Music and Movies in the Parks

Minneapolis all-male ensemble Cantus
Photo by Curtis Johnson

Grab the dirt repellant blanket and de-smudge those sunglasses—it’s time for Minneapolis Music and Movies in the Parks, where the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board brings to our smorgasbord of green landscapes a lineup of local bands, world-class ensembles, and romping-good (or romping-bad) movies. The annual entertainment series runs from late May through to August’s end, when the State Fair will require your full attention (handling that waffle on a stick isn’t easy). And everything’s free, so you can bring who you like and leave when you like, without remorse. The schedule packs in more than 250 events, but we’ve identified a few top picks to fit your whim, whether you fancy a family evening out or a date night in flip-flop attire.

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio

For starting your summer with some public radio love: MPR’s Harmony in the Park at Minnehaha Falls Park, June 5 at 7 p.m.
Classical MPR’s choral celebration, now in its third year, brings together three vocal ensembles to serenade park goers with the uncomplicated beauty of choral music performed by those who love what they do. This year’s chosen choirs range from six to 70 members strong and carry repertoires that cross cultures, genres, and time periods. If the night leaves your ears yearning for more choral works, there are two performances to follow in Duluth and Mankato, each with a unique lineup of vocal talents.

For the singalong with your niece, mom, next-door neighbor, and every other person who wasn’t hibernating all winter: Frozen at Matthews Park, June 11.

Photo by Curtis Johnson

For the classical music groupie: Cantus at Lake Harriet, June 15 at 2 p.m.
It’s not the norm for this all-male, artist-led ensemble to perform free of charge, so cancel your original Father’s Day plans and meet the fam for an afternoon of bright, well-harmonized sounds.

Something to distract the teenager whose summer romance already went awry: The Hunger Games: Catching Fire at Luxton Park, July 17.

Date Night: Breakfast at Tiffany’s at Lake Harriet, July 25.

Photo by Gabriel Martinez Aguirre

For a night on your toes (hopefully not on other people’s toes): Charanga Tropical at Minnehaha Falls Park, July 31 at 7 p.m.
The Latin music savants regularly headline Loring Pasta Bar’s Midweek Mambo, but this evening blends their charismatic rhythms with the rumble of Minnehaha Falls. The nine-piece salsa orchestra takes its craft seriously—members have Latin Grammy nominations, international awards, and doctorates under their belts. All of which is to say if they don’t have you toe tapping eventually, you probably aren’t there.

For the aspiring prima ballerina: La Danse Fatale at Lake Harriet, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m.
La Danse Fatale gives its members, all of whom are between the ages of 12 and 20, a chance to experience the rigor of a professional dance career. The season culminates in this outdoor performance, fully costumed, and featuring works choreographed by artistic director Julia Levina against the graceful backdrop of Lake Harriet. An added boon of hosting at the Bandshell—plenty of room for spontaneous dance recitals from the younger members of the audience.

Photo from matthannahmusic.com

For that night you’re craving folk music and fish at the same time: Dine at Sea Salt and listen to Matt Hannah at Minnehaha Falls Park, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.
Singer-songwriter Matt Hannah hails from the Midwest, but spent time fronting a rock band in New York before he honed his acoustic, melancholy-country spin on Americana-folk music. He regularly tours Twin Cities venues, but this is your chance to soak up the melodies from Sea Salt’s patio, where a catfish po’boy, some oysters on the half shell, and a pile of napkins await.

All movies start just past sunset. Don’t see a solution for your particular predicament? View Music and Movies in the Parks’ website for the full schedule.