Everyone loves outdoor music in the summertime, as it's a great way to wind down the work week and relax with family and friends. And if you live in Washington D.C. or are visiting the area, you don't have to spend a penny to attend the many free concerts offered in and around the area. Pack a picnic, grab your lawn chair, and head outdoors to listen to some of D.C.'s finest local bands play rock, folk, jazz, and blues music.
Military Band Concerts
Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps bands perform patriotic concerts on alternating days at a variety of D.C. venues throughout the summer. Catch them at the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial, National Harbor, and the National Mall. Just about every night of the summer you can attend a free concert, but special concerts are also held on Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.
National Gallery of Art Jazz Concerts
Enjoy after-work cocktails at the Pavilion Café at the National Gallery of Art. Here, you can listen to local and national artists perform various genres of jazz, including steel pan Caribbean jazz and blues fusion. The Jazz in the Garden Series is held every Friday evening from late May through August.
Summer Concerts at Washington Harbour
Live entertainment isn't just reserved for the summertime at Washington Harbour in Georgetown. Outdoor fun can be had all year long. However, if you're in the area in the summertime, a variety of local bands perform on the plaza along the Potomac River waterfront on Wednesday evenings.
Fort Dupont Park Summer Theatre
Concerts are held rain or shine every August and mid-September Saturday at Fort Dupont Park. Enjoy world music, soulful productions, jazz, and even a moonlight movie at this perfect outdoor venue. Parking is limited and public transportation is recommended.
Summer Concerts at Woodrow Wilson Plaza
Who doesn't enjoy live music at lunchtime? Desk jockeys and tourists alike can enjoy tunes in front of the Ronald Reagan International Trade Building from late July through late September. This concert series—started in the year 2000—was originally established with the goal of creating an open pedestrian walkway between the National Mall and the Pennsylvania Avenue business district.
Bethesda Summer Concerts
Just outside the city proper, Bethesda Urban Partnership offers a summer-long concert series featuring a wide range of music. The concerts held Thursday evenings at Veteran's Park feature jazz, rock, blues, international, and swing performers, appealing to a population with diverse musical tastes.
Gaithersburg Kids Concert Series
This family-friendly event entertains young and old alike with concerts, theater, and magic acts at the City Hall Concert Pavilion. After the performances, the Gaithersburg Community Museum hosts “Discovery Thursdays” (for a two dollar admission) with themed activities that correspond with the preceding entertainment.
Frederick Summer Concert Series
The summer concert series in downtown Frederick boasts professional musicians with different backgrounds. From jazz to bluegrass to Latino beats, concertgoers can dance the night away Sunday evenings from June through August.
Silver Spring Summer Concert Series
Head to the Silver Spring Civic Building on Veterans Plaza every Thursday night for a variety of free live acts. Kids can enjoy games and face painting, while the parents groove to tunes from favorite bands. There's a free raffle each night, too, from late June throughout the summer.
Netherlands Carillon Live Concerts
Enjoy Saturday performances at this spectacular location that has sweeping views of Washington D.C. This special treat features guest artists who play jazz, pop, and patriotic music on the carillon's 50 bells.
Reston Concerts on the Town
This annual free concert series features live bands performing a variety of music including blues, swing, jazz, Latin fusion, bluegrass, zydeco, and more. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets to the community event each Saturday at the Reston Town Center Pavilion.
Lubber Run Amphitheater Free Concert Series
Arlington Arts and the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation present free concerts held throughout the summer at Lubber Run Park. And you can pick your weekend night, as varied acts perform on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.
Falls Church Concerts in the Park
Head to the Falls Church Community Center every Thursday evening in the summer to hear local musicians of various genres. From bluegrass to blues to Latin fusion rock, these family-friendly concerts kick off rain or shine.
Friday Night Live! at Herndon Town Green
Considered one of the best free concert series in the D.C. area, Friday Night Live! features an opening act and a headliner every Friday night from May through August. This robust lineup hails bands from up and down the East Coast and food vendors provide sustenance on a rotating schedule. They even have a featured beer each month, as well.
Acoustic on the Green in Leesburg
Historic Leesburg hosts Saturday night free outdoor concerts performed on the front lawn of the Leesburg Town Hall. International acts and up-and-coming performers put on a show that's not to be missed. Pull up a seat on the town stage lawn from June through August.