th Street and M Street S.E.; a free shuttle bus will take you from the square to the barracks and back. Reservations are not required but can be made online; Visitors who do not have them will have to wait in line for unclaimed seats.
For something a little less formal, the Marine Drum and Bugle Corps and the Silent Drill Team present an hour-long Sunset Parade on Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. from the first Tuesday in June to the last Tuesday in July and at 18:30. the first two Tuesdays in August. It takes place at the Marine Corps War Memorial (M: Rosslyn); Bring a blanket or lounge chair as there is no seating. Shuttle bus service to this free performance is provided from the parking lot adjacent to the Arlington National Cemetery Visitor Center from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Parking fee is $1.75 per hour for the first 3 hours, then $2.50 per hour thereafter.
Twilight Tattoo, another sunset parade, is hosted by the U.S. Army Band and the 3rd U.S. Infantry performed at Fort Myer in Arlington, Virginia. Grandstands are not available, so bring blankets and/or lawn chairs. The event takes place on Wednesdays (weather permitting) at 7pm from early May to early August. Call (202) 685-2888 to confirm the schedule.
One of the most affordable and fun activities is the free summer concert series offered by US Forces military bands from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Many of them take place on the steps of the United States Capitol. These traditional concerts feature occasional singers and include rousing patriotic marches, pop and classical music.
The Navy performs on Mondays, the Air Force on Tuesdays, the Marines on Wednesdays, and the Army on Fridays. The National Symphony Orchestra performs on public holidays. All concerts start at 8 p.m. On Thursday evenings from June through August, the U.S. Marine Band performing at the outdoor Sylvan Theater just off 15th Street N.W. near the Washington Monument (M:Smithsonian). For schedule information, call (703) 696-3718 (Army), (202) 433-2525 (Navy), (202) 433-4011 (Navy), or (202) 767-4310 (Air Force).
LIVE! On Woodrow Wilson Plaza is located at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. (M: federal triangle). The music ranges from Latin and jazz to Celtic folk songs and hip hop. Concerts are planned Mon.-Thu. Noon-1 (weather permitting), early June to September.
OperThe opulent Kennedy Center Opera House has three levels and a stage curtain of gold and red Japanese silk. The plush setting is the backdrop to Washington National Opera's seasonal performances from September through May. Standing-only tickets are sold at the Kennedy Center box office beginning at 10:00 a.m. Saturday for performances the following week. For performance and ticket information, call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.
TheaterSmall dramas are staged at the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater, while lavish musicals are staged at the 2,300-seat Opera House. In the evening, the Theater Lab shows the long-running hit "Shear Madness", a humorous thriller that makes every performance different.
The center's intimate Terrace Theater reopened in 2017 after a 16-month facelife with a major overhaul of its architectural and acoustic plan. Chamber music concerts, operas, choral evenings, comedy revues and theater performances as well as solo performances by classical violinists and multimedia performance artists are shown. For Kennedy Center show and ticket information, call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.
The Warner Theater, 513 13th St. N.W. between E and F streets (M: Metro Center), opened in 1924 as a vaudeville house, was an old-fashioned movie palace in the 1960s and functioned mainly as a venue for rock concerts in the 1970s and 80s. Today it provides an ornately decorative backdrop for dance performances, Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, and headlining popular entertainers and musicians. General information at (202) 783-4000 Mon.-Fri. 9-6
Courtesy of Ford's Theater
Ford's Theater presents a year-round program of contemporary plays and musicals. The theater has been carefully restored to its original appearance, which means the 1860s-style chairs are of questionable comfort. Phone (202) 347-4833 for more information.
Inside the National Theater, 1321 Pennsylvania Ave. (M: Metro Center), which has been in continuous operation since 1835, features groundbreaking hits. It's what D.C. the closest thing to a grand Broadway-style theatre. The theater's Helen Hayes Gallery hosts free family-friendly performances on Saturday mornings at 9:30am and 11am September through July. Seats are limited and tickets will be distributed half an hour before the start of the performance on a first come, first served basis (one ticket per person in the queue). Phone (202) 628-6161 for ticket and schedule information.
The Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 6th St. S.W. (M: Waterfront-SEU) is home to D.C.'s most acclaimed ensemble company. Founded in 1950 by director Zelda Fichandler, Arena has nurtured the stage careers of actors such as Jane Alexander and James Earl Jones over the years. New plays and emerging playwrights are highlighted throughout the season from September to June. The facility has three stages: the Fichandler Stage, the Kreeger Theater and the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle. Schedule and ticket information at (202) 488-3300 Tues.-Sun. noon-8
Performances of Shakespearean plays and other classic works by the Shakespeare Theater Company are held at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. N.W. listed. (M: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter) and also at Sidney Harman Hall, 6th and F Streets N.W. (M: Gallery Place-Chinatown). In addition to educational programs and various special events, the Shakespeare Theater Company Free For All is a free production that takes place during the summer. Tickets for regular performances sell out quickly; For performance or ticket information, call (202) 547-1122, (877) 487-8849, or TTY (202) 638-3863.
Beltway Politics is the inspiration for the 1.5-hour theatrical comedy performed by the Capitol Steps Friday and Saturday nights at 7:30 p.m. at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. is listed. (M: federal triangle). The force consists of many current and former congressional staffers; Phone (202) 312-1555 for ticket information.
Smaller professional resident theaters abound. Contemporary plays - including new productions - are performed at The Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. N.W. listed. (M: Dupont circle). Phone (202) 332-3300 or TTY (202) 667-8436 for box office information.
The Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, 641 D St. N.W. on 7th Street (M: Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter), has a reputation for staging some of the city's most artistically provocative productions. For ticket information, call the box office at (202) 393-3939. The GALA Hispanic Theater, 3333 14th St. N.W. (M: Columbia Heights), presents works by classical and contemporary Latino and Latin American playwrights; Phone (202) 234-7174 for the theater or (800) 494-8497 for ticket information.
Productions at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. N.E. bring African and African American themes to life. There is a trolley along H Street that you can take from Union Station. Phone (202) 399-7993 for the box office. The Round House Theater has two locations - in Bethesda and Silver Spring, Md. - and offers both new plays and classics. Phone (240) 644-1100 for ticket information.
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