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Folklife Festival

Can't-Miss Summer Events & Festivals in Washington, DC



Summer 2024 in the nation’s capital is packed with free and family-friendly festivals featuring everything from jazz music to the wonders of barbecue.

Washington, DC never lacks for can't-miss events and warm-weather festivals. In fact, there are so many amazing choices that it can be tough to figure out which to attend. No worries – we’ve got you covered with some of the season’s biggest events and festivals that are perfect for having the best summer ever. Make sure to check out our things to do this week, weekend and month as well.

01

Capital Pride: May 31 – June 9

Pride Parade

Each year, local nonprofit Capital Pride hosts an array of exciting events and 2024 will be no different. There will be plenty of ways to show the community love in June. Last year’s attractions included a Pridemobile Parade and a Taste of Pride brunch, in addition to the yearly concert and festival. Event dates and details will be announced in the coming months. Also note that DC will host World Pride in 2025. Make sure to read our piece on the events for more details.

02

DC/DOX Film Festival: June 13-16

The new annual DC/DOX Film Festival will take place at theater venues across the District. Make sure to use the discount code DOX2DC for a 15% discount on tickets. Expect four days of visionary documentaries and conversations with the talent behind dozens of innovative and acclaimed works of non-fiction storytelling. Locations include Edlavitch Community Center, Eaton Cinema, MLK Memorial Library, the National Portrait Gallery’s Nan Tucker McEvoy Auditorium, the National Archives and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

03

Home Rule Music Festival: June 21-22 & July 20

Now in its second year, the Home Rule Music Festival celebrates the rich music and cultural scene of Washington, DC. Events take place across three days over two weekends, with performances at venues spread across the city. Opening Night takes place at Black Cat in DC on June 21 with a day of performances at The Parks at Walter Reed on June 22. Then, on July 20 in partnership with NoMa BID, the festival puts on a show at Alethia Tanner Park.

04

Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle: June 22-23

Rib roasters and sauce bosses show off their delicious wares during the Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle. Dozens of pit masters, local restaurants and live music shut down Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th streets NW for a lively street party in late June. Cooking demos and free tastings make for a delicious (and filling) experience.

05

Smithsonian Folklife Festival: June 26 – July 1

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

The free Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music and cooking demos. The 2024 edition focuses on Indigenous Voices of the Americas and specifically celebrates the National Museum of the American Indian, which turns 20 this year. 

06

July 4th Fireworks

July 4th

Watching the fireworks is one of the highlights of Independence Day in Washington, DC and fortunately, the city and the surrounding area offer a plethora of scenic viewing options. July 4th is a great time to be in DC for plenty of other reasons as well. Plan a trip now.

07

Capital Fringe Festival: July 11-21

During the edgy Capital Fringe Festival, you can catch out-there productions from DC’s vibrant creative community. The annual celebration of theatre and freedom of expression features entirely original productions that delve into a spectrum of human experiences. Explore the angst of a presidential election's eve, the joy of budding relationships and the contemplation of mortality. Journey through a church transformed into a dance club in the cosmos and uncover the history of Black firefighters in DC. From flamenco to modern dance and beyond, the festival promises an exhilarating exploration of creativity and diversity. Check out the festival’s website for this year's themes, programming and a full schedule.

08

USA Rugby Men's Eagles vs. Scotland – July 12

USA Rugby vs. Scotland

The 2024 American Series, presented by USA Rugby and AEG Rugby, offers four action-packed, coast-to-coast, international test matches featuring the USA Rugby Men's Eagles team. In the DC edition of the series, the Eagles will take on Scotland in an epic match at Audi Field. The last time these two teams met, the USA team scored a dramatic and historic victory, marking the program's first win over a major rugby nation. The highly anticipated rematch takes place at the state-of-the-art Audi Field; tickets are available now.

09

Broccoli City Festival: July 27-28

Now at Audi Field in Navy Yard, Broccoli City is a music festival focused on celebrating not just music but culture and community, with not just concerts but interactive art installations and culinary vendors. Headliners this year include Megan Thee Stallion, Gunna, Concrete Family, Kaytranada, Lil Yachty and PartyNextDoor, but the experience doesn’t stop there. The event will be hosted by comedians Desi Banks and Funny Marco, and there will even be an intro by Issa Rae.

10

Mubadala Citi DC Open: July 27 – Aug. 4

Mubadala Citi DC Open

Mubadala Citi DC Open

The District’s signature professional tennis tournament returns to Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. Top-tier talent from all over the world will compete for a prestigious trophy, leading to action that you do not want to miss.

11

Otakon: Aug. 2-4

Art marketplace at Otakon anime and cosplay festival in Washington, DC

Otakon is held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and just might be the dedicated event space’s liveliest function (emphasis on FUN) all year long. The family-friendly convention is run by and dedicated to fans of Asian media, entertainment and pop culture, including anime, manga, music, movies and video games. The festivities range from cosplay contests, skits and live music to panel discussions with comic book (super)heroes, for-sale artworks and more.

12

Summer Restaurant Week: Aug. 12-18

Summer Restaurant Week

Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington hosts two annual celebrations of DC’s eclectic dining scene: one in January and a summer edition in August. For both seasonal editions, Restaurant Week offers diners pre-fixe menus for lunch/brunch ($25) and dinner ($40 and $55). 

13

DCBX: Aug. 22-26

DCBX event flyer

Ranked as the best Latin dance festival in the U.S. five times, DCBX takes over the nation’s capital for five days this summer. Veterans and newbies of dancing bachata, the sexier-than-salsa dancing style from the Dominican Republic, will have plenty of chances to strut their stuff, from concerts to contests to workshops.

14

National Book Festival: Aug. 24

The Walter E. Washington Convention Center hosts a beloved annual celebration of books of all kinds, from children’s stories to epic novels, curated by the Library of Congress. Authors will speak and answer questions about their work throughout the day. The festival is always free to attend.

15

DC JazzFest: Aug. 28 – Sept. 1

DC Jazz Fest

DC JazzFest brings national and local musicians to a range of venues all over the city, including The Wharf. Some concerts are free; most are ticketed. A lineup stacked with talent and free performances are just some of the many reasons why you should check out the 2024 edition, which marks the 20th anniversary of the festival. Confirmed artists for the upcoming celebration include Samara Joy, Stanley Clarke, Kenny Barron, Dianne Reeves, Galactic, Bill Frisell, Bobby Sanabria, Cimafunk, Emmet Cohen, Nasar Abadey and the Michael Thomas Quintet.

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