Steamboat can listen to world-class concerts for free this summer

The free listening parties take place at the Strings Music Pavilion park, where guests can bring a picnic and a blanket and cozy up to listen to the classical concert going on inside the pavilion. (Courtesy photo)

Your next dinner picnic could be filled with the sounds of classical music thanks to Strings Music Festival’s new concert concept. Their free listening parties have gained popularity throughout the summer, and there is still time to get in on the action with five more concerts through August.

The listening parties, which take place at Strings Festival Park at the corner of Mount Werner and Pine Grove roads, offer a chance for individuals or families to listen to the classical concert going on inside of the Strings Music Pavilion while sitting outside on the lawn.

“We believe this is the first time we’ve offered anything quite like this for our pavilion concerts,” said Greg Hamilton, Strings marketing director. “These live outdoor listening parties make the most of our beautiful park and provide a taste of the full concert experience that our ticket holders inside the pavilion get to enjoy.”

Hamilton said free programs for the community are a large part of the organization’s annual offerings; more than 60% of their programs are free. This includes its other popular summer series, Music on the Green, which takes place each Wednesday morning in the Botanic Park.

While many of the indoor concerts are sold out, the outdoor listening parties provide a chance to experience world-class performances that might not otherwise be available. They are also open to children of all ages. Inside the Pavilion, children younger than 6 are not allowed at evening performances, with the exception of family events.

“We’ve seen a wonderful mix of families, couples, groups of friends and music fans of all ages,” Hamilton said.

Strings’ Executive Director Elissa Greene said one of the things she likes most about her job is introducing people of all ages to classical music.

“I understand that coming to the Strings Pavilion can feel a little intimidating if you’re not sure what to expect at a concert, especially for classical music,” she said. “This is why I like this summer’s free listening parties so much. I’m a fan of programs like this that remove barriers to high-quality cultural experiences for our entire community.”

Guests are encouraged to bring a blanket or chairs to sit on, a picnic and a layer or two to keep warm. They also have access to the Strings Patio Bar and pavilion restrooms. Professional outdoor speakers assure that the sound coming from inside the pavilion is high quality. Hamilton said about three dozen people have attended each concert, but there is still room for plenty more to come and spread out. Parking is available at the Meadows Parking Lot across the street.

This Saturday and Sunday, guests can hear the music of Beethoven, followed by a string and piano concert Wednesday. The season will finish with Dvorak and Brahms next weekend.

For more information and to see event listings, visit

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