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Dust off your shades and lather the kids in sunblock! D.C. is reopening across the region. As temperatures rise, making outside spaces more enjoyable for socially-distanced gatherings for family and friends, and the number of vaccinated folks continues to grow, we’re anticipating Summer 2021 will be the summer of fun.   

But revelry doesn’t mean COVID-19 precautions will go by the wayside. As venues, restaurants, and shops begin to reopen, the enjoyment and safety of patrons, staff, and performers are the top priorities. 

One such venue, Fairfax County’s beloved Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, has announced its long-awaited reopening with major plans to—safely—celebrate the venue’s 50th season. More than a year has passed since it hosted a live performance, but starting June 18, musicophiles can return to the Filene Center for live shows and picnics on the lawn.

“Since opening in 1971, concerts at Wolf Trap have helped define the summer for generations of music lovers,” says Arvind Manocha, President and CEO of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts. 

While it’ll look a little different, this summer will continue that tradition. Scheduled performers include Amos Lee, Aoife O’Donovan, and “thank you community concerts” — free shows for frontline healthcare, education workers, and volunteers. Kids will also be able to enjoy the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performances, featuring fun programming for the wee ones. Operating at a cashless, reduced capacity, Wolf Trap’s reopening protocols allow concert goers to come in “pods” of 2-8 people. Masks are required when moving about, but can be removed when seated.

“Our pandemic intermission is nearing its end, and the resumption of concerts can finally begin—an important first step forward for us all,” says Manocha. 

Cory Van Horn, Visit Montgomery’s director of marketing, confirms big things are happening across state lines too. In April, Montgomery County entered the first of three reopening phases that correlate with the percentage of vaccinated residents. While face masks and social distancing are still required, the county’s many attractions are excited to welcome guests.

There will be live outdoor shows at the Olney Theatre Center and the Music Center at Strathmore, both of which are hosting performances on the lawn all summer. *There will be live outdoor shows at the Olney Theatre Center and the Music Center at Strathmore, both of which are hosting performances on the lawn all summer. *With its 14-acre campus and outdoor stage, Olney Theatre’s Director of Marketing and Communications Joshua Ford says: “It made sense to welcome audiences back with outdoor performances while we all get used to gathering in groups again. We’ve got the room so 200 people can comfortably watch a free production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream or a jazz combo, or a cabaret performance, while still keeping a little distance from their neighbor as we ease back into live entertainment.”*

For those looking for more kid-friendly activities, there’s rio in Gaithersburg where children can ride a carousel and the entire family can enjoy paddle boats along the lake. 

The County is home to three national parks—Clara Barton National Historic Site, Glen Echo Park, and C&O Canal National Historical Park, and glamping lovers will love an opportunity to rent out an historic lockhouse along the C&O Canal for a weekend away-ish. Van Horn also recommends making reservations at Adventure Park in Sandy Spring where ziplines and climbing courses are aplenty. The park has a robust events calendar —Glow in the Park, anyone?—but walk-ins cannot currently be accommodated. *John Hines, owner of Adventure Park, has found a silver lining in current safety restrictions, which cut capacity by more than 50%, has led to some guest benefits: “the park is never crowded like it was pre-pandemic.” Starting Memorial Day, the park will open seven days a week. 

“Now more than ever, families are looking to take a break from their digital devices and reconnect beyond the screen,” says Van Horn. “Montgomery County offers a wide range of experiences that appeal to kids, parents, and grandparents.”

Whatever outdoor fun and entertainment you’re craving, this summer promises to be one to remember. Our Summer Spotlights will continue to highlight new activities and adventures for families and friends across each of our summer issues, so check them out in the June edition of Washington City Paper.