John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566, USA

Overlooking the Potomac River, the Kennedy Center stands as a living memorial to President John F. Kennedy and an iconic landmark for arts in America. Its marble facade, sky-high ceilings, and crystal chandeliers exude grandeur, not to mention the central eight-foot bronze bust sculpture of JFK. With its Opera House and seven other stages presenting a variety of musical and theatrical performances—as well as a free event every day at 6 p.m. at the Millennium Stage—there’s no excuse not to enjoy the artistic expression of the human spirit while visiting D.C. As quoted by JFK and inscribed in the walls along the River Terrace, “This country cannot afford to be materially rich and spiritually poor.”

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Embracing My Inner Kid

If you’re in Washington already or planning to be in Washington in March, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts presents Nordic Cool 2013. Started February 19th, 2013 but going on until March 17th, 2013, this international festival of theater, dance, visual arts, literature, design, cuisine, and film brings together more than 750 artists from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and the Åland Islands. Being a kid at heart, I gravitated to the LEGO Exhibit and Play Space on the Terrace Level and constructed this step pyramid before they closed for the night (open daily from 10am to 9pm). A shoutout to Denmark for making millions of children happy with these iconic toys! Also surrounding the play station are several iPads featuring some of the most popular games (all made by Nordic-based companies) in mobile gaming today. Finland, thank you for Angry Birds! Now to go to LEGOLAND in Billund, Denmark...

Free Performances at the Kennedy Center

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, often referred to as the Kennedy Center, is a world-renowned performing arts center located on the Potomac River. The center produces and presents music, dance, and theater performances year-round for all ages. What sets the Kennedy Center apart from other performing arts centers is that it stages at least one free performance every day, 365 days a year, and you don’t need a ticket or a reservation. Just show up and take a seat. Launched under the Performing Arts for Everyone initiative, the daily performances take place on the Millennium Stage, located in the Grand Foyer, at 6 p.m. and last about an hour. The Millennium Stage offerings are varied, with acts from near and far. I’ve seen things as diverse as a rehearsal performance for a Suzanne Farrell ballet to an Indonesian rap group and even puppeteers. On my latest visit, it was the Kalanidhi Dance Company, a group from Maryland that performs the classic Indian dance style Kuchipudi. Arrive early to enjoy views of the Potomac River and the city from the center’s expansive outdoor terrace. After the performance, head to Foggy Bottom or Georgetown for dinner. Insider tip: The best place to sit is on the carpeted steps just to the left of the stage. Find the right spot and there will be no one to obstruct your view.

Performing Arts Center at Its Best

This is the grand hall of the building that locals refer to as simply the Kennedy Center. As THE premier performing arts center in D.C., each year it produces and hosts over 2,000 theatre, dance, and music performances of all different genres. What I love best about the Kennedy Center are the performances for all ages and at every price range. There’s even a free nightly performance held at 6pm, on the Millennium Stage. Performers from near and far showcase their talents here, and it’s amazing the range of acts you get to see. Nothing beats the view from the Kennedy Center. You can see the Potomac River, the Lincoln Memorial, the Watergate, Washington Harbor in Georgetown, and the skyline of Rossyln, Virginia. This is the perfect spot for a pre-show bite. Check the Kennedy Center website for event schedules and to purchase tickets. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom

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