Introduce your budding little theatergoes and music aficionados into the creative process of entertainment at the Kennedy Center’s newest addition, The REACH. There are nearly 500 reasons to visit this month (that’s the number of free events that will take place in the short span of 16 days!), but we kept it simple and highlighted the best five. Read on for what to see and do at The REACH’s opening festival Sept. 7-22nd.

photo: Richard Barnes

Free Performances

Take part in the festival with free timed passes, and choose from an unprecedented range of events representative of The Reach’s mission to bring artists and audience together. Get your dancin’ boots on for an opening day appearance by homegrown go-go performer Bootsy Collins or just put Sept. 15th (Family Day) on your calendar when author Mo Willems will emcee MO-a-PALOOZA LIVE!, a one-of-a-kind concert featuring songs from his stage adaptations, along with performances by local kids’ performer and GRAMMY winning 1-2-3 Andrés!, a Kennedy Center co-commissioned piece by Squonk Opera where gargantuan puppet hands tell the story, and a show called Infinite Monster by an Australian troupe where the audience is creator. Don’t be discouraged if passes are sold out online. The Kennedy Center encourages everyone to take part in the festival and will admit stand-by visitors as space permits.

photo: Courtesy of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

A Picnic-Perfect Green Roof

You don’t need a ticket to take in the sights and sounds of The REACH on the North Plaza. Have you ever picnicked on a roof before? This outdoor space is the largest green roof in the city, measuring over 69,000 square feet. This month it plays hosts to a number of outdoor performances and movies, but once the crowds disperse it’s the ideal gathering place for an informal meal with family and friends (if you forget the nosh, there is a casual café and coffee bar on the grounds). After lunch, let the littles chase the birds near the two reflecting ponds.

photo: Richard Barnes

Outdoor Movies

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Muppet Movie, an interactive screening will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 15th. Bubbles, confetti pops and surprise character appearances are all a part of the sing-along (and dance-along) experience!  A screening of Jim Henson’s early work, including Sam and Friends, will take place earlier in the day. For more flicks al fresco, check The REACH site for events beyond September.

A Kid-Friendly Maker Space

The Moonshot Studio is a maker space for the performing arts where drop-in hands-on activities come in three levels—quick and easy, intermediate, and advanced—and are designed for everyone from little ones to adults. There are dance and drawing activities (Shh!!!! Don’t tell, but Elephant and Piggie may be involved here!) as well as an interactive project on courage.

Access to Hiking Trails

The seamless design by Stephen Holl incorporates the original Kennedy Center and surrounding neighborhood with a river walkway. For those wishing to picnic on the grounds or just want to pass through while hiking or biking, there is a pedestrian bridge connecting the Kennedy Center campus to the Rock Creek Park Trail, as well as bike and pedestrian access from the Roosevelt Bridge / I-66 W ramp.

—Carolyn Ross and Meghan Yudes Meyers

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