Washington, D.C.

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. 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.

Diverse theaters offer 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 EDM sensation. With venues ranging from DAR Constitution Hall to the Verizon Center near D.C.’s Chinatown to northern Virginia’s Birchmere Music Hall, 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 options for ballet, modern dance, and more.

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  • 1. Arena Stage

    Southwest | Theater

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

  • 2. Folger Theatre

    Capitol Hill | Theater

    The theater at the Folger Shakespeare Library, an intimate 250-seat re-creation of the inn-yard theaters of Shakespeare's time, hosts three...Read More

  • 3. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

    Foggy Bottom | Dance

    Overlooking the Potomac River, the gem of the Washington, D.C., performing arts scene is home to the National Symphony Orchestra and the Washington...Read More

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  • 4. Landmark's E Street Cinema

    Downtown | Film

    Specializing in independent, foreign, and documentary films, this theater is beloved by D.C. movie enthusiasts both for its selection and its...Read More

  • 5. National Archives Film Series


    Historical films, usually documentaries, are shown here regularly. Screenings range from Robert Flaherty's 1942 coverage of the plight of migrant...Read More

  • 6. National Gallery of Art Concert Series

    The Mall | Film

    On Friday from 5 to 8:30 pm from mid-May through the end of August, jazz groups from all over the country perform to packed crowds at the Pavilion...Read More

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  • 7. Shakespeare Theatre

    Downtown | Theater

    This acclaimed troupe crafts fantastically staged and acted performances of works by Shakespeare and other significant playwrights, offering...Read More

  • 8. Smithsonian Institution Concert Series

    The Mall | Film

    Throughout the year, the Smithsonian Associates sponsor programs that offer everything from a cappella groups to Cajun zydeco bands; all events...Read More

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  • 9. Studio Theatre

    Dupont Circle | Theater

    This multifaceted theater company, one of the city's busiest, produces an eclectic season of contemporary European and offbeat American plays...Read More

  • 10. The Howard Theatre

    U Street | Music

    Opened in 1910, the Howard Theatre continues to be a draw in Washington, D.C. Initially a venue to highlight African American artists, the Howard...Read More

  • 11. Woolly Mammoth

    Downtown | Theater

    Unusual cutting-edge shows with solid acting have earned this company top reviews and 35 Helen Hayes Awards. The theater performs works for...Read More

  • 12. Armed Forces Concert Series

    Capitol Hill | Music

    In a Washington tradition, bands from the four branches of the armed services perform from June through August on weekday evenings on the U...Read More

  • 13. Avalon Theatre

    Upper Northwest | Film

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

  • 14. Capital Fringe Festival

    Capitol Hill | Festivals

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

  • 15. Capital One Arena

    Chinatown | Concerts

    In addition to being the home of the NHL Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards basketball teams, this 19,000-seat...Read More

  • 16. Carter Barron Amphitheatre

    Upper Northwest | Music

    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 rhythm...Read More

  • 17. Choral Arts Society of Washington


    From fall to late spring, this 200-voice choir, founded in 1965 by Norman Scribner, performs a musical array, ranging from classical to tango...Read More

  • 18. Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress

    Capitol Hill | Music

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

  • 19. D.C. Blues Society


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

  • 20. DAR Constitution Hall

    Foggy Bottom | Concerts

    Acts ranging from the Bolshoi Ballet to U2 to B.B. King have performed at this 3,702-seat venue, one of Washington's grand old halls. It's well...Read More

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