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Enjoying the Best Outdoors

Arlington’s "Arts al Fresco" offers music, films and food in a summer-long arts festival.

The idea behind Arlington’s "Arts al Fresco" is pretty simple: give people the chance to listen to some of the world’s top musicians, watch films never before seen on the big screen and taste popular cuisine from a variety of cultures. Oh, and it’s all summer long.

The mostly free outdoor arts series, lasting from May 15 to September 25, has been going on for more than 18 years and hopes to attract audiences of all ages.

"It has really been known as a signature of Arlington," Jim Byers, Director of Marketing for Arlington Cultural Affairs, said. "It is great because of the variety of offerings and the fact that it has been offered in areas all over town."

One of the main events for Arts al Fresco will be "Slapsticon," a silent comedy film festival entering its sixth year. The program will be held at the Spectrum theatre at 1611 North Kent St. and will take place from Thursday, July 17 until Sunday, July 20.

With such rare films as "The 3 Stooges" television commercials and outtakes to the first ever W.C. Fields film, Slapsticon is a festival like no other.

"Some of the films we show probably have not been seen on a screen in over 50 years," Richard Roberts, the programmer for Slapsticon. "It is a good chance to show some good genuine laughs from an era that really doesn’t exist anymore. We do this because nobody else does."

Robert Farr, founder of Slapsticon, said an added bonus would be the live piano accompaniment that will be playing in the background of all 90 films being shown.

"That to silent movies is exciting in itself," Farr said of the accompaniments. "The pianists have no music to look at and for 90 percent of the films, they are seeing it for the first time. That is a lost art."

A four-day pass for the festival is $99, with daylong passes $30 and half-day passes $16.

ANOTHER INTERESTING EVENT is the 3rd Annual Planet Arlington World Music Celebration on August 30 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Netherlands Carillon beside the Iwo Jima Memorial. The free musical event features artists from around the world including Lebanese vocalist Tania Saleh, Congolese-Angolan salsa musician Ricardo Lemvo and Chinese erhuist Yang Ying.

"Arlington is one of the most diverse communities in our region…we wanted something that really spoke to that," Byers said. "It is a program that focuses on exploring issues of globalization, the environment and immigration through the lens of arts and humanities. All of the artists and participants speak from a desire to create a connection across boarders."

Jon Palmer Claridge, Director of Programming for Arlington Cultural Affairs, said a major attraction to the festival will be the beautiful venue in which it is located.

"I think it is one of the great concert locations in the United States," Palmer Claridge said. "You look through the stage and see the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and the Capital lined up in a row. It is one of the greatest views you can possibly imagine."

THE ROSSLYN JAZZ FESTIVAL will be held on Saturday, September 6 from 12:30 to 7: p.m. at Gateway Park and is free to the public. Headlined by 2008 Juno Award honoree Holly Cole, the winner of Canada’s best Jazz album, this year’s lineup has a variety of today’s top jazz artists. Other musicians performing include pianist Lafayette Gilchrist, harmonica player Frederic Yonnet and the Grammy-winning salsa band, Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

"The Rosslyn Jazz Festival really is a wonderful place because the site at Gateway Park is very intimate," Palmer Claridge said. "We were able to get a wide-range of really terrific artists. Lafayette is really taking jazz piano into some new areas and I thought it would be a great idea to give the audience an artist they might not have heard and somebody who is doing exciting things."

OTHER EVENTS of Arts al Fresco include a James Bond film festival, Farmer’s and Artist’s Markets and Heritage concerts.

Byers said the variety of entertainment options will cater to the needs of all attendees.

"I am hoping Arlingtonians will respond to the concert series as they have in years past," Byers said. "There really is something for everyone."

For more information, visit <a href=http://www.arlingtonarts.org>www.arlingtonarts.org</a>.