Hearing a Symphony Orchestra live or seeing a Shakespeare play in D.C. doesn’t have to break the bank. With a little advance planning, you can attend these free concerts or snag some cheap discount tickets.
Free Concert Series
National Gallery of Art
Every Sunday afternoon, usually around 2 or 3pm the National Gallery of Art hosts a free and open to the public concert. Seating is on a first come first serve basis and begins 30 minutes prior to the show. It’s best to get there early and have a look around the museum and cue up if you predict it will be a popular concert.
Highlights of the 2016-2017 Season include performances by Philip Glass, A Roomful of Teeth, A Far Cry, and Parker Quartet.
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Every second Sunday of the month at 3pm, the Smithsonian offers a “Steinway Series” concert on their refurbished Steinway. Free tickets are available in the G Street lobby, half an hour prior to each performance.
Every Thursday the museum presents a free live jazz concert in the Kogod Courtyard. In addition to the music, you can also rent out a board game to play during the show!
21st Century Consort
The 21st Century Consort has been the resident contemporary music ensemble of the Smithsonian Institution since 1978 (Originally the 20th Century Consort). They present concerts that relate to the art currently being displayed, or to current events. They are hosting an “Election Special” at 5pm on October 22nd.
Luce Local Artist Series
This concert series is truly unique. A local musician picks a work of art from the collection, at 5:30 a museum staff member gives a talk about the work. A concert by the musician usually follows at 6. You can also purchase snacks and beverages while the event takes place.
Find these and more concerts in Smithsonian galleries here (Filter down to Performances)
Library of Congress Concert Series
The LoC offers a variety of free concerts each week in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The only cache is that you must reserve your seat for the upcoming concerts on Eventbrite.
Season highlights include Folklife Concerts, Jason Robert Brown, Pacifica Quartet, and Arditti Quartet. Tickets for 2016 have already gone live, but the spring concerts will be available on January 4th at 10am. Spots fill up quick, so be sure to reserve free tickets for the concerts you’re interested in!
Millenium Stage Concerts at the Kennedy Center
Every day of the year, usually at 6pm, Kennedy Center presents free concerts on their Millennium Stages. They present shows in a variety of genres, art forms, and ages of performers. Recently they have also started Live Streaming each Millennium Stage concert, so you can watch for free at the Kennedy Center or from the comfort of your home. These concerts include area music groups such as Howard Gospel Choir and GW’s Chamber Music Groups as well as Strathmore’s Artists in Residence, Comedy, and Improv troupes, and other well-known artists.
Check out the upcoming concerts here
Discount and Student Tickets
The Kennedy Center’s MyTix program offers discounted tickets for anyone under 30 years old.It gives you access to $10 tickets for concerts, musicals, and opera, as well as discounts in the KC Gift Shop and restaurants/bars.It’s free to join and as easy as signing up for a KC account.
Sign up here
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra
The BSO offers a program called “Student Select” in order to make attending concerts more affordable to students. For a one-time membership fee of $25, you can have access to an entire season of BSO concerts. The BSO, under the direction of Marin Alsop, is one of the nation’s leading orchestras and you can hear them right off of the red line, at the Music Center at Strathmore!
Upcoming BSO at Strathmore concerts include Carmina Burana, Shostakovich Symphony 10, Dvorak Symphony 8, Mahler Symphony 6 and Beethoven 9.
Sign up or learn more here
Washington Performing Arts
Washington Performing Arts offers great student discounts for most performances! You can reserve up to two tickets can be reserved for $10 each with your student ID. Email email@example.com for more information on available offers. Visit the Washington Performing Arts website for a list of upcoming performances, including Hiliary Hahn, Bela Fleck, Joshua Bell, the Kronos Quartet, Anoushka Shankar,
The Phillips Collection, a modern and contemporary art gallery in Dupont, has been offering Sunday music concerts for 76 years now. Phillips is dedicated to contemporary art and music, and their concerts are held in their beautiful space. Student tickets are available for every Sunday concert for $20, this also includes entrance into the museum. Season highlights include Rahim AlHaj, Nadia Sirota, the Trilogy violin trio, and the Heath Quartet.
Check out the rest of the season here
Round House Theater
RHT offers two “Pay What You Can” nights during the first week of every production.They also offer $10 tickets every Tuesday, in the side sections of the theater.
Find the schedule here
Folger Shakespeare Theater
Folger has half-priced student tickets which are available during preview performances of Folger Theatre productions. All other theater performances have a $10 discount for students. Additionally, college students can purchase $15 tickets to each of the “College Night” performances.
Folger Consort also offers $5 off for students in advance, and half-price student rush tickets are available one hour prior to concerts at the door.
Upcoming productions include Will & Jane and Sense & Sensibility
Learn more here
Shakespeare Theater Company
STC reserves a fixed number of tickets for every mainstage theater production and gives them away for free! They are called “Free Will Tickets.” Tickets are distributed on a first come, first serve basis completely free of charge until they run out.
They also offer $25 tickets to almost any STC mainstage performance for patrons under the age of 35, using promo code 17UNDER35 at the checkout.
Another great promotion that STC does is their “Young Prose Nights.” When you purchase a ticket to Young Prose Night (YPN), your $25 gets you a live performance, a complimentary drink, and admission to the post-performance Party.
Upcoming productions include Romeo and Juliet, and the Secret Garden.
Learn more here
Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
For the first two nights of their productions, Woolly Mammoth offers “Pay What You Can” performances. It’s simple, you show up on the day of the show, let them know how much you want to pay for the show, and then enjoy the performance! Upcoming shows include the Trump Card, Kiss and Black Side of the Moon.
More details here
There are three ways to get discount tickets at Arena Stage! A few exciting world premieres are happening in their upcoming season, as well as other shows like Roger and Hammerstein’s Carousel, A Raisin in the Sun, and Moby Dick. Full time students receive 35% off their ticket price at Arena Stage, and half-price tickets are sold 30 minutes prior to a performance, called HOTTIX
They also have “Pay Your Age” tickets for theater-goers under 30, and are available up to 2 months before the performance.
More info here
See a play in Washington’s best premier venue for contemporary theater, with student tickets for $20. Plays happening this year include Caryl Churchill’s Cloud 9, Chekhov’s Three Sisters, and Young Jean Lee’s Straight White Men.
More info here