When summertime hits Sacramento the days can get hot but the Delta breezes blow in bringing cool air from the bay making the temperature perfect for spending an evening in the park. What better way to spend that evening than with free live music? Every summer in Sacramento there are some very popular free concerts in area parks that draw large, family friendly crowds.

Pops in the Park

Each Saturday night during the month of June you can enjoy a free concert event called Pops in the Park. People gather with their blankets, chairs and coolers to sit in the grass, visit with friends and listen to great live music. The concerts feature local bands of many different styles of music from classic rock, to zydeco, to R&B and jazz. There’s always something to please the listener. Vendors will set up shop at the park and sell t-shirts, jewelery or other items. Local businesses may also set up booths to provide information on their services or just hand out a few free goodies.

If you’re hungry the food vendors will take care of it with some nachos, burgers or hot dogs, or even some bar-b-q tri-tip. And, there’s always ice cream. At these events you may find a vendor selling beer or wine, but depending on the park, it may not be allowed. So pack your coolers with your favorite beverage. It’s not uncommon to see a group of friends un-corking a bottle of wine or breaking out the champagne glasses. If you don’t want to purchase food, bring your own. Some people will bring tables and spread out a pot luck dinner.

The crowd always seems to be jovial and low key and the concerts are always family friendly. The kids love spend the evening running around, dancing and playing.  Pops in the Park will change locations each week and their schedule is announced in local newspapers and on local event calendar web sites. The calendar is easily found with any search engine.  Many of the people who live near the event will walk, pulling their wagons or coolers with them. But, if you plan to drive, arrive early or be prepared to walk a few block as parking is usually on the street and is limited. Pops in the Park is a great way for the whole family to spend a summer evening and the festivities usually wind down around sundown giving you plenty of time to get home and get the kids to bed.

Friday Night Concert Series

Since 1991 Sacramento has been offering another great free concert series right in the middle of downtown across the street from City Hall in Cesar Chavez park. Every Friday night from May through August local bands will come and entertain a crowd that’s eager to get the weekend started. compared to Pops in the Park, the Friday Night Concerts  are a younger crowd and a little more of a party atmosphere, but it is still a family friendly environment and many people bring their kids to dance and run around by the fountain.

Some of Sacramento’s most famous and adored local bands will play here every year. Bands like Mumbo Gumbo or Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers are crowd favorites. The concerts are also a great venue for up and coming local bands and have even featured bands from local high schools. There’s always room to dance in front of the stage and kids from 5 to 85 can be seen showing off their best moves.

There’s plenty of food too, as vendors line the sidewalks eager to provide a tasty meal or snack. Although no alcohol is allowed in the park, the beer garden offers wine and beer. Usually a few of the local microbreweries will be there to tap a cold one for you. A valid ID must be shown in order to receive a wristband that will allow you to purchase beer. No ID, no wristband. No wristband, no beer. If you have kids, but you still want to enjoy a cold brew, don’t worry, you can set up your spot in the beer garden with your kids, just don’t let them drink your beer.

Security is tight around the park so you can feel safe and comfortable brining your family to the Friday Night Concert. Many of the younger crowd and the people who work in the downtown area will consider this as their Friday night happy hour. You will see people still in their work attire, or, they will bring a comfortable change of clothes and hang out in the park listening to great music before they make their way home for the night. For 20 years Sacramento’s Friday Night Concerts have been entertaining young and old, and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down any time soon.

Free Jazz Concerts

If jazz more your type of music? Then you’ll love Jazz Sunday’s. The Sacramento Traditional Jazz Society offers free jazz concerts on every 2nd Sunday of the month at the Dante Club. The concerts are free but they ask for $8 donation at the door;  $5 for students 12 – 20 years old and kids under 12 are free. On Jazz Sunday the music starts at noon and usually winds down around 5:00 and it’s always a great party. You will find three stages, each one alive with incredible jazz music. Many local jazz bands will play here but there is always a special guest.

During the summer the Jazz Society offers Jazz in the Park free concert series. Once a month they select an area park and encourage listeners to bring a picnic, settle down in a nice shady spot and listen to some of the best jazz in the area. Check their web site for all the details, dates and players at sacjazz.org.

Sacramento is alive with music, especially during the summer. With so many free concerts, you can enjoy some incredible bands, dance to some great music, relax on the grass and tap your foot or get silly with our kids. And it’s all free, and all fun.