Founded in 1966 as the result of a gift of 100 acres of Northern Virginia farmland, Wolf Trap is the only National Park in the United States devoted to the performing arts. This massive facility offers year round programming through the Barns at Wolf Trap and the Filene Center.
The Barns were another gift to the park by Wolf Trap’s original benefactor, Catherine Filene Shouse, who was intrigued by the remarkable acoustical qualities of traditional New England barns. The facility is made up of two adjacent 18th century barns, moved from a farm in upstate New York for this purpose. The park’s only year round facility, the Barns offer a variety of entertainment and enrichment programming, including the Wolf Trap Opera Company.
The main draw to Wolf Trap though is the Filene Center, which comes alive in the summer months with a variety of concerts, shows and performances. This remarkable outdoor theater was constructed of native tree species and truly looks at home in this pastoral setting.
The least expensive tickets at the Filene Center are I think the most enjoyable – the lawn seats. Over the years, patrons have made lawn seating a tailgating event, bringing elaborate picnics to enjoy before the evening shows.
Wolf Trap is a great venue because it attracts a wide range of performers. Aretha Franklin, Bill Cosby, Counting Crows, Broadway musicals and symphony orchestras all perform here on a regular basis.
One of my most memorable evenings at Wolf Trap was seeing Chicago in concert a few years ago. We brought a fancy picnic, some wine and had a great time in the summer sun enjoying being disconnected from electronics, but connected to our surroundings. As the concert continued and night fell, I felt completely at peace in this remarkable rural setting near Washington, D.C.
We have made attending Wolf Trap a yearly tradition and this one of a kind National Park is truly a great Washington insider secret. If you visit the DC area during the summer months, be sure to check out the offerings at Wolf Trap and plan on spending an idyllic evening listening to great music under the stars.