How To See Free Performances at the Kennedy Center in DC

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Whether you’re a local or a tourist, seeing at least one performance at the Kennedy Center should be on your list while in Washington, DC. And if you’re looking for options that can be spontaneous, kid-friendly, or free, they have an option that fits all of those: the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.

The Millennium Stage is a under publicized attraction, offering free performances every day at 6PM. The selection ranges delightfully from plays to music, even to dance lessons. And the performers themselves are often drawn from the shows currently running.

Free Performances at the Kennedy Center Millenium Stage

Most performances require no tickets, you just show up, wander in and enjoy. 🙂 And apparently they’ve added happy hour specials at from 5-6PM, which offers the perfect excuse to go early and stroll the terrace overlooking the Potomac River.

An example of shows happening in April:

Since performances last about an hour, it’s a great option for first dates, family outings, or tired professionals.

Getting There

Free Shuttle — the Kennedy Center offers a free shuttle every 15 minutes from the Foggy Bottom metro stop. When you come up the escalator just look for the red bus and/or a group of nicely attired folks waiting by the sign. It can get pretty crowded on the bus by 5:45 though, so I recommend going early to maximize comfort.

Parking — if you arrive between 4-6PM you’ll only pay $15 for the evening and get a 10% coupon off regular priced food and drinks at the Kennedy Center restaurants. Parking Panda (new members can sign up using my link to get $5) also offers discounted options starting at $11 nearby.

 Walking — it looks close but it’s quite a hike from Georgetown, the Mall, and the Foggy Bottom Metro so unless you’re staying at the Watergate or wearing sensible shoes and feeling super sporty, I don’t recommend it.


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