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Essential Outdoor Gear for Summer Concerts and Movies

Comfort and convenience are key when you're taking in a show

Published on: June 06, 2024

Family on a blanket with popcorn, using outdoor gear for a summer movie
iStock/FG Trade Latin

Get your picnic blankets ready and put your bedtime routine on hold! Summer has made it to Seattle, and it’s the perfect time to plan a family outing to watch an outdoor movie or a free summer concert. My family loves watching outdoor movies on the big screen, and we have cut a few rugs jamming at outdoor concerts. Over the years, we have picked up a few tips and tricks, including what to bring.

So, before you head out to snag a grassy patch of lawn and cozy up under the stars to watch a cinematic classic or sing along with a band, you’ll need some outdoor gear. I put my experience to good use and created an outdoor movie and concert packing list that includes all the essentials, plus a few fun splurges (hint: We’re now proud owners of an outdoor s’mores kit!).

Here’s to making summer even more fun!

Please note, many Seattle-area venues have a prohibited-items list, especially for concerts. Glass, tents, wagons and open flames are sometimes on the list, so please visit individual venue websites to make sure you’re following their guidelines.

Outdoor gear: summer essentials for families

Low-back chairs

Outdoor movie and concert venues usually don’t allow high-back chairs since they impede audience views, so invest in a comfy low-back chair. You’ll be sitting for most of the show, which is another reason to read through reviews and pay for quality. I love these because you can use them for so many other things, such as camping, beach outings and sporting events (they make T-ball almost bearable). Bonus: They include a cupholder.

Cost: $80 for a set of two

"low back chairs for an outdoor concert"

Portable picnic table

I love this portable picnic table. It’s super sturdy and easy to assemble. It also helps mitigate messes. You don’t have to worry about food all over the picnic blanket, and it creates a space for the kids to gather around. These are easy to assemble, lightweight and easy to clean.

Cost: $29.99

"Portable picnic table outdoor movies and concerts gear"

Snackle box for easy snacking

Speaking of ingenious ways to serve food, this trend is my favorite. Have you heard of the snackle box? It’s basically charcuterie to go. Simply pack your favorite treats in the many compartments and snack away. It’s a hassle-free way to pack your favorite treats and serve them anywhere. You can also use a tackle box, but I like this option better because it’s made with snacks in mind.

Cost: $21.99

"Snackle box outdoor movies and concerts gear"

Food covers

Keep uninvited insects away from your picnic. Food covers help keep bugs away. I like these because they are reusable, collapsible and they work!

Cost: $13.99

"Food covers are good outdoor movies and concert gear"

Outdoor blankets

Outdoor blankets are an essential item for outdoor movies and concerts on the lawn. Trust me, your backside will thank me. Waterproof options are always good, especially when temperatures begin to drop, and little beads of dew start to form on the tips of grass. My family gets a lot of use out of our puffy blanket because it’s multi-use. You can use it as a picnic blanket and sit on it, or you can wrap yourself up in it to keep warm.

These picnic blankets ($38.99) are water resistant, dirt resistant, sand resistant and stain resistant — so don’t be afraid to use them in the elements. They are made to last.

Cost: $31.99

"Puffy blanket outdoor movies and concert gear"

S’mores kit

Be the envy of the grass lawn with your very own s’mores kit. You’ll have to check the venue’s rules for open flames, but I love the idea of roasting s’mores while catching an outdoor show.

Cost: $27.99

"S’mores kit for outdoor movies and concert gear"

Mosquito repellent

Don’t let mosquitoes ruin your night out. These bracelets make keeping bugs away a breeze. Once you have them on, you’ll forget you’re wearing anything at all, but you’ll stay bug bite-free all night.

They come in packs of 10.

Cost: $9.99

"Mosquito repellent for outdoor movies and concerts"

Doodle pad

There can be a lot of downtime before the movie or concert begins, so I like to pack things to keep my kids busy while we wait. These doodle pads come in handy to pass the time, especially if you arrive early to get the best seats. Best of all, there’s no mess, and they’re reusable, too.

Cost: $37.99

"Kids drawing on a doodle pad is great outdoor movies and concerts gear"

Headlamp and lantern

Although you’ll arrive before the sun sets to get your seats, when you leave, the sun will be long gone. Pack a headlamp or lantern to make packing up at the end of the night less of a hassle. There is nothing worse than trying to find all the things you brought with you, making sure you cleaned up all your trash and keeping track of the kids all in the dark. I like these because they are lightweight and have cute character options, such as this pink owl. Bonus: Your kids will want to wear them.

Cost: $24.99

"Headlamp and lantern for outdoor movies and concerts"

While we’re on the topic of nighttime illumination, you might also want to add glow sticks to your packing list. These glow bracelets ($15.99) are a wonderful option because they are bright, come in all sorts of vivid colors and reviews say the battery life is long. I can’t speak for all little moviegoers, but for my kids, they don’t love sitting still. They like to wander around, which at night can cause a bit of anxiety for me. Adorning them with glow bracelets helps minimize my uneasiness — we always pack them when we camp as well.

Movie trays

Make movie night memorable with these adorable movie trays. These aren’t essential items, but they are certainly cute.

Cost: $9.99

"Movie night tray outdoor movies and concerts gear"

Sleeping bags

Attending outdoor movies and concerts usually means you’re tossing your bedtime routine out the window for a night. But you can still pack for bedtime. I like to bring sleeping bags just in case my littles want to nod off early.

Cost: $59.99

"Sleeping bags are good outdoor movie and concert gear"

Layers for kids

Even though it’s summertime, temperatures can still dip when the sun goes down here in the Pacific Northwest. Don’t forget to pack layers. Wearable blankets are a great option. I picked these because they glow in the dark and offer cute designs, such as unicorns.

Cost: $29.99

"Layers for kids to wear for outdoor movies and concerts"

Wearable fans

My kids do not like being too hot, which makes this next item a necessity. Summers in Seattle can bring the heat, and most concert venues and parks that host outdoor movies offer little shelter. These wearable fans are a great way to beat the heat, and they have great reviews. Best of all, you’ll put them to use all summer long.

Cost: $35.98

"Wearable fan for outdoor movie and concerts"

More articles about summer time fun:

Editor’s note: This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase products through links on our site, ParentMap may earn an affiliate commission. All prices were accurate at publication. All images from Amazon.

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