“Are you ready for the hot nights, the fire flies, the moon lit skies…” and a whole lotta Summertime fun?  Like the campers in Bill Murray’s breakout comedy Meatballs, your little whipper snapper is off to a running start with live music and arts events across the DMV, from outdoor venues like Strathmore’s Backyard Theater in Rockville to Discovery Theater at the Smithsonian.  Parents be warned, you may find yourself in the spotlight getting jiggy with your favorite little dance partner. Here are our top choices for kiddie performances May through September!

©FlorenceMontmare_15_04Photo: Air Play

Air Play at Strathmore (May 6)
International circus performers, and married couple, Seth Bloom and Cristina Gelsone created the fantastical Air Play as a showcase of comic timing and visual art to make you gasp with wonder and laugh until it hurts.  Incorporating the “air sculptures” of artists Daniel Wurtzel and the color palette of Joan Miró , Acrobuffos as they are known, will put your little clown on the edge of the seat with combined talents from ballet to street performance that bring playing with scarves to new heights.

5301 Tuckerman Ln. (North Bethesda, Md.)
Online: airplayshow.com

tumblr_o17wxu2ZpX1tioed4o1_1280Photo: The Pop Ups

The Pop Ups at Discovery Theater and Jammin Java (May 19-21)
Don’t be surprised if kiddo glimpses a giant rhino run through the audience at a Pop Ups show, or at least an imaginary one generated by the collective creative conscious of the two performers and their fans in the room.  Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein (who hails originally from suburban Maryland) are GRAMMY nominated artists with backgrounds in music education that propel their cutting-edge and award-winning creativity peppered with just the right amount of silliness to a new level.  Junior rockers won’t even notice some of the teaching moments coming across with dynamic songs from their new album Great Pretenders Club about food, orchestras, and yes, rhinos, plus a little bit of puppetry thrown in.

May 19-20
Smithsonian’s Ripley Center at Natural History
1100 Jefferson Drive, S.W. (Washington D.C.)
Online: discoverytheater.org

May 21
227 Maple Avenue E. (Vienna, Va.)
Online: jamminjava.com

Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park (June 4 – 5)
With all aspects of folkloric performance represented from new renditions of fairytale stories to a Johnny Cash showcase and family dance sessions over two days, plus the playground and old fashioned carousel at Glen Echo, you might find yourself camping out at the Annual Washington Folk Festival, like it’s Folkapalooza in the DMV. A tradition stretching back nearly 40 years, the Festival is a not to be missed event with family fun written all over it, and sponsored by The Folklore Society of Greater Washington, a group representing area artists from the music, dance and storytelling genres.

Glen Echo Park
Online: fsgw.org

The Okee Dokee Brothers at AMP by Strathmore (June 19)
 The Okee Dokee Brothers, a pair of GRAMMY Award-winning outdoor adventurers take a hike through our little corner of urban sprawl while on tour for their new book Can You Canoe and companion CD, featuring songs from the Appalachian hills of the East to the canyons and campfires of the West.  While there will be no campfire, kiddo will appreciate the friendly setting with these performers as the first act in this clever witching hour series, Pajama Jam at AMP, offering casual style seating, and eats, a real draw for the early dining crowd.  If you can’t make the Rockville show, head to Barnes and Noble in Tysons Corner instead for a book signing and tunes preview at 10:30 AM on June 18.

11810 Grand Park Ave. (Pike and Rose Shopping Center, Rockville, Md.)
Online: AMPbystrathmore.com

7851 Tysons Corner Center (McClean, Va.)
Online: barnesandnoble.com

21783804324_25b1abf427_bPhoto: Riverdance

Riverdance at Wolf Trap (June 23-26)
The return of this tour de force show is made more accessible to families with buy one, get one free tickets available through the new Young at Arts initiative.  Introduce kiddo to the non-stop fancy free footwork of this Irish troupe’s band of merry men and women who meld together traditional and modern clog and other dramatic dance forms with music and song to make their country proud.

1551 Trap Rd. (Vienna, Va)
Online: wolftrap.org

Mister G at Wolf Trap’s Theater-in-the-Woods (July 14)
Winner of the 2015 Latin GRAMMY for best children’s album, Mister G., aka Ben Gundersheimer, you will learn is not a native Spanish speaker, and yet his international flair and Mister Magneto appealing voice earns him the accolades from México City, to his home base of Northhampton, Mass.  Teaming up with artists across the spectrum as he did with his newest award-winning release, Los Animales, and with five preceding albums, Mister G. expertly combines Latin rhythms with child-pleasing lyrics (including many bilingual songs) about topics close to every kiddo’s (and Mister G.’s own) heart: animals, reading, and chocolate!

1551 Trap Rd. (Vienna, Va)
Online: wolftrap.org

11046621_10155277291525300_6392475402033667472_nPhoto: Urban Artistry

Urban Artistry at Discovery Theater (July 26-29)
Join Urban Artistry at their Discovery Theater performance and become a part of the mission to raise the profile of Hip Hop and other creative culture found in urban spaces.  If you don’t know the difference between popping and locking on the dance floor, maybe kiddo can be your guide as a member of the Funkateers Club, a Hip Hop and other urban dance class offered by Urban Artistry professionals dedicated to the preservation of art forms inspired by the urban experience.  Get a feel for the Funkateers for dancers aged 5 to 13 and more classes with a trial period the week of May 2–7.

Smithsonian’s S. Dillon Ripley Center at Natural History
1100 Jefferson Drive, S.W. (Washington D.C.)
Online:  discoverytheater.org

932 Philadelphia Ave. (Silver Spring, Md.)
Online: urbanartistry.org

Andrew and Polly Ear Snacks Live at Strathmore Backyard Theater (July 28)
Andrew and Polly bring learning about fruit, numbers, and letters a new kind of respect with songs and commentary by kids and for kids as part of their shows.  With topics like “Beeps” giving insight into morse code, or “Balls,” featuring an interview with an astronomer, Ear Snacks  is a chock full 30 minute or so podcast series designed to keep kiddos of all ages engaged with live original music by the award-winning duo, and introductions to things in the world curious young minds want to know about.

5301 Tuckerman Lane (North Bethesda, Md.)
Online: strathmore.org

Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could at Wolf Trap Theatre-in-the-Woods (August 5-6)
With a little bit of gumption that got him a spot on Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move soundtrack, and a whole lotta musical talent, Indie rocker turned Kindie rocker Brady Rymer’s is often on tour as singer-songwriter for both his own band based out of Brooklyn, NY, or playing bass in the Laurie Berkner Band.  Mixing a rockabilly style with lyrics about stuff all kids like to do–going on family road trips, eating ice cream, or doing whatever it is again and again, Rymer goes straight to the heart of kiddo’s entertainment index, and is a perfect dog days fit for Wolf Trap’s laid back and woodsy outdoor venue.

1551 Trap Rd. (Vienna, Va)
Online: wolftrap.org

Uke Fest at Strathmore (August 17)
Families are welcome so jump right in at this free festival celebrating one of the smallest stringed instruments, the ukelele.  A Strathmore tradition first established by Washington’s own folk and children’s artists Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, Uke Fest offers opportunities for little music makers to adults to take it up a notch with their own performance, or just a enjoyable evening of alohas and entertainment under the starry night sky.  Want to learn to play ahead of time?  Consider taking part in the Uke Summit workshops offered throughout the week before the outdoor concert.

5301 Tuckerman Ln. (North Bethesday, Md)
Online: strathmore.org

Disney in Concert at Wolf Trap (September 2)
Really? This needs no explanation but here’s one: if kiddo has worn out the DVD, or you with the constant soundtrack in your head, perhaps you are both ready for a little classical experience with the National Symphony Orchestra’s live rendition of all the favorites from princesses and frogs to superheroes rescuing damsels in distress, or in the modern twist, rescuing each other (and maybe your DVD player) while you enjoy Wolf Trap’s unique outdoor experience.  All this along with clips from the movies, may not be a substitute for a trip to-you-know-where this year, but it could run a close second.

1551 Trap Rd. (Vienna, Va)
Online: wolftrap.org

Which show will you take your kids to? Tell us in the comments below. 

–Carolyn Ross