Summer is on the horizon, and that means oppressive heat, gaggles of tourists, hours of traffic on the Bay Bridge... and free outdoor concerts! Save your pennies for gas, sunscreen, and bug spray, and check out our roundup of great spots for free music. Have the scoop on other fun freebies? Let us know in the comments.
Free Summer Movies
Carter Baron Amphitheatre (16th St. and Colorado Ave., NW). This 4,200-seat outdoor theater in Rock Creek Park hosts concerts, theater, and dance performances throughout the summer. It’s run by the National Park Service, which books an eclectic lineup of reggae, classical, gospel, pop, hip-hop, and more. Some performances are free, though tickets—distributed the day of the show at the theater’s box office and at the Washington Post building (1150 15th St., NW)—are required. Tickets are distributed on the day of performance at the Carter Barron box office from 12 to 8 and at The Washington Post at 8:30 in the morning. A complete schedule of this year’s performances will be posted on the National Park Service’s Web site in the next few days.
Eastern Market Music (at the corner of Seventh St. and North Carolina Ave., SE). Started in 2007 and sponsored by the Capitol Hill Community Foundation, this series features some of the area’s best blues, jazz, and swing musicians. Concerts are held Sundays and run through June 28. The series picks up again from September 6 to October 11. Performances are held at 10:30 AM and 1PM.
Fort Dupont Summer Concert Series. Starting July 18, the annual free concert event at Fort Dupont Park returns Saturdays at 8. Performances are held rain or shine. Through August 22.Fort Reno Park Summer Music Series (3800 Donaldson Pl., NW). Held Mondays and Thursdays, these concerts in Tenleytown are heavy on indie rock and hardcore talent. The shows are alcohol-free, so they draw crowds of under-21 rockers and hipsters. According to the event’s Facebook page, a schedule should be announced any day. June through August.
Jazz in the Garden (Constitution Ave. between Seventh and Ninth sts., NW). Friday nights, enjoy free jazz concerts in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden. Bring a blanket and picnic dinner or enjoy a sushi platter and a cheese-and-fruit plate from the Pavilion Café in the garden from 5 to 8:30. Through September 11.
Live! on Woodrow Wilson Plaza (1300 Pennsylvania Ave., NW). Starting June 3, head to Wilson Plaza during your lunch break for free concerts from noon to 1:30. The roster covers music from a variety of genres including rock, bluegrass, jazz, classical, Latin, African, and folk. Concerts are Monday through Friday through September 25.
Marine Corps Evening Parades (Eighth St. between G and I sts., SE). Friday nights at the US Marine Corps Barracks mean outdoor performances of the United States Drum and Bugle Corps and the Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon. Performances start at 8:45, but they’re popular events, so plan on getting there an hour earlier. The Marines perform in light rain or shine; if a passing shower occurs, performances are delayed until it’s gone. Concerts continue through the end of June.
Military Band Concerts. Maintaining the 1863 tradition, the bands of the US Army, Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force perform on the west lawn of the Capitol and at the Air Force and Lincoln memorials. Performances start at 8 PM and run through August 7. Click here for the schedule.
Sounds in the Square (Connecticut Ave. and K St., NW). On Thursday evenings in June and July, catch performances by local bands in Farragut Square. Bands on the bill this year include the Rebelicious (June 4), JunkFood (July 9), and Gonzo’s Nose (July 23). Shows run from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
Sunset Serenades at the National Zoo (3001 Connecticut Ave., NW). Starting June 9, head to the zoo Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8 throughout the summer for family-friendly concerts. Through June 23.