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. 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

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. 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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Dumbarton Concerts

    Georgetown | Music

    A fixture in Georgetown since 1772 (in its current location since 1850), Dumbarton United Methodist Church sponsors a concert series that has...Read More

  • 8. Folger Shakespeare Library

    Capitol Hill | Music

    The library's internationally acclaimed resident chamber music ensemble, the Folger Consort, regularly presents Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque...Read More

  • 9. Folklore Society of Greater Washington


    At more than 200 events a year, the all-volunteer society presents folk and traditional musicians and dancers from all over the country. Venues...Read More

  • 10. Lincoln Theatre

    U Street | Music

    The Lincoln Theatre is a historical venue from 1922, back when Washington natives Duke Ellington and Pearl Baily were joined by the likes of...Read More

  • 11. Lisner Auditorium

    Foggy Bottom | Dance

    A nearly 1,500-seat theater on the campus of George Washington University attracts students and outsiders alike to its pop, classical, and choral...Read More

  • 12. National Symphony Orchestra

    Foggy Bottom | Music

    Under the leadership of music director Gianandrea Noseda, the orchestra performs classic works by repertoire including classical and popular...Read More

  • 13. Phillips Collection

    Dupont Circle | Music

    Duncan Phillips's mansion is more than an art museum. On Sunday afternoon from October through May, chamber groups from around the world perform...Read More

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  • 14. Sixth & I Historic Synagogue

    Chinatown | Music

    Known for its author readings and its comedy, with guests ranging from comedian Tina Fey to Nancy Pelosi, the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue...Read More

  • 15. The In Series

    U Street | Music

    Cabaret, experimental chamber opera, and Spanish musical theater (also known as zarzuela) are among the hallmarks of this company founded in...Read More

  • 16. Warner Theatre

    Downtown | Dance

    One of Washington's grand theaters, the Warner hosts Broadway road shows, dance recitals, high-profile pop-music acts, and comedians in a majestic...Read More

  • 17. Washington National Cathedral

    Upper Northwest | Music

    Concerts and recitals by visiting musicians augment the choral and church groups that frequently perform in this breathtaking cathedral. Recitals...Read More

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  • 18. Washington Performing Arts

    Foggy Bottom | Music

    One of the city's oldest arts organizations stages high-quality classical music, jazz, gospel, world music, modern dance, and performance art...Read More

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