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Author Neil Gaiman will speak at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts on July 20 (courtesy of MasterClass)

This summer, Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts will see the returns of John Legend and the Out & About Festival, along with some brand-new faces.

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that supports and programs the park, announced an initial lineup for the Filene Center’s summer season yesterday (Tuesday) that features both pop and classical shows.

Tickets for all the confirmed shows will go on sale at 10 a.m. on Feb. 16, though Wolf Trap members who donate $80 or more to the foundation can access presales right now.

In addition to a variety of concerts, Wolf Trap will introduce an expanded concessions building this summer with improved accessibility, including an elevator that will provide a stairs-free connection between the park’s upper and lower levels for the first time. The Meadow Commons project has been under construction since September and is expected to be finished this spring.

“[The Meadow Commons is] the embodiment of our community’s commitment and support to enhance the visitor experience through elevated concessions, improved accessibility, and more,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “With this upgrade, we’re dedicated to ensuring that all visitors can savor the magic of a performance at Wolf Trap.”

The Filene Center, the park’s 7,000-seat amphitheater, typically kicks off summer in late May around Memorial Day, but this year, the first performance on the schedule so far is the opera “Seven Deadly Sins” on Saturday, June 1. Kurt Weill’s “sung ballet” will be performed by up-and-coming orchestral musicians and opera singers in a collaboration between the National Orchestral Institute + Festival and Wolf Trap Opera.

The popular music slate starts on June 2 with The Beach Boys, led by original band member Mike Love. They will be followed on June 4-6 by John Legend, who visited last year and will sing songs like “All of Me” and Oscar winner “Glory” with the Wolf Trap Orchestra this year.

Other pop highlights will include:

  • June 8: soul singers Patti LaBelle and Gladys Knight
  • June 9: rock/blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr.
  • June 18-19: Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant and country singer Alison Krauss, whose June 18 show is a makeup for one that got postponed last year
  • June 20: alt-rock band Wilco
  • June 22: Out & About Festival, a showcase of LGBTQ artists that launched with Brandi Carlile in 2023. This year’s edition is headlined by Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard.
  • June 29: Broadway in the Park with Arlington’s Signature Theatre
  • July 20: author Neil Gaiman will take the audience “on a literary journey”
  • Aug. 1: Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me
  • Aug. 10: Kidz Bop Live
  • Aug. 17-18: Boyz II Men
  • Aug. 25: rockers Indigo Girls and Melissa Etheridge
  • Sept. 11: country singer Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
  • Sept. 12, 14 and 15: James Taylor & His All Star Band
  • Sept. 13: actors Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming, singing Broadway hits

On the classical side, Wolf Trap Opera will stage productions of Mozart’s “Così fan tutte” (June 21, 23, 29 and 27), Puccini’s “La bohème” (July 19) and the Pulitzer-Prize-winning “Silent Night” by Kevin Puts (Aug. 9, 11, 15 and 17). The Mozart opera will be in The Barns at Wolf Trap, while the others will be at the Filene Center.

The National Symphony Orchestra is also set to perform live scores for screenings of the original “Star Wars” (July 13) and “Ghostbusters” (July 26).

The orchestra will also celebrate the 200th anniversary of Beethoven’s “Ninth Symphony” on July 12 by conductor Ruth Reinhardt and Wolf Trap Opera artists. The program will include Samuel Taylor-Coleridge’s “Violin Concerto” performed by violinist Njioma Grevious.

Wolf Trap’s 2024 Kay Shouse Great Performance, which is designated annually to honor the park’s founder, will be an evening with the Washington Ballet on Sept. 5.

The full schedule can be found on Wolf Trap’s website.

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Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts won’t unveil the artists booked for its upcoming summer season for a few more weeks, likely in late January or early February. But regardless of who’s on stage, Filene Center visitors can expect at least one improvement in 2024: an updated concessions area.

Construction on the new Meadow Commons building began in September after the demolition of the existing concessions stand, which had served patrons since the Filene Center opened in 1971.

Almost twice the size of its two-story predecessor, the three-story Meadow Commons is on track for completion in late spring, according to the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that helps fund and program the park. That would be in time for the new season, which typically kicks off around Memorial Day.

“This new building will create just a wonderful new opportunity for patrons,” Beth Brummel, the foundation’s chief operating officer, said. “It’s probably one of the more visible [improvements] because it’s so connected to the experience of going to the concerts as well…So, we’re just really excited about it.”

Featuring a larger, modernized kitchen that can support a bigger menu as well as expanded restrooms, including family and ADA-accessible stalls, Meadow Commons constitutes the second phase of renovations slated for Wolf Trap under a park master plan updated in 2022.

The first phase replaced temporary vinyl tents near the Ovations restaurant with permanent pavilions. Finished in late July 2021, that project coincided with the park’s 50th anniversary season and aimed to encourage more year-round usage and visitation.

Meadow Commons, a $15 million project funded by a capital campaign that ultimately drew $75 million from donors over two years, was designed to improve the patron experience and make the Filene Center more accessible, Brummel says.

The new building will include elevators that finally connect the 7,000-seat amphitheater’s upper and lower levels, which can currently only be reached by stairs. The park’s lower levels will also be easier to access from the ADA parking and the picnic pavilions via a new, fully accessible path.

“The restrooms, the food service and the elevator in particular is a game changer to allow people with any kind of mobility issues to be able to access all of the different levels of the Filene Center without assistance,” Wolf Trap National Park Superintendent Ken Bigley said, adding that the National Park Service is “so thankful for the foundation’s support in making this happen.”

The accessibility improvements build off an earlier reconfiguration of the Filene Center’s front orchestra, which now have aisles so those seats could be reached from the back, Brummel noted. The amphitheater was also outfitted with screens in 2018 to give patrons on the lawn a better view of the stage.

In addition to the enhanced accessibility and expanded restroom and concessions space, Meadow Commons will bring modernized electrical, plumbing and stormwater management capabilities and a rooftop deck that will offer a panoramic view of the surrounding meadow and woods.

“I think it’s one of the flagship views of the park,” Bigley said. “So, there’s a section of this new building that will allow people to sit and enjoy a meal or enjoy a drink and look out on this beautiful view of the meadow.”

The upgrades at Wolf Trap won’t stop with the new concession area. Other changes proposed by the master plan include a pedestrian tunnel to replace the existing at-grade crossing at Main Circle and Barn roads, a new arrival hub, a 65-space accessible parking lot and a reconfigured circle in front of the Filene Center’s main gate to improve vehicle circulation.

Brummel says the Wolf Trap Foundation and National Park Service haven’t established a list of priorities or schedule for those additional projects yet. For now, they’re just looking forward to finishing Meadow Commons and seeing how it’s received by visitors when the Filene Center reopens.

“We’re excited [to make] the action, the process of visiting Wolf Trap to be just a little bit easier, whether it’s food service or accessibility or restrooms,” Bigley said. “It is already a very special place that we’re very proud of, and this will just take it to the next level.”

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Bats (via Clément Falize/Unsplash)

The Fairfax County Park Authority is celebrating spooky season with a bat-focused festival next weekend.

The 2023 Bat Festival is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 29, from 3-6 p.m. at the Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (1551 Trap Road).

Fairfax County is home to eight different species of bats, with big brown bats and Eastern red bats as the most commonly seen, according to the county’s wildlife management department.

“Come celebrate the captivating world of bats, learn about the vital role they play in our ecosystem, understand the threats they face and what you can do to protect them,” Fairfax County said in a release.

A pair of experts will be on hand to help “unveil the mysteries” behind the creature and talk about the challenges they face.

“Enjoy interactive activities for all ages and join our optional costume contest,” the event website said.

The educational tables and costume contest are scheduled for 3 p.m., followed by bat expert presentations at 4 p.m. and a bat listening demonstration at 5:30 p.m.

Guests are encouraged to bring picnic blankets, chairs, food and beverages. Registration is free online.

Photo via Clément Falize/Unsplash

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The Brooklyn fusion band Red Baraat will perform at The Barns on Oct. 28 (courtesy Wolf Trap Foundation)

The guitarist from The Police, a “Glee” crooner and even Emily Dickinson will pay a visit to The Barns at Wolf Trap over the next year.

The Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts unveiled an initial lineup of performances today (Tuesday) for the 2023-2024 season at its 382-seat indoor venue, which primarily operates from October through May after the park’s Filene Center concludes its summer season.

Tickets for the newly announced shows will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. this Friday (Aug. 11). They’re already available for purchase by Wolf Trap members, who are donors of $80 or more.

The upcoming season will feature performers from a variety of genres, including rock, musical theater, folk, comedy and chamber music, according to Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha.

“The Barns gives everyone the chance to enjoy their favorite artists in a uniquely intimate setting, and this season continues to underscore Wolf Trap’s commitment to providing diverse and innovative performances for our patrons,” Manocha said in a statement. “We can’t wait to share the rest of this season’s lineup.”

Still performing at 80 years old, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Andy Summers will open the season on Oct. 13 with his “The Cracked Lens + A Missing String” tour, which combines music, photography, theater and short story readings.

Other highlights include jazz from the Branford Marsalis Quartet on Oct. 17-18, the 10th anniversary tour of indie/folk band The Lone Bellow on Nov. 26-27, and a holiday concert by actor and singer Darren Criss on Dec. 2-3.

Criss’s “A Very Darren Chrissmas” show is among several shows aimed at musical theater fans. The Barns will also host singer Linda Eder on Nov. 2, Broadway actor Stephanie J. Block on Feb. 9-10 and Tony Award winner John Lloyd Young on March 1.

In addition, the season will feature chamber music curated by artistic advisor Wu Han, starting on Nov. 3-4 with violinist Pinchas Zukerman celebrating his 75th birthday by playing work by Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Dvořák.

The Orion String Quartet’s farewell tour (Nov. 19), the music of Beethoven (March 10 and April 19) and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (Jan. 28), and Emily Dickinson’s poetry (April 5) will also figure into the chamber music lineup.

A full breakdown of the season from the Wolf Trap Foundation can be found below. Read More

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The upcoming Wolf Trap season will include a tribute to Studio Ghibli fillms by the National Symphony Orchestra, led by composer Joe Hisaishi (photo by Dan Aulsebrook)

A preview of summer at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts has arrived.

More than 50 artists have been scheduled for the upcoming season at the Filene Center (1551 Trap Road), the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts announced today (Tuesday).

“The shows we’re announcing today are quintessentially ‘Wolf Trap,’ with extraordinary artists spanning genres and generations,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said. “Now is the perfect moment to call your friends and family, and make plans to hear your favorite artists live in one of the most beautiful settings in the country. We can’t wait to see you.”

Kicking off on May 25 with The Avett Brothers, a regular presence at the park, the season will be highlighted by pop singer John Legend, guitarist Kenny Loggins’s farewell tour, and a two-night tribute to Studio Ghibli movies, including “Spirited Away” and “My Neighbor Totoro.”

This summer will also feature Wolf Trap first-timer Jason Mraz, a two-day Out & About Festival dedicated to LGBTQ artists on June 24 and 25, and a variety of orchestral, opera and dance performances, including the Richmond Ballet’s debut for “Carmina Burana” on Aug. 30.

In addition to the Studio Ghibli tribute on July 14 and 15, which will be led by composer Joe Hisaishi, the National Symphony Orchestra’s schedule includes screenings of “Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi” and “Jurassic Park.” The group will also play Brahms and Tchaikovsky with violinist Hilary Hahn on Aug. 4 and Gustav Holst’s “The Planets” alongside NASA footage on July 7.

For musical theater fans, Arlington’s Signature Theater will return on June 16 for its third annual “Broadway in the Park” concert, this time featuring Lea Salonga, the Filipina actor who originated the role of Kim in “Miss Saigon” and provided the singing voices of Disney’s Mulan and Jasmine.

The full schedule of announced shows can be found on Wolf Trap’s website. Tickets will go on sale for the general public at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, though presales began today for members who donate $80 or more to the foundation.

Additional performances, including artists at the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods, will be announced in the coming months, according to the foundation.

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Singer Brandi Carlile will headline Wolf Trap National Park’s first-ever Out & About Festival (courtesy of Wolf Trap)

A music festival celebrating LGBTQ artists is coming to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts this summer.

In its first programming announcement for the upcoming season, the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts said today (Monday) that it will host a family-friendly, two-day Out & About Festival headlined by folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile.

The festival will take place across three stages on June 24 and 25, coinciding with LGBT Pride Month.

“The Out & About Festival captures the spirit of Wolf Trap — we are a community where music and nature are for all to enjoy,” Wolf Trap Foundation President and CEO Arvind Manocha said in a statement. “Brandi is an inspiration to artists and audiences, both for her unmistakable sound and for standing proudly as an icon of the gay community. We are really grateful for the chance to collaborate with Brandi and all of the guest artists to realize a shared vision.”

Carlile has performed at Wolf Trap regularly over the past decade, starting as an opener for the Indigo Girls in 2008 and most recently during the park’s 50th anniversary season in August 2021.

A total of 11 artists are scheduled to perform at the inaugural festival, including singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, British soul singer Yola, who appeared in the movie “Elvis,” electric indie pop band Lucius, and spoken-word artist Celisse.

Saturday, June 24

  • Brandi Carlile (Filene Center)
  • Yola (Filene Center)
  • Rufus Wainwright (Filene Center)
  • Jake Wesley Rogers (Meadow Stage)
  • Bad Moves (Meadow Stage)
  • Alphabet Rockers (Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods)

Sunday, June 25

  • Brandi Carlile (Filene Center)
  • Lucius (Filene Center)
  • Celisse (Filene Center)
  • Brandy Clark (Meadow Stage)
  • Oh He Dead (Meadow Stage)
  • Jazzy Ash & The Leaping Lizards (Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods)

The festival will mark the first time in decades that Wolf Trap’s three stages — the Filene Center, the Meadow Stage, and Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods — will all be used on the same day, according to the press release.

Each day will open with the Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods performances, which will start at 10:30 a.m. and require separate $12 tickets.

Gates will open for the main festival at 3 p.m., with Meadow Stage performances running from 4-6 p.m. and Filene Center performances starting at 6:30 p.m.

Festival tickets will range in cost from $75 to $345, with VIP tickets for prime orchestra seats and added amenities going for $498. Tickets will go on sale to the public at 10 a.m. on Feb. 17, though a presale for Wolf Trap members and the VIP ticket sales will start tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10 a.m.

Additional Pride Month activities are expected to be announced in the future.

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1964 The Tribute, a Beatles tribute band, will perform at The Barns on Feb. 9, 2023 (courtesy Steven Gardner/Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts)

(Updated at 2:15 p.m. on 8/12/2022) Perhaps sensing a growing weariness with the heat of summer, Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts has released a preview of its upcoming fall season.

Announcing its first scheduled performances yesterday (Tuesday), The Barns at Wolf Trap will deliver an assortment of pop, rock, country, jazz, and orchestral music as well as some comedy sets, starting with the Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans on Oct. 6.

The 382-seat indoor theater at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts typically hosts more than 80 performances during its regular season from October through May. In the summer, it’s home to the Wolf Trap Opera, which still has three performances scheduled on Aug. 12, 14 and 20 of “Susanna.”

The park’s open-air Filene Center also has another month left in its main summer season, which will continue tomorrow (Thursday) with a sing-along concert to the Disney film “Encanto.”

“This summer has been a welcome return to a full season of shows at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center,” Jo LaBrecque, vice president of communications and marketing for the Wolf Trap Foundation, said. “We’re dedicated to offering the community a diverse lineup of shows throughout the year, and we look forward to seeing audiences return to The Barns this fall.”

After going on hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, The Barns returned with live, in-person performances — and some COVID-19 health policies — last year.

Wolf Trap is no longer requiring proof of vaccination or masks, though face masks are still welcome and individual artists may request a different approach, according to the park’s guidelines. Wolf Trap advises checking its website 48 hours in advance of a show for the most updated information.

Tickets for the first batch of 2022-2023 shows will go on sale Friday (Aug. 12) at 10 a.m. The full schedule is below. Read More

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Morning Notes

Sun shines through tree leaves in Vienna (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Man Dies After Fairfax City Crash — “A 32-year-old Maryland man died from injuries he received when the motorcycle he was riding Monday afternoon collided with an SUV on Chain Bridge Road in Fairfax City, according to a police release.” [Patch]

Suspect in Fatal Springfield Stabbing Extradited — “This evening, Jose Heber Hernandez Mejia was extradited back to Fairfax County from South Carolina. He’s charged with 2nd degree murder for the July 17 domestic-related stabbing in the 5200 block of Rolling Rd. Hernandez Mejia was held on no bond.” [FCPD/Twitter]

Arrests Made in Child Solicitation Sting — “Six men ranging in ages from 26 to 43 were arrested by Fairfax County Police as part of an online sting to identify and apprehend predators seeking to exploit children using the internet, according to a police brief.” [Patch]

Food Stolen From Mount Vernon Daycare — “Officers were called to the KinderCare at 4287 Buckman Road early Monday morning for a burglary that occurred over the weekend. When officers learned thousands of dollars worth of food was stolen from the center, they quickly jumped into action to ensure the kids wouldn’t go hungry by purchasing breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks.” [FCPD/Facebook]

Virginia Sees Bump in Pro-Choice License Plates — “Pro-life and pro-choice license plates aren’t new to Virginia: The commonwealth has issued ‘Choose Life’ plates since 2009 and ‘Trust Women. Respect Choice.’ since 2010…Since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, though, more people are buying pro-choice plates.” [Washingtonian]

Fire Department Enlists Starbucks for Backpack Drive — “#FCFRD is partnering with select local @Starbucks stores to collect backpacks for underprivileged children. Backpacks will be given to local schools in #FairfaxCounty for distribution. Backpacks will be collected until August 12. Please donate a new backpack today!” [FCFRD/Twitter]

Metro Seeks to Add More Trains — Metro is seeking permission to operate more of the 7000-series trains that were sidelined late last year after a derailment in Arlington, according to the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission. The transit agency is currently permitted to run 64 cars, or eight trains, per day, as long as their wheels are inspected daily. [The Washington Post]

State Legislators Consider Changes to Recall Process — “Activists in Virginia are increasingly turning to the state’s court-driven recall process to try to take out their frustrations on local officials they feel have done something wrong…The fact that the recalls almost never work doesn’t seem to be stopping the trend, but it’s causing some lawmakers to rethink a system that empowers judges, not voters, to decide when politicians deserve to be kicked out of office early.” [Virginia Mercury/Inside NoVA]

“American Idol” Winner to Take Wolf Trap Stage — “Her victory on Season 3 of ‘American Idol’ made her a household name. Now, Fantasia Barrino is bringing her signature sound to Wolf Trap in Virginia on Aug. 19.” [WTOP]

It’s Wednesday — Rain starting in the afternoon. High of 88 and low of 77. Sunrise at 6:19 am and sunset at 8:11 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Musician Josh Lovelace will kick off the 2022 Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season on June 21 (courtesy Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts)

School is out for the summer, but young kids won’t have much opportunity to get bored — at least as far as Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts is concerned.

The park will launch a complete slate of family-friendly entertainment next week for the first full Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods season of the pandemic. The 2020 season was canceled, along with the rest of Wolf Trap’s summer programming that year, and last year’s lineup was limited to just six performances.

The seven-week season will open at 10:30 a.m. next Tuesday (June 21) with folk singer Josh Lovelace, who plays keyboard for the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE.

“After last year’s shortened season, we’re thrilled to welcome our new and returning families back to Children’s Theatre-in-the-Woods for seven exciting weeks of performances,” Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts Director of Community Programs and Internships Cate Bechtold said in a statement. “This summer we’re proud to feature many diverse acts, from Xuejuan Dance Ensemble and Native Pride Dancers to D.C. favorites Uncle Devin and 123 Andres. Whether you are a fan of dance, theater, music or puppetry, there is something for everyone to enjoy!”

All performances will take place in the outdoor theater at 1551 Trap Road on Tuesday through Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. through Aug. 6.

Tickets are on sale now through Wolf Trap’s website and at the Filene Center box office, which is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. A “Pick Three” promotion gives a $2 per ticket discount to anyone who buys tickets to three or more shows.

In addition to singers, the lineup features dance ensembles like the Maryland Youth Ballet, puppetry, theater, and to close the season, a bit of magic from the Amazing Max. The full schedule can be found on the Wolf Trap website.

The park’s main summer season at the Filene Center has been underway since May 28. Up next will be the indie-pop band Belle and Sebastian, who will make their Wolf Trap debut with the band Japanese Breakfast at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).

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Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts’ Filene Center will start its summer 2022 season on May 28 (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Fairfax Connector will continue providing express bus service to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts for at least the next five years, but the point of origin will be different from years past.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors authorized Director of Transportation Tom Biesiadny on Tuesday (May 10) to extend the county’s license agreement for the Wolf Trap Express shuttle with the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts, the nonprofit that organizes the park’s programming.

Set to launch on May 28, the shuttle will transport passengers between the McLean Metro station in Tysons and Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, which will kick off its summer 2022 season that day with a lineup of go-go bands headlined by Big Tony and Trouble Funk.

The shuttle will only operate during Filene Center performances, leaving the McLean Metro at approximately 20-minute intervals starting two hours before each show until showtime.

Return trips will leave Wolf Trap 20 minutes after each show, but they will be available no later than 10:45 p.m. on Sunday through Thursday or 11:20 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Fairfax Connector previously ran the Wolf Trap Express service from the West Falls Church Metro station. It shifted to the McLean station, because it’s easier to access and shortens the travel time for buses, making it more convenient, the Fairfax County Department of Transportation says.

FCDOT spokesperson Robin Geiger notes that the new location will also save travelers from Reston and the western part of the county from having to transfer between Metro’s Silver and Orange lines.

Rail service on the Orange Line will be disrupted this summer, with five stations closing in D.C. for platform renovations. In addition, the county anticipates more passengers using the Silver Line in the future, assuming its second phase ever opens.

This will be the Filene Center’s first full summer season of the pandemic, after the 2020 season got canceled and last year’s was mostly limited by capacity restrictions and other health protocols.

“I’m excited for Wolf Trap to be back in full force this year,” Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said.

According to county staff notes, Fairfax Connector has provided shuttle service for Filene Center performances since 2009. Originally signed on April 20, 2009, the agreement has been extended twice before, in 2010 and 2015.

The latest extension will keep the agreement in place until May 31, 2027.

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