The school supplies are purchased, the suitcases unpacked — but before trading popsicles for pumpkin lattes, remember: there’s still a bit of summer left. One way to make the most of the last lazy days and sultry nights of summertime? Pack a picnic and gather the clan for one of the free outdoor movie events that mark the end of August in Montgomery County.
“Join your neighbors in the local park for a free movie under the stars,” said Colleen McQuitty, special events manager for the City of Rockville. Rockville’s Movies in the Parks program started Aug. 1, with big-screen movies every Wednesday at dusk, but there’s still time to catch the last show on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at Potomac Woods Park, 1380 Stratton Drive, Rockville.
That show will feature “Moana,” the family-friendly musical tale of an adventurous teen and the wacky demigod who helps guide her across the water to her destiny. McQuitty suggests that concertgoers bring “chairs, blankets, food and beverages” and settle in for an evening of laughter under the stars. The movie starts at dusk, approximately 8 p.m. For inclement weather updates, call 240-314-5022.
It’s an event that also may be enjoyed in Silver Spring, where AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center continues its Silver Screens series.
“Silver Screens began three years ago from an idea by Councilmember Tom Hucker,” explained Tiffany Graham-Golden, AFI’s director of marketing and events. “With the support of The Blairs this year, we’re thrilled to be able to continue and expand AFI’s footprint in Silver Spring, and bring a fun, free and interactive film program to the community.”
Graham-Golden said the event traditionally goes “beyond the screen,” finding ways for audiences and local partners to participate. They’ve staged a performance from School of Rock Silver Spring students, a hula lesson and a meet-and-greet with Moana, a Humane Rescue Alliance cat adoption — and encourage moviegoers to bring chairs and picnic blankets. Pack a picnic or purchase snacks from a food truck, settle in and enjoy the show. As Graham-Golden said, “What better way is there to spend a summer Friday night?”
Silver Screens on Sonny’s Green films begin at sundown, between 8 and 8:30 p.m., with “Clue” on Friday, Aug. 24, and “Ghostbusters” on Friday, Aug. 31. Movie-goers are invited to sit on the grass or bring a blanket or low-rise chair. Snacks and beverages will be available from Denizen’s Brewing Company (21-plus) and Stella’s Popkern. Sonny’s Green is located in the center of the Blairs District, accessible from High Park Lane or The Blairs Shopping Center (1290 East West Highway) parking lot.
Over at the Strathmore campus, at Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, the Comcast Xfinity Outdoor Film Festival is an event that’s been drawing end-of-summer crowds for years. “Summers at Strathmore kind of feel like: ‘free outdoor concerts, and let’s see a movie on the lawn,” said Director of Programming Sarah Farmer. “It definitely is a family kind of vibe; it literally is the perfect way to bring in the community and make it a community space.”
Low-rise chairs and small coolers are the rule, and food and drinks can be purchased from the Ridgewells’ Summer Grill.
Farmer said that before the movies begin at sunset, children can take part in pre-show activities, with crafts offered by The National institutes of Health Children’s Charities, which benefits from donations from moviegoers.
“They bring a number of volunteers to the event,” she explained. “Prior to the start of the film, there’s a live announcement followed by a film clip and testimonial to raise awareness for the organization’s activities.” The volunteers are armed with donation buckets for attendees who want to contribute, although donations are optional. Activities begin at 7:30 p.m. and movies start at dusk, once the sun has set below the horizon. What’s on offer? “Coco” on Thursday, Aug. 23, “Black Panther” on Friday, Aug. 24, “The Lion King” on Saturday, Aug. 25 and “Wonder Woman” on Sunday, Aug. 26. In case of inclement weather, visit www.strathmore.org.
“I love the lineup, it’s fantastic!” Farmer exclaimed, noting that the movies are chosen by consensus, with Strathmore staffers enthusiastically lobbying for their favorites. But all of it, from the diverse lineup to the charity element to the warm welcome moviegoers can expect, is part of the Strathmore mission.
“We would not exist without the community that surrounds us,” she explained. “And we appreciate and acknowledge that, 100 percent. We’re constantly looking for ways to engage.”