Summer 2023 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.
Capital Pride: June 2-11
The DC community comes together for the annual Capital Pride, a citywide celebration of LGBTQ rights and the continuing fight for them. Celebrations include its official opening party, a block party, the popular Pride Parade and the Pride Festival and Concert. Make sure to read our piece on the events for more details.
Awesome Con: June 16-18
DC’s Convention Center turns into a massive celebration of geek culture during Awesome Con. More than 70,000 fans will be able to see their favorite stars from comics, films, TV, toys and games throughout Awesome Con, a three-day festival that is Washington, DC’s own Comic Con. Expect plenty of costumed attendees and an array of activities to enjoy during one of the city’s most vibrant annual events.
Home Rule Music Festival: June 16-17 & 24
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 Songbyrd, Black Cat and the Parks at Walter Reed which will host a free afternoon of food, family fun, an outdoor record fair and music including DC's own Go-Go legends, Experience Unlimited.
Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle: June 24-25
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.
Smithsonian Folklife Festival: June 29 - July 4 & July 6–9
The free Smithsonian Folklife Festival salutes different international cultures every year on the National Mall with craft exhibits, live music and cooking demos. The 2023 edition will focus on the Ozarks as well as the intertwining of American religious communities and traditions and the imaginative encounters this mingling produces.
DC Black Food & Wine Festival: July 1
Sip, savor and socialize at the DC Black Food and Wine Festival, which brings together the best African-American cuisine and culture. Check out Black-owned businesses, enjoy tastings of fine wines and discover new culinary delights. With live music, cooking demonstrations and plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow foodies, the festival is a great way to acquaint yourself with the city's culinary scene.
July 4th Fireworks
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.
Capital Fringe Festival: July 13-16 & 20-23
During the edgy Capital Fringe Festival, you can catch out-there performances from local creatives, including improv dramas, punk rock shows and colorful dance shows. Events take place at libraries, museums, galleries and other locations throughout the District. Make sure to check out the festival's website as it gets closer for programming information.
MLS All-Star Week: July 15-19
The 2023 Major League Soccer (MLS) All-Star Game presented by Target comes to DC and promises the biggest stars in the league and unforgettable moments for local sports fans. English Premier League side Arsenal Football Club will serve as the MLS All-Stars’ opponent for the marquee showdown on July 19 at Audi Field. In addition, on July 18, the best of MLS face off against Arsenal FC in the 2023 MLS All-Star Skills Challenge presented by AT&T 5G at Audi Field. For more information, including tickets, visit the MLS website.
Otakon: July 28-30
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.
Citi Open: July 29- Aug. 6
The District’s signature professional tennis tournament returns to Rock Creek Park Tennis Center from July 29 through Aug. 6. Top-tier talent from all over the world will compete for a prestigious trophy, leading to action that you do not want to miss.
Summer Restaurant Week: Aug. TBD
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). We'll post the August dates once they're announced.
DCBX: Aug. 23-28
Ranked as the best Latin dance festival in the U.S. five times, DCBX takes over the nation’s capital for five days. 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. In addition to its dance events, the corresponding Global Impact Film Festival celebrates different cultures and raises awareness about important worldwide issues.
DC JazzFest: Aug. 30 - Sept. 3
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 two of the many reasons why you should check out the 2023 edition.
DC/DOX Film Festival: June 15-18
The new annual DC/DOX Film Festival will take place at theater venues across the District. Passes are now on sale for four days of visionary documentaries and conversations with the talent behind dozens of innovative and acclaimed works of non-fiction storytelling.
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