Fill those summer nights with song

Four venues offer a variety of concerts to meet just about anyone's taste in music

If live music is what you're looking for this summer, there is no shortage of ways to scratch the itch for an evening spent enjoying a performance out in the sun or under the stars.

Along with concerts hosted by various municipalities, venues such as the Brookfield Zoo, Morton Arboretum, Cantigny and College of DuPage become concert venues in the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Brookfield Zoo

The zoo will open its east mall to concert-goers when it presents Concerts for Conservation on July 14, 15, 21 and 22.

Guests are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets and settle in with friends and family to enjoy a wide selection of delicious food and beverages from vendors such as the Tacos Caja and The Coop food trucks, as well as the zoo's own restaurants. Guests are welcome to bring along their own picnics, but alcoholic beverages must be purchased inside the zoo.

Performances include Soul Asylum with special guest Verve Pipe on July 14, Macy Gray on July 15, Vertical Horizon on July 21 and the Plain White T's on July 22. Each concert ends with a 30-minute light show and dance party.

Tickets are $40 for zoo members, $45 for nonmembers and $55 for VIP packages, which include early access and parking. The zoo is at 8400 31st St. Visit for more information.


Whoever coined the term "lazy days of summer" forgot to tell the folks at Cantigny Park in Wheaton, which is host to 19 weekend and holiday concerts, along with other special events throughout the summer.

"It's a really busy summer," said Jeff Reiter, senior manager of communications at Cantigny.

While performances and special events are scattered across the summer calendar, Reiter said the Sunday night series is a mainstay of summer.

"The Sunday lineup is really the bread and butter of our entertainment season," Reiter said.

Performances include a variety of acts, from symphonies to rock tribute bands. Guests are always welcome to bring their own picnics, or they can purchase food from on-site food trucks. Beverages also are sold at each event.

In addition to the Sunday concerts, Saturday performances are planned for July 15 and 29, and holiday concerts are scheduled for July 4 and Sept. 3 and 4.

Admission to Sunday concerts are per car and can be purchased in advance this year. Reiter said some of the Sunday performances can get crowded. Guests can guarantee they'll find parking by purchasing prior to their visit.

For details and a full list of events happening at Cantigny this summer, visit

College of DuPage

The Lakeside Pavilion at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn will host a pair of concerts this summer, both of which have ties to the college's WARHOL exhibit at the McAninch Fine Arts Center.

The Pride Anthems Concert, set for 6 p.m. Saturday, June 24, features a lineup of accomplished performers in songs that have served as anthems for the LGBTQ+ community over the past 50 years. Included are familiar hits from Donna Summer, Lady Gaga, Queen, George Michael and many more.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, July 30, COD's New Philharmonic will present a collection of classical music, pop songs, movie scores and the Chicago-area premier of "Passacaglia in Primary Colors" from "Fifteen: Symphonic Fantasy on the Art of Andy Warhol."

Guests should bring a chair or blanket, with seating available one hour before the concert. Outside alcohol, coolers, kegs and umbrellas are not allowed.

Visit for more information.

Morton Arboretum

Wednesday is music night at the Morton Arboretum. Arbor Evenings is a 13-week series of outdoor concerts designed for friends and families of all ages to enjoy.

Each concert begins at 6 p.m., but entry starts at 5:15 p.m. to give guests a chance to scout out their spot on the lawn of Frost Hill. With their blankets and chairs arranged for the evening, guests are then welcome to wander the gardens and admire the arboretum's sculptures until showtime.

Jenelle Metcalf, Morton Arboretum's special events manager, said that in lieu of a man-made band shell, the arboretum makes use of its natural landscape to create its own natural amphitheater, with Meadow Lake as its background.

"It really is a gorgeous backdrop," she said.

The next concert is June 28, and the series continues with a different band each week through Aug. 23. On the lineup are crowd favorites such as Semple Band and Arra, along with new acts like Classical Blast and Kaleidoscope Eyes.

"They're a Beatles-type cover band," Metcalf said.

Aug. 30 is reserved as a rain date.

"Most likely we will have a concert on that date," Metcalf said.

Tickets for Arbor Evenings concerts are $13 for adults, $5 for children, and free for children 1 and younger, with discounts for members. Outside food and sealed nonalcoholic beverages are welcome. Cocktails, wine, beer, water and other beverages, along with food truck options, will be available for purchase. For tickets and more information, visit

Author Bio

Sandy Illian Bosch is a contributing writer to The Hinsdalean