While many people consider Memorial Day the unofficial start to summer, in Charlotte most people will tell you the Summer Pops concerts actually signal the start of the shorts and sandals season. The outdoor symphony concert series held at the amphitheater at SouthPark mall is on everyone’s must-do list for the summer thanks to the laid-back vibe, the incredible performances and, let’s be honest, the wine that most attendees are drinking.
The series, which dates back to the ’80s, has been named “Best Concert Series in Charlotte” for several years running and was also named one of “50 things every Charlottean should do.”
“Music brings our community together,” says Mary A. Deissler, President and CEO of the Charlotte Symphony. “There’s just nothing like packing up a picnic basket and joining family and friends on the lawn to hear the sounds of a full symphony orchestra under the stars. We’re very proud to be a part of one of Charlotte’s longstanding traditions.”
For years the month-long series every June was free, but the Charlotte Symphony started charging a few years ago to help pay the bills.
No matter, the crowds have continued to grow each year. That’s why for the first time ever there will be premium seating and a chance to buy tickets ahead of time. There will also be some great new food offerings. We’ve got you covered on all things Pops, so all you have to do is show up, listen up and drink up!
This year Summer Pops is debuting a Premium Club Seating option, which includes reserved chair seating under a tent, VIP parking and a chef-curated picnic basket from Reid’s Fine Foods. Premium Seating is $68 for June concerts and $76 for July 1st.
But you don’t have to pony up the big bucks to get a seat.
The best way to save on tickets is to buy in advance or purchase GoPasses. Individual tickets are $12 for adults ($14 at door), $5 for kids ($7 at door) and all kids 12 and under are free. Heads up — you’ll pay a tiny bit more for the annual July 4th concert (actually on July 1st.) You can find everything you need to know about tickets here.
It may not cost a lot to get a seat, but it might take some work. The show doesn’t start until 7 p.m., but the doors open at five and you’ll typically see people stopping by then to drop off their tarp to stake out their spaces. You’ll also want to bring a blanket or low lawn chair to enjoy the show.
Of course, part of the fun of the night is lounging on the lawn and snacking on the obligatory wine and cheese. This year that’s easier than ever before. For the first time, Summer Pops is partnering with nearby (100 yards away) Reid’s Fine Foods to make sure everyone has what they need.
They’ve come up with a menu of grab-and-go items that will be available for quick, easy shopping — just steps from Symphony Park. Even the ultimate foodie will be happy with the selection. They’ll have cheese and charcuterie trays, salads and fun weekly sandwich features (i.e. pulled pork for the June 4th concert, hamburgers and hot dogs for the Celebrate America! event). For the picky eater chicken fingers will be available each week along with an assortment of cookies and pastries and beer and wine.
You can, of course, bring your own spread, alcohol included (even glass bottles are allowed.)
SB Tip: If you’d like someone to do all the work for you, you can pre-order the official Summer Pops picnic basket from Reid’s. The basket is filled with a bottle of wine, a wine opener and cups, bottled water, fresh fruit salad, cheese, charcuterie and crostini, deviled eggs, cookies, napkins and utensils. The cost is $60 and is best for two people to share. You can order by calling (704) 377-7686.
Fun Fact: There is typically a prelude before the symphony actually performs. The prelude performance on opening weekend, June 4, will be the Charlotte Symphony Youth Orchestra, which heads to Carnegie Hall this summer.
Summer Pops Performance Line-Up
- June 4: Hooray For Hollywood
- June 11: Jazz At The Park
- June 18: Star Wars The Music
- June 25: Best of Broadway
- July 1: Celebrate America!
Reid’s Summer Pops Sandwich Line-Up
- June 4: Pulled pork sandwiches
- June 11: Tacos
- June 18: Bucky’s Brats with peppers and onions
- June 25: Spiedie’s chicken skewers with zucchini, squash and red onion
- July 1: Hamburgers and hot dogs
Cheers to summer, and we’ll see you at Symphony Park!
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