While my husband and I are dragging our feet about getting our 3-year-old son involved in sports (we know we want to, but when, what, and where? So many unknowns!), one thing we’re certain of is that we want him to develop a deeper love of music.
Before he even turned 1 year old, we have taken him — and now his little brother, too — to at least one summertime Cleveland Orchestra concert at Blossom Music Center each season. The Blossom Music Festival events are low-key, affordable concerts that are perfect for families — parking is free and guests ages 17 and younger get free lawn seats as part of the “Under 18s Free” program.
We recently attended the “Best of Broadway” concert, which featured the greatest hits of America’s Broadway legends (think “Oklahoma!,” “The Phantom of the Opera,” “The Music Man,” “Les Misérables,” etc.). The boys enjoyed the upbeat songs, and upon entering Blossom’s gates, they even received a kid-friendly program with coloring pages and age-appropriate information about musical instruments, orchestras and more. (Though our oldest really enjoyed thumbing through the regular program and was enthralled with the pages that featured the vocalists for that particular concert!)
It’s now about halfway through the 2017 season, so there are still plenty of opportunities left for your family to enjoy spending a night under the stars while listening to our very own world-class orchestra.
Click here to see the concert calendar, and read on for my personal tips to help you plan the perfect family outing:
As with all outings that include young kids, timing is key. Our boys’ usual bedtime is 8 p.m., so when checking the concert offerings at the beginning of the season, we only consider shows that start at 7 p.m., as opposed to later options. That way, we can get the boys home and in bed sooner to avoid crankiness the next day. Plus, our youngest would probably have an exhaustion-fueled meltdown waiting for a later show to start.
We love arriving early and bringing a picnic dinner. The boys are excited to spread out on a picnic blanket and enjoy eating in a different setting, and this leaves plenty of time to walk around and burn off energy before the concert begins. And, as an added bonus, you’ll get closer parking the earlier you arrive, which makes for a faster exit to get the kids home and in bed sooner.
Location, Location, Location
When you arrive, scout out a picnic spot that will work best for your family, whether it’s close to the restrooms for a potty-training toddler, or on the outskirts of the lawn seating area so there’s more room for energetic kids to roam. We usually opt for a spot near the main walking path, which is helpful when leaving, and also allows for a quick and easy escape with the stroller in case our youngest gets noisy and needs a calming walk.
Pack for Preparedness
Bring everything you think you’ll need to keep your kids quietly entertained, and then some. For us, this means tons of snacks and enough water for sippy cup refills. (Our boys are eaters; I don’t even want to think about what our grocery bill will be like when they’re teenagers!)
We also bring toys, books and magazines, binoculars, and coloring books. This time, we brought our 1-year-old’s PJs along and did a quick change during intermission so that when we got home around 9:30, he was already set for bed.
If you’re worried about keeping your young kids quiet and entertained, I suggest attending with another family, or inviting your kids’ grandparents to the show, too. More helping hands means a smoother outing for everyone. Buying tickets in bulk will also cut down on costs; we always buy a Blossom Lawn Ticket Book, which includes 10 lawn tickets and two pavilion upgrade vouchers. This year, that meant each adult’s ticket ended up being $16. The 10 tickets are enough for us to enjoy two shows with the kids’ grandparents.