Jul 3

July 3rd (Capitol Fourth) Dress Rehearsal Concert Free in DC 2012

This year we’re continuing a family tradition that sadly got rained out last year! It used to be a little known performance, that has grown into a fun event that many locals enjoy each year. For the past 10+ years my family has enjoyed going to the dress rehearsal of the Capitol Fourth on the West Lawn of the US Capitol building. It’s the concert that airs on PBS stations across the US every Independence Day and includes awesome musical acts and DC’s awesome fireworks. And the dress rehearsal is awesome (really, how many times do I need to use the word “awesome” in this paragraph to convince you? 😉 ).

The dress rehearsal concert is open to the public, and starts around 8 PM, but be sure to show up earlier (a few hours if you can) to get a decent seat on the lawn. Even if you’re not in “prime” seating area there are multiple jumbo-trons so you can get a closer look at the performance no matter where you’re seated. If you are interested in attending the dress rehearsal, just show up Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012 to enjoy the free entertainment!

This year is the 32nd anniversary of the Capitol Fourth Concert and Emmy Award-winning Tom Bergeron from “Dancing With The Stars” will be hosting. The concert portion for 2012 includes:

Here are my reasons to attend the dress rehearsal on the 3rd (instead of the real deal on the 4th):

  • It’s not as crowded as the live-televised event on the 4th of July (although there’s still a good number of people)
  • You can bring blankets or lawn chairs to sit in and enjoy the concert
  • You get to hear the “bloopers” live…those actors and singers are entertaining!
  • You can arrive early and bring a picnic-style dinner
  • The DC Park service provides free bottled waters
  • It’s a family friendly concert
  • It’s FREE entertainment

The only “negatives” on attending the dress rehearsal instead of the live event on the 4th, in my opinion:

  • There are no fireworks at the end… because they’re saving them up for the actual event, of course.
  • In more recent years some of the main musical acts have *sadly* not shown up for the dress rehearsal. Instead they play a recording of them and have actors pretending to be them on stage. This happened a few years ago with the Beach Boys. It was a disappointment :-(

You have to go through security, which can have long lines, but typically moves quickly. My family and I like to pack a picnic dinner and bring beach towels and lawn chairs to set up on the West Lawn at the US Capitol building.
Here is the link for the Google Map of the West Lawn, U.S. Capitol. The closest Metro stations are Union Station and Capitol South. You can also drive and park on a nearby street (with parking meters).

Do you attend the July 3rd dress rehearsal or any other special concerts or events in the DC area on July 4th? What’s your favorite way to spend the holiday here in DC? Hope to see some of you downtown tonight!

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kim July 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

thanks for your recommendation. We will be in the Capital Jul3, 2013 for sure!


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