D.C. summer: The best free events to check out

Outdoor movies and jazz performances included

Washington, D.C. is a city that is always chock full of fun events occurring every single week. For the summer months, there are a variety of festivals to look forward to—but which ones don’t require you to spend a pretty penny to have a little entertainment? Curbed DC found five events and venues worth looking into for some affordable, no-cost pleasure.

There are sure to be more free and fun events in the District over the coming months. Have a suggestion for another event that should be added to this list? Let Curbed DC know in the comments.

Want some more inspiration for where to go and what to do this summer? Be sure to check out Curbed DC’s Pocket Guide.


Jazz in the Garden

National Gallery of Art’s Pavilion Café • Through August 25

Looking for a musical adventure? The National Gallery of Art is offering an eclectic mix of jazz artists from May through August, including 3Divas, Davina and the Vagabonds, and Black Masala. Each of the events occur from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Pavilion Café also comes with a special menu as well as beer and wine.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The National Mall • June 29 through July 4, July 6 though 9

 Photo via Victoria Pickering
Leishan Miao Music and Dance Group at the 2014 Smithsonian Folklife Festival.

For its 15th year, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival will offer a diverse array of artists, costume designers, musicians, prop designers, cooks, and more to excite D.C. residents and visitors. This year, the theme is Circus Arts.

Films at the Freer and Sackler Galleries

The National Mall • Throughout the year

 Photo via Wikimedia Commons/Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
The Peacock Room at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.

Already, the Freer and Sackler Galleries have a lot to offer with over 25,000 pieces of art showcased from around Asia. Throughout the year, the venue also offers free films from all over the world. Some of the films to look forward to this summer include short films about Bangladeshi freedom fighters, a Chinese feature about vampires, and a documentary about the musical traditions of Palestine.

The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage

Foggy Bottom • Throughout the year

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing ArtsPhoto via Wikimedia Commons/Tom

Every single day, the Kennedy Center offers free events at the Millennium Stage, starting at 6 p.m. Here, D.C. residents and visitors and enjoy musicians, dancers, theater performances, and more. No tickets are required.

Friday Night Concert Series

The Yards Park • Through August 30

The Yards Park.Photo via Rudi Riet

Every Friday through August 30, families can enjoy a variety of musical performances in Navy Yard, ranging from Latin rock to reggae to bluegrass to R&B. This year’s performers include Sam O, Texas Chainsaw Horns, and Framewerk. Each event is between 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. at the corner of 3rd and Water streets SE.