In the Park and Under the Stars Stellar Music Performers Grace Pinewood Bowl

by Sriyani Tidball

Located in west Lincoln’s Pioneers Park, Pinewood Bowl is Lincoln’s premiere outdoor entertainment center. It offers a variety of reasonably priced, wonderful outdoor concerts that bring nationally known performers to the capital city. Every year Lincoln’s music lovers wait for Pinewood Bowl’s incredible season to be announced and then go wild—tickets sell out fast. Last year 15 legendary concerts came to the Bowl. It is hard to believe so many poplar artists love performing in Lincoln, which has become a popular destination among the stars.

This unique series of summer concerts adds to Lincoln’s already full schedule of musical performances. Traditionally, Pinewood Bowl hosted one local musical each summer, but starting in 2012, hugely successful summer concerts were added to the Bowl. The open-air concert venue is located at the center of the beautiful, lush, wooded Pioneers Park. Under the stars and moon and surrounded by a forest of tall pine trees is a magical place to enjoy your favorite artist.

The theater was first constructed in 1947 when the city needed a larger venue to hold open-air church services for the airmen stationed at Lincoln’s military air base. Several Lincoln residents recognized a need for a diversion for the service men and their families—a place where they could meet for worship and prayer and sometimes for entertainment. They had been holding services on the steps of the Capitol, but when the group grew to more than 1,000—more than the Capitol steps could hold—Pinewood Bowl was constructed. Today it has become an important facility in the Lincoln community, and weather permitting, Easter services are still held there every year.

As you make your way to Pinewood Bowl take time to enjoy the beautiful Pioneers Park. The 668-acre site is the result of a WPA project in the 1930s and includes 440 acres of native tall-grass prairie, eight miles of hiking trails, outdoor animal exhibits, and several gardens. “We’re hoping this continues to be a Lincoln tradition, to be honest,” said Lynn Johnson, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, “We would call this a total success. The shows were very well received. It was so much fun to see that big stage used the way it was designed to be used.”

The Pinewood Bowl music concerts feature well-known, national artists. Tickets can be purchased online or at the Pinnacle Bank Arena downtown when they go on sale. According to a concert fan, “The evergreen surroundings, cool evening temperatures, deep blue skies, the light of the moon speckled with starlight, and beautiful music, makes it the perfect concert experience.” 

The shows chosen for this venue are popular in Lincoln and nearly every concert is packed. From the ’60s folk rock of Crosby, Stills & Nash, the blues of Robert Cray, the indie rock of My Morning Jacket, Twenty-One Pilots and Counting Crows, to British folk and rock band Mumford and Sons, ZZ Top, and more recently the Steve Miller Band, Peter Framptom, Jason Mraz, and Steve Martin and Martin Short. These concerts are adored by the Lincoln public, and are the place to have fun on a summer evening. Other favorite Pinewood Bowl concerts have included the Temptations, Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Bonnie Raitt, and Tween. 

The performers also find Pinewood Bowl a unique performance venue. They genuinely have a wonderful time, truly connecting with their audience in this intimate setting. With balmy summer weather, happy audiences, and great music, Pinewood Bowl cannot be topped. Food and beverages, including beer, are available for the concerts, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. Count on a memorable experience every single time.

The SMG officials do a great job organizing the Pinewood Bowl concert series. They pick amazing shows. The theatre’s capacity is set at just over 4,000 for reserved seating and at a little over 5,000 for general admission shows. “Concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater and its breathtaking natural setting will be a memorable experience for the fans as well as for the musicians,” remarked SMG Lincoln General Manager Tom Lorenz.

The 5,000 plus seat theatre has seen performances by Sara Bareilles, the Moody Blues, Ben Folds, Boston, the Doobie Brothers, Ray LaMontagne, Widespread Panic, Blue October and others. “The summer concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater are a resounding success. It lived up to all of our expectations and beyond,” said SMG general manager Tom Lorenz. After a super successful 2018 season the organizers are busy planning an equally impressive series of concerts for the summer of 2019. 

Check for information about upcoming shows for the summer and make sure you get your tickets early. 

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