Source: The Grove LA
Happy first day of summer! One of my favorite things about summer in Los Angeles is that it’s outdoor concert season, and so many of them are FREE! At the start of every summer, I go through my calendar and pack it with concerts; I love being outside on a warm summer night and singing my heart out to one of my favorite artists, or just belting the chorus if it’s someone I’ve never heard of before. We’re spoiled in LA that so many great artists come through and the weather is perfect for enjoying them outside. Here’s my round-up of the five best free summer concerts in LA.
1. The Grove Summer Concert Series
Source: The Grove LA
If you’ve ever been to LA and haven’t been to The Grove, I think you may have missed the true heart of Los Angeles. The Grove is oddly amazing in that’s just an outdoor shopping mall, but everything is so meticulously planned and presented it’s on a whole other level. Every other shopping place we’ve been to gets compared to The Grove, down to the parking garage (which again, oddly miraculous and probably the best parking experience you’ll have in LA, which is saying a lot with how busy this place gets).
Over the past five years, I’ve made it to almost every summer concert at The Grove, even through Obama-induced traffic jams (thank you Vespa scooter!). The only one I missed was Backstreet Boys, because apparently everyone else’s inner 12-year-old was just as excited as mine was, but got there earlier, so traffic was at a standstill a mile out. Fortunately, they posted to YouTube, so I could watch the amazingness here.
The series typically runs on Wednesdays in July, starting with an opening act at 7:30 pm and then the main act around 8:30 pm. Here is the link for last year’s line up, and hopefully they announce this year’s acts soon.
I’ve heard artists I already knew and loved, like Andy Grammer and Sara Evans, and discovered new ones like Brooke Eden and Tyrone Wells. With how great these concerts are, I’m always surprised that they’re not too busy and I can always get a spot where I can see the stage.
2. Santa Monica Pier Twilight Concerts
Source: Cocktail Playground
You really can’t have a better atmosphere than the beach concert vibes at Santa Monica Pier’s Twilight Concerts. The crowd is a bit bigger here, but still great. The series runs from early July to early September on Thursdays from 7 – 10 pm. This year’s lineup is already posted, and you can check it out here. My favorite discovery from this series is the artist Yuna.
3. Friday Night Jazz at LACMA
Source: Los Angeles Magazine
This concert series runs on Fridays from late April to late November, because really, November weather in LA is better than July weather in most places. The concerts start at 6 pm, but get there early to find parking and snag a seat. The stage is in front of the Urban Light art installation on Wilshire Boulevard. If you’re going to be late, there are a few places for picnic blankets or your own chairs. Better yet, there is usually a small area roped off for dancing, so if you have rhythm and don’t mind being part of the show, it’s a great way to enjoy the music.
4. Saturdays Off the 405 at The Getty
Source: L.A. Record
Somehow all of my favorite free concert series happen to be on different days, so if you live in LA, you can go to one almost every night of the week, or if you’re visiting, there’s bound to be one on a night you’re there.
The concerts series at The Getty is free, but since it’s The Getty, parking is $10. The event starts at 6 pm and there’s a DJ to open and close the concert. The Getty has extended hours on Saturday in the summer until 9 pm, so you can enjoy the museum too.
5. Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival
Source: Larchmont Buzz
I know, this isn’t technically a concert, but it’s a free outdoor performance, and one of my favorites. The Independent Shakespeare Company produces two Shakespeare plays each summer. This year it’s Richard III which runs from June 25 to July 24 and The Tempest, from July 30 to September 4. The performances start at 7 pm in front of the Old Zoo at Griffith Park. It’s a great venue as the area feels like a natural amphitheater, so whether you’ve brought chairs or a picnic blanket it’s a great view. Because it’s in the park and bit out from all of the light pollution of LA, you can actually see a few stars and it gets a bit chilly when the sun goes down. We like to pick up food for a picnic, but they also sell a few snacks like cupcakes in case you come empty-handed. It’s free, but they appreciate donations and work hard to earn your pennies.
Let us know if you have a favorite to add to the list! And if you have more time to spend in LA, check out our Los Angeles bucket list, with 101 things to do in the city!