Summer in Northern Virginia means outdoor concerts. In the past two weeks we’ve been to Jazz in the Garden at the National Gallery of Art and Wolf Trap. Wolf Trap is a gorgeous national park/outdoor amphitheatre that has concerts all summer long. It’s our hidden gem and I’ve been attending for over a decade. The husband and I try to catch two or three shows a summer and we’ve seen everything from Seal, Earth Wind and Fire (One word: September. ), and Legally Blonde the musical. But this weekend we heard the music of John Williams performed by the National Symphony Orchestra. John Williams is famous for creating the music of films like Jurassic Park, The Olympic theme song, Star Wars and Harry Potter. The scores are thrilling, and yes I will out myself as a music nerd; I am putting John Williams on my iPod.

The concert was extremely hot and humid, but NSO put on a great show. During a piece from Star Wars, storm troopers and Darth Vader stole the baton from the conductor and proceeded to conduct his own theme music. Don’t worry, the conductor whipped out a light saber and Darth Vader relinquished control. I know you were concerned.

If you are in DC or Northern Virginia, Wolf Trap HAS to be on your summer to-do list. But wherever you are in the country, here are my words of wisdom on outdoor concert celebrations for food and a seamless night:

  • What I keep in my car for spontaneous picnic needs: bottle opener, blanket (Vintage Pendleton), napkins, reusable shopping bags (I despise using disposable bags).
  • Dish ware: Keep what you need to carry to a minimum. Bring small plates, forks or toothpicks for food harpooning, and Tervis tumblers (unbreakable and keep drinks cool).
  • Beverages: Definitely bring wine or cocktails plus water. Freeze the water and use it as a cold pack for your cooler. You’ll appreciate the chill too! Make sure your facility allows alcohol (Cheers! Wolf Trap does.)
  • What to Pack for Your Picnic:You have two options for picnics. If you’re pressed for time, stopping by your grocery salad bar is a must. If you have time plan your own picnic, that’s great too. Just think finger-foods. We bring:
    • Crudités for pairing with hummus or cheese
    • Cut fruit and berries
    • Frozen melon
    • Baguettes or rolls
    • Cheese: 1 hard cheese and a chèvre or brie
    • Sliced meats or tofu (Sun-dried tomato)
    • Olives
    • Marinated artichokes

This easy menu is balanced and light. Notice everything can be kept at the same temperature and put in one cooler. You can use frozen water bottles as freezer packs.



  • Seating:The best seating at Wolf Trap is on the lawn. It is much cooler than being in house, less expensive with a great view and…you can picnic and have cocktails. Bring a quilt to sit on and skip the chairs. Those with chairs are restricted to a small area and you need to get there quite early to secure a spot.
  • Zero Traffic Tip: Start to gather your things at the second to last song and head to the car during the finale. You can hear finale as you walk and you’ll save yourself a thirty minute gridlock in the parking lot. Totally worth it.

What’s the best outdoor concert spot in your neighborhood and what do you pack?

-Carlene RD

Dietitian Nutritionist. My husband Chris and I create food and beverage photos, videos, stopmotions and recipes. And they're really cool.