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  • Mikah Meyer

Do You Know There's a National Park Where You Can Watch Ke$ha Shoot Glitter Out Of Her Boobs?

Unit #14 / 412 - Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts

​...and that you can enjoy your favorite bottle of wine, snacks, or even a full meal without paying the marked-up prices most concert venues charge?

And that it's within an hour's drive of over 6 million people?

Sounds too good to be good, right?

But it's real...

The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is a public/private partnership donated by Catherine Filene Shouse which allows for America's musical, theatrical, and artistic culture to be preserved and celebrated in a park-integrated atmosphere managed by the National Park Service and Wolf Trap Foundation.

With an outdoor concert season spanning the summer (launching with a free, firework-infused concert by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band every Memorial Day Weekend), Wolf Trap is the only national park focused on the performing arts. Inside its 117 acres are multiple performance venues including an indoor stage built from two barns in upstate New York, a Children's Theatre in the Woods hosting youth-focused educational programs, and the 13-story, wood-built Filene Center (2nd largest stage in the U.S. after Radio City in New York).

With annual concert offerings ranging from the all-male classical choral ensemble Cantus to popstars singing We R Who We R, Wolf Trap truly is a national park where you can watch Ke$ha shoot glitter out of her boobs.

Though I wasn't able to experience Ke$ha's bedazzled bosom, I was fortunate that during my time in the DC-area, Dolly Parton brought her well-endowed vocal talent to Wolf Trap for the first time in four years.

While I'm sure much of the electric energy at the 7,028-capacity Filene Center was due to her "Coat of Many Colors" or rhinestone covered guitar, regular attendees assured me Wolf Trap always has a special vitality to it.

With a blonde wig only slightly lower in quality than Dolly's, Tom, my Human of National Parks for this unit, shared that he, his partner, and a a large group of friends come to Wolf Trap 4 - 5 times a season due to this atmosphere.

"It’s a great opportunity to be outside and enjoy the performing arts in a space that is so fun, so energetic, and such a unique venue."

Enjoying a picnic dinner and drinks with his circle of friends, Tom continued, "You are literally sitting under the stars watching world class performers. It's not a place you can find anywhere else in the world."

While the outdoor venue did remind me of Red Rocks, Denver's famous outdoor concert venue carved into red sandstone, Wolf Trap trumped Red Rocks with one key amenity:

You can bring your own food AND drinks (including alcohol), for free.

In my years of studying and performing music, I've never seen a venue with performers of this pedigree willing to lose that source of revenue.

However, throngs of visitors with wine bottles, blankets and coolers reinforced that this truly is a unique way to experience a concert--one you'd be wise to include on your visit to the DC area.

So if you're a "Seeker" of enjoying a concert to escape the "9 To 5" lifestyle or hunt for a "Potential New Boyfriend," look no further than the venue for one of the best concerts I've ever experienced:

The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts.

5 Wolf Trap Highlights (You Can Do)

1. See a Show!

Between May and September there are shows outside almost nightly (approx. 100 performances). On Thursdays and Fridays at 6:30 PM there is a free interpretive program which talks about the park and its connection to the performing arts.

2. Come Sledding

Though it's known for its summer concerts, there's a wonderfully safe and large hill perfect for sledding, right next to the Filene Center (which also has a perfectly sloped hill to allow viewers to see the stage!).

Take the kids sledding then stay for a concert in the indoor venue The Barns.

3. Hike a Trail

There are 2.2 miles of woodland trails right next to the concert venues. Avoid rush hour traffic to the park by coming early for a pre-show hike followed by a picnic (which you can eat while waiting in line for the General Admission lawn seats, or in the venue on the lawn during the actual concert).

4. Attend a Free Concert

Every first weekend of December, Wolf Trap presents their free Holiday Sing-A-Long. This, and the Blast Off with the President's Own Marine Band are two annual opportunities for a free experience.

5. Feel Like a VIP Backstage

In April/May and October (pre and post season) you can go on a Ranger-led backstage tour of Wolf Trap's facilities.

Upcoming Units (COMMENT with recommendations please! What should I do at each park? Local interesting detours? Food stops?)

(Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota)

-Isle Royale National Park

-Keweenaw National Historical Park

-Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

-River Raisin National Battlefield Park

-Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

-Grand Portage National Monument

-Mississippi National River & Recreation Area

-Pipestone National Monument

-Voyageurs National Park

-Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site

-Theodore Roosevelt National Park

-Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site

-Apostle Island National Lakeshore

-Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway

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