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:
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.