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SummerArts: Outdoor Venues

SummerArts: Outdoor Venues

It’s amazing how well good theater, good dance and especially good music combines with great summer evening weather and maybe even a picnic – or just a bottle of wine.

If you are only going to a summer pavilion once (to catch your favorite performer) then you should get the best seats possible – as early as possible. However, if one of these venues is less than an hour’s drive from your house, then investigate season-long lawn seat passes, third party discount sites and other ways that allow you to make summer excellence a habit.

There are dozens of wonderful outdoor amphitheaters in the United States most of which program rock acts. The listings below are summer venues that also offer extensive arts programming.

Pacific

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood, CA)

(Year Round) As the nascent movie industry grew by leaps and bounds in the first decades of the 20th century, so did Los Angeles, with a population of nearly 50,000 by 1920, and a distinct cultural identity. The Hollywood Bowl came into being around that time, first as the name given to the Daisy Dell area of Bolton Canyon, where natural acoustics favored outdoor musical and theatrical performances. ...more...

Central

Ravinia

Ravinia (Highland Park, IL)

(June-September) With its long history, beautiful atmosphere, and a yearly roster full of great performing artists in all genres (Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, B.B. King, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, etc), Ravinia has become a beloved tradition for many Chicago-area residents. To some, who set their picnic tables with candelabras and feasts fit for the gods, it’s nearly sacred. ...more...

Eastern

Blossom Music Center

Blossom Music Center (Cuyahoga Falls, OH)

(June-September) Six thousand covered seats in a low-slung performance pavilion, and space for somewhere around thirteen thousand more on the great, sloping lawn facing the stage, all set squarely in the middle of roughly eight hundred acres of woody Cuyahoga Falls State Park: couple all of the preceding with plentiful amenities, and you begin to understand why Blossom Music Center is one of the premier venues for summer concert-going in the Cleveland area. ...more...

Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Mann Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

(May-September) Founded in 1935 as the home for summer performances by the famed Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mann Center is a summer institution in the Philadelphia area. It was known as the Robin Hood Dell Concert series until 1976, after which its name changed to honor the support of Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist Frederic R. Mann. In 1998 the venue officially became the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, to reflect the growing diversity of its programming. ...more...

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Springs, NY)

(June-August) Located in the heart of Spa State Park, outside of Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is a magnet venue for a number of world-class performance organizations, with summer residencies including the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and Philadelphia Orchestra. Its calendar features productions in all of the performing arts, including opera, dance, chamber and symphonic music, jazz and pop music. ...more...

Tanglewood

Tanglewood Music Festival (Lenox, MA)

(June-August) A Berkshires estate that serves as the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood welcomes 350,000 musicians and music lovers annually for a wealth of concerts, seminars, and other events. Tanglewood audiences have enjoyed the American premieres of compositions by Shostakovich, Britten, and Pierre Boulez, and the festival continues to showcase the greatest talents of the classical-music world, as well as a few popular music notables. ...more...

wolftrap

Wolf Trap Foundation For the Performing Arts (Vienna, VA)

(May-September) A wild variety of performers come out every year to play at Wolf Trap, located on the woodsy rolling terrain of a national park. Wolf Trap devotees brave the muggy Virginia weather and risk the chance of getting wet (concerts go on rain or shine) to see artists like Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello, Jewel, Rufus Wainwright, Morrissey, the Beach Boys, and even the National Symphony Orchestra, while picnicking out on the expansive lawn of the Filene Center. ...more...

Pacific

Hollywood Bowl

Hollywood Bowl (Hollywood, CA)

(Year Round) As the nascent movie industry grew by leaps and bounds in the first decades of the 20th century, so did Los Angeles, with a population of nearly 50,000 by 1920, and a distinct cultural identity. The Hollywood Bowl came into being around that time, first as the name given to the Daisy Dell area of Bolton Canyon, where natural acoustics favored outdoor musical and theatrical performances. ...more...

Central

Ravinia

Ravinia (Highland Park, IL)

(June-September) With its long history, beautiful atmosphere, and a yearly roster full of great performing artists in all genres (Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, B.B. King, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, etc), Ravinia has become a beloved tradition for many Chicago-area residents. To some, who set their picnic tables with candelabras and feasts fit for the gods, it’s nearly sacred. ...more...

Eastern

Blossom Music Center

Blossom Music Center (Cuyahoga Falls, OH)

(June-September) Six thousand covered seats in a low-slung performance pavilion, and space for somewhere around thirteen thousand more on the great, sloping lawn facing the stage, all set squarely in the middle of roughly eight hundred acres of woody Cuyahoga Falls State Park: couple all of the preceding with plentiful amenities, and you begin to understand why Blossom Music Center is one of the premier venues for summer concert-going in the Cleveland area. ...more...

Mann Center for the Performing Arts

Mann Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia, PA)

(May-September) Founded in 1935 as the home for summer performances by the famed Philadelphia Orchestra, the Mann Center is a summer institution in the Philadelphia area. It was known as the Robin Hood Dell Concert series until 1976, after which its name changed to honor the support of Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist Frederic R. Mann. In 1998 the venue officially became the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, to reflect the growing diversity of its programming. ...more...

Saratoga Performing Arts Center

Saratoga Performing Arts Center (Saratoga Springs, NY)

(June-August) Located in the heart of Spa State Park, outside of Saratoga Springs, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) is a magnet venue for a number of world-class performance organizations, with summer residencies including the New York City Ballet (NYCB) and Philadelphia Orchestra. Its calendar features productions in all of the performing arts, including opera, dance, chamber and symphonic music, jazz and pop music. ...more...

Tanglewood

Tanglewood Music Festival (Lenox, MA)

(June-August) A Berkshires estate that serves as the summer home for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Tanglewood welcomes 350,000 musicians and music lovers annually for a wealth of concerts, seminars, and other events. Tanglewood audiences have enjoyed the American premieres of compositions by Shostakovich, Britten, and Pierre Boulez, and the festival continues to showcase the greatest talents of the classical-music world, as well as a few popular music notables. ...more...

wolftrap

Wolf Trap Foundation For the Performing Arts (Vienna, VA)

(May-September) A wild variety of performers come out every year to play at Wolf Trap, located on the woodsy rolling terrain of a national park. Wolf Trap devotees brave the muggy Virginia weather and risk the chance of getting wet (concerts go on rain or shine) to see artists like Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Elvis Costello, Jewel, Rufus Wainwright, Morrissey, the Beach Boys, and even the National Symphony Orchestra, while picnicking out on the expansive lawn of the Filene Center. ...more...