A summer of free weekend mini-festivals at Kennedy Center’s The REACH

Millennium Stage returns to the Kennedy Center with weekly, free, outdoor performance experiences curated by artists and organizations from around the DMV. Every Thursday to Saturday, May 27­­ to October 2, 2021, audiences will enjoy films, live performances, arts vendors, dance, and yoga lessons on The REACH plaza, with food and drinks from Victura Park, the Center’s family-friendly outdoor wine and food garden. These events will safely welcome the public back to the Kennedy Center to enjoy a showcase of the city’s incredible artists and to celebrate the legacy, vibrancy, and vitality of our communities.

Each weekend brings a unique focus and is curated in collaboration with partner organizations throughout the region. Collaborations include United Nations High Commission for Refugees, National Theater for the Deaf, Smithsonian Asian American Center, Creative Nomads, SAMASAMA, D.C. Legendary Musicians, Step Afrika!, members of the Drag community, as well as internal partners, the Center’s Culture Caucus, and more.

Students from Debbie Allen Dance Academy on the outdoor main stage at Kennedy Center’s The REACH.

For schedule updates and reservations, visit the Kennedy Center website. Advance registration is required and will be available the Friday prior beginning at 10 a.m. ET. Registration does not guarantee entry to the event space. Access is first come, first served and may be restricted due to capacity.

A schedule of mini-festival weekends is below, including a complete schedule for the first two weekends.

May 27–29: SAMASAMA: All Together Now!

SAMASAMA is partnering with The Kennedy Center for the re-opening weekend of The REACH and filled with multicultural programs for all generations. SAMASAMA, inspired by the literal Tagalog meaning “all together,” celebrates Asian American Pacific Islander narratives and heritage through art and community. Founded in 2016, SAMASAMA has grown from a collective art show to developing programs and events that push boundaries through art, food, and conversation and that develop a greater understanding between all communities.

Thursday, May 27
5:30-8 p.m.: Arts Market on the River Terrace
5:30 p.m.: DJ set by Les the DJ
Sunset: Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten Film Screening on the Video Wall

Friday, May 28
5:30-9 p.m.: Arts Market on the River Terrace
6 & 8 p.m.: Iza Flow on the main stage
7 p.m.: DJ set by Les the DJ

Saturday, May 29
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Yoga at the REACH and Dance Sanctuaries (separate  registration required)
11 a.m.-8 p.m.: Arts Market on the River Terrace
5:30 & 7 p.m.: DJ set by Shuno Re!
6 & 8 p.m.: Iza Flow on the main stage

June 3–5: The Wig Party: A Capital Drag Festival

The Kennedy Center celebrates the talent and history of the District’s legendary Drag community with a festival curated by Pussy Noir, Don Burke, and JaxKnife Complex of the DC drag community. The weekend will feature iconic local DJs, screenings of queer works from regional filmmakers, live music, and, of course, some of the most monumental Drag acts in the Nation’s Capital.

Thursday, June 3
5:30-8 p.m: Arts Market on the River Terrace
5:30 p.m.: DJ set with DJ Diyanna Monet (Diyanna Burton)
Sundown: Short films by local queer filmmakers on the Video Wall

Friday, June 4
5:30-9 p.m.: Arts Market on the River Terrace
5:30 & 9p.m.: DJ sets with DJ Lemz (Steve Lemmerman)
7:30 p.m.: Main stage performance

Saturday, June 5
10 a.m.-3 p.m.: Yoga at the REACH and Dance Sanctuaries (separate registration required)
11 a.m.-8 p.m.: Arts Market on the River Terrace
4:30 p.m.: Panel Discussion
5:30 p.m.: DJ set with DJ Divonne
7 p.m.: Main stage performance
9 p.m.: DJ set with DJ Wess

June 10–12: Kennedy Center Youth Council: The Colors of Our Year

Since the pandemic turned the world upside down in March 2020, teens have endured significant distress and disruption in their lives, while also exhibiting significant growth, perseverance, and resiliency. The Kennedy Center Youth Council, an extraordinary assemblage of artistic and civic leaders, presents a weekend representing the colors of their year. Through spoken word, music, visual art, movement and film, youth artists will share the breadth and beauty of the year they’ve experienced.

June 17–19: World Refugee Day: Together We Heal, Learn, and Shine

For World Refugee Day, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, in partnership with the Kennedy Center and One Journey Festival, presents live music featuring Mélat and Cesar Orozco & Kamarata Jazz. This weekend celebrates the courage and resilience of people who have been forced to flee their homes due to war, persecution, and violence.  Despite the challenges of the pandemic, refugees and displaced people have stepped up and continue to contribute to a stronger, safer, and more vibrant world. One Journey is a growing coalition that aims to change the narrative about refugees by celebrating their talents and stories through the common languages of humanity: music, dance, storytelling, art, technology, food, and sports. This mission of celebration and connection comes to the REACH with a global marketplace, film screening, and dance and yoga instruction, all curated for three days of fun and inspiration.

June 24–26: Jalsa REMIX

The Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center joins with the Kennedy Center for a festival filled with celebratory sounds, storytelling, and dance affirming the creativity, joy, and resilience of our AAPI and Global South diaspora communities in the DMV. Established in 1997, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center brings history, art and culture to diverse audiences through innovative museum experiences and digital initiatives throughout the United States and abroad.

July 1–3: Relax | Relate | Release

Relax |Relate | Release is a three-day explosion of joy and play that brings together the various elements of stress-free gallivanting and creativity. Powered by three Black women curators—Creative Nomads, Goldie Patrick, and LiL SoSo Productions—this mini-festival will bring together film, art, literature, movement, and music.

July 8–10: Wingapo! Welcome to the Native American Dance Circle

The Intertribal Native American Dance Circle returns to the REACH at the Kennedy Center with performances and interactive activities that will showcase Indigenous culture through music, film, dance, storytelling, an artists’ market and more. Special multigenerational activities will be featured during the day on Saturday, July 10.

July 15–17: ¡Viva Cultura!: A Celebration of Latinx Arts and Culture

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Arlington, VA Council 4613 invites audiences to dance to the beat of reggateon with live music performances; move with the rhythm of salsa, merengue and bachata dance classes; and explore a picturesque Artesanias market for all ages.

July 22–24: Adobo Gigante

The DMV’s authentic Afro-Latinx experience, Adobo, returns to the Kennedy Center with a midsummer’s weekend of programming. Adobo Gigante will include live performances from some of the top local artists in DC, as well as DJ sets from Pedro Night, DJ Bembona, DJ Alizay, DJ Bo, and more.

July 29–31: D.C. Legendary Musicians: From Blues to Jazz to Go-Go

In collaboration with D.C. Legendary Musicians, whose mission is to preserve, protect, and promote the artistic legacy, contributions, and well-being of DC’s professional musicians, the Kennedy Center presents a block party made for the Native Washingtonians featuring hand dance, soul, the history of voting, and more.

August 5–7: Raga at the REACH

Raga at the REACH is a three-day festival focused on presenting the vibrant culture and heritage of India through live music, dance, film, and local arts vendors. Presented by District of Raga in collaboration with the Kennedy Center.

August 12–14: Step Afrika! at the Kennedy Center

Step Afrika!, the world’s first professional company dedicated to the art form of stepping hits the stage for the first time since March 2020. Audiences are invited to join the celebrated dance company along with amazing step teams and guest artists for performances as well as classes in stepping, the South African gumboot dance, and more.

August 19–21: Preserving Go-Go from the Old School to the New School

Don’t Mute DC’s signature mix of artistry and advocacy for Go-Go—DC’s “official music”—comes to the REACH. Fifty years before Glenn Close was doing “Da Butt” at the Oscars®, a group of middle school kids from Southeast Washington was forming the legendary band Experience Unlimited, aka EU. The weekend will include live performances and activities, a panel discussion of the “EU @ 50 Project” celebrating five decades of crank, and a screening of the reality series Make Go-Go 4Eva which lays foundation of the rich history of go-go music in DC while passing the torch to the next generation of innovators.

August 26–28: On Deck: Women Shredding through the Boundaries

An all-inclusive festival featuring women in action sports and music. Visitors are invited to join the Kennedy Center, sPaCyClOuD, and Women in Jazz, in carving out space in the unconventional arenas of jazz and skateboarding for a more equal future together.

September 2–4: Field Day: A Three-Day Festival for Emerging Voices

44:21 and Shout Mouse Press team up to celebrate emerging storytellers. Events include a short film festival featuring the work of young filmmakers, a reading featuring teen authors around the DMV, a writing workshop, and a community open mic. Audiences can also enjoy live music, buy art from local artists, and buy books from local authors.

September 9–11: The John F. Kennedy Center at 50

A weekend-long festival marking the beginning of the Kennedy Center’s 50th anniversary with a weekend pointing us towards the future.

September 18–20: National Dance Day

Presented in partnership with the Kennedy Center, American Dance Movement, and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, National Dance Day celebrates the joy of dance and movement. For its 12th exciting year, National Dance Day will be celebrated over an entire weekend of free performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more from local DC organizations.

September 23–25: Deaf Culture and Arts Festival

Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA) and National Theatre of the Deaf (NTD) partner in hosting a three-day community event, Deaf Culture & Arts Festival, to celebrate Deaf culture through the arts. Deaf Culture & Arts Festival includes outdoor activities and performances highlighting Deaf artists while showcasing their unique talents in the creative arts: music, ASL poetry/storytelling, visual arts, dance, film, theater, and more.

September 30–October 2: The Mumbo Connection

The Mumbo Connection explores the true heartbeat of DC’s culture through socially engaged art, go-go music, theater, murals, and more. This community activation aims to bring the families of DC and the DMV together to celebrate native life, Black and brown liberation, create together, and experience art and stories from the community. This is freedom—the real DC—The Mumbo Connection.