Events

Everything You Absolutely Must Do in Washington, DC This Summer

Published On 05/31/2016 Published On 05/31/2016
DC Jazz Festival
Washington, D.C. Jazz Festival | Eva Hambach/AFP PHOTO/Getty Images
Courtesy of Summerfest DC

Date

Event

Location

May 27-Sep 2

Enjoy live music in a sculpture garden Experience jazz in all its outdoor glory during Jazz in the Garden, held inside the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The series attracts crowds every Friday night during the summer, and you can enjoy food and drinks while you snap your fingers to smooth sounds. This year’s concerts start on May 27... and not that we'd ever advocate bending the rules, but bringing in your own beer or wine sure beats overpaying for sangria...

National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

Enjoy live music in a sculpture garden National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden Experience jazz in all its outdoor glory during Jazz in the Garden, held inside the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The series attracts crowds every Friday night during the summer, and you can enjoy food and drinks while you snap your fingers to smooth sounds. This year’s concerts start on May 27... and not that we'd ever advocate bending the rules, but bringing in your own beer or wine sure beats overpaying for sangria...

Date

Event

Location

Jun 4-5

Kick the season off truly right with Summerfest Forget the 200 straight days (or whatever) of rain we recently had. Summerfest DC is the way to start your summer off right, with over 80 craft beers, most of them local; two dozen wines; 10 ciders; gluten-free booze options; food trucks; live music all day; vendors hawking swag; cornhole; and sunshine, glorious sunshine. Hell yes.

Half Street Fairgrounds

Kick the season off truly right with Summerfest Half Street Fairgrounds Forget the 200 straight days (or whatever) of rain we recently had. Summerfest DC is the way to start your summer off right, with over 80 craft beers, most of them local; two dozen wines; 10 ciders; gluten-free booze options; food trucks; live music all day; vendors hawking swag; cornhole; and sunshine, glorious sunshine. Hell yes.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 10-19

Get into the DC jazz scene The fastest-growing jazz festival in the US (now in its tenth year!), the DC Jazz Festival is held at venues across the city, including The Yards at Capitol Riverfront and Hamilton Live. The festival features free performances from some of jazz’s most acclaimed artists, highlights the genre’s emerging artists, and this year, introduces a three-day outdoor blowout finale: Jazz at the Capitol Riverfront.

Multiple locations

Get into the DC jazz scene Multiple locations The fastest-growing jazz festival in the US (now in its tenth year!), the DC Jazz Festival is held at venues across the city, including The Yards at Capitol Riverfront and Hamilton Live. The festival features free performances from some of jazz’s most acclaimed artists, highlights the genre’s emerging artists, and this year, introduces a three-day outdoor blowout finale: Jazz at the Capitol Riverfront.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 13 Mon

See a Nats game with your (hopefully) furriest friend Nats games are already one of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon/evening. Throw in a bunch of cute puppies running around the stadium, and your day (week, life) is set. A ticket for the pooch at one of the summer’s Pups in the Park games is $10, and all proceeds from the dog tickets benefit the Washington Humane Society. But purchase fast -- these are some of the most "pup"-ular games of the summer (sorry, not sorry).

Nationals Park

See a Nats game with your (hopefully) furriest friend Nationals Park Nats games are already one of the best ways to spend a summer afternoon/evening. Throw in a bunch of cute puppies running around the stadium, and your day (week, life) is set. A ticket for the pooch at one of the summer’s Pups in the Park games is $10, and all proceeds from the dog tickets benefit the Washington Humane Society. But purchase fast -- these are some of the most "pup"-ular games of the summer (sorry, not sorry).

Date

Event

Location

Jun 17-Aug 19

Eat every meal of the day out of a food truck One Friday each month in the summer, Truckeroo brings local food trucks to the Fairgrounds at Yards Park to dole out everything from cookies to Vietnamese sandwiches to tacos. Over two dozen wheeled food vendors show up, there are picnic tables and shade to keep things cool, and there’s also cornhole and booze for sale, so you can really stretch out and enjoy the festivities. 25,000 people usually show up, so get there early to go three for three on brunch, lunch, and dinner. (June 17; July 8; August 19)

The Fairgrounds at Yards Park

Eat every meal of the day out of a food truck The Fairgrounds at Yards Park One Friday each month in the summer, Truckeroo brings local food trucks to the Fairgrounds at Yards Park to dole out everything from cookies to Vietnamese sandwiches to tacos. Over two dozen wheeled food vendors show up, there are picnic tables and shade to keep things cool, and there’s also cornhole and booze for sale, so you can really stretch out and enjoy the festivities. 25,000 people usually show up, so get there early to go three for three on brunch, lunch, and dinner. (June 17; July 8; August 19)

Date

Event

Location

Jun 18 Sat

Crush food from around the world Join over 10,000 people in flocking to the National Mall to learn about cultures from around the world in the best way possible: by sampling their unique foods. Dance, shop, learn, and nibble wares from 20 different countries.

The National Mall

Crush food from around the world The National Mall Join over 10,000 people in flocking to the National Mall to learn about cultures from around the world in the best way possible: by sampling their unique foods. Dance, shop, learn, and nibble wares from 20 different countries.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 22-26

Totally pretend you're a cultured film buff The nation’s premier documentary film festival, AFI DOCS is known for showcasing the best in documentary filmmaking from the US and around the world. And even more impressively, these screenings afford you the opportunity to discuss the documentaries with the filmmakers afterward.

Multiple locations

Totally pretend you're a cultured film buff Multiple locations The nation’s premier documentary film festival, AFI DOCS is known for showcasing the best in documentary filmmaking from the US and around the world. And even more impressively, these screenings afford you the opportunity to discuss the documentaries with the filmmakers afterward.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 25 Sat

Play flip cup at Drink the District There’s really no better way to celebrate America than kicking it in the sunshine while throwing back some local beers with your buddies. The Red, White & Brew Beer and Wine Festival features unlimited tastings of 100+ American beers and wines, live music, lawn games, and some of the best food trucks in DC. Take advantage of those amber waves of grain.

The Yards Parking Lot

Play flip cup at Drink the District The Yards Parking Lot There’s really no better way to celebrate America than kicking it in the sunshine while throwing back some local beers with your buddies. The Red, White & Brew Beer and Wine Festival features unlimited tastings of 100+ American beers and wines, live music, lawn games, and some of the best food trucks in DC. Take advantage of those amber waves of grain.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 25-26

Eat your weight in barbecue Summer just isn't summer without barbecue -- rib roasters and sauce bosses show off their delicious wares during the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle, June 25th and 26th. Pitmasters from all 50 states show up to serve some of the best barbecue around. Expect to taste barbecue in every style imaginable, a BBQ Battle, and non-stop live music on three separate stages.

Pennsylvania Ave NW (between 9th and 14th)

Eat your weight in barbecue Pennsylvania Ave NW (between 9th and 14th) Summer just isn't summer without barbecue -- rib roasters and sauce bosses show off their delicious wares during the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle, June 25th and 26th. Pitmasters from all 50 states show up to serve some of the best barbecue around. Expect to taste barbecue in every style imaginable, a BBQ Battle, and non-stop live music on three separate stages.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 25-26

Get weird... like, really weird The Capital Fringe Festival is decidedly edgy. Focused on expanding audiences’ appetites for independent, fringe theatre, music, art, dance, and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art, the festival features out-there performances, including improv dramas and punk bands, and creates a city filled with non-stop theatre, dance, music, visual art, and everything in between. Events take place at libraries, museums, galleries, and the Logan Fringe Art Space.

Multiple locations

Get weird... like, really weird Multiple locations The Capital Fringe Festival is decidedly edgy. Focused on expanding audiences’ appetites for independent, fringe theatre, music, art, dance, and unclassifiable forms of live performance and visual art, the festival features out-there performances, including improv dramas and punk bands, and creates a city filled with non-stop theatre, dance, music, visual art, and everything in between. Events take place at libraries, museums, galleries, and the Logan Fringe Art Space.

Date

Event

Location

Jun 29-Jul 10

Basque in some culture The Smithsonian’s annual summer cultural treat, the Folklife Festival, brings crafters, musicians, cooks, and artists to the National Mall for a free, fascinating festival. This year’s event focuses on the Basque Country’s unique language and distinct cultural heritage. Expect concerts and killer food (especially if you're a fan of paprika)... and be sure to take in one of the free 6pm concerts.

The National Mall

Basque in some culture The National Mall The Smithsonian’s annual summer cultural treat, the Folklife Festival, brings crafters, musicians, cooks, and artists to the National Mall for a free, fascinating festival. This year’s event focuses on the Basque Country’s unique language and distinct cultural heritage. Expect concerts and killer food (especially if you're a fan of paprika)... and be sure to take in one of the free 6pm concerts.

National Mall Fireworks | Courtesy of John J Young

Date

Event

Location

Jul 4 Mon

CELEBRATE AMERICA Real talk: there’s no city in the world that’ll give you a more all-American, patriotic Independence Day than Washington, DC. Take in the pomp and circumstance-filled National Independence Day Parade in the morning along Constitution Ave NW, then stake out a spot on the National Mall. This year’s fireworks start at 9:09pm. Basking in the rockets’ red, white, and blue glow against the backdrop of DC’s gorgeous monuments is legitimately unforgettable.

The National Mall

CELEBRATE AMERICA The National Mall Real talk: there’s no city in the world that’ll give you a more all-American, patriotic Independence Day than Washington, DC. Take in the pomp and circumstance-filled National Independence Day Parade in the morning along Constitution Ave NW, then stake out a spot on the National Mall. This year’s fireworks start at 9:09pm. Basking in the rockets’ red, white, and blue glow against the backdrop of DC’s gorgeous monuments is legitimately unforgettable.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 20-Aug 29

Catch a movie under the stars Nothing beats watching a movie outside on a warm night, comfy seats be damned. Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine, and a date (OK, and probably some bug spray), and you’re set. The Screen on the Green events, sponsored by HBO, start the films every Monday night at dusk, but get to the Mall early to stake out your spot. We’ll be at the screening of Back to the Future on August 10th, but you do you.

The National Mall (between 4th and 7th)

Catch a movie under the stars The National Mall (between 4th and 7th) Nothing beats watching a movie outside on a warm night, comfy seats be damned. Bring a blanket, a bottle of wine, and a date (OK, and probably some bug spray), and you’re set. The Screen on the Green events, sponsored by HBO, start the films every Monday night at dusk, but get to the Mall early to stake out your spot. We’ll be at the screening of Back to the Future on August 10th, but you do you.

Date

Event

Location

Jul 21 Thu

Booze with bears The Zoo is well known for throwing one hell of a party, and Brew at the Zoo is one of their best efforts, with beers from more than 70 craft breweries, live entertainment by local band The Reagan Years, lawn games, and animal demonstrations. Fare from popular food trucks will be on site, and proceeds from the event benefit the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in its mission to save species. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get to hold Bao Bao! (N.B.: odds are strongly against you getting to hold Bao Bao.)

The National Zoo

Booze with bears The National Zoo The Zoo is well known for throwing one hell of a party, and Brew at the Zoo is one of their best efforts, with beers from more than 70 craft breweries, live entertainment by local band The Reagan Years, lawn games, and animal demonstrations. Fare from popular food trucks will be on site, and proceeds from the event benefit the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute in its mission to save species. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even get to hold Bao Bao! (N.B.: odds are strongly against you getting to hold Bao Bao.)

Date

Event

Location

Jul 25-30

Go country for a day We’ll level with you: there’s not a ton we miss about living in South Dakota. The list, in order of importance: friends, no income tax, and county fairs. Ask yourself... where else can one eat all kinds of gross/delicious fried foods, pet a baby calf, participate in a livestock auction, watch a hay bale toss (that’s a real thing), and see a PBR event? (That’s Professional Bull Riding, to you squares.) Nowhere outside a county fair, that’s where. The Loudon County Fair is one of the best in the area. And if you need a primer on rodeo in general, feel free to tweet at us. Happy to help.

Loudon County Fairgrounds, Leesburg, VA

Go country for a day Loudon County Fairgrounds, Leesburg, VA We’ll level with you: there’s not a ton we miss about living in South Dakota. The list, in order of importance: friends, no income tax, and county fairs. Ask yourself... where else can one eat all kinds of gross/delicious fried foods, pet a baby calf, participate in a livestock auction, watch a hay bale toss (that’s a real thing), and see a PBR event? (That’s Professional Bull Riding, to you squares.) Nowhere outside a county fair, that’s where. The Loudon County Fair is one of the best in the area. And if you need a primer on rodeo in general, feel free to tweet at us. Happy to help.

Paul McCartney | Flickr/darioferrini

Date

Event

Location

Aug 9-10

Go listen to a legend It’s not every day an artist like Paul McCartney comes to town. Is there really anything we can say about McCartney that you probably don’t already know? You so rarely get the opportunity to actually see artistic greatness -- don’t miss out.

The Verizon Center

Go listen to a legend The Verizon Center It’s not every day an artist like Paul McCartney comes to town. Is there really anything we can say about McCartney that you probably don’t already know? You so rarely get the opportunity to actually see artistic greatness -- don’t miss out.

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