Music to Your Ears

by SL Hansen


There’s nothing like a music festival for bringing people together, and Lincoln has a phenomenal selection. Throughout the year, you can attend different festivals focused on different genres in different locations.

Downtown Performance Series

Each Wednesday noon hour, late May through August, free concerts are held in the Lincoln Community Foundation Gardens at 1415 N Street. A variety of local bands set up under the gazebo to entertain music lovers as they enjoy lunch or munch on popcorn or ice cream from the nearby snack stand. 

Bands vary from year to year, but the eclectic mix always includes a little blues, a little country, some classic rock, adult contemporary, and everything in between.

Stay up to date on the Downtown Performance Series by liking the event on Facebook.

Celebrate Lincoln

One of the capital city’s biggest events, Celebrate Lincoln is a cultural festival that combines music and dance with ethnic foods, interesting merchandise and fun activities for kids.

Staged in late May/early June on N Street between 12th and 14th, the festival brings in both national and local acts on 
a flatbed stage. Gate fee fluctuates based on time of day—you can usually get in for free if you stop by during lunch, 
for example.

Jazz in June

Jazz lovers look forward to the month of June, when free concerts are staged on the lawn of the Sheldon Museum of Art.

Sponsored by the Sheldon Museum of Art, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University Program Council, and other benefactors, Jazz in June is a wonderful way to indulge your love of all things jazz…or to experience it for the first time. Come early to shop the farmer’s market, then spread your blanket or set up your lawn chairs for an evening of great music.

Find out who’s playing in 2014 at

Meadowlark Music Festival

Founded in 2001 by Dr. Ann Chang, the summer Meadowlark Music Festival makes classical music accessible to any and everyone.

Talented performers deliver chamber music in a variety of settings—all family-friendly, comfortable places to take in a concert. In 2013, the festival was held at the Uncle Sam Jam (Lincoln’s Independence Day celebration), Saint Paul United Methodist Church and Kimball Recital Hall.

Children under 16 are always free, and a subsidized ticket program means most families can attend without overshooting their budgets. The talented international musicians who are invited to play the festival also perform free at schools and cultural centers, and they teach Master Classes for high school students at the Sheldon Museum of Art.

For more information, visit www.meadowlark-


For 40 years, the legendary Zoo Bar has hosted a blues festival in downtown Lincoln. Sawhorses block off both ends of 14th Street between O and P so national, regional and local bands can rock out.

Last year, the festival started on Independence Day and ran through July 7th, and the bands ran from Blues to Rock, Funk to Soul, and Country to Zydeco. Kids enjoyed a two-hour arts experience where they could explore musical instruments with the Academy of Rock, try their hands at juggling and stilt-walking and more.

To get all the details, including ticket information, head to

Summer Pops Series

The Lincoln Municipal Band sets up in the Shildneck Memorial Bandshell in the heart of Antelope Park for free concerts each summer, just as they have since 1907. Thousands of locals pack their picnics and lawn chairs every Sunday in July and August for a fun, free concert.

Musical themes change each week, just to keep things interesting. In 2013, the Lincoln Municipal Band saluted veterans, played great movie themes, explored world music and more.

Get the schedule for the 107th season at

Lincoln Calling

For five days each AutumnLincolnites enjoy a homegrown music festival. Launched by Jeremy Buckley when he was just a college student with an itch for more live music, Lincoln Calling now features more than 100 bands and deejays and 10 different venues.

Nationally renowned acts and local groups are always in the line-up, and the venues are a mix between time-honored stages like the Zoo Bar, Duffy’s Tavern and Yia Yia’s and open-air settings such as University of Nebraska’s Union Plaza.

An all-access pass is priced under $50 and allows you to hear all sorts of music for a very reasonable price, thanks to local sponsors. One-day passes and individual show tickets are also available.

For information about the 2014 festival, visit

The Pershing Auditorium

Located in downtown Lincoln, the Pershing exists in the shadow of the Nebraska State Capitol on Centennial Mall. It is within easy walking distance from the fine major downtown hotels, restaurants and the University of Nebraska city campus.The Pershing arena can seat up to 7,000 persons with a combination of permanent and portable seating. The open floor, general admission format can accommodate 7,500 patrons. It has a permanent full proscenium stage at the east end of the arena. Every summer, and throughout the year many great performances are showcased at the Pershing, from Ice Capades to Ka$ha. The popular Ribfest has made its home outside the Pershing for decades, with great bands and fabulous BBQ every summer. Pershing can also assist one with coordinating, catering, decorating and talent booking your personal event so producing any event can be a pleasant experience.

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