Outdoor Live Music in Washington, DC

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As the weather warms up and the daylight hours stretch further into the evening, you look for more activities to enjoy outdoors with your friends and family. Living in the Washington, DC area provides you access to amazing outdoor live music.

If you love music, there’s sure to be an outdoor music event on the horizon that you can’t wait to score tickets to attend. Also, with all the great transportation options in the DC area, you’re sure to find some toe-tapping music within easy traveling distance of your apartment.

Jazz in the Garden at the National Art Gallery

Each summer, starting in mid-May and ending in late August, your Friday night will be filled with the sound of jazz performed by local artists at the Jazz in the Garden at the National Art Gallery series. Whether you attend only a single concert or hit up the event weekly, this is a DC tradition that you simply must attend once.

Starting at 5:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. each Friday, you can enjoy the sounds of jazz from African fusion and salsa to New Orleans Dixieland and go-go against the backdrop of the gorgeous National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden with its unique pieces of art.

When listening to the sounds of live jazz in the sculpture garden, please make sure not to touch the art pieces. You can’t take any drinks into the garden; however, there are alcoholic drinks, juices, water, and other drinks available at the Pavilion Café.

During the jazz series concerts, there is an outdoor grill to try new dishes, and you can also pick up a sandwich or burger inside the cafe. Just eat in the designated area to help keep the sculpture garden pristine.

Each year, the National Art Gallery publishes the list of jazz performers around May. This is a free event for the public, but you might want to bring some cash for the amazing offerings at the cafe. Plus it’s a quick hop, skip, and jump from your cozy apartment in Foggy Bottom, DC

Drum Circle in Malcolm X Park

On Sunday afternoons, the Malcolm X Park, also known as Meridan Park, comes alive with the sounds and rhythms of drums. Locals bring out their drums of all sorts and types to take part in a drum circle, playing sounds from all types of island-influenced music.

Much of the sounds come from Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic as well as protest sounds from the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s. There are a variety of origin stories for the Malcolm X Park drum circle, including:

  • On the day of Malcolm X’s assassination, February 21, 1965, Baba Mgoma went to Meridan Park and played the drums to honor the fallen Civil Rights hero. The drum circle continued and became a weekly tradition. 
  • Another origin story sees the drum circle begin on Dupont Circle in the late 1960s. Cubans, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans led the circle. Eventually, the drum circle migrated from Dupont Circle to Malcolm X Park.
  • Still, others claim the drum circle began as a way to honor Baba Mgoma, one of the greatest drummers of all time and mentor to many future drummers.

This informal gathering takes place almost every Sunday. You might catch sight of jugglers, acrobats, and artists working creatively. You can head on down to Malcolm X Park and dance when the mood strikes you or sit back and watch the fun. 

Gaithersburg Kids Concert Series

Outdoor Live Music in Washington, DC
A musician is playing guitar on stage.

If you have young kids at home, you want them to enjoy the beautiful weather and learn to appreciate music by taking them to concerts. The Gaithersburg Kids Concert Series occurs in the City Hall Concert Pavilion and can include musical, theater, and magical acts.

It’s free to attend the concert series but afterward, you can take your kids into the Gaithersburg Community Museum for “Discovery Thursdays.” For the cost of $2 admission, you and your kids can learn more about the performance that you just saw. 

The series begins the first Thursday in July and runs through the end of August. It’s a great summertime activity for when the kids are out of school. The performances begin at 10:30 a.m. and end around 11:30 a.m. 

Friday Night Live! at Herndon Town Green

Kick-off your weekend in style this summer with the Friday Night Live! at Herndon Town Green. Each year, this venue packs the seats with some amazing musicians that change each week.

You can check their website as summer gets closer to check out the full line up, but you might get to see The Amish Outlaws or Under the Covers. This series welcomes some of the best bands from the East Coast.

The series starts at the beginning of May and winds down at the end of August. You can expect each concert to begin at around 6:30 p.m. and end around 10:30 p.m. If there are two bands listed for a single evening, then the first band takes the stage at 6:30 and the second band begins playing around 8:00 p.m. 

Don’t worry about eating before you arrive. There’s always Dominos available for a hot meal and Dairy Queen for dessert. Each week, another local restaurant offers meals on a rotating schedule. Each month, there is a beer of the month to sample and find a new favorite.

Summer Concerts at Woodrow Wilson Plaza 

You may find it hard to go back to your desk after enjoying a lunchtime music event at Summer Concerts at Woodrow Wilson Plaza. Each concert brings a new musical style, including Brazilian Jazz, neo-soul, bluegrass folk, reggae rock, country, pop-rock and more.

The summer concert series begins at the end of July and runs through the end of September. Musicians take the stage from noon until 1:00 p.m. You can grab your lunch and one of the many available seats for a lunchtime serenade. 

This concert series began in 2000. The event planners hoped to create a pedestrian link between the business district north of Pennsylvania Avenue and the National Mall.

Summer Concerts at Washington Harbour

When you attend a concert at Washington Harbour, you get stunning water views, delicious dining options, and concerts in the summertime. Washington Harbour is well-known for live entertainment throughout the year.

The Summer Concerts at Washington Harbour brings the area to life with good music from local area bands. The concerts take place on Wednesday nights in the plaza area along the Potomac River waterfront. Starting in June and ending in September, you can enjoy these free, live music concerts starting at 6:30 and ending around 8:30 p.m.

Military Band Concerts

No matter which apartment complex you live in, you’re sure to be close to one or more of the Military Band Concerts throughout the summer months. Led by the Army, Navy, Marines, or Air Force, the military concerts offer a lot of variety, and no concert is ever the same.

The concerts are also held at different venues around the city, including the U.S. Capitol, the U.S. Navy Memorial, National Harbor, and the National Mall. With all four branches of the Armed Services participating at these concerts, there is a free concert available to attend almost every night.

You can expect to enjoy primarily patriotic songs and music. There are a few special events appearance of these military bands. These special concerts are Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day.

DC Jazz Fest

Spanning more than 20 DC neighborhoods for nine days in July, DC Jazz Fest is one of the most exciting outdoor concert events in the city during the warmer months. Typically, more than 300 artists perform at 40 different venues around the capital. 

There are concerts throughout the day and into the evening, so you can find one on your schedule. Vendors provide merchandise for sale for the festival and others offer food to keep you going. 

Firefly Music Festival

Outdoor Live Music in Washington, DC
A music festival in Washington, DC.

In the greater DC area, Firefly Music Festival at the Woodlands is one of the exciting music events of the summer. It generally runs for four days in the middle of June with dozens of bands competing for time on the stage. 

There have been some popular musical groups in the past, including Panic! at the Disco. Concession stands set up throughout the concert area to provide meals and water to keep you hydrated. 

You can choose from among the three levels of tickets. These levels include general admission, VIP pass, and Super VIP passes. You can even rent a suite for up to 10 people with amenities that will make you feel like a star.

Smithsonian Folklife Festival

Held on the National Mall, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival is so much more than a live music concert. It’s held for a few days towards the end of June and a few days in the first part of July. It’s a celebration of people and cultures from around the world.

You can learn cultural dances from around the world while enjoying live music from various global regions. It’s a wonderful opportunity to take part in a craft workshop and watch a cooking demonstration. Most evenings end with a concert. 

This festival began in 1967, and over the years has seen performers from all 50 states and more than 100 countries from around the world. The goal is to bring other cultures to you and help preserve them. 

Fort Reno

For more than 50 years, Fort Reno has offered free music concerts during the month of July. The musicians and bands aren’t limited to a single music genre but they are locals from within the beltway. 

The concerts are held on Monday and Thursday nights throughout the month. You want to grab a seat at Fort Reno Park early and enjoy a picnic meal while waiting for the band to take the stage at 7:00 pm and finishing up around 9:30 pm. 

Lubber Run Amphitheater Free Concert Series

During the summer months, Arlington Arts and the Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation sponsor concerts at Lubber Run Amphitheater for free. Concerts commence each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings. 

The types of music are varied so you can check the schedule and highlight your favorites. You can bring a blanket and settle on the grassy hill or settle on one of the stone benches in the theater. 

Silver Spring Summer Concert Series

On Veterans Plaza, by the Silver Spring Civic Building, you can catch a variety of different musical acts throughout the summer months. The concerts start in late June and run until the end of the summer.

The concerts are held every Thursday evening. This is a family event so bring your kids with you. They can enjoy getting their face painted while you dance to your favorite songs played by local bands and singers. 

You can bring your own picnic dinner to enjoy during the concert or take advantage of one of the local restaurant’s take away options. Each evening, there is a free raffle for a variety of items, so you might be a lucky winner.

Netherlands Carillon Live Concerts

If you enjoy stunning views with your music events, then you must attend one of the Netherlands Carillon Live Concerts. Throughout the summer months, you can visit the Netherland Carillon to enjoy one of its free concerts and soak in the amazing views of the nation’s capital city. 

The music is played on the carillon’s 50 bells, whether its jazz, pop, or patriotic music. This is your chance to relax on a blanket and enjoy a truly unique musical event. 


One of the best things about living in the nation’s capital city is access to a variety of entertainment and amusements. In the summer months, an outdoor concert is a recipe for an amazing evening.  We take pride in the floor plans and locations we have available in the DC area. Contact us today to schedule a visit.

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