Music Festivals in Washington DC in 2022
Music festivals in Washington DC are a terrific event, especially during the spring, summer, and fall months. There are festivals in and around DC for every genre so no matter your preference, you are likely to find a music festival that you will want to check out. Just remember to be safe when partying at a festival and it is best to go with a friend or a group of friends. Make sure you know where you are headed and read our guide on how to get around Washington DC before you head out.
With Washington DC being the home of our nation’s capital, you would not expect so many fun and exciting things to do such as music festivals and concerts, but it is an experience like no other to be rocking out in DC with so many iconic monuments off in the distance. It definitely makes for some fascinating social media-worthy selfies. Whether a busy outdoor summer music festival or an easy-listening fall festival, your music fix will be satisfied!
One of the best things about music festivals in Washington DC is the street food vendors that flock to these festivals and offer a plethora of dishes from around the world including vegan and vegetarian dishes. The beer tents are another part of festivals that are very popular, just remember to drink responsibly while you jam out to some of your favorite bands.
Many of these festivals are super popular so you will want to snag your tickets well in advance to ensure you get to see the artists you want; some festivals also offer VIP options for a more personal experience. Find a luggage storage locker before you head over to the festival so you can stow your things and not have to keep track of them all day or night.
The best music festivals in Washington DC in 2022
M3 Rock Festival
Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland hosts the M3 Rock Festival May 6-8. Columbia, MD is just under an hour’s drive from Washington DC. The music festival is well worth the drive! Go for one day or stay for all three, this is one party you do not want to miss.
It is truly a headbanging good time that brings hair metal flair, don’t forget to bring your air guitar for some epic air guitaring along with the phenomenal metal bands that will be playing the festival including:
May 6 – KIX, Doro, Lizzy Borden, Count’s 77
May 7 – Blue Oyster Cult, Tony Harnell, Tom Keifer, Stephen Pearcy, Heaven’s Edge, Lillian Axe, Vain
May 8 – Skid Row, Tesla, Yngwie Malmsteen, Stryper, XYZ, Leatherwolf, Zebra, The Quireboys, Burning Witches
Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concert Series
While technically not a music festival, this concert series has a festival vibe and people flock to Yards Park to check out the concerts held each Friday night from June 10th through July 29th. It is free to attend any of the Capitol Riverfront Friday Night Concerts.
The bands are set up along the boardwalk and it is a great time for everyone. With delicious food and abundant beverages, some of the adult variety, you can make a night of it.
The best part of this concert series is that it is family-friendly with bands that perform clean lyrics so even the youngest family member can come to enjoy sitting on the grassy lawn, looking out over the river, and dancing to the live music.
The series has been going strong for 12 seasons and more and more families come out to Yards Park to take advantage of a free night of entertainment. If you do not find anything to munch on from the street food vendors, there are plenty of restaurants nearby that offer amazing menus.
Check out the amazing lineup:
June 10 – La Unica (Irish Latin Rock)
June 17 – The JoGo Project (Jazz and Go-Go)
June 24 – Pebble to Pearl (Pop and RnB)
July 1 – The 19th Street Band (Folk)
July 8 – The Jarreau Williams Xperience (RnB)
July 15 – So Fetch (2000s Tribute Band)
July 22 – Broad Sound (Pop Rock RnB)
July 29 – Uncle Jesse (Rock)
Jazz in the Garden
Another amazing Friday night concert series, Jazz in the Garden is held at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. The series starts at the end of May and goes through July 22nd. Being in the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden is amazing enough, but listening to live, soulful jazz music just makes it that much better.
Not every Friday night concert is jazz, there are also bluegrass and Afro-Cuban musicians that have been invited to play. The best part is that the concerts are free, but you do have to pre-register online prior to the event you want to attend. Bring a blanket and snack so you can fully relax and soak up the music. National and local musicians perform at Jazz in the Garden.
The full lineup includes:
May 20 – Nataly Merezhuk (Jazz violin)
May 27 – Martha Redbone (Blues)
June 3 – Pedrito Martinez (Afro-Cuban)
June 10 – Daniel Ho (New Hawaiian/Contemporary instrumental)
June 17 – Bombay Rickey (Global psychedelia)
June 24 – Caique Vidal & Batuque (Afro-Brazilian)
July 1 – Delfeayo Marsalis Sextet (Funky fun)
July 8 – Althea Rene (Soul-Jazz flute)
July 15 – Todd Marcus Jazz Orchestra (Jazz)
July 22 – Sideline (Bluegrass)
Acoustic on the Green
DC is not the only place you can find great music festivals or concert series, Leesburg, Virginia offers a Saturday concert series that goes from June through August, except for two Saturdays in August. You can catch a free concert in Washington DC on Friday night and then head to Downtown Leesburg for a free concert in the park.
Bring along a blanket or lawn chair and spread out on the green for a relaxing evening listening to live music. Picnics or snacks are strongly encouraged. You can swing by your favorite restaurant for takeout or you can grab some grub from a food vendor nearby. No alcoholic beverages are allowed and your pets also have to stay home.
The lineup includes:
June 4 – Caribbean Vibe Steel Drum Band
June 11 – Meisha Herron
June 18 – Calista Garcia
June 25 – Gary Jay & Fireball
July 2 – Georgia Randall
July 9 – Robbie Limon
July 16 – Joe Heilman
July 23 – Jefferson Street Strutters
July 30 – Dave Mininberg
August 6 – Melissa Quinn Fox
August 20 – David Thong Trio
Capital Fringe Festival
Held July 11-17 and July 21-24, the Capital Fringe Festival is filled with funky improv dramas, dance companies, and punk rock concerts mainly from local artists. The festival has drawn some artists from along the east coast. With 250 acts total, it has grown into a big deal in the DC area.
Events are held throughout Washington DC in galleries, clubs, museums, libraries, and basically any other venue that can handle a larger crowd. This makes it a very interesting and somewhat intimate festival despite the number of acts that are scheduled to appear.
Some of the venues offer food and drink, while others will not but there are plenty of cafes and restaurants nearby to grab delicious local eats before or after the concert. With some COVID-19 protocols still in place, you will want to grab your tickets in advance, only a small amount will be released on the day of the festival.
DC Jazz Festival
This annual showcase features national and local musicians and is one of the most star-studded jazz festivals on the east coast. The DC Jazz Festival is being held August 31 through September 4th at three different locations: the Howard Theatre, the Arena Stage, and the Wharf. The festival draws many international masterclass jazz artists.
Several of the concerts are free, but you do still need to have a ticket to reserve your spot. You can order tickets online and there will be a limited number of tickets available at the gate. This wonderful celebration of all things jazz is a must-see, make your plans early to head to Washington DC for this music festival. This festival draws fans from across the country.
August 31 at the Howard Theatre – artist TBA
September 1 at the Arena Stage – Regina Carter Gone in a Phase of Air
September 2 at the Arena Stage – Dianne Reeves, Orrin Evans Captain Black Big Band
September 3 at The Wharf – Cindy Blackman Santana, Ron Carter, Mambo Legends Orchestra, Chien Chien Lu Larnell Lewis Quintet, The Baylor Project, Giveton Gelin, Joy Lapps, Heidi Martin
September 4 at The Wharf – Emmet Cohen Trio, entrance, Christian McBride & Inside Straight, Dayramir Gonzalez & Habana, Letter One/Rising Star: Dan Wilson Trio, Patrick Zimmerli featuring Chris Potter & EJ Strickland, Vox Sambou, Donvonte McCoy
Outlaw Music Festival
On September 17, the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland will host the Outlaw Music Festival. Columbia, MD is just under an hour from Washington DC and this festival is a must for any country music lover with the legendary Willie Nelson headlining. Doors open at 3:00 p.m. with the show starting at 4:30 p.m.
Aside from Willie Nelson and Family, check out these other amazing artists that are slated to perform:
The Avett Brothers
Down in the Reeds
This local music festival is a wonderful celebration of the power of music’s ability to span the huge gaps between race and culture, and socio-economic status throughout Washington DC. Held on October 8th from 11:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., come check out fantastic DC musicians as they amaze you with their talent.
Workshops will also be held for up-and-coming artists, local street food vendors will be there, local artists will be showcasing their work, and so much more will be happening during the Down in the Reeds music festival. This day long fall celebration with local musicians taking place at the Parks at Walter Reed should definitely be on your calendar.
All Things Go Fall Classic
Columbia, Maryland will be rocking out on October 16th at the Merriweather Post Pavilion. With two stages, several art installations, and local eateries offering yummy morsels to keep you going all day, the All Things Go Fall Classic is an epic music festival that you do not want to miss. Even though it is only one day, there are so many acts to watch and things to see.
The incredible lineup of musicians includes Cautious Clay, Haim, and St. Vincent as well as several others. You will need to pre-order your tickets, there will not be many tickets available at the door. All Things Go Fall Classic offers spectacular fall festivities. Tickets can be bought at the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia, MD.
WMZQ Fall Fest
Country music is synonymous with spectacular fall festivities and the WMZQ Fall fest does not disappoint. The biggest country music radio station in the DC area hosts this music festival at the Jiffy Lube Live in Bristow, Virginia. Bristow is just a short drive from Washington DC.
WMZQ Fall Fest is held on October 4th and has a huge lineup of country music stars including Darius Rucker, Cassadee Pope, Eric Paslay, David Nail, and Chase Bryant. Past performers include Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Lady Antebellum, and Thomas Rhett. Tickets for this event are available online, you will want to get them early for the best seats.
Planning to stay some more days in Washington DC?
Whether you are planning 3 days in Washington DC or just in town for a jazz festival or two, you will feel some good vibes as you rock out to a diverse selection of artists including many concerts in unique venues. The Broccoli City Festival is held in May, so you will want to check it out next year.
Remember, one of the best parts about these festivals is the incomparable selection of street food vendors in Washington DC! Your senses will be on high alert when your nose starts smelling all the delicious local eats offered. While you are staying for a festival make some time to do a little museum hopping, especially the Smithsonian.
If you're planning to stay longer in Washington DC, take a look at our other Washington DC guides for other fun activities!