A little music outside beats the doldrums of summer, especially when it’s accompanied by vivid blue skies. Attending an outdoor concert, however, usually goes hand in hand with a sizable ticket price, an expensive proposition for a family of budding music aficionados — especially after you add food to the score.
We’ve put together a list of free or inexpensive family-friendly musical experiences around Puget Sound. You can add to the enjoyment by bringing your own picnic. It beats eating another fried elephant ear with your own small fry.
A little night music
A perennial summer favorite for live music on a grassy lawn is Seattle Chamber Music’s free “Music Under the Stars” program. You and the family can picnic and listen to live broadcasts of performances nearly every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening in July and August.
“There are some very serious listeners outside, but there is also an adjoining lawn where families tend to congregate,” says spokeswoman Nicola Reilly. “We have seen many a 3-year-old doing some interpretive dancing to Mendelssohn!”
This year, each of the program’s venues (Lakeside School in North Seattle and The Overlake School in Redmond) will host a family event, “Peter and the Wolf and Other Tales,” for children ages 5 to 10. Tickets to these concerts are $8, but you get free hot dogs and lemonade on the lawn beforehand. There’s even playground equipment at both schools.
Regular broadcasts: July 6–31, 7 p.m., at Lakeside School (14050 First Ave. N.E., Seattle) and Aug. 5–14 at The Overlake School (20301 N.E. 108th St., Redmond).
“Peter and the Wolf and Other Tales” with Northwoods Wind Quintet: Tuesday, July 21, 7 p.m., at Lakeside School, and Tuesday, Aug. 11, 7 p.m., The Overlake School. Schedule and tickets.
Brass, drums and Chutes and Ladders
Here’s a place where you can also give the kids a lesson on human ingenuity and fishy tenacity: the free concerts on the lawn at Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard. Not only can you watch the boats come and go (and possibly a fish or two), but your tots will get their marching and dancing orders from a real live jazz, swing or big band.
Concerts are performed Saturdays and Sundays, 2 p.m., through Labor Day. Paid parking is available in lots located outside the entrance, but they can get crowded (3015 N.W. 54th St., Seattle). For the band lineup, call 206-783-7059 or visit the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Seattle District, and from the left column on that page, click “Locks and Dams,” then “Lake Washington Ship Canal and Chittenden Locks in Ballard” and then choose “Summer Events Schedule.”
Kid concerts in Kirkland
From pirate band Captain Bog and Salty to folk, jazz and disco groups, there’s something for everyone at the lovely Marina Park pavilion. While technically these are free concerts, there is a suggested donation of $2 per person. Even at that amount, you won’t be shelling out too many clams to enjoy the entertainment.
Concerts for children kick off on Wednesday; July 8 at 10 a.m. and run through Aug. 19. The lineup includes Recess Monkey (July 8), Nancy Stewart (July 15), The Brian Waite Band (July 22), and Cowboy Buck and Elizabeth (July 29). Evening concerts are scheduled for Thursdays, 7 p.m., July 9 through Aug. 20. The pavilion is located at 25 Lakeshore Plaza Drive, Kirkland. For the full lineup, call 425-587-3350 or visit Explore Kirkland and scroll down to “summer activities.”
Tracy Romoser is a Seattle-based writer and frugalite who shares a passion for music with her husband and two teens.