Summer is fast approaching, and so is outdoor concert season. If you’re aching to spend warm nights in the company of friends listening to good music under the stars, you’re in luck. The options for outdoor music in the Triad are numerous. Several small towns host regular, free concerts and larger cities like Raleigh, Durham, and Greensboro have multiple outdoor music series showcasing everything from chamber music to R & B, and from hip hop to bluegrass.
We’ve compiled a list of summer concert series in the region, listed alphabetically by town, including Burlington, Bynum, Carrboro, Cary, Chapel Hill, Clayton, Duck, Durham, Garner, Graham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, Holly Springs, Manteo, Mebane, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, Saxapahaw, Wake Forest, and Wilson.
- Friday’s On Front Concert Series. Want to hang out at a historic train depot? This is your chance to enjoy free shows May-September on the 4th Friday of every month, on the grass behind the Downtown Depot. Bands include Green Army Men, Mason Lovette Band, and Phoenix Highway.
- Sunset Rhythms. On every third Friday in May and June, this outdoor series in downtown Burlington includes jazz, rock, beach, and swing music.
- Front Porch Music Series. This weekly program at the Bynum General Store is free and runs every Friday evening from April 27-August 30, featuring many regional bands paying blues, jazz, bluegrass, and more.
- Weaver St Market’s Jazz and More Sunday Brunch. No one needs a reason to dance beneath the trees in front of Carrboro’s Weaver Street Market on a nice day, but this weekly music program will give you one nonetheless. It’s on Sundays from 11-1, May to October. Expect lots of children, hula hoops, and straw hats.
- Weaver St. Market’s After Hours. Thursdays from 6:30-8:30, this weekly series runs from May 9-June 27, and then resumes in August. Catch bands like the Mystery Hillbillies and The Iron Mountain Messengers
- Hob Nob Jazz Series – If you’re a Jazz lover, this is the place to be every Wednesday evening in May. The Booth Amphitheatre hosts this; tickets are $5.
- NC Symphony Summerfest. The NC Syphonny moves outdoors between May 25 and July 6, with a concert every Saturday (and one on a Thursday) at the Booth Amphitheatre. Other activities include costume contests, instrument zoos, and games. Picnics are encouraged. ($28-30)
- Southern Village Summer Music Series. Sundays at 6, this series is free and includes a special performance from the NC Symphony on Friday, May 31st.
- Locally Grown Music & Movie Series . Now in its sixth year, line-up is yet to be announced, but we already know that it’s free, involves film screenings, and happens on top of the Wallace Parking Deck on downtown Chapel Hill. Check the website for updates.
- Fridays On The Front Porch. Want an excuse to spend time at the Carolina Inn without booking a room? Friday evenings from 5-8, the front porch of the historic hotel invites you to take a seat an enjoy bands like The Gravy Boys, Big Fat Gap, Down River, and Mel Melton & The Wicked Mojo. They also offer a picnic menu.
- Clayton Town Square Concert Series. Held on the Clayton town square, this monthly music show is free and held on the 3rd Thursday of the month starting May 16. Restaurants on the square offer pre-concert specials, and beer from Deep River Brewing will be available on tap at the shows.
- Duck Unplugged & Thursday Evening Summer Music Series. This Outer Banks town may be tiny, but it's the home of two summer music series. Duck Unplugged is a weekly singer/songwriter series on Tuesday evenings in July at the Duck Amphitheater, and the Summer Music Series is held on the Duck Town Green on Thursday evenings late June to August.
- Duke’s Music in the Gardens takes place on Wednesdays at 7pm in June and July. $12 will get you a spot on the lawn to hear bands like American Aquarium, Diali Cissokho & Kaira Ba, The Tender Fruit, and David Wax Museum.
- Center Stage Back Porch Music Series. Hosted by WUNC’s Back Porch Music and the American Tobacco Campus, this event is chock-full of headliner bands, including Solas, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Aoife O’Donovan, and Mipso. Crowds got too big for the Tobacco Campus lawn last year, so this year it’s on the grassy space beside DPAC. Expect food trucks, cornhole, and beer tents at this free event on select Fridays between May and October.
- Music on Main. If you’re looking for an extra excuse to hang out at Southpoint mall, this free music series could be it. Saturdays evenings from April to October, hear a variety of tunes from blues to beach to country, on the walkway just outside the cinema.
- Warehouse Blues. Friday evenings at Durham Central Park, the 9th annual Warehouse Blues series will run from July 13-Aug 13 with acts like Bobby Hinton and Cool John Ferguson.
- Rock the Park Concert Movie and Concert Series. This Saturday summer series rotates between various parks at various Durham parks, and involves a concert followed by a film. It’s bimonthly, free, and features bands like Kashon Perrin, Sahara Reggae Band, and The Craig Powe Band.
- Brightleaf Square. Starting May 10 and happening every week until Sept. 13, the Brightleaf Square concert series will be held on the outdoor courtyard, surrounded by restaurants and shops. Bands include Bull City Syndicate, Plan B, and Thelonius Acapella Group, and many more.
- Find Your Cool. Presented by Downtown Durham in the CBC Plaza, this free weekly series begins May 9 and runs through Aug. 8, with music across all genres, including Senegalese, R & B, and Bluegrass.
- Golden Belt Summer Concert Series. To celebrate its 5th birthday, Golden Belt, a renovated textile mill in downtown Durham, will host this series every 1st and 3rd Friday mid-May until mid-July. It kicks off May 17th in the front parking lot with Hammer No More The Fingers. Subsequent bands will play everything from alt rock to jazz and afropop.
- Music off Main 2013 is a monthly music series on the back lawn of the Garner Performing Arts Center. Many of the musicians have ties to Garner, including Amanda Daughtry, MikeMickXer, and Honey.
- Thursday at Seven Concert Series. Expect lots of Carolina beach music at this series on the fourth Thursday of each month in downtown Graham. It runs May to September.
- First Fridays. Kicking off with the Josh Lambert Trio, an acoustic funk/rock group, this series in downtown Graham features a wide variety of bands. Free, families encouraged.
- Music For A Sunday Evening in the Park. Dog-friendly, family-friendly, picnic-friendly, this free outdoor concert series hops from park to park on Sunday evenings June to August. Music is across the board –swing, bluegrass, classical, Americana, motown, and more.
- BB&T Beach Music in the Park. Want to ride in a hot air balloon? The night this series kicks off, you can. The weekly May 9-June 27 schedule includes the Carolina Breakers, Band of Oz, and Sleeping Booty.
- Weaver St. Market Outdoor Music Series. Weaver St. Market’s Hillsborough location hosts this weekly music series on Thursdays from 6-8pm, May 2- June 27 with lots of local bands.
- Last Fridays Free Concert Series brings Downtown Hillsborough to life on the last Friday of each month. Art galleries are open, craftspeople set up booths along the street, and live music abounds, including Blues on the Burwell School Lawn, and bands at Weaver St. Market. It lasts from April to September.
- Summer at the Springs Outdoor Concert Series The Springs Outdoor Theatre hosts this concert series on the second and fourth Friday evenings, June til August.
- First Fridays. Like many other towns, Manteo hosts its own monthly street festival every first Friday, except this one is right on the waterfront in the historic Downtown Manteo. It runs from April to December.
- Clay Street After Work. Held the 3rd Friday of each month, this series is part of Alamance County's Arts Council sponsored series. Free, family-friendly, in downtown Mebane.
- North Carolina Museum of Art Summer Concerts. If you live in Raleigh –or even if you don’t— this is an event not to miss. The line-up includes bands you’ve probably heard of, like the Indigo Girls, Glen Hansard, The Duhks, Tift Merritt, and Pink Martini. Occasionally, there’s a film to go along with the tunes, like when the Lost Bayou Ramblers kick off a screening of the Beasts of the Southern Wild, whose soundtrack they bring to life. ($9-40)
- Oak City 7. Every other Thursday between the end of May and August the City Plaza in Downtown Raleigh lights up with people and live music from two stages and a variety of bands. This year’s line-up will be announced soon on the Oak City 7 website. The event is free.
- Red Hat Amphitheatre. This series of shows isn’t restricted to summer, but it is outdoors, and there are some pretty big names passing through for a night on stage here this year. They include Bob Dylan, Widespread Panic, Tegan and Sara, The Postal Service, Jonas Brothers, and FUN. Expect to pay between $25-75 for tickets.
- Time Warner Cable Music Pavillion at Walnut Creek. This is the area's biggest outdoor amphitheatre, and it also brings some of the biggest names. Country music icons like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Brad Paisley, as well as rock and roll favorites like Heart and The Black Keys, are all booked for this summer's season. Prices from $25 up.
- Downtown Live! Summer Music Series. Every other Thursday in Downtown Rocky Mount, crowds gather on the lawn of the Imperial Centre for the Arts & Sciences for this free series. Bands like The Voltage Brothers, East Coast Rhythm & Blues Band, and The Fantastic Shakers grace the stage this summer.
- Saturdays in Saxapahaw. Every Saturday afternoon from May to August, the restored Rivermill invites a variety of bands to play in the late afternoon and evening. Other activities that happen there include a farmers and craft market and events for children. Admission’s free, donations welcome.
- Six Sundays Concerts, On Sundays from April 28-June 2, free concerts sponsored by the town of Wake Forest will take place at the E. Carroll Joyner Park Amphitheater. Food vendors will be on hand during the shows, which include performances from Children of the Horn, Ghezzi, and Boo Hanks.
- First Fridays on the Lawn. The first Friday of the month July-October, Wilson hosts a free concert on the lawn of the library. Bands aren't listed yet, but their goal is to "celebrate diversity through music," and they plan to have food vendors and other activities for families.