Washington, D.C. Performing Arts

Whether you’re looking for theater, jazz, dance, cinema, cabaret, comedy, or something classical, Washington, D.C., has some of the most exciting and thought-provoking entertainment in the country. Since the opening of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1971, the city’s performing arts culture has grown steadily. So much so that Washington now hosts the third-largest theater

scene in the country, as well as a rich offering of nightly music opportunities featuring local, national, and international talent, and so much more. No city outshines the District on the magnificence and variety of its arts venues.

A wealth of theaters offers everything from Rodgers and Hammerstein to experimental fare. The Kennedy Center and the historic National Theatre bring in primarily big time touring shows, but the 65-year-old Arena Stage offers the best in regional theater. Meanwhile, relative newcomers like the Studio Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, and Northern Virginia's Signature Theatre offer a palette of performances as varied as any in the country.

The city also has its share of every kind of music imaginable, from classical quartets to the most current raving sensation. With venues ranging from DAR Constitution Hall to the Verizon Center near D.C.’s Chinatown to Northern Virginia’s Birchmere Music Hall and Maryland’s Music Center at Strathmore, music can be found wherever you are, both in the city and its many suburbs.

Those looking for cinema can catch unusual foreign fare, rare documentaries, independent features, and classics. As for dance, Washington has more than enough to help you remember what it is like to watch bodies gracefully move through space.

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Washington, D.C. Performing Arts

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AMC Loews Uptown 1

This is a true movie palace, with art-deco flourishes; a wonderful balcony; and—in two happy concessions to modernity—crystal clear...

Arena Stage

The first regional theater company to win a Tony Award performs innovative American theater, reviving such classic plays as Oklahoma...

Armed Forces Concert Series

In a Washington tradition, bands from the four branches of the armed services perform June to August on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and...

Avalon Theatre

This classic movie house from 1923 is DC's only nonprofit film center. The theater offers a wide array of studio films and independent...

Busboys and Poets


Capital Fringe Festival

Since its founding in 2005, the Capital Fringe Festival has grown each year, and currently offers no fewer than 125 productions over...

Carter Barron Amphitheatre

This 3,750-seat outdoor theater in the middle of Washington's historic Rock Creek Park used to host a variety of pop, jazz, gospel, and...

Choral Arts Society of Washington

From fall to late spring, this 200-voice choir performs a musical array, ranging from classical to tango to Broadway, at the Kennedy...

Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress

Since its first concert, in 1925, the Coolidge has hosted most of the 20th- and 21st-century's greatest performers and composers, including...

D.C. Blues Society

This clearinghouse for information on upcoming shows, festivals, and jam sessions in the metropolitan area also publishes a regular newsletter...


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