The capital’s most renowned theater covers the entire realm of performing arts: Presentations of ballet, opera, plays, musicals, modern dance, jazz, hip hop, comedy, classical and chamber music, and children’s theater all take the stage at this magnificent complex overlooking the Potomac River. The setting is gorgeous, the productions superb. As a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy, the Center is committed to fulfilling the president’s mission to make the performing arts available to everyone. The Center’s 3,000+ annual productions draw more than 3 million people.

Within the arts center’s original 17-acre facility are eight different theaters and stages: the Opera House, the Concert Hall, the Terrace Theater, the Eisenhower Theater, the Theater Lab, the Terrace Gallery, the Family Theater, and Millennium Stage. A 4-acre expansion scheduled to be complete by Fall 2019 will add three pavilions housing rehearsal, performance, and education spaces, a reflecting pool, grove of trees, an outdoor performance area, and a pedestrian bridge arching over Rock Creek Parkway, connecting the Kennedy Center to the Potomac riverfront.

The 2018–19 season lineup includes blockbuster musicals Hello, Dolly!, The Band’s Visit, and Music Man; the race- and class-themed play Byhalia, Mississippi; the Second City satire Love, Factually; “World Stages,” a program of international theatrical productions; the annual engagements of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Mariinsky Ballet; the modern dance presentations of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company and Lucky Plush; the National Symphony Orchestra’s classical series covering the masters, Stravinsky to Beethoven; the Washington National Opera’s presentations of Verdi’s La traviata and Puccini’s Tosca; a robust schedule of 50 jazz concerts; and abundant children’s presentations. 

Visit the KenCen to attend a performance, for sure, but also consider stopping by for one of the free guided tours, which take place throughout the day. Finish the visit by attending a free “Millennium Stage” performance, mostly concerts, but also dance, theater, comedy, and other forms of entertainment, staged every single evening at 6pm in the Grand Foyer, each night featuring a different act, local artists sometimes, but nationally known and international performers, too, and often performers appearing on a main stage later that evening.

Otherwise, expect to pay ticket prices that range from $20 for a family concert to $300 for opera; most tickets cost between $45 and $150.