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. Shakespeare Theatre

    Downtown | Theater

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

  • 5. 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

  • 6. 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

  • 7. 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

  • 8. District of Columbia Arts Center

    Adams Morgan | Theater

    Known by area artists as DCAC, this cross-genre space shows changing exhibits in its gallery and presents avant-garde performance art, improv...Read More

  • 9. Ford's Theatre

    Downtown | Theater

    Looking much as it did before President Lincoln was shot at a performance of Our American Cousin, Ford's hosts musicals as well as dramas...Read More

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  • 10. Gala Hispanic Theatre

    Adams Morgan | Theater

    This company attracts outstanding Hispanic actors from around the world, performing works by such leading dramatists as Federico García Lorca...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. National Theatre

    Downtown | Theater

    Though rebuilt several times, the National Theatre has operated in the same location since 1835. It now hosts touring Broadway shows, from classics...Read More

  • 14. The Keegan Theatre

    Dupont Circle | Theater

    A hidden gem in Dupont Circle, this 120-seat theater offers a rich variety of classic and modern plays and musicals, with a focus on powerful...Read More

  • 15. Theater J

    Dupont Circle | Theater

    One of the country's most distinguished Jewish performance venues offers an ambitious range of programming that includes work by noted playwrights...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 Stage Guild

    Logan Circle | Theater

    This company performs neglected classics as well as contemporary literary plays in the Undercroft Theatre of Mount Vernon Place United Methodist...Read More

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