Minnesota summers are the greatest thing ever—it’s just a fact.
There’s just something about the way the summer sun melts the winter from our bones. I don’t think there’s anything that can compare; all of a sudden, it’s the first 70-degree day of the year and everyone is aggressively happy and doing everything they can to spend every minute outside. Whether you live in the Twin Cities, the suburbs, or a small town, you know the feeling: that first beautiful day is like an optimistic beacon foreshadowing the three months of bliss to come.
And then the summer officially starts and the bicycles come out, the windows roll down, the beaches open up, the walking trails start bustling, and all is fine and right in the world. At least in our part of the world.
Another thing that I’ve noticed Minnesotans become excited about in the summer months is block parties and festivals—standing outside, drinking beer, and listening to live music. It makes sense, really, everyone is already excited about summer, so why not throw in alcohol, music, and other various activities? At the end of the day, though, there can be an overwhelming number of outdoor events to choose from. If you work full time, have kids to take care of, or just need to watch the bank account, it can be tough to figure out which summer events to check out.
Well, fear not, because I’ve got your back. This list will cover several of the bigger block parties and festivals going on in the Twin Cities and surrounding areas. It would be literally endless if I included everything, so I’ve tried to choose some of the more interesting ones.
Basilica Block Party (July 7 and 8, Basilica of Saint Mary)
We’ll start off with the big one. The Basilica Block Party has been running since 1995, and every year the lineup promises to include some big-name artists as well as some buzzed-about alternative bands. This year is no different. The roster includes Gavin DeGraw, Walk the Moon, Brandi Carlile, and the band I’m most excited about, indie darlings the Shins. There is also some local action going on, including Nooky Jones and Night Moves. The Basilica Block Party should be the perfect way to liven up the middle of your summer. For the parents who want to start their kids on good live music early, children under 5 are free, and kids from 5 to 12 enjoy a great discount on tickets. More info can be found here.
Rock the Garden (July 22, Walker Art Center)
The next big one on the list is the annual Rock the Garden. Making its return to the Walker Art Center, Rock the Garden is always an intriguing hotbed of acclaimed local and national musicians. This year’s lineup includes Bon Iver, Prince’s band the Revolution, Car Seat Headrest, and several other musicians that see heavy play on 89.3 the Current. I guarantee all the cool kids will be there, so if you can somehow get your hand on tickets, I have a feeling it will be an awesome day. Since the event is completely sold out, try listening to the Current in the weeks leading up to Rock the Garden—they are sure to be doing several ticket giveaways. More info can be found here.
Memory Lanes Block Party (May 27 and 28, Memory Lanes)
Memory Lanes is a fun place to visit on any day of the year, but add in a two-day block party over Memorial Weekend with low admission prices and a huge list of bands and you have what should be an incredibly exciting party. There will be both indoor and outdoor stages, and the event lasts until 2:00 a.m. This is also an all-ages event until 10:00 p.m. if you want to bring the little ones along. More info can be found here.
The Liquid Zoo 2017 (May 19 through May 21, Bauhaus Brew Labs)
This is whole weekend of madness at Bauhaus Brew Labs. Northeast Minneapolis will already be extremely lively for Art-A-Whirl (which I also strongly recommend if you’ve never been), and this is going to be part of the many festivities taking place that weekend. There will be three days of food and drink, and Saturday there is a concert with an absolutely stacked lineup of artists, including Caroline Smith, Communist Daughter, and Solid Gold. This is also an all-ages event. More info can be found here.
Pizza Lucé Block Party (August 12, Pizza Lucé Downtown)
The lineup hasn’t been released for this event yet, but the Pizza Lucé Block Party always has a really eclectic, varied, and talented lineup usually composed of many local acts. Keep an eye out for the lineup release and definitely mark this date on your calendar. The website (although kind of empty for now) can be found here.
Indeed Whirlygig (May 19 through 21, Indeed Brewing Company)
Okay, I’m thinking at this point we should probably take the Monday after Art-A-Whirl weekend off. This is another Art-A-Whirl weekend event with even more beer, food, and exciting live music. The lineup is awesome and kids are welcome, although the website does ask that you leave the pups at home due to the hot asphalt. There is also plenty of art to look at and a 5K to begin the final day of Whirlygig 2017. More info can be found here.
This is just a small taste of what Minnesota summers have to offer. There are so many more block parties, festivals, and other events that this list could easily become several pages longer. And that’s the beauty of summers here; there is an endless array of activities to attend. As always, please let me know if I missed anything or if you would like to add something to the comments section. I’m sure someone, somewhere would appreciate the heads up.