The Kennedy Center
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2700 F St. NW
202/467-4600 or 202/416-8000
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is the crown jewel of Washington’s performing arts scene, home to the National Symphony Orchestra, the Washington Chamber Symphony, the Washington Opera, and the Washington Ballet, and it is the venue of choice for Broadway touring groups, orchestras, operas, and internationally known solo performers as well as large musicals hoping to make it to the Great White Way.
The Kennedy Center opened in 1971, its gleaming white marble structure designed by Edward Durrell Stone and later named a living memorial to John F. Kennedy, who supported funding for a national cultural center and whose wife, Jackie, served as honorary chairwoman for the project while she was first lady.
The Kennedy Center has three main performance spaces: the Concert Hall, the largest of the three, has seating for 2,400. The Opera House is slightly smaller, able to accommodate 2,300. The newly renovated Eisenhower Theater holds just over 1,100. The center also houses a theater lab, a family theater, and a terrace theater.
Among the most popular free events in DC are the Kennedy Center’s shows on the Millennium Stage, performances that occur nightly at 6 p.m. in the Grand Foyer, a stunning space that overlooks the river and is one of the largest rooms in the world (at 630 feet long, it is 75 feet longer than the Washington Monument is tall). When the Kennedy Center launched the Millennium Stage concept in 1997, most Washingtonians thought the practice would end by New Year’s Eve 2001, but the city has been blessed by its continuance, part of an initiative by the center to ensure that the performing arts are within reach of everyone regardless of budget.
Millennium Stage performances include concerts, children’s shows, dance troupes, and works celebrating musical theater.
Tickets for events at the Kennedy Center often sell out; call the box office directly to inquire about the chances of obtaining tickets or release of tickets on the day of the performance. Also, the venue has a special program that sells discount tickets to seniors, disabled people, full-time students, low-income people, and junior enlisted personnel, based on availability.
Call the box office for additional information.
© Patricia Nevins Kime from Moon Washington DC, 1st Edition