Free Music, Theater and Entertainment in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Musicians play an outdoor concert for an audience at the University of Minnesota. | Location: University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, USA.
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Every summer, starting in June, parks across Minneapolis and St. Paul show movies, hold concerts and put on plays. There's something happening every summer evening and weekend across the Twin Cities. Here's where to find what's on near you.

Free Music Downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul

Downtown Minneapolis has free music in Peavey Plaza, organized by Minnesota Orchestra, but styles of music range from rock to polka to classical. Downtown St. Paul has a free outdoor concert series in Mears Park. The Twin Cities Jazz Festival, held in June at Mears Park, has three days of free jazz music from local and national musicians. The Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul has regular free classical music, and dance performances at weekends, and at lunchtimes, perfect for downtown St. Paul workers.

Free Outdoor Concerts

Stone Arch Festival of the Arts in June has an eclectic mix of live music. The annual July Aquatennial Festival closes with a free block party in downtown Minneapolis, with a couple of national acts playing. The Irish Fair, held in St. Paul in August, has hosted just about every major Irish-American music act, with several bands playing on the festivals Friday and Saturday night.

Free Classical Music Concerts

Students from the University of Minnesota's School of Music perform regularly at the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis. See the Campus Orchestra, a jazz or chamber music performance.

In early December, several Minnesota colleges have their annual Holiday concert. Some charge for admission, but many are free. The Minnesota Sinfonia performs free opera and classical music concerts at venues around the Twin Cities. Children and families are welcome at the performances.

Free Music at Record Stores

Record stores have regular free in-store concerts. The Electric Fetus has some of the biggest local acts and the odd national act performing in store, with at least one show every month.  Cheapo and Applause record stores hosts up-and-coming local artists at the Uptown store.  Fifth Element, the Uptown record store run by local hip-hop label Rhymesayers Entertainment has in-store performances from artists signed to the label.

Music With no Cover Charge in Minneapolis

Bars with a band playing are nothing special, but here's where to go to see the most popular local bands and musicians with no cover charge. Hipster favorite, the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis has popular local indie and rock bands playing on the weekends.

The Hexagon Bar, a dive bar in South Minneapolis, has live music on the weekends, mostly punk rock and indie music, with many popular local acts playing here, and surprisingly popular for Minnesota, Surf Night on the first Saturday of the month.  St Anthony Main, just over the Mississippi River from downtown Minneapolis, has outdoor concerts on the riverfront all summer, in the courtyard outside Tuggs Tavern.

Free Block Parties

Babette's Bastille Day Block Party is an all-day event in Uptown Minneapolis in mid-July. The Pizza Luce Block Party is a fixture on the Twin Cities music calendar, held at the Uptown Pizza Luce in August. Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show has bands, bikes, and mayhem at the 331 Club in Northeast Minneapolis in July.  Red Stag Supperclub Block Party, held in August, is Northeast Minneapolis' answer to the Uptown block parties.