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With school finished for the summer and warmer weather rolling in, summer concert series are kicking into high gear. With a variety of free events for outdoor family friendly fun, there’s something for everyone, even those with busy schedules.
Bring a lawn chair and grab some snacks while enjoying some dynamic outdoor movies and concerts at any of the following events.
Two of O.C.’s biggest summer series include the OC Parks Summer Concert and Sunset Cinema series, which were created to provide free, family friendly fun to locals while showcasing the wonders of the diverse OC Parks facilities to the public.
The OC Parks Summer Concert series was created in 2013, and each week features a lineup of both local and national artists. This year’s OC Parks Summer Concert series kicked off on June 23 at Craig Regional Park in Fullerton with a performance by the six-piece band from L.A., Ozomatli.
The next outdoor concert is set for July 14 with a performance by DSB at Irvine’s Mason Regional Park. The series runs through Aug. 25. The series’ closing performance will take place at Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach by one of Rolling Stone’s “10 New Artists You Need to Know,” the New Respects.
Each summer concert will run from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings.
Sister to the Summer Concert series is the OC Parks Sunset Cinema series, which was launched later in 2017, but has quickly proven to be a hit among community goers. The cinema series showcases a selection of both classic and newer family friendly films. With movie screenings running through Sept. 2, guests are encouraged to enjoy the parks as well as pre-show entertainment before every movie.
So far, movies have included “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” “The Princess Bride” and “Encanto.” Nine movies remain on the schedule to fill out the summer schedule. All movie events take place on Friday nights beginning with pre-show entertainment at 6 p.m., followed by a movie start time of approximately 8 p.m. shortly after sundown.
Both OC Parks series are open to all ages of the public, with free admission and free parking included. Each event will also include on-site food trucks as well as a beer and wine garden available to those over 21.
Since the launch of both summer series, the outdoor events have created traction among O.C. communities as well as neighboring counties, said OC Parks Communications specialist Danielle Kennedy.
“The series were created to provide free, family-friendly entertainment for the community while also introducing various OC Parks facilities to the public, and they draw thousands of people to our parks each summer,” Kennedy said.
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In 2021, the summer events drew approximately 40,000 people who attended both concerts and movies at the OC Parks. Offering events at parks across north, south and central Orange County, the free summer series is accessible to a large mass of the O.C. population. Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley expressed enthusiasm for all communities to be able to enjoy the OC Parks series once again.
“Our OC Summer Concert and Sunset Cinema series offer a fun way to enjoy the outdoors, socialize and create family memories that will last a lifetime,” Foley said. “Walk or bike to one of these events, bring a picnic, and enjoy our county’s beautiful parks and community spirit.”
The OC Parks series also allows for families and friends to enjoy entertainment together outdoors safely, making it a suitable option for those who may still be practicing COVID-19 safety precautions.
Along with the OC Parks series, there happen to be a few other outdoor concert events in Orange County this summer, just in case you can’t make one of the other dates.
The City of Santa Ana is also offering free movies and concerts in parks throughout the city through the end of August.
Movie nights are on Wednesdays and festivities start at 5:30 p.m. Movies begin at dusk. Pre-show activities include jumpers, arts and crafts, and surprise guests. The first 500 guests each evening will also get free popcorn from Pops Kettle Corn. For guests that would like to enjoy the movies in Spanish, free audio headsets will be available for select titles.
Evenings with Concerts in the Park on Thursdays start with food trucks and activities at 5:30 p.m. and live music from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
For all events, guests may bring their own lawn chairs, blankets and picnics. Dogs may attend but must remain on leashes. Alcohol is not allowed in the parks.
Movie Mondays and Summer Sounds on the Plaza are free events offered by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts on the Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.
These plaza events are free to attend, however ticket reservations are required. (Click on the specific event in the schedules below to get specific ticket reservation information.)
Seating will not be provided, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets. You may also bring snacks and refreshments, however, outside alcohol, glass containers, tables, barbecues, tents and food preparation is not permitted on the plaza. Food will also be available at George’s Cafe and food trucks will be on site.
On Mondays from 5:30-7:45 p.m., the Center docents will also offer free mini-tours of the Segerstrom Center’s performance halls with no reservation required.
Set-up will begin at around 5:30 p.m. with the film beginning at dusk, at approximately 8 p.m.
The City of Newport Beach Arts Commission presents the return of its Summer Concert Series on the Green, which features a lineup of entertaining tribute bands.
All concerts take place at the Newport Beach Civic Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. with the next performer being Billy Nation (A Billy Joel Tribute) on July 17. On-site food trucks will be available to guests. Admission and parking for the concert events are free, however are run on a first-come, first-served basis.
Presented by the Huntington Beach International Surfing Museum, the Surfin’ Sundays Concert Series is returns this year with remaining dates on July 10, Aug. 21, Sept. 11 and Oct. 9. On Surfin’ Sunday weekends, Pier Plaza off of Main Street transforms into a hub for surf music and activities. Vendors line the pier and plaza all day on Saturday and concerts are scheduled on Sundays starting at 11 a.m.
On concert days, rather than showcasing just one band, the day full of six or seven bands that rotate hourly throughout the afternoon. Upcoming performers for July 10 include artists from across the West Coast, including Surf Monster, Fascination Creatures of the Deep, The Surf Kings, Little Kahuna, Trabants and Burn Notice.
The full schedule can be found at huntingtonbeachsurfingmuseum.org/surfin-sundays.
If you are looking for more classical fare, Pacific Symphony fans out across the county during the summer, performing for free in local parks and community centers.
Symphony in the Cities brings the full orchestra for hour-long concerts and Symphony on the Go highlights smaller chamber groups made up of Pacific Symphony musicians.
Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs and blankets.
Preconcert activities for children include instrument making, a drum circle, an instrument petting zoo, and an opportunity to meet the musicians.
Concerts start at 7 p.m.
Crystal Henriquez is a contributing for Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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