Pinewood Bowl rocks on

by Sriyani Tidball

Under the stars and moon and surrounded by tall pine trees is a magical place in Lincoln. Pinewood Bowl, the open-air concert venue at the center of the lush, wooded Pioneers Park, is one of Lincoln’s premiere entertainment centers. Every year, Lincoln’s music lovers wait for the incredible season to be announced and then go wild. Tickets sell out fast, as prices are reasonable, and the list of performers is always incredible and often includes those you always dreamed of seeing and hearing in person.

In the past, Pinewood Bowl hosted one local musical each summer, but added summer concerts in 2012. This unique series of summer concerts has become hugely successful and adds to Lincoln’s already full schedule of musical performances. 

“We’re hoping this continues to be a Lincoln tradition,” said Lynn Johnson, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. “We would call this a total success. The shows are very well received. It was so much fun to see that big stage used the way it was designed to be used.”

Pinewood Bowl was built in 1947 when the city needed a larger venue to host open-air church services for airmen stationed at Lincoln’s 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. Before the Bowl was constructed, services were held on the steps of the Capitol. When the group grew to more than 1,000, Pinewood Bowl was built. Weather permitting, to this day, Easter services are held there every year, and they’re open to the public, not just to the military.

As you make your way to watch a Pinewood Bowl concert, take time to enjoy the beautiful park. The 668-acre site is the result of a Work Progress Administration project in the 1930s that includes 440 acres of native tall-grass prairie, eight miles of hiking trails, outdoor animal exhibits and several gardens. 

Pinewood Bowl’s capacity is set at just more than 4,000 for reserved seating and at a little more than 5,000 for general admission shows. 

“Concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater in its breathtaking natural setting is a memorable experience for the fans as well as for the musicians,” said  SMG Lincoln General Manager Tom Lorenz. “The summer concerts at Pinewood Bowl Theater are a resounding success. It lived up to all of our expectations and beyond.”

The surroundings, cool evening temperatures, deep blue skies, light of the moon speckled with starlight and beautiful music make it the perfect concert experience. The shows chosen for this venue are popular in Lincoln and nearly every concert is packed. Shows range from the ’60s folk rock of Crosby, Stills & Nash to the blues of Robert Cray to indie rock by My Morning Jacket, Twenty-One Pilots and Counting Crows. From the British folk and rock band Mumford and Sons to ZZ Top, the Steve Miller Band, the Moody Blues, Steely Dan and Peter Frampton to Jason Mraz, Sara Bareilles and Alison Kraus, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, Ringo Starr and Bob Dylan. And from Steve Martin and Martin Short to Weird Al, plus many more. 

The concerts are loved by the Lincoln public, and have become a place to have fun on a summer evening. The performers also find Pinewood Bowl a unique venue, saying they genuinely have a wonderful time, truly connecting with their audience in the intimate setting. With balmy summer weather, happy audiences and great music, Pinewood Bowl cannot be topped. 

Food and beverages, including beer, are available, adding to the overall festive atmosphere. Count on a memorable experience every single time. After a super successful 2019 season, organizers are busy planning an equally impressive series of concerts for the summer of 2020. 

Tickets can be purchased online or at Pinnacle Bank Arena downtown when they go on sale. Check for information about upcoming shows for the summer and make sure you get your tickets early.


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