Music in the Air: Free Summer Concerts Abound in Southern Delaware
Summer in southern Delaware means basking in the sun at any one of a number of beaches. It means fishing, boating, golfing, walking, and bicycling. It means visiting small historic towns, barbecuing in the backyard or eating at great restaurants, and tax-free shopping.
It also means free outdoor evening concerts in parks and bandstands in Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach, Lewes, Milton, Georgetown, and beyond! The concerts are free, I have to add, because local businesses sponsor them, and I encourage everyone to support those businesses.
Southern Delaware has the most beautiful skies with unforgettable sunsets. It has tall trees and lush gardens, boardwalks and water views you’ll never forget. What could be a more perfect setting than listening to live music as the sun spreads bright red hues across the sky and the moon emerges above? These concerts are generally shorter than two hours so a chair, some bug spray, a hat, light clothing, and cold water is all you really need.
Mark Your Calendars
Each spring, I begin to look forward to the arrival of the outdoor evening concerts. While the Cape Gazette usually publishes some of the schedules, I also browse the internet for as many as I can find. I print out the schedules and stick them on my refrigerator. Then I get out my own calendar and start figuring out which ones I am going to go to. My calendar starts getting messy with ‘Xs’ and circles as I cross-check with other plans.
Granted, it’s going to rain now and again, so plans will have to be modified. It will be so humid some evenings that I’ll have to put my hair up just to stand it. Other things come up that become more important – a social calendar is always in motion.
A few weeks ago, several of us attended the Funsters concert in Milton. The Funsters set up in the bandstand at the park, which is adjacent to the Broadkill River where there is a lush and mature forest. The great thing about that park is it has a large play area for children, with equipment they can climb on.
Hundreds of people were there that evening, sitting on chairs on the grass in the park, on park benches, playing with their kids, walking their dogs and listening. People even lined the bank on the other side of the river.
The Funsters are one of my very favorite groups and play lots of rock and roll and soul from the ‘60s. This group, with its three-piece horn section, guitars, and drums is is a veteran on the music scene and they have become very versatile. You can sense their friendship and camaraderie. Ed Shockley, one of my favorite local musicians, as well as his brother Michael, plays drums and sings with the Funsters. That night he talked to the audience as if we all knew each other well.
We brought our chairs as we always do, and some sandwiches, too. I watched the saxophone player and closed my eyes and listened. As if on cue, a strawberry moon rose from behind the trees and cast a soft light on the Broadkill.
Lewes now has three venues that hold free concerts. The Lewes Canalfront Park started hosting free concerts several years ago. I enjoy going there because you can look out onto the canal and see both moored boats and motoring ones even as you are listening to the music. Lewes also has outdoor concerts at Stango Park, which is next to the Margaret H. Rollins Community Center/Lewes History Museum (former Library). Concerts have been held here for eons. You don’t have water views, but you have the most gorgeous mature trees to protect you from the heat. The green at the Lewes terminal of the Cape May-Lewes Ferry has also become a venue for concerts. It has excellent parking and the terminal building adjacent where you can get a bite to eat and use the restrooms.
Rehoboth and Bethany beaches
Both Rehoboth and Bethany have a series of free evening concerts at their bandstands. The bandstands are part of the boardwalks so that you can listen and enjoy ice cream and French fries from the nearby establishments.
It was great to see that North Bedford Street Park in Georgetown also has evening concerts, allowing people who don’t live near the touristy areas to enjoy music in the outdoors.
Most of the concert venues have access to restroom facilities and to restaurants or food carts. Parking is somewhat easy at the Lewes, Milton and Georgetown venues, but Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach do have their challenges. While daytime beach hours can make parking difficult, there seems to be more opportunity in the evenings if you time it right.
I’ve listed links to the concert schedules below.
Disclaimer: I have by no means named every outdoor concert. There are many that either are not free or are held on the grounds of restaurants or other for-profit establishments. If you can think of other free venues, please let me know.
Bethany Beach bandstand:
The lawn next to the Lewes-Cape May Ferry:
Stango Park, Lewes (next to Lewes Community Center/Lewes Historic Museum
Lewes Canalfront Park:
Rehoboth Beach Bandstand: