15 DC-area Venues to Experience Amazing Traditional Irish Music

As evening approaches and you’ve left the office with more work than you started with, or the kids have finally wound down after bouncing off the walls all day, do you ever wonder what could turn this weeknight into a vacation night? Head to your closest traditional Irish music session to find out why this musical social event has been part of the Irish culture for centuries…and see why it still is.

Between the live traditional music, engaging conversations and laughter, your e-mails and phone calls will be long forgotten (or, at least out of mind for the next few hours!).

NOTE: times and dates are subject to change. Please always check the event website before showing up.

Irish music Session

Irish seisiúns are gatherings of local musicians, singers and music appreciators where lively reels, jigs and ballads can be heard and enjoyed. This isn’t a performance, but more of a community get together at a pub or restaurant, so expect breaks in between the music for conversation and unexpected song or dance.

Enjoying the craic (pronounced crack, which is the Irish word for fun) with musicians and onlookers alike gives one the sensation of family. If you live near the D.C./Baltimore metropolitan area, raise your favorite pint (of Guinness, soda or water) as traditional sessions can be found almost every night of the week.

*For the most part the listed events take place in an evening pub setting and are geared toward adults, however daytime sessions can be very family friendly.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is kidssessioncropped.jpg

Table of Contents



  • Talk loudly next to the musicians, or talk at all if someone is singing
  • Create your own percussion (every now and then appreciative table bangs are just fine)
  • Request Dueling Banjos…or Danny Boy…or Wagon Wheel…it happens…a lot…!


  • Clap after a lively set
  • Order your food early, or find out when the kitchen closes (usually around 10 PM)
  • Ask permission before snapping a photo or recording
  • HAVE A GREAT TIME, bring some friends along, or make them when you get there!



Racer’s Cafe

  • Address: Parkville, MD
  • Times: 5-8pm

Great caliber of local and world class Irish musicians. Session led by master Irish flutist Laura Byrne. Also for a treat, expect to see members of the legendary Billy McCommiskey family.


  • on the Wharf, Washington, DC
  • Times: 3-6pm

Great afternoon event!

Flanagan’s Harp and Fiddle

  • Address: Bethesda, MD
  • Times: 5-6:30pm

This is a next generation, or youth session led by the great fiddle player and teacher, Mitch Fanning.


Daniel O’Connell’s Pub

  • Address: Alexandria, VA
  • Times: 8-11pm

Upscale pub in the heart of historic Old Town Alexandria. High energy session led by iconic fiddler Brendan Mulvihill and singer and guitarist Brian Gaffney. Try the bangers and mash, shepherds pie, scotch eggs or vegetarian options.

The Irish Inn

  • Address: Glen Echo, MD
  • Times: 7-10pm

Landmark traditional Irish pub & restaurant with great ambiance and high quality food. Try the classics here, such as fish and chips, corned beef or freshly baked scones with a pot of tea!

This is a masters session where you can hear Mitch Fanning on the fiddle, Zan McLeod on guitar, Tina Eck on flute, Jesse Winch on bodhran, octave mandolin and harmonica and special guests. Note: Closed session for playing, but open for listening!

Catch 22

  • Address: Baltimore, MD
  • Times: 8:15-10:15pm

Beginner/Intermediate session led by the fabulous Irish piano and fiddle player (and teacher!) Donna Long.

Paddy Barry’s

  • Address: Tysons Corner, VA
  • Times: 8-10pm

New intermediate session led by  fiddler, Teagan Kutz. Good place to check out if you are musician looking for a place to share tunes in a friendly environment.



  • Address: Silver Spring, MD
  • Times: 8-11 PM

This is in the downtown area, park at the garage and it will be free as long as you exit after 8 PM. Led by local favorites “Doc” Botzer and CB Heinemann. There are really good happy hour deals so come a bit early to order food and reserve your spot to hear the session.

Ó Flynn’s Crab and Cask House

  • Address: Baltimore, MD
  • Times: 7-10pm

This is a slow/beginners session led by Taylor & Alison Jenkins. New musicians are welcome to come and learn session tunes.  Check out the $2 crab special for musicians and patrons alike!


Galway Bay Pub & Restaurant

  • Address: Annapolis, MD
  • Times: 8-10pm

Lovely session set in the heart of Annapolis, MD. Great fish and chips, local oysters, pulled Reuben and hearty beef stew. Expect to hear an unaccompanied ballad or group song as the session is led by wonderful singer and button accordion player, Peter Brice (and multi-instrumentalist, Spencer Nitchie). Also, you may be lucky enough to catch Peter’s wife, Catherine dancing.

The Limerick Pub

  • Address: Wheaton, MD
  • Times: 7:30-10:30pm

Lively session lead by amazing guitarist Zan McLeod (1st and 3rd Wed) and alternating with fiddler, Philippe Varlet (2nd & 4th). This friendly session has a wide assortment of instruments, a great full kitchen (try the meatloaf or flaky fish and chips) and play darts on the side!

Daniel O’Connell’s Pub

  • Address: Alexandria, VA
  • Times: 8-12 PM

Fun session led by the extraordinary guitar, flute and bodhran player, Josh Dukes. Expect to hear some excellent musicians and fast driving tunes. This pub is popular and always a blast. Note this is a closed session, but open for listening!


The Killarney House

  • Address: Davidsonville, MD
  • Times: 7:30-10:30 pm

New session lead by Peter Brice and Sami Suplee.


Auld Shebeen Pub

  • Address: Fairfax, VA
  • Times: 12-2pm

CCE sponsored Irish session that is great for new and seasoned players alike. Experience a delicious full Irish breakfast anytime of the day.

*These are highlights from sessions that I have attended or that have been subsequently submitted. For a complete list of sessions near you in Maryland, Virginia or anywhere your travels may lead, check out: thesession.org/sessions

Pin it and Start Planning!

About The Author

Scroll to Top