City Cast

The Best DC Cultural Festivals

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on June 20
Performances on one of the stages at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. (S Pakhrin/Wikimedia Commons)

Performances on one of the stages at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. (S Pakhrin/Wikimedia Commons)

D.C. has endless cultural festivals during the summer. Here are our favorites in every category, with more details in today’s episode of City Cast DC.

For families: Smithsonian Folklife Festival (June 29 - July 9): 

A D.C. summer essential, the Folklife Festival spans the National Mall with performances, workshops, food, crafts, and displays. This year, the themes are “Living religions” and “The Ozarks”. There will be moonshine distilling, guitar making, cooking demonstrations, foraging workshops, and more. (Free)

For theater: Capital Fringe Festival (July 12-23):

Head to Georgetown for this 11-day celebration of D.C.’s local theater scene. Performances range from amateurs to full-fledged professional productions. I love this one because you can find some really quirky performances (usually in a good way). The shows happen in vacant storefronts and public spaces around the neighborhood. (Ticketed by show)

For music: Out and About (June 24-25):

This two-day, three-stage music festival at Wolf Trap makes its debut this year with headliner Brandi Carlile. The festival celebrates Pride by spotlighting LGBTQ+ artists and allies. Local band Oh He Dead will be there too. (Ticketed by day)

For food: Giant Barbecue Battle (June 24 - 25): 

Hands down one of the biggest annual food events in D.C., this two-day ‘90s-themed BBQ festival takes over Pennsylvania Avenue NW with stages and hundreds of food vendors. Tickets include endless, free BBQ samples. (Ticketed by day)

For reflection: World Culture Festival (Sept 29-Oct 1):

This three-day celebration only happens once every five years, and this is its first time in D.C. It promises to bring an “Olympic-scale celebration” to the National Mall, with 180 countries represented. It will also have lots of wholesome activities like meditation, yoga, and breathing workshops. (Free)

This segment is part of our Summer Entertainment Guide series, presented by Clyde’s Restaurant Group.

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