Local Current Blog

A guide to Twin Cities summer block parties 2016

Grand Old Day 2010. Photo by Drew Geraets (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Twin Cities are well-known for their summer events calendar. In addition to music festivals like Rock the Garden, the summer is stockpiled with fairs and free (or nearly free) outdoor concerts nearly every weekend in the season. Local block parties combine all these elements to fill the streets with food trucks, art galleries, entertainment and most importantly, lots of outdoor music.

Here’s a starter guide to some of the summer’s biggest free or inexpensive outdoor music events; click on the headlines for more information on each. (We’re updating this post as the summer goes on.)

June 23-25: Twin Cities Jazz Festival

If you’re not already a fan of jazz, you may be after attending Lowertown’s annual Jazz Festival. Featuring three days of world class jazz music and free clinics hosted by McNally, the festival delights seasoned jazz fans and newbies alike.

Day One:
6:00 p.m. Delfeayo Marsalis Quartet
8:00 p.m. Joey Alexander
Day Two:
8:30 p.m. Ellis Marsalis Quartet
Day 3:
6:00 p.m. Russell Malone
7:30 p.m. Michael Franti & Spearhead
8:30 p.m. John Pizzarelli Quartet
Click here for full schedule of local artists.

Admission: Free.

June 25-26: Twin Cities Pride Festival

Every year GLBT individuals and allies gather in Minneapolis for the Twin Cities annual Pride Festival, a colorful and jubilant display of, well, pride. The festivities also include the famed Pride Parade, which runs through downtown from 3rd St. & Hennepin. The Pointer Sisters and Adore Delano play a ticketed show on Saturday night; free performances in Loring Park throughout the weekend are TBA.

Admission: Free.

June 28: Food Truck Fair Uptown

A congregation of 60 metro area food trucks, gathered along Hennepin Ave. between Lake St. and 31st. Sample food and beer and enjoy outdoor concerts from Brat Pack Radio and other local bands throughout the day.

Admission: $2 plus food and beverage fees. 

July 16: Longfellow Roots, Rock & Deep-Blues Festival 

This volunteer-driven midsummer music and art festival in South Minneapolis features a broad range of rock and blues performances, arts and cultural booths, and craft food and beverages.

The Hub Outdoor Stage
2:30 p.m. Kent Burnside & The New Generation
4:30 p.m. Crankshaft & The Gear Grinders
6:30 p.m. Lightnin’ Malcolm
8:30 p.m.
Black-Eyed Snakes
Firehouse PAC Outdoor Stage 
2:15 p.m. Cooked Dice / MN Blues Society Youth Jam
3:15 p.m. Jeff Ray & The Stakes
4:15 p.m. Joe & Vicki Price
5:15 p.m. Liquor Beats Winter
6:15 p.m. Left Lane Cruiser
8:00 p.m. Erik Koskinen Band
Hook & Ladder Indoor Stage 
3:00 p.m. Superior Siren
4:00 p.m. Dusty Heart
5:00 p.m. Hobo Nephews of Uncle Frank
6:00 p.m. Dead Pigeons
7:00 p.m. ‘Cornbread’ Harris
8:00 p.m. Spider John Koerner
9:00 p.m. Dave Moore
10:15 p.m. Charlie Parr
The Viking Bar Afterparty 
9:30 p.m. The Flood Brothers
11:00 p.m. Poverty Hash

Admission: GA $20 in advance

July 17: Bastille Day Block Party

Celebrate the French national holiday outside Barbette with artwork, French-inspired foods, and of course, live music.

MC Foxy Tann
Kate Lynch & Her Most Excellent Fellows
Bad Bad Hats
Nadine Dubois & Les Folies Risque
Babes in Toyland
Brass Messengers
Infiammati Fire Circus
North Star Rollergirls

Admission: Free.

July 22-23: Lowertown Blues & Funk Fest

Located in St. Paul’s Mears Park, this musical celebration is the Twin Cities’ largest blues festival. Bring your lawn chairs and settle in for two days of summer funk and fun.

Day One:
Famous Dave’s Main Stage:
4:30 p.m. The Good, the Bad and the Funky
6:00 p.m. Otis Day & the Knights
8:00 p.m. The Family Stone
Juke Joint Stage: DJ Ray Richardson
Day Two:
Famous Dave’s Main Stage:
12:00 p.m. Winner of Famous Dave’s Battle of the Blues Bands
1:15 p.m. Lil’Ed and The Blues Imperials
2:45 p.m. The Butanes Soul Revue
4:15 p.m. Corey Stevens
6:15 p.m. Bernard Allison
8:30 p.m. Booker T Jones
Juke Joint Stage:
12:45 p.m. Hurricane Harold & Doug Otto
2:25 p.m. McNally Smith Band
3:45 p.m. Joel Zoss
5:30 p.m. Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown
7:45 p.m. Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown

Admission: Free. 

July 25: Food Truck Fair St. Paul

The food truck fair returns for a second time this season, this time in St. Paul at Kellogg & 7th St. with 40 local food trucks and a lively outdoor show by Night Lights Jams.

Admission: $2 plus food and beverage fees.

August 6: Pizza Lucé Block Party

In the North Loop, you can enjoy free concerts from local talent, beer and treats and, of course, plenty of pizza.

Carnage the Executioner
Run Westy Run
Bruise Violet
Sean Anonymous
Charlie Parr
Megan Hamilton
Marah in the Mainsail
School of Rock

Admission: Free.

August 14: Red Stag Block Party

The tenth annual Red Stag Block Party will pair five teams of local brewers to create original collaborative beers. Food and music TBA.

Night Moves
Mark Mallman
Black Market Brass
Farewell Milwaukee
Brady Scott
(set times TBA)

Admission: Free.

September 10: Summit Backyard Bash

Summit Brewing Company commemorates its 30th year with a Backyard Bash for the record books. The festival is located in St. Paul behind Summit Brewery, and features art and music and plenty of beer to wash it down with.

Bob Mould
deM atlaS
Bad Bad Hats
Apollo Cobra
Nooky Jones
Hotpants DJs
(set times TBA)

Admission: $30 advance/$40 day of

Raisa Elhadi is a student at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities.