Sylvan Theater

Three people playing instruments and one person in a white dress perform on stage.
Live performance at Sylvan Theater

Quick Facts

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Restroom, Restroom - Accessible, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Water - Bottle-Filling Station, Wheelchair Accessible

A theater has existed on this site since 1917. While it has undergone various renovations, Slyvan theater has provided a public gathering space for music, theater, and first ammendment demonstrations for over 100 years. At this theater Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to roughly 26,000 people for the 1959 Youth March for Integrated Schools. In 1993 over 150,000 people attended two concerts. Most recently the National Park Service has been educating and entertaining audeinces with ranger programs. Some topics that will be discussed are newly discovered infromation on the Washington Monument. The local pollinators you can find on the National Mall. As well as how Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War are connected to baseball! Below you will find a full list of dates and times for the ranger programs being offered this fall here at Sylvan Theater! Click the month for a full a list of events and programs happening on the Mall!

September 2023 (Programs begin at 8pm)

1st - A Labor of Love? Labor History and the National Mall (8pm - 9pm)

Labor Day was the fourth established federal holiday (1894) after Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Independence Day. But what is labor? Why is it so important? And why have Americans always struggled to make labor safe, fair, and inclusive? Join us for a discussion of this important story, told in the history of the National Mall and the iconic memorials of Washington, D.C.

2nd - Buffalo Soldiers: The Original Park Rangers (8pm - 9pm)

When you hear “Buffalo Soldier,” you probably do not initially think about America’s national parks. From patrolling and protecting some of our nation’s first national parks, to constructing roads and trails still in use today, to providing the first black national park superintendent, the Buffalo Soldiers played a vital role in the early years of our national parks. Join Ranger Stanley to discover and reflect upon their long, proud history and how their labor and service helped lay the foundation for the National Park Service.

8th - ERA on the March (8pm - 9pm)

One hundred years ago in 1923, feminists from the National Woman's Party, who had fought for the right to vote with the 19th Amendment, announced their intention to amend the Constitution again. This time, they were demanding full equality. Join Ranger Susan Philpott from Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument to hear about the century of struggle for the Equal Rights Amendment, including important connections to the National Mall. 


It’s hard to imagine we’ve missed anything about the Washington Monument. After all, it’s been finished for more than a century. But it has brand new Old Tales to tell!  

Animals we rely upon to pollinate our crops and support our ecosystems have sharply declined in recent years due to habitat loss, invasive species, and environmental pollutants. Join Park Ranger Matthew Furman to learn about these important animals, what our park is doing to protect them, and how we can become better stewards of the environment. 

Join Park Ranger Eric Pominville to learn the story of how Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, who by dexterous use of his ink pen, successfully nudged & coaxed John Adams of Massachusetts and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia to be reunited in friendship.

During World War I, African Americans from the Washington, D.C. area attempted to build a fighting force despite the obstacles of Jim Crow.  This program will investigate how these Black citizens fought against a racist administration and War Department before finally serving overseas against the Germans. 

Join a ranger to hear the story of Susan Ahn Cuddy, a daughter of Korean immigrants who served in World War II as a flight instructor, codebreaker, and the first female gunnery officer in U.S. Navy history.  

The story of Japanese Americans being interned during the Second World War is familiar. However, 33,000 men of that generation volunteering to serve their country at a time of when their loyalty was in serious question is not well remembered. One of the most amazing stories of the Second World War is that some of these men represented the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. This program will reveal the story of their service, patriotism, bravery, and sacrifice from 1942-1945.
October  - (Programs will now begin at 7:30pm)
7th - Viva La Revolucion: How Latin America Became Independent (7:30pm - 8:30pm) 
 Have you ever wondered why some of Latin America’s greatest leaders have statues in the heart of our nation’s capital? Join Park Ranger Michael Balis to learn how these statues of Latin America's liberators honor this exciting story and the people who made it possible.

14th - Talking Civil War Baseball, Lincoln, Cherry Blossoms and More (7:30pm - 8:30pm)

Come learn about the baseball players of the Civil War, the folklore of Lincoln playing baseball, and how a Civil War solider brought baseball to the “Land of the Cherry Blossoms.”

21st - Jubilee to Jazz: African American Music from the Civil War to World War (7:30pm - 8:30pm)

What could be more stereotypically Parisian than a jazz club? How did "America's music" develop from its roots in the songs of enslaved African Americans, and how did it become so popular in a European world capital? The answers to these questions flow from the founding of our nation through the early 20th Century. Bring a blanket and join a park ranger at Sylvan Theater to explore how African American music influenced culture both here and around the world, and learn how that ties in with the monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C.

28th - Progress, Patriotism, and Protest: African American Music from the Interwar Years to Vietnam (7:30pm - 8:30pm)

One century after the first United States Colored Troops mustered for service in the United States Civil War, America was still divided over issues of race and fractured over a controversial war in Southeast Asia. After jazz took Europe by storm, African American music continued to shape world cultural heritage. With the emergence of the U.S. as a global superpower from World War I, how did African American music influence culture both at home and abroad from World War II to the Vietnam War? Bring a blanket and join a park ranger at Sylvan Theater to explore how African American music influenced culture both here and around the world, and learn how that ties in with the monuments and memorials here in Washington, D.C.

National Mall and Memorial Parks

Last updated: April 5, 2024