Watch Movies Under the Stars This Summer
Screen on the Green on the National Mall may be a thing of the past, but there are plenty of other places around the DMV that host free movie screenings under the stars. Nearly every night of the week you can grab a blanket and enjoy a wide array of movies, from kid favorites such as Coco to more serious selections such as The Post and even recent releases like Black Panther and Wonder Woman. Remember to take your picnics, blankets and bug spray. Check back because we will add more as the dates and movies are announced.
Grab a blanket and some popcorn and head to Adams Morgan Movie Nights Tuesdays at sundown (about 8:30 p.m.). Following a change in location last year due to construction, the movie screenings return to the Marie Reed Elementary School soccer field, 2201 18th St. NW.
The series kicks off May 15 with a selection of Pixar’s award-winning short films, ranging from of of their early work to newer releases. The screenings continue with The Big Lebowski on May 22, Hairspray with John Travolta and Zac Efron on May 29, Jackie on June 5 and Hidden Figures on June 12 with June 19 as a raindate. (May 15 was a rainout so the Pixar short films will be shown on June 19.)
The Alexandria Comcast Outdoor Film Festival takes place in Waterfront Park, 1 Prince St., on July 13 and 14. Take your blankets and beach chairs.
This year’s schedule is Coco on July 13 and Wonder Woman on July 14. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. and the screenings begin at 8:30 p.m.
The Four Mile Summer Movie Series is a free, four-week film series in the Arlandria section of Alexandria. The last Friday of the month from May through August, Restore Alexandria hosts games, giveaways, popcorn, drinks and films under the stars with Spanish subtitles at Four Mile Run Plaza, 4109 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. The movies are shown on an asphalt lot, so take chairs or cushions to sit on. Picnic coolers are allowed. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. with movies starting at sundown.
This year’s slate includes Coco on May 25, Marry Poppins on June 29, Wonder on July 27 and Space Jam on Aug. 31.
The 14th annual Bethesda Outdoor Movies take place over five consecutive nights in July. The screenings begin at 9 p.m. at the corner of Norfolk and Auburn Avenues in the Woodmont Triangle. A limited number of chairs will be available, so moviegoers are encouraged to take their own.
This year’s slate includes Remember the Titans on July 24, Casablanca on July 25, The Big Sick on July 26, Mean Girls on July 27 and The Post on July 28.
The Library of Congress sponsors free Summer Movies on the Lawn every Thursday from July 12 through Aug. 16 beginning at sunset on the north lawn of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. SE between the Jefferson Building and the Supreme Court. Moviegoers are welcome to take picnics.
This year’s screenings, from the National Film registry, include Field of Dreams on July 12, The Goonies on July 19, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial on July 26, Back to the Future on Aug. 2, Superman on Aug. 9 and The Wizard of Oz on Aug. 16.
Another great venue for outdoor films is Capitol Riverfront’s Outdoor Movie Series. The films are shown at Canal Park, 200 M St. SE, down the street from Nationals Park, beginning at sundown every Thursday. Take a picnic and enjoy the show or visit one of the nearby restaurants. Gates open at 7 p.m. and all movies are captioned.
The series begins June 7 with Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle followed by Raiders of the Lost Ark on June 14, Despicable Me on June 21, Easy A on June 28, National Treasure on July 5, A League of Their Own on July 12, The Greatest Showman on July 19 and Coco on July 26. The series wraps up with Black Panther on Aug. 2, Wonder Woman on Aug. 9, Lion King on Aug. 16 and Kiss Me Kate on Aug. 23.
The D.C. office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs presents Movie Nights in Chinatown Park with an Asian and Pacific Islander-themed movie line up in the park at the corner of Fifth Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW. Movies begin at dark – between 8:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. — with free popcorn and popsicles. Take your own blankets, chairs and bug spray if needed.
This year’s schedule includes Along with the Gods: The Two Worlds in Korean with English subtitles on June 13, The Scent of Green Papaya in Vietnamese with English substitles on July 18, The Life of Pi Lion on Aug. 15 and Kung Fu Panda 3 as part of the Mid-Autumn Festival on Sept. 21. The festival will begin at 6:30 p.m. arts and crafts, activities and snacks from 6:30-7:30 p.m. followed by the movie.
Market Common Clarendon shopping center, 2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington, sponsors a Family-Frinedly Moie and Fall Fun every Thursday in October on The Loop with free popcorn and candy. Take a blanket and a picnic and enjoy free face painting and balloon twisting beginning at 4:30 p.m. with movies at 6:30 p.m.
This year’s Moana on Oct. 4, Wonder on Oct. 11, Despicable Me 3 on Oct. 18 and Momma Mia! on Oct. 25.
The Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization sponsors movie nights beginning about 8:30 p.m. on Fridays at Arlington Mill Community Center, 909 S. Dinwiddie St., Arlington, and on Saturdays at Penrose Square, 2503 Columbia Pike, Arlington.
The Arlington Mill schedule features Grease on June 1, Chicago on June 8, Into the Woods on June 15, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) on June 22 Batman (1999) on June 29, Mary Poppins on July 6, The Sound of Music on July 13, Toy Story on July 20 and Coco on July 27. Rounding out the summer series is Jailhouse Rock on Aug. 3, Beauty & the Beast (1991) on Aug. 10, Young Frankenstein on Aug. 17, West Side Story on Aug. 24 and The Wizard of Oz on Aug. 31.
The Penrose Square movies include Hairspray (2007) on June 2, The Color Purple on June 9, Dreamgirls on June 16, O Brother, Where Art Thou? on June 23, Batman (1989) on June 30, Dick Tracy on July 7, The Sound of Music on July 14, Singin’ in the Rain on July 21 and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid on July 28. Also, Newsies on Aug. 4, Beauty and the Beast (1991) on Aug. 11, Young Frankenstein on Aug. 18, West Side Story on Aug. 25 and The Wizard of Oz on Sept. 1.
Congressional Cemetery, 1801 E St. SE, sponsors Cinematery monthly during the summer. screened among the graves. Gates open at 7 p.m. and movies begin around 8:30 p.m. (except in September when everything moves up and hour) and are free, although a $10 donation is suggested. Guests are welcome to BYOB and dinner too.
This year’s schedule includes Young Frankenstein on June 15, Jurassic Park on July 20, Close Encounters of the Third Kind on Aug. 17 and The Sixth Sense on Sept. 14.
Cinema Del Rey brings outdoor movies to the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2017 Belle View Blvd., in the Del Rey section of Alexandria. The fun starts at 7 p.m. and movies begin at dusk.
This year’s schedule includes The Lion King on May 19, The Lego Batman Movie on June 16, Toy Story 3 on July 21, Cars 3 on Aug. 18 and Coco on Sept. 15.
District Bridges is the new Main Street project covering Columbia Heights, Mount Pleasant and Lower Georgia Avenue. With more neighborhoods, it has expanded the former Movie Night in the Heights to a roving movie night in different parts of its coverage area. Movies will be shown at sundown with gates opening at 7:30 p.m. Friday nights in June. So take your chairs or blankets and munch on free popcorn while you enjoy the show.
This year’s schedule includes Black Panther on June 1 at Kracken Axes, 3400 Georgia Ave. NW in Park View; Paddigton 2 on June 8 at Powell Elementary School, 1350 Upshur St. NW in Petworth; Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 on June 15 at Harriet Tubman Elementary School field, 3101 13th St. NW in Columbia Heights; Isle of Dogs on June 22 on the McCormick Paints parking lot, 3124 Mt. Pleasant St. NW; and a movie to be determined on June 29 in Pleasant Plains.
District of Columbia
The D.C. Department of Recreation will host DPR Family Movie Nights at different recreation centers around the city. Attendees will vote on which of four movies will be screened that night. Possibilities include Smurfs: The Lost Village, The Lego Batman Movie, Secret Life of Pets or Sing.
Movie nights will be held on the outdoor community basketball courts at 14th and Girard St. NW on Sept. 20; the Joe Cole Recreation Center, 1299 Neal St. NE on Sept. 21; the Upshur Recreation Center, 4300 Arkansas Ave. NW, on Sept. 22; and the Takoma Recreation Center, 300 Van Buren St. NW, on Sept. 23.
The Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St. NW, sponsors the seventh annual Jane Austen Film Festival from 7:30-10 p.m. Wednesdays in July and early August with films starting at sunset. Take a blanket or lawn chairs and enjoy the movie in the house’s lush garden. Admission is $6 per film or $20 for all four films.
This year’s lineup includes Love and Friendship on July 11, Sense & Sensability on July 18, Emma on July 25 and Pride & Prejudice on Aug. 1. In case of rain, films will be rescheduled for Aug. 8 and 15.
For a month of Fridays this fall, Falls Church presents the city’s 15th annual Sunset Cinema in Cherry Hill Park, 312 Park Ave., Falls Church. Take a blanket and a picnic, or buy drinks, popcorn or snacks there. There might even be a food truck. Screenings begin at 7:45 p.m. and will be moved into the community center in case of bad weather.
This year’s schedule includes Wonder on Sept. 21, Despicable Me 3 on Sept. 28, viewer’s choice, which is Black Panther, on Oct. 5 and Coco on Oct. 27 after the Halloween Carnival.
Every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in June and part of July, the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District turns Freedom Plaza at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue into an outdoor movie theater with Can I Kick It? featuring a classic or cult-contemporary classic martial arts film that is scored with an original music soundtrack of hip hop, soul and more by DJ 2-Tone Jones. Arrive early to watch a martial arts demonstration or play outdoor games and munch on free popcorn.
The schedule includes Karate Kid on June 5, Rumble in the Bronx on June 12, The Golden Child on June 19, Kung Fu Hustle on June 26, Romeo Must Die on July 2 and Blood Sport on July 10.
Georgetown’s fourth annual Sunset Cinema outdoor movie series returns to Waterfront Park at the intersection of K/Water Street and Cecil Place on Tuesdays from July 10-Aug. 7 beginning at sunset. This year’s theme is Movies That Rock, featuring iconic movies with a musical storyline. Take your blanket (no chairs please) and a picnic.
This year’s movies include Dirty Dancing on July 10, Pitch Perfect on July 17, Footloose on July 24, Dreamgirls on July 31 and Grease on Aug. 7.
Golden Cinema, the 10-week outdoor movie series shown at Farragut Square from early June through the beginning of August can make for a very convenient after-work date. Festivities begin with lawn games, table tennis competitions and pop-up guests.
This year’s movies include The Post on June 1, The Devil Wears Prada on June 8, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on June 15, La La Land on June 22 and Beauty and the Beast (2017) on June 29. Rounding out the schedule are Back to the Future on July 6, Coco on July 13, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on July 20, Casablaca on July 27 and Black Panther on Aug. 3.
Films in the Field is held at Mitchell Park, S and 23rd Streets NW, monthly during the summer. All films are shown on Thursdays, except the last one, which will be shown on a Sunday. Moviegoers get free snow cones and popcorn.
The schedule includes Kubo and the Two Strings at 8:30 p.m. on June 14, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom at 8:40 p.m. on July 12, The Great Race at 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 9 and a film still to be named at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 26. In case of rain, the movies will be shown the same night of the following week.
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial
Films at the Stone is the first and only summer film series at a memorial on the National Mall. The films, shown at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1964 Independence Ave. SW, “display the best of human love, strength and courage” one Thursday per month during the summer.
Screenings begin at 8:15 p.m. and include Marshall on June 21, Jumanji on July 19 and Black Panther on Aug. 23. Pack a picnic and take blankets or low lawn chairs.
The Mosaic District shosts its outdoor movie series, Sunday Night Films in the Park on the big screen in Strawberry Park, 2805 District Ave., Fairfax. Movies egin at 7 p.m.
This year’s schedule includes The Lion King on June 3, A Wrinkle in Time on June 10, The Goofy Movie on June 17 and The Iron Giant on June 24. Also, Mulan on July 1, The Adventures of TinTin on July 8, Leap on July 15, Sponge Bob the Movie on July 22 and The Little Mermaid on July 29. Rounding out the series is Princess and the Frog on Aug. 5, Toy Story on Aug. 12, Annie on Aug. 19, Coco on Aug. 26 and The Incredibles on Sept. 2.
National Harbor shows Movies on the Potomac with family-friendly films at 6 p.m. on Sundays and Date Night Movies at 7 p.m. on Thursdays through September on the Plaza’s big screen. Pack your blankets, grab food to go from one of the many restaurants and watch a free movie with a view of the Potomac. Parking is $5 for up to 2 hours and $12 for 2-4 hours and $20 for more than 4 hours. The Fleet Street garage is the nearest to the Plaza.
Family movies include Coco on May 6, Despicable Me 3 on May 13, Cars 3 on May 20, The Lego Batman Movie on May 27, Matilada on June 3, Bolt on June 10, Zookeeper on June 17 and Charlotte’s Web on June 24. Also, Enchanted on July 1, The Little Rascals on July 8, Alice Through the Looking Glass on July 15, Holes on July 22, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on July 29, Maleficent on Aug.5, The Little Mermaid on Aug. 12, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe on Aug. 19 and Annie (2014) on Aug. 26. The series wraps up with A Wrinkle in Time on Sept. 2, The Wizard of Oz on Sept. 9, The Wiz (1978) on Sept. 16, Moana on Sept. 23 and The Lion King on Sept. 30.
Date Night Movies include The Fate of the Furious on May 3, Indian Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on May 10, Roman J. Israel, Esq on May 17, The Mummy on May 24, Wonder Woman on May 31, Going in Style on June 7, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales on June 14, Forrest Gump on June 21 and Dreamgirls on June 28. Also, Selena on July 5, Star Wars: The Last Jedi on July 12, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on July 19, Justice League on July 26, Victoria and Abdul on Aug. 2, Transformers: The Last Knight on Aug. 9, Before I Fall on Aug. 16, The Blindside on Aug. 23 and Mean Girls on Aug. 30. Ending the series is Black Panther on Sept. 6, Black Panther again on Sept. 13, Last Call: Pitch Perfect on Sept. 20 and Marshall on Sept. 28.
NoMa Summer Screen is a 12-week Wednesday outdoor film series. All screenings, shown with subtitles, take place at sunset. The gates open at 7 p.m. with music, giveaways and food trucks. The films are shown at Storey Park, an asphalt lot at 1005 First St. NE, so be sure to take folding chairs along with Frisbees and a cooler for a comfortable evening. Dogs on leashes are welcome. This year’s theme is “Wonder Women” and features movies with strong female leads.
This year’s line-up includes 10 Things I Hate About you on June 6 followed by Mulan on June 13, Chicago on June 20 and Mad Max: Fury Road on June 28. There won’t be a screening on July 4, but Matilda continues the series on July 11, A League of Their Own on July 18 and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story on July 25. The series wraps up with Pitch Perfect on Aug. 1, Moana on Aug. 8, Thelma & Louise on Aug. 15, Ghostbusters (2016) on Aug. 22 and Wonder Woman on Sept. 29 with a rain date on Sept. 5.
The 22th annual Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival benefiting NIH Charities brings outdoor movies to Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, Aug. 23-26. Movies are shown on a nine-story tall, 52-foot wide inflatable screen. Take your blankets, low-rise chairs and small coolers. Ridgewells will have food for sale.
This year’s lineup includes Coco on Aug. 23, Black Panther on Aug. 24, The Lion King on Aug. 25 and Wonder Woman on Aug. 26. Films begin dusk, about 8:30 p.m., and gates open at 7:30 p.m. with music, visual art displays and games. Classic theater fare, barbecue, wine and beer are available for purchase from Ridgewells. Parking is available at the Metro garage with a credit card or SmartTrip card.
The Rosemont Reel returns to Beach Park, 201 Rucker Place, Alexandria, with four summer outdoor movies. There is also free popcorn and drinks. Gates open at 7:30 p.m. and the movie begins at dusk.
This year’s movies include Coco on May 12, Peter Rabbit on June 23, Paddington 2 on July 23 and Sherlock Gnomes on Aug. 25.
This year’s Rosslyn Cinema + Pub in the Park features games, beer, wine and sangria as well as food trucks and an outdoor movie. Shown in Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, screenings start between 8:30-9 p.m. Fridays. Take blankets or low chairs and a picnic or enjoy dinner from the rotating, featured food truck beginning at 5 p.m. Popped Republic food truck will be on hand selling popcorn. There will be special kids’ activities before the movie on June 29, July 1 and Aug. 17. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
This year’s lineup includes Legally Blonde on June 8, Wonder on June 15, The Fifth Element on June 22, Ratatouille on June 29, Bridesmaids on July 6, Coco on July 13, Amelie on July 20 and La La Land on July 27. Winding up the series is Argo on Aug. 3, Lethal Weapon on Aug. 10, The Lion King on Aug. 17 and Four Weddings and a Funeral on Aug. 24.
Silver Spring’s free Silver Screens on Veterans Plaza is moving to The Blairs District, 1290 East West Highway, Silver Spring, and being renamed Silver Screens on Sonny’s Green. Movies begin at sundown, between 8-8:30 p.m. Blankets and chairs are welcome, food and drink are available for purchase. Free parking is available in the lot at 1317 East West Highway, Silver Spring.
Curated by the American Film Institute, this Friday night series begins with the original Jurassic Park on July 13 followed by Moana on July 20 and Jumanji (1995) on July 27. It finishes up with Isle of Dogs (bring your own dog!) on Aug. 3, CatVideoFest 2017 on Aug. 10, Game Night on Aug. 17, Clue (1985) on Aug. 24 and Ghostbusters (1984) on Aug. 31.
The Union Market Drive-In returns with its biggest season yet the first Friday of the month from May through November. The market, 1309 Fifth St. NE, will show the flicks on the front of the building with captions.
The line-up includes Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark on May 11, Clueless on June 1, Like Water for Chocolate on July 6, Black Panther on Aug. 3, The Lion King on Sept. 7, Cool Runnings on Oct. 5 and Hocus Pocus on Nov. 2. The films begin between 8-8:30 p.m.. Admission is free for bikers and walkers, but parking is $10 per carload.
Outdoor movies are not only fun for the whole family, but make for a great date cuddled up with your significant other watching a movie while taking in some fresh air. Don’t forget to pair that movie with some dinner to make for the perfect summer date.
Editor’s Note: This post was updated June 30 and July 16, 2018 to add additional screenings.
Editor-in-Chief Mark Heckathorn is a journalist, movie buff and foodie. He oversees DC on Heels editorial operations as well as strategic planning and staff development. Reach him with story ideas or suggestions at dcoheditor (at) gmail (dot) com.