Festivals in the City

by Donna Joy Brakenhoff

Festivals help bring the community together, especially important now, as we open up to the possibilities of larger public gatherings once again. Looking for music? We have that in all types of styles. Last year was a successful year for music festivals in Lincoln. Each year we add more and different types of festivals and venues for them, including many old favorites and a few new ones too.  

Lincoln Crossroads

This is one of our newest festivals in Lincoln focusing on diversity and cultural artistry that the many cultural groups of Lincoln bring to our community. This festival will transport you to other parts of the globe, enjoying their particular music and performers while staying right here in Lincoln.  

Jazz in June

Jazz in June has grown from a small group of spectators relaxing under the trees in the Sheldon Art Gallery Garden to a full-fledged festival involving music, food vendors, educational outreach and artists. There are bike valet offerings and artists of many types wandering throughout the crowd before the concerts.  

Every Tuesday evening in June beginning at 7pm, with two sets, the second one beginning at 8pm. Jazz in June is a long standing and favorite tradition for all in Lincoln. Last year included musical artists from Nebraska and from across the country bringing every type of jazz you desire.  


The Zoo Bar in Lincoln is one of the longest running blues clubs in one location in America. Every July, the Zoo Bar celebrates 49+ years of music in Lincoln.  

Directly outside the bar on 14th Street in downtown Lincoln is where all the magic happens, and each year seems to be bigger and better than the year before. There are a variety of musical types—vocal and instrumental both—performed with creativity and joy.

Live at Telegraph Concert Series

Stop in at the Mill coffee house at 330 South 21st any time from July through September, and you will find a newly remodeled area that buzzes with entertainment and excitement.  Every Wednesday from 6-9pm, there is music and fun.  

Bring a chair or sit at in the patio area. Pets are welcome and dinner selections, coffee drinks, cocktails and local beers add to the festivities.  

Meadowlark Music Festival

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of the Meadowlark festival. The joy of the Meadowlark Music Festival is the variety of venues where the artists perform, and the music—jazz, gospel, chamber—that lends itself to whatever atmosphere is happening on the particular night. Bring folding chairs or blankets and enjoy hearing the music in rich natural settings.  

Lincoln Calling

This festival brings together local artists and national acts. Lincoln Calling usually runs for three days in September over a weekend. This festival also includes music and art from the community. There is family friendly outdoor art at Tower Square at 1300 P Street as well as vendors and makers, and art activities.

Lincoln Exposed  

Each year this music festival grows more. This year brought in more bands and more fun! Music venues were on 14th Street between O and P Streets, including Duffy’s Tavern Backlot, the Bourbon Theatre as well as Bodega’s Alley. For the adult venues, a valid ID was required.  

Stransky Park Music Series

Free concerts from 7-9pm throughout the summer are sponsored by our local radio station, KZUM.  Located in Stransky Park, at 17th and Harrison, the variety and styles of music and food was a great experience this summer. 

Generally running from the last week in May through the end of July, you see and hear some of the best local music and musicians along with various cultures. You may hear steel drums on weekend, and opera the next. Blues always makes a showing too.  


Celebrating Freedom!  This statement says exactly what Juneteenth is all about. Freedom for us all to have and to celebrate. 

Lincoln’s annual celebration for Juneteenth is held at Trago Park, next to the Clyde Malone Community Center at 2032 U Street. Live entertainment, vintage cars, and different varieties of food are made available so you soon feel immersed in the festivities of celebrating freedom!

The Hispanic Heritage Festival is a beautiful assault on all of your senses. In September, from 2-7pm, head to Antelope Park, at 1650 Memorial Drive. You will smell, see, feel, the Hispanic culture of Lincoln, and the world, through music, art, and food with traditions both old and new. This is a celebration of the Latinos in our community. The twirling of the dresses dancing to the music should not be missed.  Booths of books, food and activities for children and adults alike greet those who attend. A great time was had by all!

Star City Pride 

Relatively new to Lincoln festivals, it is a fun, inspirational and educational time to learn more of the LGBT community. There are a variety of opportunities to see shows, enjoy food and drink, watch a parade and many family friendly activities.  

Czech Festival

This festival is a long standing tradition of over 50 years. Located at the Pla Mor Ballroom on West O Street, this three day event features everything Czech. The food is amazing! The dancers and costumes are vivid and exciting to watch as the dancers, and the fabric twirl around the dance floor. Accordions, polkas, and choirs are only a few of the extra things to enjoy at this festival.  

Streets Alive!

For a family friendly and healthy festival, please look at Streets Alive!  

Happening in September at Upco Park, near 40th and Adams Streets, this festival revolves around fitness, along with dance, food and music. Active living and healthy nutrition are presented to the attendees in a fun and interactive way.  

Art in the Garden, located in the Sunken Gardens at 27th and D streets, is one of the best places to see beauty in all shapes, sizes and styles. 

It is a joy to walk down the paths, enjoying the beautiful plants and flowers, and intermingled are easels with the artists actually painting, or drawing. Explaining their technique, where they get their inspiration and maybe selling a piece that becomes a new favorite.  

Many of our Lincoln’s festivals are free of charge, and happen in the Spring, Summer and early Fall months. Just when folks are wanting a bit of a break, a chance to “get away”, without packing up the car and finding a map. Our festivals offer the perfect place to relax, unwind, learn something new, or hear some wonderful music and view amazing art! 

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