By Patricia Hall, Fairfax Family Fun
A popular summer tradition you soon can look forward to is the return of free summer movies outdoors! These free movie series are community events where everyone is invited to enjoy watching a movie under the stars. While these events exist just about anywhere in the United States, the Washington, DC, area seems to have an especially good variety of them. For many years, one of the most popular ones, Screen on the Green, would attract visitors to picnic on the National Mall and enjoy a show. Unfortunately 2016 was the last year for this series when sponsors decided to discontinue it, but the Friends of Screen on the Green are hoping for a revival.
Until then, you still have plenty of other choices, and below we list the series offering free summer outdoor movies in Northern Virginia, DC, and Maryland that offer family-friendly films. Please note that some series also offer movies geared to adults (R-rated films), schedules are subject to change, and policies about inclement weather or what you may bring to the event vary. Please check directly with the event sponsors (all linked below) for the latest information.
2017 Outdoor Movie Series
Cinema Del Ray
Free movie series on the Mount Vernon RECenter fields in the Del Ray neighborhood. Movies are shown on the third Saturday of each month May through August; shows begin at dusk. Movies this year are Finding Dory, Sing, Zootopia, Beauty and the Beast (animated) and Moana.
Four Mile Run Summer Movie Series
Free series in the Arlandria neighborhood of Alexandria on the last Friday of the Month, May through August. The grounds open at 6:30 pm and the movie begins at dusk. The line-up for 2017 is: Sing, Lego Batman, The Secret Life of Pets, and Inside Out.
Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
July 15-16, Alexandria
This festival is just one weekend so don’t miss it! Movies are shown free on giant screens at Waterfront Park in Old Town Alexandria
Fridays in September, Falls Church
Free and family-friendly movies at Cherry Hill Park on select Fridays in September. The 2017 schedule is TBA.
CPRO Movies, Arlington Mill
Thursdays June-August, Arlington
Free Thursday films June 22-August 24, 2017. Movie ratings are from PG to R and the 2017 series presents some of the most popular films of the 1980s.
CPRO Movies, Penrose Square
Saturdays June-September, Arlington
Free night movies June 3-September 2, 2017. Movie ratings are from PG to R and the 2017 series presents some of the most popular films of the 1980s.
Saturdays in August, Centreville
Outdoor movies in Centreville presented by Fairfax County each Saturday in August. All films are free and family-friendly, rated PG. The 2017 films are Moana, Finding Dory, Zootopia, and Storks.
Movies Under the Stars
Saturdays May-September, Woodbridge
Free series at Stonebridge at Potomac Town Center. Films are rated G to PG-13 and take place Saturday nights. The series begins May 20, 2017, with Ghostbusters, and wraps up on September 9 with Lego Batman.
Fridays June-August, Arlington
Popular series at Gateway Park in Arlington. Admission is free and there are outdoor games (such as cornhole and giant Jenga and Connect Four), food trucks, and a Pub in the Park that opens at 6 pm. Films begin at 7 and are a mix of movies for older audiences and some for kids. Select Kids Nights feature games and activities for children and families prior to the movie’s start. The series runs June 2 through August 25, 2017.
Summer on the Green
Saturdays, June-August, Lovettsville
Free movie and concert series in Lovettsville. Movies and concerts take place on alternating Saturday evenings. The first movie in the series is on June 3 with Jurassic World. Others in the series are: Princess Bride, Kubo and the Two Strings, Lego Batman, The Sandlot, and Beauty and the Beast Live; all movies begin at dusk.
Fridays, June-August, DC
Free 10-week-long outdoor movie series hosted by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, Fridays June to August at Farragut Park. Movies begin at sunset but you can arrive earlier for the Farragut Friday event (also free) with an outdoor office space, picnics in Farragut Park, lawn games, and table tennis competitions.
NoMa Summer Screen
Wednesdays, May-August, DC
Free movies on the Storey Park Lot (1005 First Street NE). Arrive starting at 7 pm; movies begin at dark. Movies are usually rated G or PG, but a few may be PG-13 or R. Summer Screen has been ranked one of the Top 10 Best Outdoor Movie Theatres in America by Travel and Leisure Magazine.
Canal Park Outdoor Movie Series
Thursdays, June-August, DC
Annual free event by the Capitol Riverfront. The series kicks off this year on June 14, 2017, with a screening of Sister Act. Movies begin at sundown and play weekly on Thursdays until August 17, 2017, with Beauty and the Beast (2017). The features are a mix of recent films such as The Secret Life of Pets and classics such as Grease.
Union Market’s Drive-in movies
First Fridays, May-November, DC
Union Market’s outdoor theatre! The movies takes place on the first Friday of the month, May through November. The films featured are a mix, with movies in the series rated G, PG, PG-13, and R. Admission is free for walk-ups; there is a $10 parking fee for cars.
Maryland (DC suburbs)
Movies on the Potomac
Thursdays and Saturdays, May-September, National Harbor
Free summer movies at National Harbor in southern Maryland, May through September. Thursday night (“Date Night” series) films a mix of classic and recent movies for kids, teens, and adults. “Movies on the Potomac” films on Sunday nights are all kid-friendly. All events in each series begins at 6 pm on the plaza; when Sunday nights have a “double-header,” movies begin at 4 pm. Admission is free.
Bethesda Outdoor Movies
One week in July, Bethesda
Annual summer series that takes place over five consecutive days in July. The 2017 schedule has not yet been announced.
We will be adding more to this list as other movie series are announced! If we missed a series (in Northern Virginia or very close by), let us know by leaving a comment below.