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Guide to free family summer concerts

Few things say "summer" like listening to music in a park. Here are a bunch of chances to do just that.

Cascade Playground in South Lake Union hosts summer concerts on Thursday afternoons.

South Lake Union Chamber of Commerce

Summer is a great time for music lovers. Musicians of all kinds venture out of doors and it's a great time to check out new acts for free. And it's really fun to dance with your kids. And it's educational too. In a world saturated with recorded music, it's helpful for kids to see that music is something made by wondrously skilled human hands.

Plus, because it's a free concert, in a public place, it is easy to move on if your kid for some reason would rather be doing something else, so it's the perfect time to experiment a little.

You won't see many household names featured in summer concert series lineups, but that doesn't mean you're in the dark about choosing which ones to go to.  Most bands that can command a booking have a good sampling of Youtube videos, so you can check in advance as to whether a band is likely to please.

Here are some of the places you and your kids can catch free live music this summer. Notice I say "some of." At the height of summer, neighborhood and specialty festivals pop up all over the city, and many of them feature live performances. So you never know what you are going to run into.


Free Festivals

Volunteer Park Pride Festival

Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 9

Volunteer Park, 1247 15th Ave E

Tacocat is the headliner at this festival, part of a month of events celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer pride in Seattle.


Georgetown Carnival

Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 9

Georgetown neighborhood

Local acts perform from three different outdoor stages around the Georgetown neighborhood, at this even, which also has art, street performers, games, and power tool drag races.


Fremont Fair

11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 16, 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 17

Fremont neighborhood

Even before the famous Fremont Solstice Parade gets started, there are artists performing at two public stages in Fremont as part of a weekend-long street fair.


Ballard Seafoodfest

July 13-15

Stage at junction of Ballard Ave NW and 22nd Ave NW

KEXP, the station championing independent music everywhere, is the co-presenter for the music here, and the lineup reflects that. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, July 13, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 14 and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday July 15.


West Seattle Summer Fest

July 13-15

Stage on California Ave between SW Genessee St and SW Oregon St

This big street fair features a long list of local bands performing at its main stage. Concerts start on Friday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m., continue past 10 p.m., go from 11:30 a.m. until past 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 14, and then go from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.-ish on Sunday, July 15.


South Lake Union Block Party

Noon-11 p.m. Friday Aug. 10

101 Westlake Ave N

The festival stage on the lawn outside the South Lake Union Discovery center gives excellent views of the bands. There's a herd of food trucks, and an the chance to watch a five-ton steamroller in action, printing letterpress posters.


Concert Series

Concerts at the Mural

5:30 p.m. Fridays, Aug. 3 to 24.

Mural amphitheater, Seattle Center

KEXP curates this showcase of Seattle's independent music scene, in a series designed to be family friendly. With a scenic venue smack dab under the space needle, this series has a beer garden, food and all the amenities Seattle Center can offer.  Check out the lineup.


Summer Concerts at Hiawatha

6:30 p.m. Thursdays, July 19 to Aug. 23.

2700 California Ave SW

The lineup of local acts mixes genres and ages, and concludes with on Aug. 23 with a chance to rock out with with Caspar Babypants, the children's performer identity of Chris Ballew, lead singer of the Presidents of the United States of America.


University Village Sounds of Summer Concert Series

7 p.m. Wednesdays, July 11 to Aug. 22.

2623 NE University Village St

The lineup includes folk rock, funk, and party cover bands. What they all have in common is that they are high energy and danceable. There's a kids' play area, food, and a beer garden.


Belltown Beats

6 p.m. Fridays, June 16 to Aug. 31`

Bell Street Park, Bell Street from First to Fifth Avenues

Friday evenings in this urban park give kids the chance to play games while local musicians perform, and local visual artists show off their work.


Downtown Summer Sounds

Weekdays July 9 to Aug. 31

Eight downtown locations.

There are 34 concerts in this series spanning a variety of genres and energy levels. You can find what's coming up here.


Concert at the Columns

6 p.m. Fridays, July 6 to Sept. 14

Plymouth Pillars Park, 1050 Pike St.

A series of intimate concerts in a spectacular location, a small park that overlooks the bustle of Interstate 5 and downtown. The lineup is hard to find online. You have to go to the facebook page, and then scroll down until you find posts, from May 16 and April 17, that consist of photos of the concert series posters.


Free Blues and Cool Jazz

2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays, July 8 to Aug. 26

Freeway Park, 700 Seneca St

A lineup of jazz and blues acts provides a soundtrack for lazy Sunday afternoons in this downtown oasis.


Cascade Summer Stage

4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays, May 31 to Sept. 27

Cascade Playground, 333 Pontius Ave N

A rotating group of local musicians play Thursday afternoons in this South Lake Union playground.


Summer Concerts at the Locks

2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays June through August, plus July 4, Sept. 1 to 3, and Sunday, Sept. 16.

3015 NW 54th St

Community bands, orchestras and combos make up the lineup for these weekend afternoon concerts that take place in the Carl S. English Gardnens next to the Hiram M. Chittenden locks.


Seattle Chamber Music Society

Various evenings in July

Volunteer Park, Delridge Playfield, Columbia Park and Freeway Park.

The main event in this series is Chamber Music in the Park, 7 p.m. Saturday, July 28. in which a group of professional string musicians who participated in the society's summer festival perform in Volunteer Park's Amphitheater, and keen audience members join in for a group performance of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik." Leading up to it through July is Music under the Stars, 7:30 p.m. on 12 different July evenings in four different parks, in which a student group performs from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m., when park-goers can listen to the King FM broadcast of the chamber concert going on in Benaroya Hall.


Kirkland Kids Concerts

10 a.m. Tuesdays,  July 10 to Aug. 21

Juanita Beach Park, 9703 NE Juanita Dr, Kirkland

A who's who of local children's entertainers takes the stage on Tuesday mornings at this Eastside lakefront park.


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