Venue History

Festival Fun for All

For nearly sixty years, the Festival Grounds at RFK Campus has played host to some of Washington, DC’s most fun and famous community, cultural and sporting events. Local favorites and national champions – you’ll find them all here.

From Go-Go Music to Grand Prix MotorSports: A History of the Festival Grounds at RFK Campus

1961 - RFK Stadium and the surrounding Festival Grounds open. Originally known as the District of Columbia Stadium, the facility was renamed Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in January 1969 for U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the previous June.

1990s - Stone Soul Picnic debuts at the Festival Grounds to more than 90,000 fans. The popular annual event ran until 2009, drawing national recording artists and local fan favorites like the late go-go music legend Chuck Brown.

2002 - The National Grand Prix runs on a circuit designed specifically for the Festival Grounds’ Lot 6/7, marking the first major motorsports event in DC in 80 years.

2007 - The DC Government kicks off its free, citywide “Truck Touch” program, demonstrating nearly 30 vehicles used to clean and repair streets, change traffic lights, collect refuse, clear snow, provide emergency services, administer mobile healthcare and more.

2009 - Legendary local radio station DC101 holds its first Chili Cook-Off on the Festival Grounds, attracting record-breaking attendance for the one-day rock concert and raising more than $1.3 million to fight kidney disease in the national capital region.

2011 – DC goes techno at DAYGLOW, AKA “The World’s Largest Paint Party.” The festival is a fusion of high-energy music, art and dance. Thousands of partygoers groove to the latest house and techno music and bask in a blast of multi-colored neon “Paint Blast” at shows held each April and September.

2011 - The first Pepsi Fan Festival is held as part of the annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic™. The free festival includes games, booths, food and giveaways as well as performances held on the soundstage. Appearances have included Jermaine Dupri and Da Brat as well as hip-hop icons Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick.

2013 - UniverSoul Circus returns to the Festival Grounds with the Turn’t Up Tour, featuring intimate theatre-in-the-round seating, dazzling lights, energetic sounds and a cast of A-list performers from around the world.

2013 - The Festival Grounds tests its stamina, hosting several endurance races including the 5K Kettle Classic, The Biggest Loser 5K/10K/1-Mile Kids Challenge, Run or Dye 5K, Ridiculous Obstacle Course 5K, Color in Motion 5K and LivingSocial's 5K Dance Party.

2014 – Hometown music festival Trillectro makes the move to the Festival Grounds, showcasing music ranging from hip-hop to electronic dance music.

2014 - Events DC joins forces with Red Bull Global Rallycross to bring professional motorsports back to Washington, DC. The Rallycross motorsports showcase event attracted more than 10,000 fans to the Festival Grounds.

2016 - The 10th annual United Airlines Rock 'n' Roll Washington DC Marathon & 1/2 Marathon runs through DC, with the finish line at the Festival Grounds.

2019- The 19th annual ShamrockFest, one of the largest St. Patrick’s Day festivals held in the Mid-Atlantic region, brings the luck of the Irish to the grounds. The annual event features over 50 bands and DJs on 10 stages plus food, beverages, craft vendors, carnival rides, games and more.