D.C. Memorial Day events start summer early

The first day of summer isn’t for several more weeks, but especially in Washington, Memorial Day weekend is the true kickoff to the season (sans the full-blown, oppressive summer heat). Get outside in the sun to honor the troops, ride some roller coasters, hear world-famous musical acts and see dazzling fireworks.

Here are five ways to enjoy the weekend:

Memorial Day Parade and Concert

On Sunday evening, make your way to the Capitol’s West Lawn for a concert featuring leading bluesman B.B. King, gospel singer Yolanda Adams, the National Symphony Orchestra and “American Idol” winner Kris Allen, among others. Then on Monday at 2 p.m., remember those soldiers who lost their lives by attending a procession of veterans down Constitution Avenue. The annual parade features a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, a salute to the centennial anniversary of the U.S. Naval Aviation program (the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) and an appearance by Miss America 2011, Teresa Scanlan.

Concert: Sunday at 8 p.m., gates open at 5 p.m. U.S. Capitol, West Lawn. www.pbs.org/memorialdayconcert. Parade: Monday at 2 p.m. Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 17th streets NW. 703-302-1012, Ext. 227. www.nationalmemorialdayparade.
com
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Sunset at Mount Vernon

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to spend an evening at Mount Vernon after the daytime rush has ebbed. Tour the mansion and the lantern-lighted grounds or take a wagon ride. Then head inside and enjoy wine and dessert along with 18th-century music, dancing and games.

Friday-Sunday from 6 to 9 p.m., gates close at 8 p.m. George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy., Mount Vernon. 703-339-7200. www.mountvernon.org. $18, $12 for ages 6-11, free for age 5 and younger.

2011 Summer Blast Off!

“The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band kicks off Wolf Trap’s summer season with a program of band favorites, including Leonard Bernstein’s overture to “Candide” and works by Tchaikovsky. Snag a spot on the grass after the concert for optimal viewing of a festive fireworks display about 9:45.

Sunday at 8 p.m., gates open at 6:30 p.m. Wolf Trap, Filene Center, 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna. 703-255-1900. 877-965-3872. www.wolftrap.org. Free; limited capacity.

Memorial Day Jazz Festival

This outdoor jazz festival showcases the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, the Bruce Swaim Quartet, the Lovejoy Group, Al Williams and the Village Jazz Band for a full day of nonstop music. Each group plays a different style of jazz, from Latin to Dixieland to big band to contemporary. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Monday from 1 to 7 p.m. Fort Ward Park Amphitheater, 4301 W. Braddock Rd., Alexandria. 703-746-5592. alexandria.gov. Free.

Viva! Vienna!

Amusement park rides, food vendors, live music and a children’s entertainment stage with magicians and banjo music make Vienna’s annual festival a perfect way to start the summer with the whole family.

Saturday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Monday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Historic Church Street, Vienna. 703-255-4742. www.vivaviennava.org. Free admission, $1 per ride ticket.

Jess Righthand

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