Editors note: This was written in 2013. Click HERE for 2015.
Do you love live music but hate going to a smoky bar and watching bands scream in your ears past the midnight hour only to head home half intoxicated? Why not take advantage of the bigger budgets and larger stages provided by local municipalities? Cities spend thousands of dollars entertaining their residents but rarely use social media such as Facebook to promote their events, so sometimes it pays to Google their website or pick up local free newspapers and look for festivals and concerts sponsored by the local parks & recreation departments. Unlike local bars and restaurants, most municipalities don’t have the resources to pay or manage a schedule of great bands every weekend, however, if you know where to look, you can find some treasures, literally in your backyard.
Over the past few years, I have covered concerts at cities such as Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Coral Springs, Margate, Pompano Beach, Sunrise and Hollywood to name just a few. Each of these cities have either permanent or mobile stages at large outdoor parks that make them ideal for enjoying the great weather we get down here in South Florida and give local bands a chance to provide as close to a concert experience as you can get with the budgets they are given.
The key to enjoying these concerts is to be prepared by knowing what to expect. For example, many of these concerts take place during the dinner hours. That means knowing in advance if you can expect food vendors to be on-site or if you should pack a picnic. You should also know whether or not you can bring fold-up tables, lawn chairs or large beach blankets.
What follows are some of the cities you might like to consider if you want to experience local bands on a bigger stage as the sun sets over the horizon and the temperatures drop to just the right comfort level.
Coconut Creek – http://coconutcreek.net/
The City of Coconut Creek has a bandshell tucked away in a low profile but perfectly modern park behind their community center at the corner of Coconut Creek Parkway and Lyons Road. The park has a playground and great walking paths too. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets and coolers. Food and beverages can be purchased on-site from Bobby G’s Drivin’ Diner Food Truck or you can bring your own. Upcoming concerts include:
Sunday, January 13th 4pm-5:30pm – Orange Sunshine – “60’s flashback”
Sunday, February 10th 4pm-5:40pm – The Nucklebusters – “Chicago blues & rock”
Coral Springs – www.coralsprings.org
The City of Coral Springs usually has free monthly concerts at Betty Stradling Park on the corner of Wiles Rd. and Coral Springs Drive, however, being that this year is the city’s 50th anniversary, they will be holding special events at other locations. Here are a couple of upcoming special events to look for:
Saturday, January 12, 2013, from noon to 4 p.m., BizArt Festival takes place in the lot next to City Hall South at 9530 W. Sample Road, and will feature live bands, face painting, food trucks, local artists and much more. Visitors will have a chance to enjoy local up and coming artists, as well as taste delicious meals from food trucks.
On Wednesday, January 30 at 7 p.m. at the Coral Springs Center for the Arts, 2855 Coral Springs Drive, Good Vibrations will perform an ultimate tribute to The Beach Boys. This event is free but you must get tickets in advance from the City Hall or City Hall in the Mall. There is a limit of two tickets per household and you must present a photo ID when picking up tickets. The audience must be 15 years or older to attend this special anniversary event.
Parkland – www.cityofparkland.org
The City of Parkland operates a beautiful, large amphitheatre at Pine Trails park, located at the North end of Coral Springs Drive, 10561 Trails End. Food vendors may be on site selling popcorn and hot dogs but you are encouraged to bring your own food, chairs, tables, blankets, etc. Upcoming events include:
Saturday, January 19, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm Dueling Piano Show
Saturday, February 2, 2013 – 7pm – 8:30pm US Stones (Rolling Stones Tribute)
Margate – www.margatefl.com
The City of Margate has cleared out a piece of land on the corner of State Rd. 7 and Margate Blvd and holds regular events they call “Sounds at Sundown”. Several Food trucks are usually on-site for a good variety of food, so come hungry. Bring your own lawn chairs as seating is limited. Upcoming event dates include:
Saturday, January 12, 2013 6pm-8pm The Goodnicks (Classic Rock & Roll)
Saturday, February 9th, 2013 6pm-8pm Orange Sunshine (60’s Tribute)
Delray Beach http://delraycenterforthearts.org/
The City of Delray Beach loves to promote Arts & Culture and has the perfect outdoor venue for doing so located at 51 North Swinton Avenue, just North of Atlantic Avenue aka “The Avenue”. It used to be called The Old School Square but is now known as the Center for the Arts. You can find great bands playing at “The Pavilion” stage every Friday night. Pets and outside food and beverages are discouraged in lieu of the many food trucks and cash bar which are on-site on concert nights. You will find different styles of music each weekend. When the music is over, you can enjoy a stroll down “The Avenue”. Here are some examples:
Friday, January 117:30pm-9pm Plaid Blazer (old school hip-hop featuring Drew Tucker.)
Friday, January 18 7:30pm-9pm Marlow Rosado y La Riqueña (salsa, rock, meringue, hip-hop, bachata, reggaeton…)
Friday, January 25 7:30pm-9pm Amber Leigh (Country)
On the second Friday of each month from January through May, the City of Sunrise hosts Sunrise at Sunset. The Civic Center Amphitheatre is located at 10610 West Oakland Park Boulevard, between Nob Hill and Hiatus Rd. Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy live music under the stars.
Here are a few of their upcoming events:
Friday, January 11 – 7pm-9pm: Marshall Brothers Band (Tribute to The Allman Brothers)
Friday, February 8 – 7pm-9pm: Roll the Stones (Tribute to the Rolling Stones)
Friday, March 8 – 7pm-9pm: Gaucho (a jazz/rock tribute to Steely Dan)
City of Hollywood www.hollywoodfl.org
Perhaps no city in South Florida supports more outdoor concerts than the City of Hollywood. With one venue on the beach, another one just a few miles away in Downtown Hollywood, and yet another one in the Western section of the city, Hollywood brings live music to its many residents and tourists almost every day of the week!
Hollywood Beach Theatre
Free concerts are presented at this outdoor theatre located at Johnson Street and the Broadwalk every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Seating on long metal benches are permanent fixtures so there is no need to bring your own lawn chairs. Be sure to wear your flip flops so you can get sand between your toes!
Here are just a few samples of the many upcoming events at the Beach:
Friday, January 11 – 7:30pm-9pm One Flight Down (Dance Party Rock)
Saturday, January 12 – 7:30pm-9pm – Grant Piper (Blues Rock)
Wednesday, January 16 – 7:30pm-9pm – Robin Avery (Smooth Jazz)
Friday, January 18 – 7:30pm-9pm – Electric Arrow (Classic Rock)
Saturday, January 26 – 10am-9pm – Canada Fest (Many French Canadian Artists)
ArtsPark LIVE! concerts are usually scheduled every Friday and Saturday evening on the amphitheater stage located at One Young Circle (Hollywood Blvd & US-1). Concerts feature a variety of musical genres from 8:00 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. unless otherwise listed.
ArtsPark has a permanent, full-size stage that can accommodate large bands and even orchestras. With an amphitheatre setup, there is a good view from all angles. It is recommended that you bring at least a blanket to lay out on the hill-top overlooking the stage.
Unfortunately, there were no scheduled concerts at the time of this blog.
Hollywood West Concerts
The Boulevard Heights Amphitheater, located at 6770 Garfield Street, is home to monthly concerts featuring a variety of musical genres. Concerts are scheduled the second Saturday evening of each month with the exception of December and July, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., weather permitting.
Blankets, lawn chairs and picnic baskets are welcome under the beautiful oak tree canopy.
Saturday, January 12th 7:30pm-9pm Rough Shot (Country, Southern Rock)
Saturday, February 9th 7:30pm-9pm King Muddfish (Blusey Swamp Rock)
As you can see, there is no lack of live music, even in the earlier hours for those of you who want to see some great bands without going too far or paying an arm and leg for tickets. It may take a little planning, but with this guide, I hope that you will arrive prepared to enjoy your evening under the stars. If you still feel lazy about doing all this research, don’t forget that there’s always a calendar at www.weekendbroward.com
P.S. Here’s an updated list for Spring-Summer 2015: http://weekendbroward.com/free-outdoor-concerts-around-fort-lauderdale-2015/