Heat Up Your D.C. Summer Before Winter's Chill Sets In

11 Aug
August 11, 2011

Summer is quickly winding down in D.C. While that means a relief from the sweltering heat, it also sadly means an end to the numerous free and outdoor events held in the summer months. However, the month of August is full of excitement, with events everyone should attend before the leaves start to turn.

On Monday, a Washington institution will host its final event of the season, which is a can’t miss if you’ve never attended. Screen on the Green has been a part of this city for the past 13 years. Presented each summer by HBO, a giant movie screen is set up on the National Mall and some of film’s most iconic movies are shown.

This year, the screen is near 8th Street NW. Seating goes as far back as 14th Street. Admission is free and participants are encouraged to bring food, blankets and non-alcoholic beverages to enjoy an evening picnic on the Mall while watching the movie.

Over the past four weeks, HBO has presented several classics, including In the Heat of the Night, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

The pick for the final flick of the year is another classic: Cool Hand Luke, the 1967 drama starting Paul Newman, in his most memorable role. The movie begins around dusk, which typically occurs between 8:00-8:30 p.m. Be sure to get there early, since people are known to start lining up blankets as early as 5:00 p.m. to secure a prime location.

And if it’s raining on Monday, be sure to bring a jacket. A light sprinkle or even a hard rain doesn’t stop Screen on the Green from showing movies.

If you can’t make it to the movies on Monday, but still want to enjoy a free outdoor activity, there is another excellent opportunity later in the week.

Every Friday night during the summer, the National Gallery of Art hosts Jazz in the Garden. It’s held at the National Gallery of Sculpture Art on 7th Street and Constitution Ave and is a rollicking good time. Surrounded by massive sculptures from the 20th century, some of the world’s top jazz acts put on shows.

As with Screen on the Green, admission to Jazz in the Garden is free. Also, visitors are encouraged to bring their own food and host a picnic in one of Washington, D.C.’s prettiest locales.

The acts at Jazz in the Garden cover the broad spectrum of jazz music, showcasing bands with swing influences with Brazilian undertones and modern jazz technique.  Past Friday’s have seen an African funk group and an acoustic Latin guitar act.

The list going forward is even more eclectic. This Friday brings Chuck Redd, who plays jazz vibraphone, an instrument similar to the xylophones kids played growing up. Then next Friday, August 19th, Jazz in the Garden hosts Alex Brown, a classic jazz pianist. The shows continue until September 9th.

Jazz in the Garden is held rain or shine. But if showers hit, the show is moved to the Sculpture Garden’s covered pavilion.

So, with the summer months coming to an end, take this week to experience two quintessential D.C. events, ones you won’t be able to see for another year.

-David

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