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Even if the weather’s been screaming summer for a while, Memorial Day tells us the season’s arrival is official. Summer in D.C. means a slower pace, a seemingly infinite reservoir of scandals, and swarms of godforsaken mosquitoes and interns. But more important, summer means movies: In theaters, at home, and on iPhones, Washingtonians escape the heat to watch adventures in other worlds unfold on the screen. Evening is the only time D.C. summer weather is bearable, but don’t let your desire to be outdoors for a few hours keep you from the cinema: Join moviegoers throughout the region at any of these outdoor showings.
Screen on the Green
Although it doesn’t draw crowds quite as big as that time hundreds of thousands of people descended on the mall to watch Obama get sworn in on a screen, the annual film festival, now in its 14th year, is kind of a big deal around here. You’ll want to arrive early to secure a spot and while away the time until dusk with some tourist-watching. Bring your own food, non-alcoholic drinks (or alcoholic drinks and discretion), blankets, and bug spray. Then enjoy watching a movie with the Capitol looming behind the screen.
Mondays in July and August on the mall between 8th and 14th streets NW. Films to be announced.
NoMa Summer Screen
In honor of the Mayan prophecy condemning the world to death come December, NoMa’s fifth annual film festival is apocalypse-themed. Before the weekly end of the world flick, music, food, and other festivities begin at 7 p.m. Friendly dogs are welcome. All films are shown with subtitles.
Wednesdays at dark, May 23-Aug. 8. Loree Grand Field, 2nd and L streets NE.
Capitol Riverfront Summer Outdoor Movies
If the Nats are out of town (or if they’re in town and you’ve made the odd decision not to be at the ballpark), head down to the Navy Yard on a Thursday night anyway to watch an installment of this treasure-themed series. Movies begin at sundown, but enjoy Wii games on the big screen and trivia before the show starts. Bring your own picnic materials.
Thursdays at sundown, May 24-July 26. 100 Tingey St. SE.
U Street Movie Series
This neighborhood series features movies about D.C. Food trucks are said to make an appearance. Moonbounces—alas, for kids only—on July and August family nights. Previous years have included documentary shorts before the feature film; no word yet on whether that’s the case this year.
Wednesdays at sundown, May 23, June 27, July 25, and Aug. 22. V and 13th streets NW.
Columbia Heights Outdoor Movies
Sit on a soccer field without having to worry about a ball zooming at your face. The 2012 schedule is yet to be announced, but the popcorn is free at this movie series at Tubman Elementary. Activities start at 8:30 p.m., and the film starts shortly thereafter, when the sun sets.
Dates to be announced. 1301 13th St. NW.
Cinema Del Ray
Join the kids, babies, and moms and dads of Del Ray for showings of hit movies. On the sked this year: Tangled, Cars, and Dolphin Tale. No pets allowed.
June 16, July 21, and Aug. 18 at the Mt. Vernon Recreation Center, 2701 Commonwealth Ave., Alexandria
Rosslyn Outdoor Film Festival
This year, the Arlington film series shows political comedies including Election, Primary Colors, Dick, The American President, Wag the Dog, and Canadian Bacon.
Fridays at dusk, June 8-24 at Gateway Park, 1300 Lee Highway, Arlington.
Cuddle up for a summer of rom-coms in the heart of Crystal City. Movies held rain or shine, except in severe weather. The series kicks off June 4 with Sex and the City.
Mondays at sundown, June 4-Aug. 27 at 1851 S. Bell St., Arlington.
Bethesda Outdoor Movies
Too many hipsters outside Bethesda Row? Can’t stand the tween-infested Regal Bethesda? Venture to old Bethesda to check out blockbuster films outdoors, where the tickets won’t break the bank because they’re free! Relax under the stars while watching the films like The Muppets and Crazy Stupid Love.
July 24-28 at 9 p.m. at Woodmont Triangle, corner of Norfolk and Auburn avenues, Bethesda
Movies on the Potomac
Close enough to feel the cool breeze off the Potomac River, these free flicks can be a relaxing start or end to a hectic work week. Bring a lawn chair to avoid sitting on the concrete plaza, but leave the rest of your picnic gear at home. There are plenty of restaurants nearby.
Fridays and Sundays at sundown, May 25-Sept. 28, Plaza at the National Harbor
Outdoor Movies on the Square
Snuggle up with a loved one or bring the kids to watch these family-friendly films, from Dolphin Tale to Cars 2. Some nights’ movies are intended for older audiences, though, so check the website before bringing a 2-year-old to the thriller flick Independence Day on July 4.
Wednesdays at 8:45 p.m., June 13-Aug. 22, Rockville Town Square, corner of Maryland Avenue and E. Middle Lane
Comcast Outdoor Film Festival
The 16th annual festival has yet to be announced, but organizers are promising a bigger screen, food trucks, and music at a new location.
Aug. 23-25, Mid-Pike Plaza, Rockville. Free.
Screen on the Green photo by Flickr user glass_window used under a Creative Commons license.