Live music is great. The Colorado outdoors are great. Put them together and it’s even better.
On many summer evenings, the Pearl Street Mall transforms into an outdoor stage, and so do many of Boulder County’s parks. Even Folsom Field on the University of Colorado campus hosts musicians on occasion (like the recent Dead & Company show). Boulder’s food truck park, the Rayback Collective, also regularly brings live music to its indoor-outdoor space. Boulder’s small bandshell in Central Park is often alive with music.
Not far from Boulder, you can find other popular outdoor stages. There’s the Folks Fest Stage at the Planet Bluegrass Ranch in Lyons, bumped against the St. Vain River. And of course, there’s the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, an acoustically perfect stage carved into 70-million-year-old red sandstone rock formations.
Head north if you want to watch live music in the Poudre Canyon at Mishawaka Amphitheatre, just outside of Fort Collins, or on the water at Loveland’s Foote Lagoon Concert Series, running all summer.
If you want your live music served up with a side of the stars in Boulder County, here’s where to go.
Band on the Bricks
Head to downtown Boulder on the Pearl Street Mall every Wednesday through the summer for Band on the Bricks. This free, family-friendly summer concert series features local musicians starting at 6 p.m. Come early to grab a drink (beer, wine or a marg) at the beer garden. This is Band on the Bricks’ 20th anniversary. It’s also the 40th anniversary of the Pearl Street Mall, so expect extra celebrations.
Musical highlights have included Chris Daniels and the Kings with Freddi Gowdy, Hazel Miller Band and the Quemando Salsa Band.
Boulder Concerts in the Park
Summertime in Boulder means free music in the park, thanks to the all-volunteer Boulder Concert Band and the Parks and Recreation Department. The band brings a variety of musical styles to Boulder’s beautiful parks. Pack a picnic. The Concerts in the Park show starts at 7 p.m.
Locations have included Chautauqua Park, North Boulder Park and Central Park.
Prospect Sound Bites
Head northeast to Longmont for a massive food truck gathering, Prospect Sound Bites. More than a dozen vendors circle Prospect Park in the Prospect New Town development and local bands take the outdoor stage. Catch this popular, busy event every Monday throughout the summer, starting at 5:30 p.m.
Past performers have included the Boulder Big Band, Pete Pidgeon and Hazel Miller.
Niwot Rock & Rails
Just outside of Boulder, the small, charming town of Niwot does its summer concert series big. This outdoor music gathering won the Governor’s Award for Downtown Excellence for Best Promotional Event. It’s a pretty big deal.
Niwot Rock & Rails takes place every Thursday evening from 5-9 p.m. in the summer at Whistle Stop Park. In addition to live music, there’s local music, local beer and more.
Past performers have included Girls On Top, The Goonies, Something Underground and the Rebecca Folsom Band.
Live Outdoor Concerts in Longmont
Longmont, northeast of Boulder, offers all kinds of free outdoor concerts during the summer. Here are a few:
- The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center’s Summer Concert Series: Hear free live music in the museum’s courtyard, 400 Quail Road, on select evenings starting at 6:30 p.m. Bring a picnic and park on the grass. Visit Longmont Museum for more info.
- The Longmont Public Library’s Family Concert Series: Not much of a nighttime music-listener? The public library invites anyone to bring a blanket to settle in for free live music on select days in the mornings, starting at 10 a.m. The concerts are held outside on the west library patio, 409 Fourth Ave. Visit the Longmont Public Library for more info.
- Downtown Summer Concert Series: Catch live music at Fourth and Main streets in downtown Longmont on select days starting at 6 p.m. The music is free and you can buy food, too. Learn more at downtownlongmont.com.
- Rhythm on the River: This two-day festival in Roger’s Grove Park centers around live music in a beautiful, natural setting. Learn more at longmontcolorado.gov.
- Festival on Main: This one-day festival in downtown on Main Street always has live music. Details at festivalonmain.com.
- Oktoberfest: It wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest party without music to dance to. Longmont’s is typically late September in Roosevelt Park.
Sandstone Summer Concert Series
Lyons is known for its music festivals, but it also features a free summer concert series that runs Thursday evenings. Hear live music at the 19th-annual series, on the Raul Vasquez Community Stage at Sandstone Park on Broadway and Third Avenue.
Musical highlights have included Bonnie and the Clydes.
Louisville Street Faire
Music fills the streets of downtown Louisville Friday evenings in the summer, during its free, family-friendly Street Faire. Find the stage at the Steinbaugh Pavilion, 824 Front St. Past performers have included MarchFourth. The jams start at 6:30 p.m. and run until 9ish.