The Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts in Vienna has been a staple in Northern Virginia for over 50 years ago. Every year, it hosts an expansive lineup of live performances, from big-name concerts to symphonic orchestras to kid-friendly puppet shows.
If you’re planning to attend any of the shows on Wolf Trap’s calendar, here are some things you’ll want to know before you visit one of its three individual venues: the Filene Center, the Barns at Wolf Trap, and the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods.
The Filene Center
The Filene Center is the largest venue at Wolf Trap. It’s a large outdoor amphitheater where many of the biggest shows at Wolf Trap perform.
Entrance inspection: Yes, everything you bring in — coolers, purses, baskets, totes, diaper bags — will be inspected. Bags, backpacks, and suitcases can be no larger than 14-inches-by-13-inches-by-10-inches, and you may only bring in two items, excluding purses and blankets.
Seating: The Filene Center seats over 7,000. Guests purchase seats within the covered amphitheater or opt for general admission lawn seating.
Guests with lawn tickets can bring blankets or chairs to sit on, but lawn chairs, including legless beach chairs, are only permitted in the back area of the lawn. Seat cushions with back support are allowed anywhere on the lawn and can be rented at the gift shop, located on the plaza.
When to arrive: Park gates typically open 90 minutes before the show starts. Since lawn seating is first-come first-served, people often line up at the gate to get a good spot.
Guests with seated tickets can make their way to their seats in the amphitheater 30 minutes before the start of the show.
Food and drink: Guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages – including alcohol, as long as it’s not in a keg – to enjoy picnics on the lawn. In the covered seating area, guests can bring water and other beverages in reusable spill-proof Wolf Trap cups, which can be purchased at concessions.
Wagons and coolers on wheels are OK, as long as they are no larger than 18 inches-by-16-inches-by-12- inches.
The concessions stand has casual food, such as burgers, sandwiches, and snacks. You can also buy beer, wine, and cocktails to take to your seat, but no food is allowed in the covered area.
What’s prohibited: The center has a list of items you cannot bring.
- Weapons, edged or sharp tools, club-like items, explosives, and disabling chemicals such as mace or pepper spray.
- Candles, bug repellant burning coils, anything that has a fire or flame.
- Pets (except service animals).
- Beer kegs;
- Balls, Frisbees, bikes, scooters, skates.
- Tents or canopies.
- Umbrellas over 6 feet in diameter.
- Drones or other things that fly.
The Barns at Wolf Trap
The Barns is an indoor theater space, housed in two restored barns from the 18th century.
Entrance inspection: Wolf Trap reserves the right to inspect what you bring in.
Seating: Guests select their seats when purchasing tickets. There are 284 seats on the floor level, and an additional 98 on the balcony.
When to arrive: The lobby and bar open 90 minutes before showtime, and theatre doors open 30 minutes before showtime.
Food and drink: The lobby has a full bar, which sells specialty drinks and food – you’ll find starters like a charcuterie board, entrées, including a crab cake sandwich and a margherita flatbread, and desserts. Drinks can be taken to your seat, but food cannot. No outside food or drink is permitted.
The Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods
Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods is a small outdoor stage tucked into the woods of the park, where Wolf Trap hosts host kid-friendly shows.
Seating: Shows at the Children’s Theatre are all general admission. There are rows of benches for seating, with space for about 700.
When to arrive: The theater opens at 10 a.m., 30 minutes before the performances start.
Food and drink: No food or drink, except water, is allowed.
There is free parking available for all venues, but space is limited. The address to give your GPS will depend on which venue you’re attending.
The Filene Center and the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods: 1551 Trap Rd., Vienna
The Barns at Wolf Trap: 1635 Trap Rd., Vienna
If you’d prefer to take public transit, a shuttle between Wolf Trap and the McLean Metro station for every summer show at the Filene Center. Shuttles to the venue run every 20 minutes, starting two hours before the show and ending at showtime. Return shuttles leave 20 minutes after the show, and no later than 10:45 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays or 11:20 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Shuttle tickets cost $3 to $5.
Rideshares and taxis go to a designated pickup/drop-off area, located on the west side of Trap Road.
Feature image courtesy Wolf Trap
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