The Boulderite’s Guide to Live Music

In Arts & Culture, Entertainment, Things to do by Aimee HeckelLeave a Comment

Let Boulder serenade you with music.

Stroll down the Pearl Street Mall during warmer months, and every block has a different musical busker strumming classic rock on his guitar, pounding upturned trash cans to a tribal beat or even hanging upside down from a tree playing the piano. (Yes, for reals.)

You can also find scheduled live music somewhere in town just about any day of the week, from big concert venues, like the Boulder and Fox theaters, to coffee shops with an open mic.

Boulder also has a long list of regular musical events that bring the community together. Many of these gatherings are free or inexpensive.

Check Travel Boulder’s live music calendar to get the full scoop.

Here are a few of the annual musical events in Boulder, plus a look at a handful of the venues where you can hear people play:

Regular Events

Bands on the Bricks

What: Bands on the Bricks is Boulder’s outdoor summer concert series. It’s 10 weeks of free concerts by musicians along the Front Range. Dancing under the stars is invited.  

When: Wednesday evenings from early June through early August. Beer garden (actually, margaritas and local breweries) opens at 5:30 p.m., opener comes on at 6 p.m. and headliner starts at 7 p.m.

Where: Pearl Street Mall

Boulder Public Library Concert Series

What: Free concerts in the library’s theater. Find sensory-friendly concerts for people with autism, lunchtime concerts, themed events and more.

When: Various dates; check the website.

Where: Canyon Theater at the main library, unless otherwise stated.

Concerts in the Park

What: Music by the volunteer Boulder Concert Band, in partnership with the Boulder Parks and Recreation Department. Music is traditional and modern. Many people bring a picnic meal and blanket to stretch out on the grass to listen to the live, free music.  

When: Mondays June through August. Check the website for specific dates. Music begins at 7 p.m.  

Where: A different park in Boulder every week.

Boulder Philharmonic

What: The season for Boulder’s professional symphony orchestra runs half the year, with regular concerts. Also, check the website for free sensory-friendly concerts at the Boulder Public Library for families with loved ones who have autism. These concerts welcome a range of expressions by the audience members, whether that’s dancing, moving, singing, interjecting or more. The Boulder Phil also offers guided, naturalist musical hikes, designed to complement work by the orchestra. In the winter, it performs live music to the Boulder Ballet’s “Nutcracker” performance. These are just a few of the orchestra’s musical offerings.

When: October through April.

Where: Macky Auditorium at the University of Colorado campus.

Meadow Music

What: A free, musical, family event featuring children’s music fused with nature. The weekly gatherings include a hike, environmental education and music in the foothills with a view of the mountains.

When: Mondays in the summer, going on for more than a decade now. Check the website for specific dates and times. Hikes usually begin at 5:30 p.m. and last about 30 minutes. The concert usually runs from 6-7 p.m.

Where: Chautauqua Park, on the green.

CU Presents

CU Presents brings more than 100 events to the University of Colorado campus every year. Among those offerings: The Eklund Opera, the Grammy-winning string Takács Quartet, the Holiday Festival (with choirs, an orchestra, ensembles) and more. CU Presents draws more than 80,000 people to its events and shows annually.

Local tip: Don’t miss the free Pre-Concert Conversations before the Artist Series shows, where you can listen to a discussion, hosted by CU faculty, about the performance.

Boulder Bach Festival

What: A series of concerts and other educational events that are centered around composer Bach.

When: October through May.
Where: Various locations in Boulder. Also find Bach events in Longmont and Denver.

Hanuman Festival

What: While this festival is best known for its yoga instruction, it also has live music offerings. The festival brings live music, often free or inexpensive, to downtown Boulder; no yoga required to enjoy. “Music is an inseparable aspect of the yogic path, and we here in the west are blessed with the ability to apply futuristic science to the ancient wisdom. As living traditions evolve, it is vital that we pay homage to the roots,” according to the Hanuman Festival website. Find kirtans, chanting, bands, DJs and more.

When: Mid-June for three days.

Where: Downtown Boulder, mostly centered around Boulder High School.

Colorado Music Festival

Musicians in the Colorado Music Festival. Courtesy photo

Colorado Music Festival

What: A summer concert season that showcases the Colorado Music Festival Orchestra andnational and international musicians. The National Endowment for the Arts and Leave of American Orchestras has recognized this musical program.

When: June through August.

Where: Chautauqua Auditorium

Where to Go

In addition to the regularly occurring musical events, tons of venues, bars, coffee shops and stages across Boulder host shows throughout the week. Check our events calendar for the selection.

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