Ever since we ran our Wolf Trap giveaway a few weeks ago, I’ve been receiving emails about what to expect when attending a performance at our local music mecca. We went to our first show a few weeks ago (the last U.S. performance of Riverdance) and absolutely loved it! But, there were a few things I wish I knew ahead of time, so I thought I would compile a list of pointers for those of you attending a show at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center this summer.
To see the complete calendar of Filene Center performances, click here. ABBA, the Sound of Music Sing-a-Long, the King & I, and the National Symphony Orchestra are just a few shows that are coming up in the next month! If you are looking for fun activities to do with your children, be sure to check out the list of performances at Wolf Trap’s Children’s-Theatre-In-The-Woods. And, be sure to follow Washington Family Magazine on Facebook and Twitter – they will be periodically giving away tickets to the Children’s-Theatre-In-The-Woods!
Arrive At Least An Hour Ahead of Time
If you are purchasing Lawn Tickets, I highly suggest arriving at least an hour ahead of time. The gates to the Lawn area open an hour and a half before the performance, and there are people lined up waiting! Many families have it down to a science, packing their picnic lunch to entertain the little ones and arriving far enough in advance to get prime seating, avoid the traffic jams, and enjoy a leisurely meal. For those of you who are fortunate to have reserved seating in the Pavilion, you can take your seats approximately 30 minutes before show time. Since no food and drink (aside from water) is allowed inside the Pavilion, we noticed many patrons sat on the Lawn to eat their meal – and, walked to their seats once the Pavilion was opened.
Bring a Beach Towel
If you’re purchasing Lawn Tickets, be sure to bring a beach towel to sit on. Otherwise, the grass can get a little scratchy! When we attended, we saw a number of patrons that brought along their own lawn chairs, expecting to sit anywhere they wanted. Unfortunately, that is not the case – those who bring their own chairs (including legless beach chairs) are asked to sit at the very back, so they don’t obstruct other people’s view. So, if you’d like a prime seat upfront, bring a towel (or padded cushions). You can always bring lawn chairs to enjoy before the show – just keep in mind, that you won’t be able to sit in your chairs during the performance.
Pack Your Own Meal
Again, if you’re sitting on the Lawn, consider bringing a cooler, filled with your favorite finger foods. And, during the summer, bring LOTS of chilled drinks. Drinks are available for purchase at Wolf Trap; but, as you can imagine, they are on the pricey side and the lines are a mile long! We experimented with Wolf Trap’s Summer Picnic from Capital Restaurant Concepts, and were a little disappointed. Not only was the food rather dry and unsatisfactory; but their offer of unlimited drinks is not valid at any of the kiosks surrounding the Pavilion and no one could tell us where we could get refills. Talking to the seasoned patrons around us, packing your own picnic (complete with cold drinks) is definitely the way to go!
Leave Five Minutes Early
Our friends and family mentioned that it’s a traffic nightmare to leave at the end of a performance, so we left about five minutes before Riverdance ended. My suggestion is to either leave during the closing piece, or to enjoy the scenery for about 20 minutes after the performance ends. Then, leisurely make your way to your car – it will save you the headache of battling the crowds and sitting in the endless lines of cars.
Bring Sunglasses or Attend an Evening Performance
Since we have a bouncy four-year old with an early bedtime, we chose a matinee performance. And, being the intelligent person that I am, I also forgot to bring sunglasses. As a result, it was very difficult to see the stage (but, the music was still gorgeous!). Friends that have attended both mid-day and evening performances highly suggest selecting a night-time show, especially if you are purchasing Lawn Tickets. Not only is it much cooler once the sun goes down but you also have no difficulties seeing the stage. If, however, you decide on a matinee show, be sure to bring sunglasses! Your eyes will thank you!
Bring Sunscreen and Bug Spray
For matinee performances on the lawn, I highly suggest bringing sunscreen! My poor husband turned into a brightly colored beet before our eyes, as we enjoyed Riverdance. Because, aside from a few trees off to the side, there is no shade on the lawn. You can bring beach umbrellas – but, you are asked to collapse them once the show begins. And, veteran show-goers also recommend bringing along bug spray (it doesn’t matter where you sit, the mosquitoes are little homing devices!).
I hope these tips help those of you who are Wolf Trap newbies. You won’t regret getting tickets to a show – the acoustics and the artists are phenomenal! And, it’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon as a family enjoying nature and music!