There are lots of fun and free concerts, outdoor movies and events scheduled throughout this summer in Minneapolis and St. Paul as well as a number of suburban areas, including Chaska, Maple Grove, Shoreview, and more. Pictured above, Carrie’s youngest daughter, complete with baby doll, enjoyed an outdoor concert last summer in Osseo.
Below is a starting list of free events I know of, though I am sure there are many more. If you know of other free summer events, please leave a comment below with a description and a link to the event or promotion and I will update the post as comments are made. Thanks for your help!
Minneapolis/St. Paul - Free Summer Activities, Events & Fun
Brit’s Pub: Shakespeare Sundays
Sundays from July 14 through August 4, Brit’s Pub is presenting “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged)” as performed by The Actors Theater of Minnesota. Most performances start at 6pm, and there is no cover.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory: Groovin’ in the Garden
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory hosts Groovin’ in the Garden every Wednesday from August 7 through September 11 from 6-8pm. Pack a picnic basket, spread out a blanket and hang out on the Visitor Center lawn. Lawn games will be provided, but feel free to bring your own, too.
Hennepin County Government Center: Summer on the Plaza
Catch performances by music groups, dance ensembles, actors, and more during the noon hour at the Hennepin County Government Center’s North Plaza as part of Hennepin County’s Summer on the Plaza entertainment series. Events are scheduled on various weekdays through Labor Day.
Landmark Plaza: Ordway Summer Dance Series
Bring a partner to Landmark Plaza in St. Paul on Thursday nights all summer long for free dancing and live music in the Ordway Summer Dance Series. A different musical genre and dance technique is featured each week along with basic lessons by professional dance companies.
Mears Park: Music in Mears
Every Thursday night through August 29, St. Paul hosts a free concert at Mears Park in lowertown St. Paul starting at 6pm as a part of Music in Mears.
Minneapolis: Art in the Park
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts hosts Art in the Park Pop-Up Studios all summer long at various Minneapolis parks. These single session drop-in studios are free for all ages.
Minneapolis: Music and Movies in the Parks
Minneapolis’s huge summer entertainment series includes concerts in parks all around the city from May 27-September 2 and movies from June 7-August 24.
Minneapolis: Twin Cities River Rats
A group known as the Twin Cities River Rats, experts at all sorts of waterskiing tricks, puts on free shows nearly every Thursday evening at their Minneapolis practice location on the Mississippi. Shows are at 7pm.
Minnesota History Center: 9 Nights of Music
The Minnesota History Center in St. Paul hosts free outdoor concerts every Tuesday in July and August as part of their 9 Nights of Music series. Dance instruction is from 6:30-7pm, then live music and dancing is from 7-8:30pm. Plus, stop by the museum early as admission is free on Tuesdays from 5-8pm.
St. Paul: Music in the Parks
St. Paul also has a huge number of concerts scheduled at various parks throughout the summer, some in the afternoon, some in the evening. Locations are at Como Lakeside Pavilion, Mears Park (as mentioned above), Phalen Amphitheater, Raspberry Island, and Rice Park. Select movies will also be shown at various parks throughout the summer.
University of Minnesota: Summer Music Festival at Northrop
This free, outdoor summer concert series features well-known local musicians and DJs as well as U of M student bands. Concerts are on select Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the summer at 12pm or 7pm (depending on the date).
Suburban Areas - Free Summer Activities, Events & Fun
Fridley: Friday Night Movie Nights
Springbrook Nature Center‘s mini movie theatre will be showing free movies on Friday nights from 6:30-8pm. You can also purchase popcorn or lemonade for just $1.
North St. Paul: Music in the Park
Three free concerts are scheduled at Casey Lake Park as part of North’s St. Paul’s Music in the Park Summer Concert Series. Brio Brass will perform on June 27 from 7-8:30pm, Teddy Bear Band and the Resistors will perform on July 25 from 6:30-8:30pm, and Jolly Huntsmen Band will perform on August 22 from 6:30-8:30pm.
Roseville: Summer Performance in the Park
The city of Roseville has a variety of entertainment scheduled throughout the summer at the Central Park Frank Rog Amphitheatre. Most events are on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Shoreview: Concert in the Commons
There will be free family-friendly concerts at the Shoreview Community Center Pavilion every Wednesday at 7pm from June 12 through August 21 as part of Concert in the Commons.
Shoreview: Friday Night Flix
Shoreview is showing free movies on four Fridays in August and September. Shows start at dusk and are located at the Haffeman Pavilion behind the Shoreview Community Center.
Stillwater: Summer Tuesdays
Starting in July, you can enjoy free music and movies at Lowell Park in Stillwater as part of the popular seven week series, Summer Tuesdays. Music will go from 5:30-9pm with the featured movie to follow. Summer Tuesdays is scheduled for July 9-August 20.
White Bear Lake: Marketfest
Marketfest runs Thursday evenings from 6-9pm from mid-June to the end of July, rain or shine. Features include live entertainment, fine art, a variety of foods, children’s activities, a farmers market, a classic car show and more.
White Bear Lake: Ski Otter Waterski Show
Also in White Bear Lake, Ski Otter’s Water Ski Team puts on a free show most Sundays all summer long at 6pm at Little Goose Lake. Carrie’s cousin skis with the club and her uncle drives the boat, so you might see her at one of these events this summer.
Brooklyn Park: Movies in the Park
Brooklyn Park is hosting three Movies in the Park this summer: June 14 at Zanewood Recreation Center, July 12 and August 2 at Central Park. Movies start at dusk and are family friendly. There will also be a penny carnival starting at 7pm. Bring chairs and blankets; concessions available for purchase.
Coon Rapids: Summer Concert Series
Anoka County Parks hosts a Summer Concert Series on Thursdays at 7pm at the Coon Rapids Dam. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy an evening of family fun.
Maple Grove: Camp Arbor
Bring your kids ages 3-10 to The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes on Tuesdays from 10:30-11:15am for fun, educational programs. Events occur from June 11 through July 23.
Maple Grove: Rush Creek Sounds at Sunset
Stop by Rusk Creek Golf Course in Maple Grove for live music on the terrace on Wednesdays from 6-10pm as part of the Sounds at Sunset series.
View this brochure for a complete list of scheduled Sounds of Summer 2013 performances and activities on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Maple Grove: Summer Faire
And in case you haven’t had your fill of live music in the Maple Grove area, The Shoppes at Arbor Lakes has their own summer concert series called Summer Faire on Thursdays from 6-8pm (July 11 through August 22). Bring a lawn chair to Arbor Park, The Shoppes’ central courtyard near the fountain.
Osseo: Concerts and Movies in the Park
Stop by Boerboom Park in Osseo on Tuesday nights all summer long for free family fun with concerts and movies in the park starting at 7pm (for music) and 8:30pm (for movies).
Plymouth: Entertainment in the Parks
Plymouth has a number of events scheduled for most Mondays through Thursdays (and select Fridays) all summer long in their Entertainment in the Parks series. All events are free to the public and will be at Parkers Lake Park, Hilde Performance Center or Plymouth Creek Park.
Eagan: Family Fun Tuesdays
Family Fun Tuesdays at Caponi Art Park take place every Tuesday from 10-11am through August 28. This children’s series provides families with opportunities to experience a variety of art forms, learn about world cultures and experience new ideas together. Admission is free, although there is a suggested donation of $4/person.
Eagan: Summer Performance Series
The Summer Performance Series is held at Caponi Art Park on select Sunday nights during the summer. All concerts begin at 6:30pm and are free, although there is a suggested donation of $5/person. Bring the whole family and lawn chairs or a blanket to spread on the grass.
Woodbury: Summer Concert Series
Woodbury Lakes summer concert series features live entertainment performed weekly in the courtyard between Kay Jewelers and American Eagle. Check out kid-focused bands on Wednesday mornings from 10-11am or family-friendly concerts on Thursdays from 6:30-8:30pm.
Chaska: Concert in the Parks
Every Friday beginning at 7pm, you can enjoy free performances at the City Square Park Gazebo in Chaska as part of Concerts in the Park. Concerts are scheduled through August 16.
Eden Prairie: Kidstock
Take your toddler to the Staring Lake Amphitheatre every Tuesday from 10:30-11:30am (June 25-August 13) to enjoy the sounds, actions, stories and fun of children’s entertainers from around the Twin Cities as a part of Kidstock.
Eden Prairie: Starring at Staring Concert Series, Movies in the Park
Pack a picnic, bring a blanket or lawn chair, and let the sights and sounds of this series at Staring Lake Amphitheatre be the soundtrack to your summer on most Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7pm from June 16-August 16. They also have Movies in the Park in August.
Edina: Centennial Lakes Park
Centennial Lakes Park in Edina hosts free entertainment nearly every Sunday-Thursday, including concerts and movies.
St. Louis Park: Creative Kidstuff Lunchtime Concert Series
The Creative Kidstuff location at The Shops at West End is having a summer concert series on Wednesdays from 11am-noon. Bring a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy some summer tunes – dates are from June 19 to August 21.
Cromulent Shakespeare Company
The Cromulent Shakespeare Company will perform Romeo and Juliet this summer at various locations around the Twin Cities. Most performances are in Minneapolis parks. Set up your blanket or lawn chair and bring a picnic.
Open Eye Theatre
The Open Eye Theatre Driveway Tour brings family-friendly theater performances right to your neighborhood. All performances are free and open to the public. Check this year’s schedule for locations, dates and times.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory
Admission to the Como Park Zoo & Conservatory is always free (although they willingly accept a suggested donation of $3/adult and $2/child). Summer hours are 10am-6pm, and there’s even a free shuttle service from the Minnesota State Fair Grounds to help avoid the hassles of parking.
Pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the morning at the Zoo, then take a stroll around the Conservatory in the afternoon. Don’t miss the Sparky the Sea Lion show! If you’re really planning ahead, you could plan your visit for one of the Cafesjian’s Carousel free ride days, too (May 13, June 17, July 15, August 19 and September 16).
Mall of America: Toddler Tuesdays
Every Tuesday (year-round) is Toddler Tuesday at the Mall of America, with free events from 10am-12pm. Plus, kids eat free (with adult purchase) at many participating Mall of America restaurants.
Midtown Global Market: Wee Wednesdays
Bring your little ones age 5 and under to the Midtown Global Market on Wednesdays from 10:30am-1pm for free educational programming (this happens year-round, not just during the summer).
Minneapolis Parks Wading Pools
The Minneapolis Parks system operates 65 wading pools in neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis. This is a great way to cool off – for free!
Check out all of our Summer activities and fun 2013 posts for more fun activities and opportunities going on this summer.
Your turn: What other free events could we add to this list? Email us or leave a comment after this blog post with details.