Enjoy Free Summer Movies Under the Stars
Summer is here. School is almost over. And the temperatures are rising. Cool off and relax with 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 Ralph Breaks the Internet and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to more serious selections such as On the Basis of Sex or Apollo 13 and even recent releases like Captain Marvel. Remember to take your picnics, blankets and bug spray. Check back because we will add more as the dates and movies are announced.
Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with free space-themed outdoor movie screening at Adams Morgan Movie Nights. Before two of the “Movies in Space” screenings at the Marie Reed Elementary School soccer field, 2201 18th St. NW at sunset (about 8 p.m.) on Tuesdays from May 21 through June 18, the National Air and Space Museum will host panels discussing the science behind the films. And telescopes will be set up for stargazing, if the weather allows. The Marie Reed PTA will be selling refreshments.
The series kicks off May 21 with Armageddon. The screenings continue with Alien on May 28, Spaceballs on June 4, Apollo 11 on June 11 and ET, the Extra-Terrestrial on June 18.
The Carlyle Vitality Initiative hosts the Saturday Cinema Series at John Carlyle Park, 300 John Carlyle St., Alexandria, from June through September. Movies begin at dusk.
This year’s schedule includes Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on June 1, Black Panther on July 6, Incredibles 2 on July 20, Instant Family on Aug. 3, Dumbo on Aug. 17, Ralph Breaks the Internet on Sept. 7 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on Sept. 28.
The 15th annual Bethesda Outdoor Movies take place over four 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 10 Things I Hate About You on July 24, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on July 25, Crazy Rich Asians on July 26 and As Good As It Gets on July 27.
The Library of Congress sponsors free Summer Movies on the Lawn every Thursday from July 11 through Aug. 15 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. Each film will feature a pre-screening concert co-presented by Washington Performing Arts.
This year’s screenings, from the National Film registry, include Mary Poppins on July 11, Beauty and the Beast on July 18, A League of Their Own on July 25, Jaws on Aug. 1, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial on Aug. 8 and Jurassic Park on Aug. 15.
Another great venue for outdoor films is Capitol Riverfront’s Outdoor Movie Series. The films are shown at Canal Park, Second and K Streets 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 13 with Crazy Rich Asians followed by Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on June 20, The Little Mermaid on June 27, The Goonies on July 11, Ralph Breaks the Internet on July 18 and Apollo 13 on July 25. The series wraps up with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on Aug. 1, Guardians of the Galaxy on Aug. 8, Incredibles 2 on Aug. 15 and Bohemian Rhapsody on Aug. 22. Due to rain, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has been rescheduled for Aug. 29.
The D.C. office of Asian & Pacific Islander Affairs presents Movie Nights at 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 sunset – between 8:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. — with free popcorn. Take your own blankets, chairs and bug spray if needed.
This year’s schedule includes Swing Kids on Aug. 23, Crazy Rich Asians on Aug. 30, Bend It Like Beckham on Sept. 6 and Monkey King: Herio Is Back on Sept. 13.
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. This year’s theme is “Heroes & Sheroes: Movies with a Mission.”
The Arlington Mill schedule features Moana on June 14, On the Basis of Sex on June 21, A Wrinkle in Time on June 28 Hidden Figures on July 5, Aquaman on July 12, First Man on July 19 and The Incredibles on July 26. Rounding out the summer series is Mulan on Aug. 2, Brave on Aug. 9, E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial on Aug. 16 and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on Aug. 23.
The Penrose Square movies include Black Panther on June 15, Wonder Woman on June 22, The Post on June 29, Apollo 13 on July 6, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on July 13, Akeelah and the Bee on July 20 and Selma on July 27. Also, Norma Rae on Aug. 3, A League of Their Own on Aug. 10, Life in the Doghouse on Aug. 17 and Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on Aug. 24.
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 Notorious on June 21, Jaws on July 19, Stand By Me on Aug. 9 and Get Out on Sept. 13.
Cinema Del Rey brings outdoor movies to the Mount Vernon Recreation Center, 2017 Belle View Blvd., in the Del Rey section of Alexandria the third Saturday of each month May through September. The fun starts at 7 p.m. and movies begin at dusk.
This year’s schedule includes Peter Pan on May 18, Ralph Breaks the Internet on June 15, Smallfoot in Spanish with English subtitles on July 20, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World on Aug. 17 and Incredibles 2 on Sept. 21.
District Bridges is the 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 Neighborhood Movie Nights night in different parts of its coverage area. Movies will be shown at sundown with gates opening at 7 p.m. Saturday nights in September.
This year’s movie roster and locations have not been announced yet, but the dates are Sept. 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28.
The Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St. NW, sponsors the eighth annual Jane Austen Film Festival from 7:30-11 p.m. Wednesdays in July with films starting at sunset. Take a blanket or low chairs and enjoy the movie in the house’s lush garden. Refreshments and concessions will be for sale. Admission is $6 per film or $25 for all five films.
This year’s lineup includes Sense and Sensibility on July 3, Emma on July 10, Persuasion on July 17, Love and Friendship on July 24 and Pride & Prejudice on July 31. In case of rain, films will be rescheduled for Aug. 7, 14 and 21.
Golden Cinema, the 8-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 Crazy Rich Asians on June 7, A Dog’s Way Home on June 14, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on June 21 and Ocean’s 8 on June 28. Rounding out the schedule are Mary Poppins Returns on July 12, Incredibles 2 on July 19, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on July 26 and Wonder Woman on Aug. 2. A rain date is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Every Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in June and part of July, the Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District turns Freedom Plaza, 1455 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, into an outdoor movie theater with Can I Kick It? featuring your favorite Marvel movies scored with an original music soundtrack of hip hop, soul and more by DJ 2-Tone Jones. Arrive at 7:30 p.m. to watch a martial arts demonstration, groove to a live DJ set or play outdoor games and munch on free popcorn.
The schedule includes Spider-Man: Into the Spiver-Verse on June 4, Black Panther on June 11, Deadpool on June 18, Thor: Ragnarok on June 25, Avengers: Infinity War on July 2 and Captain Marvel on July 9.
Gateway Pavilion/RFK Stadium
The Events DC Summer Movie Series brings free outdoor movies to Gateway Pavilion, 2700 Martin Luther King Blvd. SE on Wednesdays in July, and The Lawn at Oklahoma Avenue at RFK Stadium, 2400 East Capitol St. SE every other Thursday during the month. Take blankets, lawn chairs, snacks and friends and arrive beginning at 6 p.m. for free light refreshments (while they last) and family-friendly activities. Movies begin at dusk.
The Gateway Pavilion schedule includes Aquaman on July 10, Avengers: Infinity War on July 17, Captain Marvel on July 24 and Spiderman: Homecoming on July 31.
The RFK Stadium schedule features Avengers: Infinity War on July 11 and Spiderman: Homecoming on July 25.
Georgetown BID’s annual Sunset Cinema outdoor movie series returns to Waterfront Park at the intersection of K/Water Street and Cecil Place on Tuesdays from July 9-Aug. 6 beginning at sunset, between 8:30-8:45 p.m.. This year’s theme is “Out of Office,” featuring films about vacations and trips. Take your blanket (no chairs please) and a picnic. Food trucks will also be available at K and Water Streets during each screening.
This year’s movies include Under the Tuscan Sun on July 9, Sandlot on July 16, Little Miss Sunshine on July 23, The Parent Trap (1998) on July 30 and Eat Pray Love on Aug. 6.
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 Friday. Moviegoers get free snow cones and popcorn.
The schedule includes A League of Their Own at 8:30 p.m. on June 13, Coco at 8:30 p.m. on July 11, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull at 8 p.m. on Aug. 8 and All the President’s Men at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 6. 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 7:30 p.m. and include BlackkKlansman on June 20, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on July 18 and The Hate U Give on Aug. 22. Pack a picnic and take blankets or low lawn chairs.
The Mosaic District hosts its outdoor movie series, Sunday Night Films in the Park on the big screen in Strawberry Park, 2805 District Ave., Fairfax. Movies begin at 7 p.m.
This year’s schedule includes Ralph Breaks the Internet on June 2, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on June 9, Space Jam on June 16, Mary Poppins Returns on June 23 and Free Willy on June 30. Also, Tangled on July 7, Christopher Robin on July 14, Incredibles 2 on July 21 and The Jungle Book (2016) on July 28. Rounding out the series is Smallfoot on Aug. 4, Homeward Bound on Aug. 11, Akeelah and the Bee on Aug. 18, How to Train Your Dragon on Aug. 25 and Hook on Sept. 1.
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 $14 for 2-4 hours and $20 for more than 4 hours. The Fleet Street garage is the nearest to the Plaza.
Family movies include The Little Rascals on May 5, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on May 12, Incredibles 2 on May 19, The Lego Batman Movie on May 26, Cars 3 on June 2, Matilda on June 9, Ralph Breaks the Internet on June 16, Air Bud: World Cup on June 23 and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on June 30. Also, Mary Poppins Returns on July 7, Coco on July 14, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms on July 21, The Lego Movie on July 28, How to Train your Dragon: The Hidden World on Aug.4, Learning to See: The World of Insects on Aug. 11, Holes on Aug. 18 and Instant Family on Aug. 25. The series wraps up with The Lego Movie 2 on Sept. 1, The Wizard of Oz on Sept. 8, The Wiz (1978) on Sept. 15, Despicable Me 3 on Sept. 22 and Dumbo on Sept. 29.
Date Night Movies include Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom on May 2, First Man on May 9, Robin Hood on May 16, Ant-Man and the Wasp on May 23, Crazy Rich Asians on May 30, Spaceballs on June 6, Pele on June 13, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald on June 20 and Dreamgirls on June 27. Also, Selena on July 4, Kin on July 11, Night School on July 18, Justice League on July 25, Green Book on Aug. 1, Transformers: The Last Knight on Aug. 8, Bring It On on Aug. 15, Bumblebee on Aug. 22 and Mean Girls on Aug. 29. Ending the series is Black Panther on Sept. 5, Venom on Sept. 12, Creed II on Sept. 19 and Ocean’s 8 on Sept. 26.
Grab a blanket or chair and relax under the stars with the Lone Sailor on Thursday evenings at Movies on the Memorial beginning at dusk at the U.S. Navy Memorial, 701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. The summertime series of Navy-themed films that pay tribute to our rich maritime heritage are shown from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but not on July 4. Arrive early to get a prime spot on the Granite Sea. Concessions are sold in the Navy Memorial Visitor Center. In case of inclement weather, movies will be shown in the Burke Theater at 8 p.m.
This year’s schedule includes Act of Valor on May 30, Top Gun on June 6, Behind Enemy Lines on June 13, Proud on June 20, Tora! Tora! Tora on June 27, South Pacific on July 11, The Sullivans on July 18 and American Sniper on July 25. There series concludes with Captain Phillips on Aug. 1, Flags of Our Fathers on Aug. 8, A Few Good Men on Aug. 15, Men of Honor on Aug. 22 and Battleship on Aug. 29.
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 the corner of First and Pierce Streets, 1150 First St. NE, so be sure to take folding chairs or a blanket along with Frisbees and a cooler for a comfortable evening. Dogs on leashes are welcome. This year’s theme is “Who’s Got Game?” and features sports-related movies.
This year’s line-up includes The Karate Kid on June 5 followed by Love & Basketball on June 12, Moneyball on June 19 and Rudy on June 26. The Sandlot continues the series on July 3, I, Tonya on July 10, Bend It Like Beckham on July 17, Remember the Titans on July 24 and Bring It On on July 31. The series wraps up with Cool Runnings on Aug. 7, She’s the Man on Aug. 14 and Best in Show on Aug. 21 with a rain date on Aug. 28.
The City of Rockville hosts Movies in the Parks in a different city park each Wednesday in August. Take chairs, blankets, food and drinks. Movies begin at dusk, usually about 8 p.m.
This year’s lineup includes Smallfoot on Aug. 7 at Calvin Park, 1248 Gladstone Drive, The Mighty Ducks on Aug. 14 at Woodley Gardens Park, 900 Nelson St., The Little Mermaid on Aug. 21 at Maryvale Park, 812 First St., and Sherlock Gnomes on Aug. 28 at Potomac Woods Park, 1380 Stratton Drive.
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 Ralph Breaks the Internet on June 1, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World on June 29, The Lego Movie on July 27 and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on Aug. 24.
This year’s shortened Rosslyn Cinema features games, including cornhole, giant Jenga and ping pong, 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 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. before the movie on June 14 and July 13. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
This year’s lineup includes Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on June 7, Paddington on June 14, Casablanca on June 21, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on June 28, Crazy Rich Asians on July 5 and Incredibles 2 on July 12.
The AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center’s Silver Screens on Sonny’s Green returns to The Blairs District, 1290 East West Highway, Silver Spring, every other Friday in July and August. 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 AFI, this Friday night series begins with Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse on July 5 followed by The Matrix on July 19. It wraps up with Isle of Dogs (bring your own dog!) on Aug. 2, The Little Mermaid on Aug. 16 and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure on Aug. 30.
The Drive-In at Union Market returns with its seventh season the first Friday of the month from May through October. The market, 1309 Fifth St. NE, will show the flicks on the front of the building with captions. The films begin between 8-8:55 p.m. Admission is free for bikers and walkers, but parking is $15 per carload.
The line-up includes Dazed and Confused on May 3, Con Air on June 7, A League of Their Own on July 5, Jaws on Aug. 2, Coco on Sept. 6 and The Wiz on Oct. 4.
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 article was updated to include 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.