It’s a Free For All – A Guide to Summer

I love summer and one of the things I love most about summer is the prevalence of free, often outdoor, free, casual events and concerts, that are free, family friendly, and get us all out and mingling and making music and art as part of a community. Fo’ free.

Did I say free? (Though donations are great and please support the businesses that support events and artists, okay?)(And yes, you still spend money on food and stuff, especially if you are a push over like I am. Still.)

Not to mention splash parks, hiking, picnics, plein air painting sessions, sprinklers, and bubbles, with strawberry margaritas for the adults and slushies for the young folk.

May 25: KCLibrary – Summer Reading launches on Friday with a concert by Mr. Stinky Feet at the Plaza Branch. Summer Reading is our favorite thing. You get do to something fun (reading!) and then you get prizes? Is there a more perfect thing in the whole world? The adult prize is a collectors’ edition pint glass. I’m in a competition with myself to earn it by June 1. (And my son was already circling the shows he wants to go to – I’m looking at you, Drum Safari.)

May 25: KC Zine Con @ The Drugstore – so, sometimes summer is hot and you don’t want to be outside. Making zines is the answer! Get your stock ready for KC Zine Con #4 on September 8.

May 25 & 26: Illuminated Water – Glow party in Theis Park with StoneLion Puppets, 6-10 p.m.

May 27: Celebration at the Station with the Kansas City Symphony honors veterans and lights cannons for the Tchaikovsky. Concert is at 8, but events start at 3.

May 28: Memorial Day at Liberty Memorial – At noon, a 45 minute concert of WWI-era songs by baritone John Brancy and pianist Peter Dugan, with many events honoring veterans throughout the weekend.

May 30: Art in the Loop starts. Art installations and concerts around the Streetcar line. Opening reception June 1 at the Box Gallery. Some of the performance are even on the Streetcar, like a real live vibrant city with buskers and everything!

June 1 – Sept 28: Friday in the Park in NKC’s Macken Park. Lunchtime concerts. Nearby playground.

June 1: Art Starts at the Library is my favorite thing. Did I say it was Summer Reading? It’s a tie, though . . . if you’re an arty parent of young folk who likes a drink (the parent, that is), this is the place. Music (this evening, Amado Espinoza), snacks, craft activities, exhibits (check out Ryan Walks’ “Here Were You Wish”), and this one has an Art in the Loop participation project planned.

June 8: Summer Concerts at Kansas City Museum kick off with RUBEO on the front lawn of Corinthian Hall.

June 9: Juneteenth at the Nelson-Atkins. Freedom Day celebrated with an all day family festival of music, dance, art, and history.

June 9: West 18th Street Fashion Show  – After taking a year off to regroup, the Fashion Show partners with the Kansas City Museum (reminder to self: check out the T-shirt exhibit). It’s free to watch, though seating available for purchase. The crowd is nearly as fascinating as the runway.

June 10: Kauffman Center’s Future Stages Festival – kids rock.

June 12-July 1: Heart of America Shakespeare Festival puts on Much Ado About Nothing. Donations appreciated of your Free Will.

Plaza’s Thursday Night Out– enjoy local musicians in the Country Club Plaza’s plazas while you slurp your Starbucks and shop at chain stores. There are also select shows during weekends at times.

June 15 – Sept 21 – Summer Dusk at the Colonnade in the Historic North East.

June 21: Make Music Day (Make Music Liberty) – International Day of Music! Kansas City does nothing for it! It breaks my heart every year. BUT Liberty, MO, celebrates the day, so head north of I-35 and spend some time in pretty Liberty.

Crown Center is a great place to chill for an hour or make a day of it and visit Legoland (NOT FREE, though to hear my son ask we should go every day). There are free and fun things, though. The Level I Showplace, right next to the Coterie, is usually pretty fun, and the Hallmark Visitors Center/Kaleidoscope, plus WeekEnder outdoor concerts and movies start July 6 through August 1.

June 21: Summer Solstice is the theme for Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Third Thursday. Adults only.


July 22: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’s Big Picnic – music, art scavenger hunts and a huge picnic blanket. 4-8p.m. Beware, though, the temporary tattoos they give out are long lasting. (NA is free – with AC –  Tuesday-Sunday, with activities every weekend.) (And the turkey sandwich is something really special.)

August 25 – October 28: Open Spaces – Kansas City’s first biennial art show blow out. Read more about it in KC Studio. This two-and-a-bit-month long festival culminates in The Weekend, Oct 12-14.

Labor Day Weekend: Finish up the summer with a trip to visit the sunflower fields at Grinter Farms. Be courteous. Appreciate beauty. Take pictures. Leave a donation. Buy some pie. Watch out for bugs.

What did I miss? I know there’s gobs I missed, with local film showings and park concerts. What’s your favorite thing to do in July? Comment with more fun ideas.

Have a great summer. Wear sunscreen.



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