DC Travel Guide  |  Things to Do

September in Washington

The start of fall is jam-packed with events about everything from wine and jazz to theater and fashion. Read on for a guide to the don’t-miss events in September.

September 5: DC Blues Festival
This free annual festival at Carter Barron Amphitheatre celebrates DC Blues Society founder John Cephas. Now in its 21st year, the festival will feature performers Teeny Tucker, Eugene “Hideaway” Bridges, Eddie Turner, and more. There’ll also be an instrument “petting zoo” and vocal and instrument workshops. Festivities start at noon.

September 5 through 7: Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center
This free three-day event features readings and open rehearsals of plays and musicals developed by local, regional, and national playwrights and composers. More than 30 local and national theater companies participate. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis and opens 30 minutes before performance time. For more information, visit kennedy-center.org.

September 10 through 13: Prince George’s County Fair
Dating back to 1842, this is Maryland’s oldest county fair. It’s held at the Prince George’s County Equestrian Center and includes rides, animals, arts and crafts, and contests. It costs $6 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 11; kids under 6 free. Fair hours are 4 to 10 on Thursday, 5 to 11 on Friday, 11 to 11 on Saturday, and 11 to 6 on Sunday.

September 10 through 17: DC Shorts Film Festival
This festival includes screenings and moderated discussions of international short films. To qualify, movies must be 20 minutes or less—including credits. On the last day, there’s an awards ceremony for the winning entries. Screenings will take place at Landmark’s E Street Cinema and the Burke Theater at the US Navy Memorial. Tickets are $12, or $30 for a package of three.

September 12: Arts on Foot Festival
This rain-or-shine event kicks off the fall arts season in DC’s Penn Quarter neighborhood. Expect visual art, music, theater, dance, film, and food. There’s also a juried show and market, and neighborhood restaurants will offer bites to sample. The festival takes place throughout Penn Quarter, with many of the outdoor activities happening along F Street between Sixth and Ninth streets, Northwest.

September 12: Silver Spring Jazz Festival

Head to Silver Spring for free outdoor jazz from 2 to 10:30. The festival will be held at Ellsworth Drive and Fenton Street. If you’re looking for more to do in Silver Spring, check out our guide to the suburb.

September 12: Rosslyn Jazz Festival

Held annually at Gateway Park, the Rosslyn Jazz Festival will feature performances by Holly Cole, the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, Frédéric Yonnet, and more. Admission to the festival is free, but nearby garage parking is $5.

September 12 and 13: Black Family Reunion Celebration
Head to the National Mall for the annual Black Family Reunion Celebration, a cultural event celebrating the African-American family. During the day, sample food and check out the arts and crafts, international marketplace, and kids’ activities. Each night, there’ll be a free R&B concert. The festival is held at 15th Street and Constitution Avenue.

September 12 and 13: Alexandria Arts Festival
Artists from across the country descend on Old Town for this annual juried festival. The massive art show, which includes the work of more than 200 artists, is set up along King Street, Old Town’s main thoroughfare. Art on display includes sculpture, painting, photography, glass, and jewelry. For more ideas of what to do in Old Town, check out our guide to the neighborhood.

September 13: Adams Morgan Day

This daylong neighborhood festival celebrates the cultural diversity of DC’s Adams Morgan community. It takes place on 18th Street between Florida Avenue and Columbia Road and on side streets in between. Live-music stages bookend the festival at Florida and Columbia, and there are food vendors, an art show, dance workshops, and a kids’ fair. Festivities start at noon. For more to do in Adams Morgan, see our guide to the neighborhood.  

September 14 through 20: DC Fashion Week
Fashionistas converge on Washington for fashion week. Events include trunk shows, networking parties, and, of course, runway shows. For more information, including a calendar of events, click here.

September 19: H Street Festival
This neighborhood street festival in the Atlas District of Northeast DC features three stages with entertainment galore—everything from singing and dancing to fashion and boxing. There are also booths for food, arts and crafts, nonprofit organizations, local retailers, and more. For more information, click here.

September 19 and 20: Mount Vernon’s 18th-Century Craft Fair
Fifty costumed artisans will demonstrate George Washington-era crafts and sell their wares. There’ll also be entertainers and a free sightseeing cruise on the Potomac. Tickets are $15 for adults and $7 for kids ages 6 to 11; under 6 free. There are also discounts for seniors.

September 19 and 20: Virginia Wine Festival
Sample local food and wines from 60 Virginia wineries. There’ll also be seminars on everything from wine-and-food pairings to the health benefits of wine. Other activities include concerts and an arts-and-crafts marketplace. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the gate for adults, $16 in advance and $22 at the gate for ages 12 to 20, and $5 in advance and $8 at the gate for children 6 to 11; kids under 6 free. The festival will be held at Bull Run Regional Park.

September 20: Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, the National Zoo holds this free annual celebration chock-full of Hispanic cultural events—music, dancing, food, crafts, and more. There are also animal demonstrations and opportunities to talk with zoo scientists about research in Latin American countries.

September 26: National Book Festival
The Mall becomes the National Library for the day during this annual festival dedicated to the written word. Dozens of authors, illustrators, and poets are on hand for discussions and signings. There are also tents for book sales and information about reading programs at libraries across the country.

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.

August 27 through September 12: Shakespeare Theatre Free-for-All
For the first time since the tradition started in 1991, the Shakespeare Theatre’s beloved Free-for-All event will be held inside at the Syndey Harman Hall. This year, players perform The Taming of the Shrew. Free tickets are being given away online to donors only. All others can get them at the door before performances.

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. 

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This article is part of Washingtonian.com’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.