Washington DC – Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

In suburban Vienna, Virginia, just 3 miles from “The Beltway” road which surrounds Washington DC, sits America’s first National Park dedicated to the Performing Arts.

Although it’s only 20 minutes from downtown DC, you must read the Wolf Trap site’s Transportation directions! This part of Virginia is circuitous at times, and, thankfully, now the Metro and Fairfax Bus system can be used by visitors to the Park for Filene Center performances.

Wolf Trap was established in the late 1960’s and by the early ’70’s the large Filene Center Pavilion was built on the land which the late Catherine Filene Shouse donated to the nation. The rest of her farm remained in family hands.

Since that time, two 18th century barns from New York were purchased, dismantled and resurrected on the Virgina site. These Barns have performances on a separate schedule and bus service does not reach them.

The National Park Service uses the main performance area, the Filene Center, which accommodates nearly 7,000 people.

What has always been unique about Wolf Trap is that you can picnic on the lawn and watch these world-class artists perform their show at the same time!

And, Wolf Trap rules allow you to bring a moderate amount of alcohol to use with your lawn picnic (no kegs allowed). No photography or recording of the performance is permitted. No pets except seeing-eye dogs are allowed.

The gates to the lawn area open 1 1/2 hours prior to show time. Because lawn area seating is ‘first come, first served,’ people do line up there prior to opening in order to get a good spot. People with reserved (pavilion) seats can get into their seats as little as 1/2 hour prior to show time because they must eat elsewhere.

People who purchase tickets for seats under cover at the Filene Center must either eat on the lawn before-hand or at the formal restaurant at the Park, before the performance. No food or drink is allowed in the covered part of the “theater” except for water bottles.

Because it is under the National Park Service auspices, handicapped access is physically and auditorily guaranteed. You can learn more on the website link below.

Persons needing to urgently contact a patron attending a performance at the Filene Center must call the Ranger Station at (703) 255-1800.

The performance will go on regardless of weather. So, if the forecast is for less than optimal conditions, you may want to ensure that you have seats under cover. Only with those tickets can you be admitted to the roofed area. This area is notorious for summer afternoon and evening thunderstorms, so think about that!

There are NO REFUNDS, exchanges, or rain checks given to ticket holders due to inclement weather.

Those with lawn area tickets must upgrade to get under cover, and all people in your party must have tickets … even the babies! Personally, I think that’s pretty audacious, but I guess that’s the way that the National Park Service tries to compensate for dwindled budgets from Congress!

There is a senior citizen discount of 50% off in-house tickets (subject to availability) for persons age 65 and over, beginning half an hour prior to the performance. This service is only offered in-person at the Box Office. You take the risk that there may be no tickets available then.

The Park is not-for-profit and does accept donations.

Those who want to use lawn chairs must use a designated area of the lawn in back, and bring binoculars! The sound system extends to all parts of the lawn, but you may be pretty far from the stage in that lawn chair area. The official “seat cushions with back support” may be used anywhere on the lawn, and they are available for rent from the gift shop on the plaza.

Spots on the lawn are on a first-come basis, so if you want to be close-up, arrive EARLY!

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I’ll help you know how to access the Wolf Trap Season’s Performance Schedule; find ways to have a picnic there so you can really enjoy Wolf Trap’s special ambiance and give several ways to transport yourself to the Farm!

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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