Kennedy Center’s ‘REACH’ Opens with Inaugural Parade, Performances

The REACH Opening Festival (September 7–22, 2019) celebrates the Kennedy Center’s newly expanded campus with a festival that will feature more than 500 performances, events, and hands-on activities, from 10:00 am to 11:00 pm across the next two weeks.

National headliners — including Arrested Development, De La Soul, Kronos Quartet, Roomful of Teeth, The Second City, Thievery Corporation, Debbie Allen, Yalitza Aparicio, Bootsy Collins, Renée Fleming, Judah Friedlander, Robert Glasper, Angélique Kidjo, Alan Menken, Tiler Peck, Carrie Mae Weems, Mo Willems, Dan Zanes, and many more — will perform to inaugurate this first major expansion of the nation’s cultural center and living memorial to President John F. Kennedy.

Guests will get their first views of the Kennedy Center’s $250 million expansion, which encompasses three new buildings and an impressive amount of outdoor space intended to be more physically connected to the city, engage with the community, involve young people, and provide for arts education collaborations.

“The Kennedy Center is roughly 50 years old,” said David Rubenstein, Chairman of the Kennedy Center since May 2010.  “It was designed to be a cultural center for the entire nation… and it has really lived up to that promise, becoming one of the great performing arts centers — if not the best performing arts center — in the entire world.

“What we hope to do over the next number of years is engage the community of Washington in ways that it has never been engaged before with the Kennedy Center, and also to make certain that not only people from the Washington area, but people from all over the country and all around the world feel that this is a place where they can come and learn more about the arts, participate in the arts, feel that this is their place, and really be in a terrific addition to the Kennedy Center,”

“We love and cherish the arts and creatives in Washington, DC,” shared DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, also on hand to speak during the inaugural festivities. “We are lucky to have such a national institution also embrace its local community.  Maybe 50 years ago, Washington, DC wasn’t a cultural hub, but I’m here to tell you that it is now.” The Mayor also shared that  the arts account for 8% of DC’s local economy, which is celebrated especially in September during the city’s 202 Creates festivities.

Now that The REACH has officially opened with a parade featuring dozens of local and national artists, as well as Kennedy Center leadership, two more weeks of free programming will complete its grand opening. The full schedule of events for the remainder of the opening festival is available online at