FAQ: Pharrell’s Something in the Water festival heads to DC this weekend

Pharrell’s highly anticipated Something in the Water music festival is headed to the nation’s capital this weekend.

Get ready for a weekend of art and music in the heart of the District. Here’s everything you need to know.

  • Q: When and where is the festival taking place?
  • Something in the Water, or SITW, is a three-day music festival that runs from Friday, June 17, to Sunday, June 19, rain or shine. Musicians will perform along D.C.’s Independence Avenue between Third and Ninth streets, just south of the National Mall.

    Doors open between 2 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Sunday’s hours run slightly longer — from noon to 11 p.m. — for the festival’s final day. Exact set times had yet to be announced as of publishing. The latest details can be found on the festival’s website.

    Attendees can exit and re-enter festival grounds as many times as needed, but they will need to be re-scanned at the gate.

  • Q: Who's playing?
  • Pharrell is headlining, and he’s bringing along some special guests. Festival organizers were originally tight-lipped about who Pharrell’s cryptic “phriends” might be, but the rapper-producer confirmed last week that Justin Timberlake, Clipse, SZA, Q-Tip and N.O.R.E. would be joining him — while teasing more surprises still to come.

    SITW boasts a sprawling line of more than 60 bands and artists, including J Balvin, Calvin Harris, Usher, Dave Matthews Band, Run the Jewels and Tyler, the Creator. Better have a look here for the full lineup, because there’s plenty to choose from.

    “Something in the Water has always been a Black solution to a systemic problem,” Pharrell said Thursday on The Today Show. “Man, let’s take our beloved city, let’s take Virginia, let’s even bring Maryland, let’s bring the whole DMV right there on the National Mall there on Independence.”

  • Q: What can and what can't I bring?
  • There’s a more comprehensive list of what you can and can’t bring into festival grounds on the event’s website, but here’s an abridged version:

    YES: Phones, non-professional cameras like a GoPro or Flip cam, strollers, sunglasses, hats, makeup, e-cigs and prescribed medication. Plastic water bottles are fine but must be clear and need to be emptied prior to entry. Bags are allowed with significant restrictions to be aware of — more on that below.

    NO: Weapons, drones, cameras with detachable lenses like a DSLR or MILC, drugs of any kind including cannabis, aerosol products like spray sunscreen or deodorant, selfie sticks, chairs, blankets, coolers, umbrellas, laptops, pets (except service animals) or glass objects in any form.

  • Q: Can I bring a bag?
  • As long as you adhere to the festival’s strict guidelines. Fanny packs, hip bags, purses and clutches must be see-through, have a single compartment and be no larger than 14 inches by 11 inches by 5 inches. Backpacks are not allowed.

  • Q: How can I get there? Are there road closures?
  • Much of Southwest D.C. will be closed to vehicle traffic days ahead of the festival for stage prep. Find a full list of road closures and parking restrictions here.

    Expect additional closures on Saturday due to the Poor People’s Moral March on Washington, which will be organizing that morning on the National Mall. Plan for heavy volume on roads that remain open, because the Nationals are playing several games this weekend, too.

    “There will be limited to no public parking available in the area during the festival,” the festival’s site says. “We do not recommend driving to the area on event days. We encourage all festival attendees to make use of public transportation.”

    If you’re riding Metro, be aware that five stations will be closed on the Orange Line between New Carrollton and Stadium-Armory for summer track work with replacement shuttles available. L’Enfant Plaza, Gallery Place-Chinatown and Smithsonian are all within walking distance of the festival area.  Metro recommends choosing a destination on your line of origin so you don’t need to transfer.

    SITW is also offering direct shuttle service to the District from Virginia Beach, Pharrell’s hometown and the site of his inaugural 2019 festival. One-way and round-trip passes can be purchased for $50 and $95, respectively, on Eventbrite.

    “The best thing to do is not to try to drive about D.C. You should take public transit, you should walk, you should use our other mobility options like capital Bikeshare. That’s most important,” D.C. Deputy Mayor for Economic Development John Falcicchio told WTOP.

    “Keep an eye on the weather, know your surroundings and we just ask everyone to pack their patience and allow a little extra time to travel around the city this weekend,” Falcicchio said.

  • Q: How can I get tickets? Am I too late?
  • General admission tickets grant you one wristband for the whole weekend — there are no single-day passes. Tickets are limited: Out of the three pricing tiers, only the most expensive — $399.50 plus a $50 fee — was still available as of publication. There is a four-ticket limit, and all sales are final.

    If you’re a graduating D.C. high school student, you’re in luck: Pharrell is offering D.C. public high school seniors a free pass. If you haven’t already, check your inbox or talk to your school for details on how to claim yours, but hurry — you have until Thursday to do so, and you’ll have to present a student ID when picking up your wristband.

    Have your wristband already? Make sure you’ve activated it by entering the eight-digit code associated with your order online.

  • Q: Do you need to be fully vaccinated to attend?
  • Masks and COVID-19 vaccination are encouraged and welcome, the organizer says, but (in accordance with current DC Health guidelines) neither are required, and your vaccine status won’t be checked at entry.

  • Q: Will there be lockers to store my personal belongings?
  • Yes! You’ll need to reserve one ahead of time online. Lockers are 11 inches wide, 13 inches high and 18 inches deep, and you have the option of renting a multi-day locker where you can leave items overnight. See the festival’s website for more details.

Alejandro Alvarez

Alejandro Alvarez joined WTOP as a digital reporter and editor in June 2018. He is a writer and photojournalist focusing on politics, political activism and national affairs, with recent multimedia contributions to Reuters, MSNBC and PBS.

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