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45 Free Summer Events in the DMV: From Baltimore to Northern Virginia

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Table Of Contents
  1. Freebies in the Washington D.C. Area
  • Free Summer Events in Northern Virginia
  • Central Maryland
  • Strawberry Festival
  • Fit Fathers Day Celebration
  • Silver Spring Fitness Classes
  • Heritage Days Weekend
  • Bethesda Summer Concert Series
  • Yoga at National Harbor Plaza
  • Outdoor Movies
  • Salute the Sunset Concert Series
  • Movies on the Potomac at National Harbor
  • Free Summer Events in Baltimore
  • HONFest
  • Artscape
  • The Walters Art Museum 
  • Patterson Park Concert Series
  • The American Visionary Art Museum
  • Madonnari Art Festival
  • Free Summer Events Near Baltimore
  • Day Trips from the DMV
  • If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region or are planning a summer visit to Washington D.C. or Baltimore, there are tons of amazing free summer events in the DMV! We’re highlighting our picks for the best free events and on-going series between Baltimore and Washington D.C.

    For even more free things to do in the DMV, check out our Facebook Events page!

    At-a-Glance show

    Freebies in the Washington D.C. Area

    If you’re in the area, why not look for some great Washington D.C. attractions? From food to drinks, things to see and stuff to do, the Washington D.C. events calendar is always packed with tons of options!

    Washington D.C. is the hub for our American government system so there it is chock full of history everywhere you look. DC. is also a thriving arts city. It is the home to a diverse array of museums and performing arts venues. Many of them are totally free! So, if you are looking for a budget-friendly summer vacation, Washington D.C. is a perfect choice!

    Millennium Stage Summer at the REACH

    Throughout the summer, enjoy free outdoor performances from artists and organizations around the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area at The Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage. There are also FREE weekly film screenings and performances in the Grand Foyer.

    While events are free, capacity is limited. Check the website for the performance and registration schedule.

    Cultural Tourism DC Programs

    Cultural Tourism DC is a non-profit organization that offers experiences and programs throughout the city. Check out their calendar for the latest summer events. Many of these events are free and include both virtual and in-person events including concerts, film festivals, pop-up markets, art exhibits, and more.

    Washington D.C. Outdoor Movies

    One of our favorite free things to do in the DMV is watching outdoor movies! Check out these free movies you can catch this summer that won’t overcharge you for popcorn or care if you bring a box of Milk Duds in your purse!

    Adams Morgan Movie Nights – On-going

    Adams Morgan Movie Nights has been listed in the 100 Things to Do in Washington, D.C. Before You Die book so you know it has got to be good! Plus, you can skip the cooking and grab some affordable Brown Bag Movie Meals and snacks from area restaurants!

    Check out the Adams Morgan Movie Nights Calendar for the latest information on showtimes and features! And mark your calendar for Adams Morgan PorchFest happening this fall! This free festival is held annually on the first Saturday in October and features a wide range of free live music throughout the Adams Morgan neighborhood.

    Georgetown Sunset Cinema – On-going

    The Georgetown Sunset Cinema is another popular favorite that picks up the schedule on Tuesday nights in July and August. Head to the Georgetown Waterfront Park before sunset to stake your spot. Then, take a stroll to enjoy some of the scenic overlooks and park sights before the movie begins!

    The Golden Triangle: Golden Cinema Series – On-Going

    The Golden Cinema movie series runs every Friday at dusk from early June through the end of July in Farragut Square Park. Come early to enjoy Farragut Fridays – an all-day fun fest full of outdoor office space and picnic areas, free recreational activities, pop-up events, and entertainment.

    Farragut Square park is easiest to access by metrorail – served by the red, blue, orange, and silver lines – and several bus lines.

    The NoMa Summer Screen

    The up-and-coming NoMA community is located near Capitol Hill, the H Street NE neighborhood, Mount Vernon Triangle, and Shaw area. The NoMa Summer Screen has relocated to the recently built Alethia Tanner Park. The park is next o the Metropolitan Branch Trail at 227 Harry Thomas Way NE.

    The NoMa movie series kicks off at sunset on Wednesday nights from June through August. Check the NoMa Business Improvement District Events Calendar for the outdoor movie schedule!

    Union Market DC Drive-In

    The Drive-in at Union Market is a fun event and offers a variety of classic films on the first Friday of every month from June through October.

    The cost is $20 for drive-in parking (purchase online). Make sure you arrive early! The lot opens at 6 pm and closes by 8:15 pm.

    Union Market is known for its unbeatable selection of local vendors. Grab some great food in the market and then head outside to enjoy a night under the stars!

    The Drive-in at Union Market is a fun event and offers a variety of classic films on the first Friday of every month from May through October.

    Capital Pride Festival

    In past years before the pandemic, The Capital Pride Festival has been held on Pennsylvania Avenue. This family-friendly event is typically held on the second Sunday. This free pride festival offers a full day of entertainment spread over three city blocks and accessible by several metro stations.

    Hundreds of exhibitors will be on hand including food and beverage vendors, businesses, and local community groups. There will be several stages of musical and dance performers, a family fun zone, and sports and cultural village.

    The Capital Pride Festival in Washington D.C. is a free event that spans over three city blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue offering free performances and over 300 exhibitors.

    By The People Festival

    The By The People Festival has been held annually in mid-June throughout Washington D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia and Maryland. It typically includes pop-up performances, Smithsonian events and exhibits, and even a floating barge that sails around the Georgetown, Capitol Riverfront, and Anacostia waterways!

    It is hosted by the nonprofit organization, Halcyon, that supports civic-minded artists, social entrepreneurs, and those passionate about the sciences. Even though it is a new festival series, it has already been hailed as “the next SXSW”. Sign up for free email registration so that you don’t miss any pop-up performances.

    17th Street Festival – Currently on hold

    This festival has been around since 2010 and celebrates the diversity of 17th street. With vendors, artists, displays, music, local businesses, and a kid zone, it really has it all!

    Smithsonian Folklife Festival

    This year the theme is Beyond The Mall: Making Matters and it will be held fully virtually from June 25 through 27th. Registration is limited so head to the festival website and check out the schedule of workshops and other events!

    This year, there is also a Festival Marketplace. Shop handmade products from Armenia, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico, and more.

    The National Capital Barbecue Festival

    This festival is typically held in June and features bands, food, and vendors in the heart of Washington D.C. on Pennsylvania Avenue. This year’s festival will be held from June 25th through June 26th.

    Featured events will include a Battle of the Bands, Q&A with the Pitmasters, cooking demos, and of course tons of BBQ competitions that are open to the public worldwide. Throughout June, daily and weekly contests will be posted for a chance to win prizes, gift cards, and awesome BBQ items. There is also a Giant BBQ Kids Zone that is live on the site now with activities and videos including The Kids Magic Academy.

    DCAC Fitness Convention

    If you are a workout enthusiast, this event held annually on the first weekend in August at the Hyatt Regency in Reston, Virginia is for you! There is typically a free trade show and free master classes including yoga, dance, rowing, cardio, and more!

    For 2021, there is a ticketed on-site and virtual conference and instructor certification courses for cardio, yoga, pilates, Zumba, cycling, and more. Space is limited for the in-person events. Register online.

    District Wharf Wednesday Concerts

    Rock the Dock at the District Wharf! Every Wednesday through August 31st at the Transit Pier, enjoy free live music starting at 7 pm.

    Jazz in the Garden

    Held every Friday at the National Gallery of Art, you can catch jazz concerts typically between mid-May through July. The shows start at 5:00 p.m. and run until 8:30 p.m.

    Smithsonian Museums

    Most museums are open. Check the website for details before you go.

    All the Smithsonian museums are free all year-round and they are the largest museum complex in the world! This is a great budget-friendly way to get you and your family out of the heat. Check out their calendar for the latest events and exhibits.

    July 4th  in Washington D.C.

    Fourth of July weekend will offer several different free events. Details around the annual fireworks show on the National Mall is still to be determined. A Capitol Fourth concert is planned to take place on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. Check the website link above for more details about in-person attendance as it becomes available.

    D.C. Smithsonian Museums with Kids

    Free Summer Events in Northern Virginia

    As one of the original colonies, North Virginia is full of historic landmarks and history museums. Which may explain why some of these fun and free events are also educational.

    Herndon Festival, Herndon

    Typically at the end of May, you can enjoy 4 days of fun-packed summertime at the Herndon Festival. Admission is free, parking is free and there is even a complimentary shuttle bus! The event includes two firework displays, arts, and crafts shows, expos, races, and a kid’s alley where the little ones can have some hands-on artistic fun.

    Occoquan Artisan Markets, Occoquan

    Held the weekends of June 5-6 and July 10-11, you can enjoy a fun arts and crafts festival in Occoquan. With the roads closed off to vehicular traffic from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., you may need to walk or take the shuttle bus to get there. Admission is free for children aged 12 years and younger. Adults will have to pay $5 admission, which covers the free shuttle service.

    Innovations in Flight Family Day & Outdoor Aviation Display, Chantilly

    During this annual summer event, you can check out some amazing aircraft and vintage cars. Admission is free but there is a fee for parking.

    Taste of Leesburg, Leesburg

    Taste of Leesburg is a free street festival that brings together unique shops, merchants, vendors and artists. This annual mid-August festival also has live music, strolling entertainers, and other entertainment. You can also buy sampling tickets for food and drinks.

    Acoustic on the Green, Leesburg

    Enjoy free summer concerts in downtown Leesburg Virginia starting at 7 pm on the Town Green. Concerts are scheduled through August 20th.

    The Town of Leesburg Parks & Recreation offers lots of free fun throughout the year. So, be sure to check the full Leesburg Events calendar for more ideas!

    Herndon Rocks Concert Series, Herndon

    Herndon presents Friday Nght Live through the end of August at the Hernodn Town Green. Concerts run from 6:30 to 10 pm with concessions available starting at 6 pm.

    Fairfax City Rock the Block, Fairfax

    Once a month through the end of October, enjoy live music plus a beer garden and food vendors at Old Town Square. The free Fairfax concerts run from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Click the link above for the full schedule.

    Tysons Corner Kids Summer Concert Series, McLean

    For those with smaller kids, children’s band Rocknoceros performs at the Plaza at Tysons Corner. Concerts are held the second Wednesday of the month from 11 am to noon through September 14th.

    Tysons Corner Summer Fit Club Series, McLean

    Get fit for free with Sport & Health! Every Thursday night through September enjoy a free fitness class from 6 to 7 pm with rotating themes. Rain location is on the lower level Subway wing.

    Tysons Corner Family Movie Nights, McLean

    Head to the Plaza at Tysons Corner the last Friday night for family-friendly movies. The 2022 Tysons Corner outdoor movie schedule is as follows. Check the Tysons Corner Facebook page for weather updates.

    5/27 – Encanto
    6/24 – Karate Kid
    7/29 – Cruella
    8/12 – Honey I Shrunk the Kids
    9/30 – Raya and the Last Dragon

    Fairfax County Parks & Recreation Summer Entertainment Series, Various Locations

    Fairfax County has lots of free concerts and other entertainment scheduled all summer long! Click the link above to get the full schedule.

    Arlington County Fair, Arlington

    Considered one of the largest free events on the East Coast, the Arlington County Fair at the Thomas Jefferson Community Center has been a Virginia tradition for over 40 years. With a parade, pig race, pony rides, exhibits, activities and live entertainment you don’t want to miss this free end of summer fun. Admission and parking are free. There is even a shuttle service provided.

    Central Maryland

    Home to the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles, Central Maryland is known for its outdoor activities, culture and historical sites.

    Check out these free events in Central Maryland

    Strawberry Festival

    The annual Strawberry Festival is usually held at the beginning of June. It features live performances, pony rides and strawberries everywhere!

    Fit Fathers Day Celebration

    From 10 am to 12 pm, join Fit Fathers for free Live Interactive Workouts on Facebook or in-person at the Silver Spring Civic Center. Event will be rain or shine in a covered pavilion. Head to the website to register and check out the full schedule of activities: www.FitFathersDay.com

    Silver Spring Fitness Classes

    Join in on free fitness activities at Veterans Plaza in Silver Spring. Rock Creek Sports Club leads Zumba classes every Monday at 7 pm through September 5th. On Tuesdays at 6:30 pm, join Grace Studios for yoga at the stage near Ann Taylor Loft. Yoga classes run through August 30th.

    Heritage Days Weekend

    Since 2004, Heritage Montgomery has held the Heritage Days weekend on the last weekend of June. This free festival offers live music, children activities, exhibits and demonstrations that highlight historic and cultural events by allowing you to enter places not often open to the public.

    Bethesda Summer Concert Series

    Head to Bethesda on Friday nights for live music at the Streetery! Concerts begin at 6pm at the corner of Norfolk & Del Ray Avenues. Check back as concerts and dates are being added.

    Yoga at National Harbor Plaza

    Every Saturday starting in June 20th from 10 to 11 am through the end of September you can catch a free Yoga class taught by Cathy Valentine. Bring your yoga mat, water, and a mask.

    Outdoor Movies

    A great way to spend quality family time outdoors. Consider packing a picnic blanket and basket full of goodies to make it a full “dinner and a movie” event. Here are some of the locations, movies and times to watch out for so you don’t miss out of the fun!

    Rockville Movies in the Parks

    Rockville, MD features free outdoor movies in the parks on a big screen each Wednesday from Aug 4th -Aug 25th. Movies begin at approximately 8 p.m.

    Bethesda Outdoor Movies

    Held at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Ave, this annual outdoor movie series is pending for 2021. Click the link above for the latest updates.

    Silver Screens on Veterans Plaza

    In downtown Silver Spring you can view outdoor movies presented by AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center with support from the Montgomery County Department of Recreation and the Silver Spring Jazz Festival.

    Salute the Sunset Concert Series

    Watch free performances by military bands at the National Harbor Plaza stage on Saturday nights from May to September.

    Movies on the Potomac at National Harbor

    Featuring Thursday Date night movies at 7 p.m. and Family movies on Sundays at 6 p.m. until the end of September.

    Baltimore Hon Festival Shine on Baltimore

    Free Summer Events in Baltimore

    Baltimore was recently recognized as one of the most Underappreciated American Cities You Need to Check Out This Year. With its waterfront neighborhoods and historic charm, it makes a spectacular summertime destination!

    Free Events In Baltimore

    HONFest

    The annual HONFest is held in the Hampden area of Baltimore usually in early June. An average of over 35,000 attendees flock to this free event. It features photo ops with the famous Baltimore Hons, several stages of music, contests, and events plus food, drinks, handmade crafts, and other wares available for purchase.

    Artscape

    Artscape is one of the largest summer festivals in Maryland. It is usually held in mid-July near the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore. With vendors, live concerts, outdoor sculptures, and family-friendly activities, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained!

    Check out scenes from our last visit to Artscape on Instagram!

    The Walters Art Museum 

    The Walters Art Museum is fantastic free museum in the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. The museum is open daily from Wednesday through Sunday. It contains over 36,000 paintings, statues, and objects from around the world housed in beautiful rooms. Plus, there is a family art center with drop-in art activities on the weekends as well as several free and paid special events, classes, and concerts throughout the year.

    Patterson Park Concert Series

    Head over to the Pagoda Hill at Baltimore’s Patterson Park to enjoy free concerts. Four dates have been set for 2021: July 18, July 22, August 15, and August 22nd. Concerts will run from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.

    The American Visionary Art Museum

    The AVAM highlights original works of art created by self-taught artists and presents a free Flicks from the Hill Federal Hill outdoor movie series. The series is on hold for 2021, but expects to return next year! The museum usually offers free admission from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. on Flick nights.

    Madonnari Art Festival

    This 3-day event is usually held in early September. It is expected to return this year from September 9th till September 11th so put it on your calendar! This unique cultural event showcases elaborate chalk paintings created right on the streets of Little Italy. With live music, street performers, an art market and al fresco dining, this event is going to be good!

    Check out a video from our experience at Madonnari Art Festival on Instagram!

    Free Baltimore Festivals

    Free Summer Events Near Baltimore

    Howard County Summer Events

    Howard County, Maryland is a suburban area located just about halfway between Baltimore and Washington, D.C. Howard County is a great home base for a vacation to the area or as a day trip for those in neighboring states. Plus, there are always lots of fun free events in Howard County, especially for families!

    Entertainment on The Chrysalis

    Enjoy free activities at Merriweather Post Pavilion this summer! Throughout the summer, there will be weekly Thursday night happy hours at the Chrysalis. Saturday mornings, free yoga classes will be offered at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods.

    Columbia Lakefest

    The weekend of June 10th, celebrate the arts at the Downtown Columbia Lakefest. Several in-person and virtual experiences are planned including a film festival, arts and crafts show, kids activities, movie nights and more!

    Free Festivals in D.C.

    Columbia Lakefront

    All summer long, there are free events at the Columbia Lakefront from concerts to dancing and movies.

    Merriweather Post Pavilion

    The Merriweather Post Pavilion Concert Venue offers free community outdoor movies on select dates throughout the summer.

    Baltimore County Summer Events

    With Baltimore County being the third most populated area in the country, it hosts a diversified economy. A great emphasis on education, government, and health care are just to name a few.

    Free events in Baltimore County

    Summer Concert Series in Hunt Valley

    This concert series will kick off in early June. Check out the calendar to confirm times and artists.

    Oregon Ridge Nature Center

    Oregon Ridge Nature Center is open from 9 am to 5 pm daily (except Mondays). It offers free indoor and outdoor wildlife and educational exhibits.

    Baltimore County Arts Guild

    Baltimore County Arts Guild offers free family art-making classes from 2 to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of every month.

    Feet on the Street Friday night concert series

    Feet on the Street Friday night concert series in Towson runs from Memorial Day through the end of September. It features local bands, an outdoor bar, and kids’ activities.

    Boordy Vineyards Good Life Farmers Market  

    Boordy Vineyards Good Life Farmers Market will be held Thursday nights and include free entertainment by local bands plus local food and wine for purchase.

    Frederick Road Fridays

    Frederick Road Fridays runs June 3th through the end of August. The weekly event features free local bands and family-friendly activities. Beverage sales benefit a rotating non-profit charity.

    Catonsville Arts & Crafts Festival

    The Canton Arts and Crafts Festival will be held the second weekend in September. This street festival will feature over 250 artists and vendors.

    Day Trips from the DMV

    Big Band Night & Fireworks in St. Michaels

    St. Michaels is an excellent day trip year-round from the DC area. It is about a 90-minute drive. This waterfront town boasts quaint shops, restaurants, and even Bed & Breakfasts in case you want to make a weekend of it. On July 2 (rain date July 3), the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum will host a night of big band music followed by the St. Michaels fireworks display.

    Don’t forget to check our Facebook Events page often for more free summer events in the DMV!

    there are tons of amazing free summer events in the DMV! We’re highlighting our picks for the best free events and on-going series between Baltimore and Washington D.C.  #dmv #dc #baltimore #northernvirginia #summerevents
    Baltimore and DC Summer Festivals and Free Events
    45 Free Events and Festivals Between Baltimore and Washington D.C.
    SHARING IS CARING!

    funfitnessfamily

    We are a travel and adventure obsessed family of four. We love to experience everything from local festivals and events in our ever-growing suburb of Columbia, Maryland in Howard County and neighboring cities of Baltimore, Annapolis, and D.C. to international extravaganzas, Caribbean guest fitness instructor vacations, ocean voyages, dream grants, city visits, and offbeat destinations.

    MISSION: To inspire happy, healthy, active families by sharing local experiences and travel adventures, fitness tips, and wellness resources.

    16 Comments

    1. That’s a great list! I’ve lived in the Baltimore/DC area most of my life and didn’t know about most of these events. With a large family it’s good to know that there are so many free and inexpensive things to do and see. Thanks!

    2. Wow! What a great list! And so comprehensive. You spent a lot of time pulling together something for everyone to enjoy.

    3. Lots of great information! Washington DC is on our list of possible vacation spots this year, so this post was very timely for me! I wouldn’t mind spending some time in Baltimore either. Thanks!

    4. One of my favorite things about summer is spending time outdoors and enjoying events like concerts and movies in the park. These types of events are so much fun and high on my must-do list. Thanks for sharing!

    5. What an amazing list! I will be adding these to my list this summer since I love the outdoor movies.

    6. I’ve always loved that there is so much free stuff to do in the D.C. area! I didn’t realized there was so much going on in the Baltimore area though too. Thanks for all the great ideas in this post!

    7. My dad was stationed at the Pentagon when I was in middle school and I can tell you that for those 3 years, we definitely had plenty of family-friendly free things to do, always something going on and it’s really great for families! Thanks for the awesome list!

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