Things to Do

August in Washington

Celebrate the end of summer with an Irish festival, a Renaissance fair, free jazz, and more.

August 1: Friendship Firehouse Festival in Old Town Alexandria
This annual festival celebrates the 1774 founding of Old Town’s Friendship Fire Company. The festival includes live music, craft and food vendors, giveaways for kids, and a look at historic firefighting equipment, such as hand-drawn fire engines, axes, leather water buckets, and more. South Alfred Street between Prince and King streets, where the festival is held, will be closed to traffic. 9 AM to 2 PM. Free.

August 1 and 2: Asian Festival in Reston

Reston’s Asian Festival, held at Lake Newport Square, celebrates Asian culture and traditions. The theme this year is India, so the event will feature food, arts and crafts, music, and performances representing regions across that country. Other events include martial-arts demonstrations, sports tournaments, a break-dancing contest, and an Asian Idol singing contest. The free event is 10 to 10 Saturday and 11 to 6 Sunday.

August 8: Alexandria’s Irish Festival
Head to Old Town’s Waterfront Park on Prince Street for the Irish Festival. The event includes Irish-American food, crafts, and entertainment. Noon to 7. Free.

August 14 through 21: Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
Bring a blanket or beach chair and catch a free movie on the lawn at Strathmore in North Bethesda. This year’s lineup includes The Dark Knight (August 15) and Slumdog Millionaire (August 20) plus, for the kids, Kung Fu Panda (August 16) and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (August 21). Donations will be accepted to benefit the National Institutes of Health Children’s Charities. Movies start at 8:15; the grounds open at 6:30. Get the full roster here.

August 15: Family Dig Day
Strap on a pith helmet and head to the George Washington Masonic Memorial in Old Town for an archaeological dig. City archaeologists and trained volunteers will be on hand to help you dig for artifacts. Organizers recommend comfortable clothing, sunscreen, and a water bottle; sandals will not be permitted. All digging equipment will be provided. Children under age 16 will need adult accompaniment, and reservations for all participants are required. 1:30 to 3 PM; $5 a person.

August 29 through October 25: Maryland Renaissance Festival
Forty-five minutes east of DC is the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival. Hosted in a recreated 16th-century English village called Revel Grove, the festival includes costumed villagers who man pubs, stages, food booths, and more than 130 craft shops. You can get into character, too—there’s a booth for adults and children to rent costumes. In addition to the day-to-day entertainment—strolling musicians, jugglers, mimes, and more—there are special weekend themes, such as Pirate Adventure Weekend (September 26 and 27) and Shakespeare Weekend (October 10 and 11). Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors over age 61, and $8 for kids ages 7 to 15; children under age 7 are free. Group discounts and multi-day passes are also available.

May 22 through September 11: Jazz in the Garden

Friday nights from 5 to 8:30, enjoy free jazz concerts in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. Bring a blanket and picnic dinner or enjoy a sushi platter and a cheese-and-fruit plate from the Pavilion Café.

July 26 through August 1: Loudoun County Fair
This old-fashioned, country-style fair runs for a week at the Loudoun County Fairgrounds in Leesburg. It includes carnival rides, animal exhibits, crafts, and performances. Some of the don’t-miss events are the motorcycle-stunt shows (July 28 at 6:30 and 8 PM), a build-your-own outhouse race (July 29 at 8), and professional bull-riding and barrel-racing shows (July 30 at 8 and August 1 at 7:30). Daily-passes are $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 6 to 12; weekly passes are $25 for adults and $10 for kids (advance-sale discounts are available). Kids under age 6, seniors over age 61, and military personnel are free. 

This article is part of’s Visitors’ Guide. For more articles like it, click here. If you’re visiting in a different month, check out our City Schedule for events happening throughout the year.