Drake and the Strokes headlining the very first year of a major festival in Washington D.C.? Yes, please. The inaugural Landmark Music Festival brings five stages and over 40 acts to the National Mall—which is actually a National Park!—on September 26-27 (ticket info is on the fest's site). With just a little bit of planning, it’s easy to elevate your experience from pretty good to awesome. To help with that, we’ve got some tips on getting there, planning your time, and maximizing your fun.
Getting To DC
If you’re already on the East Coast, you’ll have the easiest time of all getting to Landmark. Hop in a car (yours or a rental), and set a course for D.C. and you’ll be there in no time, just allow extra time for traffic and be prepared to pay for parking in one of the city’s lots. Street parking is plentiful, particularly on the weekend, but it may be difficult to find because there are so many people coming to the festival.
Folks in New York, Philly, Boston, Baltimore and cities in Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey can easily get to DC either by bus (try Megabus, Greyhound, or Bolt, depending on your starting point) or Amtrak train. As of press time, a roundtrip bus ticket from New York to D.C. is still under $50, and the often faster option of a roundtrip train ticket between those cities is under $175.
Coming from farther away? You’ll want to book a plane ticket asap. Fortunately DC is served by three major airports: Dulles (IAD) and Reagan (DCA) and Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall (BWI). Flying into DCA will be the most convenient by far, since that airport is literally just across the Potomac from the National Mall where the festival is being held. You can just hop right on the DC subway (the Metro) at the airport and be at the festival in four stops on the Yellow line. Dulles is farther and usually involves taking a shuttle bus and then a subway ride: the Washington Flyer is $5 bucks and drops you off at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station on the silver line. From the silver line you can ride to the National Mall.
Getting from BWI generally involves Metrorail or a bus. The Washington D.C. Metro’s website has a lot of useful information on how to get into the city from the three airports.
Landmark, as the name suggests, takes place right in the center of some of DC’s most famous monuments. It’s located in West Potomac Park south of the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool, across the road from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, and just a bit north of the FDR Memorial. If you’re looking at maps, it’s between the Tidal Basin and the Potomac River along Ohio Drive and intersected by West Basin Dr. (the main entrance is on West Basin Dr.).
Ohio Drive and West Basin Drive will be closed September 25-28, so if you’re on foot you should enter the festival at Independence Ave. and West Basin Drive. While you might luck out in finding parking on the surrounding streets of D.C. or in parking garages, public transportation is a strongly suggested option. The D.C. Metro runs from 7am Saturday until 3am Sunday and opens again at 7am Sunday, running that night until Midnight. With Landmark scheduled to end at 10pm each night, that should give you plenty of time. The nearest stations, however, are each about a mile from the festival, so be prepared for a 15- to 20-minute walk to either the Smithsonian stop (12th St. & Independence Ave. SW) the Foggy Bottom Stop (23rd St. & I St. NW) or the Arlington Cemetery stop (which is a particularly beautiful trip past the Lincoln Memorial and over the Potomac on a short bridge).
Biking is also an option, and the fest offers free bike parking near the entrance.
There are always a few bits of logistical knowledge that will ease your mind and let you and your friends focus on having a good time.
• Hours: The fest opens at noon and closes at 10pm each night.
• Tickets: Info on buying tickets is here.
• Will call: It’s open 10am-10pm on festival days and is located in West Potomac Park across the street from the MLK Memorial at W. Basin Drive SW and Independence Ave SW.
• Re-entry: Yes, but only three times per day. Be prepared to scan in and out.
• These non-obvious things are prohibited: Selfie sticks, coolers, chairs, aerosol sunscreen, drones, glass or metal containers, pets, hammocks
• Kids: Children under 10 can come in free with an adult ticket-holder.
• Tips from the fest: The fest has an extensive section of tips to help guide you.
WHAT TO BRING
A handful of festival survival essentials will = less stress. How best to avoid sore feet, a dead phone, and wet stuff? Bring along some of these things:
• Backpack: It’s a no-brainer that you’ll need something to hold all of your stuff, hands-free.
• Poncho: As previously mentioned, there’s a chance of rain and a basic poncho takes up almost no space in your bag. If it doesn’t rain, you conveniently have something to sit on in the grass.
• Socks: You’ll already be in comfortable shoes, true, but between the significant amounts of walking involved and the chance of wet weather, you’ll be happy you have a change of socks if you want them.
• Hand sanitizer: Landmark is offering some cool DC eats but between going to the bathroom at a festival and hanging around outside for two days, you’ll definitely want clean hands on demand
• Sunscreen: Just because it’s September doesn’t mean that the sun can’t burn you.
• Phone charger: At the very least, make sure you have the charger for your phone with you. Better yet, bring a charging case or portable battery. Your phone will be in constant use as you work out logistics with friends, consult the lineup, and update statuses, and you will need to recharge even sooner than you would on a normal day.
• Earplugs: Unless you’re planning to hang out in the back, away from the stage, it’s going to get loud.
• Water: Two factory sealed bottles are allowed in and there are refilling stations on site.
MAXIMIZE YOUR FUN
Make A Plan, Break A Plan: It’s always a good idea ahead of time to figure out when and where you and your friends will meet up during the festival. Just in case your phone dies or you have trouble getting a signal, you’ll at least have a way to link back up. That being said, having a basic plan also allows you to go off-script, discover bands you didn’t intend to see, and make new friends. Don’t be afraid to be spontaneous.
Drink Water, Eat Well: A festival is a little bit like an athletic event. You’re doing a lot of outdoor standing, walking, dancing, and some running over a long period of time over two days hopefully in the sun. Just like an athlete, you’ll be at peak performance (and maximum enjoyment) when you’re hydrated and well fed. Landmark has you covered on this front. In addition to letting in a couple of factory sealed bottles of water and providing refilling stations, they also have an extensive array of D.C.’s best restaurants represented in the DC Eats Food Court.
Be Prepared: Throw a note into your phone case or wallet that lists your name and the phone number of a trusted friend to contact in an emergency. If something unfortunate happens, any Good Samaritan will know who to get in touch with right away even if your phone is dead.
Enjoy With Your Senses: You’ll probably be on your phone a lot during the festival: connecting with friends, taking photos, checking the lineup and festival app. But don’t forget to take some of the time to enjoy the scene and all the music with the best memory-makers you’ve got: your own senses.
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